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You are Uzumaki Shiki, son of Uzumaki Naori and her partner Ryūzetsu, living proof that the powers of natural energy and ninjutsu can overcome just about any obstacle. Lately you’ve been studying abroad at the academy in Konohagakure, a tentative ally of your own home Amegakure, as part of a diplomatic effort spearheaded by your mother Naori. At the moment however you find yourself embroiled in the internal problems of Kirigakure, an even shakier ally of Ame and Konoha, where a bunch of twenty-somethings have stolen the infamous “Seven Swords of the Mist” in an effort to turn back the clock to a time when students killed each other to graduate and there was a constant state of war between nations.

“Boruto’s off fighting Kagura-kun,” you tell Sarada upon being questioned, “so I guess we should go over there.”

“Why do you sound so nonchalant?” Sarada demands.

“This way,” you point as Buntan-senpai rejoins you, having passed a scroll to the Mizukage before leaving him to secure her former ‘comrades’. “It’s because it’s the type of fight that won’t end quickly.”

As you head in that direction, Buntan-senpai chuckles. “I see, so Kagura-kun made a friend... that’s good.” Buntan is the current wielder of Kiba, one of the Seven, and has until recently been pretending to help the would-be thieves. You’re actually kind of interested to see how exactly she’s handled the situation all this time – she told you herself that a part of this is because she hated the idea of someone else stealing her father’s swords, but you also suspect she’s been hard at work making sure that when she finally revealed her deception she had enough to work with to put her former allies away for good.

“What part of this is good?” Sarada demands.

“Kagura’s... well, he’s the type who’s easily manipulated,” Buntan-senpai clarifies, “and Shizuma’s the manipulative type. So what Kagura really needs is a friend he can trust – and then he’ll probably stop listening to Shizuma.”

“It’s a good guess,” you sigh, “and it’d be nice if it turned out that way. But it’s not going to be easy.”

...

When you finally arrive Shizuma and Boruto seem to be arguing quite pointlessly over whether the current Mizukage has ordered the assassination of political enemies within the Land of Water – Boruto insists despite not knowing the man at all that there’s no way that could be true, while Shizuma insists without evidence that not only does he do it all the time that under the new leadership he proposes that won’t be the way things are done anymore.

“There you are, Shizuma,” Buntan-senpai muses aloud.

“Ah, Buntan...” he replies with a short pause. “I’m afraid I don’t understand whatever it is you intend by bringing those two runts here alive.”

“So it’s the ‘alive’ part that bothers you?” you grumble.

“Buntan-san?” Kagura barely manages to gasp.
>1/?
>>
>>5191318
"And why would I wanna kill Shiki-kun?” Buntan replies with a frown, before glancing at Kagura. “Two things you need to know, kid. First thing is Shizuma’s a liar – I just passed a scroll full of evidence to the Mizukage proving Shizuma’s involvement in at least seven assassinations in the past two years.”

While Kagura stammers in shock, Kagura remains silent – though his scowl says it all.

“Second thing,” Buntan continues, “is he’s a total sociopath. Nothing he does is what caring about people looks like, it’s all just manipulation.”

“And what would you know about such things?” Shizuma glares sharply at her. “Weren’t you the one who told me you’d never known love from your mother or father, and that you were tired of the way the other villagers treated you like a criminal? If that was a lie it was a damn convincing performance.”

“Oh, that was all true,” Buntan admits. “But you know why I like Shiki and his family so much?”

“I can’t even fathom.”

“His mom let me live in their home for six months,” Buntan explains. “Did you ever learn about that?”

“It’s news to me,” Shizuma frowns.

“They treated me like one of their own,” she continues. “The kenjutsu lessons were great of course, I learned a lot. But doing chores with Shiki and Makoto, eating at their table, talking and laughing with them like a normal family... it’s because I’ve felt truly accepted before that I can tell when someone’s faking it. And Kagura? Shizuma’s been faking it since the day you met him.”

You... honestly only remember that vaguely. You had no idea it was that important to her, but then again it was also somewhat surprising that she recognized you so quickly. So you suppose it shouldn’t be surprising to hear her talking about you and your family like this.
>2/3
>>
>>5191322
“I’m disappointed,” Shizuma muses, shouldering Samehada. “All this time, I didn’t realize you were so weak, Buntan.”

“I may not really know what’s going on anymore,” Boruto admits, “But what I do know is that caring about people for real isn’t weakness... is this really a guy you think is gonna make the world better, Kagura?”

“... no,” Kagura admits. “Is what they’re saying true, Shizuma-san?”

There’s a long pause.

“Shizuma-san, please answer me!”

“I think he just did,” you frown.

“You shouldn’t worry about it too much,” Shizuma grins maliciously, holding Samehada up and piercing a pronounced scar on his visible chest with his thumb and smearing it with blood. “Friends turning on friends, even killing each other... doesn’t that sound like the best? That’s the sort of place the Blood Mist is, and will always be, Kagura.”

“Yeah, that doesn’t sound like my idea of a good time,” Buntan disagrees as the mist around you is tinged a bloody red. “Remember you guys, the Samehada...”

Boruto is already charging in.

“... drains chakra,” Buntan finishes.

“That moron,” Sarada grumbles.

>Head in after Boruto, make sure he doesn’t get himself annihilated by Shizuma.
>Flank Shizuma together with Buntan-senpai, take advantage of Boruto’s enthusiasm.
>Hold back with Sarada, get a better feel for Shizuma’s skills with Samehada.
>Other?
>>
>>5191323
>Flank Shizuma together with Buntan-senpai, take advantage of Boruto’s enthusiasm.
>>
>>5191323
>>Head in after Boruto, make sure he doesn’t get himself annihilated by Shizuma.

"Cousin, you are a fucking dumbass."
>>
>>5191323
>Head in after Boruto, make sure he doesn’t get himself annihilated by Shizuma.

Samehada is way more metal than draining chakra, it fuckin eats it. Shizuma may end up being eaten by the sword he stole
>>
>>5191323
>>Head in after Boruto, make sure he doesn’t get himself annihilated by Shizuma.
>>
>>5191323
>Flank Shizuma together with Buntan-senpai, take advantage of Boruto’s enthusiasm.
>>
>>5191323
>1d6, high roll, first three
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5191615
Dear RNGesus, please bless these rolls
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5191615
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5191615
>>
Ah that new thread smell. Also fuck Shizuma. We should probably kill him. Dude has that "drag everyone to hell with me" crazy vibes.
>>
>>5191615
It’s actually pretty easy to get after Boruto, seeing how he’s been roughed up already and spent a bunch of chakra before you even got here, and you catch up quickly enough to grab him behind the collar and pull him out of the way of Shizuma’s blade. He steps in and tries to bring Samehada down on you, shifting his momentum, and so you knock Boruto back and away from you.

“The heck was that for!?” Boruto demands sharply.

“Samehada doesn’t just drain chakra,” you explain, parrying the very blade you’re talking about with your sword, careful not to run chakra through it – instead, you have to let the superior mass of the weapon push you around. “It eats chakra. Ninjutsu and chakra flow will just make Shizuma stronger if you’re not careful, including shadow clones!”

“Wait, but I use those all the time!” Boruto complains. “And don’t you use chakra flow a lot?”

“I do,” you evade so that Sarada can throw a handful of shuriken past you which you join with a pair of giant folders. “Kiba’s also at a disadvantage.”

“It’s not too bad,” Buntan corrects you, parrying Shizuma’s blade and giving you an opening to hurl a few shuriken past her. “I can still use them with their natural sharpness.”

Boruto however watches as blood mist swirls from a wound Kagura left in his shoulder. “Damn... what is this? He never hit me!”

“Can he draw out chakra into the mist through any open wound?” Sarada guesses.

“Makes sense,” you agree.

“Here,” Buntan offers, darting over to Boruto under cover from yourself and Sarada. “Shiki-kun, take the lead for a moment would ya?”

“Great,” you grumble as she places a hand on Boruto’s shoulder, apparently having learned the skills necessary to heal wounds at some point along the line, “absolutely, thanks for asking!”

Shizuma’s skills with an ordinary sword would have been impressive – but with the weight and sheer cost in chakra that Samehada presents it’s clear that he’s moving noticeably slower than he could be. This still means he’s faster than you, and stronger than you, but not by enough. And you’re aware of exactly what his sword can do, while he has no real answer to your own kengen.

“Stop running, coward!” he demands as he parries another fuma shuriken.

“Drop the Samehada and fight me fair, coward!” you retort.

>Just keep evading with kengen-ryu moves until Boruto is back up to full strength.
>You and Sarada always have explosive tags... actually, you have a LOT of those.
>Can’t Sarada use genjutsu through her eyes now? That could really help a lot.
>Other?
>>
>>5192094
>You and Sarada always have explosive tags... actually, you have a LOT of those.
>>
>>5192094
>Can’t Sarada use genjutsu through her eyes now? That could really help a lot.
>>
>>5192094
>You and Sarada always have explosive tags... actually, you have a LOT of those.
>>
>>5192094
>>Can’t Sarada use genjutsu through her eyes now? That could really help a lot.
>>
>>5192094
>Can’t Sarada use genjutsu through her eyes now? That could really help a lot.

Used properly, landing genjutsu ends the fight immediately.
>>
>>5192094
>You and Sarada always have explosive tags... actually, you have a LOT of those.
>>
>>5192082
Alright, go ahead and gimme a 1d6 roll, higher is better, and I'll take the best three of four because Fuu knows her shit.
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>5192330
>>
>>5192330
wait, Fuu?
>>
>>5192333
Correct. There's something she would have had a chance to teach Shiki and Makoto, so I'm having you roll to see how well he remembers it and whether he can pull it off in practice.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d6)

>>5192330
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5192330
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5192330
>>
>>5192330
The 11 drops your DC to 10
>1d6, first three
>SP: 2/4
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5192478
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5192478
>>
Rolled 5 (1d6)

>>5192478
>>
>>5192478
You create a shadow clone, because part of this strategy you have in mind requires you to coordinate a lot better with your allies, and preferably in a way that Shizuma can’t overhear and adjust to. Your clone flips backwards a couple of times and takes a knee once he feels he has enough space, putting his fingertips to the ground as you continue to engage with Shizuma.

“I don’t know what you’re planning, brat,” he smirks, “but by all means, plan and plot all you like! No matter what you come up with, between the Samehada and this blood mist I may as well be invincible!”
(Sarada, I’m going to need to borrow your eyes...)

“Oh please,” you roll your eyes as you continue to evade Shizuma’s assault – barely. “Enough with the power-trip routine... can’t we just skip to the part where your hubris catches up to you? Listening to you go on and on is boring me to tears.”
(Senpai, I need you to use the Raigen technique on my mark.)

When you sense that the time is right, you put your plan into motion with an inaudible cue.

You back off, allowing Buntan-senpai to make her move after she steps in to take your place. “Hiken: Raigen!”

“Damn it!” Shizuma curses, swinging Samehada at her and forcing her to parry with both her blades. “Even if I can sense your chakra do you have any idea how bad that stings!?”

By the time the disorientation passes he finds your shadow clones closing in with your swords, kunai, and giant shuriken raised. “Too slow!”

He sweeps with his own sword, knocking aside a few clones and absorbing one... but one of them stops its progress. “Got you!”

In an instant Sarada drops her transformation disguise, having already made eye contact with Shizuma. “Damn you, brat!”

The long spines that make up Samehada’s “blade” extend, fast enough that one pierces Sarada’s shoulder before she can finish escaping. He tries to pursue her, but Boruto uses three shadow clones to tie him down. He must be thinking that in taking the chakra from two of the three that he’s gaining the upper hand again, but everyone else here knows better. They know because like you, they’ve been getting instructions from your shadow clone who has continued to do nothing but observe – and communicate through the “wave transmission method” that Fū once taught you and Makoto. You'd be willing to bet Shizuma never once considered that an academy student might have a technique like that, or that they could put together a plan that could defeat him.

He'd be mistaken on both counts.
>1/2
>>
>>5192826
You may not be able to blind Shizuma for long enough to pull this off, but you knew that Buntan-senpai can. You may not be able to place Shizuma under genjutsu just by making eye contact, but you know that Sarada-kun can. You may not be able to be everywhere at once, but you knew Boruto could back you up and keep Shizuma busy. So you had Buntan-senpai blind Shizuma for long enough that Sarada-kun could disguise herself as one of your clones, and she used that cover to make eye contact with Shizuma. He let his guard down because he could still see a clone that looked like the real Sarada.

And you may not be as good with fūinjutsu-tag ninjutsu as your sister, but you knew that if you had even just a few seconds you wouldn’t have to be. So when Shizuma moves to dispatch the real Boruto, he doesn’t realize that he’s stepped right into a massive trap.

He stops moving for a moment, and your clone’s warning tells Boruto and everyone else to get away.

“What is this?” Shizuma glares at you, as though realizing that you must somehow be the culprit even if he can’t see the cause. “Fūinjutsu?”

“One better,” you smirk, forming the seal of confrontation as Sarada’s genjutsu starts to slip and Shizuma realizes he’s been played. “It’s the plan you told me to come up with. Do you like it, Shizuma-san?”

The tags go off all together, having wrapped around his ankles. A few explosive tags, mostly for the concussive effects, and a few with katon-nature chakra sealed inside that erupt into a pyre. While Shizuma manages to leap and escape, it’s a very close thing... and he doesn’t escape without damage to his legs which are left horribly burned. It’s a wonder he can stand, even leaning on Samehada like a crutch.

“Damn you,” he pants wearily. “Damn you all...”

Meanwhile, Buntan-senpai places the longer of her two blades against Shizuma’s throat.

“... what are you doing?” you ask her.

“Weighing my options,” she replies curtly.

>I hope you’re not seriously considering doing this.
>Killing him means he’d win if you think about it.
>It’s not my place to say, but please think carefully.
>Other?
>>
>>5192889
>I hope you’re not seriously considering doing this
>>
>>5192889
>That's enough. The fight is over.
>>
>>5192889
>>I hope you’re not seriously considering doing this.
>>
>>5192889
>I hope you’re not seriously considering doing this.
>>
>>5192889
>>I hope you’re not seriously considering doing this.
>>
>>5192889
>>It’s not my place to say, but please think carefully.
>>
why are we considering stopping her, again? what's with the "if we kill a killer, we're the worse killer :(" bullshit, is it because shiki is still an idealistic brat?
>>
>>5193218
Was wondering the same thing
>>
>>5193218
A few characters have voiced the opinion to Shiki that doing things the way the old Kirigakure would is actually what Shizuma wants, so it would feel like losing an ideological argument even if it eliminates the threat.
>>
>>5193243
>>5193218
>>5193240
Ye, killing him just proofs him and his manipulations right anyway, even if he lied.
>>
>>5192889
“I hope you’re not about to actually do it,” you speak up as it seems like Buntan-senpai hesitates.

After another moment, Buntan lowers her blade slightly. “No, you’re right of course. As much as I wanna do it... no.”

You’re just about to breathe a sigh of relief when you both notice something happen with Samehada... no sooner has Buntan shifted her body into a ready stance than the spines explode outward again, slamming into and slipping past her guard, piercing her shoulder and her side deeply despite her having the presence of mind to backpedal. You charge past the retracting spines and actually manage to catch Buntan-senpai before she hits the ground, and immediately set to work patching the holes... several feet past where you snagged her out of the air.

...

You are a shadow clone of Uzumaki Shiki, and you’re now being treated to the spectacle of Samehada ‘devouring’ its own wielder.

“What’s this?” Shizuma muses, watching on in horror. “Samehada, are you... eating me?”

He laughs a little to himself as the blade starts to merge with his arm, and the wounds your original left on his legs start to steam and sizzle as they regenerate. “Well that’s not good.”

“Ya think!?” Sarada shoots back as the three of you all scramble to get some space.

The Mizukage joins you suddenly. “It’s gotten pretty serious over here, hasn’t it? At this rate it could be a problem.”

“Oh, I find that hard to believe,” Naori-ue muses, resting her hands on your shoulders as she looks on over your head. “Don’t worry about the original Shiki and Buntan-kun. You all did a fantastic job, but I’ll take over from here.”

...

You are Uzumaki Naori, and as you suspected the Hoshigaki brat wasn’t up to the task of handling Samehada when presented with an actual challenge – and Shiki and Buntan turned out to be exactly that. It was a brilliant strategy, but there was no way for any of them to know that this could happen.

“Can you do it?” Chōjūrō asks you.

“For sure,” you cast a sidelong glance at him. “Who do you think I am exactly? Unlike some people I didn't get rusty after having kids.”
>1/2
>>
>>5193643
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgUB3lF9IQA
>>
>>5193643
“To be fair you didn’t have them,” Chōjūrō points out.

“Neither did Naruto-kun or Sasuke-kun,” you counter. “But that’s beside the point.”

Umekiri leaves her sheath as you step forward... only to find Kagura-kun raising Hiramekarei to block your advance.

“What’re you doing, kid?” you ask curtly. “The longer this drags out the worse it’s gonna get.”

“Please, Chōjūrō-sama,” Kagura pleads, “allow me to make this right.”

Chōjūrō glances at you.

>Your call, just make it quick.
>Sure, go for it.
>No, I’m taking care of it.
>Other?
>>
>>5193758
>Sure, go for it.
>But if you fuck up, i'm stepping in immediately.
>>
>>5193758
>>Your call, just make it quick.
>>
>>5193758
>>Sure, go for it.
>>
>>5193758
>>Your call, just make it quick.
>>
>>5191318
>An individual who is impotent, or another who is infertile, does not change the definition of marriage in principle, because between a man and a woman in principle, procreation is always possible, and it is that possibility which gave rise to the institution of marriage in the first place as a matter of law. But when it is impossible in principle, as between two males or two females, it’s impossible in principle. If you say that that’s a marriage, you are saying marriage can be understood, in principle, apart from procreation. You have changed its definition in such a way as, in fact, to destroy the necessity for the institution, since the only reason it has existed in human societies and civilizations was to regulate, from a social point of view, the obligations and responsibilities attendant upon procreation.
>>
>>5193758
>No, I’m taking care of it.
>>
>>5193758
>>No, I’m taking care of it.
>>
>>5193758
>>Sure, go for it.
>>
>>5193758
“I assume you have no complaints, Chōjūrō-han?”

The Mizukage shakes his head. “But I’ll step in if I feel I need to.”

“Same,” you add.

You watch the whole thing come to a close with Umekiri snug in her sheath – though you do feel a sense of something wanted eagerly to fight against Samehada, which is now clearly calling the shots for Shizuma. Shiki stays with Buntan-kun, dressing her wounds seemingly without concern for his own safety, though you’re keenly aware that if staying where he is becomes too dangerous his shadow clone will let him know.

Kagura seems to have trouble wielding both of the blades that make up the Hiramekarei at once, which probably isn’t helped by his nervousness and hesitation at drawing a sword. But fortunately he finds support in Boruto-kun, who takes hold of one of the blades and coordinates with Kagura to fight the feral transformed Shizuma. It’s a brief scuffle, but together the two young shinobi manage to strike at the point where Samehada has fused with its wielder and force it to separate.

You walk past the exhausted kids, towards Shizuma, and put a fistful of Kongō Fūkugi into him just to make sure.

“What was that for?” Boruto demands.

“Just to make sure,” you muse, glancing over your shoulder to glare at Samehada after it belches loudly. “Yeah no, I’ll deal with you later.”

“I’ll be fine, really,” Buntan-kun insists to Shiki as you walk closer to them. “Thanks for patching me up – though if you don’t mind, can I just stay here a while?”

“You okay down there, Buntan-kun?”

“Just didn’t expect that,” Buntan-kun admits wearily. “God I feel like such an idiot.”

“It’s fine,” you assure her. “Samehada’s a weird one. Not even Shizuma knew that would happen.”

“Was that why you refused him the Samehada?” Buntan asks you curiously.

You shake your head. “Actually, Samehada likes his chakra almost as much as Kisame-han’s. Shizuma-kun just doesn’t have nearly enough, and doesn’t have Kisame-han’s discipline. So I knew this was inevitable if the two were to be paired.”

Buntan-kun glances at the Kiba blades still clutched in one of her hands, then sighs wistfully. “Give me a hand here, Shiki-kun.”

Shiki, hands still stained with Buntan’s blood, helps her get to her feet. “Easy there, senpai.”

Buntan-kun offers you her swords. “I suppose you want these back – I did steal them, after all.”

>Keep them. Consider them on indefinite loan.
>Being willing to give them up once you had them was the test.
>Make me an argument as to why you deserve them.
>Other?
>>
>>5195319
>>Make me an argument as to why you deserve them.
>Why did you do what you did here, why did you fight, why did you spare Shizuma?
>>
>>5195323
>>5195319
as an addendum, i want her to realize her own reasoning and motivations beyond just fighting and having the kiba, cause having them is just the start of her journey.
>>
>>5195319
>Make me an argument as to why you deserve them.
>>
>>5195319
>Tell me what you think those blades are for, and then tell me why you think you deserve them.
>>
>>5195319
>>Being willing to give them up once you had them was the test.
>>
>>5195319
“Let’s find someplace to talk,” you suggest. “Shiki-kun?”

Your son perks up for a moment. “Yeah? What is it, Naori-ue?”

“Do me a favor and escort your cousins back to the hotel,” you tell him. “Make sure they get there quickly, okay?”

“Sure,” he nods once. “I can do that.”

“And Shiki?”

“Hm?”

“Maybe wash your hands?” you suggest. “It looks a little... grim, you know?”

...

You walk with Buntan-kun out to the point overlooking the ocean to have your conversation, and she doesn’t look at you. Instead she focuses on the swords in her hands as she weighs her own thoughts, and the words attached to them.

“It’s weird,” she admits. “I always thought of Kiba as my dad’s swords, but they were never really his were they? Not anymore than they were Ringo Ameyuri-san’s before him. The Seven Swords were all forged for the village.”

“Well, ‘forged’,” you reply with a frown. “I’m not sure that’s the right word for Samehada.”

“Point,” Buntan admits. “Anyway, to keep it short I guess even if Kiba gets passed on to me that doesn’t make it ‘mine’ – I’d just be borrowing it. It’s important to me, don’t get me wrong, and I’m sure I’m the right person to wield it.”

“But if you think I’m not the right person, then that’s that.”

“Your village is trying to change things, for sure,” you muse calmly, taking in the cool night breeze off the ocean and taking your time to lay out your own thoughts. “Why didn’t you kill Shizuma?”

“That’s not how things work here anymore,” Buntan sighs. “Even if it’d be easier.”

“You wanted to though?”

“I thought he’d earned it,” she confesses. “The reasons are kinda personal.”

>You pass.
>Can I ask what reasons?
>You're not quite there.
>Other?
>>
>>5195920
>>You pass.
Yeah, same
>>
>>5195920
>You pass.
>>
>>5195920
>You pass.
>>
>>5195920
>You pass.
>>
>>5195920
- White Day -
You’ve made all the necessary preparations. Cleaning and organizing your workspace, obtaining the necessary ingredients, chanting the appropriate sutras. At the moment, surprisingly, it feels as if you have things as under control as they could possibly be. And so, your colossal undertaking begins – driven both by your sense of duty and obligation, as well as by your decision to treat this as an opportunity to make a statement.

...

Lunch. One month to the day after the slaughter that was Valentine’s day.

Plenty of boys in the academy have had to arrange return gifts, but in your case it was particularly arduous – you had a lot to consider, including both the number of people who gave you gifts with obvious sincerity behind them, as well as the perceived quality and expense of those gifts. Because of those factors, you settled on this plan to repay that kindness and generosity in one big sweep.

“What’s that?” Wasabi asks you curiously at the beginning of lunch when you pull out a scroll and open it on Anko-sensei’s desk.

“Wait a moment and see,” you muse, unsealing the first package and holding it out towards her. “Here you go, I hope you enjoy it Wasabi-kun.”

She opens the package. “Macarons?”

“These are return gifts,” Sarada recognizes. “Where did they come from?”

“I made them,” you clarify, unsealing the next batch. “Here, Sarada.”

Each in turn – Wasabi-kun, Sarada-kun, Chōchō-kun, and Sumire-kun – the girls who gave you a gift one month ago get a package in return from you. Upon opening them, Chōchō offers her own observation. “Each package is different?”

“They’re all different flavors,” you explain, “with different numbers in each package.”

“To reflect our tastes and the value of what we gave you in the first place,” Sumire recognizes, before taking a bite and pausing. Then her face lights up.

“So these are like, really, really good, Shiki-kun,” Chōchō confirms, having already eaten one of hers.

“They’re perfectly baked,” Sarada-kun adds. “Isn’t that supposed to be really hard?”

“It’s a really precise exercise,” you admit. “It takes some practice to get it right.”

“How did you pick the flavors?” Wasabi-kun wonders aloud, having taken a nibble of a melon-flavored one you packed into her box. “Wait, don’t tell me... every day at lunch?”
>1/2
>>
>>5196645
“I was keeping track, yeah,” you nod. “I also asked around a little too. Quietly, you see. That way I could make them in batches and send an individually-tailored box in return to everyone who gave me something on Valentine’s.”

“How many of these boxes did you send out?” Sarada asks.

“Well, that’s you four,” you explain, “three back to my family, one each to the queen and princess of Rōran, one to Fū-nee and one to Yugito-nee, one to Terumi-dono and Buntan-senpai, one to Kurotsuchi-san...”

“Wait, the Tsuchikage?” Sumire-kun asks skeptically.

“Mhm,” you nod. “I got a lot of gifts from friends of the family.”

“And you made these for all of them?” Chōchō-kun presses. “Each with different numbers and flavors? Isn’t that a little overboard?”

You shake your head. “A lot of people had me in their thoughts. Why wouldn’t I want to acknowledge them?”

“I think it’s sweet,” Sumire decides.

“Definitely,” Wasabi agrees. “You’re a good guy, Shiki-kun. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I blew my week’s food budget on making five hundred macarons with expensive filling,” you sigh, “so I’m going to go eat a piece of fruit I nicked from my neighbor’s garden and drink some water from the fountain out in the hall.”

As you roll up your scroll and try to leave the room, you hear a whistle. “Hey, Shiki-kun, catch!”

A macaron falls into your hands, courtesy of a smirking Wasabi-kun. Sumire-kun hands you one of hers as well, followed shortly by Sarada-kun.

After a moment, Chōchō hands you her last macaron with a shrug. “Well, I guess that’s my fault for eating them so quickly.”

You can’t help but smile. “You didn’t have to do that... but thank you for sharing.”

... maybe best not to tell them you ate a lot of the failures, and that you're already totally sick of macarons. That'd just ruin the moment.
>2/2
>>
>>5196741
Meanwhile, off screen: Every other boy in class absolutely malding
>>
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>>5196753
pic related
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>>5196753
>>
>>5196741
“You pass.”

“If that was a dealbreaker though, I just want you to know that I’m...” Buntan-kun continues for a moment before pausing. “Wait, what?”

“I said you pass,” you repeat. “So yeah, hang onto the Kiba. For the time being they’re yours to wield.”

There’s a pause. “Just like that?”

You shake your head. “You put the village and its needs ahead of your own ego, which is the sign of a good shinobi. And you showed remarkable humility, which is a trait shared by many masters of the sword.”

“So yeah no, I’ll let the Mizukage know while you’re getting those wounds healed a little more thoroughly.”

After a moment, Buntan-kun offers you a curt bow. “I swear I’ll live up to your opinion of me, shishō.”

...

You are Uzumaki Shiki, and thanks to your mom’s intervention you’ve barely made it back to the hotel in time for roll call (instead of being late). There are some murmurs about your hands and Boruto-kun’s shoulder, though Anko-sensei doesn’t seem bothered by it at all so she’s clearly in the loop.

“Seems like you three’ve been having fun without us,” she jokes, towering uncomfortably over Boruto at first before leaning in closer (also uncomfortably). “You’ll have to share the story with the class some time.”

... is she secretly the type that gets excited when she sees blood?

Boruto tries to laugh it off. “Y-yeah, sure!”

“Well then, off to bed!” Anko-sensei claps her hands cheerfully, suddenly standing a full step back from Boruto. “Big day tomorrow, so get some rest!”

... and she’s gone.

...

“Hold still,” Wasabi-kun orders Boruto after he squirms again. “You want me to get this crooked or something?”

“It just stings, ya know!” Boruto complains.

“Quit whining,” Wasabi-kun sighs. “It’s embarrassing coming from the big damn hero.”
>1/2
>>
>>5198546
“Are you okay, Shiki-kun?” Sumire-kun asks you cautiously. “You’re not hurt anywhere, are you?”

“I’m fine,” you insist wearily. “It’s not my blood... though my ears are still ringing a bit. I could use a bowl of hot soapy water though.”

“Wait here, I’ll get something for you from the hotel kitchen,” Sumire-kun tells you before disappearing deeper into the hotel’s ground-floor public area.

“If it isn’t yours whose is it?” Wasabi-kun asks you curiously, as she finishes working on Boruto.

“Kurosuki Buntan,” you tell her. “She’s a few years older than Kagura-san, and if I’m right she should be inheriting one of the Seven Swords of the mist after what happened tonight. She trained in my family’s dojo years ago, when she was a genin.”

“Man, is there any village where you don’t have well-connected family friends?” Boruto-kun sighs, taking off his blood-stained shirt and putting on a clean one that Shikadai brought him.

“It does seem like a pattern,” Shikadai agrees. “First Valentine’s day, now this?”

You shrug. “Out of the villages in the Shinobi Union? No, not really. Outside the Union Ishigakure’s the biggest one.”

Sumire-kun returns quickly with a bowl of warm soapy water that you use to wash Buntan-senpai’s blood off your hands. “I was dressing her wounds,” you explain to those who weren’t there. “I’m no good with the healing palm.”

“I find that hard to believe,” Wasabi-kun muses.

>It’s true. There are plenty of things you’re not good at.
>Tell them about that time you set a fish on fire by accident.
>Admit that you admire healing – it’s ninjutsu that exists to help people.
>Other?
>>
>>5198548
>Admit that you admire healing – it’s ninjutsu that exists to help people.
>Tell them about that time you set a fish on fire by accident.
>>
>>5198548
>>It’s true. There are plenty of things you’re not good at.
>>Tell them about that time you set a fish on fire by accident.
>>
>>5198548
>It’s true. There are plenty of things you’re not good at.
>>
>>5198548
>>It’s true. There are plenty of things you’re not good at.
>>Tell them about that time you set a fish on fire by accident.
>>
>>5198548
>Tell them about that time you set a fish on fire by accident.
>Admit that you admire healing – it’s ninjutsu that exists to help people
>>
>>5198548
“I tried to learn medical ninjutsu once,” you admit with a wry smile. “We were told to revive a recently-dead fish. That was when I learned we had a problem.”

“What kind of problem?” Sarada wonders aloud. “I thought the Uzumaki clan had a natural affinity for it.”

“Not all of us,” you admit. “Naori-ue, Makoto, and I all recover quickly on our own, and I understand Naruto-san does as well – but that’s really different. You remember how I said once I had trouble using chakra flow as anything but fire release?”

“Yeah?” Boruto answers.

“Take a wild guess what happened to the fish,” you sigh.

“You set it on fire?” Wasabi-kun stares at you in surprise.

You nod. “It was good eating to be sure, but yeah, I kinda failed the exercise. Badly.”

“... wow,” Wasabi-kun smirks. “That is pretty bad. I’m honestly surprised.”

“Everyone has things they’re not good at,” you shrug. “Even me, and that’s just one of them. But you’re good at healing ninjutsu – at our age that’s super impressive.”

“Well, I’m not alone in that,” Wasabi-kun admits, “since the class rep can do it too.”

“Not as well as you can,” Sumire-kun admits. “In any event, I think it should be time for us to go to our rooms... tomorrow will be busy.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Boruto agrees with a stretch. “You don’t have to tell me twice, ya know. I’m totally beat!”

“You don’t seem tired at all, Shiki-kun,” Shikadai observes as you head upstairs. “What’s with that?”

“My family all have a lot of stamina,” you explain, “on both sides. And the fighting styles my parents devised are mostly pretty efficient. So fighting just doesn’t make me tired, really.”

...

The next day is fairly uneventful. You collect a few gifts for your family, like what most of the other students are doing, and meet at the docks just before your ship is about to set off back towards the Land of Fire. Or rather, you’re among the last to get aboard because some familiar faces stop you at the docks, just short of the boat.
>1/2
>>
>>5199793
“Ah, perfect timing!” Mei-dono greets you with an easy smile. “We have a few diplomatic gifts for your family back in Amegakure, would you mind taking them for us? There’s something for you as well.”

She hands you a scroll, clearly with things sealed into it, to deliver. “I’m sure you didn’t need to.”

“Nonsense,” Mei-dono muses. “A worthy successor to the Kiba was acknowledged last night – this is a momentous occasion!”

“Be well and train well,” the Mizukage insists with a curt nod... but also with a smile.

Temari-san bows politely. “Tell Naori-san I said hello...”

Her smile gives way to a frown. “And that she should actually stick around next time! I know she can disappear into thin air, but she doesn’t always have to.”

“I’ll tell her,” you offer with a slight bow.

Now, it comes to Buntan-senpai, who sneaks up behind you while you’re facing the current and former Mizukages – she grabs hold of you from behind, and you feel her chest press into your shoulders. “Afternoon, Shi~ki~kun~!”

“Senpai,” you reply awkwardly. “You seem super energetic today... I think I know why?”

She releases you, and you can see that she has the Kiba fastened together at her left hip, confirming your guess. “Congrats, senpai.”

“I’m still a little floored, honestly,” she admits, flashing you a toothy grin. “But hey, that’s not why I’m here – I figured I’d thank you for last night, and be sure to send you off good and proper!”

She abruptly leans down and plants a kiss – surprisingly gently – on your forehead.

“If you wanna add some spice to your training look me up,” she insists with a smirk. “I’ll be your partner any time!”

“I may have to take you up on that!” you reply, smiling back. “See you around, senpai.”

...

Once you’re aboard the boat, you decide to try to relax... but something feels a little off to you.

>Find Boruto or Sarada, see if you can figure out what’s going on.
>Just head out to the pool deck again, you could use some time to just float.
>Find a nice spot on the deck in the shade where you can do some reading.
>Other?
>>
>>5199809
>>Find Boruto or Sarada, see if you can figure out what’s going on.
>>
>>5199809
>>Find Boruto or Sarada, see if you can figure out what’s going on.
>>
>>5199809
>>Find a nice spot on the deck in the shade where you can do some reading.
>>
>>5199809
>Find a nice spot on the deck in the shade where you can do some reading.
>>
>>5199809
>Find Boruto or Sarada, see if you can figure out what’s going on.
better to confide in others than worry in secret
>>
>>5199809
>>Just head out to the pool deck again, you could use some time to just float.
>>
>>5199809
You look around for a few minutes and find Sarada on a balcony deck overlooking the pool, where she’s been drinking roasted barley tea from a vending machine bottle and chatting with Denki and Chōchō.

“Sarada, great, you’re here,” you sigh. “So hey, have you noticed that ever since we boarded something’s felt... off?”

“Of course something’s ‘off’ here, Shiki-kun,” Chōchō declares, pointing a finger at your chest. “Everyone’s talking about it!”

You stare at her blankly, knowing only that you’ve clearly missed some key point here that deprived you of a common frame of reference for this whole conversation. “Huh?”

“That swordswoman in the Mist village!” Chōchō insists.

“You mean Buntan-senpai?”

“I knew it!” she declares. “So you’re even on a first-name basis already!?”

“Sarada, what the heck is Chōchō-kun ranting about?” you turn to your cousin for an explanation.

“I mean, you were there,” Sarada looks at you in confusion. “She kissed you and said she’d be your partner any time, right? That’s what Chōchō said she heard.”

Your palm meets your head with an audible smack. “Okay first of all, that’s not what I meant by ‘off’, and second? She kissed me on the forehead and told me she’d like to train together sometime. In martial arts the “uke” is the senior sparring partner who “receives” their junior’s attack at a level where the junior can learn from the exchange.”

“Wait...” Chōchō furrows her brow. “So you mean... you were talking about training?”

You nod. “You thought she meant it sexually? Okay, let’s analyze that. What about her makes you think I’d be the one in charge even if she did mean it that way?”

Something seems to click. “Mistakes have been made.”

“I’d say so,” Sarada snaps. “How many people did you share this with?”

Chōchō is already halfway down the hall to where most of the rest of your class is. “Can’t talk! Have to fix this!”
>1/2
>>
>>5200162
Pfft. Too late Shiki, now almost everyone in class will think you're some sort of pornomancer or a man who's into older women.

Lies get a head start while truth takes a week to catch up.
>>
>>5200162
“It was women who brought me into this world,” you sigh, leaning wearily on the railing, “and it’ll be women who take me out of it, I swear.”

“No stranger to girl problems?” Denki chuckles awkwardly.

“Denki-kun,” you glance at him, “in my family, all my problems are ‘girl problems’ by definition.”

“You were saying you felt something weird?” Sarada changes the subject. “And it wasn’t about the rumors about you?”

You look out over the sparkling waters and think about it closely. “It feels... a little like you’re looking at a word puzzle that you know you should know the solution for, but you can’t quite make it come together.”

“That’s just the worst!” Denki agrees, “or like how sometimes you need to sneeze but can’t?”

“Not quite,” you shake your head, “but close.”

“I haven’t noticed anything like that,” Sarada admits. “But I’ll keep my eyes open, because I agree – that doesn’t seem good to me. Do you maybe want to tell the class rep too?”

>No need... wouldn’t want to spook everyone, especially since it might still be nothing.
>I’ll talk to Anko-sensei real quick about it. But honestly, there’s nothing else TO do.
>Yes. The sensory input from the ryūmei is always high but this feels different somehow.
>Other?
>>
>>5200188
>>Yes. The sensory input from the ryūmei is always high but this feels different somehow.
>>
>>5200188
>Yes. The sensory input from the ryūmei is always high but this feels different somehow.
also,
>I’ll talk to Anko-sensei real quick about it. But honestly, there’s nothing else TO do.

there is no reason not to inform everyone if fuckery is afoot
>>
>>5200188
>I’ll talk to Anko-sensei real quick about it. But honestly, there’s nothing else TO do.
>>
>>5200188
>>Yes. The sensory input from the ryūmei is always high but this feels different somehow.
>>
>>5200188
“The ryūmei can be a lot to handle,” you admit. “But this feels different. I’d prefer not to worry anyone, but I think Nagao-kun and Anko-sensei should know.”

“Okay, I’ll find Anko-sensei,” Sarada decides.

...

Down near the pool you find many of your class relaxing, including the one you happen to be looking for at the moment. Nagao Sumire-kun has just gotten out of the pool and is drying herself and her modest single-piece swimsuit off when you approach her. “Nagao-kun, we need to talk about something.”

“If it’s about what Chōchō-kun told us she’s already corrected her initial version of events,” she replies calmly. “So you don’t need to worry about that, Shiki-kun.”

You shake your head. “No, Nagao-kun, that’s not it. I’m talking something actually important. Can we talk privately?”

“Yeah, sure,” she replies, seemingly picking up on your concern and gesturing towards the corner of the ship’s superstructure. Wasabi-kun and Iwabe seem to notice you up to something, but say nothing.

Around that corner there’s a little alcove between the side rail and the curve of the forward superstructure where it rises towards the bridge. There’s even a bench, where you both sit.

“I’ve been feeling uneasy,” you admit. “Like there’s something right on the edge of my awareness that has me nervous. Sarada will be telling Anko-sensei.”

“How sure are you about this?” she asks you with a frown.

You shake your head. “Not enough that I’d want to worry everyone – it could still be nothing. But with four of us at the ready, it gives us a place to start if there’s a problem.”

“I understand,” she nods, “thank you for confiding in me.”

You offer her a hand as you both stand, a gesture which after a moment she accepts.

...

The sun eventually goes down and most of your classmates crash and burn pretty hard, though you’re left somewhat restless.

>Just step outside and get some fresh air, see if that helps soothe your nerves.
>See if there’s anyone awake to talk to, you’re getting super bored right now.
>Go to the galley, see if you can get a snack that will help put your lights out.
>Other?
>>
>>5201987
Do we know any sensory techniques we could use to keep an eye on different parts of the ship?
>>
>>5201987
>See if there’s anyone awake to talk to, you’re getting super bored right now.
>>
>>5201987
>>Just step outside and get some fresh air, see if that helps soothe your nerves.
>>
>>5201987
>>Go to the galley, see if you can get a snack that will help put your lights out.
>>
>>5201987
>>Just step outside and get some fresh air, see if that helps soothe your nerves.
>>
>>5201987
>>Just step outside and get some fresh air, see if that helps soothe your nerves.
>>
>>5201987
>1d6, first three, DC 9
>SP: 2/4
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5202985
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5202985
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5202985
rolling
>>
>>5202985
You decide to step outside and get a little fresh air, see if you can clear your head and then get to sleep. So you do precisely that, putting on a light jacket over the plain yukata you use in lieu of a bathrobe and stepping out onto the balcony. Leaning over the railing on a calm, moonlight night, no breeze and not a cloud in the sky, with a totally calm ocean beneath you... it’s actually enough to start lulling you off to sleep until you hear an alarmed shout from inside.

When you come in through the sliding glass door you see two things – first is Sarada, who’s clearly the one who shouted, and second is a faint swirling distortion in the room, seemingly suspended in midair. It’s almost like a heat shimmer got turned into a whirlpool, just for a half-second before it fades out of view.

Iwabe’s bat lands heavily against your sheath – him having woken up in a blind fog to strike at the first thing that seemed like a threat, and you having quickly unsealed your sheath to take the blow.

“Wait what?” he demands as he sees who it is he swung at.

“Easy!” you insist as the lights come on. “Wait, you sleep with that thing?”

“What’s happening?” Anko-sensei demands, seemingly only half-awake and having rapidly dressed, still in the process of tying off a belt for her courtesy white bathrobe. “Sarada, Shiki, Iwabe, explain.”

“I saw something,” Sarada insists, pointing to where you saw the distortion. “Some kind of creature that disappeared... I think it had a sharingan!”

“That... seems unlikely,” Anko-sensei admits. “Are you sure it wasn’t a nightmare?”

“Unless Sarada-kun’s nightmares can use spacetime ninjutsu,” you add, “I think this thing was real, whatever it was.”

“What do you mean?” Sumire-kun asks you curtly.

“Having been dragged around a lot by my parents I know what to look for,” you clarify. “I didn’t see whatever it was Sarada-kun saw, but the spatial distortions and gravitational lensing were unmistakable.”

“Could it’ve been Naori-dono?” Anko-sensei asks you.

You shake your head. “If she’d been here she’d at least leave a shadow clone to talk to me, and the Hiraishin is a lot faster than that.”

“Could this be what you felt you were noticing earlier?” Sumire-kun guesses.

>It has to be, because I don’t buy into coincidence as an explanation for things.
>I don’t think the two are related. One is a general sense, one is specifically observable.
>I can’t say, but I do think that both are certainly reasons to be cautious for a while.
>Other?
>>
>>5203749
>>It has to be, because I don’t buy into coincidence as an explanation for things.
>>
>>5203749
>>I can’t say, but I do think that both are certainly reasons to be cautious for a while.
>>
>>5203749
>>I can’t say, but I do think that both are certainly reasons to be cautious for a while.
>>
>>5203749
>I can’t say, but I do think that both are certainly reasons to be cautious for a while.
>If a sharingan user who can manipulate spacetime is involved, maybe it's best if i call mom in.
>>
>>5203749
>>It has to be, because I don’t buy into coincidence as an explanation for things.
>>
>>5203749
>It has to be, because I don’t buy into coincidence as an explanation for things.
>>
>>5203749
>It has to be, because I don’t buy into coincidence as an explanation for things.
>>
>>5203749
>I can’t say, but I do think that both are certainly reasons to be cautious for a while.
>>
>>5203749
“It doesn’t feel identical,” you admit, “but I don’t think much of coincidence as an explanation.”

“I agree completely,” Anko-sensei butts in. “Despite my doubts, I think we need to proceed under the assumption that some sort of creature with a sharingan was sent to spy on our class for some reason,” she decides, “and used a spacetime ninjutsu to escape when Sarada-kun noticed it. Cause that’s what’s consistent with what the two of you kids are saying.”

“I’ll stay up and keep a watch,” Anko-sensei eventually decides. “Shiki-kun, it’d be really helpful if you could let Naori-dono know about this?”

“Not a problem,” you nod.

“Good kid,” Anko-sensei muses. “Now, everyone else... I know it’s gonna be hard but at least try to get some sleep.”

...

By the next morning you arrive on the coast of the Land of Fire, and your whole class transfers from the ship to a train. Nobody really slept after the incident last night, though everyone has different ways of showing it. Far and away the least graceful are Boruto and Wasabi, whose usual energy has completely evaporated leaving two bleary-eyed and humorless expressions. Even you find yourself a bit stiff and sore from carrying all that tension through the night, mostly in your shoulders and the back of your neck.

Your whole class files into the second to last car in the train, and the gears grind into motion. The car sways in a rhythm that would be hypnotic if it weren’t for the noise, the nuisance being the only thing that keeps you awake. After about an hour and a half, the hairs start standing on the back of your neck... and the back door of the car slides open.

In walks a man, extremely pale and bald, with one eye black as coal that’s been stitched open, and several extra eyes seemingly tucked into random little homes in his head. But most striking is the pattern on his cloak, which you immediately recognize as belonging to an organization that should no longer exist.

Your sensei recognizes it as well. “Can’t be...”

You quickly grab the kunai Naori-ue gave you.
>1d6, best three of four
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5206030
>>
Rolled 1 (1d6)

>>5206030
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5206030
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5206030
>>
>>5206030
Along with the man in the Akatsuki robe with its striking red clouds, you notice several smaller intruders – all pale-skinned and pale-haired, sporting two sharingan and large, leaf-like swords built like punching daggers. There’s no escape that way.

“Nice coat,” Anko-sensei chuckles grimly, drawing a kunai from her sleeve.

“Boruto, Sarada, Sumire, Wasabi, stay here,” you suggest, punching out a window. “Everyone else head forward. Iwabe?”

“What?” he snaps.

“Get ready to separate the cars,” you tell him. “Denki, show him how.”

“Right!” Denki replies as you head out the window and clamber on top of the train.

You’ve never actually train-walked at all, having only seen it in movies, but being able to cling to the surface makes it easy to adjust for the wind. You head straight back to the next car and leap down, hitting the switch and letting the cars separate. Then, you send a signal.

- Naori -

You are Uzumaki Naori, and your son has called you with news you’ve been quietly anticipating ever since Sasuke-han warned you about it: Uchiha Shin has finally made his move.

In terms of information about your foe, the best source turned out to be Orochimaru – Shin having been one of his previous test subjects during experiments on the sharingan, it’s hardly surprising. Shin was a curiosity even by Orochimaru’s warped standards, possessing a body that could accept any grafted tissues with zero chance for rejection. Orochimaru made use of that with sharingan, and even used a graft from Shin’s body to create the arm used by one Shimura Danzō.

But now you’re facing him, and what you understand are his own young clones made from his teeth.

“Shiki,” you muse. “Can you get back to your friends?”

“Back the way I came?” your son asks, regarding your choice of clothing curiously. “Not a problem.”

“Ah, you would be Uzumaki Naori,” Shin greets you, having already wounded Anko-sensei enough to force her to fall back. Several of the students in Shiki’s class cover for her.

>Why don’t you and I go somewhere else to do this?
>I’m pretty sure Sasuke-han would like to talk to you.
>Bold of you to wear that coat in front of me.
>Other?
>>
>>5207316

>You've made a lot of very severe mistakes in the past few seconds, boy. You might want to start apologizing.
>>
>>5207316
>>Bold of you to wear that coat in front of me.
>>
>>5207316
>Bold of you to wear that coat in front of me.
>>
>>5207316
>>Bold of you to wear that coat in front of me.
>>
>>5207316
>Bold of you to wear that coat in front of me.
Naori is not amused.
>>
>>5207316
>Bold of you to wear that coat in front of me.
>>
>>5207316
“Bold of you to wear that in front of me,” you declare, glaring sharply at Shin. “So yeah, you know what that means, right?”

“It’s the uniform of Akatsuki,” Shin declares with a smirk as he turns to face you, “the organization to which Uchiha Itachi belonged, and which you betrayed.”

“Yeah no,” you frown. “None of that was right. And even if it was – Akatsuki’s legacy isn’t yours to claim.”

“And you believe it’s yours?” Shin demands. “You? A trait-”

He’s interrupted when you ‘draw’ a kunai seemingly from thin air and hurl it at his face, forcing him to lean out of the way... which lets him see the markings on its wooden hilt. In that same instant your palm meets his face, and in the same instant the whole world around the two of you changes. You throw Shin headfirst through a wall for good measure.

Your new surroundings are part of a ‘hideout’ once used by the Uchiha clan. It’s not really so much a hideout as it is a small fortress really – the place where Itachi-han died, many years ago now. And you’re not alone when you get there, since Sasuke-kun and Karin-kun are both already here by prior arrangement and the liberal use of shadow clones.

“You brought me a present!” Shin declares, as he steps out of the cloud of dust and rubble. “The man who killed Uchiha Itachi!”

“I’m here too,” Karin grumbles.

“Everyone who matters knows,” Sasuke replies calmly. “Uchiha Shin, do you have any understanding of how much trouble you’re in?”

“I was about to ask you the sa-” he begins, before you interrupt.

“Clearly not,” you frown, crossing your arms. “The moment you threatened our children was the moment you sealed your own fate.”

>Let Sasuke spring a trap using his Rinnegan abilities.
>You already have him marked. Try to finish this yourself.
>Draw this out a bit. Surely he must have had some sort of plan.
>Other?
>>
>>5209852
>>You already have him marked. Try to finish this yourself.
>>
>>5209852
>>Draw this out a bit. Surely he must have had some sort of plan.
>>
>>5209852
>>Draw this out a bit. Surely he must have had some sort of plan.
>>
>>5209852
>>You already have him marked. Try to finish this yourself.
>>
>>5209852
>Draw this out a bit. Surely he must have had some sort of plan.
Every retard deserves at least some chance to redeem himself. Let's see if we can talk no jutsu this somehow.
>>
>>5209852
>>Draw this out a bit. Surely he must have had some sort of plan.
>>
>>5209852
>Draw this out a bit. Surely he must have had some sort of plan.
>>
>>5209852
>1d6, high roll, taking the first three
>>
Rolled 1 (1d6)

>>5210959
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5210959
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>5210959
>>
>>5210959
“You’re right, of course,” Shin declares, “because the two of you are the only ones who could hope to match against me – and now I can kill you both without interference.”

“Again,” Karin grumbles. “I’m in the proverbial room, dammit.”

“We know,” you reply, “and we appreciate it.”

Then you turn to Shin. “I assume all of this has to do with the name you stole for yourself?”

“Is it that you want revenge?” Sasuke guesses. “Or do you want to eliminate any challengers?”

“Both,” Shin insists curtly. “Uchiha Sasuke, for the crime of killing Uchiha Itachi I sentence you to death. Uzumaki Naori, for the crime of stealing from the Uchiha I also sentence you to death.”

“Stealing?” you frown. “Itachi-han gave me one of these himself.”

“Speaking of whom, you talk a lot about my brother for someone who never met him,” Sasuke chimes in. “What could you know about him?”

“I know that he was the strongest Uchiha,” Shin offers in rebuttal, “and I know that he was the one who killed the Uchiha clan, proving that he was the strongest. Without that conflict, and the gradual whittling away of lesser beings that comes with it, humanity has grown weak. The two of you are guilty of that same weakness, and that is the final crime which you share – for which the penalty is also death.”

“Naturally,” you grumble. “Yeah no, can we get on with this please? It’s clear talking isn’t accomplishing anything.”

Mid-sentence you unseal a handful of paper shuriken and throw them at Shin, setting off the explosive tags they’ve been folded from at the last possible instant. The blasts chain for a moment, two tags on each of three shuriken quickly adding up to a total of nine hundred and thirty-six explosions, but you can tell immediately that Shin is just going to appear somewhere else. When he does you teleport next to him, using the hiraishin formula you marked him with as a target, and slash at him with Umekiri – which shockingly he parries, manipulating what seems like about a hundred scalpels that float in midair before turning to dart at you like a school of strange, glistening fish.

He hits an illusory afterimage of course, but it was a lot closer of an exchange than you were anticipating.

“Mangekyo,” Sasuke realizes aloud, having watched the exchange. “Two of them.”

“One’s a weaker Kamui,” you add, “the other’s strange – like the Sōshūjin but with his eyes.”

>Step it up to Sage Mode. This isn’t meant to be a “fair fight”.
>Work in tandem with Sasuke to catch him with Kongō Fūsa.
>Sharingan aren’t especially effective against yin chakra flow.
>Other?
>>
>>5211770
>Sharingan aren’t especially effective against yin chakra flow.
>>
>>5211770
>>Sharingan aren’t especially effective against yin chakra flow.
>>
>>5211770

>Step it up to Sage Mode. This isn’t meant to be a “fair fight”.
>Sharingan aren’t especially effective against yin chakra flow.

He's the most retarded man i've ever met, and the penalty for that is death.
>>
>>5211770
>Step it up to Sage Mode. This isn’t meant to be a “fair fight”.
>>
>>5211770
>Step it up to Sage Mode. This isn’t meant to be a “fair fight”
Plus a couple inner gates. We're not fucking around this time. No trying to find a weakness. No giving him a chance to pull a dues ex machina. No anything other than overwhelming, unrelenting force. He dies NOW.
>>
>>5212013
Cool it a bit, if we just curbstomp every battle we are gonna lose our edge and Naori isnt getting many fights nowadays
>>
>>5211770
>>Sharingan aren’t especially effective against yin chakra flow.
No sage mode, that’s a crutch
>>
>>5211770
>Sharingan aren’t especially effective against yin chakra flow.
>>
>>5211770
>Sharingan aren’t especially effective against yin chakra flow.
>>
>>5211770
>>Sharingan aren’t especially effective against yin chakra flow.
If he is so god damn proud of his implanted eyes, let's show him that they do have their weaknesses as everything else.
Also should talk to the kids once this is over, shiki thinking what he did should be put in perspective and the rest of the class could also benefit of that lesson.
>>
>>5212775
>shiki thinking what he did should be put in perspective
Clarify this for me please?
>>
>>5213057
Nvm, misread something
>>
>>5211770
>1d6, first three
>SP: 6/6
>ES: 2/2
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5213262
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5213262
>>
>>5213262
Just realized I forgot to put up the DC, but you already hit it for sure.
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5213262
>>
>>5213262
“Uchiha Naori,” Sasuke informs you, forming a seal and producing a shadow clone. “One of the last true moderates – died just before the coup. Old age.”

His clone charges forward, and the real Sasuke throws a fūma shuriken close behind while the clone weaves seals – a fire style technique of the Uchiha clan, though it seems that mixed into the high-speed hand movements are false seals, a habit picked up from Kakashi-sensei no doubt.

“No you don’t!” Shin declares, flowing chakra into his hand and moving to interrupt the seals with a chopping movement, almost like swinging an ax at Sasuke.

At the last second however the oversized shuriken switches places with the clone, the weapon taking the blow instead and allowing Sasuke to complete the technique and release a massive fireball.

Shin tosses his badly-burned Akatsuki cloak aside, revealing a bare grey chest covered in scars and studded here and there with sharingan, and he laughs. “Excellent! Now that’s starting to be a fight worth...”

He glances down at the stump where his right arm used to be.

“... what?”

He looks up at you, and sees you holding his severed arm by its wrist in a different spot from where you were before. He clearly doesn’t understand what just happened.

“What was Uchiha Naori-dono’s other mangekyo ability?” you ask, still gripping the limb as it trickles blood onto the ground at your side.

“One eye could manipulate any object she placed a seal onto,” Sasuke explains. “The other could store anything she placed a seal on in a complicated fūinjutsu – not unlike the Sakegari blade.”

“Very nice,” you muse. "But no sharingan offers any protection from my Umekiri... not when I have a reason to fight seriously. And Shin? Your first mistake was giving me that kind of reason."
>1/2
>>
>>5213420
- Shiki -

Naori-ue must have taken similar steps to your own plans, using a hiraishin kunai to get close enough to the intruder on your train to grab him by the face and teleport him somewhere far enough away that they can fight without anyone else getting caught up in it. The moment of disorientation among the others, who mainly look like children not much older than yourself or the rest of your class, passes – it’s impossible to take advantage of because too many of your own classmates are also confused enough that they don’t immediately act. But that’s fine, this battle has basically just been re-set anyway with the removal of the main threat.

“What did I miss?” you ask, giving the last car of the train some time to slow down and fall back far enough for the passengers aboard it to be safe.

“I got my butt kicked by that Akatsuki-wannabe,” Anko-sensei admits from one of the nearby seats, where Wasabi-kun is seeing to her injuries. “He’s not bad, but your mom’s not even gonna break a sweat.”

“Can we get a hand here!?” Boruto asks, parrying one of those broad leaf-shaped blades as the pale-looking kids spring back into action – kids, you thought, but they appear to actually be clones? They resemble the guy Naori-ue took off with, are they juvenile clones of that man?

“Sure,” you reply, forcing those questions to the back of your mind and drawing your own sword before looking back over your shoulder. “Give it sixty more seconds, then separate the cars.”

“Got it,” Iwabe nods resolutely. “Hey Shiki-kin?”

“Yeah?”

“Give those guys hell for the rest of us.”

You turn back to the intruders. “Not a problem.”

...

Your first move is to move up and around where Boruto, Sarada, and Sumire are fighting – Boruto is keeping the clones away from Anko-sensei and Wasabi-kun, while Sarada and Sumire are fighting back to back some ways further down the car, with Sarada and Boruto effectively bracketing several of the clones between them. So you run along the seats on one side of the car, carefully evading the clones’ blades until you return to the back end of the car. Together with Sumire-kun you’re now able to put the rest of the clones in the same awkward position as the ones between Sarada and Boruto are.
>2/3
>>
>>5214177
“I know you know this, but avoid looking at their eyes!” you shout a suggestion.

“We know!” Sarada replies as she fights – you’re barely able to see her. “Anko-sensei told us, watch their hands and feet, right!?”

“You can also use soft focus,” you offer, parrying an attack from the nearest clone. “Pick a spot six feet behind them to focus on!”

A few moments pass, with all of you – clones included – struggling to come up with a sound strategy for how to engage. “That’s working a lot better!” Sumire calls out to you. “Thanks, Shiki-kun!”

It’s not a technique designed to defeat the sharingan per se, but the samurai have always used it that way as a side benefit. Mostly it’s an approach used in the traditional Sōkō-ryū schools for passively observing patterns and gaps in your opponent’s style, searching for the simplest way to defeat their defenses in a single killing strike.

With a swift flowing movement you feint with your yin chakra flow, then bring your foot down on one of the clones’ shoulders with a surge of water that knocks him to the floor. Seizing the moment perfectly, Sumire-kun steps in after parrying her own opponent’s blade and shoulder-slams him back onto the water you created, where he slips and stumbles.

“Suireiha!” she calls out, blasting the clone off his feet with her water gun technique.

>Try to capture the two clones by close-range grappling moves.
>You and Sumire both have summons – those can hold the clones.
>In THEORY your clan has techniques for this – try using one.
>Other?
>>
>>5214422
>In THEORY your clan has techniques for this – try using one.
Let's do mama proud
>>
>>5214422
>>In THEORY your clan has techniques for this – try using one.
>>
>>5214422
>>In THEORY your clan has techniques for this – try using one.
shiki's gonna end up boiling this clone eh
>>
>>5214422
>>You and Sumire both have summons – those can hold the clones.
>>
>>5214422
>>In THEORY your clan has techniques for this – try using one.
>>
>>5214422
>You and Sumire both have summons – those can hold the clones.
>>
>>5214422
>You and Sumire both have summons – those can hold the clones.

Please no boiling children. Do we live in a gingerbread house or something?
>>
>>5214422
>>In THEORY your clan has techniques for this – try using one.
>>
>>5214422
>You and Sumire both have summons – those can hold the clones.
>>
>>5214422
>>You and Sumire both have summons – those can hold the clones.
>>
>>5214422
Okay, I'm going to try something different here.
>1d6, high roll for summons
>taking the first three
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5215677
interesting...
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5215677
rollin'
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5215677
>>
>>5215677
And now please roll for the alternative, using some Uzumaki-derived technique.
>1d6, taking the first three, high roll
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5215763
💯
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5215763
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5215763
>>
>>5215770
>>5215772
>>5215773
>>
>>5215677
In one moment you weigh the two options that come immediately to mind. You could summon Momo to hold one of these two clones, and Sumirin could do the same with Nue – but you’re not sure how many people know she even still has Nue, or that she wants to spring that on the rest of your class just yet, and you’re also not sure what inhuman thoughts dwell behind Momo’s vacant smile and pet-like demeanor. If you told him “no killing” that smile and playful bark could just be from having heard the word “killing”.

That last part’s just a little joke you amuse yourself with of course, Momo’s a good boy. But your wariness over bringing Nue out for this is probably justified.

“I’ll handle these two,” you tell Sumire, creating a pair of shadow clones and taking a seat on the floor, before placing your hand against it. “Isshi Tōjin!”

The second the fūinjutsu array spreads across the floor you shout to Sumire. “Go, Sumirin!”

“Right!”

She works her way around the two sharingan-wielding clones on the floor and leaps back into action, while your shadow clones step in behind her.

“Katon: Tenrō!”

Each of your clones places a seal on one of the intruder’s clones, who briefly struggle against their fūinjutsu bindings. “I wouldn’t do that,” one of your clones insists curtly. “If you use any chakra right now,” your other clone adds, “the Tenrō seal will set you on fire, and it will totally suck.”

What you don’t tell them is that at your level you’re actually shocked that you could perform the technique at all, and that even if they used their most powerful ninjutsu your seal probably couldn’t kill them. The pain would be excruciating yes, and the burns would look really bad, but it’d all be pretty shallow and if they did anything short of an all-out technique the effects might range all the way down to “sucky but tolerable”. Not to mention that by design, any taijutsu techniques that don’t require chakra augmentation won’t be affected. And it can be countered by water style, or removed by a halfway competent ally who can still gather chakra.

With Wasabi getting back into the fight and Sumire freed up to join them, Boruto and Sarada quickly wrap things up as well, allowing your clones to expand the Isshi Tōjin seal to include the last of the clones.
>1/2
>>
>>5216212
“Hey, that fūinjutsu thing looks real handy!” Boruto grins, flashing you a thumbs-up gesture. “Not bad, Shiki-kun!”

“Yeah, not bad at all,” Anko-sensei agrees, slowly getting back to her feet. “When did Ryūzetsu-san teach you the Tenrō technique? That’s a really nasty piece of work.”

“She taught me the basics over winter break,” you admit. “I’m actually not all that good with it yet.”

“Seems like you’re good enough,” Sarada frowns. “Who were these guys anyway? They can’t actually be Uchiha, can they?”

“They seem to be clones,” Sumire-kun observes with a frown.

“Wait, then shouldn’t they have disappeared when we beat them?” Boruto wonders aloud.

“Not that kind of clone you numbskull,” Sarada rolls her eyes.

“No, not at all like that,” one of the pale clones agrees. “We’re the same, Uzumaki Shiki-kun.”

>My sister and I may be artificial like you, but there’s a key difference as well.
>Okay, sure. But tell me this then – why is that supposed to matter, exactly?
>We’re obviously nothing alike, and I’m a little insulted you’d think we are.
>Other?
>>
>>5216385
>>Other?
We may both have been born through non natural means, but I have never once thought of myself in those terms, and neither have those who loved and raised me.


Because the circumstances of someone's birth are like, the least relevant thing about them. Ideally speaking at least.
>>
>>5216385
>Don't respond
>Seal his mouth with an explosive tag
>>
>>5216388
>>5216385
supporting
If its not to cheesy, put in the whole MewTwo sentence
>>
>>5216385
>>5216388
Support
>>
>>5216385
>other
>If you know enough about me to have any business making that claim, what that says about you is nothing short of tragic that you can say that and mean it.
>>
>>5216385
ah shit we're mewtwo
>>
>>5216385
>We’re obviously nothing alike, and I’m a little insulted you’d think we are.
>>
>>5216385
“We may both be artificial,” you frown, “but that’s not what defines me, or my family. So we’re really nothing alike at all.”

“You can’t escape it,” the clone insists. “You’re defined by your genes, the same way the rest of us are. No matter what you think, it won’t change that fact.”

“Your genes are powerful,” another of the clones adds. “But even if they were randomized, it was done for the purpose of continuing the existence of your parents’ clans. You’re a tool, like us –“

“ – though perhaps a more cherished tool,” a third clone butts in.

“If you had a parent who gave you more than your genes,” you grumble, “you wouldn’t be talking like that... and the pathetic thing is you don’t even realize what it is you’re missing.”

“... what’s going to happen to them?” Sumire asks you quietly.

After a moment, you shake your head. “It’ll be fine.”

– Naori –

Shin quickly adapts to the change in situation, drawing out dozens of scalpels and arraying them to serve as a makeshift replacement for the arm you took off.

“Now that I know your power,” Shin grumbles, watching you warily now, “I won’t underestimate you a second...”

“Yeah no,” you interrupt. “I can’t recall having shown you ‘my power’ yet.”

“Hey,” Sasuke interjects. “Don’t tell me you’re seriously considering using that.”

“So what if I am?” you counter.

“He can’t even use Susanō’ō since his eyes are mismatched,” Sasuke points out. “You may as well be using it on a child!”

“Shin is no child, Sasuke-kun,” you counter. “Even if he were, sometimes children must be taught to learn."

“It’s no use, Sasuke,” Karin shrugs. “This is just how Naori is.”

>Use your dōjutsu against him. Show him exactly how outclassed he really is.
>Draw out some senjutsu chakra. Just enough to put things back in perspective.
>Well, if Sasuke has a problem with the way you do things he can take the lead.
>Other?
>>
>>5218104
>Bring out storm sage mode, put the fear of god into him
>>
>>5218104
>>Use your dōjutsu against him. Show him exactly how outclassed he really is.
>>
>>5218104
>>Use your dōjutsu against him. Show him exactly how outclassed he really is.
>>
>>5218104
>>Well, if Sasuke has a problem with the way you do things he can take the lead.
Gotta show at least some respect to our peers and coworkers in her generation.
>>
>>5218104
>>Use your dōjutsu against him. Show him exactly how outclassed he really is.
>>
>>5218104
>Well, if Sasuke has a problem with the way you do things he can take the lead.
>>
>>5218104
>Well, if Sasuke has a problem with the way you do things he can take the lead.
>>
>>5218104
>>Use your dōjutsu against him. Show him exactly how outclassed he really is.
>>
>>5218104
>1d6, first three
>DC 10
>SP: 6/6
>ES: 0/2
Will be using 1 ES regardless
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5218621
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5218621
>>
Rolled 5 (1d6)

>>5218621
>>
>>5218621
“Wait...” you frown. “You didn’t think I was about to use sage mode on this guy?”

There’s a short pause. “Ah, you intended to use your dōjutsu.”

“That’s right, Sasuke,” you sigh. “Yeah no, I’m a hardass not a sadist.”

Then you turn to Shin, gesturing for him to attack with a smirk. “Yoo-hoo!”

In an instant he seems to snap at the provocation, and he charges you blindly. Perfect.

“Seishōha!”

The pulse released from your eye, the jōgan entrusted to you by the waning spirit of Ōtsutsuki Kaguya herself in her last sane act in the world, washes over Shin with immediate and visible effects. His replacement arm comes apart, scalpels blown away like flower petals on the wind, and for an instant he seems to realize that things have swung against him. Then in the next instant you take out his right eye with the tip of Umekiri’s blade.

Shin howls in pain, using his good arm to clutch at the devastated socket. All of his other sharingan roll wildly in agitation.

“This isn’t the last you’ve seen of me!” he insists angrily.

A pallid, one-eyed creature seems to warp into existence over Shin’s shoulder, and begins to warp away again – that is, until an arrow hits it squarely in its single bulbous eye. The force of the impact not only skewers it, but impales it against a wall about thirty feet behind where shin’s standing.

“Still here,” Karin reminds Shin, bow still held at the ready while she draws and nocks a second arrow.

“Nice shot!” Sasuke compliments his wife.

“Thank you, dear,” Karin smiles, not taking her eyes off her target. “Now, how many more of your eyes am I going to have to ruin before you do the smart thing and give up?”

>I say we blind all of them, then take him into custody until we know what to do with him.
>I say we wrap him in sealing tags and take him to Orochimaru.
>I say we wrap him in sealing tags and take him to Hozuki or the Land of Snow for imprisonment.
>Other?
>>
>>5218695
>I say we wrap him in sealing tags and take him to Hozuki or the Land of Snow for imprisonment.
Can't say I'm too behind giving Orochi his old Guinea pig.
>>
>>5218695
>>I say we blind all of them, then take him into custody until we know what to do with him.
>>
>>5218695
>I say we blind all of them, then take him into custody until we know what to do with him.
>>
>>5218695
>>I say we wrap him in sealing tags and take him to Hozuki or the Land of Snow for imprisonment.
>>
>>5218695
>>I say we wrap him in sealing tags and take him to Hozuki or the Land of Snow for imprisonment.
>>
>>5218695
>I say we blind all of them, then take him into custody until we know what to do with him.
>>
>>5218695
>I say we blind all of them, then wrap him in sealing tags and chains, then take him into custody until we know what to do with him.
>>
>>5218695
“Let’s wrap this up, shall we, Karin?”

Your cousin is already standing by with a roll of sealing cloth and a smirk. “I was thinking the same thing...”

- Shiki -

“I see you wrapped things up here,” Naori-ue smirks when she returns. “Nice job, guys.”

“Your kid’s every bit as scary as you were when I first saw you,” Anko-sensei replies with a wry grin. “Maybe even a little more.”

Your mother simply laughs. “Well yeah, that just means we did a good job raising him, right? Isn’t the younger generation supposed to be better than the one that came before them?”

“That’s how it’s supposed to be,” Anko-sensei admits, shutting her eyes in thought, “but I’ve found it comes more in cycles... I’m just glad this generation clearly hasn’t punched the big ol’ reset button.”

“So... what’s going to happen to them?” Sumire finally asks.

After a moment, your mother frowns. “It’s not a good situation – the man calling himself Uchiha Shin will be imprisoned, we’re not sure where. The kids... it’s gonna depend on how well they take to the counseling, for sure.”

“I don’t really understand it,” Wasabi admits, “but it seems like they’ve been through a lot.”

“Yeah no, I’ll make sure it works out somehow,” Naori-ue declares calmly. “So just leave this one to the adults, ‘kay?”

“Well, it’s not like I have a solution to it,” you grumble. “It’s like talking to a wall.”

...

“What even was that?” Wasabi grumbles after the last of your class finally catch up, having had a few of Naori-ue’s clones teleport you to Konohagakure with her hiraishin. “I get the feeling we got dragged into something really ridiculous.”

“Seems like it had something to do with my father’s various missions,” Sarada sighs. “I’ll ask him about it when I get home.”

“I’m just happy everyone’s alright,” you shrug.
>1/2
>>
>>5219610
In the aftermath, you get a little bit of special instruction out of the deal. Naori-ue teaches you a specialized fūinjutsu called the “four limbs weighting method” that essentially lets you burn a little bit of your chakra continuously to perform something a little like resistance training, while Ryūzetsu-ue tutors you on the use of the specialty Tenrō seal she used to use back when she was a prison warden in Kusagakure.

“All of us now,” Ryūzetsu-ue tells you calmly one afternoon, “you, me, Naori, your sister – we all use chakra flow and a weapon in one hand, while our other is free to use fūinjutsu, or longer-ranged ninjutsu. Be mindful of that as you train, Shiki.”

...

Soon, most of your classmates are absorbed deeply in their studies during the final push towards the graduation exams. Just two days before the exams are set to take place you find yourself sitting in a room at the academy building with Ryūzetsu-ue and Anko-sensei, apparently for some sort of conference.

“Thank you for coming all this way, Ryūzetsu-san,” Anko-sensei begins. “Naori-dono couldn’t make it?”

“She had a conflict,” Ryūzetsu sighs. “Felt like it would be an insult to send a clone.”

“Well, I appreciate the sentiment,” Anko-sensei shrugs. “So I really can’t complain about Shiki-kun here – near the top of the class in every subject for starters. But he’s also surprisingly mature – I suspect you and Naori-dono have something to do with that.”

“He and his sister have always been like sponges,” your mother admits with a laugh. “Sometimes it felt like all we had to do was expose them to enough experiences and they’d raise themselves.”

“Still, it’s a massive credit to the both of you,” Anko-sensei nods. “That being said, my only complaint is that he’s a little too self-sufficient for his age. It’s going to be hard matching him with an appropriate team.”

“You’re talking like I’ve already passed the test,” you observe with a frown.

Anko-sensei laughs it off – if she’s concerned then she’s doing an excellent job of hiding it. “My bad, my bad! I’ll just let the proctor handle that. Anyway, it’s been a real joy getting to have Shiki-kun in my class, Ryūzetsu-san. Thanks for being willing to part with him that long.”

“It’s no problem,” Ryūzetsu-ue inclines her head politely. “Thank you for taking such good care of him.”

...

Outside, you bump into something strange.

“What’s this?” Ryūzetsu asks, staring flatly at two of the weakest disguises she’s probably seen since you and Makoto first started trying to sneak around the house hiding under potted plants or throw rugs.
>2/3
>>
>>5220323
“Ah, this is the guy!” Boruto-kun declares loudly to his two companions, who are most definitely your godparents Kakashi-san and Konan-san behind the cosmetics and slightly silly outfits that barely distract from their recognizable features. “Shiki-kun, you have a minute?”

“Yeah?” you frown. “What’s with the camera?”

“Sukea-san here’s a reporter, and this is his cameraman-” Boruto pauses and glances at Konan-san over his shoulder. “Sorry, camerawoman. They’re interviewing the students in our class for a story!”

“I would like to interview you as well... Shiki-kun, was it?” Kakashi muses. Though his tone is light, you can tell by looking at him that he’s deadly serious.

You exchange a quick glance with Ryūzetsu, who shrugs. “I can meet you out front in a few minutes?”

“Great, great!” Kakashi-san smiles. “Camera on Shiki-kun, please!”

“Try to relax,” Konan-san insists quietly.

“Now then,” Kakashi asks you, feigning enthusiasm, “you’re from Amegakure, right Shiki-kun? What do you think of our village so far?”

“It’s always exciting to learn about a new place, and new people,” you shrug. “But it’s also amazing how similar it is to everywhere else I’ve been – the same sorts of people doing the same jobs with the same hopes and dreams. I think it’s important to appreciate both of those things, the differences but also the similarities.”

“And why did you want to become a ninja?”

You pause for a moment. “Those who came before me sacrificed a lot so I could choose how to live my life – my parents included. So my sister and I both decided together that the best way to honor that sacrifice was to become shinobi who could protect everything they passed on to us.”

“Do you think you have that kind of strength?” Kakashi asks you. “It’s rare, you know. There are a lot of adults who might say that your generation has had it too easy to make for capable shinobi. What would you say to them?”

>I'd remind those adults that they were kids once too. Kids don't normally have their act together.
>I'd point out that my generation knows better than most exactly how precious peace truly is.
>Some of us will rise to the challenge, but most will sink to their training - so train us well, then.
>Other?
>>
>>5220345
>>I'd point out that my generation knows better than most exactly how precious peace truly is.
>>
>>5220345
>>I'd point out that my generation knows better than most exactly how precious peace truly is.
How adorable.
>>
>>5220345

>Maybe there's some truth to that. But isn't that what they were fighting for? To make the world a better place, so that their children didn't have to fight in the first place? Is it not better then, that most in our generation will never know the suffering their parents did?
>>
>>5220345
>>Some of us will rise to the challenge, but most will sink to their training - so train us well, then.
>>
>>5220345
>>I'd point out that my generation knows better than most exactly how precious peace truly is.
>>
>>5220345
“I’d say they’re looking at it the wrong way,” you counter with a frown. “My generation knows better than any before it what we’re fighting for. We just need to focus on doing what we can now to gain experience, so that we’ll be strong enough when the time comes.”

“Hey, don’t you think that’s getting too serious?” Boruto chuckles nervously.

“I think it was a fine answer,” Kakashi admits with a nod. “Okay, would you mind following Boruto to the next student interview? I’d like to wrap things up here.”

After Konan-san has left with Boruto, Kakashi-sensei drops the act.

“It really was a good answer, Shiki-kun,” he reiterates. “To a pretty unfair question, honestly.”

“What exactly is this all about, Kakashi-sensei?” you sigh wearily. “All the pretense I mean?”

“I’ll be the proctor for the practical portion of the graduation exams this year,” Kakashi explains candidly, “and I wanted to get a better feel for this year’s batch of rookies.”

“Hey, are you sure you should be telling me that?”

“Actually, it’s fine,” Kakashi admits. “This little interview confirmed what I suspected – that for my planned test to work you can’t be one of the students taking it. So I had Naori-dono make alternate arrangements.”

“What do you mean by that?” you frown. “Why am I just hearing about this now?”

“Yeah no, it’s a traditional training method in Iwagakure,” Naori-ue tells you.

You can’t help but yelp in surprise. “When did you get here!?”

“I was just talking with Ryūzetsu about it,” Naori explains. “We agreed that it would be a better test for you than some lame bell exercise with Kakashi-sensei.”

>What kind of test are we talking about here? Or would that spoil it?
>What are you going to tell my classmates about my sudden absence?
>If I’m not going to get a choice about it, may as well do it now, right?
>Other?
>>
>>5220565
>>What are you going to tell my classmates about my sudden absence?
>>
>>5220565
>What are you going to tell my classmates about my sudden absence?
>>
>>5220565
>If I’m not going to get a choice about it, may as well do it now, right?
>>
>>5220565
>>What are you going to tell my classmates about my sudden absence?
>>
>>5220565
>>What are you going to tell my classmates about my sudden absence?
>>
>>5220565
“And what do you plan to tell my class about my sudden disappearance?” you ask.

Naori-ue shrugs. “That you’ll be taking a test that should satisfy both Konoha’s higher-ups and your own homeland.”

“Well I guess that makes sen-”

Suddenly you find yourselves somewhere different entirely. “You know most people hate when you do that, right?”

“No yeah, it’s fine,” Naori insists curtly. “Kurotsuchi-han, we’re here.”

The current Tsuchikage, leader of the hidden village Iwagakure in the Land of Earth, is a woman by the name of Kurotsuchi – as in so many cases, an old acquaintance of Naori-ue’s from before the war. Her dark hair is cut short, and she wears a long red dress with a high thigh slit and one long sleeve on her left side.

“It’s been a while,” she greets you along with your mother. “So, you’re serious about this?”

“I am, for sure,” Naori-ue nods.

“Shiki-kun,” the Tsuchikage addresses you personally. “Did either of your parents explain in any detail what this exercise will consist of?”

You shake your head. “The intention was probably to have you explain it.”

“Probably simpler that way,” she admits. “You’ll be sent to one of our training grounds, called the Sanzu plains. There you will find what we call your ‘heart stone’ – you will not be allowed to leave the training grounds until you do.”

“What is this ‘heart stone’ thing?” you ask curiously, “and how will I know when I find it?”

“You’ll know,” the Tsuchikage insists. “There’s a very old saying in our village, that within each of our shinobi exists an unbreakable stone – the ‘heart stone’ is like a tangible manifestation of that stone. But just remember something, Shiki-kun – if you’re looking for it with your eyes you’re doing it wrong.”

You frown, considering it carefully before glancing at Naori-ue. “Am I right in thinking there’s no trick here? I either do this test or I don’t become a genin?”

Naori-ue nods once. “That’s right. No tricks, aside from any you may find within the test itself.”

“Then I have no choice but to do it,” you decide, turning back to the Tsuchikage. “Kurotsuchi-dono, please show me the way to this training ground. I’ll begin immediately.”
>1/2
>>
>>5221469
... that’s how it started.

Three hours in and you’ve gotten a pretty good sense for the Sanzu plains. There’s small rocks as far as you can see in every direction, with very little shade and hardly any water to speak of, and the temperature is ridiculous. The sun beats down on you mercilessly, and the heat and humidity are absolutely oppressive.

You don’t find any special rocks. You don’t even find food – there are no animals, no fish in the little springs that bubble up here and there, and the leaves on the few trees you can see are so fibrous that you doubt you could even digest them. And while you’ve read about foraging at the academy you can’t tell which of the mushrooms you find growing by the springs are edible and which ones could kill you on the spot.

“So it’s also a survival test, huh?” you muse, motioning to unseal a snack for yourself.

You repeat the gesture when it doesn’t work at first, then try to flow chakra into your fists. Nothing. “So I can’t mould chakra here either? I guess this is what Shikadai-kun’d call a drag.”

Well, the next step is to take stock of what you do have to work with. That amounts to your sword and its sheath, two kunai, six standard hira-shuriken, four explosive tags, a short length of wire, and a couple of detonators to make a trap. No food, no water.

And no clear idea of what you’re really looking for. At least you still have a little time before dark.

>Find someplace to meditate for a while, ponder the question – what are you supposed to be getting out of this?
>You have to work on finding food, otherwise you won’t be able to work for long in this sort of an environment.
>There has to be some trick to this. Spend some time really examining your surroundings, look for patterns or clues.
>Other?
>>
>>5221740
>>You have to work on finding food, otherwise you won’t be able to work for long in this sort of an environment.
>>
>>5221740
>>Find someplace to meditate for a while, ponder the question – what are you supposed to be getting out of this?
>>
>>5221740
>Find someplace to meditate for a while, ponder the question – what are you supposed to be getting out of this?
>>
>>5221740
>>Find someplace to meditate for a while, ponder the question – what are you supposed to be getting out of this?
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5221740
Queen restricted on mobile, so
1d6 taking first 3
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5222094
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5222094
>>
Rolled 5 (1d6)

>>5222094
>>
>>5221740
You decide to take a moment to clear your mind, and try to answer some of the questions lodged now in your mind – what are you actually doing here? What are you trying to accomplish, and how are you expected to do that? Kurotsuchi-dono told you that if you’re looking with your eyes you’re doing it wrong, so that’s a puzzle to unravel as well.

It’s impossible to tell how long passes without an answer to any of your questions. But it’s because you’ve spent so much time in meditation, expanding your awareness into the world around you, that you can sense the giant maned wolf sneaking up on you before it attacks despite your eyes being closed in concentration.

“I do not have time for you right now!” you shout angrily, blocking its claws with the sheath of your sword. Truth be told, with the tools you have on hand and no jutsu to make use of, it’d be hard to out-fight a much larger, stronger, and more ferocious opponent.

Maybe it’s calling your tough demeanor what it is – a bluff – and forcing the issue. Maybe it’s just mad at you for some reason. But the maned wolf continues to attack you relentlessly, physically overpowering you with each blow. After it brings its massive paw down onto the stones and misses you cleanly, you leap backwards and take a moment to wrap a wrap an explosive tag around the hilt of one of your kunai and throw it.

The blast slows the wolf down, but before you can bring your sword’s edge down on it you find its head turned towards you – it’s ignoring the blast and charging you straight through it.

“Sh-” you grunt, almost a curse, as the beast’s fangs sink into your right shoulder and your left side. Not deep, because your saya is wedged in its mouth, but enough that blood starts to stream from the wounds.

But you’re not the only one to take a hit here. Your sword was already out of its saya, and your right hand is still free. The maned wolf flings you out of its jaws as you put a deep gash through its right eye, howling in pain.

You manage to stagger to your feet, bleeding already starting to slow, as the maned wolf begins to back off, then eventually turns tail and runs into the gloom of dusk.

...

Strips torn from your shirt sleeves and the lower legs of your pants serve as bandages, but the bleeding is honestly not as bad as it arguably should be given the severity of your injuries – had you not had your wits about you that could have gone even worse.
>1/2
>>
>>5222414
After the fight however you feel even hungrier than before, and you spoil the one spring you’d thought you could rely on by having to wash your wounds using its water. So you’re forced to relocate to a smaller spring near one of the unfortunately inedible trees, and settle in for the night without even managing to start a fire. Through the hunger and the cold and the pain a question lingers –

“What does a wolf that size even eat around here to survive?” you wonder to yourself before sleep claims you.

...

Your body feels hot and stiff when you awake at dawn, though checking under your bandages you find that your wounds aren’t obviously infected. You drink a little water, splashing a little more in your face for good measure, and set to work looking for anything that the wolf who attacked you yesterday could have used as a food source.

The springs don’t have fish in them. There are no rivers or lakes, and digging around the springs doesn’t reveal any underground cavities that could be hiding weeds or frogs or minnows. There are no birds in the skies or in the trees, only the eerie sound of the wind blowing across the plains. There’s no grass for herbivores to eat. So how the hell can a wolf that size live out here?

...

You try to meditate again.

The pain makes that hard, and the gnawing hunger is a distraction as well. You used up so much energy fighting yesterday that you could have saved for survival, and it would be so much simpler if you could find some decent food.

It’s hard to keep your mind off that.

...

None of these rocks seem special. You tried just using your eyes, but like Kurotsuchi-dono said it was a waste of time. You don’t even know what you’re looking for.

...

You went to bed hungry last night, but at least you managed to cut some firewood before it got dark. You don’t even want to move now, aching and exhausted and hungry, so you immediately start meditating on the problem – how does that wolf survive on basically nothing? How does it not die from the oppressive heat? How does it feed itself when there’s basically nothing to eat?
>1d6, taking the best three of four
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>5222425
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5222425
>>
Rolled 1 (1d6)

>>5222425
I'm guessing it doesn't
>>
Rolled 1 (1d6)

>>5222425
>>
>>5222425
Dawn. You let the fire die down last night. There’s enough wood for one more night kept warm by the embers.

...

There’s still no food. Your stomach has stopped grumbling. You’re intensely conscious of how empty you feel, how drained of energy.

...

Your wounds are still clean when you carefully wash them, but they’re healing more slowly than you’re used to. With no food, this is going to take a while and it’s going to drain your chakra even further, compounding the issues caused by the lack of food.

...

All these rocks are the same. Sure they each look a little different, but none of them are special. None of them mean anything to you. They are, from a functional standpoint, totally interchangeable to the point where they may as well be featureless. None of them represent anything more or less than a failure in each case to complete this stupid test.

...

Every time you try to find the point where you entered this cursed place you get turned around and end up back at your camp. There must be some sort of advanced barrier here, one with a built-in genjutsu that confuses direction and distance. You can’t even tell how big this training area is, or whether it’s circular.

...

You realize that you’ve never really failed before – at least, never in a way that precluded a second chance, or simply fixing what you did wrong. There’s never been any finality, nothing that once done cannot be undone. You’ve never killed, you’ve never seen someone killed, and for all the times you’ve been in fights (some of which were rather serious) you’ve never felt that you were ever close to death yourself.

...

You have to assume they’d at least find you out here. That’s what you determine as you stare at the fire that night. People whose lives have intersected yours would miss you – your parents and your sister in particular.
>1/2
>>
>>5223205
You almost can’t get up the next morning, having to crawl to the water hole to check your wounds and hydrate. The holes in your arm and side have nearly closed up but at a cost, with no food to replenish your chakra.

It’s on your way back that you notice something, in the rocks where you were dragging yourself before. You have to move about as quickly as you still can to get after it, but for your momentary burst of energy you’re rewarded with a massive grub.

At this point it’s not even a question. You’re hungry, the grub is edible, the mathematics are pretty determinate.

...

It’s actually not bad toasted over the embers.

...

After catching and cooking three more fist-sized grubs you’re actually starting to feel like your strength is returning, and your focus returns as well.

“What the hell?” you grumble, still wondering. “Okay, so how do the grubs live out here? And surely the wolf doesn’t feed solely on these things?”

No one is there to answer your question of course, so you sit quietly under the tree and begin to ponder once more.
>1d6, DC 10
>taking the first three
>SP: 4/4
>>
Rolled 5 (1d6)

>>5223243
This is probably all just a straight up genjutsu i'm guessing
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5223243
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>5223243
>>
>>5223243
By the end of the day, you reach a conclusion – there’s nothing here that the grubs could possibly be eating, let alone that giant wolf. That is, there’s nothing you can see with your eyes.

But by focusing, and by really calming your mind, you start to feel something oddly familiar that you’ve never felt before coming here. You didn’t feel it at first, or rather you felt it but didn’t notice it – no, you suppose you couldn’t notice it before for some reason. For just a moment, you realize that it’s all connected. The reason why your jutsu won’t work here, the reason these grubs and the wolf and even the trees out here can survive.

“Natural energy,” you realize in that single moment of clarity. “Like what Naori-ue used in our conception...”

Natural energy – a form of chakra that exists outside the body, which Naori-ue and the few others like her can draw on to empower themselves at a fundamental level. And you were exposed to that chakra at conception, so you guess it’s not surprising that it may have left some sort of impression on you and your sister.

In that pure, perfect moment, you even feel yourself being watched – this chakra even more familiar to you.

But more to the point, you can see a painfully bright golden glow. Under the tree where you’ve sheltered for days you spot the source of that light, a small stone that fits in the palm of your hand that’s shaped a bit like a mitsudome with one of the three tomoe missing.

“Body, spirit, nature,” you mutter, as a long chain of stones leading away from you begin to glow. “Not exactly subtle... but I’ll take it.”

...

You find your way back to the Tsuchikage’s office under your own power – probably Ryūzetsu-ue’s idea, to spare you any embarrassment of being teleported around by Naori-ue instead like you’re a totally helpless child. Though you can understand that perspective you’d still take her up on a lift if she offered.

...

“You stopped along the way,” Ryūzetsu-ue crosses her arms.

“I bought some for you too,” you offer with a frown, offering her one stick of fried quail eggs.

“That’s all you bought for your parents?” the Tsuchikage muses.

“... I ate the rest,” you quickly admit under your breath.

“Figured,” Ryūzetsu-ue grumbles, though she also takes the quail eggs.
>1/2
>>
>>5223358
“So, can we see it Shiki-kun?” Naori-ue asks with a small smile.

“You already have,” you glance at Ryūzetsu-ue.

“So you did notice me at the end,” she muses. “Pretty impressive, kiddo.”

You hand the stone to Naori-ue, whose eyes narrow slightly. “I see. So this kinda confirms what we suspected.”

“That ‘training ground’ used to be the home of a sage clan,” you declare. “The field was surrounded with a barrier that suppresses chakra, but it could be bypassed by senjutsu chakra. Am I getting warm?”

“That’s exactly right,” the Tsuchikage acknowledges, not hiding her astonishment that a child could figure that much out. “Though that fact is only known to the Tsuchikage and a few of our senior jōnin. How did you recognize that?”

“There was nothing for the grubs out there to eat,” you explain, “nor the giant wolf. Was that one of the local clan?”

“They’re unintelligent now,” the Tsuchikage admits. “The maned wolves haven’t been a sage clan in a thousand years – or that’s what the old-timers told me once.”

“Kurotsuchi-han,” Naori-ue muses, holding up the stone before passing it back into your hands. “To answer your question, I did use a senjutsu technique to conceive with Ryūzetsu here for sure. So yeah, the clumps of cells that became Shiki-kun and Makoto-kun were bathed in natural energy from the very start.”

“So what,” the Tsuchikage wonders aloud. “Does that make them some kinda born sages?”

Ryūzetsu-ue glances at you and shakes her head. “No. Naori, if you please?”

“Yeah no, it means they both have the potential,” Naori-ue clarifies. “But it’s still on them to do something with it... some day. When they’re experienced enough to make that decision with full clarity.”

With that out of the way, Ryūzetsu-ue hands Naori-ue a small package, which she unwraps to reveal a shinobi headband.

“... an Amegakure headband?”

>Does this mean I’m going home to Amegakure from here?
>Mom, I don’t feel like I’m ready to go home just yet...
>So... am I going to get two different headbands for this?
>Other?
>>
>>5223372
>Mom, I don’t feel like I’m ready to go home just yet...
>All my friends are in Konoha. I'd like to study abroad.
>>
>>5223372
>Mom, I don’t feel like I’m ready to go home just yet...
>>
>>5223372
>>Mom, I don’t feel like I’m ready to go home just yet...
>>
>>5223372
>>So... am I going to get two different headbands for this?
>>
>>5223372
>>So... am I going to get two different headbands for this?
>>
>>5223372
>Does this mean I’m going home to Amegakure from here?
>>
Man, keep your sage clans. We ridin' with Momo to the death. No way we gonna cheat on best amphibian. But that's just my two cents.

Also, Naori is BS. It's not healthy to try to use her as a template or struggle to emulate what she can do. Shiki has been fun because he's a fresh, unique perspective. Plus there's a ton of other great shinobi, living and dead, worth learning from or emulating who might end up being, in full or in part, a better fit.

I really hope Shiki or Makoto end up studying under Sasori at some point.
>>
>>5223372
>So... am I going to get two different headbands for this?
>>
>>5223766
Thing is, it's a FORMER sage clan training ground.
The wolves there have already reverted back to normal, albeit very intelligent animals.

But that makes me wonder how these sage clans start up to begin with.
Who writes up the first contract? How do these animals become so hyper-intelligent? Does it happen when a sage achieves enlightenment on their own?
Could shiki be a salamander sage?
>>
>>5223909
There are a few answers, mostly extrapolated by Queen in the quest:
Early humans likely developed the contract, together with the clan.

The animals, showcased by the toads were likely already very intelligent, although not all of them most likely. A rare few were born or became that intelligent.

The sages are more allies to the clan, or even close family ties. The real connection happens through the contract signed with said clan, by the concept of Ninshu, linking both parties, the human and the animal clan by a form of transfer of chakra. That gives the humans allies in the form of summons to call upon and the clan gains experience, influence and most of all some human characteristics into their makeup, for example intelligence and mannerisms.

There doesn't exist a salamander clan as far as we know, so no broader more sophisticated contract making anything beyond a name impossible. Don't get me wrong, momo will likely bond closely with shiki and probably get more intelligent comparatively, but it won't reach the form of a clan unless both actively work torwards that goal over decades, maybe even centuries.
>>
>>5223372
>Does this mean I’m going home to Amegakure from here?
>>
>>5223372
“Mom, sorry... but I don’t feel like I’m ready to come home yet,” you admit candidly, looking at the headband in her hand. “I have friends here that I’m just getting comfortable with, and I have so much more I can learn from them.”

“So yeah, what makes you think we were gonna make you come back?” Naori-ue asks.

There’s a momentary pause. “What?”

“It’s a bit unusual,” Ryūzetsu-ue muses, “but it may help to give him his first mission before we make this official?”

After a moment, Naori-ue clears her throat. “Right, right. Uzumaki Shiki, my first order to you would be to serve indefinitely as a special liaison to Konohagakure. But if you still don’t want this...”

You take the headband. “Jeez, is there any button I have you don’t know how to push?”

“Nope,” Naori-ue smirks. “Not a one. Congratulations, Shiki-kun.”

“Yeah, well done kiddo,” Ryūzetsu-ue agrees.

...

You take a deep breath, and knock at the door to the classroom. “Excuse me, I’m coming in.”

When you open the door you see your classmates... or at least, you see some of them. Including you, there are now only seventeen genin sitting in the room along with Anko-sensei, meaning that ten members of your former class will not be continuing with training as shinobi.

“Well then,” Anko-sensei muses, “now that we’re all here it’s time to split you off into three-man teams – a tradition common to every major village, going back all the way to the days of the First Hokage. Each team has been carefully chosen so if you’ve got a problem with it keep it to yourself. And to all of you... good luck.”

Three-man teams, huh? No wonder your quick mental calculus bothered you.

“Metal Lee. Kaminarimon Denki. Iwabee Yuino. The three of you will be Team 5, report to room 205 to meet your new sensei.” The three shinobi whose names were called celebrate briefly, before heading out.

“Taketori Hōki. Kokubō Renga. Kuroi Hako. Team 25, room 302.”

After the newly-minted Team 25 leaves, Anko-sensei continues. “Izuno Wasabi. Nagao Sumire.”
>1/2
>>
>>5224675
“Uzumaki Shiki. You’re going to be Team 15. Head on up to room 307 to meet your new sensei.”

The door closes behind you.

There’s a quiet moment as you walk, which is eventually broken by Wasabi-kun. “That wasn’t what I wanted... but I guess it could be worse.”

“I was really surprised when I found out about Namida-kun,” Sumire-kun muses quietly.

“Well, Anko-sensei told her to think about what was best for her,” Wasabi-kun shrugs. “It stings a little, but if Namida-kun thinks she made the right choice then all I can do is support her, right?”

“I don’t think you’re wrong about that,” you agree calmly, withholding for a moment your frank evaluations of Namida-kun’s potential as a shinobi – or rather, the lack thereof. “You’re a good friend, Wasabi-kun.”

...

“So hey,” she insists abruptly while you wait in the assigned room for your new sensei. “What was your graduation exam like?”

A pause. “I almost died.”

“Haha, yeah it definitely felt that way to me too,” Wasabi-kun chuckles, before her laughter falters. “Wait, you’re not joking are you?”

“I don’t think he is,” Sumire-kun muses. “And you’re wearing an Amegakure headband? Why is that?”

“It’s because Shiki-kun is a genin from Amegakure,” a voice rings out as the door slides open. “One on indefinite assignment, so don’t worry – we’ll have him for a while yet.”
>1d6, taking the third roll only
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>5224716
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5224716
>>
>>5224716
>i was dropped into an absolutely barren desert with my chakra sealed. I was set upon by giant wolves and starved for fourteen days until i made a breakthrough.
>>
Rolled 5 (1d6)

>>5224716
>>
File: MvVUWZDT_400x400.jpg (21 KB, 400x400)
21 KB
21 KB .jpg
>>5224716
Your sensei is a young woman with longish hair and almost featureless eyes of a pale lavender, wearing a yukata and hakama in reds, yellows, and oranges – not typical shinobi attire like most of the other instructors you’ve seen previously. So she must be someone whose standing in Konoha is more recognized as political than their rank as a jōnin, and you can only think of one person who fits that description.

“… Hanabi-san?” you ask tentatively.

“Oh, so you recognize me?” she smiles broadly. “But please try to remember, Shiki-kun, it’s Hanabi-sensei now?”

“Right, sorry,” you bow politely. “Uzumaki Shiki.”

“Nagao Sumire,” Sumirin matches your bow.

“Izuno Wasabi,” Wasabi-kun adds.

“As you’ve probably gathered, I’ll be your sensei for the time being,” Hanabi-sensei tells you. “Hyūga Hanabi, a pleasure to be working with you all.”

“Hanabi-sensei,” you ask curiously, “I heard Anko-sensei talking before – what did she mean that I was a ‘hard’ genin to match with a team?”

“Well,” she muses thoughtfully, “I’ve seen your full file and all your exam results, so I can tell you right now you’re not an average genin – even the ‘weakest’ teams formed this year are honestly above average, but under other circumstances you’d have been poached by ANBU.”

“Each team is formed after careful consideration,” she continues. “Team 5’s members were chosen because each has a strength that covers for the others’ weaknesses, both in terms of jutsu compatibility and personality. Team 10 was formed because the clans their respective members belong to have legendary jutsu compatibility. Team 25, while individually unimpressive, all have talents suitable for intelligence work – and their combat abilities are all at about comparable levels, so no one will be holding the others back. Team 40 are all decent enough for genin, but Onikuma Enko’s hiden makes her prone to… outbursts. Her teammates Goetsu and Itoi were chosen because their talents could be helpful in restraining Onikuma-chan.”

“That leaves just five of us,” Sumire-kun mutters. “Not even six.”

“Yeah, what’s up with that?” Wasabi-kun asks.
>1/2
>>
>>5224879
Hanabi-sensei shakes her head. “We’ll get there, I promise. As for Team 15, the first two members were chosen because of your entire year Shiki-kun was far and away the most advanced student, with Sumire-kun not far behind. On any other team, you’d actually be so strong and so self-sufficient that your teamwork could suffer.”

“… and why was I chosen as the third?”

“Because while you’re not as advanced as either of your teammates in combat techniques or tactics,” Hanabi-sensei explains to Wasabi, “it’s not by enough to become a problem – in fact, having strong teammates may help you out in the long run. And your talents for tracking and medical ninjutsu fill additional roles outside of direct combat, making you a valuable asset.”

“Also, do you really think Boruto-kun and I could be on the same team?” you smirk.

“Well when you put it that way,” Wasabi-kun muses with a nervous laugh. “No, not at all!”

“If you don’t mind me asking, sensei,” Sumirin asks curiously, “then why not Sarada-kun?”

“Because she and Boruto-kun are a perfect match,” Hanabi-sensei nods emphatically, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world.

There’s a long pause, as though she’s looking for confirmation.

You don’t give it to her. “… have you met - either - of them?”

“What’s with that look?” Hanabi-sensei frowns. “They’re such a bad match that they’ll go right back around and end up being a perfect match.”

“… how?” Wasabi-kun asks bluntly.

“I honestly think they’re both good kids,” Hanabi-sensei explains further, “and they both have really high potential. But they both kinda need to get over themselves to be good shinobi. Forcing them to work together despite their differences will make them much better shinobi in the long run – assuming they can pull it off.”

>What was that you said about being ‘poached’ by ANBU?
>So who will be the third member of team “opposites attract”?
>Alright then sensei, what are we going to do first?
>Other?
>>
>>5224887
>>So who will be the third member of team “opposites attract”?

IE who's the sacrificial Sakura-equivalent
>>
>>5224897
If I'd wanted the closest degree of uselessness and unsuitability to Part I Sakura I'd have left Namida in the mix. But without Shino as her sensei and with some changes to Anko I couldn't really see her sticking with it.
>>
>>5224887
>So who will be the third member of team “opposites attract”?
>>
>>5224887
>>So who will be the third member of team “opposites attract”?
>>
>>5224887
>>So who will be the third member of team “opposites attract”?
>>
This is just my musing, but I think Sumire might attract the attention of Naori or even Ryuzetsu as a student. Her background and baseline aptitude seem really comparable to both, she's basically what Naori could've been if her mom was a revenge obsessed asshole.
>>
>>5224887
>>Alright then sensei, what are we going to do first?
>>
>>5224887
>So who will be the third member of team “opposites attract”?
>>
>>5224965
Both are to busy being parents and having jobs, so that's unlikely, but one of the more famous shinobi without a clear successor might take notice.
Cause you are right, she has high potential and is already skilled enough in most shinobi skills to to take to any special training.
>>
>>5224887
“So, who’s going to be the third member of team ‘opposites attract’, then?” you muse.

Sumire nods twice. “It has to be someone from outside our class.”

“I did say I’d get to that,” Hanabai-sensei muses, “and that’s because it’s our first mission as a team to go and greet them at the Thunder Rail station.”

...

It’s definitely not a short trip to the gate of the village from the academy, especially since the village has gotten so much larger since you were born, but thankfully not everyone comes in through there anymore. If this person had to come by Thunder Rail, how likely is it they’re even a citizen of the Land of Fire?

“You also said something strange, Hanabi-sensei,” Sumire muses as you walk to the station. “About ANBU ‘poaching’ genin out of the academy?”

“Well, this is just my guess,” Hanabi-sensei clarifies, “but if Naori-san and Ryūzetsu-san wanted ‘normal’ lives for both Shiki-kun and Makoto-kun, this would be an excellent way to do it. And if Kakashi-sensei and Konan-san wanted the same for Gin-kun...”

“Konan-sensei was Naori-ue’s mentor, and brought her into Akatsuki when she wasn’t much older than we are now,” you add. “So they could easily coordinate that – if we’re all on teams with or as exchange students we can’t very well become ANBU as a matter of practicality.”

“I thought joining ANBU was supposed to be some kinda honor,” Wasabi-kun frowns. “I mean yeah I’ve heard some of them were rotten, but that was back in the old days, right?”

“It’s still a hard path,” Hanabi-sensei admits.

“My parents both had messed-up childhoods just like Kakashi-san and Konan-sensei did,” you add. “They’re all orphans who fought as part of ANBU, or joined violent mercenary groups as teenagers. They’ve all seen and done things they don’t want to talk about even now. I get why they might not want that for their kids.”

“... I can’t even imagine that,” Wasabi-kun admits. “Guess that’s part of what Kakashi-sensei was talking about, huh?”

Sumire nods quietly. “But they still have faith in us. We just have to work harder, that’s all.”

Hanabi-sensei’s expression... it’s hard to read, but it’s halfway between pride and sympathy, you’d say. At least on some level it bothers her that her students think of themselves as somehow less than the generations that came before her, but she’s also happy that they’ve gotten so serious about their dedication to being shinobi even in a time of relative peace.

When you arrive at the Rail station, you find that a train has just arrived and continued on towards the east coast of the Land of Fire – but not before depositing someone who looks very much out of place.
>1d6, best three of four
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5225192
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>5225192
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>5225192
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5225192
>>
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>>5225192
“... a samurai?” you recognize immediately. “Wait, is she from the Land of Iron?”

The newcomer is fair-skinned, with dark brown hair and pink-tinged irises, and dresses in a manner fitting the samurai of the Land of Iron. Dark pinkish-red hakama tied off above shin guards, arm guards protecting her wrists, all very traditional – except the hair-tie, that’s pretty modern. She’s also the only passenger on the platform carrying a proper sword, not the tantō typically carried by shinobi (which you don’t see any of here either in fact).

“That’s right,” Hanabi-sensei confirms. “One Hana-stamp for Shiki-kun.”

Hanawhatnow?

“This is Kurogane Tsukabi, from the Land of Iron,” Hanabi-sensei continues without explaining further. “From today, she’ll be a member of Boruto-kun and Sarada-chan’s team. Tsubaki-kun, I’m Hyūga Hanabi and this is my Team 15.”

The samurai-girl bows politely. “Nice to meet you.”

“So... we’re babysitters,” Wasabi mutters.

“This is an official D-rank mission,” Hanabi-sensei reminds her. “One that comes straight down from the Hokage’s office. So please, try to take it seriously, okay? Not every mission is going to be glamorous.”

“Fine, fine,” Wasabi-kun relents. “All we have to do is show her to the Academy to meet Boruto-kun and Sarada-chan, right?”

...

“This seems like a problem,” Sumire-kun muses.

“Where the heck could they possibly have gone!?” Wasabi demands of the empty classroom.

“Strange,” Hanabi-sensei muses, rubbing her chin before realizing something. “Don’t tell me they’re planning to make an official appeal?”

>Then we’ll just have to show our guest around until you get my idiot cousins straightened out.
>An official appeal... to do what, exactly? The teams can’t be shifted around this year, right?
>Now that we have track them down that means our D-rank mission is like a what... D-plus?
>Other?
>>
>>5225305
>Boruto might have went straight to his dad to complain. Maybe we should visit the hokage's office?
>>
>>5225305
>>Boruto might have went straight to his dad to complain. Maybe we should visit the hokage's office?

Boruto seems the type. A chip off the old block amirite?
>>
>>5225305
>>An official appeal... to do what, exactly? The teams can’t be shifted around this year, right?
>>
>>5225305
>>Now that we have track them down that means our D-rank mission is like a what... D-plus?
>>
>>5225305
>>Now that we have track them down that means our D-rank mission is like a what... D-plus?
>>5225150
The main reason I mused that is because of her proximity to shiki will expose her to naori and ryu, and I kind of think one of them will take a liking to her. It's sort of like how Jiraiya liked naruto.
>>
>>5225305
>Then we’ll just have to show our guest around until you get my idiot cousins straightened out.
>>
Hana chan giving out hana stamps for good behavior is basically just classroom management 101. She took some teaching classes.
>>
>>5225305
>Boruto might have went straight to his dad to complain. Maybe we should visit the hokage's office?

>Hana-stamp
New goal attained
>>
>>5225305
>Boruto might have went straight to his dad to complain. Maybe we should visit the hokage's office?
>>
>>5225305
>Then we’ll just have to show our guest around until you get my idiot cousins straightened out.
I want to chill out with the sword girl
>>
>>5225305
“So as much as he claims to hate his old man,” you muse, “the first place Boruto-kun would go is the Hokage’s office, right?”

“Lord Seventh isn’t in the office today,” Hanabi-sensei muses, taking out her mobile and punching in a number. There’s a pause. “Shikamaru-san, were Boruto-kun and Sarada-chan there?”

A pause.

“Yeah, I figured as much. When was this?”

Another pause.

“So you sent them along? Who’s on duty today?”

After a moment, Hanabi-sensei suppresses a snort of laughter. “Okay, got it. Thanks a bunch, Shikamaru-san.”

Then she hangs up the phone. “Sounds like they got into it almost immediately, but there’s no rush. No way they’re going to even make it to Lord Seventh.”

“Why’s that?” Wasabi-kun wonders.

“It’s because Mirai-san’s the one in charge of the Hokage’s escort today,” Hanabi-sensei shakes her head. “Those kids... they don’t even realize how outclassed they are.”

There’s another pause before Hanabi-sensei slaps her cheeks. “Okay, so here’s the new plan! Shiki-kun, Wasabi-kun, Sumire-kun, I’d like you to take our guest around and show her some of the village. Meet you at the Lightning Burger that Boruto-kun and his friends like to hang out in for lunch?”

“That sounds fine to me,” Sumire-kun nods in agreement.

“Tsubaki-kun?” Hanabi-sensei glances at your guest.

After a moment, the young samurai nods as well. “Very well, I see little alternative.”

...

Once Hanabi-sensei has left to pursue her own business for the time being, you and your comrades on the newly-formed Team 15 head for the Senju Park near the center of town with your guest in tow. Along the way you point out a few of the sights, as well as some of the more important things to a new resident of the Leaf – grocery and convenience stores, secondhand furniture shops, clothing and shoe stores, that sort of thing.

“I get the feeling you’re holding something back, Tsubaki-kun,” you eventually muse. “Care to share with the class?”
>1/2
>>
>>5227036
“Not particularly,” Tsubaki-kun replies curtly.

“You sure?” Wasabi-kun asks curiously. “You haven’t exactly been talkative so far.”

“Why would I be?”

Wasabi-kun frowns. “Hey, what’s with that tone?”

“I don’t like it either, Wasabi-kun,” Sumire mutters quietly. “But for the time being there’s nothing we can do about it.”

You get the impression that Tsubaki-kun is about to say something...

>Just let her say it. Get it all out in the open.
>”You should know my dojo doesn’t do challenges.”
>”I have some shopping to do. I suspect you do too.”
>Other?
>>
>>5227038
>Just let her say it. Get it all out in the open.
the first step in healing is spewing your pent up bullshit
>>
>>5227038
>>Just let her say it. Get it all out in the open.
>>
>>5227038
>>Just let her say it. Get it all out in the open.
>>
Me senses a sword duel inbound. tsubaki's definitely the type who'd want to square up against the son of a sword sage
>>
>>5227038
>>Just let her say it. Get it all out in the open.
>>
>>5227038
>Just let her say it. Get it all out in the open.
>>
>>5227038
Queen still banned, guess what that means?
1d6 high roll, first three count
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5227426
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5227426
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>5227426
>>
>>5227038
“You lose something over here?” you ask with a frown. “You’ve looked like you wanted to say something for a while.”

“Shiki-kun,” Sumire-kun sighs. “Not you too...”

“Do you disagree?” you glance at her. “If Tsubaki-kun here will be living in Konoha too for a while, shouldn’t she get this off her chest sooner rather than later?”

“I’d just as soon have her go home,” Wasabi-kun admits with a frown. “Doesn’t take a genius intellect to tell she doesn’t wanna be here.”

“Clearly,” Tsubaki-kun snipes.

“Eh?” Wasabi grumbles. “If you’re tryin’ to pick a fight there’s easier ways to do it.”

“That’s not happening,” you insist, holding up your hand. “But I’d like to know what sort of foolishness is on your mind, Tsubaki-kun. Spit it out.”

“I’ve been wondering what my sensei expected me to learn by watching a bunch of indolent spoiled children pretend to be shinobi,” Tsubaki-kun admits flatly. “So far the so-called genin I’ve seen have been completely frivolous, undisciplined, and childish. My supposed ‘teammates’ aren’t even here to meet me, because they’ve run off to complain about each other.”

“Yeah, cool story,” you retort with a derisive snort that’s almost an actual laugh. “Your sensei is Mifune-dono, am I right?”

Tsubaki-kun narrows her eyes. “I’m surprised you even know of him. Yes, that’s correct.”

“Are you telling me that Mifune-dono did something pointless in sending you here?” you muse. “Because it seems like he felt you had something to learn here. Between his judgment and yours I think I’d put more trust in his – maybe you should too.”

There’s a long, and quite dramatic, pause. “Fine,” Tsubaki-kun relents. “I won’t take back what I said before, but I have decided to give these genin from your class a chance to change my mind.”

“Man,” you sigh wearily, “I guess that’s all I can really ask for. Would you mind also playing nice for a while until Hanabi-sensei and the other instructors can wrangle them?”

“I could possibly tolerate that,” Tsubaki-kun admits.

“Jeez, that got really tense for a moment...” Wasabi-kun sighs. “It’d almost’ve been easier if you’d just let me slug her, Shiki.”

“But maybe not more satisfying,” Sumire-kun muses quietly, her hand finally straying from the ring of one of the kunai in her leg pouch. “At least, that’s the feeling I got.”
>1/2
>>
>>5228192
You actually head into a few shops to pass the time, and Tsubaki-kun looks at a few different shops with a clear plan in mind for her apartment in Konoha. So mainly she focuses on the department stores, where she can get inexpensive bedding, an electric kettle and rice cooker, and so forth all in one place. She seems a little surprised that such a place even exists, and honestly looks somewhat out of place there.

More familiar to her you think are some of the shops on a nearby alley, with secondhand kimono and accessories, traditional styles and crafts, and an antique store or two.

“You do realize this is a shop for women’s accessories?” Wasabi-kun observes as you step into one likely-looking establishment.

You glance back at her over your shoulder. “Two moms and a sister?”

A pause. “Point.”

...

On your way to the lunchtime rendezvous, you produce two small packages from a bag. “Since we’re technically from different villages, it’s not totally inappropriate to get you congratulatory gifts. I hope you like them.”

“Really?” Wasabi-kun stares at you suspiciously.

“So this is what you were doing,” Sumire-kun shakes her head. “You didn’t have to.”

“I felt like it,” you shrug. “And it wasn’t expensive. Just something nice that I thought you might use.”

“This is...” Wasabi-kun realizes. “An obi? Is it a men’s obi or a women’s?”

“It’s hard to say,” you admit. “It’s a size for a man’s obi, but the detail work was really nice. I think it was once a woman’s, before it was re-tailored.”

“It’s nice and all,” she nods, “but why?”

“You use that cat tail ornament to help you balance, right?” you muse. “When you use your technique? I thought this might be more subtle when you’re not using it like that, and when you are... well... I thought it’d look kinda like Matatabi-san, which would be cool.”

“Matatabi... san?” Wasabi-kun repeats. “Wait, don’t tell me...”

“Yeah,” you admit quickly. “I’ve met Matatabi-san. It’s been a while, but that sorta thing leaves an impression.”

“That... actually could look cool,” Wasabi-kun admits. “I’ll try it out.”
>2/3
>>
>>5228227
“A hair ornament?” Sumire muses.

“I noticed you use things like this when you train,” you explain. “The style’s pretty old – I gather it was pretty popular in the days of the First Hokage when his wife would wear sealing tags hanging from a hair pin. She was one of my clan – Uzumaki Mito.”

“It would work for a low ponytail,” Sumire-kun muses. “You must have a lot of experience buying gifts for women.”

“With varied degrees of success,” you admit as you draw close to the Lightning Burger.

>Preface this carefully – remind Tsubaki that she’s TRYING to keep an open mind.
>Explain the reasons you think that your cousin’s don’t get along – Tsubaki should know.
>Give her your brutally honest opinions about this going on. Don’t hold anything back.
>Other?
>>
>>5228233
>Preface this carefully – remind Tsubaki that she’s TRYING to keep an open mind.
I think she should get to know her team herself, and us telling her anything will only cause issues.
>>
>>5228233
>Preface this carefully – remind Tsubaki that she’s TRYING to keep an open mind.
>>
>>5228233
>Preface this carefully – remind Tsubaki that she’s TRYING to keep an open mind.
>>
>>5228233
>>Preface this carefully – remind Tsubaki that she’s TRYING to keep an open mind.
Thinking about it, being surgically blunt is more of Naori's thing.
>>
>>5228233
>>Preface this carefully – remind Tsubaki that she’s TRYING to keep an open mind.
they are good people, despite what she might see
>>
>>5227038
“Tsubaki-kun,” you muse, stopping short of the door. “Just remember – you did say you’d give these two a chance.”

“It doesn’t fill me with confidence that you feel the need to remind me already,” she admits, “but yes. I do recall saying something like that.”



Inside, you hear two very defeated-sounding genin explaining to your new sensei how their misadventure went.

“How should I have known Mirai-nee trapped the bridge?” Boruto grumbles mutinously.

“It should’ve been obvious,” Sarada grumbles back. “Anyway, I’m too tired to argue with you about this anymore – point is we didn’t even make it all the way to Lord Seventh.”

“No one ever does,” a young man around Hanabi-sensei’s age insists.

“Knowin’ that you still let us go,” Boruto sighs. “That’s pretty mean of you, Konohamaru-sensei.”

“My team is here,” Hanabi-sensei muses, without having to look at you.

“So that’s the byakugan,” you muse, taking a seat in the booth where Hanabi-sensei is sitting, which is across from Sarutobi Konohamaru and his team of genin. “A proper dōjutsu, not just a kekkei genkai that improves my sight.”

“You can see out the back of your head?” Wasabi-kun asks, surprised at what just happened.

“I can see out the back of my head, yes,” Hanabi-sensei smiles. “And more. But we can talk about that later.”

The greeting between Tsubaki and her new team is… stiff, you’d say. In the same way that she was completely polite and respectful towards Hanabi-sensei she shows Konohamaru-sensei the proper respect, but towards Sarada-kun and Boruto-kun she shows only the bare minimum of tolerance. It’s almost like someone who noticed they have gum on the bottom of their shoe and is tolerating its being there, because they think scraping it off with their fingernail would be even more distasteful.

“Are they really going to be okay?” Sumirin mutters to you across the table.

You shrug. “Depends on the three of them – but I hope so.”

“Me too,” she agrees.

“So, this afternoon we’ll make a stop at the mission desk,” Hanabi-sensei decides, “and get you all used to how shinobi missions work. Genin always start on C and D-rank missions, of course, so you’ll probably be pretty bored – just think of it as homework to prove that you understand how being a shinobi works in practice, and look for opportunities to hone your basic skills in a low-risk environment.”
>1/2
>>
>>5229093
After downing your combo meals and wishing Team 3 luck, you follow Hanabi-sensei to the mission assignment desk. Behind the counter sits a light-haired woman, with dark eyes and plain clothes, wearing neither headband nor flak jacket. She regards your team and sensei with mild curiosity, and starts typing on a keyboard at her desk. “You would be Team 15? Congratulations on your graduation.”

“This is Kannonji-san,” Hanabi-sensei explains as she takes a list from her counterpart and reviews it. “Huh, there’s an interesting one – a variation on a classic.”

She hands the sheet back to Kannonji-san, who raises an eyebrow. “A little ambitious, no?”

“Not for this group,” Hanabi-sensei insists calmly. “It should be fine. Sumire-kun, tell me – how are missions ranked?”

“D through A, according to difficulty,” Sumire-kun replies quickly, “with a special S rank for missions of high national significance.”

“Very good, Sumire-kun,” Hanabi-sensei smiles, “one Hana-stamp for you too.”

Sumire-kun’s response is muted. “I don’t know what that is.”

“Now, Wasabi-kun,” Hanabi-sensei continues, “tell me, what are the differences between the rankings?”

“Well, D-rank is what most genin start off with, right?” she replies. “Boring stuff, basically no danger. C-rank can involve fighting bandits and stuff. B-rank means you could be fighting ninjas, A-rank... not really clear what the difference is except it’s more dangerous than B-rank.”

“Hana-stamp,” Hanabi-sensei replies. “Our mission is a classic for rookie genin – we’ll be tracking down and capturing a troublesome cat. The twist – this will be a C-rank mission.”

“C-rank?” you muse. “What kind of cat are we talking about here?”

“I know cats can be clever and quick,” Wasabi-kun frowns, crossing her arms.

“It’s a shinobi cat,” Hanabi-sensei clarifies. “Kinda like the Inuzuka clan’s dogs, or Kakashi-sensei’s ninken. Last year’s Team 9 already threw in the towel on this one.”

“Shiki-kun, where do we start?”

>Did Team 9 leave us any records? Knowing how they messed it up should help us out.
>Our information is probably out of date. So we should start with reconnaissance.
>A “ninja cat”? I have no idea what that is or what it can do, so we should figure that out.
>Other?
>>
>>5229189

>Did Team 9 leave us any records? Knowing how they messed it up should help us out.
>>
>>5229189
>Our information is probably out of date. So we should start with reconnaissance.
>>
>>5229189
>Our information is probably out of date. So we should start with reconnaissance.
>>
>>5229189
>>Our information is probably out of date. So we should start with reconnaissance.
>>
>>5229189
>>A “ninja cat”? I have no idea what that is or what it can do, so we should figure that out.
>>
>>5229189
>Did Team 9 leave us any records? Knowing how they messed it up should help us out.

>one Hana-stamp for you too
Shit they're catching up
>>
>>5229189
“How much information did the mission file come with?” you ask curiously.

“Good question,” Hanabi-sensei nods with a smile, handing you a small folder. “See the answer for yourself.”

Inside you find a picture of the cat in question which you immediately share with your teammates, as well as a few documents explaining what a ‘shinobi cat’ is and the incidents this particular example has caused that led to the mission request. “It seems that a relative of the fire daimyō is complaining that this cat – Ko – has been causing trouble in a town outside Konohagakure.”

“Why is a daimyō’s relative involved?” Sumire wonders aloud.

“It’s one of his nephews who apparently owns some property in this town,” you clarify. “The cat was stirring up trouble in some of the local markets... three months ago?”

“That’s the most recent report?” Wasabi-kun frowns. “For real?”

“Looks like it,” you confirm, flipping through the included incident reports. “So all this information is three months out of date.”

“Then they might as well’ve just given us the picture and a direction to walk in,” Wasabi-kun grumbles.

“Then we’ll need to collect more information,” your sensei concludes. “You’re right about that.”

...

You follow your sensei past the rail station and to the old gate, and out onto the road... then through the forest. Team 15 leaps from branch to branch, keeping up a reasonable pace.

“We could be taking the train,” Wasabi-kun muses as you move. “I assume there’s a reason we’re not?”

“Of course,” Hanabi-sensei tells you. “A shinobi should always be in peak physical condition – rely on the train too much and you’ll lose your endurance. Back when I was young we’d train every single day.”

“I’ve noticed that with some of our class,” you admit. “Even I’m not as good about it as I should be.”

...

The town seems pretty much normal for the Land of Fire. Your first stop is the market – a street running through the middle of town lined with shops on both sides, many of which are evidently owned by the person who is now your client for this mission. Business seems to be fairly strong, as it tends to be within the Land of Fire these days, despite the settlement being smaller and less upscale-urban than much of Konohagakure.

But that sense of prosperity is undercut somewhat by obvious grumbling.
>1/2
>>
>>5230354
“That little freak stole half a day’s stock of fish!”

“I don’t care how you do it, I just hope you deal with that menace!”

“He snagged the milk right off my doorstep! While I was watching!”

“That other genin team couldn’t even catch him... hope you can do better than they did, cause this is getting out of hand. First the rent goes up on this place, now this?”

“Well, they’re certainly willing to share information,” Sumire-kun muses. “So that’s helpful.”

“I still don’t get it,” Wasabi-kun frowns. “It seems like way too much effort coming from a cat.”

“Ninja cat,” Hanabi-sensei observes.

>We’ve asked all the shop owners listed in the report. Let’s ask their neighbors.
>So we’ve confirmed the accuracy of the report. Next step is finding the cat.
>So, can we establish any sort of pattern here to predict Ko’s future movements?
>Other?
>>
>>5230357
>>We’ve asked all the shop owners listed in the report. Let’s ask their neighbors.
>>
>>5230357
>>We’ve asked all the shop owners listed in the report. Let’s ask their neighbors.
>>
>>5230357
>Could this cat have had kittens lately? That could be why it's stealing so much food.
>Where would a cat hide a litter of kittens around here?
>>
>>5230357
>>So, can we establish any sort of pattern here to predict Ko’s future movements?
>Could this cat have had kittens lately? That could be why it's stealing so much food.
>>
>>5230357
>We’ve asked all the shop owners listed in the report. Let’s ask their neighbors.
>>
>>5230357#
>>So, can we establish any sort of pattern here to predict Ko’s future movements?
>Could this cat have had kittens lately? That could be why it's stealing so much food
>Where would a cat hide a litter of kittens around here?
>>
>>5230357
>1d6, best three of four
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5230910
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Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5230910
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Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5230910
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Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5230910
>>
>>5230910
“I’m curious about something,” you admit.

“I think I know what you’re talking about,” Sumire agrees.

Hanabi-sensei just smiles, nods, and observes as Team 15 gets to work.

...

“I really don’t see what the fuss is, I’ve never had a problem with Ko-chan before.”

“Whaddya mean? I ain’t never hadda problem with the guy, fact he usedta chase the rats outta my kitchen every couplea days... ya didn’t hear that. I don’t know nothin bout no rats an neither does any of you.”

“No, I think I’d know if some someone had been stealing my supplies of fish.”

“First I’ve heard of it.”

“I dunno. Maybe ask Seta and Hajima nextdoor? I hear they’ve had a problem with a cat.”

...

Interesting.

“Well, huh,” Wasabi muses with a frown. “That doesn’t seem like a coincidence.”

“All of the properties that had complaints were owned by the client for our mission,” Sumire reiterates what you’ve learned, almost as if she’s convincing herself. “None of their neighbors, whose properties they either own themselves or are owned by other businessmen, have had any problems.”

“... ninja cat,” you muse, repeating Hanabi-sensei’s summary. “What if we’re thinking about that backwards? What if what we’re dealing with is a ninja that just happens to be a cat?”

“You think he’s acting this way because it’s some kinda mission?” Wasabi-kun realizes with wide-eyed incredulity. “That is so weird.”

“Just because it’s weird doesn’t mean it’s not true,” Hanabi-sensei observes calmly. “But yes, it’s entirely conceivable that this ‘Ko’ is acting in this way due to some sort of request or order.”

“That’s more complicated than I expected,” Sumire-kun frowns. “If we’re dealing with an opponent who has a motive, shouldn’t that mean we should adjust our own plans to account for that motive?”

“To the degree possible,” Hanabi-sensei replies with a nod. “Sometimes that’s not possible, or else it would make no difference. Experience is the only thing that’s going to help you decide which sort of case you’re looking at in the field.”

“Which is why we’re all doing these missions in the first place,” you sigh.

Hanabi-sensei nods again. “Precisely.”
>1/2
>>
>>5224905
Hey! You take that back!

Namida has an incredibly powerful and fairly unique ability in her voice!

She is nowhere near part 1 Sakura's level of uselessness.
>>
>>5231205
“Okay, so we need to have a strategy,” you continue, rubbing the back of your neck, “because I’d really rather not mess it up like Team 9 did. Suggestions?”

“We could start by eliminating our scent?” Sumire suggests. “That would give us a chance to surprise him instead of outmaneuvering him?”

“Good thinking,” Hanabi-sensei agrees. “What else?”

“We could eliminate only some of our scents,” you add. “Use one of us to drive him towards the ambush?”

“He might know to expect a team of genin again,” Hanabi-sensei observes.

“Right,” you grumble. “Cat ninja. Then I could use transformed shadow clones and perfume?”

“Perfume?” Wasabi frowns. “Is that because your shadow clones would all have the same scent?”

“If we’re trying to fool him we may as well make it convincing,” you shrug. “So yeah. I’d want to use perfume of some kind to mask two of their ‘normal’ scents.”

“That sounds like a lot of trouble,” Wasabi-kun points out, “and it still won’t be too different from what Team 9 tried. What if we try to figure out who might be sending this cat to raid the shops in the first place?”

“Let’s consider that problem for a moment,” Hanabi-sensei muses, patiently dragging the three of your along a thought process she may well have already played out as far as it can go. “What else do we know?”

“Didn’t a few of the shop owners mention that their rents had increased?” Sumire recalls.

You nod in agreement. “So, what if we assume that means the owner is hurting for funds? How would Ko-chan’s actions fit into that?”

“You saying this could be a shakedown?” Wasabi-kun muses. “That’s playing dirty.”

“It does track,” Sumire-kun admits with a frown. “Daimyō and their families have a lot of influence in a lot of different places.”

>If we’re going to accuse a daimyō’s family we’ll need documentary evidence on our side.
>The best evidence still relies on catching that cat, so we need to catch the cat either way.
>If we track the cat instead of catching it, we might be able to find and catch his employer.
>Other?
>>
>>5231716
>>If we track the cat instead of catching it, we might be able to find and catch his employer.
>>
>>5231716
>If we track the cat instead of catching it, we might be able to find and catch his employer.
>>
>>5231716
>>If we track the cat instead of catching it, we might be able to find and catch his employer.

I don't want to be biased by what really is just an assumption and theory. If we look for evidence of foul play, we're either gonna twist what we find or not find anything at all. Depending on what's actually the case.
>>
>>5231738
Agreed, and if we want to accuse someone we need to connect them to the cat anyway.
>>
>>5231716
>If we track the cat instead of catching it, we might be able to find and catch his employer.
>>
>>5231716
>1d6, best three of four
>DC 9
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5233096
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5233096
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>5233096
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5233096
>>
>>5233096
“If we assume for a moment that the cat has an employer,” you think this through out loud, “then if we follow the cat instead of simply capturing him, we might get to capture the employer too.”

“That’s the plan I’d go with,” Hanabi-sensei confirms. “But right now I think it makes sense for us to settle in for at least one night.”

...

After paying for two small rooms at a hotel in town, you’re each left to make preparations for tonight’s continuation of your mission. You and Wasabi-kun, who will be sharing a room with two tiny single beds, mostly focus on hitting the local convenience stores, sourcing fabric and hunting tools, conducting inventory on your shinobi tools, and preparing tools like explosive tags. Each of you will have a hands-free radio set, including an earpiece and a throat mic, for coordinating while out on patrol.

You also take the time to care for your sword, disassembling it, cleaning and oiling its blade, and examining its various parts for unacceptable wear or damage. In the mean time, Sumire-kun works on assembling four hunting suits that should disguise your human scents and muffle your footsteps.

...

“... Nagarin,” you wonder aloud, “what are these?”

“... these are the suits we’ll wear on patrol,” she replies nervously. “They’ll definitely hide our scents, I can guarantee that.”

“They look like mascot characters,” Wasabi-kun observes.

“I think they’re cute!” Hanabi-sensei insists, having already donned a fluffy bunny suit – they’re basically one step up from character pajamas.

You stare at her in surprise. “That was fast!”

Sumire dons a suit meant to resemble a penguin, complete with stitched beak and eyes, and as she does so you can’t help but notice how many of her fingers she pricked and had to bandage after stitching these together so quickly. Your initial indignation evaporates with the realization that Sumire-kun really put her all into getting these ready. So even if they look a little silly... you’ll wear one too.

After a moment’s indecision, Wasabi-kun takes one that’s clearly designed to look like a fox. “The other one’d be a little on the nose,” she admits.

“A jaguar?” you recognize the slight pattern to the suit, which includes eyes, ears, and little triangular fangs on the hood. “Hey wait, why is mine the only dangerous animal?”

“Okay then, Team 15!” Hanabi-sensei declares before you can get an answer to your question. “Move out!”
>1/2
>>
>>5233404
So, to summarize it all – that’s how you ended up sitting atop a roof in a small town dressed in jaguar pajamas.

[Do you see anything?] Wasabi asks you quietly over the radio.

You key your mic. [No change.]

[Don’t be too frustrated if it doesn’t happen tonight,] Hanabi-sensei insists from atop your client’s townhouse – which you marked earlier this evening with recording devices. From there, your sensei will use her byakugan to help guide Sumire-kun into the correct position.

[No movement around the perimeter,] Sumire reports from outside the townhouse. [Cameras haven’t tripped either.]

There are three motion-activated cameras positioned around the town as well – one overlooking an alley between two properties that have been raided by Ko-chan in the last week and a half, one outside the back of the townhouse, and one overlooking an infrequently-used alleyway that just happens to be between the main market row and the townhouse. If this is going to happen, you’ll want multiple angles and lines of evidence to make your case.

[Wait, I see something by the fish market,] Wasabi-kun whispers.

You leap across a gap to a different rooftop where you have a better line of sight on the unusually large cat. [That’s Ko-chan alright. Let him do his thing.]

[Got it,] Wasabi-kun replies curtly.

...

A few minutes later you hear a loud yowl and a cleaver comes flying out the front door of the fish market, after which Ko-chan bursts out a screen window carrying a prizeworthy salmon in his teeth – not the most expensive fish due to its smaller size, but compared to tuna it’s actually more expensive per pound.

“That little bastard ate the fatty cuts!” you hear a shout from inside as another knife comes flying out into the street and Ko-chan scampers for safety. “I’ll kill him this time!”

[First camera tripped,] Sumire reports as you chase after Ko-chan from the rooftops along with Wasabi-kun.

[Second camera tripped.]

[He’s heading for the rooftops,] you report as Ko-chan stashes the salmon, which must be a hundred pounds easy, under an eave. [Now he’s coming to you, Sumirin, sensei.]

[Okay, be ready!] Hanabi-sensei insists.
>2/3
>>
>>5233662
Sumire-kun captures the photographic evidence when Ko-chan slinks in through the back door of your client’s townhouse, and you and Wasabi-kun position yourselves at the window of his office to listen in over the radio bugs you planted earlier in the day. You also set the devices to start recording as soon as Ko-chan reaches the office.

“Kanbei’s steaming mad this time,” you hear Ko-chan report in a gravelly voice. “These burns aren’t gonna heal overnight you know.”

“Those do look tender,” a voice replies. “But surely the satisfaction of a job well-done will outweigh the temporary pain?”

“You’ve got me playing a part,” Ko-chan grumbles. “This ain’t my idea of job satisfaction ya know.”

“Oh, but you’re putting food on the table, aren’t you?” your client muses.

“That’s not what this is about,” Ko-chan hisses. “You’ve got my proverbial balls in a vice here and you know it.”

“Of course,” the client admits. “It only makes sense to keep a useful asset close.”

“You can shove that right up your asset,” Ko-chan retorts. “Just call this what it is – extortion.”

Interesting... so that’s how this whole thing works. But the motive is still unclear right now – you can see that Wasabi is itching to move in.

>That’s more than enough to incriminate the man, and it should be enough to get Ko off the hook. Move in.
>Hold Wasabi back for the moment, get Hanabi-sensei’s opinion on whether it’s worth waiting any longer.
>It’d sure be helpful if he’d describe his motive for this, maybe name some of his co-conspirators in the effort.
>Other?
>>
>>5233753
>>That’s more than enough to incriminate the man, and it should be enough to get Ko off the hook. Move in.

Alright now we've got the client by the balls, time to move in before they realize we're on the trial and try to destroy evidence. We have 100% surprise on our side.
>>
>>5233753
>That’s more than enough to incriminate the man, and it should be enough to get Ko off the hook. Move in.
>>
>>5233753
>Hold Wasabi back for the moment, get Hanabi-sensei’s opinion on whether it’s worth waiting any longer.
>>
>>5233753
>Hold Wasabi back for the moment, get Hanabi-sensei’s opinion on whether it’s worth waiting any longer.

We don't know if this person is also a ninja. Barging in now could put us over our heads. Have Hanabi look around and see if our shadowy new friend here is alone. Also have Sumire move to a point for interception if our nameless guess tries to flee when we do go in.
>>
>>5233753
>1d6, best three of four
>high roll
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5234069
FBI OPEN UP
>>
Rolled 5 (1d6)

>>5234069
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5234069
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5234069
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5234069
>>
>>5234069
“Hanabi-sensei, are we clear to move in?” you ask quietly. “We should have enough.”

[Agreed, you’re clear,] Hanabi-sensei replies. [Sumire-kun, hold your position.]

...

You and Wasabi-kun slam the windows open and leap through. “Don’t move!” you order.

The daimyō’s nephew is a rather weedy looking man with an obviously expensive suit, in an office that looks equally expensive. The cat called Ko starts as his employer pulls a weapon out of his desk, only to slump forward onto the desk with a needle sticking out of his neck.

[Sorry about that, Shiki-kun,] Hanabi-sensei muses over the radio. [But even if he’s a scumbag we can’t have you beating up a daimyō’s relative. It’s cleaner this way.]

“Did you just throw that through the ceiling?” Wasabi-kun realizes based on the angle.

[That’s the way I use my clan’s abilities,] Hanabi-sensei explains. [Grab them and I’ll explain how I did it.]

You gesture for Wasabi-kun to scoop Ko-chan up of off the floor, while you throw the idiot landowner over your shoulder. “God I hope he doesn’t drool on me,” you grumble. “What was it you just did?”

[I used the byakugan for targeting and chakra flow through the senbon to push it and help it penetrate obstructions,] Hanabi-sensei explains as you carry the man out through the window and cross the rooftop to meet up with Sumire-kun out back. [I can hit targets accurately through multiple barriers up to around a kilometer away.]

“Okay, that’s a little scary,” Wasabi confesses.

“Hey, put me down!” Ko-chan demands. “I’m not a piece of luggage, girl! Also what the hell are you wearing!?”

“Long story,” you deflect. “We’re going to be taking you in for questioning – we know this guy’s been giving you orders, but we still need to know what the motive was.”

“Same as it ever was, moolah,” Ko-chan insists. “Money. Cash. But forget that, this guy’s goons have got my family!”

“... hostages?” you realize.

“Ya think?”
>1/2
>>
>>5234260
“What sort of goons are we talking about?” you ask firmly. “Are they shinobi, or would you say they’re bandits? Or are we talking simple street toughs?”

“What difference does it make?” Ko-chan demands. “No, they’re not ninjas.”

“We should do something to help,” Wasabi-kun insists.

Sumire is quick to agree. “Doing nothing... I don’t like it.”

“There’s a good reason for that,” Hanabi-sensei muses. “The Fourth used to say that to see what’s right and not do it is the definition of cowardice. And you three are no cowards.”

“A couple of thugs are still a C-rank mission,” you point out.

“Let me let you in on a little secret,” Hanabi-sensei smiles. “It’s a neat twist on something you learned in the academy...”

...

The goons apparently hang out in an illicit gambling den, according to Ko-chan, and so you head there while Hanabi-sensei keeps the shady-ass landowner tied up and gagged nearby. But you don’t go in without a plan, and between Hanabi-sensei’s impromptu lesson and your team’s own suggestions it’s actually a pretty good one.

“Boss!” the guy at the door greets you enthusiastically. “What’re you an’ the cat doin’ here?”

You’re wearing another man’s face at the moment, making it easier to pass for someone who belongs here, and so you hold up the cat carrier you shoved Ko-chan into. “I figured our friend here and I should speak with our... guests. Make sure we’re all on the same page, that we all remember what our goals are.”

This is how he speaks... right?

“Ha, gotcha, gotcha!” the man chuckles, opening the door. “They’re in the back.”

That easily?

You walk past a bunch of punks who don’t look like they’ll be trouble in a few minutes, and into the back room where you see two cages – one with a single cat inside, and one with two kittens, all of whom look miserable.

“See,” you muse aloud, setting the crate with Ko-chan inside down on the floor. “They’re fine, for now.”

“... what part of this is fine?” Ko demands bitterly.

“You should just be glad the boss hasn’t sauteed ‘em and had ‘em for dinner,” the man standing guard rolls his eyes.
>1d6, best three of four
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5235090
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5235090
>>
Rolled 1 (1d6)

>>5235090
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5235090
>>
>>5235090
>You walk past a bunch of punks who don’t look like they’ll be trouble in a few minutes, and into the back room where you see two cages – one with a single cat inside, and one with two kittens, all of whom look miserable.
>“... what part of this is fine?” Ko demands bitterly.
>>
>>5235090
“I agree,” you muse, dropping the act. “Not cool, you jerk!”

You leap up and out of your disguise, letting the transformation jutsu slip to reveal yourself. From above you draw a fūma shuriken you’d had hidden away for the moment, which swoops wildly off its most obvious target and races towards the far end of the room.

“Where were you aiming at!?” the guard shouts – or would have shouted, had the second step of your plan not swung into action in the middle of his taunt.

Wasabi transforms midflight, rolling in midair to snatch the cages up off the table where they’d been sitting and putting them down where it’ll be a little safer for their occupants. In the mean time you flip in the air, while Sumire rushes the guard with her tantō - the trick Hanabi-sensei taught you was a cooperation transformation, allowing the two of you to disguise yourself as one person. She slams the end of the saya into the man’s gut, causing him to double over and bring his chin into easy range.

She places her fingertip under his jaw while he’s reeling from the blow to his gut. “Bang.”

The suireiha sends the man bouncing off the ceiling just as you land, weaving the sign for the shadow clone technique and letting your clone slide Ko’s cage across the floor and run after it to the desk.

“I’ve got this,” he tells Wasabi-kun, who gets out the scroll for her clan’s hiden. The clone’s job from here on will be simply to keep all of the cats safe, and to get them out of the building without getting hurt in the process.

“Okay, I’m ready for the next phase!” she declares.

>Hold. The doorway will be an excellent spot to ambush the first few thugs to respond.
>The next step should be for Wasabi-kun to lead the way out with her high speed taijutsu.
>You can probably use water release with Sumire to clear a path out into the gambling den.
>Other?
>>
>>5235374
>>You can probably use water release with Sumire to clear a path out into the gambling den.
>>
ninjas are gay
>>
>>5235374
>>The next step should be for Wasabi-kun to lead the way out with her high speed taijutsu.
>>
>>5235374
>>You can probably use water release with Sumire to clear a path out into the gambling den.
>>
>>5235374
>The next step should be for Wasabi-kun to lead the way out with her high speed taijutsu.
>>
>>5235374
Is there any reason we can't just start slashing people's legs?
I mean, fuck these motherfuckers, right?
>>
>>5235703
Information and PR mostly. The more intact enemies like this are the fewer complaints of excessive force, and the more they'll be able to confess to the police about.
>>
>>5235745
>put them in stockades in the town square
>along with a billboard showing them next to the cage containing Ko's wife and children
>leave the empty cage on the platform with them and a signboard explaining what they did
>entire town spits on them as they walk past
>>
>>5235374
>1d6, best three of four
DC 8
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5236036
>>
>>5236038
Third 6 in a row, my fifth in this thread. I'm carrying the fight against regular crooks.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d6)

>>5236036
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5236036
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5236036
>>
>>5236036
“Sumirin, we can sweep the next room with water release,” you declare. “How much water can you produce?”

“Not enough,” she admits.

“Then I’ll help,” you decide, raising the seal of confrontation. “Suiton: Kirisamegakure!”

Your technique produces an thick indoor drizzle, not quite a rain but enough to add enough water to the area to empower Sumire’s choice of jutsu. Even Wasabi thinks quickly, smashing the glass covering one of the fire alarm handles for the building.

“Gotcha, Sumire!” she declares triumphantly.

“That’s more than enough!” Sumire smirks confidently, weaving four quick signs – tiger, snake, rat, snake, tiger. “Suiton: Suijinheki!”

With all the water that’s filled the room and is still falling outside, surging outward and giving your team the opportunity to charge forward. Your clone brings up the rear with Ko, his mate, and his kittens, while Team 15 goes to work. The grown men you passed on your way out are all disorganized and surprised at being attacked by what to their eyes must just be children, and you’re easily able to knock three out in quick succession with fairly basic taitjutsu and kenjutsu.

Is this all an untrained person is capable of against even a genin?

Sumire and Wasabi both do just as well, using a combination of taijutsu and light blasts of water that leave the thugs on the ground.

...

“Alright, I think that’s all the information we need,” the police officer finally decides. “There’s one thing that bugs me though.”

“Yes?” Hanabi-sensei muses. “What is it?”

“What happened to the cats?”

You shrug. “My shadow clone popped during the chaos in there. They must’ve gotten loose.”

“Surely with all the information we managed to recover, it won’t be necessary to have us track them down,” Hanabi-sensei sighs wearily. “I think they’ve had it hard enough.”

“Yeah, it would’ve been nice to interview them,” the officer shakes his head. “But I guess you’re right. Not really worth it.”

You glance up at a nearby rooftop to where you can make out Ko-chan clearly with your unnaturally sharp vision, where he stands in the shadows with one of the kittens suspended by the scruff of its neck in his teeth. With a little bob of his head, the ninja cat disappears into the night.
>1/2
>>
Oh yea. Sumire isn't even at jonin level chakra anymore, nevermind what she could do with Nue.

Cue Uzumaki nonsense.
>>
>>5236627
She was never jonin level, Nue was feeding her its chakra that was stored in that sub dimension.
And yes uzumaki are broken.
>>
>>5236627
Sumire does use water wall in the anime, but not until well after the chunin exams. When we see her do it it's a wide but fairly thin defensive wall - I'd put it at chunin level.

She's solid chunin material now, but to totally flood out a whole building with a sustained surge of water should still take existing sources. Even Kakashi and Zabuza couldn't just conjur up huge amounts of water.
>>
>>5236768
The only person who could was Kisame, who was a noted freak and had the largest chakra reserves of anyone we’d seen in the show.
>>
>>5236370
The thugs and their employer aren’t so lucky – they’ve all been tied up, wet and shivering, awaiting processing at the police office.

“Alright,” the officer in charge declares. “Let’s get these guys down to the station. Ma’am.”

Hanabi-sensei returns his polite bow, before smiling at you and your team. “That was pretty good work, guys. Hana-stamps for everyone... but for now let’s get some rest, okay? We’ll head back to Konohagakure tomorrow morning.”

...

“So how’d your guys’ mission go?”

“It was fine,” Denki shrugs at the table behind Wasabi-kun.

Iwabe sighs. “Metal nearly screwed it up. Damn near dropped a load of bricks onto the foreman’s head.”

“I-I could not help it!” Metal insists. “I just got so nervous, and... well...”

“S-so, how was it with Moegi-sensei?” Denki speaks up to change the subject.

Shikadai sighs. “She’s fine and all, but our first mission was basically to carry this rich old lady’s shopping bags for her all day.”

“It wouldn’t have been so bad if Chubs hadn’t taken her to like five more shops,” Inojin grumbles. “Or if she’d done any of the actual work.”

“Hey, she said she had a lovely time,” Chōchō dismisses the complaints. “And really, isn’t the client’s satisfaction the real goal?”

“Not when the client turns out to be an animal-abusing jerk,” Wasabi interjects.

“Oh yeah, so how’d your mission go?” Denki asks. “You just got back, didn’t you?”

“Just a bunch of thugs,” Sumire shrugs, before taking a sip from her drink.

“Though we did get a relative of the Fire daimyō arrested for racketeering,” you point out. “For a low-ranked mission that’s pretty exciting.”

“Yeah, Hanabi-sensei had to tell us not to expect that every time,” Wasabi laughs cheerfully. “So probably the next mission it’s back to D-rank odd-jobs.”

“You three have been pretty quiet,” you muse, glancing over at Team 3’s table. “It’s creepy.”

“And you haven’t touched your burger,” Sumire observes, speaking to Boruto directly. “Did something happen?”
>2/3
>>
>>5237129
“Konohamaru-niisan had to bail us out,” Boruto grumbles.

“Out of what?” Wasabi-kun asks in confusion. “What did you guys run into that gave you guys trouble?”

“Two of the ‘bandits’ we were sent to deal with turned out to be rogue ninja,” Sarada explains. “We were lucky nobody got seriously hurt.”

“We could’ve beaten at least one of them,” Boruto insists in sullen tones. “But we couldn’t seem to stay out of each others’ way long enough to do that.”

“We were not ready,” Tsubaki declares, having watched her fries slowly go cold without saying a word to this point. “Worse, I was arrogant about it. I have a lot left to learn after all.”

>Tell them about why Naori-ue has that scar on her face. It’s a good lesson to remember about what being a shinobi means.
>It’s fine. Any fight you can walk away from is a chance to learn and improve, which is why Konohamaru was there.
>Your team can do cooperative ninjutsu because you’re already a good team – maybe it works backwards too?
>Other?
>>
>>5237180
>>Tell them about why Naori-ue has that scar on her face. It’s a good lesson to remember about what being a shinobi means.
Or a lesson on why you don't send kids on their own.
>>
>>5237180
>>It’s fine. Any fight you can walk away from is a chance to learn and improve, which is why Konohamaru was there.

They're aware they need to work on teamwork, I don't feel the need to go uber serious mode about it? At least not yet anyway.
>>
>>5237180
>>Tell them about why Naori-ue has that scar on her face. It’s a good lesson to remember about what being a shinobi means.
>>
>>5237180
>>Tell them about why Naori-ue has that scar on her face. It’s a good lesson to remember about what being a shinobi means.

Oh yeah on my mom's first real mission her eye was gouged out by a madman and all her friends were murdered or crippled.
>>
>>5237180
>Tell them about why Naori-ue has that scar on her face. It’s a good lesson to remember about what being a shinobi means.
>>
>>5237180
>It’s fine. Any fight you can walk away from is a chance to learn and improve, which is why Konohamaru was there.

>Hana-stamps for everyone
IT GROWS
>>
>>5237229
>Oh yeah on my mom's first real mission her eye was gouged out by a madman and all her friends were murdered or crippled.
Well if that doesn't make them think "It could be worse!" then nothing will.
>>
>>5237180
>Tell them about why Naori-ue has that scar on her face. It’s a good lesson to remember about what being a shinobi means.
>>
>>5237180
>>Tell them about why Naori-ue has that scar on her face. It’s a good lesson to remember about what being a shinobi means.
>>
>>5237180
>Tell them about why Naori-ue has that scar on her face. It’s a good lesson to remember about what being a shinobi means.
>>
>>5237180
“Hey, what doesn’t kill you -”

“Easy for you to say,” Boruto interrupts.

“Except for us it’s literally true,” you insist curtly. “Sumirin, tell me about the three components of chakra.”

“... three?” she repeats hesitantly.

“Two,” you correct yourself.

“Physical energy is drawn from the cells of the body,” she reminds your classmates. “That gets mixed with spiritual energy, which is mental and emotional in origin.”

“Wasabi-kun, how do you increase your physical energy?”

“Training and exercising your butt off, duh,” your teammate replies.

“You can also use stimulants and special herbs,” Denki adds helpfully. “Most villages and even a lot of clans supposedly have secret training regimens for increasing their shinobi’s physical vitality, though some clans like the Senju and the Uzumaki are renowned for having naturally high vitality and unusually strong chakra.”

“Thank you, Denki,” you muse. “If you were on Team 15 you’d get a Hana-stamp.”

“I don’t know what that is.”

“Neither do we,” Wasabi-kun admits.

“Now, Boruto-kun,” you continue, “how do you reckon you increase your spiritual energy?”

“What is this, twenty questions?” he grumbles.

“By studying, and by gaining experience,” Sarada answers your question instead. “Huh. So I guess that saying really is literally true for shinobi.”

“Even my mom nearly died on her first mission,” you recount. “The guy who had Buntan-nee’s swords before cut her eye out, maimed one teammate, and killed the other. Sasuke-san and Naruto-san had to fight one of the Seven Swords as genin, and Hinata-san and Karin-san had hard childhoods.”

“So you’re saying that overcoming adversity is a key part of a shinobi’s growth?” Tsubaki muses.

You nod. “Yeah. I guess I am.”
>1/2
>>
>>5238410
Team 15’s next few missions aren’t anywhere near as interesting as your first – you take over for Denki, Iwabe, and Metal’s team one day on a construction site, then you help sort through some old, previously uncatalogued government records at the Hokage’s office (a few of which are sensitive enough to make it a C-rank mission). On another day you get a C-rank mission that turns out to simply be playing bodyguard duty inside Konohagakure itself, though you and your team treat it as an opportunity to practice surveillance, patrol, and close guard techniques and formations. The most helpful you really get to feel is finding and returning a lost child downtown, when it turns out that Sumire is surprisingly not comfortable around little kids – probably due to her own childhood of poverty and emotional neglect. Wasabi on the other hand seems to have something of a knack for dealing with kids, maybe due to her lighthearted personality and energy.

Hana-stamps all around.

...

“Alright, so here’s a good one again,” Hanabi-sensei muses a few weeks later. “It’s a B-rank escort mission to and from... wait for it... Amegakure.”

“An escort mission... home?” you wonder aloud. “Who’s the client?”

“A small group of art dealers, antique dealers, and designers,” sensei informs you, handing you the small mission briefing packet to share with the rest of your team. “They expect trouble from a bunch of thugs calling themselves the Garakuta gang.”

“Art thieves?” Wasabi-kun muses.

“These documents say that the gang is run by a former shinobi,” Sumire observes. “Do we know anything else about the rest of them?”

“Only that they have a few former genin too,” Hanabi-sensei clarifies, “though none of their files were remarkable. They’re all just deadbeats who used to technically be ninja. Nobody expects much of them, but they’re probably still too much for untrained civilians to handle.”

“Their boss is definitely stronger,” Wasabi adds, having made it a little further through the documents here. “Says he took the chunin exams... three times?”

“And failed,” Hanabi-sensei shrugs. “He turned to crime after that, mostly petty scores, until he started gaining a following. I’d be a little more cautious about him, but I’d also say that Shiki could take the whole game by himself unless he made some sort of stupid mistake.”

“Fat chance,” Wasabi snorts.

“Yeah, good thing I only make smart mistakes,” you joke.

“So, how should we proceed, Team 15?” Hanabi-sensei asks you with a smile.

>We should meet with the clients and ask for clarification on what valuables they’re transporting.
>Let’s examine the possible routes and plan around dealing with the most likely ambush points.
>The most important thing will be the tactical formation – which the clients will need to understand.
>Other?
>>
>>5238426
>>Let’s examine the possible routes and plan around dealing with the most likely ambush points.
>>
>>5238426
>>Let’s examine the possible routes and plan around dealing with the most likely ambush points.
>>
>>5238426
>>Let’s examine the possible routes and plan around dealing with the most likely ambush points.
>>
>>5238426
>Let’s examine the possible routes and plan around dealing with the most likely ambush points.
>>
>>5238426
“Let’s examine the routes and likely ambush points,” you suggest. “I can really help there.”

“Do you have a map, sensei?” Wasabi-kun asks, and Hanabi-sensei replies by taking a scroll out of the pouch on the back of her hakama and opening it to reveal a map.

“The area around Amegakure is safe,” you suggest, tracing a line around the village where you know it always rains. “Anything within this radius is inside our defenses.”

“The bridges are the most likely points for an ambush,” Sumire muses. “They would most likely wait until we cross, so that whatever the bridges are meant to cross is to our backs.”

“Most of them are river gorges,” you clarify. “So I agree, that would be how I would do it.”

“What’s this?” Wasabi wonders, tapping a spot on the map with her finger.

“Both the main routes pass through those narrows,” you tell her. “It’s steep and difficult to move there, and an ambusher would have the high ground. But there’s not much natural cover either.”

“Of the two bridges this seems to be the smaller,” Hanabi-sensei muses.

“It gets much less traffic,” you explain. “But while it’d be hard to retreat across it, and it’s less likely to have witnesses or ready assistance, the ground on the west end is basically an open field.”

“So no cover,” Hanabi-sensei repeats.

You nod. “The larger bridge has forest and boulders that run right up to the edge of the gorge.”

“So where would you ambush us, if you were the leader of this Garakuta gang?” Sumire asks you curiously.

“Here,” you declare, “in the gorge – it eliminates the guesswork. I’d use the Kirisamegakure no jutsu to create a little bit of ground fog to hide in. Rain and fog aren’t that unusual here, but it’d take a local to tell you what seasons you’re likely to get those conditions and in what combinations.”

“And this time of year?” Hanabi-sensei presses you.

“It shouldn’t be either,” you reply. “Low clouds yes, maybe some light rain. But no fog, no heavy rain, and certainly not both together.”

“So you’d be outing yourself?” Wasabi frowns.

“It seems like all three locations have their own challenges,” Sumire admits. “So you would be no worse off just choosing the spot you know your target would have to pass.”

“I gotcha,” Wasabi nods. “I guess that means we have to meet the clients now? Figure out how we’re gonna guard them?”
>1/2
>>
>>5239655
You meet your clients at a prearranged location, as missions of this type typically go, which in this case is the Old City Station, a thunder rail station which brings travelers right into the heart of Konohagakure. When you arrive you see that the seven men who are your clients have a significant amount of luggage, packed the old fashioned way for long-distance hauling. They’re all various ages, from one in his late teens to one who could be your grandfather – if either of them were still alive.

“Good morning,” Hanabi-sensei greets them. “Which one of you is Tanjiro-san?”

“That would be me,” a man with a short, messy fringe in the back of his hair. “You would be our escort?”

“Hyūga Hanabi,” your sensei confirms. “I’m the jōnin instructor of Team 15.”

“Genin, then?” Tanjiro-san muses. “Will this really be okay?”

“I think you’ll find their skills more than adequate,” Hanabi-sensei insists. “Sumire-kun, what formation do you think we should employ?”

“No clear, immediate threat,” she muses. “Staggered column ahead, shifting to a squad wedge with the clients at the center if need be.”

“Just like we practiced, then,” Wasabi shrugs. “I’ll be following Hanabi-sensei in the left column, ready to swing around behind to take the rear of the wedge.”

Sumire nods. “I’ll be partnered with Shiki-kun, taking point.”

“I will follow at the head of the second column, on the left,” Hanabi-sensei muses.

You gesture with your thumb. “And I’ll be directly behind Sumire-kun, slightly behind and right of sensei.”

“Maybe if these Garakuta thugs see that we’re ready for them they’ll think twice about messing with us,” Wasabi suggests.
>1d6, best three of five
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5239880
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5239880
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5239880
There going to mess with us...
>>
Rolled 1 (1d6)

>>5239880
Time to brutally rape some exceptionally retarded bandits
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>5239880
>>
>>5239880
“Eh? No way...”

“... that can’t be right...”

You have to agree with your teammates. “Y’know it’s not really an ‘ambush’ if you’re just standing out in the open, right?”

There are five men waiting for you in the woods – not even at one of your pre-identified ambush points, and their leader isn’t even one of them.

“The Garakuta gang, right?” Hanabi-sensei tries to confirm it.

“Yeah, if you know about us then you should know to just fork over the goods!” one of the men insists.

“I don’t think so,” you reply.

>Open with the shuriken shadow clone – that ought to determine if any of them are capable.
>Create some clones and turn your enemy’s flank – keep them distracted and off-balance.
>Move to back up Sumire-kun, your partner in this formation, in close quarters combat.
>Other?
>>
>>5239900
>>Open with the shuriken shadow clone – that ought to determine if any of them are capable.
>>
>>5239900
>Open with the shuriken shadow clone – that ought to determine if any of them are capable.
>>
>>5239900
>>Open with the shuriken shadow clone – that ought to determine if any of them are capable.
>>
>>5239900
>1d6, best three of four
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>5240153
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5240153
>>
Rolled 5 (1d6)

>>5240153
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5240153
>>
>>5240153
You unseal a single fūma shuriken from the raikō kenka marking on your left wrist, and the weapon drops already-open into your hand to be instantly thrown past Sumire-kun’s head.

The five gang members snicker at first, but your fingers form the sign even as the weapon passes Sumire. “Shuriken Shadow Clone!”

Very suddenly one rather easily-dodged fūma shuriken becomes at least three dozen, and the response to your attack changes in an instant from amusement to horror. Two of your would-be attackers go down just from that onslaught, proving themselves totally incapable of defending themselves in the face of your opening move. Team 15 doesn’t waste the opportunity and in seconds the other three go down as well.

Wasabi-kun catches one man’s attempt at a thrusting counterattack by his wrist, throws him easily over her shoulder and, having kept her grip on the man’s arm, proceeds to twist it until it dislocates both at the shoulder and at the elbow. Sumire-kun is also attacked, and simply deflects her attacker’s strike with her own kunai, slips under his arm, and lands a blow on the back of his neck. Her eyes widen slightly as though realizing at the last possible second what’s about to happen, and she barely manages to flip the blade around in her hand so that the ring pommel connects instead of the point.

Hanabi-sensei grabs her own bandit’s leading wrist to pin him in place, prods him three times in rapid succession with her fingertips, then with a wide turn slings the man into a tree trunk.

...

“I didn’t think they’d be so...” you muse, as you try to explain things to Naori-ue when she comes to collect the bandits. “Incompetent?”

“That was a really high-level technique for a genin,” Naori-ue admits. “Yeah no, I don’t blame them for being surprised.”

“What will happen to the survivors?” Sumire-kun wonders.

“They’ll be taken to the Yukigakure Strict Correctional Facility,” your mother explains. “Ryūzetsu’s handling the paperwork now.”

“Well, that’s convenient,” Hanabi-sensei muses. “In any event, we should continue.”

“See you in a bit, mother,” you say, giving Naori-ue an appropriate farewell.

“Yeah, we’ll have dinner ready tomorrow night,” she smiles.

...

It’s been a long time since you crossed the border on foot. You forgot the way the weather patterns shift so drastically, from white clouds to dark clouds to constant rain – so you almost forget to tell your team and your clients when to don their raincoats.
>1/2
>>
>>5240738
“That’s not going to cut it,” you frown as Team 15 all pull on hooded traveling cloaks, same way your clients do. “Nobody out here goes anywhere without one of these.”

You unseal a trio of straw kasa hats, treated to handle constant exposure to water, and hand them out before putting on your own straw sando-gasa. Your own cloak is fairly unremarkable, slate grey cut to sit over top of a shinobi’s uniform, with short sleeves that leave your arms a little more free to move – and a small Uzumaki crest on your left sleeve. This leaves your armguards more visible of course, but that’s not exactly a problem.

For the entire last stretch of the journey you remain vigilant, keeping to your formation and minding the likely ambush points. But thankfully, you reach the outskirts of Amegakure late the next morning where Naori-ue can sense anything that might go amiss. You reach the entry checkpoint, greeted by the guards – plain clothes underneath identical raincoats with an open design similar to your own, with straw hats to keep the rain out of their eyes and short spears.

“Papers, please,” the control officer insists when your group reaches the front of the short line, which is afforded shelter under the wide eaves of the office building. “Oh, one of ours?”

“Uzumaki Shiki, genin, returning temporarily on a mission,” you hand over your travel passport. “This is my team and my sensei, Hyūga Hanabi-san, and our clients.”

“Uzumaki... Shiki-sama!?” the officer exclaims in surprise. “You’ve grown!”

“It’s been a while, after all,” you shrug as he quickly flips through your teammates’ passports. “When I come home typically Naori-ue just teleports me.”

“And she didn’t teleport all of these guys?” the officer muses. “Guess not many people can afford the head’s time, huh?”

“Especially when it’s something she doesn’t feel like doing,” you smile.

“I could see that,” he admits. “You’re all set – welcome back, Shiki-sama.”

“Thank you...” you glance at his name badge. “Usui-san.”

...

After arranging with your clients when and where you’re to meet them for the return trip, your sensei makes a suggestion.

“We should probably check in with Naori-dono. This is after all not our village,” she pauses, “except for Shiki-kun here of course.”

>Actually she’s probably not there. Let’s look for Ryūzetsu-ue instead, same ultimate deal.
>Let’s just go to my house and wait for here there. She’d definitely insist you’re her guests.
>Ajisai-san will probably be there, so it couldn’t hurt to treat things a little formally for now.
>Other?
>>
>>5240880
>>Ajisai-san will probably be there, so it couldn’t hurt to treat things a little formally for now.

Technically still on the clock I guess? If we get told to relax then yeah sure, but until then I want to play it a little more serious.
>>
>>5240880
>>Ajisai-san will probably be there, so it couldn’t hurt to treat things a little formally for now.
>>
>>5240880
>Ajisai-san will probably be there, so it couldn’t hurt to treat things a little formally for now.
>>
>>5240880
>>Ajisai-san will probably be there, so it couldn’t hurt to treat things a little formally for now.
Shiki’s a professional
>>
>>5240880
>>Ajisai-san will probably be there, so it couldn’t hurt to treat things a little formally for now.
>>
>>5240880
>>Ajisai-san will probably be there, so it couldn’t hurt to treat things a little formally for now.
>>
>>5240880
>Ajisai-san will probably be there, so it couldn’t hurt to treat things a little formally for now.
>>
>>5240880
You suggest that despite the fact that Naori-ue most likely won’t be in the office, it still makes sense to go there and meet with Ajisai-san in her place – since Ajisai-san handles a lot of the paperwork anyway.

...

“Shiki-kun,” Ajisai greets you with a slight smile. “It’s been a while.”

“It has,” you agree.

“This must be Hyūga-taichō,” she turns her attention to the other adult in the room. “Apologies for not greeting you first, it’s just that Shiki-kun is basically family for a lot of us.”

“Well, introduce us properly at least,” Hanabi-sensei insists with a smirk.

Sigh. “Hyūga Hanabi-sensei, this is Ajisai. She’s a long-time friend of my mom Naori-ue’s, and kind of like an aunt to me and my sister. She runs the village head’s office. Ajisai-oba, this is my sensei in Konoha.”

“A pleasure,” Ajisai nods. “Thank you for observing procedure, though in your case – really not necessary.”

Hanabi-sensei shrugs. “Since it isn’t our village, observing procedure is the least we can do as guests.”

“I hope you’ll have a pleasant stay,” Ajisai offers politely. “Can’t do anything about the rain of course, but feel free to relax.”

“It’s strange,” Hanabo-sensei admits, “Amegakure used to have such a bad reputation under Hanzō, then I suppose under Pain as well.”

“Ryūzetsu-san did an excellent job modernizing our security forces,” Ajisai explains, “and of course, we have an all-seeing demigod walking the streets.”

“Naori-ue can sense things through the rain,” you clarify for your teammates. “She can’t literally spy on you, it’s not that precise, but she knows whenever there’s some kind of disturbance.”

“Thaaat’s not scary at all,” Wasabi mutters.

“It’s fine,” you reassure her. “My family is weirdly formal in specific ways, and kind of intimidating at first, but they’re actually really nice in ways you might not expect.”

“Speaking of which, your sister was here looking for you,” Ajisai mentions. “She said she was going home.”

“Thanks, then I’ll see her in a few minutes.”
>1/2
>>
>>5241521
Amegakure has changed significantly even just in the time you’ve been around to watch it. The old city was claustrophobic, winding among the industrial spires you can still see across the lake (the ones that still exist at least) sitting right on the lakeside. Shin-Amegakure isn’t “historic” by any sense of the word, being just a few years older than you and Makoto, but it feels much more like it evolved naturally from something that had been here before, with a mix of styles and influences that all follow the broad urban plan.

“It’s pretty,” Sumire-kun muses, admiring the traditionally-styled buildings, the covered arcades and shops, and the liberal use of public landscaping. “I keep forgetting that this town wasn’t here twenty years ago.”

“Wow, really?” Wasabi looks around in surprise.

“Shiki-kun’s mother founded the village at this site a few years before Shiki and his sister were born,” Hanabi-sensei explains. “It started with her home, a few of her closest friends’ homes who she invited, and some streets.”

You soon turn onto the main road that runs from the temple all the way down to the waterfront – here there are the original canals, homes, shrines, and shops which mainly feature traditional crafts and trades, as well as a covered market with stalls carrying all sorts of foods, spices, and goods. There are two theaters now, a traditional stage and a multiplex cinema, and the three large onsen ryōkan permitted from the beginning by Naori-ue.

“My mom designed this whole part of town,” you explain. “The pedestrian walkways, the canals, the parcels, and several of the original buildings.”

“By herself?” Wasabi-kun wonders.

You nod. “I think she thought of it as a training exercise, or like a meditative thing? Train your skills, sharpen your mind, that sort of thing.”

“A lot of buildings in the old part of Konoha were build by one jōnin using the wood release,” Hanabi adds. “So you’ve seen the results of that sort of thing without even knowing it.”

You stop briefly at the shrine to pay your respects, before entering your family’s home. “I’m back! Who’s home right now?”

As you’re taking off your coats, hats, and footwear, a familiar face comes out into the entryway to greet you from behind the vermilion-painted screen doors. “Hi, bro.”

Makoto wraps an arm around you before you’ve even had a chance to put your sandals away. “Sis! It’s been what, six months?”
>2/3
>>
>>5241680
“We’ve both been busy,” she grins. Her long red hair is tied back into a low ponytail like Naori-ue’s, though her outfit is different than you recall – a close-fitting medium-blue top with one long sleeve on the left and a short standing collar, which hangs low on her right side a little like how Iwagakure shinobi wear their uniforms, worn over black pants that fit a little looser below the waist. The whole thing is tied together with a white sash work around her waist a little like an obi.

“Yeah no, I picked up a new outfit,” she guesses what you’ve been thinking.

“And a new tic,” you observe her turn of phrase, absorbed from Naori-ue’s way of speaking.

“So this is your team then?” Makoto glances over your shoulder. “I think I’ve met your teammates... Izuno-kun and Nagao-kun, right?”

“That’s right,” Sumire-kun nods with a smile. “I’m glad you remember us.”

“Good to see Shiki’s got a good team around him,” Makoto smiles back, before glancing over to Hanabi-sensei. “I’m Uzumaki Makoto, Shiki’s twin sister. Am I right in thinking you would be his sensei?”

“Hyūga Hanabi,” Hanabi-sensei smiles with a polite bow, “it’s nice to finally meet you. I actually trained with Naori-dono briefly, just before you were born.”

“Welcome back,” Makoto returns the bow before gesturing into the house. “Please.”

The receiving room is just the same as you remember it – this is as far as most guests ever go, with rooms further into your home being typically reserved for people Naori-ue actually cares about or has a great deal of respect for. Behind the sliding screens are the living room and kitchen, and to the right is a hallway that leads to a guest bathroom at one end. So really, it’s not a problem if a guest never goes any further past here. Your family can entertain them adequately, if not with any enthusiasm.

>It’s not like these are total strangers, why don’t we let them in past the reception room?
>They’re going to be using the guest rooms, might as well let them start getting settled.
>We’ll fix them something in the kitchen until Naori-ue or Ryūzetsu-ue get back home.
>Other?
>>
>>5241704
>>It’s not like these are total strangers, why don’t we let them in past the reception room?
>>
>>5241704
>>It’s not like these are total strangers, why don’t we let them in past the reception room?
>>
>>5241704
If it was our house i'd say just let them in, but technically it's mom's house, not ours.
So although it would probably be fine, we shouldn't just be letting people in without asking, i suppose.

>We’ll fix them something in the kitchen until Naori-ue or Ryūzetsu-ue get back home.
>>
>>5241704
>>It’s not like these are total strangers, why don’t we let them in past the reception room?
>>
>>5241704
>It’s not like these are total strangers, why don’t we let them in past the reception room?

Honestly I'm surprised Shiki didn't pick up the same verbal tic
>>
>>5241704
>>We’ll fix them something in the kitchen until Naori-ue or Ryūzetsu-ue get back home.
>>
>>5241704
“If we know that our parents would welcome them in,” you muse, “then wouldn’t it be rude to make them wait?”

Makoto considers this carefully. “Yeah no, pretty sure that does sound like something Naori-ue would say.”

“Doesn’t it though?”

“I’m sure it’s fine,” Makoto agrees, moving to slide the doors in the back of the room open.

...

“It may be smaller than the Hyūga estate,” Hanabi-sensei muses, “but somehow this feels even more sumptuous.”

“Is this really where you grew up, Shiki-kun? Makoto-kun?” Wasabi asks in shock as you walk your guests through the common sitting room towards the garden and onsen in back. The sitting room is comfortably large enough for a traditional-style table, a small hearth, and seating for up to ten people, decorated with small cabinets in traditional joinery and craftsmanship, along with a few wall-hanging art scrolls. The sitting room on the far side of the dining room and foyer has a reasonably large television on one wall, facing away from the garden behind it, with a fairly compact couch and chairs. There’s also a lower table and floor chairs behind the couch where anyone using the room can sit and look out across the veranda into the garden and the onsen dug into the courtyard.

“It’s beautiful,” Sumire muses, walking out onto the veranda and sitting to admire it. The gentle sound of the rain is a soothing little bit of background noise you’ve been missing lately, so you find yourself staring at the garden too. “The ajisai are in bloom... did your mother choose those because of her friend’s name?”

“Hōzuki grows wild in Ryūzetsu-ue’s homeland too,” Makoto adds. “The prison she ran there for years, where our parents met, was named for them.”

“Was everything in this whole place chosen specifically?” Wasabi-kun wonders.

“Basically,” you shrug.

“And nothing’s ever out of place?” she continues.

“You haven’t seen our room,” your sister offers. “But basically. I get what you’re driving at, there’s a lot of rules here... but it’s a warm sort of place, you know?”

>Our parents have always been clear what the rules are, but also why they’re rules in the first place.
>It’s just the way things are. Some families are totally dysfunctional, but they still love each other.
>It’s one among several reasons Makoto and I didn’t have many friends growing up in Amegakure.
>Other?
>>
>>5242246
>>Our parents have always been clear what the rules are, but also why they’re rules in the first place.
>>
>>5242246
>>It’s one among several reasons Makoto and I didn’t have many friends growing up in Amegakure.
>>
>>5242246
>>It’s one among several reasons Makoto and I didn’t have many friends growing up in Amegakure.
>>
>>5242246
>>Our parents have always been clear what the rules are, but also why they’re rules in the first place.
>>
>>5242246
>It’s one among several reasons Makoto and I didn’t have many friends growing up in Amegakure.
>>
>>5242246
>Our parents have always been clear what the rules are, but also why they’re rules in the first place.
However,
>It’s one among several reasons Makoto and I didn’t have many friends growing up in Amegakure.
>>
>>5242246
>>It’s one among several reasons Makoto and I didn’t have many friends growing up in Amegakure.
>>
>>5242246
>>It’s one among several reasons Makoto and I didn’t have many friends growing up in Amegakure.

Naori is like one of those rich mons who has a living room, she keeps immaculate but no one ever sits in it, but its the whole house.
>>
>>5243003
Or they're like the house nobody you know has ever been in, but they have a nice pool they let their kids' friends swim in and they hand out king-sized candy at halloween, so you choose to overlook that one time the mom drank just a bit too much Dom Perignon while keeping an eye on you and was absent-mindedly doing kife tricks with a balisong.
>>
>>5243053
That sounds incredibly oddly specific, king I know california is weird, but are you okay?
>>
>>5243090
It's a composite of a couple of stories.