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Seven Colours (Naruto)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Planeshunter, May 29, 2020.

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  1. Threadmarks: 001 - Isekai Tensei
    Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    As I find myself working on chapter 7 for this story, I decided to take out of my snippets thread make a dedicated one for it. Assuming all goes to plan, this story ends right after the time of the Suna/Sound invasion of Konoha. NSFW would go in a potential theorical sequel, again assuming we ever get that far.


    001 - Isekai Tensei (Reincarnated in another world)



    I was named Shimada Ran at birth.

    At first, it was all very confusing. I’m sure you can imagine, waking up from a slumber you don’t remember taking to find yourself somewhere warm and dark. I can’t speak for every unborn baby out there, but I for one felt safe and comfortable.

    Then the spasms began, and I was slowly but surely ripped from my safe place, into a cold and unforgiving world. Suddenly light hurt my eyes, still incapable of proper sight. Suddenly noise was all the sharper and unpleasant. Suddenly I was required to breathe to remain alive.

    Honestly, I have no idea how anyone does this the first time. I mean, I remembered what it was to breathe and everything and it took me a couple of false starts, but how’s the tabula rasa that’s a normal newborn supposed to do it?

    Figuring out what was going out around me was another small victory. My eyes couldn’t pick up images beyond blurs of colour, and my ears didn’t have the precision to pinpoint specific words for a while.

    I’ll admit the idea to count the solar cycles to have some awareness of the passage of time didn’t occur to me for a while. So I can only say it was some confusing blur of time and a month before I recognised the language: Japanese.

    It wasn’t a language I was ever fluent in my last life, but knew enough to identify some of the simpler sentences. It was a great advantage to learn the rest. Still took a while.

    Along the way, I picked some keywords that sent a shiver down my spine. Words like 'Chakra', 'Konoha' or 'Kyuubi-no-Youko’. The first one might’ve been a coincidence, but the other two were a dead giveaway, I was in some part of the Elemental Nations, from the story of Naruto.

    Ehm… yeah, maybe it’s a bit late to mention it, but Shimada Ran wasn’t the first name I ever carried. I was born with memories from my last life. Like reading a certain manga by the name 'Naruto'. And watching the anime, and the OVAs, and reading the novels.

    Well, I don’t remember how I died. Or how I lived while we’re at it. More like just… knowledge. Both general and specific knowledge I’m fairly sure a newborn baby shouldn’t have.

    How did it happen you ask? Why the hell should I know?

    No, seriously, I have no idea.

    I only know I used to be someone else, and now I’m not. And I was born at some point in between. For the second time.

    I won’t lie, I was more than a bit thrilled when I finally accepted reality (Watching first hand a Kusa forehead protector really helped with that), and hurried to quickly recap everything I knew about the story I had been so conveniently shoved into.

    Making a tentative timeline took more time that I would’ve liked, since Kusa wasn’t connected to many incidents I could use as reference, but someone finally let slip how my grandfather had died during the Kyuubi invasion of Konoha (and what the heck was a Kusa-nin doing there I wondered). A couple of months before I was born.

    Unfortunately, there was little I knew about this particular village, beyond their Blood Prison, all the shit happening to them during the Chunin Exams in Konoha and being the supposedly birthplace of the S-Rank criminal Zetsu (How does that even work? I know where Zetsu actually comes from.)

    Oh, and some super-weapon or another, don’t remember that part very well.

    I only hope whatever time Zetsu spent here is already over. Because I seem to remember charges of cannibalism being somehow involved.

    Anyway, the only thing worth remembering about this place in particular is Uzumaki Karin. Lost, shy and abused Karin, who was viewed more like a walking first-aid kit than a real person and grew alone and sad in a place that never really accepted her.

    That her escape landed her into Orochimaru’s hands for another handful of years didn’t really improve her situation, nor helped her personality. She ended up turning into a manipulative bitch with a rowdy character and hair trigger temper. The worst of Sakura and Naruto put together into a single person… yikes.

    At that point, I had to chastise myself for getting my head in the clouds. What did it matter to me whether she was happy or not? It was not my freaking problem!

    As often happens in stories about being reborn in your favourite manga world, I was letting my fangirl mentality get in the way of cold, hard facts. I didn’t want to join the shinobi world. It’s a cruel and dark place of shadows and deceit, where puppeteers pull the strings of the unaware, only to be manipulated by the puppet masters behind them, all of them ignoring even the existence of the real masterminds, who lay hidden underneath the underneath.

    And death, and carnage. A lot of ninja carnage.

    Yeah, in this world, it’s kill or be killed.

    So I would go civilian. Yup. Bombing any test they send my way and raising hell as required so my opinions on my future weren't ignored. Yup, I would be a stupid civilian with nothing to do with all that crap.

    I might offer to play with Karin if I met her in the park or something, but that was all. No dangerous shinobi life for me, no siree! No matter how cool it looks in the anime.



    Life as a baby is as frustrating as it is interesting. I’m always either restless or asleep, and I’m growing so fast my entire body constantly aches. The last one caught me by surprise. I mean, I vaguely remember growth pains being somewhat frequent during puberty, but would’ve never thought it also applied to the phase of our lives when our bodies develop the fastest. Silly me.

    Being asleep more than half the time doesn’t bother me too much. For what I can remember, I was pretty laid back in my last life, the sort that allows things to happen and acts mainly reactively. The restless waking time was what really got to me.

    A baby’s mind is something marvellous. Dunno if it’s hormones or what, never been big on medicine, but my brain is always in overload. What should’ve been mind-boggling hours of doing nothing but eating, burping, pooping and staring at the ceiling somehow managing to become interesting.

    My mind refused to sit idly, a thousand thoughts crossing it per minute, and every little nuisance became somehow a challenge impossible to ignore. I remember one occasion when I took my lack of precise eyesight as a personal offense and spent three hours squinting at the mobile toy hanging above my cradle.

    I’m pretty sure half the shapes were stars, but whatever the elongated rhombus was supposed to be, I had no idea. It was all a rather dull grey tone anyway, it was difficult for my baby eyes to tell each shape apart from the others.

    At the same time, my mind restlessly worked out with the information it had, and heavens but I would’ve killed for a pen and paper. Both sorting out my last life’s knowledge in an attempt to figure out who I was and how to shamelessly take advantage of my foreknowledge.

    On one hand, I’m pretty sure I was either some sort of legal consultant in the anime industry or a government worker otaku. My general knowledge was all over the place, but I knew a shitload about manga and anime, including inner workings of the business, and had a lot of experience trudging through law texts. I mean, I could also be an otaku lawyer or judge but… let’s be realists here.

    Also I was investing in the Gato Company ASAP, I only had around twelve years to see my investment grow before it all collapsed. Then it would be time to invest in Wave Country imports and the construction business, that last part double underlined for the time I was fifteen, in preparation for the complete demolition of Konoha.

    See? My brain became an evil genius without asking. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have thought about half that in my last life.

    I’m guessing a normal baby would waste this brainpower and motivation surge… well, learning the basics. I already had that down to pat. Only the stupid language got in my way, but not for long.

    Granted, it would be easier if Mother talked a bit more with me, or I was taken to social situations regularly, but what can you do. While I’m at it, I might as well ask for my mouth and vocal chords to hurry up and develop so I could practise, but that’s something I cannot help beyond periodically making ridiculously cute gurgling sounds in an attempt to produce real words.


    Time has passed, and things have developed notably. And not necessarily in a direction I like.

    For once, I can make some pale imitation of talking, which includes disconnected short words, unconjugated verbs and abusing the word ‘Mama’. That’s good.

    I’m also officially a toddler, which is good too.

    Problem is, while I’m no expert in babies (I’m fairly sure I never had my own, or even took care of a little brother while we’re at it), even I can tell it’s way too soon.

    Mother talks to me more often now that I try and imitate the words she says, but there’s still not many social situations. Nor a Father, now that I think about it. Or service, grandparents, uncles, cousins or anything. It’s a bit unsettling.

    Speaking of unsettling, I’m pretty sure Mother is a shinobi and has every intention of having me follow in her footsteps. Even worse, every time she looks me in the eye with that stupidly piercing stare of hers all my resolve to fight that outcome curls in a corner to cry.

    Also I can finally make out the mobile over my cradle. The dull grey thingies are kunai and shuriken. The fuck?

    Mother is really pretty in a sharp and lethal way. Her hair is yellowish-orange with reddish streaks, really pretty and unique, She lets it hang loose to her shoulders when she’s home, but when we have people over she reins her bangs with hairpins and gathers the bulk of it into a pretty bun on her nape. It’s really pretty and professional.

    Her eyes are stupidly piercing. They are yellow and have slanted pupils that remind me of Orochimaru. Sometimes, when she forgets to smile, her stare feels like she can see through your soul by virtue of disassembling you piece by piece and discarding you into a corner after studying each and every single one to the point of boredom before staring a hole into your spirit. It’s kind of a very specific sensation. Yeah.

    If I inherit nothing else from her, I want her eyes.


    Today was my third birthday and Mother told me about the Shimada family history. We’re not that numerous or influential, but we’re well known here in Grass. We are famous for being… well, kind of nitpicky overachievers. Every single Shimada is expected and supposedly predisposed to excel.

    For instance, we don’t have a long tradition as Shinobi, but both Mother and Great-Grandad are both hailed as ‘ridiculously strong’.

    Yeah, Mother isn’t really that big in humility, that’s not the thing she excels in.

    She also kind of offhandedly insinuated she wouldn’t be disappointed if I didn’t choose to follow her career. Guess she’s picked up my reluctance, but doesn’t sound too happy about it.

    Mother is not very good at talking about herself, but she regaled me with tales of Great-Grandfather. He lived during the times where the Hidden Villages were first founded, and was nicknamed the ‘Smoke Knight’ because he barely even used something outside the basic we now know as the Academy three, which put a fair deal of smoke on his fights.

    Unless he didn’t want to, then he bunshined without a speck of dust.

    Then again he was also known for being able to use [Kawarimi (Substitution)] to switch the air between his fingers with an enemy’s heart. That, guys and gals, takes finesse, and is as lethal as a [Chidori]. Sometimes even more, you can survive that shit if you’re lucky or have good reflexes, only a true monster can walk away after his heart simply pops away from his chest.

    No, I know what you’re thinking, but Great-Grandfather didn’t die against a monster (Not even Kakuzu no matter how much he matches my comments), he retired once his skills began deteriorating and died in his bed, satisfied after spending his last years criticising the ‘younger generations’ to his heart's content. We Shimada know when we’re getting too old to walk on the edge. We also apparently get insufferable in our old age, but meh. That’s for us to enjoy and others to suffer…

    Mother really lucked out with Grandpa. Grandpa chose to become a merchant and is still going strong. A merchant never retires, in his own words so, in spite of being as cranky as any other aged Shimada, we only see him for a couple of weeks a year, when his caravan passes through Kusa. That reminds me Mother is bound to eventually retire too... Actually, that’s plain scary. I don’t think I want to think about it anymore until… ever.

    Yeah, I might become a nukenin at some point, if only to dump that particular punishment on somebody else.

    But I’m digressing. The story of the Shimada family. We are born to excel, and it’s apparently in our very genes. We are stubborn and driven and can’t take it easy for our lives’ worth. No, seriously, there’s a tale about one of our ancestors dying because he was incapable of taking a medical break.

    It’s a Kekkei Genkai of sorts. We grow restless when inactive either physically or mentally, and anything we perceive as a challenge has a good chance of becoming an obsession. Our family teachings devote a lot to time management and work ethic that can only help our obsessions to bear fruit.

    We usually don’t make many friends, unless that’s what we get fixated with.

    This clan of mine reminds me of the Superbi Famiglia from Black Sky(1).

    Also, remember that newborn mental boon I talked about some years ago? It never faded. It’s either part of my new bloodline or I was born as a genius this time around, because I sure as hell wasn’t like this in my last life.

    I also know now about Father. He became a Missing Nin soon after I was conceived and unfortunately didn’t survive the Hunter Nin sent after him. Mother doesn’t like talking about him very much, and I’m never sure whether that’s because he defected or because he had the gall of failing at it.

    I get a lot of my appearance from him though, with grey and unassuming eyes and dull brown hair. I don’t mind the hair all that much, but I’m really disappointed with my eyes. Damnit genes, you had one job!

    Hopefully Father’s choices in life won’t burden me too heavily, he’s a traitor but he wasn’t a Shimada and I am, and that’s supposed to carry weight. Hopefully he has more family that’s happily loyal to the village, to hopefully further mitigate his actions.

    Ugh… stupid overactive brain, old me wouldn’t have even noticed this potential problem.

    And now I’m thinking up countermeasures, damnit all this shit three times over!

    I can’t wait for puberty.



    That was sarcasm.

    (1) Black Sky is a Harry Potter/Katekyo Hitman Reborn crossover by Umei no Mai, one of the best fics I’ve ever read. Been on hiatus for a long while, unfortunately, but has a shitload of content already.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
  2. Threadmarks: 002 - Shinobi Academy
    Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    002 - Shinobi Academy (because why the frick not)




    At seven years old, I’m thrown into Grass’ Shinobi Academy. Because why the frick no.

    Actually, there are solid reasons.

    It is the friggin’ best education one can aspire to in this village. The curriculum includes a lot of geography and history, on top of Japanese Language (That I could stand to polish a bit, but i'm probably way above the class cut), Maths and Physics (That I could probably beat with my eyes bandaged, a hand tied at my back and a wet noodle as my only weapon) and also Chemistry and Biology (That I looked forward to, not much previous knowledge on those fields).

    As the school years advances the Shinobi training and physical conditioning becomes more and more important, but I plan on bombing those, so whatever.

    It also has mighty advantages like around the clock childcare services for active shinobi and, let’s be honest here, Mother missed being active something fierce. She never got around explaining all the single mother routine, or why I grew up so isolated, but since prospective mothers are forcefully pulled out of the active roster at least for the three last months of pregnancy that means nearly eight years since her last mission.

    By now I know enough about our family to imagine how much that would’ve grated her, taking care of her daughter or not, she was giving up her true calling.

    That said, I’m pretty sure Mother has ulterior motives, like hoping the Academy brainwash will make me consider the shinobi career. Heh, fat chance.

    ....

    Actually, I lied, there are some private tutors around that are considered even better than the Academy in their respective fields, but I’ll cut my arm and eat it if Mother doesn’t employ one or three of them on top of everything else.

    Fan-freakin’-tastic.


    Wew, it’s been a long and amusing seven years, but it’s finally time to face the music. Taking a deep breath to prepare myself, I steel my resolve and stop procrastinating. I open the classroom door with firm movements, resolved to face whatever awaits me inside with Shimada pride and… find it empty.

    The heck?

    Okay, it’s half an hour too soon, but I can’t be the only one here who thinks it’s better to come early than late and taking this Academy thing seriously. I mean, things are done properly or not done at all, right? Also maybe I’ve been wasting time at the door for at least fifteen minutes and find it a bit hard to put what time really is into perspective.

    Actually, scratch that. I remember very clearly being a chronic procrastinator, where did those thoughts come from?





    Stupid Shimada blood.

    With a sigh and a shrug, I pick a seat in the first row and pull the World History book. When we bought the textbooks, Mother locked them under key and chain until this very morning, in what I suspect was less an attempt to keep me away from them and more a challenge for me to try and get the necessary skills to break into the cupboard and steal them.

    There were also cookies and toys in that locker.

    The Locked Locker was mighty suspicious, but I managed to hold back my curiosity. Childish baits like those could hardly ensnare me. No. Matter. How. Much. I. Wanted. Those. Cookies.

    Forget that, History book, History book.

    I opened the book and immersed myself on it for… about three minutes. Then I reached into my bag to grab a dictionary. Stupid Kanji..

    Then I immersed myself in it for about… five minutes. Then I reached into my bag to grab a notebook and a pencil, barely holding my laughter. Dear sweet Akasha the bias is so obvious it hurts! Granted, this is a text for seven years old, but dude, seriously?

    There and then my bad habit of writing down in a notebook all the blatant lies I come across was born.

    Why don’t I underline the textbook instead, you ask? You don’t write in a book, you damn heretic!

    A very hard to ignore bell snatches my attention away from the book and towards the teacher that has somehow materialized in front of the blackboard. Actually, a bunch of brats and a lot of noise have somehow appeared all around me without me noticing, when the hell did this happen?

    -”Welcome to your first day in the Academy” -Greets the teacher with a wide smile that somehow doesn’t really inspire confidence or respect- “I am Narutaki Yuuto, but you may call me Narutaki-sensei or simply Sensei.”

    Then he starts his boring and predictable introductory diatribe.

    A newbie, insecure and tense, probably as likely to snap against the first person who questions his authority as he is to allow us far too much freedom, depending on what happens first and sets the whole student-sensei mechanic. Whoever asks the first question will probably be set for life as either the teacher’s pet or the default to-go student to blame, depending on whether he was comfortable answering or not.

    It would probably be a safe bet to—

    I’m analysing his demeanor before even noticing what’s going on. I’ve never paid any attention to more or less random and unimportant people in my life before and here I am weighing the pros and cons of giving sensei a bad time!

    Stupid Shimada blood.

    -”Yes, well, I wanted to know how come we have an Academy at all?” -Wait, what’s going on? What the heck am I asking? Why the heck was my hand risen?- “I mean, Sandaime Hokage ‘The Professor’ was who implemented the system and I doubt he went around sharing the wealth.”

    Stupid Shimada blood.

    Fortunately Sensei smiles, it seems it was a safe question.

    -”Well, Shimada-san, that is a very interesting question!” -He turns towards the blackboard, where he writes up the words ‘Kannabi Concordat’- “As you all should know, while we aren’t at war with any other village right now, our only real ally is Konoha. It all began with the Kannabi Concordat during the Third Shinobi War, where we offered free passage and indirect support in their war effort against Iwa. In return, we became minor allies. We couldn’t be declared war against unless we acted aggressively first, and a portion of their missions would go to us if our income ever became precarious.”

    That sounds like we did nothing and earned a terrible lot of things in return. Sharing missions isn’t exactly a small deal either, it was precisely the lack of sharing missions that pushed Suna over the edge and made them join forces with Orochimaru to betray Konoha. That or Orochimaru somehow blackmailed the Kazekage, but if that’s the case it never made it into the manga

    So, more Kusa bias. Sweet Akasha, it’s only the first lesson on the first day and I’ve already lost all my faith in the system.

    Also he’s taking his sweet time to get to the point, guess that means he liked the question, and I’m finding all this really interesting, but I asked about the Academy System, not the peace treaty with Konoha. Also, my classmates are looking at me funny, because I was the one who asked the question and they don’t seem to find it as interesting as I do.

    I mean, apparently at some point we sold tax rights on a bridge in the border for a cart of sea salt. Well, technically it was the Daimyo's third cousin or something who did it, so it wasn’t exactly us being stupid, but we got blamed anyway. Lesson for next time? When a noble is about to close a really bad deal, assassinate him, that way you’ll at least get blamed for something you actually did, and your country will keep its taxing rights.

    -”Anyway, as opposed to the pale imitations attempted by Kiri and Kumo, Suna and Kusa got the proper system invented by the Third Hokage handed to us by our allies of the Leaf.”

    He’s very suspiciously neglecting to mention our Academy doesn’t have Fifth years yet, it’s just that new. That means it took four years since our alliance with Konoha until their system was put into place here. A very reasonable time margin, even expeditive if you ask me, but still something that should be brought to attention as it’s relevant to anyone trying to put this knowledge to use.



    I steal a glance at the blatantly asleep girl at my left and the brat picking his nose at my right.

    Actually, keeping it simple is probably for the best. I’m supposed to be seven years old, and the rest of my classmates very blatantly are. This is probably too advanced for our supposed level.

    I comfortably spent the rest of History class copying down all the blatant bias and trying to figure out what had really happened. Often the disinformation was very obvious, simply neglecting to bring up a part of the tale that was kind of necessary to see the whole picture, or an exaggeration in numbers or other small details that looked right at a first glance but didn’t hold once you tried to do the math yourself. That was easy to pinpoint, even if I couldn’t always venture an alternate theory.

    Other times the cover up was pretty extensive, and I had no way to venture what had actually gone on or even if there’d been a real cover at all and not simple negligence by the author. Educated guesses based on the little I knew about History and the Shinobi World could only go that far after all.

    The rest of the day was predictably less interesting.

    Language below my level, Maths way below my level and probably my favourite: Brainwashing 101, which was, more or less, telling us how cool shinobi were and how Grass was the best ninja village ever and we should always obey the Boss Dude because he was the best thing to happen to the world since the invention of peanut butter… Was peanut butter ever invented here in the Elemental Nations at all?

    Boss Dude is the village leader. Between you and me, he has a real name, but I can’t repeat it correctly for my life’s worth. It’s a freaking tongue-twister. Whoever his parents were, they were real pricks. And then he went and became leader. Talk about overcompensating.

    That was all for theory classes anyway, then we had our physicals. Everything was harmless-looking enough, and I debated for a moment whether to boycott it or not. In the end, I decided to take it seriously so far it wasn’t obviously shinobi-related, all the while feeling like I was walking right into a trap. Mother’s or the Academy System’s, I couldn’t tell.


    -”Oi, you the traitor’s brat, aren’t you?”

    Oh, dear, here we go.

    -”I’m Shimada Ran,” -I answer lazily, flipping the page of my book but not really looking up- “And, as far as I’m aware, Mother has never betrayed Grass. Not that anyone would notice if she ever decided to try.”

    Mother is just that good.

    -”Don’t get all smarty with me!” -A pale hand snatches my book, and I hold back a sigh at the dramatics- “That embarrassment you call father abandoned the village with valuable information and shamed our whole clan!”

    I finally look up and almost have a panic attack when I confuse the eyes glaring daggers at me for the [Rinnegan]. But no, there aren’t enough circles, and even if grey coloured, they’re rather silvery instead of the darker hues from those other eyes only Nagato should have at this point in time.

    Silver hair and pale skin with a wiry constitution that’s already burnt out all baby fat and then some. Her face somehow reminds me of Father’s photos, I guess we’re second cousins or something like that.

    -”The Haizuki Clan was shamed by that man” -I point out, as calmly as I can after the scare- “Mother divorced him the moment his betrayal became known and we Shimada have had nothing to do with him ever since.”

    As mentioned before, I’m pretty sure Mother was disappointed about the fact he got caught at all and later successfully hunted down and executed, rather than any betrayal he might or might not have committed in the first place.

    The girl in front of me is fuming, and I can only conclude she expected me to just keel over at the insult. To be fair, that’s what most seven years old would’ve done when confronted with something like this about their parents. This or start a fight, but that clearly hadn’t crossed her mind.

    Unfortunately, I couldn’t care less. Heck I respected Mother as a person, because it was kind of hard not to, and for taking care of me for seven years. The fact she’d birthed me, on the other hand, wasn’t really a factor in my mind. A father who I’ve never seen and whose only contribution to my existence was half a DNA sample wasn’t someone I would waste a thought on.

    Wow, I’m such a bitch.

    The girl hesitates for a moment, looking sideways for support to the guy accompanying her, and for a moment I dare hope she’ll let it go. But then someone snickers in the background and ‘righteous indignation’ comes back with a vengeance.

    -”Are you looking for a fight, huh!?” -Talk about cliched reaction- “I’ll show you what a real Haizuki can do!””

    -”Ryūzetsu” -The guy puts a hand on her shoulder and I have to hide a frown, that name sounds familiar- “Let’s not get in trouble, okay?”

    -”Look sister” -I start, quickly getting fed up with this whole situation- “I have nothing against the Haizuki clan as a whole, but your private business has nothing to do with me. If you want to hate that man that’s your privilege, I’m just disappointed with him. Not please return me my book, would you kindly?”

    -”Yeah, let’s go Muku, she’s not worth our time.”

    Of course, she tries to throw the book at my face instead of properly returning it, but I absently catch it mid-flight and go back to reading without missing a beat. Exactly on the page I was on before being so rudely interrupted. I barely catch on the audience’s appreciative noises, busy as I am marveling on it.

    Stupid Shimada blood.
     
  3. Threadmarks: 003 - I'm prodigious
    Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    003 - I’m Prodigious (As true as the Sky)


    Arriving home after the classes, I softly close the door behind me.

    -”Mother, I’m back home.”

    My words are spoken in a conversational tone towards the empty hallway. Any other girl my age would have yelled those same words, probably while throwing her shoes wherever they landed and running towards the kitchen or something. Then again, they would be real seven year old kids.

    -”Welcome back, Ran” -Mother appears a few steps in front of me out of nowhere in the blink of an eye- “How was your first day?”

    Also, I don’t need to yell for Mother to hear me from anywhere in the house.

    -”Interesting, if a bit disappointing” -I absently begin taking off my shoes, even this is done with subconscious elegance. Stupid Shimada Blood- “Math is painfully basic and I could use more level in my Language Classes too. World History was blatantly biased, but it was interesting to try and poke at the holes in the narrative. Would it be possible at all to acquire History Books written in a different country to compare?”

    -”I’m sure something can be arranged,” -That causes a rare smile to appear in Mother’s lips- “as long as I can expect appropriate discretion and nobody forgets what the official story is during the tests.”

    -”I’m sure something can be arranged,” -I answer petulantly. I’m a kid, I’m allowed to- “Physical lessons were satisfactory, I guess, and I got a feeling Brainwashing 101 will only be good for shredding and feeding it to some nondescript porcine creature. I also got into an argument about that man.”

    Mother raises an amused eyebrow at ‘Brainwashing 101’, clearly understanding what I meant, but the mention of an argument makes her forget whatever comment she was about to make.

    -”They gave you any trouble?”

    -”They didn’t even try very hard” -I answer dismissively- “Just some niece of that man kicking a bit of a fuss, this Muku boy calmed her down before it escalated further.”

    I don’t mention how close the girl was to getting handsy with me, I don’t want to see the Haizuki Compound going down in flames, thank you very much.

    -”I didn’t expect any Haizuki in my age group?” -I ask instead of giving her time to make any bigger deal of the matter- “It was a big surprise to find family there.”

    -”I never told you much about the Haizuki Clan.” -Mother’s pokerface is solid, but there’s a distinct teasing undertone- “I would’ve very much preferred you to be your own person before deciding how you want to interact with them.”

    Understandable, since a traitor to the village was my only link to them. Judging by her behaviour the Clan as a whole didn’t hold a hostile disposition towards me. I mean, there still exists a Haizuki clan, so they obviously hadn’t aggravated Mother too badly yet. But she didn’t trust a supposedly vulnerable and malleable child around them either so… so what? If Mother doesn’t feel forthcoming, I have no way of knowing, really.

    And more importantly.

    -”I fail to see how that leads to me running blind into a cousin in a perfectly controlled and predictable scenario.”

    -”Maybe I wanted to judge by myself whether you were your own person already.”

    So throw your cub down the cliff and see how she fares, how very feline of you, Mother. I’m about to let out a passive-aggressive retort when I notice the amused smile tugging her lips upward and the hint of anticipation on her eyes, she wants an argument. Then I notice I wouldn’t have usually noticed that.

    Stupid Shimada blood.

    -”And was I up to standards?” -I refuse to raise to such obvious bait, thank you very much- “If I’m going to somehow end up in a Clan social event, I would very much like to know in advance.”

    -”Ran, that sounds suspiciously like a petulant question.” -She says instead, smile finally escaping her control. What’s wrong with today? Is it Mother Smiles Day or something?- “Come inside now, your lunch is waiting. This afternoon we’ll go over the basics of sparring, see if you can get a bit of an edge over other students.”

    That and today is probably the last day she’ll be here in the afternoons, tomorrow she starts taking missions. Still, learning how to properly spar from Mother seems like an S-Ranked mission all by itself…



    During the evening, in-between Mother pounding sparring basics into my head, I finally realize why the names Ryūzetsu and Muku are familiar. They starred in that Blood Prison movie, the one with that Superweapon thingie I don’t remember too well and are kind of the most relevant characters from Grass in the story, barring Karin.

    One would’ve guessed recognising them would refresh my memory, but no such luck. Whatever new retentive abilities I earned in this lifetime doesn’t seem to translate into a better recollection of my past one.

    Stupid Shimada blood.

    Of course, by the end of the session I’m battered and bruised and Mother hasn’t even broken a sweat.

    -”You got a bit carried away here.” -Mother says, pointing at a nasty bruise in my left side from when I overextended dumbly and paid for it. Mother doesn’t take kindly on Dumb- “Everything else should be healed by the morning though, we Shimada heal fast.”

    Stupid Shimada blood

    I grumble something non-committal.

    -”I expect you’ll remember today’s exercise and practice by yourself from now on. I’ll leave a training program on the fridge designed to complement the Academy work.” -Then she puts a hand on her hip, taking her time to scan me with an evaluative stare- “I can do nothing about ‘Brainwashing 101’, but keep up in Maths and Language for now. If you still find it boring in a month, I’ll arrange something to get you more advanced lessons.”

    There’s a hint of amusement and something else that I don’t dare assume is pride in her eyes. I’m guessing Brainwashing 101 will become an official name in this household and that… yeah, I’m not sure what to think about the other, I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

    -”I was thinking of making omurice(1) for dinner tonight.” -She announces abruptly, turning around to get back inside the building- “It’s still your favourite, right?”

    Yeah, it’s still very much my favourite.

    And seems like Mother is proud of me after all, huh.

    It’s in moments like this that I realize how lucky I got in the Mother lottery when being reincarnated. She might be strict and stoic, and it’s hard to tell what she’s thinking at any given time, but she deserves the’ #1 Mom’ mug three times over.

    My Stupid Shimada blood may unnerve me to no end, but at times like this I can’t help thinking it’s all worth it.



    I’ll have to find a potter that scribes personalized messages in mugs and a suitable excuse to give Mother gifts.


    I got another frustrating realization during the second day in the Academy. Every time I tried to relax and let my mind wander, a process I’m familiar enough with to assume was a favourite pastime of mine during my last life, my senses sharpened and I became restless.

    Sensei’s voice gradually stopped becoming the monotonous stream of uninteresting blabber I cared nothing about and every single word became clear and impossible to ignore. I could force myself to ignore him in spite of that, but it was an exhausting mental exercise that kind of killed the whole purpose of letting your mind wander in the first place.

    Almost sounds like some kind of genetic quirk.

    ...

    Stupid Shimada blood.

    Speaking of that, all my bruises from sparring did indeed vanish during the night, except for the big one on my side. Even that one is looking much better. I am ever so pleased about the particulars of the Shimada blood being known only in the family.

    I can feel the expectations of the entire village on me just from imagining them knowing.

    Stupid Shimada blood.

    Incidentally, by the time the bell marks the recess, I’ve decided Haizuki Ryūzetsu isn’t cute at all. She’s spent the whole morning giving me the stink eye. Muku, on the other hand, was cute enough for the both of them.

    If I ever need to lower myself to their level, I’ll use that to taunt them. No boy likes to be called cute, and no girl wants her cuteness to be unfavorable compared with her male friend.

    Or so I hear, anyway.

    -”You aren’t cute at all, Haizuki-san. Please ask Muku for lessons.”

    Oops, I said that out loud. Well, nothing to be done now, and it’s not like she didn’t get on my nerves with that obsessive fixation on me. at least I’ll test my theory. Judging by the rapidly reddening tone of both their faces, it’s working.

    Giving Ryūzetsu the cold treatment while being overly familiar with her friend probably was a low blow, and I did it without even thinking.

    Bloody Shimada blood.

    -”Mother insists I get to know your side of the family” -I cut before she starts spluttering what counts as profanities for seven-year-olds, producing a letter from an inner pocket- “Could you please give this to your mother at your earliest convenience?”

    She puts on her best indignated face, but takes the letter (more like rips it from my hand) and stomps away without a word. Muku hurries to follow her and I know that letter will never reach her mother. Well, nobody can accuse me of not trying now.

    All according to plan.


    It’s been a month since Academy began, and I’m at home, sitting in front of a Math test trying to figure out how much I can get away with knowing. The number of questions on the sheet is absurd, as Mother has insisted I get tested on everything. That means she’ll probably know if I underperform.

    She’ll understand, misdirection is pretty standard in the shinobi world, reflexive even. But the point of me doing this is to stop being bored to tears in the classroom, so getting mislabeled here won’t really achieve jackshit.

    And Mother will probably be disappointed.

    Welp, that decides it, doesn’t it?

    Readying my pen, I mentally prepare myself for three to five hours of gradually harder math problems.

    And then I still have to do my Language Proficiency test, oh joy.


    -”Hey deadeyes! I heard you need special Math and Language lessons!” -Deadeyes is Ryūzetsu’s, rather unimaginative, moniker for me- “Guess you’re not at the level of a real Haizuki!”

    Ryūzetsu has taken a rather aggressive position against me, but things have never gone beyond words until now. Even if, sometimes, it seems that Muku’s presence is the only thing that prevents escalation.

    I remain unsure if there’s any real animosity or this is one of those ‘rivalry’ things between kids. To make things worse, I seem incapable of holding my tongue around her. Funny, because I’m pretty quiet around everyone else.

    Truth be told, everyone else is smart enough to leave me alone after the first scathing retort, while Ryūzetsu doesn’t seem to catch a clue and keeps coming for more.

    I guess with my rather plain appearance, there aren't many names that can realistically be used against me. Rather my lack of remarkable features is the only remarkable thing about me. Heck, even my silvery-grey eyes, lacking the concentric rings sported by the main Haizuki line, aren’t all that striking.

    If you add my emotional range, slightly below that of a teaspoon, I guess Deadeyes is kind of exactly the right name for me. Not that I care for childish name-calling or anything.

    No, really, I couldn’t care less.

    I’m not going to develop a complex anytime soon.

    Promise.

    -”That seems to be the case, Haizuki-san” -I answer with a smile. Now, how to mop the floor with her pride today?- “Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll be able to join me in the differential calculus lessons soon enough, provided you devote some effort.”

    Turns out my Maths are already post-Academy. I was offered the option to dedicate my Math hours to different lessons or to pursue higher studies in the field. I chose to join the specialised lessons for the Cryptanalysis Team aspirants. It’s proven to be quite a challenge, and I’m not sure how useful it’ll be down the line, but it’s a bit late for regrets.

    Fortunately for my sanity, I wasn’t that advanced in Japanese Language and I’ll simply be taking fourth year lessons. Still, I wonder what’ll happen in a couple of years, when I finish the Academy curriculum in this subject too.

    On top of whatever my studies were in my last life and my foreknowledge, my memory and problem-solving capabilities are naturally high. Somehow I can only see that as even more trouble down the road.

    Stupid Shimada blood, I’m too prodigious.


    In the end I got saddled with two home tutors, who more or less double as babysitters during the evenings and more often than not staying during the night. Can’t be helped though, Mother retook active duty with a vengeance, and she’s rarely home more than a few hours at a time. Beats the 24/7 Academy nursery anyway.

    The rare evening she stays home (probably compulsory home rest of some sort, if I know her) tutors are excused for the day instead, and we spend quality time together. In this household, that means sparring, discussing hypothetical mission execution and learning the family justus (read: insane jutsus Mother invented herself).

    It’s still interesting and cool as heck, but sometimes I wonder how Mother would’ve fared raising a regular, non-reincarnated child.

    It would’ve probably been a disaster.

    Mother left up to me what kind of personal lessons I wanted, and I was tempted to say ‘Candy Making’ and ‘International Marketing’ just to see her face. And maybe try to release my own line of sweets under the name ‘Willy Wonka’.

    Still, I couldn’t resist a challenge and picked the hardest subjects I could find.

    Stupid Shimada blood and stupid genetic competitiveness.

    Katekyo A(2) is a nice old widower that was once married to Grass’ best sealing expert. She has a complicated name, so I call her Obaa-chan. ‘Best of Grass’ isn’t really saying much, but that’s more than enough for introductory lessons

    Especially considering I waste days at a time writing down the same set of pencil strokes again and again and again and again. Can’t be helped though, prodigious or not, I’m no Uzumaki to miraculously understand seals just because, I need to go the traditional way.

    Also, a lot of insistence in safety measures. As much as Obaa-chan smiles in front of us, she’s probably freaking out inside, and wondering what the hell was Mother thinking, teaching an art known for causing spontaneous explosions to a seven-year old.

    Anyway, mastery through repetition.

    It’s not a bad feeling, either. To devote all my focus to the repetitive, mechanical action for hours to end, losing myself in the task to the point of blinking in surprise when Obaa-chan lights a candle to counter the encroaching darkness and I finally realize it’s getting late and I’m running out of ink. All very zen.

    Stupid Shimada blood is to blame… somehow.

    Katekyo B is a cheerful young woman who always wears white and used to work as a pharmacist. There was some kind of trouble a couple of years ago and she lost her licence to work, but Mother trusts her to teach me chemistry, at least. She has a funny name I can’t say with a straight face, so I call her Nee-chan.

    Uh… Chemistry back at the Academy is a bit basic for me too but, as opposed to Math, I don’t know everything, so I need to bear the lectures in order to fish out the useful parts. It won’t do to jump ahead only to find my foundations are full of holes.

    Well, in my last life I probably wouldn’t have cared, but… Stupid Shimada blood.

    Still, Nee-chan focuses on the practical parts, teaching me how to follow recipes, standard operating procedures, field lingo and other such things.

    It’s funnier than it sounds, really. Nee-chan makes a game out of it.

    At first I was frustrated with her insistence on treating me my age, but she’s as stubborn as I am and she’s teaching me anyway, so I gave up. It’s not like I absolutely hate playing around for a change, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my studies.



    Stupid Shimada blood, I haven’t put studying before playing a single day in my (old) life.

    Mother doesn’t even stop home for her birthday, and I’m a teensy bit disappointed. I leave the wrapped box with my present over the kitchen table anyway and it mysteriously disappears by morning. Nobody says anything, but from then on Mother starts using a ‘#1 Mom’ mug for anything she drinks at home.

    And I mean anything. Sometimes it gets a bit ridiculous(3).


    My first year in the Academy continues more or less in the same fashion. While I’m still good at understanding and pushing forward in my individual studies, nobody seemed overly surprised when my Math no longer progressed blindingly fast. They just assumed I had plateaued, which was close enough anyway, and didn’t push too hard.

    Pretty much all my studies are ahead of the expectations. Except Brainwashing 101 where I have fun messing around the tests and only answering correctly the very minimum to not fail. And Physical Conditioning, because I’m still very much disinclined to become a shinobi, so I purposefully hold back.

    Er… at home I keep the strict program Mother designed specially for me, I don’t have the heart to sabotage that.



    Nor the death wish.

    During the last months of the year, we are introduced to sparring during our Physical Conditioning time. As per usual, I don’t really give it my all. My opponent is the girl who sits beside me in the classroom, a serious and hard working girl that’s a bit socially awkward and whose name I’m pretty sure rhymes with Tangerine. I call her Shoujo A (4).

    In my mind, of course.

    She’s not in the best physical shape, and I can see her eyes widen in surprise when she finally manages to get me into a chokehold and I tap in defeat. Her expression is kind of amusing, so I don’t burst her bubble, congratulating her with a smile instead.

    In my second match, the following week, a snotty brat I don’t remember at all is my opponent. I lose again without breaking a sweat. Thank you, thank you, I’m just that prodigious. When he opens his big mouth to brag about his victory, I stomp his foot and twist my heel left and right as painfully as I can manage.

    His eyes tear up as he turns towards me with surprise and indignation written all over his face, but he notices my glare and seems to get the hint before saying anything, wisely choosing to shut the hell up and leave quietly.

    Smart boy, I might not want to show off, but I won’t become bully bait either.

    Inevitably, Mother learns of my ‘exploits’. She doesn’t say anything, but it’s easy to see the disappointment on her face. That kind of hurts, especially when we’re sitting at the table after one of those rare family dinners and she peers at me over her ‘#1 Mom’ mug while sipping her tea.

    If she actually puts her worries into words, all my resolve will immediately crumble, but as long as it’s only stares, I can handle it somehow. More worrisome is the calculating glint that shines for a moment before she puts down her mug. That glint spells trouble.

    For me, of course.



    (1) Omurice - Omelet filled with rice and usually topped with ketchup. A dish popular with children in Japan, also a staple in maid cafés menu.
    (2) Katekyo - Home tutor.
    (3) In Japanese cultures, when eating soup and soup-like meals, it is customary to drink the broth after eating everything else. I’m sure you can see where this is going.
    (4) Shoujo A - Girl A. Generic character in old video games often didn’t have a name, and were named in that fashion (Girl A, Girl B, Old Man A… etc.)
     
  4. Threadmarks: 004 - How to end the year with a bang
    Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    004 - How to end the year with a bang (and beat up people)


    By the time my first year at the Academy was ending, I had fallen into a comfortable routine and couldn’t even remember what worried me so much in the first place. All in all, things were going well… I should’ve known it wouldn’t last.

    Eyeing the official-looking envelope offered to me as if it was some sort of particularly nasty viper, I suppress the urge to sudder. Instead addressing the messenger -Muku- with my best icy demeanor. Honestly, my best isn’t all that good. Young girls don’t really have the necessary facial structure to make it work.

    -”What’s this supposed to be?”

    Muku smiles with that disarming apologetic smile of his. It gets on my last nerve, but I just can’t get angry at him when he does that.

    -”It’s from Ryūzetsu’s mother, she was supposed to deliver it, but well… You know how she can get when it’s about you.”

    -”Irrationally hostile and recklessly belligerent?”

    I finish for him distractedly, carefully taking away the envelope and checking it for traps. Not that I know how to check envelopes for traps, just hoping for an excuse to delay the unavoidable. I really don’t want to open it.

    -”I was... trying not to put it into words.”

    -”... My apologies.” -Oh, look! I made the atmosphere uncomfortable!- “It’s kind of cute of her?”

    Muku winces at my poorly thought words, and I struggle not to do the same. Yeah, not my best attempt.

    -”Let’s… not let her hear that, if you would?”

    I nod apologetically, what I suspect is a social bomb still held in my hand. I wonder if it’s too late to incinerate it with one of those Katon techniques I can’t actually perform and vanish from the face of the Earth for a couple of centuries?

    -”Aren’t you going to open it?”

    I blink in a way I suspect paints a rather dumb picture of me, before realizing he’s still here. Occupied with what I suspect is a mild panic attack, he kind of slipped my mind. Blinking a couple more times to no effect, I finally concede and focus on the package.

    The stuffy formal appearance hints at something clan-related, which really narrows down the possible contents. Like a lot. Well, no point in procrastinating anymore. It could still be something completely unrelated.

    Aaaaand… An invitation to some nonsense traditional clan get-together, for myself and a guardian of choice -as I would choose anyone but Mother- since I was an Academy Student and thus part of the Shinobi system. With RSVP, which in ninja clans is basically a subtle way of letting you know that attendance is mandatory.

    And it was for tomorrow. Fan-freakin’-tastic.

    -”...Damn.” -Of course it isn’t something else. Even without the heavily implied command, my situation means I can’t really reject without causing an intra-village diplomatic incident and probably giving Mother a headache. That with Mother’s divorce, the lifetime isolation from them and that man’s incompetently traitorous tendencies- “Tell the kind of cute irrationally hostile and recklessly belligerent bitch I’ll be honoured to assist and all that crap. Now shoo, I have a packed schedule and you’re getting in the way of me trying to laze around.”

    Spoilers: I didn’t manage to laze around. Stupid Shimada blood.


    I should have expected this.

    Seriously, why the heck did I not see it coming?

    I mean, I’m supposed to be a genius, and this development was painfully predictable.

    Stupid Shimada blood.

    What happened, you ask? Just the most pointless five hours of pregnant tension and useless worry of my entire life, that’s what happened.

    After getting the clan invitation, I was understandably unsettled. What exactly was waiting for me at the Haizuki Compound the following day? Mother hadn’t told me peep about that man’s clan even after I confronted her with Ryūzetsu’s presence in my class, so I only had rumors and speculation about them.

    They had a Kekkei Genkai that was very hush-hush, a reputation as schemers and politicians that you’d never guess from Ryūzetsu alone, and Mother didn’t like them. Well, that last one might be an overstatement. I strongly suspect nothing Mother dislikes survives for long. More like they’re treated like a specially foul-smelling smoke fume. You avoid it, but it’s not worth the effort of deatomizing the source.

    All speculation and hearsay, as I already mentioned. Especially about Mother, nobody knows how Mother thinks, except maybe Mother herself.

    In any case, I had to talk to her about this. It couldn’t be pushed back any longer. What was our own clan’s relationship with them? And I mean down to the last detail. Like it or not, I'm kind of a heiress, and my words and actions matter in an official setting. I wouldn’t -couldn’t- make Mother’s life more difficult by stumbling there.

    And the damn event was the following day. And Mother wasn’t at home when I arrived. Because she was on a mission outside the Village and there was no guarantee that she would be back on time to coach me about this, or even to escort me there. Another grave issue I had failed to contemplate.

    It had probably been planned that way, given the Haizuki Clan scheming reputation.

    I could barely focus on my training the whole evening, worrying myself sick and picturing progressively unlikely scenarios. By nightfall I was convinced the invitation was a clever ploy to separate me from Mother and then use some sort of forbidden seal to bend me to their will. They would then use my knowledge of the future and alternative realities to build an army of orbital mechas capable of razing the Elemental Countries with laser beams. Ninja lasers. And maybe train an army of three-eyed radioactive giant scorpions. With two stingers.

    Then Mother arrived. The sheer volume of relief I felt hearing her greetings was only matched by the frustrated self-loathe that immediately followed. Of course Mother had arrived. Of course she would be around for tomorrow’s event. Of course she was two steps ahead of the Haizuki Clan. What the hell had I been thinking?

    Then we actually talked about the gathering, and I discovered it was actually a pretty harmless thing without anything at stake. Sure, I might risk causing some amusement if I said the wrong thing, but nobody expected me to be an accomplished diplomat or did my words carry any weight.

    Probably a lesser woman would feel confused, maybe even horrified, at the way I unceremoniously proceed to repeatedly bash my head against the table while muttering self-deprecating ravings. It's just like me to build a castle out of a grain of sand, really.

    Stupid Shimada blood.

    Mother just arches a brow, more amused than anything else, if I were to venture a guess at her feelings.

    -”With how mature you always act, it’s hard to remember you’re only eight” -She finally says, once my forehead is too sore to keep hitting the table- “I got tomorrow free, so I guess I could escort my cute little daughter to some festivities. It’ll be good mother-daughter bonding time.”

    I snort at that. I can picture Mother doing many things. Great, terrible things, but my brain simply refuses to picture how it would be to have... bonding time with her. It’ll probably involve dodging lethal implements of some fashion or another. At best.

    Then the previous statement registers.

    -”Wait, you were going to leave me to fend with those hyenas alone?”

    -”They aren’t that bad.” -She hesitates- “And they are your family.”

    Was that a statement or a question, Mother dear? For the record, she is my family, the Haizuki are just the somewhat annoying distant cousins you have to bear with for time to time. And Ryūzetsu, who is the definitively annoying distant cousin you have to bear with on a daily basis.

    -”If you say so, Mother…”

    I plop on the table, mentally exhausted after a whole evening of pointless panicking and, surprisingly enough, Mother lets me laze around until dinner. She seems to be in a good mood, I guess she got to torture kittens in her mission or something.


    The ‘little clan get together’ happened to be a somewhat grandiose fair-type celebration. There were stalls with food and games, wide tables where people sat to discuss the latest politics or clan business -read: gossip- with a cup of tea in hand and a gaggle of brats running around and making noise. Never knew there were that many Haizuki in Grass.

    As it turns out, mother-daughter bonding time with Mother consists in wandering calmly from stall to stall, casually demolishing games and proving Shimada metabolism takes a lot of nutritional intake to keep at top condition, verbally lashing anyone who felt entitled to throw insinuations our way -a surprising amount, all things considered. It's like they don’t know who Mother is- and enjoy the soft breeze of this warm-yet-not-too-hot early summer day.

    It’s all quite fun.

    Even if the insinuations got tiresome after a while. Seriously, I get that man had brought shame to their Clan, but he’d shamed Mother too! Trying to blame her for it was beyond dumb. At least I had the satisfaction of knowing no individual had tried twice. While my humble sharp tongue might’ve been able to reduce a brat to tears by the time I entered the Academy, Mother can do the same with fully grown up adults.

    Actually, scratch ‘fun’. I was having a blast. And learning to wield dry sarcasm as a weapon from the best! Moreover, Mother finally got around telling me about the Haizuki in depth, and man, I mean in depth. Name, place in the family tree, affluence and influence, both overt and covert, tastes, routines, blackmail material and threat level of pretty much every assistant is ruthlessly dissected for our personal amusement.

    Then, after the fifth consecutive ‘threat level non-existent’ and with something that could be a slightly apologetic expression, Mother deigns herself to abandon her personal threat level scale and uses a more traditional measure system. One where there is… you know, someone under Kage in the ‘vaguely threatening’ level.

    All in all, the anxiety from yesterday is a thing of the past. My mood couldn’t be better and I can’t even bring myself to care when I find out Ryūzetsu -because of course it’s her fault- has somehow nagged her parents into arranging a series of exhibition duels amongst the attending shinobi brat hopefuls. Including me, of course.

    Whatever, I’ll elegantly lose again and everything will be fine.

    … That’s when I notice the whispers. Here and there, groups of two or three people are throwing sly looks our way and stage-whispering disparaging comments about me and my… less than commendable practical performance in the Academy. I wouldn’t care at all, if they weren’t insinuating it all was somehow Mother’s fault.

    It’s a setup if I’ve ever seen one. Textbook taunts that I could see coming a mile ago. Plus, Mother can kick ass on her own without me getting all riled-up. Actually, in a Village-versus-Mother no-holds-barred match, you wouldn’t catch me betting against her no matter how good the odds.

    Case is, their yapping changes nothing, I still don’t want to stand out.



    Mother isn’t even faced by the comments and, if I could hear, so could her. A hundred times better.



    Nuhup, elegantly losing in round one.



    I’m sorry, I lied.


    Somehow, I made it to the finals. Can you believe it?

    And Ryūzetsu even looked so confident when she stood in front of me last round! I almost felt bad about wiping the floor with her face. Literally and repeatedly. Until she gave up. Something that took a while, that with her mouth being full of dirt and all that.

    … I might be a slightly vindictive person, and all this mess is her fault. After today, I can kiss goodbye to my reputation as a strictly theoretical genius.

    Oh, well, anything worth doing is worth doing right, and I’m already here so might as well do my best. Even if my last opponent is Muku.

    I might’ve mentioned it before, but Muku is a monster. One of those ‘talent of the generation’ creatures of pure skill and power that the shinobi world seems to give birth with relative frequency. Seriously, out of every ten students who drop the Academy, nine did it because they felt they couldn’t compete.

    … That’s a joke, once joining the Academy, graduation is mandatory, in Grass, at least. But Muku’s not less of a monster just because people aren’t allowed to run for their lives. Seriously, how can someone so cute be so strong? Shouldn’t it be against the Geneva Convention or something?

    Oh, wait, ninja. We don’t care.

    -”Are the contestants ready?”

    Ah... crap. He’s already in front of me! Also, fresh like lettuce, because his last match was before mine, and I took my sweet time letting Ryūzetsu taste all the subtle flavours and fragrances of the dust and dirt stepped on by generations of her ancestors.

    Ryūzetsu who, for some unfathomable reason, is Muku’s best friend.

    Man I’m so screwed.

    -”Shimada? I won’t ask again!”

    Okay, Ran. Don’t try anything flowery here, or you’ll be outplayed, and then eat dirt. Don’t improvise, or you’ll be countered, and then eat dirt. Don’t fall into patterns, or you’ll be predicted and then eat dirt. Don’t overextend, or you’ll make a fool out of yourself and then eat dirt.

    Stick to what you know that works, close your defense, take pot-shots whenever possible, but be mindful of feints. Don’t overextend. Keep your cool, bait him into overextending. Pray to all the gods of war and mercy and, most important: Whatever happens, never, ever, under any circumstances, lose.

    Easy… right?

    I send a last, desperate look towards Mother. Okay, desperation is all inside, because if I break my poker face here, I won’t ever live it down. Case is, suddenly the option of giving up is looking really appealing. Then something so unexpected it can be considered paranormal happens.

    Mother smiles, and mouths the words ‘Make me proud’.

    Oh, dear. Now I have no choice, do I?

    Stupid Shimada mom.


    Five minutes in, I had to stop paying attention to the time, because Muku decided it was enough warming up and has been rising the tempo ever since. I’ve done my best to dish out the pain while keeping it away from myself, but Muku’s form and physical strength are leagues above the rest of the class.

    For every hit I barely dodge or deflect by a hair’s breadth, there’s another one already halfway to my face. Trying to grapple is a lost cause, and I find myself wondering whether there’s some sort of eel Kekkei Genkai in his blood, so slippery he is.

    For time to time, I manage to lash out with a fist or a knee, but he just jumps away with the hit, minimizing the already negligible damage I could cause through his damn perfect guards. It's frustrating, it’s tiring and it’s painful. The fact I’m somehow standing my ground makes everything three times worse, because I have to look pathetic from the outside, but don’t really have an excuse to give up.

    By the time a lull allows me to check the sun, it’s already some two hours later. To my pain, tiredness and frustration you can add boredom. Well, not actual boredom, I don’t have time for that, but a dull sort of mental fatigue that comes from continuing a repetitive task, no matter how adrenaline-inducing such a task is. And keeping my head attached to my shoulders is pretty adrenaline inducing, thank you.

    Anyway, I must be losing my common sense, because I decide to hell with not improvising and/or overextending, and his next opening finds a [Shimada Knuckle Sandwich Special (Newly Named Technique)] saying hello to his ribs. He even takes it, huh. Must be as mentally tired as I’m myself if he actually fell for that.

    Of course, he still manages to jump away with the impact, trivializing the damage and leaving me with the frustrating sensation I’ve punched a pillow again. At least I’ll earn some points… Can I win this match by points? That would be kind of lame but at this point I’d take it.

    Not that I have time to ask the referee though, because Muku comes back with a vengeance. And if I thought he was playing rough before, that’s nothing compared with now. His next kick actually makes a crater where I was standing a second before, and I could barely see him coming.

    His follow up is a relentless barrage, and is hard to accept this is the same opponent I was fighting a minute ago. Speed and aggression have gone through the roof, he’s even letting out some killing intent. Granted, his textbook-perfect technique suffers a bit, but at this point, that only makes him harder to predict.

    Somehow, somewhat, I manage to keep myself from taking a clean hit, but finding an opening to attack myself is kind of impossible. Heck his last kick I blocked with my elbow, angling it perfectly to deal damage to his ankle, and all I got for my efforts was a sickening crunch and a sore arm. The monster doesn’t seem to even flinch a little.

    There’s a couple more instances like that, where a perfect counter turns out absolutely ineffective. Heck, I managed to drop all my weight on his left wrist at some point and, far from incapacitating his arm, he almost brains me with that same fist a second later.

    I’m running out of ideas, and maybe missing a good Raiton to try and fry his nervous system a little bit. That should give him pause… right? Still, prodigious or not, I’m a first year Academy student and they won’t teach us nature manipulation for some years yet. Actually, forget elemental releases, without even ninpo at my disposal and weapons being banned from the encounter, my options are very, very limited.

    As in, desperate enough to actually consider ripping off the [Frontal Lotus] from Lee, provided I can find an opening in lieu of [Shadow Dance] that, of course, I have no idea how to perform. And figure out a way to imprint that kind of rotation… somehow. Hey I’m improvising here, trying to draw inspiration from an anime series to pull an impossible victory out of my ass. So bite me. At least Muku’s technique keeps degrading the longer we fight.

    Half-expecting him to grin and bear again, I counter his latest charge with a kick aimed at the same leg that elbow block from before should’ve incapacitated and, to my surprise, he throws himself aside instead. Huh, that move was needlessly emphashized. Is he trying to lure me in?

    But his loss of balance is simply too good to let go and, wary of unexpected counters, I slip around his line of sight and behind him. Quickly, but carefully, ready to abort and cut loses the second a movement out of place reveals his own plans, I throw him into the air with my best upwards kick, timing my jump after him to catch up as soon as he begins his descent.

    Judging by the sudden gasps all around, my successful air grapple surprises the public as much as myself, but I can’t afford to count my eggs just yet. You see, the only possible explanation for Lee’s vertical-axis rotation I can come up with is ‘the power of youth’, and that’s so beyond me.

    But I have a prodigious mind, and physics knowledge miles ahead of what’s actually expected, so instead I use maths, and put a much easier to pull horizontal-axis rotation on my move. This isn’t the [Frontal Lotus] anymore, but assuming my hasty calculations are right, our crazy-ass spin will stop with Muku’s head on the ground. If this doesn’t stop him cold, I’m surrendering.

    -”[Shimada Hiden - Fuusha no Ran (Shimada Secret Technique - Pinwheel Orchid)]!”

    There’s a very satisfying cracking sound when we hit the ground, but after all the shit I’ve been taking this duel, I’m not cheering just yet. Instead, I jump away, keeping a relaxed guard stance and doing my best to catch my breath without showing how freaked out I am.

    I mean, the hell happened with all those rules I had at the start of the match? Is there a single one I didn’t break?... Okay, I’m pretty sure I didn’t fall into any pattern, but that’s it. Also, now that Muku is down and the haze of adrenaline clears up a bit, I might’ve noticed that last recently named technique isn’t just potentially lethal, but to make sure he was hit on the head, my own nape had to graze the ground on the last spin. Just a couple of centimeters off-course and it would’ve been me lying on the ground like a stringless puppet. Sure hope I didn’t kill him tho, mighty favour to do to the only classmate I can actually stand.

    At least there isn’t any blood and… he’s standing up. What. The. Hellish. Hell?

    The referee stops the count and closes in, whispering something in his ear that he answers with a curt nod, eyes fixed on me. As we make eye contact, there’s something on his look that makes me shiver with… anticipation?

    What the fuck is wrong with me? Am I a battle freak? A masochist? Or just so incapable of backing down from a fight I’m willing to keep taking on this monster until he finally grabs a hold on me and breaks me like a twig?

    -”You know what? Screw it.” -Nobody is close enough to hear my muttering, so I raise my voice- “Continuing this duel might end up in severe injuries unwarranted in an exhibition match, I surrender.”

    An incredulous silence falls on the spectators as I give up, I wonder what the hell has they so surprised? Have we been in the same fight? It’s not like I want to end up with a fucking broken bone, or permanent brain damage. That’s no way to start the holidays. Shrugging at their incomprehensible behaviour, I turn to leave. As I’m walking away, a loud thump makes me look back and catch Muku unceremoniously deciding to take a nap right there.

    Huh, never pegged him for the type. The more you know someone...


    Mother smiled all the way back home, and I was too giddy to be creeped out. I mean, maybe I lost the fight, but it was tense and exciting and I haven’t felt so good in… forever! I don’t even mind how my good clothes -remember, this was supposed to be some sort of celebration- got ruined beyond all hope of repair, or how I’m all sweaty and sore and covered in dirt and bruises, because it’s been great! I can’t wait to… Wait a moment.

    Stupid Shimada blood. It does come with a berserker switch after all.

    Still, we have omurice for dinner and by the time I hit the Academy tomorrow everyone will know I can trounce anyone in a spar if I bother to take it seriously -Well, anyone but Muku, who is a damn beast, as previously stated- and I won’t be able to laze around anymore and I can’t bring myself to care because my body is still soaked in dopamine and tomorrow will be a bitch but that’s a problem for Future Ran.

    Today, I kicked ass and took names, and it doesn’t matter I never wanted to, because now I have it and it’s too soon to regret it, so I hug and even contemplate kissing Mother -just contemplate. I’m giddy, not suicidal- and go to bed thinking about how I most likely ruined the Haizuki Clan show of force.

    Actually, I’m probably doing the clan a favour, because Mother can be surprisingly protective when the time’s right, and setting me to be humiliated most likely counts as ‘right time’. Let me remind you Mother’s ass-kicking only has two settings, ‘disciplining daughter’ and ‘smoldering crater’ and I’m pretty sure only I ever get the first setting.

    I’m so privileged.

    Also, tomorrow is the last day before the summer holidays, so I won’t have to worry about breaking character till we start our second year, so that’s good. It also means I’ll have a lot of alone time with Mother right as I decided to show all and sundry I’m actually a competent fighter. That’s bad.

    Still Future Ran's problem. Sweet Akasha bless that girl, who takes all the shit I raise without a word of complaint.


    Our last day is remarkably subdued. I mean, rumours are running rampant and everyone eyes me fearfully and apparently I threw Muku all the way to the mountains, or maybe I threw the mountain at him. Depends who you ask. Neither Ryūzetsu nor Muku assisted today and I don’t like talking, so there’s no one to put a stop to the wilder rumours.

    I’m also sore as fuck, and too preoccupied with the shit Past Ran rose yesterday to pay much attention to anything. It’s not like we have actual lessons on our last day anyway.

    Later I learn they’re both in the hospital, and Muku even has some broken bones. I wonder if they fell down the stairs or something? Picturing that monster tripping and falling down the stairs is somewhat amusing. Picturing Ryūzetsu tripping and Muku trying to grab her and ending up wounding himself worse is even better. Damn the scene in my mind seems straight out from a school romcom.

    Man I needed that laugh.

    … This summer's gonna suck.

     
  5. Threadmarks: 005 - Summer of fun and games
    Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    005- Summer of fun and games (seriously now, please send help!)



    My first day of summer holidays in my whole life -this one whole life, bite me- turns out to be fairly… boring. Mother is away on a two-days mission that should end this evening, Katekyo A & B are enjoying their own holidays and I have literally zero responsibilities or commitments to occupy my time with.

    A long time ago, in what some idiot feeling too smart for his own good would call a lifetime ago, I would’ve procrastinated more than half the morning away in bed, and the rest binging wikipedia or TV Tropes, sneaking a quick shower somewhere… maybe. Probably taken a nap after lunch for good measure and wasted the rest of the day gaming like there was no tomorrow. Technically true, ‘Tomorrow’ is Future Ran’s business.

    At this point of my life, well... I jumped out of bed out of sheer boredom at half past five, having grown restless after half an hour turning and throwing. Before nine, I’ve run through all the training one can realistically fit on an empty stomach, made and ate breakfast. Before eleven, make that all the training an eight years old body can healthily fit in a morning, chakra or not and taken a luxuriously long bath.

    And I’m getting restless again. Stupid Shimada blood.

    I roll on the floor for about five minutes, before getting sick with it and taking out my writing supplies. Might as well get some practice drawing seals. With lead ink. On chakra isolant paper. Last time I used even vaguely reactive materials unsupervised Katekyo A actually bent me on her knee and tanned my hide. That wasn't fun. Like, at all.

    That manages to have me occupied until it’s time to make lunch. Because Mother gave up on having premade dishes for me shortly after I became six and could reach the stove. Homemade food is, like, five times tastier. And I kinda like cooking.

    That still leaves me long hours of evening ahead, and I’m not feeling even a teensy little bit drowsy, so no point in going for a nap. Katekyo B will skin me if I try mixing poisons without adult supervision so the only thing to do is review. Which I do for a couple of hours.

    Great, it’s now four, and I have to kill, at the very least least, another four hours before Mother arrives. In a productive way, because I can’t really relax while wasting time anymore. Stupid Shimada blood.

    Another hour working on my aim with kunai, another hour and a half dusting and wiping the floors in desperation. In the end, I crack open the cryptanalysis assignments for the summer. My plan was to take it easy and begin at some point next month but…

    Stupid Shimada blood.

    -”I’m home.”

    Mother’s voice pulls my mind away from the matrix of nightmares and despair I’m currently working on, feeling a bit surprised she’s home so early. Then I see the moon high in the sky. I’ve somehow absorbed myself into this for hours. Heck I’ve burned through a good quarter of the full thing already!

    At this rate I’ll die of boredom before the first week is over.

    So you can imagine my mood wasn’t exactly cheerful during dinner. If Mother caught on it though, she doesn’t comment. And I’m not in the mood to try and decipher her poker face, so we eat up in silence.

    It’s only when I’m cleaning up that she speaks up again.

    ”Tomorrow we leave on a frontier patrol mission. C-rank. Easy to complete but somewhat long duration, great for a first experience. It’ll be an allied frontier, so we don’t expect trouble.” She pauses a moment before adding a last comment “It’ll be like camping out, really.”

    And it takes me a moment to realize she’s trying to make it look more appealing.

    Because, you know, I’m kind of freaking out here. What kind of responsible parent takes her eight years old daughter for a frontier patrol mission? Mother does, obviously.

    ”Ehm, Mother? Never would I question the soundness of your proposals, but you are aware a single year at the Academy doesn’t make a shinobi out of me, right? I’m pretty sure I technically can’t even leave the walls of the Village without a damn good reason.”

    Mother dismissively waves a hand around, while holding her cup with the other. The tea inside doesn’t even ripple.

    ”Heirship takes preference over your Academy Student status, I can apply the rules of Apprenticeship to you without anyone arching a brow.”

    Well, isn’t that flattering? I know very well Mother doesn’t play favorites. Daughter or not, heiress or not, she wouldn’t officially take me under her wing unless I met her unrealistic standards. Apprenticeship is business, and she never mixes those with feelings. Also...

    ”Mother, you do remember I don’t really aim to become shinobi, right?” I try arching a brow Mother-style, but I’m pretty sure it comes out wrong. Also, my teacup shakes with the attempt. Damnit. “I’m assisting the Academy simply because they provide the best education.”

    ”Some experience in the field wouldn’t hurt, no matter your future plans, but if you’re so against it, I can go alone. The Mission is already accepted.” She clarifies at my confused expression. “I trust you’ll be responsible enough to take care of the house when I’m away.”

    There’s no trace of smugness on her words, and they’re delivered in an almost perfect neutral tone. A bit disappointed at first, severe and a bit concerned towards the end. Just as any normal mother would when talking about leaving her daughter home alone.

    But Mother is anything but normal, and she knows how I’ll react to those words. And I know what she’s really feeling, even if she lets out no indication. After almost dying of boredom today, staying two months alone here isn’t really an option.

    No way in heck I’m having a summer consisting of sixty todays.


    On second thought, I bitterly reflect two days later, doing my best to keep up with Mother’s imposed pace. Maybe sixty days of utter boredom wouldn’t have been all that bad, really. Seriously, this woman I love and fear so much has no concept of human limitations, much less 8-years-old bodies limitations.

    Actually, forget the hellish pace. That’s nothing by itself. The real problem is Mother’s apparently decided using the road, or even an Akasha-damned animal track is too plebeian for us Shimada. It is not for me, thank you very much. I’m still human. So far I’ve held to my stubbornness with single-minded determination. Somehow managing to shut my complaints up and follow, but today I’ll sleep like the dead, and I suspect trying to stand up tomorrow will be a fool’s errand.

    ”Alright, here should be fine.” Mother’s voice pulls me out of my misery. “It’s time to induct you into some of the Shimada secret traditions.”

    Without waiting for my grunt of acknowledgement, she pulls some absurdly quick hand seals that I can only assume are some kind of privacy measure and pulls out a terribly nondescript scroll. Suspiciously nondescript, actually, I wouldn’t be able to point out any of its features even if my life depended on it.

    ”This” she continues. “Is the Shimada Forbidden Scroll.”

    That sends my head spinning. Because heck, I hadn’t known our clan has its own Forbidden Scroll! That means the blatant ‘non-descriptyness’ is probably a safety measure, nobody will remember or search for something they literally can't pay attention to.

    It also kinda sorta makes sense we’re in the middle of nowhere now, no matter how secure a secure location supposedly is, there’s always a risk of it being infiltrated and/or bugged. But a random spot in the wilderness halfway to our very boring C-Rank border patrol? Only an extremely bored stalker or sheer chance will have us being watched.

    -”Exactly.” Oops, did I say that out loud? “At the current time, there’s exactly three beings in existence who could shadow us without letting out a recognisable chakra signature. I can counter two of them through other means and instilled the fear of God in the third years ago. We are as secure as is humanly possible.”

    As secure as humanly possible and then some, I’d bet, Mother is overkill like that. Still…

    ”Why now?” I can’t help but ask. “Is there some sort of tradition?”

    ”Indeed, only those who contribute to the scroll can partake on it’s secrets.”

    I… might’ve frozen in the spot, because an undetermined amount of time later, Mother’s voice shakes me out of my surprised stupor.

    [Shimada Hiden - Fuusha no Ran]

    ”But…!” I try to protest, half-mortified and half-flattered. “That was just a silly move put together on the spur of the moment! I don’t really deserve this.”

    ”Correction, daughter. Your [Shimada Knuckle Sandwich Special] was a silly move put together on the spur of the moment, and that isn’t going into the scroll.” I… might blush a teensy little bit at that. Back then, adrenaline running high and common sense jumping through the window, I’d apparently yelled the name of the move. “The [Pinwheel Orchid], on the other hand, is a work of art. A highly lethal move requiring zero chakra to pull off. You and the Muku brat can’t weigh much more than a hundred pounds put together. Imagine now that same rotation, but triple the weight.”

    ”By the square-cube law... Ouch.”

    ”Exactly. And it can be deployed while low on chakra, or in circumstances when it’s usage is contraindicated for whatever the reason.” Then she smiles again and it's weird and warm and I don’t know how to deal with the feelings, so I look away. “You, dear daughter of mine, made me inordinately proud back then. Now, I have a vague idea of what you did, but explain the method for the record, as detailed as you can manage.”

    ”Physics.”

    ”That’s… not very detailed.”

    ”It’s all based on Physics and precise on-the-fly calculation. After I connected my kick I calculated how high he would rise. From there I knew how much strength I had to use on my own jump, when and where to grapple to imprint the necessary rotation. How many revolutions until we hit the ground. Which parts of the formulae to change on the fly to deal with unexpected variables. The Taijutsu involved is insultingly basic. All the merit goes to the high-speed math applied to real life behind it.”

    ”A high-risk high-returns bet where everything depended on your ability to calculate the desirable outcome and compensate for any unexpected factor practically as it happened. A bet that put your head less than two inches from splattering against the floor, just to try and win an exhibition match where nothing was at stake.”

    As she keeps talking, her tone gets more somber, and the warm feeling on my chest gradually turns into a chunk of ice.

    ”That was prideful and greedy beyond all measure.”

    I swallow with difficulty, wondering how exactly would I manage to apologize for such a fuck up. Especially because I wasn’t really sorry about it. And you can’t lie to Mother.

    ”Yes, you are a Shimada to the bone. The fact it relies more on on-the-fly calculations that muscle reflexes means the move cannot be copied down by that distasteful pink eye of the Uchiha. I believe you deserve to write down your technique yourself. Good job, my daughter.”

    And with that, she left to set camp for the night, leaving me with a scroll in a hand and a quill on the other, wondering what kind of messed up family praises suicidal pride and disproportionate greed. The Shimada, apparently.



    Stupid Shimada blood.
     
  6. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

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    ch5 is missing a threadmark

    watched :D
     
  7. Sceptic

    Sceptic Critical Irrationalist

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    short should presumably be sort in both these cases.

    Looking forward to more.
     
  8. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    Thanks for the heads up, fixed now
     
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  9. M4DM0XX1

    M4DM0XX1 "Always love a good tip."

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    Glad to see that this got it's own thread. The story is great
     
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  10. Edifier

    Edifier Trusted within thoughts.

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    The English names are a thousand times better than the Japanese names for the skills. Cause I don't understand a lick of Japanese :Vand forget the foreign words in a blink.

    You write well!​
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
    Planeshunter likes this.
  11. One-who-reads

    One-who-reads Illuminatus

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    This is a fantastically good story. It's good enough that I now feel compelled to look into everything else you've posted.
     
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  12. alethiophile

    alethiophile Shadowed Philosopher Administrator

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    This is good. Makes me nostalgic for old Naruto fics.
     
  13. Threadmarks: 006 - It's a brand new world
    Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    006 - It’s a brand new world (Of pain)


    Training with Mother is a grueling experience in the best circumstances. Training with Mother on an isolated spot within a nondescript forest, where nobody can hear you scream, is the stuff of nightmares. When left to my own devices, my stupid Shimada blood wakes me up around five in the morning, and doesn’t let me laze arond without growing restless.

    Man, were those the good times, Mother barely allows me three hours of sleep, and by the time she wakes me up, she’s perfectly awake and ready for the day herself, slightly disapproving frown at my apparent inability to function without freaking sleep.

    Then we warm up for the day.

    Remember that first day of holidays, when I was bored out of my head and trained to the limit of physical exertion? I apologize, I lied. Turns out the limits of my physical body are way beyond anything my worst nightmares could’ve concocted. What I did that day was a joke. Like my life, that’s a joke too. And I don’t like the punchline, mainly because what it punches is my face. With flawlessly manicured hands capable of demolishing trees five times my girth.

    Yes, I was rediscovering my limits. It was an enlightening experience. Terrifying, painful and cruel, for sure, but certainly enlightening.

    On the plus side, I got to know Mother better. Mother out in the field and Mother back home are practically two different people. Two perfectly flawless people, for sure, but still. Watching her on the job was awe-inspiring. But also plain inspiring. A couple of times I caught myself actually feeling tempted to pursue the shinobi life for real. That’s during the brief moments of respite when the muscle cramps weren’t actually bad enough for me to wish [Infinite Tsukuyomi] would be executed already so I could run to a happy place, of course. That is to say, once or twice a week, tops. Because the experience also was plain awful.

    In spite of everything, I was grudgingly grateful at the chance. This will come to you as a surprise, but Mother is actually cool as all heck and, pain aside -dear Akasha, so much pain-, I actually loved being close to her while she did something she loved.

    Don’t get me wrong, she was a great -flawless- mother, and I have no doubt -anymore- than she loves me, but nobody would miss the fact that shinobi life was actually her life’s calling.

    … Nobody capable of looking past her poker face, that is, so probably just me.

    Reached this point, you’re probably expecting the moment when things inevitably go wrong. You know, we find an enemy infiltration team trying to cross the border, or find Zetsu eating people or maybe a demonic invasion in the making.

    Ok, fine, we did run into trouble.

    Or… maybe it’s better to say trouble ran into Mother.

    We were some five weeks into the mission when it happened. I was very carefully holding back any relief I felt over the fact I had survived the halfways mark. No need to tempt fate and all that. Of course, Fate decided to be a jerk and ignore my religious respect for Murphy.

    The group of five lightly armored shinobi wearing blank white masks landed literally in the middle of the clearing we were setting camp for the night. I couldn’t help a loud groan. Root operatives, why did it have to be Root operatives?

    ”You are trespassing in Grass territory” Mother states calmly, posture relaxed as if this was an everyday occurrence. ”If you have adequate justification, you may present it now.”

    Suffice to say they didn’t react in a manner suggesting they were supposed to be there. And then Mother put them down. Hard. Holy Akasha, Madoka and the Golden Triforce, I know Mother was good but what I saw then… Or rather, what I didn’t see, because it all happened too fast.

    One moment they were preparing to attack, -four of them facing Mother, the last one very blatantly aiming at me- the next they were laying on smoldering craters on the ground, a generous amount of gore hinting what had just happened to their suddenly missing heads.

    Mother is scowling lightly, and that’s the most expression I’ve ever seen in her normally impassive face.

    ”I know trying to get a hostage is standard procedure in situations like this” She comments, failing badly at trying to sound nonchalant. “But seriously, going after my daughter is just asking for trouble.”

    … And that was that, really.

    Well, most of it. After dinner, Mother insisted I should take the chance to learn how to make a proper battle report. Insufferable nitpicking about proper wording aside, that opened my eyes to a series of things.

    Like how there’s been a subtle wide area genjutsu around us the whole summer, encouraging others to come close. A particularly devious one that makes our base seem more appealing the more furtive one is feeling.

    Or how the Root operatives had tripped some kind of silent warning I hadn’t even noticed. When I asked about it though, Mother just said ‘clan secret, you’ll learn when you’re older’.

    Or how Danzo’s implication in the whole deal couldn’t be properly put into paper and had to be insinuated instead. The way Mother talked about the man, one might think she actually respects the twisted creep. Which is absurd, so whatever.

    For some reason, the only thing she wrote down about the fight was that the operatives were ‘put down with extreme prejudice’ which actually made me burst in a fit of hysterical giggles. Because that was absolutely true. I’ve never seen Mother show such extreme prejudice against anything before.

    So yeah, turns out Mother had had everything under control from beginning to end. All… except the fact that I might be seen as a possible hostage. Somehow that shocked her. Guess even the most flawless inhuman taskmistresses have their blind spots.

    Still, it’s heartwarming to know she cares so much about me. I guess another #1 Mom gift will be waiting for her on her next birthday too.


    It took me another couple of weeks to notice something wrong, and we were already returning when I put all the pieces together. It had been subtle, or maybe not, but it’s hard to notice anything when you wake up with your muscles screaming and go back to bed with them crying. Or while you’re doing push-ups and dodging thrown shuriken at the same time. Or… I’m sure you get my point.

    The learning curve had gotten steeper after that encounter.

    Mother was trying to make me strong as fast as she could, she was obviously more affected by the encounter than I thought.

    And, in spite of all the pain involved, I couldn’t help but feel a purring warmth inside my chest at the knowledge.

    ...Stupid Shimada blood.

    Homecoming turns out to be a mixture of relief and disappointment. On the one hand, this marks the end of two months struggling to survive and back to the -relatively- sane life in the village. On the other, it means far less time with Mother, which I’ll admittedly miss, and there’s a non-zero chance I’ll now find school life -even more- dull.

    That and all the trouble I put aside to enjoy my vacation will come back with a vengeance. Joy.

    So, in the end, I’m already starting to stress out again before ever arriving home. Walking past Ryūzetsu on the way didn’t really help matters. The bitch sported a tan that spoke of long hours under the sun, and bandages and band aids that hinted at a training as intense as my own. Guess I won’t just roflstomp her this year.

    Getting back into town has also led to some… uncomfortable realizations. You see, I am now aware my ‘training from hell’ wasn’t as productive as I would’ve hoped. Improvement is clearly in the eye of the beholder.

    Oh, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like Mother putting me through the wringer was useless. I’m strong, stronger than any nine years old has any right to be. Strong enough to notice the actually strong people going out and about their daily jobs.

    Few things are as humbling as going through the gruelling training required to be able to actually tell the difference between you and a real shinobi. For now, for the first time, I can actually catch them moving around when they go about their business. Through the rooftops, trees and even waterways.

    And I still can’t catch sight of any ANBU. Or whatever Grass equivalent is called, we ‘officially’ don’t have special ops but… yeah, right.

    In any case, It’s not that my training was ineffective, it just wasn’t… as effective as I had assumed.

    And while that would’ve caused me to shrug and go on with my life once upon a time, now it stings my pride something fierce. Maybe I should try and make use of the Academy training to get something produ—

    Wait a minute. No, I won’t fall for it! I don’t want to be a ninja, damnit!

    Stupid Shimada blood.
     
  14. One-who-reads

    One-who-reads Illuminatus

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    Next #1 MOM gift needs to be a soup bowl. So she can stop being weird with broth.

    Also, this is some of the best "unreliable narrator" writing I've ever seen.
     
  15. alethiophile

    alethiophile Shadowed Philosopher Administrator

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    I love the "Shimada blood" gag.
     
  16. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    On the subject of unreliable narrator, it's one of my favorite resources. I should probably credit "Kumo ga nani desu ka" light novel helping me discover this guilty pleasure. I mean, sure, I had seen it before, but that's where I saw it milked for all it's worth for the first time. Word of caution to anyone curious enough to search for it, as far as I'm aware the light novel only has machine translations, read at your own risk.

    I love it, this is now Ran's plan.

    Glad you like it, it began as a one-liner, but it kinda fit everywhere, so it grew o me.
     
  17. Grinningmadhatter1

    Grinningmadhatter1 #OrcPrivilege

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    This be pretty good, good job author
     
  18. One-who-reads

    One-who-reads Illuminatus

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    Usually you see unreliable narration used for a massive twist, like in fight club, and you do not talk about fight club. Or, you see it used in order to leave the actual events open to interpretation, like in Joker.

    This is the first time I've seen it used for comedic value.
     
  19. Threadmarks: 007 - Back to School
    Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    Right till I published this, I was working simultaneously on four chapters, using a fifth doc with notes as reference material. I’m still working on three. It’s madness, please send help!


    007 - Back to school (oh, how I have missed you!)




    The new school year starts with a surprise. And not a bad surprise either, in spite of what I’ve grown used to. I… hesitate to call it good news either, but at the very least it’s not a bad thing. A new student has enrolled.

    “First things first.” Narutaki-sensei starts after the customary greetings and welcome backs. “I want you to welcome a new classmate.”

    There’s a lot of surprised and curious chatter at this announcement, and sensei has to wait a whole minute until speculations about our new classmate and what their possible cool and/or tragic backstory would be for them to get introduced in second year. Personally, I found the theory of a ninja princess from outer space was surprisingly thought out.

    “This is Uzumaki Karin.” Well, that is a surprise. And not a space ninja princess either. Even if she’s a ninja and she is -or will become- the last surviving female of her clan, and ninshu was invented by a half-alien.





    Actually, that means she almost qualifies. Wow, that theory was close to the mark, after all.

    You’ve probably noticed how I didn’t mention her presence there during my first year in spite of how she’s the only thing I used to consider important in Kusa, back at the beginning? Yeah, that wasn’t an oversight, she just wasn’t there. So I just assumed she wasn’t my age (or her education was lagging/too advanced) and went with my life. At first I was too busy being frustrated by my own prodigiousness and then it kind of slipped my mind.

    According to her introduction, that she spends quietly staring at her feet while Narutaki-sensei does all the talking, she and her parents have recently abandoned their wandering lifestyle to join Kusagakure. If I was a cynical person, I’d assume they were captured by Kusa-nin and extorted into it and— Oh, wait, I am!

    At least they had the decency to assign Karin to the Academy instead of, dunno. Chaining her down in some hospital dungeon so people can bite and suck on her tender, underaged body?

    … Wow, that sounds even worse than expected, but you know what I mean.

    “Um…” A hesitant voice interrupts my reveries. Oh, hey! It’s Karin! “Do you mind if I sit here?”

    “Sure, there’s room to spare.” I mean, I’ve never been particularly popular in the class, but I’ve returned from my summer vacation to find everyone giving me a wide berth. That includes leaving the seats around me empty.

    I wonder what sort of rumours Ryūzetsu has been spreading around? I mean, I don’t care, and never wanted to get close to the brats in class anyway, but I’m kind of surprised by how effective it was. Everyone seems to be wary of me.

    … Well, she is a Haizuki, reputed for their political scheming and plotting minds, maybe her brutish and poorly thought-out behaviour the last year was a smokescreen so I would underestimate her? Stealing a glance her way, I can see her eyes trying to drill a hole on my head. Nope, no chance, still dumb as a brick. Maybe her family moved some strings in the background? That sounds more likely.

    Oh well, nothing for it. Looks like I’ll have a peaceful, unbothered year.

    Which reminds me, there’s a cute and adorably shy redhead sitting right beside me, stealing peeks my way when she thinks I can’t see. I wonder why she picked to sit beside me? I mean, sure, there’s free space around, but there are other free seats in the room.

    Maybe she finds some sort of kinship? My appearance is pretty unremarkable, after all. In spite of my stupidly prodigious blood, I’m all Haizuki genetics on the outside, with my dull pale hair and my dull pale skin and my dull pale eyes, so maybe the shy girl feels I’m safe to approach?

    Ah… but she’s not saying anything, which makes sense, because as stated she’s shy.

    Should I open up the conversation? I should open up the conversation. If I’m reading her right, Karin won’t even try. It falls to the (mentally) adult to reach out. But I have no idea how! Social interactions are not the thing I excel at and my stupid Shimada blood isn’t helping! What am I supposed to say, ‘Nice weather we’re having, Doormat-chan?’







    … Damnit, I said that out loud, didn’t I?


    For the rest of the day, Karin follows me around like a lost puppy. Is frankly adorable, if a bit confusing. Shouldn’t she get mad with the poorly thought out nickname I gave her? It has caught like fire amongst the kids and I know I would’ve hated for that to happen to me.

    … In my last life, I mean, now I wouldn’t give a fuck.

    Eh, she’s adorable anyway. She’s also pretty smart, easily keeping up with our theoretical courses. One would assume she would need help adjusting to the new curriculum, but I only have to give her a few pointers along the day. I’d pat her head for her good work, but the only time I tried she flinched something fierce. So I guess that’s out the question for now. Man, way to kill the mood.

    … Incidentally, I wonder if I can find out who inducted her and her parents into the village, and have some words with them? Just to make sure they’re not ruining the reputation of Kusagakure with their actions, you understand.

    All things considered, it’s nice that there’s no point in hiding my physical skills anymore, because suddenly I have a lot of aggression to work through. After a good hour of trying to beat the crap out of my sparring partner while trying not to have mine beat out by him, I trade the conciliation sign with Muku and turn around, only to find Karin nursing a black eye and Ryūzetsu looking smug.

    Akasha damnit, I just can’t win today.

    Karin clamps down after that, not that she’d opened up much in the first place, but afterwards she becomes practically mute, stubbornly following me everywhere but refusing to look anyone in the eye. Damn but poor girl has had it rough. Leaving the building after the last class, it gets into my mind that I should try and cheer her up somehow.

    “So…” I hesitate, trying not to show how utterly lost I’m currently feeling. “Want to go grab a bite or something? My treat.”

    “Uh… I...” She hesitates, and she’s still refusing to look anywhere but her feet so I still can’t get a friggin’ read on her! “Mama wants me to go straight back home after school.”

    “Oh...” I’m… not relieved by this. And I don’t get why. It was an uncomfortable situation I didn’t know how to face and now it’s gone away, so how come I’m feeling disappointed? “Well, see you tomorrow then?”

    She nods without looking up, and leaves in the opposite direction from Home.


    “I’m Home.”

    I mutter a greeting as soon as I close the door behind me, but home is empty, Mother being busy with some mission or another outside the country. Katekyo A and Katekyo B won’t come visit until the next week and there’s no one else

    It’s nothing I’m not used to, but after two months with Mother, it feels a bit lonely. Almost enough to mope around, but I get too restless by improductive shit like that. At least it means I can’t get broody, I guess.

    Stupid Shimada blood is useful for something, apparently.

    Instead I grab some chicken breasts, bell peppers and onions to make dinner. You wouldn't believe how rare it was to find homemade food in this house before I put my foot down and took matters on my own hands? Mother was never one to cook herself, so it was all precooked meals and takeaways.

    On second thought, I think I mentioned that before. And now I’ve made too much food for just myself. All the summer cooking for two busy shinobi with specially active metabolisms going through grueling training does that to your habits.

    And now I have a huge pile of leftovers and nobody to share them with, I guess I’ll just stuff everything on the fridge and make it a problem for Future Ran. Bless that child.

    After dinner I dust the sealing supplies to get some practice, since it is something I had to neglect during summer training. I might also take a look at this school year’s curriculum later, if only to make sure nothing catches me by surprise. The cryptology stuff will have to wait though, I just delivered my summer homework and they won’t give me anything to do until they go over it and decide what level I’m at.

    Apparently they mixed in things supposedly way over my head and I wasn’t expected to do everything.

    Stupid Shimada blood…

    Anyway! Let’s grab the brush, the non-reactive paper and the lead-loaded ink and lose ourselves in the comforting repetitiveness of sealing practice! Man, I love now all superfluous thoughts seem to fade away, making way for perfect concentration.

    No place in my mind for cute and shy girls.

    I am a bastion of focus and discipline.

    Yeah, there’s no way I’d be distracted by scarlet eyes behind rimmed glasses that I can only imagine because she’s never held my gaze.

    For the brush and the seals are the only thing I care about now.

    I take a look at the clock, it’s been two and a half minutes. I throw the brush against a wall in frustration and lean back until I’m resting on the tatami. This is useless.

    Ah… I really wanted to pat her head...

    Wait, I can box all those leftovers from dinner to take tomorrow to the Academy as bento. And then offer to share and use that as an excuse to… no, it wouldn’t work, she’s too skittish.

    Still, it’ll be something to do with the leftovers, so I guess operation sharing bento is a go.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2020
  20. Sceptic

    Sceptic Critical Irrationalist

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    We'll get right on that - what do you need to get you back up to four again?
     
  21. EddyQ

    EddyQ J̶us͜t ͡a͠ Č̘͚̲̝̟̞ͪͪͅa̜̖̞̥̘͙ͯ̓͐ͮ̾͛t̯̯͔̟͐͗̊͝

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    Are you sure this is SFW? I'm getting the case of FEELS after reading this. You already tried for headpats, what else will be there, hugging? Handholding?!!
     
  22. Edifier

    Edifier Trusted within thoughts.

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    Doormat-chan, Doormat-chan! I love it.
     
    One-who-reads likes this.
  23. alethiophile

    alethiophile Shadowed Philosopher Administrator

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    That is extremely cute.
     
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  24. Hibbubbly

    Hibbubbly ..・ヾ(。><)シ

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    Late to the party but I have to say I appreciate that the setting is in Kusa rather than Konoha which has become somewhat tired and predictable. I look forward to seeing what plot(s) develop without the crutches of the conventional Naruto canon fic timeline (Academy -> Team 7 -> Wave -> etc).
    Also, I have to agree. I've seen the gamut of flawed MCs and unreliable narrators but playing it off as 'Shimada blood' really tickles my humour. I'm interested in seeing where this goes!
     
    One-who-reads likes this.
  25. App E

    App E Know what you're doing yet?

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    Loved that series something fierce, love the use of that trope throughout this, it's really well done. If I recall correctly, after the MTL was pretty far in, Raising the Dead did a proper go through of Kumo and did the whole thing as a proper TL.
     
  26. Hylas_Daemonem

    Hylas_Daemonem Getting out there.

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    That was really cute, but the flinching was worrisome. And the possible bad home life. Karin-chan, plz be ok...
     
  27. Threadmarks: 008 - Apparently I'm being bullied now
    Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    008 - Apparently I’m being bullied now (And it’s kind of underwhelming)




    “Hey Karin!”

    I call her attention as soon as I see her stepping into the classroom, so she doesn’t have trouble locating me. I had to sit somewhere else since there’s a spill of sauce in my usual seat. It’s not a big deal, but I’m a bit miffed. Because sure, they’re all brats here, but the students from the evening shift eating in class and being clumsy enough to spill it all over a seat speaks poorly of them. And let’s not mention whoever is in charge of cleaning up that just… ignored it.

    Maybe they only clean once per week? I don’t want to think poorly of anyone here. I forget it the moment Karin reaches me. As I mentioned, it’s not a big deal. It also means I have brats sitting around me for once, which is not great, but there’s still a spot for Karin right beside me.

    “So...” What’s a pretty harmless topic I can use for small talk? “What do you think of Kusa?”

    There’s that flinch again. What did I say? Ugh, I’m not good at this small talk thing. I blame not being exposed to it while growing up. The way she stubbornly refuses eye contact isn’t helping matters.

    “Um, it’s a… nice place?” She tries. “I haven’t had time to explore yet.”

    “Wow, I knew you were new, but didn’t realize you were that new.” She could’ve arrived months ago and I wouldn’t know, that with my training camp from hell. “Do you want to go exploring sometime? I can play guide and show you the best places!”

    “Mama wants me to go straight home after school.”

    “Yeah, forgot about that.” Such a restrictive situation, is this what they call helicopter parenting? “Say, I made too much food yesterday, so I packed an extra bento. Want to share?”

    That seems to catch her flat footed and, for the first time, she raises her head to look straight at me. Remember how I daydreamed about head patting her yesterday? That mental picture I had on her eyes based on what I remember from my other life? Yeah, it doesn’t even compare.

    She has the cutest round face with the brightest eyes I’ve ever seen, huge and red and utterly precious. I shake for a moment, barely able to hold back my urge to squee and trap her in a bear hug and pat her head and never let go again. Then Sensei arrives and the moment is lost.

    … Curses, I never heard whether Karin wants to have lunch with me or not.


    For what I’m seeing in the classes, second year will be a re-enactment of the first. That is, some classes where I go with different groups because I’m too advanced for them, some classes where I just sit there and do my own thing because I’m too advanced for the friggin’ curriculum and a lot of classes of mostly shit I already know, mixed with just enough tidbits I need to pay attention to if I want to have a solid foundation.

    At least I now have Karin and she’s paying so much attention to the teacher… It would be a shame if someone called the teacher’s bullshit.

    “Fifty Kusa jounin during the Shiranui Engagement?” I mean, History is full of bullshit, but this particular piece is also very obvious. “Yeah, I don’t buy it.”

    My comment startles her out of her focused reverie, and she does her best attempt at discreetly turning her head towards me.

    “Because of the size of our village.” I elaborate. “We can hardly afford to send fifty jounin away in total right now, and we’ve grown a lot since the Second Shinobi War. Plus, remember yesterday’s lesson? Kusa was recovering from a wasting disease back then, that means even fewer bodies to throw at our problems.”

    “Wow, Shimada-san is really smart!” I wince a bit at the volume of her whisper. If sensei hasn’t heard it I’ll eat my hat. Which has some merit, since I don’t wear one.

    “This one was kinda blatant, normally the historians at least try to make it believable. And I keep telling you to call me Ran!”

    “Shimada, Uzumaki! Stay behind after class!”

    Karin looks mortified and immediately turns her focus back to the teacher. I just hold back a sigh. Seems like I’ll have to teach the girl some stealth before we get into more trouble.


    Something’s going on.

    All day long. Things have been… strange at the Academy.

    All that business with an incopetently traitorous father means I’ve always received a certain degree of animosity. Ryūzetsu is the only one to actually act upon it, but heated glares and snide comments behind my back are things I’ve learnt to ignore.

    As long as it doesn’t go beyond that, I have no reason to brutally retaliate and leave their souls broken and their eyes tearful.

    But now, that attitude has increased tenfold. Was this going on yesterday too? Can’t remember, was too busy feeling relieved that summer’s finally over, and giddy about Karin joining the class.

    Still, if it was just that, I would’ve just ignored it like usual. But some bitch tried to trip me when I was called to the blackboard. More tellingly, the teacher pointedly looked away from the incident.

    When I went back to my seat, I had to reset the trap on my bookbag, because someone had tried to sneak a hand inside. Well, sneaking is a bit of a big word. She was anything but stealthy about it.

    And sensei ignored it again, that’s when I knew he’s on whatever’s going on.

    In any case, they’ve been blatant enough. I don’t need Mother’s awareness training nor my stupid Shimada blood to realize that, as ridiculous as it sounds, I’m being bullied. And it’s not something spontaneous, but rather the result of a coordinated campaign against me. Is someone… trying to pull a Naruto on me like those bad fics(1) where Danzo is behind all the shit in his life?

    … Heh. That’s almost cute.

    I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to care about what’s going on, but, honestly? This ‘being bullied’ thing has left me utterly unimpressed so far.

    (1) I feel obligated to point out I do enjoy such fics, that’s just Ran’s opinion.


    After the Academy, I decided to walk Karin home. My tutors will restart their lessons today, so I won’t have much time for playing around in the evenings. Since her mother wants her to go straight home I figured I would make the best out of the situation. We can talk while we walk, and I’ll get to meet the mysterious parent.

    Only… we’re not talking much. Karin keeps staring at her feet as if her fingers are about to jump out of her sandals and flee for their lives and I… I’m still bad at this ‘small talk’ thing, okay? I might be prodigious but even I can’t learn how to do social overnight.

    Stupid Shimada blood…

    We walk past the market plaza and into the central areas of the village, what we call the Centerfold, and I can’t help but raise a brow. This area is for government buildings and military assets, not for apartment buildings. Barracks? Sure, the military sleeps wherever the higher ups tell them to, and it pays to sleep near the places where you’d be doing business. Actual places where people live by choice? Yeah, no.

    You see, Centerfold is fucking ugly. Like, this is the place where urban design comes to die. Blocky, cheap and sturdy buildings, easy to construct and hard to destroy, boring and functional, are the rule here. Even if one were to get an empty lot and build a pretty house, the neighbourhood would ruin it.

    Still I say nothing and just let her guide me into an office building, and up seemingly infinite flights of stairs until we reach the highest floor. There, we’re greeted by a series of poorly maintained doors, all crammed together along a corridor that doesn’t have any business holding half that amount of rooms, and Karin gets out a key to unlock one of them.

    “Um... ” She hesitates before opening it. “This is my home.”

    She seems reluctant to let me take a peek inside, so of course I get curious and do so anyway. What I find… well, let’s say I finally understand the situation. I’ve heard of places like this. Small spaces with barely enough room for a bed, a single stove fire and a minuscule en-suite, designed for the people working here to stay overnight when they have to put extra time. This is no place for a family of three to live. For fuck’s sake, it doesn’t even have any window!

    I hide my frown, no need to make Karin feel guilty over something that’s clearly beyond her control, but still…

    “I’d like to greet your family.” And have some words with them. “I know your dad is hospitalized, but I was hoping to at least meet your mom.”

    “Mama works very late, I only see her in the mornings.”

    “Oh, that’s a shame.” I take a step back and do my best to smile. “Maybe next time then, see you tomorrow?”

    I have to think about this. Are they parents poor? That doesn’t make any sense, because this place might be shit living space, but still costs premium due to the location. Neglectful? If they barely stay here, that might make some sense, but it’s still a weird place to choose. Maybe they were pressured by the village into a place where they could be easily monitored. .

    Only it makes even less sense, because that’s short-sighted beyond belief and thus stupid to try on someone you expect to get multi-generational benefits out of.

    In any case, there’s squat I can do about it, though I’ll be inviting her home as often as I can get away with. Just need a way to breach the topic without it sounding like I look down on her, so a diplomatic, personable and subtle approach would be for the best.





    I’m screwed, aren’t I?


    I’m not too happy with these last two chapters. The whole business feels awkward to me, or maybe choppy. Worst thing is I’m using them to set up a punchline and I’m not sure it’ll be up to snuff. Oh, well, I’m known to be my own harshest critic, maybe it’s all in my head. Hopefully at least you guys enjoyed it ;)

    On another note, next chapter is giving me a lot of trouble, so I might not be able to keep my unofficial schedule.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2020
  28. preier

    preier Not too sore, are you?

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    i'm really wondering what's behind the current behaviors.

    it can't be Karin because it started before, the end of last year's 'tournament' is a possibility but in the very shortsighted range and the teachers giving a pass on it...

    anyway, really good to see her getting into actual human interactions in her age group. I guess Karin is actually orphaned, here?
     
  29. LurkingInTheDeceit

    LurkingInTheDeceit “Brave” Explorer treading “new” land

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    I’m just kinda waiting for the headpats. Like, everything else is the journey to headpats. The Ninja training, the bloodline tendencies, the world building, the character development, all of it. For Mother to headpat Shimada, and Shimada to headpat Karin. Maybe Karin much further down the road will be healed enough by the headpats to get her own cute person to headpat too. Headpats all the way down.

    I think this might have just been a Ted talk, thanks for listening.
     
  30. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    Next chapter will answer part of your questions, but others will have to wait a bit.

    Also, it's only been mentioned in passing by the teacher, but Karin's parents are in the village too.

    That. Was. Beautiful!
     
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