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Seven Colours (Naruto)

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

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  1. Stonemask

    Stonemask Getting some practice in, huh?

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    Yeah I am really disappointed with this latest chapter/epilogue. It felt like a completely different story, a worse one might I add. I am trying to not let it influence my feelings towards the story as a whole but I am getting GoT flashbacks.
     
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  2. saylin021

    saylin021 Getting sticky.

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    Honestly there were a few points or comments Shimama made that could be construed like that, but it made a lot more sense that she just knew something was up with her daughter, from being a ninja and her mother and wasn't asking any questions. That felt like the in character explanation to me. So I read that differently I think.

    Honestly this felt more like a prologue for another story than an epilogue for this one, but that might've been the goal for sequel hooking lol
     
  3. Drak4806

    Drak4806 Well worn.

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    Yeah the ending of the fic and this epilogue is shit. After reading the ending I thought about it for a while and then reading this epilogue just absolutely confirmed what I realized. To use an analogy this fic is like a joke that has a really long entertaining lead up but the actual punchline falls flat on its face after going over a cliff.

    See the problem is this
    While you knew where this was heading from the start with the end being her becoming Alice Margatroid you never actually lead up to it. While that works for a oneshot it doesn't work for an actual novel. The whole point of the fic was Ran taking the identity of Alice at the end but it comes out of nowhere and not in a good way. You have her fake her death and abandon Karin, which I still say feels really off, just so she can become Alice then you follow that up with the thing about her mother. And while the ending could work you just didn't make it work.
     
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  4. TheEyes

    TheEyes Experienced.

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    The overriding question, the one that has ultimately been the focus of the entire story ever since Big Boss made his ultimatum to Ran in Chapter 20, has been: Why does Ran feel she needs to fake her own death, and not both herself and Karin's? Why does she feel that Karin will be safe from the wrath of Kusa behind the walls of Konoha, but Ran herself is not? The only answer that ever satisfied me was that Ran felt that Karin was not considered important enough for Kusa to make a big deal over, but Ran, the heir and last of the Shimada clan, was. And, in fact, we saw that was indeed the correct calculation from the Big Boss's interlude.

    And thus, we have the reason why Ran felt that she needed to fake her own death and leave Karin in Konoha alone: if Ran were known to be a defector, then she'd be hunted down, and Karin would likely become collateral damage along the way. Now, Ran herself was under the assumption that Big Boss would deploy the mysterious and supremely scary Kusa ANBU to have her assassinated, the black ops teams so scary that she couldn't even perceive them to be around when she could fairly easily detect the Konoha ANBU. We readers know that Ran in fact was perceiving the Kusa ANBU, which is to say she was around Shimada Momoko, who was the entirety of the Kusa ANBU, but that's effectively irrelevant, because Ran was also too scared of Shimada Momoko to tell her of her plans either. Effectively, Ran's subconscious already made the connection between Shimada Momoko and the Kusa ANBU, and knew that she had to fool one to fool the other.

    All of this made a tragic kind of sense back when Shimada Momoko was what she had always presented herself to be: a kunoichi devoted to her chosen calling with the obsession only a Shimada can possess, one who was only briefly able to delay her devotion out of love for her daughter and went back to it the moment Ran could barely handle her own upbringing. That, to me, was always why Ran loved her mother so much: she could feel the pull of her Shimada blood too, and respected how she was able to resist just long enough for Ran to have at least some semblence of a childhood.

    That love was what justified Ran's great sacrifice, and she came off all the more heroic by creating a world where her mother's calling and Karin's life and happiness did not have to come into conflict by writing herself out of both their lives. The revelation that, instead, Momo-chan was just, I dunno, taking a lifetime off to effectively play a game of Roy in the Naruto universe, really cheapens Ran's great sacrifice, because one half of that equation, the side belonging to Shimada Momoko, was a pretense the whole time.

    The whole "superman dilemma" doesn't really come into any of this, since it's Momo-chan that's creating the conflict in the first place. All she had to do was stop being an asshole for just a moment, to care about her daughter's future enough to break character just once, and the whole tragedy of Ran believing she had to sacrifice her happiness with Karin would never have happened. But she didn't; Momo-chan kept playing her role right up until Ran successfully faked her death, and then she had the gall to be flippant about it, just before she got yeeted off into the sunset:
    So yeah, I am just not happy at all with the Secret Agent Momo-chan reveal, as I kind of liked the bitter, tragic, and proud Shimada Momoko and wasn't happy to find out her character was a really long, involved bit of method-acting the whole time. I was rather expecting this final omake to be about how Shimada Momoko knew about Ran's super-secret plan the whole time, and allowed it to happen because her love for her daughter came into conflict with her duty as a kunoichi, and, at least for the moment, she allowed her love to win out. If I can find the time and proper inspiration maybe I'll write out what I was hoping to see here, but I'm a terribly slow writer so I doubt it'll be done soon, if ever.
    • Shimada Momoko receives Ran's effects; effectively the first half of the omake remains the same, except for knowing about Undertale.
    • Momoko sighs, slightly proud that her daughter managed to succeed in her plan, the plan she had carefully ignored the preparations of for the past year or so.
    • She packs up her effects and sets fire to the house, knowing now that no one will ever live in the Shimada compound again.
    • She goes to the Big Boss, request / demanding a long-term mission, "something that will last at least three years." Big Boss agrees, eyeing the burning Shimada compound in the distance and somewhat surprised that Momoko isn't repeatedly stabbing him in the kidneys right now.
    • Momoko leaves Kusa, confident that the nicks she gave the Big Boss's liver and spleen (using chakra strings, because of course she figured those out after spying Ran practice with them) and the poison she slipped into his tea will kill him on the 49th day after her daughter's fake death, a traditional and therefore highly conspicuous time that would ensure that everyone knows who killed the Big Boss and why.
    • Momoko heads off to perform her last mission as a ninja of Kusa, before duty demands that she track down Ran and confront her, to give her daughter the chance to prove the merit of her chosen path.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2021
  5. victor janus

    victor janus Getting out there.

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    I have no idea who the hell momo is. I have no clue what's going on, and the authors comments aren't helping because again it makes it seem like i'm suppose to know what's going on.
    authors throwing out names and concepts and I have zero context.
    The Alice thing wasn't upsetting even if it was out of nowhere, because it could be explained in like a sentence or two. This I can't even figure out if it makes sense or not because I have no idea what happened.
    Her knowing stuff about other worlds was properly foreshadowed but everything past the "boss" showing up is incomprehensible.
    I'm sorry I have to concur my reaction is "what the fuck happened" and not in the good way. I can't be the only person this confused because there is a limit to how much you can get away with not explaining in a story and this passed it.

    edit read this over again. So if I'm getting this right this is suppose to be a wham episode about how the mother is a momo from pmm who has become a character in a story that doesn't exist? Just want to be sure i'm getting this correct before I talk about it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2021
  6. JadeKaiser

    JadeKaiser Procrastinates like a Boss

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    There was the bit when she (not Ran) brought up the Superman Dilemma, which someone quoted somewhere on the last page. Pretty sure there was at least one other case along the same lines I'm not directly remembering right now. At least a couple other places where she reacted to pop culture references and idioms from Earth that Ran used as if she knew exactly what she meant. I don't fully remember the details on those either. Most of them were pretty easy to miss, because that same lack of reaction led to Ran (our narrator) not noticing her slipup.

    Not really metaknowledge things, so much as familiarity with Earth's pop culture.
    Well yes, there were even more indicators like that, but a couple of them like the Superman Dilemma conversation go a lot farther than that.
    Not exactly? Kind of a mix of explaining some odd things about the mother, hooking into another story (about the mother) that the author intends to write at some point, tying off some of the loose ends in this one and adding more hooks for this one's sequel.

    Whether Momo has any origin in PMMM we don't know, only that the author came up with her story in the aftermath of watching PMMM Rebellion. Could mean she comes from there, or it could mean that one of the worlds she visits is there, or it could just mean that some of her story's themes are rooted in the emotional reaction that the movie invoked without directly tying to it at all.
     
  7. saylin021

    saylin021 Getting sticky.

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    Yes, my point about the hints given was that occurrences like Ran bringing up the Superman Dilemma and how Shimama reacted to it did not at all make me think that she was somehow also an SI or character from another universe. In fact, that never even crossed my mind a single time. To me it came off as Shimama understanding that Ran had some sort of large secret, and probably had some theories about what it could be, but would never outright ask or try to find out. For the same reason behind Ran's sacrifice: Shimama's devotion to Kusa would make her report it or detain her daughter the minute she found out what it was given the secret's apparent magnitude, and so never finding out would protect her daughter.

    Exactly like how I thought she knew about Ran's fake death plan, and let it happen to give herself plausible deniability between her love for her daughter and her devotion to her village.

    Instead, all of that got tossed into the garbage and she is now some sort of interdimensional traveler who was acting the whole time, and none of that tragic characterization between her love for her daughter and her job as a ninja was ever real.

    It destroys Shimama as a character, makes Ran seem really stupid and makes her whole plan pointless since Shimama never was going to do anything anyway. The last 20 chapters could have been solved by Shimama just telling Ran that if she defects, no one will come after her or Karin so don't worry about it.

    Finally, and this is just on a personal note, as someone who knows nothing about the series she comes from, this entire epilogue was so confusing to read, and after reading some of the comments regarding the series, I am no closer to understanding who she is. I don't really have an interest in that story, but now my interest in a sequel about Ran is effectively dead since this epilogue killed both the entire point and drama behind her fake death sacrifice and her mother, literally I guess as well since she just left the dimension altogether if I understood correctly.
     
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  8. victor janus

    victor janus Getting out there.

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    Well to the people who read the comments the idea that mother might be another SI isn't new and even if she was an SI she would still be inflicted with the blood, so she would still act like a perfect ninja even with knowledge, but this isn't that so yeah I kind of agree.
     
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  9. JadeKaiser

    JadeKaiser Procrastinates like a Boss

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    As I have said multiple times: Ran did not bring up the Superman Dilemma in that scene. Shimama brought it up. By that name. The only way she would know that name for it was if she was familiar with Earth's pop culture, since the term was coined as such in reference to the superhero in question.

    Not only was her knowing of it a very, very strange thing, implying that she knew things from another world herself, but the fact that she thought Ran might know of it was strange as well and had all kinds of implications of its own. Implications that this interlude explained, by virtue of all her daughters apparently also having otherworldly memories, if we take her words about it being fun to see what character each one would style themselves after as if them doing so was a matter of course.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2021
  10. Gregory Crey

    Gregory Crey Reality? Fiction? What's the difference?

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    But she is super devoted to working a dangerous job and when she went on vacation, as expected of a Shimada, she just got another job for the duration. Combined with the hereditary mindset/madness, it makes enough sense to me.
     
  11. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    Head Start in particular is the one I was thinking about.
     
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  12. UberJJK

    UberJJK Know what you're doing yet?

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    I mean if it was the Green Lantern Dilemma then sure you'd have a point here. But Superman is literally as generic as you can get. Calling a sufficiently powerful person a superman is an obvious application of language. Much like Nietzsche's use of the German equvilant "Ubermensch" in his works to describe a similar idea, if different in application.

    It isn't even like the idea of the dilemma itself is unexpected. Naruto is a world where nigh unstoppable demigods (like Hashirama or Pein) roam bending the world (and the landscape) to their will. This is the sort of stuff in universe philosophers would love to debate and discuss. It could even be argued that the creation of the village system is an attempt at resolving the Kiritsugu dilemma; Hashirama and Madara could (individually) save any member of their clans but not every member since they could only be in one place at a time. Thus Konoha was created as a way of consolidating the people needing protecting into one location (hence why the Hokage is the strongest ninja in the village; he is the superman in this example). The structure of teams continues this trend with Genin (IE: ninja too weak to protect themselves) only venturing out under the watch of a Jonin (IE: a relative superman) to protect them.


    So I reject the idea this was sufficiently foreshadowed and agree with the general idea that this epilogue has more or less ruined Shimama's character. I wouldn't say this ruined the story or put me off the sequel since I can just pretend this epilogue never happened. I absolutely have no interest in any adventures of Momo-chan however so this definitely failed as a plot hook there.
     
  13. JadeKaiser

    JadeKaiser Procrastinates like a Boss

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    It's only an obvious application of language because we're familiar with the term "superman" from the superhero. Moreover, even then it's only obvious in English, which they were not speaking. Your rejection of the foreshadowing is a rejection of reality. You just weren't paying attention. For Pete's sake, this has been her portrayal from the very start of the story! How did you come up with this cloud-cuckoo-land vision of her personality?!

    Loyal to the village? Difficulty balancing her love for her daughter with her sense of duty and loyalty to the village? What loyalty? What sense of duty? When has she ever been shown to have such things? This is the woman who had a talk with her daughter at an early age about deciding what issues you can live with, as opposed to what ones you should raze the world to the ground over, and clearly meant that literally with full belief that the latter category existed. This is the woman who does her job because she loves the job itself, but who dropped an important mission at the slightest hint of news that her daughter had a small amount of trouble. This is the woman who brutally destroyed the eye of a fellow Grass Jounin at the drop of a hat, permanently crippling him to intimidate her daughter's way out of trouble for doing the same to one of her classmates.

    That is the person Shimada Momo has always been portrayed as. If you don't like it, that's your problem. You weren't paying attention. Any attention at all, apparently.
     
  14. JamesEye

    JamesEye Not too sore, are you?

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    Love mama’s epilogue. Opens the world up so much more or worlds I guess. Also makes me happy that she didn’t die randomly in Canon Naruto but was an out of context mama. I also love the idea of her vacation being having a family til they can thrive on their own.

    Thanks for thisstory, really enjoyed the whole lot of it!
     
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  15. Kotawa

    Kotawa Cat ears.

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    Now that it's over, I have a coupe of thoughts on the story in general and the ending in particular I'd like to share.
    I liked it overall but it felt like a prologue to a story more than anything. We were just getting to the good part and now we're left hanging for the time being.

    First off, it has to be said that I enjoyed the story a hell of a lot. It was fun, it was funny, it was great. It feels corny to say, but really, thank you for writing, Planeshunter.

    Moving on.

    Ran is this very peculiar brand of protagonist that's not a misunderstood genius, but a genius of misunderstanding and of not so common common-sense. She reads as a hyperactive (Stupid Shimada Blood...) Tanya Degurechaff, and that's hilarious. It's also not an easy archetype to write, especially since conveying her abnormality in first person POV is an extra hurdle and the story takes place in a world where the common-sense is actually different from our own 21st century brand of logic, but I think you've managed it well. There were a couple of instances where Ran skimmed the "obnoxiously oblivious" protagonist status, but I think they steam more from my own tastes than from a failure on your part. Watching Ran grow up and train to become the best shinobi that ever was (despite herself), was the bestest of the best slice-of-life snacks.

    But that's just it. It was a snack. This is the main issue I have with the ending; it doesn't feel like one. It feels like a prologue.

    In and on itself it wouldn't be bad if we got started on Ran's adventures outside of Kusa right away, but since this is a stopping point it's not that great. We're kinda left hanging without a proper climax for the build up that's happened so far. Maybe Alice's reveal was meant to be the big climax, but I mostly took it as a neat reference that Ran used to build herself a coherent 2nd identity. It really came out of left field, and didn't have much of an impact on me. Seven Colours would've been great as an origin story for Alice though, if her story was written beforehand.

    The easiest thing I can think of to close Seven Colours of properly is changing the context of the fight against the Oto-nin slightly. It reads as just another box that Ran has to check before moving on right now, but the Oto-nin could be made into the antagonist for book one, beyond Boss-Dude, one that Ran can actually squash. A couple of chapters throughout the story where Ran butts heads with the guy who tries to recruit her for Oto or something, while she's just trying to complete her missions. In return, she ridicules him in some way, potentially without even meaning to as she is wont to do, and tada, you've got yourself an obnoxiously malicious Oto-nin that wants Ran's head for a perceived slight and specifically goes for her during the invasion. A recurring Villain that we, as readers, would be happy to finally be rid of in an end of volume climax.

    I do know that it's supposed to be a prologue to Ran's future adventures, but it still felt unsatisfying to me. Karin's epilogue was good to get some closure on the arc, but then Shimada-mama was revealed to be a fucking jumper in disguise and Ran lowkey got relegated to an interlude in Momo-chan's story instead. As far as I'm concerned, this plot twist has the same issue as the Alice reveal. Momo-chan would be a great cameo in Ran's story if we knew who she is beforehand, so we could properly fangirl at the fact that she has a daughter or something. As it is now, I'm more emotionally invested in Ran and this last chapter just doesn't add anything to her story beyond maybe a plot point in the far off future where Ran wonders what the hell her mom's up to now.

    Real TL;DR: I loved the story, I'm salty that we aren't getting the sequel to follow up on the end. Especially since I know nothing about the Fate franchise.

    Stupid poll results...
     
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  16. Amazon Climber

    Amazon Climber Experienced.

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    I’ll be honest, I consider this on the level of finding out that Ran is an autistic girl with a snowglobe.
     
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  17. Dnile

    Dnile Getting out there.

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    I had to google that for clarity, but sadly yeah, the ending was completely jarring in tone compared to the rest of the fic, which I thoroughly enjoyed up to that point.
     
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  18. auraofcalm

    auraofcalm I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    I don't remember. XD
     
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  19. Selias

    Selias Well worn.

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    Weird timing for a April Fool's Day joke. April 1st was over two weeks ago.
     
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  20. saylin021

    saylin021 Getting sticky.

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    How I remember reacting to Shimama bringing up the Superman Dilemma:

    Oh wow, Ran has obviously slipped up a few times growing up. Now Shimama, a monster of a ninja and her mother, brings up one of those slip ups into a conversation to see how her daughter reacts.

    I assumed Shimama had caught onto the fact that Ran was different, even for a Shimada, and knew things she shouldn't. And so I figured she was testing her daughter, maybe thinking of theories of what it could be, or if it was some sort of dangerous issue (like Orochimaru wearing people).

    So at no point did I think anything about her being an SI as well, let alone some sort of dimensional traveler going around having daughters before yeeting out of that reality.

    I think there were perfectly in character (in Shimada Momoko, rather than Momo-chan) explanations which basically boiled down to her being an elite Shimada ninja worried about her daughter.

    (As an aside for your point about her personality. I had thought her Shimada obsession was her job as a Kusa nin. That also meant that when she thought other Kusa nin were acting against this, up to the Boss, she'd intimidate or apply violence. And the only thing that could compete with her Shimada obsession was her daughter. In other words, she'd prioritize her daughter over that obsession a lot and give Ran a lot of wiggle room, but Ran never knew when that would run out.)
     
  21. J. Finch

    J. Finch Getting sticky.

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    I admit I found the ending kind of confusing? Like, not the story ending or Karin's epilogue, but the one for Shimama. Are you planning a sequel there, picking up where this story left off a few years ahead for Ran and Karin and the lot? Because if I'm being totally honest I never really put much thought into Shimama as a whole. She made for a good mentor supporting cast member but I don't really have an interest in seeing her in her own story. It's hard to find decent Naruto SI fics and this one was genuinely good, and the way it left off, I'm hungry for more, and I think more than a few of us are in agreement there. So what are your future plans? I'm kinda curious, especially in regards to this fic.
     
  22. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    That's more than fair. As mentioned before, the proper story ends with chapter 039, and the epilogues are extras. Karin's tie up directly into the story and will be relevant going forward, Mother's is not.
    A mentor support character is all she was for this story, and it's perfectly fine to keep her as such. She has her own story, and that's what her epilogue was about, but as you said it's not directly related to Seven Colours.
    For now I want to take a break of the Queen of Puppets storyline, but there's vague plans of continuing her story with another book or two. The next one, tentatively titled 'Alice's Rondo' would pick up during the events of The Stone of Gelel movie. As I said, I have no hard plans for it right now, but I'm toying with the idea of focusing on the less terrible movies and filler episodes while Ran Alice desperately tries to avoid getting mixed up with the important parts of the plot.

    I want to try a formula that worked pretty well on one of my older fics (Mystic Eyes of Reincarnation. It died, but I was quite proud of it while it lasted.), that would cycle through three narratives. Ran Alice PoV doing actual things. Non-Ran Alice PoV describing Ran Alice's others of actions and Ran Alice's reaction to what she did during someone else's PoV.

    'Tempered By Fire' is a Fate/SN SI and will be my next project. The first four chapters are in my snippet thread, though they'll be touched up quite a bit before in the final release. I don't anticipate it being overly long though, it's a self-indulgent piece where the MC holds too many advantages to make it last without escalating the antagonists.

    'World Invader Momo - Exiled Sakura' is Shimama's own story and an original work of mine that might appear in my snippets thread at some point.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2021
  23. determind

    determind Getting out there.

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    That seems kinda lame. I thought the whole point of the epilogue was that the entire story was about Shimada Momoko and it was one of those "SI from the eyes of the characters around them" stories. I read the epilogue and thought the fact that Ran was also a SI was just one of those Shakespearean boy-girl-boy things.

    The epilogue was waaayy better until you explained it. Good job anyway.
     
  24. Index: Original One-shot
    Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    Alright, I bring you the one-shot that inspired the full story. It’s basically a retelling with less words or rather, the story you’ve so loyally followed for months now is a retelling of this. There are some altered things, narrative that flowed differently when I tried to get into detail, but it’s overall the same story. Which means I’m not sure it’ll be worth your time, but I promised to at least give you the option so here it is.

    In other news, my new (NSFW) story Tempered by Fire is now up! Make sure to take a look if you’re interested in Fate/SN stories!

    I was named Shimada Ran at birth, but that wasn’t the first name I ever carried.

    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 noises were all the sharper and unpleasant. Suddenly I 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 uphill battle. 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 long 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 I was born with some memories from my last life. Like reading a certain manga going 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 I’m fairly sure a newborn baby shouldn’t have.

    How did this 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 liked, since Kusa wasn’t connect 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, being the supposedly birthplace of the S-Rank criminal Zetsu (How does that work? I know where Zetsu actually comes from, how did they fake his birth?) and all the shit happening to them during the Chunin Exams in Konoha.

    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. I seem to remember charges of cannibalism somewhere on his file.

    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 band-aid 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 becoming 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 really want to join the shinobi world. If you stop and think about it, you wouldn’t either. 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 I wasn’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 matter how cool it looks in the anime.




    ....

    At least that was the plan, and I honestly believed it was working until I found myself sitting in my very first lesson on the Academy, first row seat too. Turns out the Shimada Clan is a very prestigious and influential clan in Kusa, even if I’d never heard of them before.

    My family is one focused on excellence. Our clan techniques aren’t secret jutsus but work ethic and genetic stubbornness. No two Shimada follow the same path in one given generation, but whatever we choose to do with our lives, we’re expected to excel on. And I missed my chance to be an excellent merchant when Mother enrolled me into the Academy without asking.

    Wasn’t the Academy supposed to be the Third Hokage’s legacy? Why’s there another outside Konoha?

    This isn’t fair.

    And how am I supposed to excel at anything anyway? I’m a perfectly normal seven year old brat with short and somewhat chubby limbs, a round face with generous doses of baby fat and short, thin brown hair. Even my eyes are of a dull grey colour. Maybe my most remarkable feature is how unremarkable I am.

    Revising my plan, I decide to flunk everything. I’ll be an exceptional failure and Mother will send me somewhere else. Yeah.

    That’s my new plan.

    So my first year in the Academy passed. I was a mousy little thing nobody thought twice about, unless I was asked something by the teacher. Then everybody suddenly paid attention because my answers were as outlandish as they were hilarious.

    At first I was a bit worried about becoming bully bait with my attitude, but turns out turning my class-wide popular answers into passive-aggressive slights against whoever decided to have a laugh at my expense nipped any potential problem at the bud. They were kids after all, sharp words could, and did, hurt them into submission.

    Mother wasn’t very happy with the reports coming from my teachers, but there was a limit to what she could do about it. What’s deemed acceptable punishments for a brat my age barely left a dent on me. And I was vindictive enough to perform more than satisfactorily while training at home, which was driving her spare something fierce, by the way.

    Yeah, it was a decent status-quo for me.

    The first year flew by. At first, I brought manga to read in class, but after it was all confiscated and a strict policy of searching me as I entered, I actually decided to pay attention to the lessons. Out of sheer boredom, mind, even if I only fooled around when we were practicing in the training ground at least there I could do something. Also, there was a lot of non-shinobi material too, after all. Geography, History, and Language of Kusa and the Elemental Countries were all fascinating subjects for me. It was also fascinating to read all the blatant bias that plagued our textbooks. Seriously, this world doesn’t seem to know what ‘impartial account’ means.

    With the second year, Karin Uzumaki joined the Academy. That surprised me a bit, when she wasn’t in my class I simply assumed we weren’t of the same age, but turns out her family had just arrived Kusagakure during the summer holidays. Huh, that explains a bit better why she was always treated as an outsider, eight is old enough for the other kids to be a bit leery of a newcomer, so if her family’s standing within the village wasn’t good, it stood to reason she was never properly welcomed.

    At first I just minded my own business, but man was it hard to watch the piss poor way she was treated. And how she just rolled with it was just frustrating, the first time I called out for her I ended up accidentally calling her ‘doormat-chan’. Of course it stuck, kids are cruel like that.

    But be it instinct or cunning, she figured out I wasn’t really against her and boy, did she capitalize on it. By the time I noticed, she’d attached to me like a specially stubborn limpet.

    I didn’t mind overly much. She might not be the greatest conversationalist, and maybe her self-worth issues drove me up the wall, but it was refreshing to have someone beside me to comment on the latest History lesson, even if she looked at me funny when I pointed out the lesson’s blatant bias in Kusa’s favour. To be honest, being an exceptional failure was kind of lonely.



    I’ll never understand how the schoolyard food chain works. Never understood it in my first life, never understood it here. When I was alone, all it took was a handful of sharp comments and maybe reducing someone to tears with words alone for everybody to leave me alone. I was outside the chain altogether.

    But apparently befriending the loser doesn’t rise her to my level, instead makes me fair game again… somehow.

    It was quite frustrating.

    Since I wasn’t willing to back down and attempts at physical violence against us usually ended in bloody noses (hint, not ours), the smear campaign against Karin at me soon turned into something ugly.

    When they put a flower pot on our tables, as if we had just died, I had half a mind to laugh out loud, but Karin’s miserable expression held me back. Instead, I made a flower crown to wear myself, and pocketed the vases to sell later and buy us some treats with the money. It seemed enough at the moment, but later on learned Karin’s father had passed up not a week earlier.

    Why she didn’t tell me herself back then, I’ll never understand.

    In any case, I was seething. So, when someone pulled something funny next, I kind of… snapped? Yeah, snapped.

    When my parents were called for an emergency meeting and I was asked to explain myself, I very pointedly told them to look underneath the underneath like good shinobi, since they wouldn’t believe me anyway. I lost recreational privileges and pretty much any personal freedom for the remainder of the school year, and training at home became something gruesome, but the idiot who so unpleasantly laughed at Karin’s plight will be wearing an eyepatch the rest of her life.

    You don’t mess with my friends, bitch.

    Unfortunately that didn’t stop the bullying, and my family had run of reasonable methods of punishment. If I was caught in something else, I would be pulled out of the program.

    Funny how that would’ve sounded fantastic a year ago, but now I was emotionally invested in Karin, against my better judgement.

    So I switched tactics. Training incidents happen everywhere, and if they all seemed to befall the most unpleasant individuals in the class… well, it couldn’t have happened to a better guy. And if I happened to make sure to stare down the victim making sure he or she saw my vicious smirk. Well, I’m a resentful bitch and I can’t bother feigning worry about someone I don’t like, that’s just life.

    Kids are stubborn, or maybe stupid. It took me almost two entire years to get them to back off and, by then, my reputation as a failure was in tatters. It was the end of my third year in the Academy by then, but I naively expected to regain it before graduation. No such luck.

    During my fourth year I managed to laze around for about... three weeks. Then I had an interview with the Boss Dude. Boss Dude had a more dignified name, of course, but it always sounded like a particularly nasty tongue-twister to me, so I called him Boss Dude. He was the leader of Kusagakure.

    Apparently the way my performance didn’t match up with my actual abilities had been a bit too blatant during the bullying war last year, and Boss Dude wanted me to drop the act and become a shinobi for good. I told him to suck my foot. Now that I think about it, I failed pretty badly at that ‘being a little mousy thing’... Meh.

    He asked me why I didn’t want to be a shinobi, and I lied to him. Seriously, you don’t tell the head honcho of a village of assassins for hire you don’t want to do something because you’re scared of dying. Because then he threatens to kill you, and if you still say no he kills you for real, just to make a point.

    So I told him shinobi life was full of death and I didn’t want to lose my precious people. I should’ve suspected something when he accepted that easy enough, instead I only thought he was a mighty sucker.

    A couple of months later he called me again to tell me about Karin’s mother passing away the previous week. I inwardly cursed at Karin and her infuriating tendency to clam up about such matters. I promised myself to have some words with her about it. After hugging her silly for about a whole week.

    Then he told me about the deal she had with the village, and how her family had been accepted in return for her healing their shinobi with her particular abilities. Actually, that’s how she died, overworked herself to death after some skirmish or another went bad for Kusa. I’m definitely hugging Karin silly for the next month, no excuses.

    Problem is, as he knows and I know, even if he doesn’t know for sure I know but probably suspects, that Karin has inherited her mother’s ability. It’s not hard to see where everything will go from here. An orphan without value for the village, except for that one skill that requires no training or investment whatsoever.

    Long story short, I was presented with an ultimatum. Take my shinobi career seriously or she gets pulled out of the program and headfirst into the hospital as some kind of human sacrifice. And I used to complain about Orochimaru’s cruelty… yikes.

    I also have to graduate as rookie of the year or she goes directly there anyway.

    Even later on, that would probably be her fate as soon as I mess up a mission.

    So I had to become the next ninja prodigy of the Shimada clan or risk her paying the consequences.

    Fan-friggin’-tastic. At least Mother will be proud of me.

    That was also the moment I decided that if I couldn't get my way, then to hell with living a safe and comfortable life and plunged myself headfirst into the plot. I began my scheming.


    I am… an obsessive person. I had a vague awareness about that fact from my past life, but during the remaining two years of academy I had enough time to realize how bizarre my personal insanity was. Probably my new genetics didn’t help much here.

    Stupid Shimada blood.

    My plan always in mind, I immediately dove into a new schedule.



    Okay, not immediately. First I went to find Karin and had some very angry words with her about bottling bad things inside. Then (after confirming she had no better life plans that an orphanage), grabbed her hand and dragged her all the way to my home, where I shamelessly bargained the exact same deal I had with Boss Dude, this time in return for letting Karin live with me until she could afford to support herself.

    As you probably realised, the Shimada being a bunch of insufferable overachiever our home had the room for an extra bed, and our budget the funds for an extra mouth or twenty, easy.

    As of today, I remain unsure whether Mother bought my attempts to bargain with something I had already promised someone else or simply tolerated what she saw as a whim because, as long as I had the drive to excel, she honestly didn’t care.

    But yeah, after that I immediately dove into a new schedule.



    Okay, not immediately. First I had to make sure I really understood everything going on and what was expected of me. I mean, after three years I still had no clue what was all this shit about having our own Academy in Kusa, and only a vague understanding of how it worked.

    In the end there’s nothing mysterious about it. When Kusa officially became Konoha’s ally, knowledge about the inner workings of the acclaimed Academy that had produced such outstanding shinobi since it’s foundation was the price the Leaf paid. A complete steal if you ask me but, as I was born here in Grass, I’m not about to complain. Their loss, my win.

    Okay, now that it was all solved, I immediately dove into a new and improved schedule.

    My routine began with the first light of dawn, when I extricate myself from Karin’s sleepy grasp for my physical conditioning. I didn’t want to become the second coming of she-hulk, so it was mostly aerobic exercise and flexibility, along with eye-hand coordination training. By the time it wasn’t such an ungodly hour anymore, Karin joined me in my cool down exercises.

    Not to boast or anything, but my cool down exercises were enough to count as serious workout for a normal person.

    After we reached the Academy, I trudged through lessons that bore me to tears via drug abuse. And with that I mean caffeine. Lots and lots of caffeine. Still, some classes were simply impossible. I mean, what’s a girl with advanced calculus expertise supposed to do during ‘Math for dummies’?

    So I surreptitiously pulled out my books for different subjects and made sure I had them down to pat instead, becoming the first ever master of the art of Stealthy Study. I’m such a badass.

    Evening meant more training, this time with Karin at my side for everything. Knowing what to expect of the future, I made sure Mother found a good personal tutor on the subject of chakra control. The [Mind’s Eye of the Kagura] might work without real training from the user, but those [Uzumaki Chakra Chains] aren’t going to manifest themselves without a firm control on her chakra flow.

    After dinner, I cloistered myself in an underground room, where I got ready for my plans for the future.This was the hardest part, because I was developing a completely different skill set that nobody could know about. Fortunately it was something that could be done behind closed doors in a windowless room. There’s no way I would’ve managed to keep any kind of outdoor training secret in a shinobi village. Small mercies.

    I woke up tired and went to bed completely exhausted, only having decent sleep to get ready for a test. My migraines were the stuff of legends and a low-level headache was an almost constant partner. My growth would predictably be stunted, even if I visited the hospital to ask about possible palliatives, they couldn’t do much for me beside recommending a healthy diet and… well, stop doing that to myself.

    ....

    Fat chance.

    I also became somewhat irrational due to my lack of sleep and constantly aching body, snapping aggressively against anyone and anything that bothered me or Karin. Except Karin herself, who was the only one with approaching privileges. Even Mother earned her share of sharp words. Not that she didn’t kick my butt for it, mind.

    You could say I took the maxim ‘this is a time to learn’ to the extreme. Had any potentially lethal incident happened during this time period, I would certainly be dead now, because I was in no shape to react to the unexpected. But hey, I learned a lot and I learned fast. That was my part of the bargain.

    And yeah, that was pretty much my life for the following two years, until graduation. It sucked so very much, but I honestly didn’t notice until it passed and I looked back. Obsessions are scary things.


    I graduated, of course, as the number one rookie of the year. And man, didn’t that piss off a good portion of the male population. Chauvinistic shits…

    Then the teams were announced and I realized the Boss Dude had pulled one on me.

    Karin wasn’t on my team.

    Fortunately, I had been sleeping well in preparation for the tests, and I was feeling a good deal more rational than usual that day. Because the urge to throw a tantrum grew something fierce. In time, I realized Boss Dude was trying to do us a favour, that we had grown too dependent of each-other for our own good. But at the time I really had my head stuck inside my ass. Obsessions can do that to you.

    So I was shoved with a team I fantasized about painfully killing as a method of stress relief, and spent every single free moment with Karin. They weren’t many, Boss Dude made sure our schedules didn’t overlap. Manipulative bastard wanted me to focus on training.

    At least I didn’t feel the need to keep my self-destructive schedule, and slowly regained my nonchalance. I wasn’t a cool Academy graduate, but I sure aimed to be a cool Chunin aspirant by the time it was relevant.

    I would like to say my team wasted three months painting fences and walking dogs only to then be sent in a C-Rank that went FUBAR and ended up being an A-Rank. But that short of crap only happens in Konoha, and only to Team 7.

    Truth be told, for the most part of the Elemental Nations shinobi were killers for hire, it was only in the Hidden Leaf you could find them reduced to gophers in what I consider a decent PR maneuver that apparently no other shinobi leader was able to understand. There, shinobi were part of daily life for every civilian and somewhat heroic figures to admire. Here, we were… killers for hire. Necessary, but not necessarily liked.

    We leave the Academy for low-risk escort or courier missions, and we work our way upwards from there. And Grass is big on intelligence gathering, which means low chance of missions being miss-ranked.

    As part of my efforts to remain the best, I took solo missions to pad up my CV. What kind of village allows genin to take solo missions anyway? Greedy pieces of shit...

    We performed admirably, as I did by myself somehow, but never got the chance to really excel.

    There was a bit of an upset when the Chunin Exams weren’t mentioned when I expected them to, but it was a false alarm, thank the Kami. Turns out our promotion graduated around five months before Naruto’s did, because our terms aren’t synchronized. People sure looked at me funny when I asked about the Exams anyway, apparently, I wasn’t supposed to know.

    Well, sucks, most brilliant kunoichi of my generation bitches.



    Remember when I said there weren't many misranked missions in Grass? Well, some was. Like the one that had Karin’s team die on her. She only survived because she was keeping watch of their camp when the rest of her team was engaged, and her detection skills allowed her to assess the danger and flee for her life.

    Of course, I didn’t hear shit from her. Had to overhear a conversation. And I pretty much never eavesdrop conversations, damnit. It was friggin’ good luck I happened to be stretching after my evening training at the other side of a hedge that I ever heard that.

    So I took a week off and another one in Karin’s stead (The fool intended to just keep working!) and stole her for a journey to Hot Spring Country. It was expensive as heck, but dedicating all my time to being the best means I didn’t have a lot of time to spend in… spending money. Even after buying quality tools I had more money that I knew what to do with.

    Mother looked very amused when I complained about that. It’s apparently called the Shimada Curse.

    ...Stupid Shimada blood.

    No, I’m not going to tell you perverts what transpired while on our vacation, but it probably wasn’t what your sick minds are conjuring. It had good times and awkward times and we blushed and laughed hysterically more often that I like to admit. Nothing happened beyond fun and relaxation and I wasn’t angling for anything else anyway, but we were both stepping into teen ages and suddenly a lot of things that had been harmless enough before were now embarrassing and/or suggestive.

    In any case, we returned refreshed and happy, and everything would’ve been sweet and nice if not because Boss Dude decided to drop the news about the Chunin Exam in Konoha right as we returned. Karin was going as a filler for a team whose third member had already been promoted.

    I… My team wasn’t as ready as I was myself, and I was supposed to join another team in the place of a weak member that wasn’t really up to the challenge. The leader of that group was a face I remember very clearly. It was a face Orochimaru wore during the test.

    Well… Crap.


    I honestly don’t believe I’ll be able to convey how I felt after hearing that.

    Orochimaru was a hurdle I had no realistic way of overcoming. Not now, not in a hundred years. Give me a break, I’m and excepcional genin, not the friggin’ Rikudo Sennin incarnate. Nope, no way, no how, I was going to die.

    Could I refuse to go to the Exam? Nope. Are you kidding, this isn’t Konoha, we aren’t getting a choice, just given a command and expected to follow or die trying, as I was going to do. Dying I mean. Also, I had grown a lot closer to Mother even since I began taking shinobi life seriously. Disappointing her now would hurt.

    Could I kill all my team and maybe someone from Karin’s team too so we get sent like that? The killing part was feasible, if a bit far-fetched, but I wasn’t going to walk scot free afterwards. Also, if I did Orochimaru would probably kill us anyway to take our places.

    Yeah, not my best idea, I was a bit sleep deprived by the time I formulated that one, leave me alone.

    In the end, the answer came from Mother. Kami bless her.

    I explained my problem the best I could, that is to say, very poorly, but she caught the important parts anyway. It was imperative I didn’t participate in the Exams as part of the team I had been assigned. It was imperative that such a team indeed made it to the exam. It was imperative I was in Konoha during the examt.

    “It’s easy, just get a field promotion before then and get there as a spectator.”

    I could’ve kissed her. But she probably would’ve kicked my ass for it. So I smothered her in the most intense hug I’ve ever initiated. She kicked my ass for it anyway, but did so with a smile on her lips. Maybe our family was a bit dysfunctional, but we made do.

    Getting a field promotion was normally tricky business, especially in peace times. But there are loopholes. Of course there are loopholes, this is the shinobi world. With a couple of friends in high places, it can be conveniently arranged.

    Fortunately, I was able to reason with Boss Dude, and that was a heck of a high place to have a friend in. Konoha has always been big on teamplay, and just soving me into an already existing team dynamic with barely a couple of months to figure out my place wasn’t going to cut it. Also, Karin was a weakness of mine and having her take the exam at the same time as me wasn’t a very good idea. I would give up any forced match against her for one. And I would very much prefer not publitice my fondness for her to all and sundry, thank you very much

    At first I was, of course, offered Karin’s place instead, and you wouldn’t believe how tempted I was to accept it. So much pain would be spared that way… but all my plans laid in the Chunin Exams. I couldn’t do anything drastic, at least until the second test was over.

    So I insisted on getting a field promotion. It was easy to explain it away as not wanting to ruin my best friend’s chance. To be honest I wasn’t sure Boss Dude wouldn’t call my bull, but in the end he let it go.

    A mission was orchestrated to justify my promotion, I was sent on an infiltration mission far above my paygrade with a single High-jounin. He was a jerk about it or maybe was on orders and wouldn’t participate at all, just watch my performance and evaluate it.

    Basically, a test disguised as field promotion. I wonder how often the villages get away with shit like this...

    So I floundered around a field that wasn’t my specialty as a jerk took notes and, I’m sure of it, an even bigger jerk was laughing his ass off on his Boss Dude desk back in the village. I secured the information, inserted myself into the relevant secured location, neutralized the heck out of everybody around with a generous dose of toxic fumes and ran like the devil was at my heels with the payload.

    It wasn’t elegant, it wasn’t fun (for me) and most definitively it wasn’t jounin material. But I had delivered as asked, and that was all it was about. If the suckers I had robbed silly even bothered to investigate, the would find Kumo-nin equipment hid away in an empty tree trunk near their base, but I doubt they’ll be capable of that so the identity of their assailant will forever remain a mystery.

    In any way I had my promotion, and just in time for my celebratory vacation to match with the start of the exams in Konoha. Life was about to get a hell of a lot more interesting.


    Boss Dude was a jerk, I knew it for a long time, but I didn’t expect him to give me an infiltration mission to ‘make use of all that time you’ll waste in the Leaf’. Seriously, that was a low blow even for him. Whatever, at least that gave me an excuse to remain there the full month. And to empty my accounts and grab all my sealed scrolls before leaving.

    It would’ve been suspicious as heck to do that for a regular vacation, but nobody arched a brow at me preparing for a mission.

    Thus prepared, I bade farewell to Karin and watched her leave the village. She would be safe. She would be safe, she would be safe. Even if Orochimaru attacked and killed the other team she wouldn’t even know and she would be safe. Even when her team ditched her in the forest of death and a bear tried to eat her whole she would be safe.

    Hell, convincing myself of that was harder than I would’ve liked, now that I think about it.

    In the end I reached Konoha by myself.

    Why, you ask? Because I was sick of Karin keeping things from me and wanted to teach her how it felt for once, and this was harmless enough. The look on her face when she found me waiting for her at Konoha’s gates was priceless.

    Then I took her to Ichiraku’s. I had no ulterior motives, swear, just wanted to treat her to some good Ramen while having a taste of one of the most well known food stands in the world (for me anyway). But it almost backfired when Naruto predictably was there. It was a very tense hour until Karin finally decided to take pity of my shrinking wallet and we left. The insufferable girl was probably taking revenge for my revenge surprise.

    I felt like shit at not dragging her and Naruto together, but also inordinately relieved I wasn’t altering the plot. Not yet Ran, just a little longer!

    Then some bastard called Naruto by his full name, and there was no way to avoid the meeting without it looking suspicious. Damn but I was going to curse this day and the troubles it caused me during the month that followed. Still, just the smile in Karin’s face when we made it back to our room was worth all of that and more.

    Yeah, our room, the rest of her team were jerks, so she ditched them and joined me at the five-star hotel I was staying in. More cash than I know what to do with, bitches. The A-Rank I pulled by myself to get promoted didn’t hurt my account balance either.

    My problem right now was, now that I finally was in Konoha, to put the finishing touches on my plan and make sure everything worked out. That involved a lot of walking around, as inconspicuous as possible, which wasn’t exactly easy with two Uzumaki tagalongs, but also doubled nicely as working for my ‘mission’. It also involved avoiding certain people like the plague.

    Fortunately Naruto didn’t seem particularly inclined to introduce us to his old Academy classmates, as meeting Shikamaru would spell trouble with capital letters. The chance of Hinata catching a whiff of us during her regular Naruto-stalking activities was bad enough, but I could only hope she was busy getting ready for the exam.


    The big day arrived, and I dropped Karin with the rest of the Kusa aspirants at the gates of the Academy. Damn but it was big and imposing compared with Grass’ modest facilities.

    In any case, I wished good luck to Karin while very pointedly ignoring her jerkmates and then did the same for the other team’s leader, who I was pretty sure was already Orochimaru in disguise, but behave politely enough, if a bit distant. Good thing I guess, not sure how well I would’ve reacted if he’d attempted conversation.

    Now, here’s where I would like to tell you about all the badass shady antics that took place during the week everyone was busy with the exams but I can’t, because I didn’t do shit besides walking around and familiarizing myself with the village. Besides, everyone from Kusa was interrogated pretty soon by a clearly unsettled Anko.

    No, I didn’t know Shiore-san very well, nor anyone from his team.

    No, I didn’t notice anything odd about him, but then again, I didn’t know him very well.

    I was in Konoha on vacation, since it was a good chance to take it easy while cheering on my fellow Kusa-nin. Gosh I couldn’t wait for the finals, they promised to be epic.

    Yeah, she was intimidating enough, excuse me if I’m not looking very shaken, I think I’m still in shock about a Kusa-nin being assassinated and impersonated by a Konoha renegade the hosts don’t seem capable of catching or even inconveniencing in any meaningful way. Or at all.

    Oh, the interview is over already? Good, you should be out there trying to catch the bastard, not losing the time of paying visitors.

    Well, fuck you very much to you too princess, I’ll now go back to my masseuse appointment, I’m late already.

    ...

    Bitch.

    After that more than infuriating conversation with/interrogation by Konoha’s security, I left the intelligence building fuming. I was pretty sure I wasn’t being followed, which was pretty scary since I knew I had to be being tailed. Stupid stealthy ninjas, you never know where they are…

    Not fiddling with my sealed scrolls and convincing myself that I had everything ready was a real struggle. The action was in the Forest of Death, and there was nothing I could do to interfere. Heck, I couldn’t even worm my way into the tower for the preliminaires!

    To be honest, those five days were kind of a blur. A long, unending blur of me restlessly walking all around the village only to suddenly change my mind and getting into any open training field I could find to vent out my frustration. Then just as suddenly I start feeling lonely and miserable and barely manage to drag myself to the hotel’s spa, where I would waste hours letting myself get dragged from one treatment to the next without paying attention to whatever it was they did or how much the bill fattened.

    Yes, I didn’t enjoy those five days, not in the least.

    When Karin finally stepped outside the place, I might’ve pounced on her like a tiger on a stalked prey which, in hindsight, might’ve not been the best thing to do to a nerve-wracked killer recently out of a deadly survival exercise.

    I was a bit surprised when Uzumaki Friggin’ Naruto made to intercept me, and even more surprised when she tried to gut me with a sharpened kunai. They both failed, of course, I’m an Shimada shinobi and was on a glomping mission. It was still a bit unsettling, but the panicked look in her eyes once she registered what exactly she’d tried to do was pure blackmail material.

    Once the mood calmed down a bit, the both of them tripped each other in their hurry to tell me about their exams, and I was pretty sure I had changed something important in the plot by then. One thing was Naruto knowing about Karin beforehand, but they were obviously thick as thieves.

    Indeed. In this timeline, when Karin lost her team she didn’t wander alone for a bear to try and turn her into ours d'oeuvre, but used the [Mind’s Eye of the Kagura] to locate her distant cousin and regroup with his team. All in good time too, as she caught up to them the night Sakura spent taking care of them, but before she had any time to set traps. I would’ve been pretty miffed if the wallflower had ended turning my best friend into a human porcupine.

    You’d be surprised how different the fight with the Sound team went after Naruto and Sasuke had a quick bite at her. For them telling me the story it was still a thrilling fight but, for me that knew how it would’ve worked otherwise, it was frankly hilarious.

    Karin still earned a pointed glare and she had the good sense of looking embarrassed. I was not happy about her revealing her chakra's special characteristics around where someone unscrupulous like Orochimaru or Danzo could catch a whiff of it. It was bad enough in Kusa, no need for any big player to know what she can do.

    Anyway, with Karin’s help they’d breezed the rest of the test, which was a bloody good point as it meant Kabuto didn’t join them this time (I asked). Whether it was because the team was almost guaranteed to pass and Orochimaru didn’t feel the need for a backup or because it would’ve looked suspicious if a second shinobi separated from his team joined them, I’ll never know.

    Anyway, the three of us went off to do our thing. Sasuke hadn’t returned yet from wherever Kakashi had spirited him away to seal away his [Cursed Seal of Heaven]. Hmmm… sealed seal… talk about redundancy. Sakura, of course, wanted nothing to do with Naruto once the team exercises were over.

    I was too relieved nothing had gone wrong to feel anything but happiness right now, but intellectually knew I was kind of fucked. Interacting with Naruto during this month was a big NO in my books. But! I would worry about it later, right then the two of them had earned their first decent food in days. Ramen, of course.

    When the night arrived and we bid our farewells to Naruto before going back to our hotel room, I still had no idea how to distance myself from the hyperactive brat. Getting to bed with a particularly clingy Karin, I couldn’t bring myself to care overly much.


    I hate perverts. I super hate super perverts. And there’s a special place in hell where Jiraiya will be sent to after Pein kills him. That is, if I don’t get to him first.

    Okay, it’s probably not that bad, but I still didn’t take it kindly when he was caught spying on the onsen Karin and I were soaking in that morning. He also gave me the perfect excuse to avoid Naruto for the remainder of the month, as he’d just become his teacher. That earned him a wooden bucket right between the legs, never let it be said I’m not a thankful person.

    Karin still met with him a lot outside training, but I begged off. Naruto went as far as to call me an oddball, but I’m sure Karin at least caught on something going on. Well, she never really got around asking, so I didn’t have to lie to her.

    And like that, one day after another, it finally came the time for the finals. Karin was so excited about seeing her cousin fight that it was impossible to share a bed with her so, after futilely trying for a while, I left for the red light district, where I very pointedly spend the night drinking myself silly in a very visible place and then let myself get dragged to a ratty motel to sleep it off, where I overslept and missed the whole thing.

    There were some overtures toward my person, but nobody attempted to take advantage of me so I guess that’s a point for Konoha. Or maybe just luck. Yeah, probably just luck.

    In any case, my brilliant plans were cut short when a Sound-nin bursted into my room as soon as the invasion alarms blared. The fight was absurdly hard and I could only curse my luck at meeting who apparently was the only non-incompetent Sound nin in the world. I mean, the Sound Four were supposedly the creme of the creme, and a bunch of genin kicked their asses, feh.

    When I finally slit his throat, the room was a mess, and I had cuts and wounds everywhere. I couldn’t have staged it any better. With the expertise of years of practice, I unsealed a corpse from one of my scrolls, sealing the man in its place. After placing the new body against a wall, I took a good look at it.

    It was a young woman with approximately my body structure and a somewhat similar hair. Nobody would confuse her for me, and a basic autopsy would reveal the underdeveloped chakra coils of a civilian, but nothing of that mattered.

    Because I set her on fire.

    Burn baby burn.

    Where did I get a civilian corpse you ask? Who are you, the police?

    Then, making sure nobody had the free time to pay attention to me, I got into the shared bathroom (ratty motel, remember?), where I unceremoniously cut down my ponytail and tortured my remaining hair with chemicals that I’m pretty sure were against the Geneva Convention until it became wavy and lively, shining in a healthy golden. A pair of contacts painted the grey of my eyes a crystal blue, and a frilly blue dress Ran would never be caught alive wearing gave the finishing touches to my plan.

    Shimada Ran was dead, she was killed during the Sound and Sand combined invasion to Konoha.

    I was now Alice Margatroid, soon to be known as the Seven-Coloured Puppeteer.

    Leave me alone, fuuinjutsu and puppeteering go hand in hand and are of the few ninja arts you can practice behind closed doors.

    Plus, I used to like Alice Margatroid a lot, enough to want a try at being her. My future looked, if nothing else, interesting.

    I mixed with the first bunch of panicking foreign civilians, praying for the chakra suppression drugs I took to fool any guards standing in our way, and subtly implanted the idea of leaving Konoha as soon as possible into their brains. All subliminal messages, of course, can’t cast Genjutsu while on drugs.

    I wouldn’t be seen again until the mess with the Stone of Gelel.

    Still, letting Karin believe I was dead until I was ready to make an appearance was going to be a bitch.

    I knew this wasn’t the ideal time to leave Karin out of my sight. Konoha was going to face some unrest, that with Sarutobi’s death and the change of Hokage and all that. But I was reasonably sure it was still safe. I mean, there was a very slight chance Danzo tried to get his grubby paws on her, even if she was too old to be reprogrammed. But every option I could think of comes with risks, and this was the plan with the best chance of success.

    There was no way she would return to Kusa, so hopefully Naruto would make sure she didn’t leave the village and she wouldn’t end up as Orochimaru’s pawn again.

    He better.

    Or else.

    [The End]
     
  25. Bloodalchemy

    Bloodalchemy Know what you're doing yet?

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    Good lord. So much fast forwarding. I'm glad you turned it into a proper story.
     
  26. TheEyes

    TheEyes Experienced.

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    Yeah, there was a lot of hopping around in this version. The novelization is a definite improvement on the original; I'm glad you expanded on it.

    I'm still not happy with the Momo-chan reveal, though. The revelation that she knew that Ran was planning on faking her death, or that it was immediately obvious after she did it made sense and could have worked, maybe if the timing had escaped her and she was planning on intervening at the last second or something. But the fact that Momo-chan knew what Ran's new identity was going to be, implying a whole lot more intimate knowledge about the plan and its timing, and still let her go through with it because of some hairy bullshit about self-determination, none of which is valid because Ran was, is, and remains compromised by the Shimada blood she inherited from Momo, just flips the whole thing around and makes Momo-chan come off as a sadistic asshole.

    In a very real sense, the Momo-chan reveal essentially rewrote the entire story to make her, rather than Kusa's big boss, into Ran's antagonist. Before the reveal, it was Kusa village that was preventing Ran from having a happy life with Karin, specifically the threat of Kusa's unbeatable, undetectable ANBU, who were so far above Ran that she couldn't even detect them. The fact that said "ANBU" were really just Momoko the whole time, whom the Big Boss seemed to have a secure hold over, just added that extra dusting of tragedy and dramatic irony. After the reveal, though, it becomes clear that Ran's antagonist is really just Momo-chan and her decision to not help her own daughter because Ran's mouth-parts said she didn't need help at one point, like an asshole genie, and it's a particularly unsatisfying reveal because because Jump-chan then yeets Momo-chan out of the universe, forever denying Ran from ever receiving catharsis for this betrayal.

    I still think that needs to be revised to make the exact nature of Ran's plan a mystery to Momoko. Stripping her of her jumpchain status entirely as I outlined above would work, but even just making Momo-chan unaware of the exact timing and nature of Ran's plan, even if she then figures out the details immediately upon receiving her "effects". Maybe she thought she'd have a little more time to intervene, that Ran wouldn't enact her faked death plan until after Sauske's defection or something, I dunno, something other than "LOL you just ruined your life because I was too busy enjoying my vacation. What fools these mortals be! Peace out!"
     
  27. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    This line here sums up everything I don't get of your reaction.

    1. Ran's life is hardly ruined.
    2. She did her best as a mother to raise Ran.
    3. That dismissive attitude came from her boss (A literal monster, according to her), not her.

    At this point I'm honestly more confused about how you reached those conclusions than upset about the epilogue being poorly received.
     
  28. TheEyes

    TheEyes Experienced.

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    Okay, in order then:
    1. Ran faked her death and burned down any support structures she had. She is now alone in the world, with no support from her family or friends, including the one close friend she made, and will be for an extended period, until she finally finds out that she could have been in Konoha with Karin this whole time. That pretty well meets the standard for "ruined" to me. Sure she's not beyond recovery, but Ran is going to be in for a bad time for an extended period, and for reasons that seem so much more petty and avoidable after the Momo-chan epilogue.

    2. Momo-chan apparently knew this whole time about Ran's misconceptions, and could have cleared them up with a five minute conversation, but didn't because:
      I'm still not sure about her reasoning for why Momo-chan didn't take a few minutes and clear up the misconceptions that led to Ran deciding to fake her death, change her identity, and run away from Karin and Konoha, but this seems to be the closest that Momo-chan's interlude actually comes to explaining it. It does explain why Momo-chan didn't just sweep in and start killing people until the Big Boss decided to leave Ran alone or face the wrath of the Dragon Sleeping in the Grass, but not why she denied Ran the tools to save herself.

    3. The "dismissive attitude" does in fact still come from Momo-chan, although most of that has been edited out since the last time I read that epilogue. Momo-chan no longer disappears with a snide little remark about how Ran will eventually realize how much she "overreacted" and how this self-imposed exile was entirely her fault for being paranoid, but she still does disappear, and without even having the grace to fake her death or arrange to have some other sort of closure for Ran and Karin.

      Now, for the rest of their lives, Ran and Karin will be left wondering what happened to "Best Mom", wondering if she'll just randomly appear back in their lives someday, and in what form. Hell, since Shimada Momoko went to great lengths to present herself as devoted to becoming the Yamato Nadeshiko of badass kunoichi, Ran could certainly be forgiven for being worried that the next time she runs into her mother it will be when her mother executes her for betraying the village; she certainly fooled me into thinking she could do that, and I don't seem to be the only one.
    Overall I do like the edits to Momo-chan's epilogue, but they still don't fix the fundamental problem that I just don't like Momo-chan and consider her a far inferior substitution for the Shimada Momoko that I've been fascinated with for most of the story.
     
  29. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    And yet, what Ran does during the timeskip will be relevant and necessary for the later story, I don't know why you assumed she spent years planning her disappearance only to stumble around like a vagabond when the time finally arrives.

    It wouldn't have been avoidable without asking for Mother's help anyway, which she wouldn't have done.
    Because there are no misconceptions. That solution would take Mother's help, that Ran rejected. Ran only misjudged how far she would need to go to leave Grass, in a true Shimada way.
    Yes, I deleted those lines because people were taking the wrong message out of them. They were supposed to remark fondly on Ran's overzeal, something Momo is quite familiar with and it's not intrinsically bad. Just more effort than strictly required. As mentioned above, the true Shimada way.
    Eh... Ran misread Mother's priorities once, years ago, which led her to become unsure on what Mother would choose between the Village and her daughter. That misunderstanding has been cleared, in a very emotional way if I remember correctly. And there's been various roundabout offers on Momo's part to take Ran's side ever since.
     
  30. Amazon Climber

    Amazon Climber Experienced.

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    I think the reveal makes that a lot less satisfying than it was originally. Throughout most of the story, she had two major concerns: Orochimaru, and the wrath of her village. Asking the mom Ran thought she had for help with the former would be asking her to kill herself, and asking for help with the latter would force her to divide her loyalties. Sure she might know what the answer would be, but it’s still cruel.

    Then we find out she’s about as attached to the village as she is to the world it’s in, excluding Ran, and while there’s no direct power comparison, casting down the plans of man, gods, and fate suggests she wouldn’t have much problem with someone who hasn’t even achieved godhood yet.

    To put it another way, Ran, metaphorically, needed to be bailed out of a crippling large debt in the hundreds of thousands of dollar range, and thought asking her mom for help would force her to mortgage the family home. In actuality, her mom wouldn’t even consider that sum the equivalent of asking to borrow a quarter to pay for parking, because she owns an asteroid mining conglomerate and is the richest person in the entire solar system.

    Not only does it completely and retroactively trivialize the story, but it also makes her mom come off as a giant asshole since she could have cleared the misconception up at any time without stepping in.

    Anyway, I can’t speak for TheEyes but that’s my explanation of why I feel like it’s such a big problem.
     
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