Understanding Does Not Presage Peace (Naruto, Insert)

Karmic Acumen

Well-known member
Is that from a cartoon? I don't remember reading that from Yeats, Colum or Glassie.
Nope. The Legend of Fionn mac Cumhaill and Benandonner.
Yes, that dog was wearing sunglasses. Not that it's as important as you remembering this is a world with Magic, before you start fucking with creating exotic life forms.
Well, he didn't forget, he just eliminated what risks he could and considered the rest worth it.


Well-known member
Did you just make yourself a daemon? In the classic Greek sense? Also maybe in the computing one?

Also a shame about the removal of the Land of Snow and the possibility of continents over the sea. Always liked the idea the whole Kazuya thing apocalypse a normalize earth and the medieval one was just what managed to redevelop before the Tree bore fruit.


Well-known member
Isn't daemon what people turned into during the Golden Age when they aged backwards?
No. A powerful non human Supernatural being, synonymous with gods or Spirits whether native to or outside the Natural Order. Or the Japanese concept of Yama-no-kami. Or the competing pantheons of Irish mythology.
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Am I just imagining it, or did he just undergo the chakra-based equivalent of a cultivation-style body reforging? Purging accumulated impurities?

My second thought was a feeling, like the faintest net of semi-autonomous bio-circuitry laid alongside my blood vessels and nervous system, spread throughout my hand like a half-woven web. It was weak, atrophied and hungry. The chakra circulatory system, I thought sluggishly. My cell souls. It was… eating them? I don’t think I like it.
Not sure that I understand what's happening here. Is the chakra circulatory system eating his cell souls, or are the cell souls eating the CCS? And the "don't like it" reaction… is Hanzo expressing dislike of the CCS itself, or the process of consumption (in either direction), or something else?

I suspect, based on the canon of Naruto, chakra, the Otsutsuki and the Shinju, that the correct answer is the one with the worst implications.

Karmic Acumen

Well-known member
Am I just imagining it, or did he just undergo the chakra-based equivalent of a cultivation-style body reforging? Purging accumulated impurities?

Not sure that I understand what's happening here. Is the chakra circulatory system eating his cell souls, or are the cell souls eating the CCS? And the "don't like it" reaction… is Hanzo expressing dislike of the CCS itself, or the process of consumption (in either direction), or something else?

I suspect, based on the canon of Naruto, chakra, the Otsutsuki and the Shinju, that the correct answer is the one with the worst implications.
The chakra is the thing doing the eating. And yes, unfortunate implications all around. I didn't even need to make up any, they just came naturally after I let everything about those things percolate through my head.
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The chakra is the thing doing the eating. And yes, unfortunate implications all around. I diidn't even need to make up any, they just came naturally after I let everything about those things percolate through my head.
Tell me about it. Something about the phrasing you used just screams parasite. Impending reaction:

"Get it out GET IT OUT GET IT OUT-"
Chapter 6: The Discipline of Word Games

Karmic Acumen

Well-known member
A/N: Credit to MaxFic on FF.net for the unique interpretation of Naruto's scattered brain.

Also, did you know that DNA was only mapped in the 50s, and genetic testing didn't exist before then? Now imagine what might happen when four world wars are involved and super-ninja with an axe to grind and every reason to keep that knowledge to themselves? And now think about the stupid mortality rate of Orochimaru's experiments.


Chapter 6: The Discipline of Word Games

“-. Hatake Kakashi, Konoha Anbu Captain, Codename Hound .-“

“-. October 29, 5 ANB .-“​

There was no trace of poison, at least none that wasn’t perhaps mixed with the black sludge that had seeped out of the man’s hand and was smeared from the basement all the way to the top of the stairs. The same couldn’t be said about probable motive, but Hound was still having trouble finding enough cause for outright elimination. There was some motive for abduction though, at least if one were a member of certain organisations that may or may not be explicitly going against the Hokage’s direct orders to salve their leader’s pride.

Probably not the same motives that the victim assumed, though. The electro-mechanic fuuma shuriken brought nothing new to the table. The attempt in the basement to replicate lightning ninjutsu with technology was so amateurish and impractical that Konoha’s science division would laugh the man out of the room. And while the flare shooter was admittedly cute, it was so loud that it might just be the most useless tool to ever land in ninja hands. And that was without getting to the issue of the custom-built, too small flares themselves that the man clearly hadn’t gotten around to creating, seeing as the black powder was still lying around unused. Not the worst way for a civilian to call for help though, he’d give him that. If he could get it to work.

No, the real draw were the notebooks.

Hound swept away the paperweights – using steel rivets in place of paperweights and tags, the man was every bit as cheap as reported – and looked through the papers on the desk, hoping they, at least, might provide a cypher for the unfamiliar letters he’d seen so much of today. No such luck. He pondered the notebooks. There were dozens of them, written in a completely foreign language. Or several, if Crow was to be believed. Hound couldn’t begin to guess what they said. He didn’t even know what languages they were, they all used an alphabet entirely unfamiliar not just to himself, but also to Lizard who came from the cryptanalysis division. And there was nothing around that could serve as a key, so there was no way to even begin decrypting anything, let alone do it in any time less than, oh, a decade maybe. At least.

The only intelligible papers were the schematics for miniature flares that the shooter was lying on, which were essentially fireworks writ small. Presumably so they could actually be read by whoever wound up handling the commission.

For Crow’ sake, Hound was deliberately not going down the ‘what if Root has a point’ rabbit hole. For the moment.

Clunk, clunk, clunk.

Hound turned his head to see Lizard bring a few of the odd dozen rivets close to the board on the wall. They flew out of her hand to stick to it with a dull sound. A display board with magnetised strips. So it wasn’t just that the man was a skinflint, he was creative in how he used resources. Hound spun one of the rivets between his fingers. It was shorter and thicker than the usual, but otherwise similar to other ‘invisible’ rivets that lacked a tail but had a case that could be removed after insertion, making it easier to conceal. Construction D-rank missions were among the most popular because genin could stick the rivets in by hand, and then practice their chakra control by removing the cases manually and covering the holes with earth manipulation.

Hound blinked, suddenly having a realisation. Picking up the ‘flare’ shooter, he turned it around and slipped one of the rivets into the loading chamber. Click.

It was a perfect fit.

Huh. So it wasn’t for shooting flares, at least not yet. It was a nail shooter.

Well, now he just felt silly. The man was a handyman living off commissions in a village that was no longer recovering from disaster, why wouldn’t he make a tool to save him the money he’d otherwise have to spend on D-ranks? Now that Hound thought about it, the reports said the man was planning a home expansion.

“Captain?” Came Crow’s voice.

You were right, Shisui, a killer can’t hope to understand a creator’s mind. “We’re done here.” Hound put the nail gun back in the drawer and closed it. “Put everything back were you found it, then you’re dismissed.

Hound double-checked the sludge samples, left the others to get back to their downtime, didn’t comment on Crow going to run surveillance on the hospital, and went to the Hokage tower to report. But the Third wasn’t there anymore, so he inquired with Rooster and doubled back to where the Third actually was, namely the same aforementioned hospital.

He found the Hokage in the middle of receiving a report in the head medic’s office.

“- so we have managed to avert a complete kidney failure. However, his kidneys still need help regenerating, and his ureters and urethra walls are half as thin as before after being almost destroyed from the inside. We have been unable to isolate the poison, whatever occurred has either already been flushed from his system, or was designed to break down into base components after it took effect. We are certain it was contact-based, however, and must have entered his body through the skin on his right hand. The appendage in question is now the part of his body in the best shape, I’d even say perfect shape if not for what it caused. Whatever compound it was, it somehow overcharged the tissues’ purgative processes to the point where Mr. Masanari’s blood literally became the poison, due to the sheer amount of toxins that flooded it all at once. Somehow, his circulatory system coped. Unfortunately, this was only because his kidneys went into panic mode trying to rebalance his blood’s pH and osmolarity. The toxins coming in were so many for long enough that his nephrons were destroyed in droves and the toxins clogged his renal corpuscules until the kidneys almost lost filtration capability entirely. A number of the medullas outright ruptured in places. Even with our best application of the Mystical Palm technique, I am surprised he is not dead.”

That… quite honestly sounded like the most sinister poison Hound had heard about in the last five years.

“That said, he is still in pain and will likely suffer the symptoms of kidney failure for a week or two. He is not necessarily stuck on soft foods, but I still have some diet recommendations for his convalescence, and in any case he will need to drink many fluids for the duration. He should be ready for home care in one or two days, but I would like him to come back once or twice a week in case he relapses, and to encourage his excretory channels to regenerate as quickly as possible. Right now we have him on painkillers, which, I will note, have a reduced effect on him compared to the norm, same as the sedatives – he woke up twice on the operating table, we had to up the dose both times to keep him under. He has surprising vitality for a civilian.”

The Third hummed, puffing smoke through his pipe. “Could it be a bloodline limit?”

“You believe he might be of the Uzumaki as well then?” And wasn’t that the elephant in the room? “He certainly has the phenotype. The red hair and green eyes are characteristic of the clan. I cannot say anything conclusive, however. The eye-color test is obviously useless relative to the young Uzumaki, and the blood-type test was inconclusive. Young Naruto has blood Type B, while Masanari has blood type O, but this hardly proves or disproves paternity, let alone whatever degrees of removal we are talking about here, if any. Perhaps if his past records hadn’t been lost in the Kyuubi rampage…”

That was a moot point, Hound knew. If the Masanari family had any ties to the Uzumaki, it would have come up from the very moment the grandfather applied for citizenship, and would have been triple checked on approval all over again. Unless they were descended from outcasts?

“The attack left all of us poorer,” the Third commiserated. “How is he now? Not too tired, I hope.”

“He was not keen to go back under now that the sedatives have passed from his system, but the Uzumaki boy might have changed his mind since you brought him in. Nurse Honoka is keeping an eye on them just in case.”

Why was Naruto there? If the man was as bad off as the medic claimed, shouldn’t visits be restricted until he was in good enough shape to actually cope? Just how keen was the Hokage on throwing those two together? Why?

“Where are they now?”

The woman frowned slightly, looking to Hound and back. “Observation room VIC-01, as the Anbu instructed.”

It was only Hound’s familiarity with the Third’s mannerisms that let him catch the man’s grip tightening on his pipe. “Lead the way. I should like to observe him for myself.”

Hound frowned behind his mask as he shadowed the Third, slipping from one blind spot to the next under camouflage. VIC. Very Important Criminal. One of just a handful of rooms that could be stormed from all directions and turned into a chakra-draining cell at a moment’s notice. As the name implied, they were only intended for dangerous nin detainees.

He waited until the Hokage dismissed the doctor and nurse so that they were the only ones outside the one-way mirror. Sound Muffling Technique, Loose Lips Technique, perimeter closed, all entrances covered, handsign Owl to check for Byakugan spies, none reported. “Lord Third. None in my team sent such instructions.”

“Nor did I,” Said Sarutobi Hiruzen, voice grim. “Certain people just can’t live without testing my patience, it seems.”

Shimura Danzo is playing with lightning. “Speaking of patience, is there a reason the man was not questioned while he was still loose-lipped from the sedatives?”

“He was, but all we got was slurring gibberish in one or more languages never heard of before. We weren’t even able to build a working cypher, never mind anything else. His claims to Crow were no mere boasts.”

That was all the Hokage said, choosing instead to watch the latest results of his meddling unfolding on the other side of the glass.

“-and then the Old Man actually said I ate too much ramen, can you believe it, he’s crazy I tell you!”

Laid out in his hospital bed, Masanari Hanzo was the very picture of despair looking to the heavens for strength.

Futilely. “Why are you looking at the ceiling, don’t do that, it’s creepy, believe it! I saw a funeral last week and the guy had his eyes open, they had to put coins on them and they kept sliding off and whoever-it-was kept goggling up at me, it was creepy, you’re not going to do the same when you’re dead, are you – wait, you’re not dead, right? Right? Hey don’t be dead, you can’t be dead, hey, NURSE HELP, HELP-“


Naruto shut up.

Masanari visibly sagged in exhaustion. “The Third is an asshole.”

What did he just say?

“Hey! Don’t diss the old man, what’s your problem?”

“You’re my problem.”

“Don’t start that again, you said we were good!”

“No I didn’t, I said I was rooting for you if you were serious about changing for the better. Foolishly, it seems, since I just got disappointed all over again.”

“What? Why? What did I do this time?”

“Got used as a pawn in old men’s power games,” the man said weakly. “At my expense. As usual.”

This man is dangerously perceptive.

“I-well… But… I finished the book!”

Masanari blinked tiredly, trying to sit up in bed and giving it up with a wince of pain. He just turned his head. “Kid… It’s, quite literally, been less than a day. Don’t you sleep?”

“I do so! I’m just quick, duh.”

“You’re certainly quick to drain the last of my life, you little vampire.”


“This is what I get for not squeezing a promise out of you,” Masanari said weakly, eyes drifting shut. “Shame on me for wanting to believe in you, I guess.”

Hound felt that like a blow to the heart, how must it be for Naruto just now? Or the Third, even?

Naruto opened his mouth, closed it and looked dejectedly at the colouring book he had in front of him.

Hound looked at the Third. The Hokage looked tense, even disappointed. Regretful, almost. No, no almost about it, he really-

“Come on, then,” Masanari gestured weakly. “Show me so you can go home already and let me suffer in peace.”

“… Well, fine then!” Naruto stomped over, looking away with all the fake bluster of a five-year-old orphan. “Here.”

Masanari managed not to fumble the book. He pulled it up and opened it at a random page. Then he blinked and looked at it. Flatly. “… It’s orange.”

Naruto rubbed the back of his head. Hound felt a pang. He couldn’t even tell if Naruto was smug or embarrassed.

“Kid, why is the turtle orange?”

The what?

“What’s wrong with orange?”

“What’s wrong is it’s wrong, you brat, Isobu’s red and grey.”


“Yeah, well… Orange is better!”

“Of course you’d say that, you-“ page flip. “Gyuuki too? Don’t tell me-“ flip, flip, more flips, then Masanari groaned. “All of them are-kid, why are you doing this to me? Is my hard work a joke to you?”

“Of course not! It’s not, mister, I promise, I did my best you know!”

“After I went through all the trouble of-oh, what’s even the use?” The man visibly gave Naruto up as a bad job, only to page to the very end of the book and become, if it was possible, the most aghast yet. “Kid, how the heck did you choose something other than orange for the only tailed beast that’s actually orange?

The what?

Naruto blinked, then frowned childishly. “What do you mean?”

“This, kid, this.” The man turned the book around to show the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox as a baby, what the hell- “Kurama’s supposed to be orange, not white.”

“Bullcrap! He can’t be orange, bunnies are white, everyone knows that!” Declared Naruto Uzumaki with all the absolutely wrong conviction of children everywhere-wait, what did he just call- “Wait, that’s Kurama?”

“Kid, I literally told you this and everything else, weren’t you listening? The story, you know? The one you demanded like an entitled brat? On the walk home when I spoonfed everything to you like a little baby?”

“I’m not a baby!” Naruto erupted in outrage. “And you talked a whole bunch, who’s gonna remember all that boring stuff? I just asked about the curse, not-hey wait, I’m not an etin-eli-etil- whatever you just said!” Naruto fumed. Then fumbled it. “… His name’s Kurama?”

Masanari dropped the book on the sheets and draped an arm over his eyes. “I’m surrounded by morons.”

“Hey! Now you’re just being mean again, I didn’t do anything this time!”

“You didn’t do anything right, that’s for sure.” Hound’s hands actually twitched with a very unfriendly impulse, did the man have to be so unkind? “No that’s not entirely fair.” The man picked the book back up and held it open one-handed. “Okay, I guess you did fine enough to stay within the outlines, and you even tried a bit of shading here and there, that’s not entirely horrifying to look at.”

“Well gee, mister, thanks.”

“Hey kid.”


“You can’t read, can you?”

Naruto opened his mouth, closed it and turned around in shame, hands clasped together behind his bowed head.

On the outside of the one-way mirror, Third Hokage Sarutobi Hiruzen had gone suddenly still.

Hound had too. Being able to read was a prerequisite for literally everything in Konoha, and being able to read by age 5 was mandatory to enrol in the Academy, how could Naruto not...?

“…I see.”

“I’m not stupid!” Naruto blurted, spinning around and sounding… not angry or even loud, more… desperate, almost. “I’m not! Missus Sujimi just said I can’t learn to read like other kids, it’s not the same thing!”

Missus Sujimi? Was that the matron of Naruto’s orphanage?

“Is that so?” Masanari Hanzo sounded eerily calm all of a sudden. “Prove it.”


“Prove it. To me. Right now.”

“How’m I supposed to do that? Should I bring her here or-?”

“Not that, kid. The other thing.”

“What other-that I can’t read?”

“That you can’t learn.”

Naruto mouthed silently, helplessly. “Wha… How’m I supposed to do that?”

Masanari looked to the heavens for strength all over again.

Then, painfully, painstakingly, he managed to pull himself to sit up in his bed despite that it left him a grimacing, pale, sweaty mess by the end. The man didn’t even try to speak, though, he just gestured to Naruto to…

Climb into the bed?

“Well, brat? I’m not gonna beg if that’s what you’re waiting for.”

“You don’t-I’m not! Don’t be like…” Naruto cut himself off, then, slowly, quietly asked “Is… is it really okay?”

“This once. Come on.”

Naruto hesitated, then climbed into bed where he hesitated some more on the very edge – Hound was worried he might tumble off for a moment – before Masanari literally hauled him over by the scruff and put his arm around him so he couldn’t run away. “This is ‘I’.”

Naruto didn’t reply. He was frozen stiff with eyes wide.

“Kid, repeat after me. This is ‘I’.”

“T-th-this is ‘I’”

“Just the letter is fine. Let’s do another one, this is ‘S’.”

“S,” Naruto squeaked.

“Good. Now this one is ‘O’.”

“O,” Naruto mechanically repeated, still frozen stiff.





Masanari was sliding his fingertip over the paper now. “I-So-Bu.”

“… I-So-Bu.”

“Isobu, the Three-Tailed Giant Turtle”

“I-So-Bu,” Naruto sounded out a few more times. “Isobu.” Suddenly, Naruto seemed to snap out of his state all at once and put his hand on the page. “Wait, so, so, this is ‘I’, that’s what you said, right?”

“Yep, good job.”

Naruto didn’t seem to be listening anymore though, instead turning one, two, three, four pages. “Like here? This is I too, right?”

The man blinked, but rolled with it. “That’s right.”

“Huh. Hey, hey, so this is another U right? Right?”

“That’s right, kid.”

“Wow… That was easy.” Naruto was so honestly surprised, it was just- “So what are these other ones?”



“Gyuu-ki. Gyuuki.”

“Gyuu-ki, Gyuuki! And he’s got-” Naruto started counting on his fingers. “Eight tails! So he’s the Eight-Tailed Giant… Octopus Guy?”

“Far as I know, he calls himself an ox. The sage apparently named the beasts for their heads, mainly.”


Yes, really? How the hell would he know that? Actually, how the hell would Masanari know any of this? Was he making it all up?

“But-but then shouldn’t the Nine-Tails be a rabbit?”

“That’s the question, isn’t it? Between you and me, I think the Sage was growing blind and senile in his old age, he sure didn’t get it right with his human kids either.” What. “So, think you can guess what sound this letter is?”

“T, duh, for tails, that’s what the word is right?”

“Hmm…” From above Naruto’s head, Masanari Hanzo was looking at the little boy with a very calculating sort of air. “So, which would you like to learn next?”

“I can pick?”

Why did he sound like it was the nicest thing anyone ever did for him?

“Sure, go ahead, pick one.”

Naruto stuck out his tongue, then turned a few pages back and- “This one! There’s T and U and then?”

“Hmm, that’s ‘R’.”

Hound watched in increasing bewilderment as Naruto paged back and forth seemingly at random as they got through A, then C, K, M, then he went through R and U all over again, before Naruto turned even more pages until he was all the way to the end. “Then this is an R too! This one here, right?”

Bizarrely, Masanari Hanzo now looked half-way between reluctantly impressed and homicidal. “That’s right.”

“I got it!” Naruto cried triumphantly. Then, as if it wasn’t the motherlode of all learning achievements, he began to sound out, then syllabise, then read his first unaided word just four minutes into what was apparently his first reading lesson. “K-u-r-a-m-a. Ku-Ra-Ma.” Naruto grinned. “Kurama!” The word resounded in the hospital room like it was Naruto’s greatest accomplishment ever, the foremost milestone of his life, the most important thing in his world. “Kurama. The Nine-Tailed Demon… Bunny!” Then Uzumaki Naruto snickered and began to guffaw, freely, heartily and long.

When he was finished, Naruto gladly complied when the man told him to puzzle out the colours he’d written just below the names.

And Masanari Hanzo slowly, meaningfully raised his gaze and sent it right at them.

Hound tensed. The man’s eyes weren’t trained on either of their faces, or even where they actually stood in that room. But he either knew or suspected someone was there. He’d deduced the wall’s nature as a one-way mirror.

Hound tried to think from his perspective. If he were a civilian in the know about the Kyuubi, never mind everything else about Naruto, what would he make of the fact that he was alone in a room with the boy? Again. Against his explicitly stated wishes. After nearly being assassinated. Possibly.

The first words I heard out of Masanari Hanzo’s mouth were to call the Third Hokage an asshole. “I’m starting to understand why he vexes you, Lord Hokage.”

“I doubt we know the half of it.”

Is that so?

“Hound, walk inside with me. You may use any means of dissimulation you like, but I want him to see you.”

So he could obscure his mannerisms, voice, even chakra so long as he was visible. “As you say, but may I ask why?”

“Just something I want to check,” the third put out his pipe. “And perhaps to make a point.”

“He seems to have gotten your point quite thoroughly.”

“He’s not the one I’m making it to.”

Naruto then?

The answer, it turned out, was neither.

“Lord Third.”

“Old man!” Naruto jumped off the bed. “Old man, Old man, look what I can do!” Naruto all but pushed the book at the Third, open at what looked to be… a double page picture of the nine tailed beasts looking like little babies surrounding a man, what was this he didn’t- “Hag-Or-Um…“ Naruto trailed off, turned the book back around, mouthed a dozen syllables, then shoved the double-page at the Third again and said “Ha-Go-Ro-Mo Oo-Tsu-Tsu-ki!” His triumphant words settled eerily in the room, somehow, but Naruto didn’t seem to feel it. “That’s the name of the Six Paths Sage, believe it!” Say what? “I can do it, I can read, I can so read, see? I’m gonna prank Missus Sujimi so bad, telling me I can’t read, I’m not stupid, she’s stupid, I’m gonna prank her a whole three times!”

It said something about everyone that not even the Hokage said anything against Naruto’s vow of retribution. Being able to read by age 5 wasn’t just a prerequisite for the Ninja Academy, but also for having your own place to live in, even when the Hokage was your sponsor. Either the woman had lied or someone else had lied. For what purpose, Hound couldn’t be sure, but he bet on sabotage. There’s certainly a lot of that going on lately.

“No you won’t, Naruto,” Masanari said.

Correction, almost everyone didn’t say anything.

“What? Why not? She deserves it!”

“And do the other orphans deserve the splash damage?”

Naruto opened his mouth, then closed it.

… That was, quite honestly, impressive.

“Glad to see you’re not completely hopeless.”


“I’m sure the Third can handle Missus Sujimi without breaking the kids’ stuff and potentially getting them killed like you did some people in this room.”

“Hey! I only did that to you!”

The silence was long, damning and positively mortifying.

“… I think I’ll shut up now, Old Man, can I go home?”

The Third, damn him, still hadn’t finished milking this poor cow. “Let’s see what Mister Hanzo has to say.”

Masanari gave the Third a deadpan look, then switched back to Naruto. “Go on, kid, remember our deal next time an old man decides to use you in his schemes. Now go hide under your bed for the next few weeks.”

Naruto gasped. “How the heck did you know I was gonna do that!?” The silence, somehow, was even worse this time. “I mean I’m not… Gah! You suck! Old man, where’s Crow? Crow! I need to go home, quick, where is that bird guy!?”

The Third chuckled. “Crow.”

Shisui of the Body Flicker body flickered into the room in a flicker of movement.

“Crow, CROW, quick we gotta get aWAAAaaaaaayyy…”

The door opened and closed with an echoing afterimage.

And in the quiet that followed, Masanari Hanzo looked between the Hokage and Hound and spoke first. “I’m guessing my rescuer’s visible for a reason?”

The Third’s fingers twitched. Scan Perimeter.

Refresh Sound Muffling Technique, recast Loose Lips Technique on all three, perimeter secure, all access ways covered by team, handsign Owl to check for Byakugan spies, none reported. “Clear.”

The Third looked at the civilian that had just nearly died, by what may well have been poison, possibly ordered by the only man in Konoha that had ever defied the Hokage’s will and lived to do it again. Maybe. “Now, Mister Masanari, you may speak freely.”

“Alright then.” Masanari Hanzo looked from the Hokage to Hound and said. “Hatake Kakashi, right?”

If he wasn’t already, Hound might have frozen. “Well now, you’re quite informed, sir.”

“Not really. You’re the one who saved my life after Kurama’s rampage, sniffed me out of the wreckage. I recognized your dog.”

Hound twitched between relaxed and tense. The man had finally said something that was actually reasonable, but then went and called the Kyuubi by… its name? It really had a proper name? “Ah, you don’t need to thank me for that, I was just doing my duty as a Konoha ninja.”

“Nevertheless, I am thankful for both today and back then, even if I wasn’t at the time.”

That was quite the disclosure, was it a peace offering? A secret for a secret? He could work with that. He raised his hand to his mask. “… By your leave, then, Lord Third?” The point you wanted to make was for me, wasn’t it?


Hatake Kakashi took off his mask to reveal… another mask! “Yo.”

Masanari’s lips twitched like when you were the only one in on some inside joke or- “An illusion ninjutsu like the Loose Lips, right?”

That… Kakashi just… he had no words. Briefly, but still. “I’m starting to see why Crow frets over you so much.”

The man’s expression shuttered.

“Please don’t hold Shisui’s latest actions against him,” the Third spoke now, and what actions were those? “He was only acting out my will.”

Brazenly, Masanari had the gall to turn openly disappointed. “And that’s supposed to be better? Instead of just one kid’s social blunder, now it’s moral failure for him, moral failure for you, moral failure for whoever got his way over you, failure of leadership if you actually meant it when you said this isn’t the sort of village you’re trying to run, moral failure for Konoha as a whole, policy failure on top of that, operational failure for literally everyone involved, a complete and utter waste of time, and for what? A little heartbreak and a lot of panic for me by putting me at even more risk of tragic suicide in the near future? In what world does ‘just following orders’ ever make anything better?”

Kakashi crossed his arms and leaned against the wall with deceptive casualness. He’d have the man by the throat if not for the Hokage’s signal not to. “Ma, that’s a bit harsh, don’t you think?”

“I have literally nothing left to give that you haven’t already ransacked.” That… “What more could you possibly want from me?” That… really was the core of the issue, wasn’t it? He was wrong though. He still had his mind.

The Third did not reply.

And as the quiet stretched, Masanari’s disappointment curdled into a resignation so deep and raw that Kakashi felt like someone had just died. The man slumped in his bed, looking blankly at the ceiling, grim and silent.

The Third glanced at Kakashi. “Summon Doctor Hirano back, please.”

Kakashi signalled to his team, who made short work of escorting the earlier medic into the room in the space of two minutes spent in complete silence.

“Mister Masanari.” Healer Hirano bravely broke the tension, as was her assigned role. “The last results are in. We can go over them now, unless you’ve changed your mind and would rather rest?”

Masanari’s gaze passed over all three of them with that same resigned air, before he settled on the woman and proceeded to pretend like the Hokage and Kakashi didn’t exist. “No, go ahead. Anything that can get me discharged as soon as possible.”

“Very well. The first major issue is your kidneys.” The healer talked Masanari through the same report she gave the Hokage earlier. It took several minutes, during which the man managed to rebuild some of his composure, to his small credit.

The Third motioned to Kakashi to join him to the side and wrapped them in another muffling jutsu while that was going on. “I think we might have to revisit the matter of the staff at Naruto’s former orphanage, since they clearly have lost their touch if they lied about Naruto’s competence and mislabelled him as word blind.”

“You suspect sabotage as well?”

“After what we just saw? Definitely.”

Kakashi had to agree, Naruto had been haphazard throughout everything, but still learned the letters and managed to read many of the words on that book after a single instruction session. Lasting less than ten minutes. “Should I begin immediately?”

“No, I think I’ll have young Hawk use it to unwind.” Good luck, Itachi. “I have a different mission for you.”


But the Third didn’t enlighten him, instead dispelling the muffling technique and returning to their prior positions just in time for healer Hirano to finish her summary. “– the matter of your reaction to sedatives. You woke up twice on the operating table, we had to up the doze twice to keep you under. If you possess any insight into the cause, it will allow us to tailor your recovery regimen better. I will say upfront that you need it, even though you have surprising vitality for a civilian.”

Masanari shrugged. “Just the usual stuff. I’ve got green eyes so I’ll live longer, red hair means I’m a bit more resistant to stuff trying to put me under, but only about 20% or so. The only other thing is that I won’t go bald or grey, my hair will turn form red to blond and then blonder and blonder until it turns snow-white. That’s about it really.” Said the man as if he hadn’t just listed the traits that made even Uzumaki civilians famous. “I do have a question though.”


“Have you ever measured Naruto’s synaptic firing rate?”

It took a few seconds for everyone to adjust to the new and so unexpected change in topic. Finally, the healer opened her mouth, then closed it and looked at the Hokage questioningly. At his nod, she shook her head and replied. “I’d have to check his file to be sure, but I don’t believe so, no.”

The Third wouldn’t leave it at that though. “You have a theory?”

“Not me, I just saw it written somewhere, about… huh, has it really been ten years? Don’t remember who came up with it. I’d completely forgotten about it, but then I saw Naruto magically learn basic reading in ten minutes just by tackling it like a puzzle-solving problem. Couple that with how fast he gets bored and, well, we might be looking at innate cognitive partitioning. Lots of it.”

Healer Hirano blinked, then produced a notepad and pen and began to take notes. “I’ve only heard about that with very high-level ninja, and never more than two independent thought streams. Even then, they are not very popular because they come with the risk of multiple personality syndrome.”

But the technique did work best when triggered at a very young age. The healer was wrong though, it was possible to develop a second inner self spontaneously. Still, she was correct on the limitations and drawbacks.

“You think Naruto has an inner self?”

“No – well, maybe if he has to put on a front for much longer, but that’s got nothing to do with this, and two independent thought streams? Try a hundred simultaneous ones. But again, you’ll have to test his synaptic rate to be sure.”

This was very big news, if true.

The Hogake agreed. “And if it does prove accurate, what would you suggest?”

Masanari eyed the Third cautiously. Mistrustfully, even. It made Kakashi feel offended on the Third’s behalf.

But the Hokage just let it go. “Mister Hanzo, please believe when I say that I only have Naruto’s best interests at heart.”

“I want to believe that, really, but every time I get close you force us into the same room together and I have to do my best not to tell Naruto to turn your face on the mountain into a clown.”

The utter balls on this civilian nobody.

“Ah,” the Third adjusted his hat. “I wasn’t trying to be especially subtle with that, I admit.”


How much more disrespect was the Hokage going to tolerate?

“Nevertheless, I would like an answer. If Naruto’s mind works… differently, let’s say, how would you deal with it?”

The man sighed, but at least gave it some thought before replying. “I can tell you what I’d recommend regardless.”

“Please do.”

“Emphasise puzzle solving. And puzzle building. Everywhere. Maybe make tests out of it, even with him doing the testing – long as it’s not on me. Encourage his situational awareness while you’re at it, maybe his unique situation gave him enhanced senses? The higher the input processing the better. Now that I think about it, Kurama has historically been provoked by places of intense negative emotion, maybe Naruto can sense some of that?” The Kyuubi has historically what? “I can’t imagine he’d keep bugging me if he didn’t know with absolute certainty that I’m not like all the other reindeer.” All the other – could this man not speak in riddles? “Anyway, the more unique parts involved, the better. Traps, ambushes, architecture, mechanical contraptions-“

“Like your various machines and inventions?”

Hanzo grit his teeth at the interruption, visibly forced himself to bite back three different answers he wanted to give, then levied the Hokage with a look that was practically seditious. “Do you want Naruto’s whole childhood to consist of him being foisted on other people against their will?”

Kakashi uncrossed his arms and pushed back from the wall he was leaning on.

“I suppose not,” was all Sarutobi Hiruzen said in reply.

“Naruto and I have an arrangement. It’s important to him. And it’s very important to my sanity and my willingness to have anything to do with him. Ever. Unless you want me to crack and turn into yet another mad scientist, and unless you lied to me just now and to him in every last of one of your past interactions, you will no longer interfere.”

Kakashi almost needed the Third to physically stop him from manhandling the man into proper behaviour. Almost. But the fact the Third still barred his path with a hand showed he hadn’t been discreet enough without his mask on.

“Understood.” Wait, how could the Hokage just-? “I will cease meddling on that front. Now, was there anything else?”

The man had the nerve to act surprised, but then again Kakashi was too, the Hokage was being far more reasonable that he deserved. “Anything else? About what?”

“That you would recommend for his development.”

For a wonder, the insufferable civilian looked every bit as unbalanced as Kakashi this time. “… I guess… maybe teach him a second language? Or just expose him to it, immersion always works better. Or multiple ones, he might be able to pick them up without it all turning into a jumbled mess. And if you have a logographic writing system buried somewhere, see if you can get him interested.”

“I’m sorry, what was that last one?” The Third asked well before Kakashi could get over his marvel at the sheer deluge of pertinent suggestions being made.

“Logographic writing, like when the characters represent concepts or things, instead of sounds. Like Kanji, you know.”

“… I’m afraid I don’t, in fact, know,” the Hokage said dryly. “What is this Kanji you speak of?”

Masanari blinked in complete astonishment. “Wait, really? You don’t-? I mean, I don’t really use it, I can only recall a few symbols off the top of my head, but I can write them down if – okay, thanks.” Hano accepted the notepad and pen from the Healer and quickly jotted down a few symbols, which he then showed them and – and there was the other shoe. “Like these. This basically means day, but it can also mean sun or sunshine depending on the context, I think… Why are you looking at me like that?”

This time it was the Hokage that treated Masanari to deadpan incredulity. “Mister Hanzo. This is seal script. Fuinjutsu.”

“What, really?”

Yes. Really.

Then the man had the audacity to shrug like that was no great revelation. “Well, I only know them as Kanji. It’s just something my grandparents taught us. Never did anything with them, but my grandfather insisted it was important to know. Then again, this is the system used by Archaic Nifon, which all your techniques are called in, even by other countries that seriously shouldn’t all talk the same.” The man then proceeded to go off on a muttered tangent about war, culture, and language drift that went entirely over Kakashi’s head.

And everyone else’s too, apparently.

“Mister Masanari, I think I’ll take a page out of your book on this one and use my plainest speech.” The Third took his hat off, handed it to Kakashi and walked over to stand next to the bed. “Are you or are you not of the Uzumaki Clan?”

It was supposed to be a way to throw the man off, but Hanzo just looked at the Third in disbelief. “Shouldn’t I be asking you lot that? I don’t imagine you haven’t had DNA tests done by now. I was going to ask about them after, well, I found out if I was leaving this room alive. Or at all.”

Kakashi had to take care not to clench his fists, partly at his own conflict over those options, but mostly at how clearly the Third’s composure faltered at hearing them. There were very few things guaranteed to break Sarutobi Hiruzen’s self-control, and the worst was seeing Konoha’s people take injustice for granted.

“Ma, Mister Hanzo,” Kakashi asked deceptively mildly. “Are you doing that on purpose?”


The Third’s cold call brought him to a halt.

So I misread that, huh?

“Excuse me,” Healer Hirano, shockingly, broke protocol. “I’m sorry, Sir Anbu, Lord Third, I mean no disrespect-”

“No, no, Doctor, I was just about to ask the same thing, I’m sure.”

“… I’m completely lost,” Masanari bluntly admitted, the man really had no shame at all, did he?

Healer Hirano wasted no time in enlightening him. “By DNA testing, what did you mean?”

Masanari Hanzo was not enlightened. At all. In fact, he looked the complete opposite. “… You don’t know what DNA is.”

“Sir, if you could-“

“DNA. Deoxyribonucleic acid. You’ve never heard of it.”

“It may be a case of diverging terminology.”

“DNA, Deoxyribonucleic acid, the self-replicating substance found in every living organism from moss to starfish and the hairs on top of your head, the main component in our cell nucleus, the stuff making up the chromosomes and holds all the instructions on how to build and maintain a living organism, the 3.2. billion building blocks of life, that DNA.”

Utter silence.

Healer Hirano, Hatake Kakashi, and the Third Hokage of Konohagakure watched with very mixed feelings as a civilian nobody looked at them like he had never seen creatures like them before.

Then Masanari Hanzo slowly, soulfully put his face in his hands and said “This explains so much.”

No it doesn’t, Kakashi huffed mentally.

He refused to think the others didn’t feel the same.

“Holy shit, people!” Masanari suddenly exploded, and it was just like the man to explode over something that left Kakashi just as hand-tied- “How demented even is science in this world? This was discovered a hundred years ago! I thought you went over everything we brought with us when we moved here, how did this not – don’t tell me Orochimaru went and did genetic testing without actually knowing genetics? Those poor – hundreds of kids at once and they all died because he didn’t even – or did he? Did he know but still go and – oh my god, Orochimaru of the Sannin is an uneducated swine, I can’t even…”

… I can’t either, Kakashi thought dumbly. Orochimaru. Uneducated. Swine. In the same sentence.

From somewhere to his right, the Healer’s voice pierced the haze around Kakashi’s disbelieving thoughts, sounding honestly strained. “... Perhaps Lord Orochimaru just neglected to share?”

‘Neglected?’ What, like forgot? What were the odds of that? Try ‘refrained,’ maybe.

Actually, that sounded just like the man, to rediscover important lost knowledge and keep it to himself. How long had Orochimaru actually been a traitor for, before he forced the Third’s hand?

And how in the world was this coming up now? Here?

… Then again, considering who might have placed the poison…

“Fuck, the way your magic works just pisses me off sometimes, so goddamn much.” Laboriously, Masanari pushed himself to sit and gestured to the doctor. “Give me that pad. I don’t have materials on it, I lost pretty much everything with my house, but I can write down what I know. It won’t be much, just the core stuff I can remember, it’s not my specialty. But I still want my name on the research paper, you hear me woman?”

“Yes!” The flustered healer replied automatically. “Yes, of course, I-I’ll have some better stationery brought down?”

“Down? Are we underground? This hospital doesn’t – what am I saying, of course it does, I assume for…” Hanzo paused. “I’m in a holding cell right now, aren’t I? Figures, it’s always the victim that gets shafted around here.”

Watching the random civilian furiously stabbing his invaluable knowledge into the poor healer’s notepad, Hatake Kakashi didn’t know if he should commend or strangle the man.

In the end, he couldn’t do either. The Hokage said so. Because the man wasn’t a ninja. Apparently.

It said everything that needed to be said when Kakashi couldn’t decide if that made him glad or perversely angry at not being allowed to discipline him.

Then, finally, Masanari finished jotting down whatever he was jotting down – the man’s shorthand was just as annoyingly sharp and precise as the rest of him – and it looked like this whole situation was finally over.

“Mister Hanzo,” the Third said apropos of nothing. “I want you to know that I’m taking your case very seriously.”


“I will personally ensure all threads are pulled, there seem to be very high profile interests involved with your situation, unfortunately.”

“That’s very nice and sinister of you to say.”

“As such, I’m assigning you live-in security while investigations proceed. Kakashi here will be living with you for the duration.”

… Wait what?

No. Kakashi couldn’t have heard – surely it was a jest at Masanari’s expen-

I have a different mission for you.

… The Third Hokage was not the God of Shinobi, he was a demon.

Going by the look on Masanari’s face, his civilian partner in suffering felt the exact same way. “Lord Third, do you know the concept of lèse-majesté?”

“Not in whatever language that was, no.”

Je suis un saint, vous êtes un troll, I’m going to throw Naruto at Cyclops over there every chance I get just because, how about that, did any of that make sense to you?”

“… Only the tone.”

“Good, because I want it to be a complete surprise when I say this.” So declared, the man handed the pad and pen back to the healer, ignored her fretting about how he shouldn’t be straining himself, hauled himself to sit on the side of the bed, and then, using all the force in his feeble arms to hold himself upright, Masanari Hanzo spoke down to Sarutobi Hiruzen and told the man, completely seriously:

“This is why Naruto likes me more than you.”
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Well-known member
Depending on how that Uzumaki ancestry thing works out whats the value of family compared to a very thematically and personally relevant coloring book anyway?
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Great chapter. Really loving the way this story is turning out so far. Hanzo’s attitude is hilariously effective at driving home the inherent contradictions of a shinobi village.

Wonder how Hanzo is going to continue his plasma experiments with Kakashi hanging around. Then again, given the way the last one turned out, he’d probably be putting those on hold anyway. It’s a bad idea to repeat the experiment without enhancing his kidneys first (somehow), and he still has plenty to concentrate on between his maybe-ensouled hand and his maybe-parasitic chakra network.

Also, typo:
could this man not speak in ridles?
riddles (and maybe italicized “not”)
Chapter 7: The Principles of Holistic Care

Karmic Acumen

Well-known member
A/N: This and one more to go, then it's Sasuke's Party.

Chapter 7: The Principles of Holistic Care

“-. November 1, 5 ANB .-“​

The first thing I did when I got home was grab my van de Graaff generator.

And I mean that literally. I turned it on, grabbed the dome and just sat there holding it, hoping my little hunch, the only thing left over from my trip down DNA lane, wasn’t just wishful thinking.

It wasn’t.

As the tingle of static electricity began filling me, I could literally feel the cells in my right hand become more alive again, more aware with every second that passed. The plasma bodies were absorbing the energy. Practically feeding on it. Though maybe ‘feel’ wasn’t the right word, I just knew. Knew more and more of what was going on at cellular level and further until I could actually distinguish between what I knew and what I was feeling again. I hadn’t imagined it. Not what happened, and not what happened in response to what happened.

My cells had gained their own souls.

And my chakra circulatory system proceeded to eat them.

Was still eating them.

Really slowly, though, thankfully. My chakra pathway system was apparently complete shit, even now that my chakra capacity was nearly half again as large as it used to be. Since chakra did follow something resembling the law of conservation, this did not fill me with elation. Now that I had something to compare against my steady decline in biological self-awareness of the past few days, my lack of elation was rapidly shifting into worry. Increasingly so as my subconscious biological processes became more and more known to my conscious mind again, the more the cells in my hand regained their subtler bodies. It was… a lot for a single train of thought to handle. But my hand seemed to do a lot of the self-assessment thinking all by itself. My cells too, as if they suddenly had their own information processing capability. Beyond just the automated metabolic processes anyway. It was strange.

I wonder if that's what having Naruto’s brain would feel like. Naruto’s mind probably worked by simultaneous multi-threaded problem-solving. But since nobody got around to teaching him problem-solving, all those thoughts were idle. And idle hands are the devil’s playground, and all that. His own mind was wearing him out. Like my own body almost wore me out.

First, take stock.

I’d been brought home at mid-day. All my neighbours had seen. I had to be carted over again, so everyone knew I’d suffered some new sort of health problem. Mercifully, Kakashi had pulled his own ‘I’m a civilian nobody’ henge like Shisui had before him. Not so mercifully, this still left a lot of leeway for wagging tongues.

“Hey, Hatake.”


“How do you feel about D-rank missions?”

“Hmm?” Kakashi asked from where he was slouched against my wall reading porn. “You said something?”

Who the hell do you think I am, Gai? “Either that or our difficulty in finding common ground might force me to throw Naruto at you.”

“Now now, no need to do anything rash. What did you need, oh honourable host?”

“I want to know how far you’re willing to go to accomplish your mission. Are you here to satisfy the letter of your orders, or their spirit?”

Kakashi tucked his book away. “Well, it’s as you said. We live in a shinobi village.”

Don’t complain about trading my freedom for my safety, is that it? That I had no say in this was what stung the most. “Am I your mark here or your client?”

“Well, it’s an unusual situation.” Translation, that’s not up to you. “But by the spirit of the mission, you’re the client.”

“Then we have terms to discuss.”

“I suppose so.”

It turned out that the Third gave me pretty much complete leeway on how I wanted this handled, in the same way as a high-profile client would have on mission terms. Of course, he also gave Kakashi full permission not to volunteer this information, or any information I didn’t ask about, which was the kind of rules lawyering I’d come to expect from ninja. Fortunately, the man didn’t seem to consider my terms too egregious. He understood that I didn’t have the sort of reputation or lifestyle that would justify him playing the role of random renter or visiting family (of which I had none). Conversely, his priority was my continued and unspoiled survival, so he was against anything that jeopardised that, like having too many walls between us. That said, he didn’t argue as hard as I feared when I pointed out that I was fairly well known in my neighbourhood for my disdain of freeloaders. Something that would be doubly true now that I was under doctor orders to take it easy.

“I do see what you’re saying,” Kakashi said mildly. “Still, I won’t be able to protect you properly if I’m distracted with menial tasks.”

I looked at the medium. It was silent now, the Tesla coils and electrodes inactive, the dust long since settled. But the sealant had held well and none of the argon had escaped, or been diluted with ingoing air. The lack of plasma life made me feel a pang of sadness, but I consoled myself with the knowledge that most of them had left the medium when they entered me, and no new ones would have been created afterward, even before the Anbu shut everything down out of consideration for my power bill. I could still feel the plasma bodies, even individually if I focused, more and more as the plasma cell bodies replenished. I could even feel Yemo again now, though his presence was less a ball and more a long thread linking my brain to my palm, like the branch of a tree unable to produce its own sap. He was completely fused to the nerve now, the semblance of autonomy he’d exhibited in the medium was gone. Maybe it was never there and I really was just projecting. Or maybe it was just sleeping. I did fancy I could still find its potential there, somewhere.

Still, I’d come to reassess my assumptions about plasma cell autonomy and sentience in the past few days. That was why I wanted to keep away from the medium for my next experiment. “How about only seemingly menial tasks that actually need your personal touch?”

The man’s single eye studied me carefully. “For example?”

“For example, an experiment that might prove that I wasn’t, in fact, poisoned. Possibly.”

Kakashi’s lone eye was studying me very intensely now. “Yes. Yes, I think I and the Hokage might be very interested in such a thing.”

“Great. Well, I’ll need to keep my distance for this one. Go ahead and turn on those knobs there, will you? The one over there, and that one. ” My hand began to tingle. The cells whose plasma sheathes had been eaten for chakra were gaining new ones as the ones left multiplied once again. Regretfully, I could feel the effect of my chakra system as it began to gorge on them too, for lack of a better word. The replenishment vastly outpaced the drain though, for now at least. “Okay. Now. Pull that switch.”

Hatake Kakashi tolerantly pulled the switch. The Tesla coils came to life. Kakashi watched them with some surprise, perhaps they reminded him of the chidori? Then he switched them off when I said. Moved on to the other at my direction. The electrodes came active next. Step by step, my experiment was recreated until new plasma life began to take shape in the miniature superstorm.

Only this time I didn’t approach.

Instead… “Right. Now, please approach the glass as close as you can without touching it.”

“Well, if you say so.”

The man did so.

Nothing new happened. Actually, a lot less than before happened. There was no wonder child, no grandiose surge in autonomy, no anomalous behaviour emerging from the primordial soup, no prodigal son. Just… plasma cells. Small ones. Like floating blue sparks. Nothing special about them. Well, beyond the fact that they existed and therefore challenged all assumptions about the true nature of life and its origin in the universe.

“Alright,” I said, mentally bracing myself. “Now touch he glass.”

Kakashi glanced wryly at me and touched the glass.

Nothing happened. The plasma cells just… whirled through the medium like before, riding the electrical currents and argon winds. That was it.

“Are you concealing your presence? Or whatever it is you ninja do…”

“Somewhat, my sort tend to do it subconsciously. Should I not?”

Your sort being Anbu? “If you would?”

Kakashi relaxed his hold on himself, but still nothing happened. Except, maybe, those handful of plasma cells that were near his hand might have lingered there in spite of the argon currents, it was hard to tell from this distance. Okay. “Now flare your chakra.”

Kakashi flared his chakra.

The plasma cells cowered.

I knew I shouldn’t project sentience on unicellular life, but it was the first word that came to mind. The moment Kakashi flared his chakra, the plasma cells closest to his hand combusted and the rest shot away like...

I remembered one of those magic tricks that aired on TV after cartoon shows about magic. Someone would take a bowl of water and sprinkle pepper powder on it. Then they would rub their fingertip on a bar of soap under the table. When they stuck their finger in the water, the pepper would pull away as if running away all the way to the edges. The plasma cells reacted exactly like that.

Even as simple as they were, they reacted with something practically indistinguishable from fight or flight instinct. I winced in sympathy, but this was an important data point. “Right. You can stop now.”

Kakashi withdrew his chakra and pulled his hand away. The gaze in his eye seemed more thoughtful now.

“For the next part we’ll need-“ an animal test subject with enough genetic overlap with humans. “A toad.”

Kakashi’s eye was flat. “A toad.”

What, would you rather deal with a rat? Actually, best not to give him ideas. This man found delight in seeing pre-teens suffer Tora. “Yeah. Think you can find one? There should be some on the property.” I wasn’t even being facetious, I’d had a lot of time to think about this over the past few days. “I can’t go flailing after them, I gotta take it easy for the next couple of weeks, doctor’s orders you know.”

Kakashi blinked lazily at me, then made a hand sign and disappeared in a puff of smoke.

I reluctantly took my hand off the van de Graaff generator that was the only thing staving off the death of my subtle body and, very slowly, approached the medium. I wondered if Kakashi had a shadow clone hidden somewhere, watching me even now.

Nothing happened until I got within a meter and a half, then the plasma cells began to behave like proper Anami.

I backed off.

The plasma cells… didn’t regress, exactly, but their behaviour didn’t progress in complexity either.

I was more literal about projecting sentience than I knew. Yemo’s development, it turned out, had not been completely spontaneous. I went through several theories, but the only explanation was that it had borrowed the cognitive processing capability from something else. Or, rather someone. Me. The aura body is real. I then thought of the complete lack of reaction to Kakashi, until chakra got involved. The aura body is real, except in ninja. But Kakashi wasn’t my only data point here either. I was even farther away when things started last time, but I still got Yemo. For a moment, I was very conscious of the nerve in my arm. For nothing to happen even when Kakashi was right there with his hand on the glass…

The idea that I was some kind of super special snowflake was considered and immediately discarded.

Did that mean Kakashi was the anomaly? Or maybe ninja in general had no aura at all? Well, for a given value of absence. Hiruzen and Orochimaru had a literal aura duel, or whatever it was called when you flared your chakra that way. And the Rinnegan could apparently pull out people’s ‘souls’, which were shaped like their bodies. For a little while there anyway. That all probably meant something more than artistic license.

Chakra is made of physical and spiritual energy, I thought. Supposedly. And what was spiritual energy? Experience? Clearly it wasn’t just a conceptual abstraction if it was material enough for chakra to literally feed on. Add to that how ninja stealth didn’t just mean being unseen and quiet…

I backed off until I could put my hand on the generator again. I thought I’d felt a very slight drop in my awareness of my hand in the short time I was separated from it, but I’d need to stay separate from it longer to be sure. For now, though, I was going to regenerate my Anami until I didn’t feel the difference in diminishing returns anymore. Or until I began to feel them spread beyond my hand, whichever came first. Wouldn’t want to have another bunch of cells be purified to perfection at the expense of everything else. I didn’t fancy going through kidney failure again.

Never mind what else might happen. My circulatory system had coped, but my lymphatic system had been well overtaxed. I was already making sacrifices on that front, the lymphatic system didn’t have a pump of its own, it only moved if you moved. Every moment spent sitting around waiting for my weird cell spirits to recharge was time I didn’t spend on ‘light physical activity.’

Kakashi reappeared with a small paper bag containing a tiny toad, a small toad, a not so small toad, an average toad, and under his arm there was a toad almost as big as my kitchen table.

“… Did you seriously go to the Forest of Death just to make fun of me?”

“You really take the fun out of life, sir.” A puff of smoke revealed the big ‘toad’ to in fact be a transformed tatami set, oh, I’d completely forgotten about that overdue delivery. “What’s the use of trying to make jokes when you just come up with even better ones on the fly?”

“Your pathos is noted,” I said dryly. “Next time, ask Naruto for pointers.”

“Ma, you like to live dangerously, don’t you Masanari?”

“Hardly. Naruto likes me.” Not that it had made a difference so far, but at least the kid couldn’t put me through anything worse than he already had. Much. “You can drop thee toads in the terrarium, except for that smallest one. Just drop that one on top of the medium over there.”

Kakashi did so.

Nothing happened.

Not until I stood up from my chair and got in range again.

The plasma cells became more coordinated immediately. I didn’t know if this was just a passive effect from being within a sapient’s aura, or if my expectations were exerting some sort of influence, like the quantum observer effect. Either way, the plasma cells evolved into Anami in the space of ten minutes until, finally, they began to gather beneath the toad. They didn’t form a mirror image like before, instead streaming up through the glass in fits and starts. All the while, the little toad remained unnaturally docile.

“Hatake, is that thing under genjutsu?”


Well, at least this was one variable that wouldn’t taint the experiment overmuch. “Brace yourself.”

The flesh and blood toad suddenly burped a croak.

Kakashi twitched. “What was that?” The ninja walked closer and bent forward for a better look. “My genjutsu was dispelled.” He made a hand sign.

“Ribbit.” The toad hopped off.

“Genjutsu doesn’t work?” Kakashi was in a different place between blinks, the toad pinched between two fingers. His other hand made the handsign again. “Genjutsu really doesn’t – no, not just that, my chakra can’t get in, I wonder…” He flared his chakra. Hard.


The tiny toad died.

“Good job,” I said dryly, because that was such a Naruto thing to do. “You scorched its insides, didn’t you?”

“I guess so. My apologies.” Hatake, morbidly, came forward to drop the dead toad in my hand. “I’ll use a lighter hand for the next one.”

“Your passion for the scientific method is appreciated,” I said in the same tone. “But maybe we can do my very time-sensitive and actually actionable experiment before we move on to others?”

“Ah, right. My bad.” Kakashi walked over to the terrarium. “Next smallest then?”

“If you please.”

Grab next smallest toad. Genjutsu. Drop animal on top of the medium. The Anami came together into a plasma funnel even faster than before, despite needing to multiply first. They were adapting to my aura faster? Or my aura was? Soon, they were streaming up through the glass into the little creature, just like before. And when Kakashi’s genjutsu broke again, the man was able to refrain from snatching it out of the air to do who knew what.

“So,” Kakashi said idly as we watched the little toad hop all over my workshop. “What now?”

“Wait for it.”

We waited for it.

Until, almost drunkenly, the little toad missed a landing, wobbled to its feet, blinked, opened it mouth and screamed.


Kakashi twitched. I flinched. Grit my teeth. Oh god, it sounds like a baby.

Mercifully, the toad ran out of breath. But it only gurgled something and then screamed even louder. “Uuuaaaaaaaaah!”

I couldn’t take it anymore. I let go of the generator and hurried over to pick it up… I didn’t know what I would even do but I just-

The animal flinched when I touched it, writing away on its belly, then on its side as it kicked its little legs in desperation, opening its maw wide to “Aaaaaaaaaaaaah!” The shriek was painful to my soul and my ears, holy shit, I knew frogs and toads screamed in self-defense, but I didn’t-


My tiny window shattered as Uzumaki Naruto smashed right through feet-first. “Cease and desist, evildoaAAAYE!” The kid belatedly realized just how high he was and shrieked all the way to being caught by the seat of his pants just inches away from the floor. “Yikes! That was close – hey wait! Put me down, put me down you villain – ack! A SCAERCROW! MUST BURN!” Naruto produced a matchbox out of nowhere and started throwing fire at Kakashi. “BURN, BURN YOU WRETCHED FIEND, BU-ungh!”

Kakashi dropped the kid on his face.

What the hell just happened? I thought dazedly. “… Naruto?” Where did he come from, how did he even aim that crash, my window was tiny, what, what’s with him and scarecrows – no, doesn’t matter, why was he here? “Naruto, what the heck are you doing here?”

“Mister! I’m not stalking! I wasn’t, I was just passing through and I heard screams and came as soon as I could, I couldn’t do nothing, you just came out of the hospital again, I’ll protect you, believe it!”



Naruto gasped. “What’s that, where-FROGGY!”

I watched numbly as Uzumaki Naruto completely forgot where and why he was in favour of running over to pick up the shrieking animal.

“What’s wrong, what’s wrong little guy, don’t worry, it’s gonna be okay, you’re just being stupid, what did you do to it, you Scarecrow!? No wait, I didn’t meant it little guy, I wasn’t yelling at you, there’s nothing to be afraid of, Mister Hanzo’s going to fix you right up, he’s great! He’s the smartest and kindest person in the world, you’ll see, he’ll make everything bett-“

That was when the black sludge began to seep out of its skin.

“Eh? Ew, EW, that’s gross!” Naruto held the still shrieking toad as far away from his face as he could. He didn’t drop it though.

I got up from my crouch. I watched Naruto helplessly. I felt at once frustrated and ashamed at his inadvertent condemnation of my character.

Kakashi was standing right next to me now, rigid. He hesitated. He showed no visible sign of it so I don’t know how I knew, I just did.

Then the man reached up and uncovered his sharingan, what the hell?

“I can’t see any chakra.” He muttered. “As admirable and attention-grabbing as it would be to find a way to give chakra to others, sir, I’m afraid it didn’t work. Of course, you might want to hire a ninja to have on hand next time you create a device that causes excruciating death to everyone not a ninja because they don’t have chakra to protect them.”

… That’s so far off base I can’t even-

“No, no, Froggy, what’s wrong, what’s wrong!? Mister Hanzo, Froggy’s sick, what should I do, what should I do?”

What should he do? What about the big fat ‘no idea’ I was trying to do just before he showed up out of nowehere – wait. “Naruto… What the heck are you doing here?”


“FROGGY! NO, FROGGY, DON”T DIE, YOU CAN’T DIE, Mister Hanzo help, help!”




In the end, I went with my mainstay. Straightforward honesty. “It’s my fault, kid. I gave it a cure that’s a lot more painful than the disease.” Namely life.

But of course Naruto couldn’t do the sane thing upon seeing me inflict torturous agony on another living being and instead looked at me trustingly. “But you can make it better, right? You make everything better, that’s what you do!”

Fuck my life. “Sometimes you can do everything you think is right and only end up breaking things more.”

“Like me and the urns?”

… Actually no, not this time. “Like a part of me healing too fast for the body to cope with all the bad stuff in need of throwing out.”

“Oh, so that’s what this is! It’s like when you had to make me sad to make my life better, I knew it!”

Go ahead and brutalize all my feelings at once, kid, why not?


Beside me, Kakashi had covered his Sharingan again at some point and was now watching me expectantly.

Just for that I’ll make him your problem whenever I get the chance. “Right,” I sighed and scooped Naruto up, sitting on my chair with him in my lap. The kid froze. Froggy kept screaming though, so Naruto promptly began to fuss over it again, uncaring of the black sludge smearing his hands and sleeves. “All we can do for now is wait. We can go forward from there.”

The screaming and writhing lasted for another ten minutes or so. But at the end of it, the toad was still alive. Breathing. Croaking. Blinking at us.

Not even five minutes later, it was eating.


“Here, Froggy, here, eat a bit more,” Naruto urged the little animal as he used the tweezers I scavenged out of my dead wife’s makeup kit to feed it spiders one by one. Why Naruto even had live spiders in a can on him I didn’t want to know, just so long as he kept his pranks out of my neighbourhood. “It ate it! Good Froggy, good boy, or girl or whatever you are, here, have another one, you’ll be alright, you’ll see, you’ll get your strength back and grow big and strong and we’re gonna have lots of fun together, it’s gonna be great!”

It’s already a full grown adult, but why should that matter? I huffed. I seriously needed something to distract me from the lingering memory of the horrible screams of agony I myself inflicted. “Naruto, what are you doing here?”

Naruto clamped his mouth shut and hunched around Froggy, all but vibrating in indecision. I ruffled his head. “Say it, kid.”

‘It’ turned out to be a veritable deluge of words and more words and Naruto repeatedly vowing that “I really wasn’t stalking this time, honest!” that I needed the kid to break down and repeat in bits and pieces before I finally understood just what he was trying to say.

When it was done, I was… surprised. Naruto had been ‘in the neighbourhood’ because he’d taken to passing through at least once a day to check on me. Apparently, seeing me end up in the hospital (again) had him convinced I was a fragile glass sculpture that needed care and protection. Sigh. I couldn’t even hold it against him, he really wasn’t stalking me anymore, and checking up on a loved one – fuck my life, the sequel – was the done thing after you nearly died on the operating table – and fuck Sarutobi Hiruzen too for patient confidentiality not being a thing. Naruto was worried about me, doing all he could to look out for me. But at the same time, he was actually living up to my hopes that he’d kept falling short of before. So now, when he finally didn’t fall short, when he finally showed all that consideration and restraint that the village people had bullied out of him… I looked at my shattered window. Well, a given value of restraint.

Baby steps?

I don’t want to do this, I thought despairingly. But I have to. “Good job, Naruto. I’m proud of you.”

There was a pause. An aborted sound. A hitch in the kid’s breath. Then I was holding a clingy pile of tearful child and frog that went from screaming in pain to screaming for air.

“Ob no, Fwoggy!” Blubbered the very literal snot-nosed brat in my lap. “I’b zorry, here, hab adother sbider.”

I rolled my eyes, pulled out my handkerchief and wiped his face of tears before holding it over his nose. “Blow that snot, you brat, you sound absolutely retarded.”

“Hey! Dat’s rude!” But the kid did as I said and smiled happily up at me when it was done.


“Ack! Oh no, Froggy’s sick again!”

No, it’s just pissed off. I thought dryly. But if it still has that much energy, I probably don’t need to worry about it dying anymore. It quieted fast this time though, and even accepted more of Naruto’s food until he was all out of spiders and asking me for the bugs I surely had ready because I apparently thought about everything.

Believe it.

“Scarecrow over there can help you,” I said instead. “He’s really an elite ninja you know.”

And just like that, it was now Hatake Kakashi’s turn to turn wide-eyed and panicked in the face of the star-struck enthusiasm of his tragically dead sensei’s legacy.

One down, a dozen more to go, I thought grimly as I absentmindedly stroked the toad that Naruto had abandoned in my lap. It didn’t scream or squirm, just stayed there docilely. Sorry little creature, but the scientific method must go on. I promise to treat you and any of your surviving future brothers and sisters in suffering as well as I can.
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Well-known member
So to confirm the Chakra is eating the Plasma and the Plasma is aggressively attacking the Chakra in response? Does that mean over time the Plasma is breaking down the Acharya and replacing it or is the Chakra jist eating it until its assimilated?

Is suppose its a matter of which is stronger to decide what happens between the two when in someone or thing.

A new Plastic Aura theory based alternative to the Space Alien Magic Chakra huh.
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