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Generated: Jun 09, 2019 5:55 AM
Post last updated: Jun 09, 2019 5:55 AM
Teach Your Children Well
Ranko Saotome Adopts Everyone
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Unlike her brother, Ranko had the sense to be careful around creepy old magic mirrors caretaken by weird old men.

Unfortunately when did the chaos surrounding her brother only ever affect him. Which is how she ends up staring at her own face in the stupid mirror and then somewhere else entirely.

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She's in a fairly bare stone room, lit by a single harsh light overhead. There's a few shelves with books, a desk bolted to the wall, a chair, and a bed. On the bed sits a boy, about seven years old, reading. He startles slightly when she suddenly appears in front of him.

"Where'd you come from?"

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"Tokyo. I'm Ranko Saotome, who are you?"

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"Don't have a name. Where's Tokyo? How'd you get in here? Are you a ninja?"

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"Tokyo's...I don't know where we are to compare it to. I looked in a magic mirror by accident. I'm not a ninja, I'm a martial artist."

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"Civilians aren't supposed to be here. Just ninjas. You could get in trouble."

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"I go lots of places I'm not supposed to be!" she assures him. "If civilians aren't supposed to be here why are you? You're a kid."

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"I'm a ninja! In training. I haven't graduated yet."

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"--And why don't you have a name?"

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"Because I'm gonna be ANBU, and ANBU only have code-names. Names form attachment, which is a weakness."

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"That sounds like something my dad would say."

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"You have a dad? What's a dad like?"

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"I dunno, mine's not normal. Having a dad is usually a good thing but mine's an idiot. We should get you out of here, if you're being raised by people who are like my dad."

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"I tried to run away once. Didn't get very far."

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"Well, you're a kid. I'm a grown-up and the second-best martial artist of my generation, I can get us out of here. And if I fail you can say I was kidnapping you and not get in trouble."

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He considers this for a few moments, then nods. (He's mostly loyal, but he wants to see stuff and run around and he's pretty sure he can practice on his own then show Lord Danzo that he's an awesome ninja who's ready to graduate right away, rather than putting up with class.)

"The door's locked," he says, "And there's an ANBU guarding me and the other kids. I can get her to open the door. If you're sneaky she might not notice you. And I know the route to the outside training ground from here..."

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"Is that likely to work or should I just punch a wall down?"

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"We might get attacked by lots of ninjas if you make noise. The halls are usually kinda deserted... And we're under a mountain."

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"I have sort of already broken two mountains! If getting to the training grounds doesn't work though they'll probably just take you back here and then I can try the punching, right?"

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"You can punch through mountains? You'll definitely be able to take the ANBU..."

He gets up and goes over to the door. "You should hide, so you can ambush her when she opens it."

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She leaps up to the ceiling and clings to it.

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This is not particularly surprising behavior from someone who can punch a mountain.

He knocks on the door and shouts, "Ms. ANBU! I need to use the bathroom!"

After a few moments, locks start clicking, and then the door slides open to reveal a woman dressed in body armor and a white mask with black animalistic designs. 

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And Ranko lets go of the ceiling, then blurs and vanishes.

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The ANBU doesn't spot Ranko, merely gestures for the boy to step out of the room.

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Ranko sneaks out, locates the training grounds, and waits.

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It's little more than a clearing in a small forest, surrounded by high mountain walls except a narrow pass.

It takes him a while, but he eventually convinces the ANBU that he should be taken out to train. He's getting better at presenting arguments.

Once night falls, she escorts him to the training ground, then stands back.

He glances around, looking for some kind of signal from his partner in running away.

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She leaps out of her tree-perch to the ground beside him, flashes a peace sign at the ANBU, scoops him up and bolts.

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He eeps and very carefully does not start giggling.

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The ANBU radios her superiors and then gives chase.

She's fast.

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Hm, that is fast. Might be better to take her out. And a little show of force while she's at it...

She deposits the kid in a tree and then darts back, throws a punch to demonstrate intent, and then starts dodging the ANBU's presumed counterattacks.

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The ANBU draws a tanto and counterattacks.

She's good, but not on Ranko's level. 

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And she will be led in a spiral if that's how her opponent dodges, yes?

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Yes, she will.

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And at the end of the spiral she punches upwards, triggering the spiral of her cold battle aura and her opponent's weird but still relevantly hot chi--

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And a twister springs into existence, not as strong as it would've been against someone really strong like Happosai or Saffron, but still totally a whirlwind.

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There, that should do it. Nice and visible, a clear warning, as well as carrying off her opponent and leaving her dizzy and dazed when she lands.

She darts back over to where she left the kid.

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He's still where she left him.

"That was cool! You're wind natured?"

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"What's wind natured?"

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"Like, elemental chakra natures. For using ninja techniques. I'm water and earth and wood."

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"Never heard of it."

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"Huh. We should get going, though, there's probably more coming."

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"You're probably right." She picks him up again and starts running. ...They should probably have a better idea of where to run to. She finds a tall tree, vaults to the top of it and looks around.

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They're on top of a large plateau between rising mountains behind them and a small ridge ahead. Beyond the ridge are the hazy lights of a small city or large town, some distance below. 

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Looks good! Townwards they go.

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He focuses, trying to sense if anyone's following them. He's solidly average in chakra-sensing, and they're cloaking themselves, but -

They're not being careful not to disturb the trees. He can almost feel it, every time their chakra interacts with the trees'. 

"There's a bunch coming. Dunno how many, or how close," he says quietly.

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"Ugh, I was hoping the tornado would've warned them off."

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"They'll probably be more careful. Attack in groups."

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"It's times like this I wish I had inherited my brother's fear of cats. If I put you in a tree again and beat them up are they going to try to grab you before I'm dealt with?"

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"Maybe. One might get me while the others fight. I can fight back, though. Why d'you want to be scared of cats?"

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"I'll explain later, suffice to say there's a powerful technique he can use that I can't that's related to the cat thing. What'll they do if we get to the town before they catch up?"

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"Dunno. Haven't been to Konoha ever. But ANBU are a normal sight I think."

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"Well. We'll see, then." She keeps going, leaping from tree to tree.

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The ANBU catch up when she's near the cliff. Four appear suddenly from the trees around her, two on either side.

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Ranko slings the kid around behind her, says, "Hold on to me," and brings up her hands and blasts one of the forward ones with a ball of blue chi imbued with confidence.

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Tetsuma clings.

The ANBU only half dodges, not expecting a seal-less attack like that. 

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He's stunned enough for her to tumble through the hole in the perimeter it leaves and take off again.

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The other three ANBU put on a burst of speed, two curving around her while one comes up behind. 

A few handsigns from the one to her right, and a series of small-ish fireballs go flying through the air towards her.

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Seriously?

She twists midair so they hit her and not the kid. They leave a little soot on her skin but leave her completely unharmed.

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It becomes clear that there's a throwing star in each fireball as they dissipate.

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Oh. Ow. She plucks them out of her skin and flicks them back.

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He dodges.

The ANBU on her left closes in suddenly, flashing through handsigns.

Her surroundings twist, colors melting into each other, world titling on its axis.

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Whoah, what the fuck? That is beyond trippy. She lets herself fall, so at least she won't be exactly where she was when this started. Can she still feel where her assorted body parts are relative to each other, the child on her back?

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Yup. 

"It's an illusion," he says, then, realizing she's struggling with it, pushes his chakra into her system, hoping to disrupt it enough to throw the illusion. 

Then: "Watch out!" There's a barrage of throwing stars and kunai aimed at where she's about to land.

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And then the trippy is gone and she grabs a branch and swings, balancing now on one hand, then jumps with that arm away from the tree and in the direction of the village.

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A poof of smoke, and there's an ANBU directly in front of her, sword drawn.

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She ducks under the sword, slams her foot into his solar plexus hard enough to stun someone who can take a firecracker to the face and find it merely annoying, and keeps going.

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Then she's at the cliff, overlooking the town below. There's no clear path down right where she's standing. To the right is a monumental face carved into the mountain, hints of others beyond it. 

The ground under her feet trembles slightly. 

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Obviously the answer here is to leap off the cliff.

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It's a pretty long drop, down to a narrow stretch of trees right next to a patch of buildings.

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That's fine, she'll just cushion her fall with another blue ball of confidence chi and then roll lightly to the ground.

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The ANBU are now running down the cliffside. 

Another three appear around her in puffs of smoke, different from the ones that had been following her before.

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Ugh, seriously?

She leaps off the ground again, hoping to jump right over their heads.

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Thin little slivers of light as needles go flying straight for her pressure points, wisps of fire obscuring most of them. 

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Yeah no she has no desire to go through another stupid weakness moxibustion thing. Thank you, Ku Lon, for the explicit instructions on plucking things out of other things before they can hurt you.

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One of the ANBU moves to where she'll be landing, while another leaps through the trees on an intercept course.

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She cheerfully lands on the Anbu, planting a foot in their face and bouncing off into another aerial arc.

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The other four reach the base of the mountain. 

An arc of lightning shoots at her from below.

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Nope she can't dodge lightning. Ow.

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The ANBU are slowly moving to surround her, being more cautious this time. Two dart forward, nearly blurring with speed, to engage her in close-quarters. One's wielding a blade crackling with lightning, the other dual knives.

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Close quarters is a mistake, her Amaguriken speed does not just apply to needles. Have a hundred punches to the face apiece.

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One goes reeling back, coughing, while the other - the one with the dual knives - almost dodges her, then blindly stabs at her stomach.

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Nope, you have lost knife-having privileges, Ranko will be taking those now.

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She falls back, then another ANBU jumps at her.

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This one can have a few hundred punches to the stomach. Ugh, these guys are persistent.

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This one turns into a cloud of lightning at the first hit.

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Unexpected and painful! She really hopes the kid isn't getting too much lightning here.

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A sphere of water goes flying at her at high speed.

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Deflected with blue chi-ball.

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The ANBU are definitely wary now. The two she punched have retreated; they're down to five, and other reinforcements don't seem to be coming. 

(The lightning user was apparently one of the ones she punched out, because that particular trick's yet to repeat).

Then a whisper across her mind, and something odd starts to happen - 

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Wait what happened to the kid what's wrong--

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He slumps, slides off her back - 

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And a suddenly too close ANBU slashes at her with his sword. 

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It was another illusion.

How dare they.

Have a suddenly really obtrusive, intense, angry battle aura, and a broken wrist.

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He falls back, but they've noticed she's vulnerable to illusions now, and her surroundings twist again, the ANBU all vanishing from sight and the trees moving nauseatingly.

The boy starts trying to help break the illusions, but they're multi-layered now, and he can't quite keep up.

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Fuck.

She shoots a blast of blue chi in a random direction, then bolts in that direction on the grounds that it probably doesn't at that moment have any ANBU in it. Rinse and repeat until she can see where she's fucking going.

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The illusion shatters suddenly, and an old man in white robes is standing there. The ANBU all stop suddenly.

"What," he says, voice deceptively mild, "Is going on here."

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"That's the Hokage, the village leader," Tetsuma whispers.

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"These guys were keeping a kid in a dingy room and he doesn't have a name so I not being terrible was getting him out of there but these guys objected because they're terrible."

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"Oh, is that so." He takes a closer look at the kid nervously peeking over her shoulder, and yes, that is definitely Senju Hashirama in miniature. To her, "Where was this?"

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"Uh, that mountain over there," she waves, "which I did not blow up because two is really enough when sneakiness works just as well."

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"Do you mind coming with me while we sort this out?" His tone is very friendly and grandfatherly and doesn't quite leave room for a refusal.

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"I reserve the right to punch you in the face and bolt if you turn out to be an asshole and/or grope me, but aside from that sure," she says.

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Chuckle. "Hopefully that will be unnecessary."

"And you all," he says, turning to the ANBU, "Will be answering some questions." He makes a gesture, and more ANBU, these in slightly more colorful, less creepy versions of the same masks, drop from the trees, surrounding Ranko's attackers. "Search for any others," he orders, and several of his ANBU shoot off up into the woods or up the mountain.

The ANBU who'd attacked Ranko offer barely any resistance while being escorted away.

He beckons another ANBU over, and says, quietly, "Inform Inoichi and Shikaku that they're needed in my office."

Then, to her: "This way, please." And he leads the way past the downed trees - luckily she mostly only damaged the forest around her, he intervened before she reached inhabited sections - to a squat red building. 

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She follows warily. She will notice if anyone decides to cheatily fuck with her head again.

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She doesn't notice anything on the walk over.

When they get to his office, he goes to sit at the desk with the enormous window overlooking the village behind him. "I have some questions for the both of you, though first I would like to know your name."

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"Saotome Ranko, of the Saotome school of Anything Goes martial arts."

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"And where are you from?"

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"Nerima, Tokyo."

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"And where is that?"

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"--Uh, the Kanto region?"

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" - Which nation?"

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"Japan? Obviously?"

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"I haven't heard of it. Can you place it on a map?"

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"--You're speaking Japanese right now. Oh well, I suppose this isn't any weirder than the Chardins. Sure."

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And he points her to a rather large map on the wall behind her.

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Slooooow blink.

"Uh, what is this a map of?"

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"The Elemental Nations."

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"...Are we somewhere in China?"

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"I also haven't heard of there."

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"Okay, well, this map doesn't have Japan on it. Or anywhere else I'm familiar with."

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"Hm. How did you discover the boy, and how did you arrive in the Elemental Nations if you're so unfamiliar with them?"

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"Accidentally looked in a cursed mirror."

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"...And what happened then?"

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"Found myself in the kid's room, if you can even call it that. More like a monk's cell, if you ask me."

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"Do cursed mirrors usually act as a means of teleportation?"

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"They're pretty diverse!"

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"And you saw the boy's conditions and decided to - remove him from the situation?"

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"No one deserves to be brought up by an organization of my dad!"

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Nod. "You have certainly done the village a service, exposing that - organization." Then, to the boy, "Can you tell me who your commander is? You won't get in trouble."

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"...We serve the Hokage. But - Lord Danzo passed on the orders."

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"And do you know where you're from? Who your parents are?"

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He hesitates a while, then: "I don't have any parents. I'm a clone."

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Nod. "Do you know how many others there are?"

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"Dunno. At least some other kids. Adults... I'd only ever seen three, two of the ANBU and Lord Danzo, before Ms Ranko rescued me."

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"We'll be sure to get this all sorted," he reassures the boy. Then, to Ranko: "Do you remember how many you fought total?"

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"Uh--there was the one I hit with the tornado, and then four more, and then--I have no idea which ones repeated, they were wearing masks and I wasn't paying attention to those. At least five for sure."

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"There is a chance we will need you to lead a contingent back to the base, if my operatives can't find it on their own."

There's a knock on the door, and he calls the people beyond in - two men, one blond and one brunet. 

"You called for us, Lord Hokage?" the blond asks.

"Yes. It appears Danzo is still up to his old tricks. These two are the ones who brought it to my attention. Shikaku, I would like an escort and temporary lodgings to be provided for them. Keep them together for now."

Then, back to the boy, "Do you have a code-name you prefer to use? Or a name for yourself?"

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"Um. I've used Naegi before, but I... Like the name Tetsuma. It's from a history book."

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"Tetsuma it is, then. Shikaku - "

"Already on it."

He nods, and turns back to Ranko. "I think that is enough for tonight. Do you have any questions for me?"

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"How do I fight that horrible illusion thing?"

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"The most basic way is pain, which will dismiss most lower level illusions. Higher level illusions require disrupting your chakra network, or being familiar enough with illusion techniques and your own mind to turn them back on their creator."

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"What's a chakra network?"

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"Chakra is the energy that flows in all things. In animals, it's concentrated in pathways between chakra points. Manipulating chakra is how most techniques are performed."

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"...So, basically chi, okay, that I can do."

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"If there's nothing else of concern, you two can go to settle yourselves in."

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"Thank you!"

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"Come with me, then," the brunet says, and motions them out of the door.

He leads them down the stairs, to a decent-sized lounge on the bottom floor. He steps inside, and walks over to a man in a green vest with spiky, grey hair and a headband pulled down over one eye. They have a quiet conversation, then walk back over to Ranko and Tetsuma.

"Maa, I'll be taking over from here. Name's Hatake Kakashi," says the grey-haired man. "There's some secure housing for diplomats and such nearby."

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"Fancy!"

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"Mmhmm. I'll be staying with you two, along with another escort who'll be joining us, in case anyone tries anything."

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"I appreciate it. Do you or the other one know how to do the illusion thing? I want to practice breaking it."

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"I do. Don't know who the other will be yet."

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"Cool!"

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So he leads them to a nice building near-ish the tower. The rooms in it are decently sized, and he's able to find a suite with a large living room that bleeds into a kitchen and two bedrooms off of it. Neither bedroom has a window, for security reasons, but they're fairly well-lit. Kakashi and the other escort will be staying out in the living room.

"Do you want to go on and head to sleep, or stay up a bit and train?" he asks them.

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"I want to train, I don't know about you, Tetsuma."

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"I'm not sleepy. I usually train at night anyways, it's more secret."

"Oh? What sorts of things can you do?" asks Kakashi.

"I can control plants! I should be able to do water and earth, but I'm not very good at them yet..."

"Maa, is that so. How are you with illusions, since that's what we're working on now?"

"I could break some of the ones put on Ms Ranko, but none of them were being put on me. I can dismiss low level ones on me, though I have a lotta problems with the scarier ones."

"Well, I can certainly help you with that." And he proceeds to explain illusion theory.

It's... Not a very good or thorough explanation.

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Ranko is used to terrible teachers! She asks lots of questions.

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He... Is not used to teaching beginners. At all. But he mostly manages to get across the point of the lesson.

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He's what's available. She'll deal.

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When it comes time to practice, Kakashi's at least pretty good at creating the illusions.

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Perfect! Learning by doing, just her style.

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He starts out with easy illusions - ones that're fairly obvious they're there, and relatively lightly layered, on the both of them.

When he makes an illusory tree sprout and start wrapping them in its branches, Tetsuma tilts his head and says, "That's not a real tree!" and easily breaks the illusion, shattering it for Ranko as well.

Kakashi's visible eye crinkles slightly, then, "I suppose I shouldn't have been using that particular one on a wood-style user. Now, how about this one..." And their perception of the world tilts sideways.

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Disrupting chakra networks...she's not wholly sure what that means, but the obvious thing to try is flaring her battle aura.

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"Not quite," Kakashi says

Tetsuma pipes up, "It's like what I did to you in the forest! But on your own. I can show you again?"

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"Yes please."

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He carefully pushes his chakra into her system, disrupting the pattern in a quick burst. 

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"That's very odd..." she murmurs, and then tries to replicate it. It isn't quite right, but it's close.

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It's enough to make Kakashi's low-level illusion waver.

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She tries again.

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It breaks this time.

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Good! Now she needs to do a harder one.

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A slightly harder one can be provided!

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That one she breaks more easily. She's getting the hang of this.

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After a few rounds of practice, there's a knock on the door. 

Kakashi gets up to open it, revealing a brunet man in an outfit similar to Kakashi's, minus the mask and tilted headband. Kakashi opens the door wider to let him in.

"Hello," he says. "I'm Yamato. I'll be your second escort. You must be Saotome Ranko and Tetsuma, right?"

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"That's us!"

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"Uh-huh." He yawns, then.

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"--Now would probably actually be a good time to go to sleep."

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"Mmhmm."

Kakashi stretches and says, "You two relax. Yamato and I will keep watch."

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"Thank you."

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"Maa, no trouble at all."

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And then to bed.

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They're allowed to sleep in the next morning, until Yamato comes over and knocks on their doors.

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Ranko is an early riser and opens the door after the first knock.

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"Lord Hokage would like to speak with the two of you in an hour."

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"Okay."

She goes to rouse Tetsuma.

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Tetsuma will be roused fairly easily.

He bounces to his feet and around the room some. "Where's breakfast?"

"Downstairs," Yamato answers. "We can go down, or I can bring some up."

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Cute kid.

"I'm fine either way."

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"I wanna go down."

"Alright," says Yamato, and downstairs they can go.

Breakfast is mostly room-temperature foods, but still good. Tetsuma bounces the whole way down, clearly quivering with energy now that it's sunk in that his latest escape attempt worked. His eyes go a bit wide when he sees all the food, and after a hesitant glance at the adults loads up a massive amount onto his plate, clearly determined to try some of everything.

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Ranko sees nothing strange about this and also takes more food than strictly normal for someone her age and size.

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Yamato and Kakashi also seem to be enjoying the free food.

After they've eaten, Yamato says, "You two should probably go ahead and get ready to see the Hokage."

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"Are there spare clothes to change into?"

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"Yeah, I got a change in your approximate sizes," Yamato says. "They're fairly plain, but they'll do for now."

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"Sounds fine."

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He leads them back to the room and shows them the clothing. It's the same dark blue that Yamato and Kakashi are wearing under their vests.

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"Does dark blue have some kinda meaning here?"

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"It's mostly just a common color for Konoha ninja to wear."

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"Why?"

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"Easy to clean, looks professional, and blends in well."

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"I guess that makes sense." She takes the clothes and goes to change.

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As does Tetsuma. (It's really similar to his existing outfit, just blue instead of black.)

Once they're done, Yamato says, "I can take you to the tower, now."

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"Okay!"

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Yamato leads them all the way to the door, then breaks off once they're in.

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Tetsuma bows. He's a bit vague on 'how deep.' "Lord Hokage."

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"Tetsuma, Ms Saotome, I have a few more questions..." And he proceeds to ask Tetsuma about his life with Danzo.

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"I didn't see him much. Didn't want to get him mad. I remember hearing one of the others got him mad once and didn't do well. The teacher was always really harsh with us..." And proceeds with other tales of woe, including vague descriptions of places and people.

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"If you would agree, the Yamanaka clan have a technique that allows them to view memories. Your memories of the base could help us tremendously."

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"Okay."

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"A technique to view memories?"

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"Yes."

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"And this--isn't some kind of magic?"

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Amused, "Unless you consider chakra manipulation magic, no."

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"I mean, mostly it just seems like martial arts. I guess Martial Arts Telepathy is only a little weirder than Martial Arts Tea Ceremony."

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"It's related to the illusions, I believe. Now, I'm sure you want to get on with your day. Ms Saotome, Yamato can escort you around if you have anything you want to get done while we check on Tetsuma's memories."

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"I have no idea what there would be to do, here!"

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"I'm sure Yamato will be able to show you some things."

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"Okay."

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A blond - the same one from the night before - comes to escort Tetsuma away while Yamato gestures for Ranko.

"Just you and me today," Yamato says. "Anything you want to do?"

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"You guys don't have any weird laws about marrying or killing people I need to watch out for, right?"

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"Well, obviously don't kill anyone unprovoked - if it's self-defense you can argue that in court. No weird laws about marrying that I know of."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, that's not a weird law. There's this one village of warrior women where if you beat one of them in combat, if you're a woman they have to kill you and if you're a man they have to force you to marry them, is why I asked, there's one of them after my brother."

Permalink Eye

"...Ah. That sounds... Interesting. I've been to places with similarly weird things you could get executed for, though. But nowhere I know makes it easy to accidentally marry someone... Accidentally propose, maybe, there's some places where exchanging poetry or giving gifts is significant."

Permalink Eye

"They're better than the Musk, at least."

Permalink Eye

"Those are the warrior women?"

Permalink Eye

"No, no--the warrior women are the Joketsuzoku, and the Joketsuzoku are better than the Musk."

Permalink Eye

"What happened with the Musk?"

Permalink Eye

"They throw animals in the Spring of Drowned Girl to marry and take baby boys away from their mothers and raise them with no contact with girls or women at all."

Permalink Eye

"...What does throwing animals in the Spring of Drowned Girl accomplish?"

Permalink Eye

"Oh, it turns them into human women--Jusenkyo is this field of cold-water springs and every one of them is the spring of Drowned or Almost Drowned somethingorother and if you get immersed you turn into the somethingorother. Hot water reverses the transformation but cold water reinstates it. And there's a bunch of ways to fuck with it, like, if you're submerged in the spring of thing-you-started-out-as the curse goes away, and there's stuff that can lock and unlock the curse, and this one magic splitty thingy can split the curse off into its own person--or not a person if it's an animal curse--that's what happened with me, my brother fell in Spring of Drowned Girl and the thing was advertised in such a way that he hoped it would be a cure, I was an unintended side effect."

Permalink Eye

"I've never heard of anything at all like that. Do you know how they were made?"

Permalink Eye

"No clue."

Permalink Eye

"They're certainly strange. Do you want to go do something, since we don't have any weird laws to stumble over?"

Permalink Eye

"Sure!"

Permalink Eye

"There's the market district, and I think some street plays, and the parks. There's probably a museum or two somewhere... Do you have any local money?"

Permalink Eye

"Where would I have gotten any?"

Permalink Eye

"Point. So, free stuff... Well, the things I listed should be free, other than shopping. Any of them interest you?"

Permalink Eye

"Street plays sound like fun!"

Permalink Eye

"I think those are mostly in the afternoon? We can wander over to the parks and see if there's any on, though."

Permalink Eye

"Okay."

Permalink Eye

He leads her over to the nearest park. Konoha's heavily wooded, with residential areas interrupted by trees, rivers, and general green spaces. It makes the village seem smaller than it is, and quieter.

After a bit of wandering they find a comedy show in one of the parks; it's mostly short skits put on by students, one every hour.

Permalink Eye

Ooh!

Ranko doesn't have the cultural context to get all the jokes, but she still appreciates it.

Permalink Eye

A lot of it's making fun of other countries. None of the jokes are directed at Konoha or the Land of Fire. A good number of the skits are based on other plays, shortened and with fewer actors and props.

Permalink Eye

Ranko doesn't know anything about these other countries! She will take what she hears here with a grain of salt.

Permalink Eye

After a few plays, Yamato notes that it's nearly lunchtime. "Want to find a food stall?"

Permalink Eye

"Ooh, yes!"

Permalink Eye

"What sort of food do you want?"

Permalink Eye

"The kind sold in places where they give discounts to cute girls willing to flirt for it?"

Permalink Eye

He chuckles. "We do have a reasonable budget for necessities like food, you know."

Permalink Eye

"It never hurts to keep in practice! Anything can be training if you do it right."

Permalink Eye

"Definitely. Well, I think I know a place..." He starts leading her to it.

On the way they pass a park with a bunch of kids shouting. There's a ring of girls who're probably eleven or twelve standing around a girl who's maybe six or seven, sprawled out on the ground with books and pencils scattered next to her.

Yamato frowns at the commotion, and his eyes narrow slightly. 

Permalink Eye

Ahuh.

Ranko marches over.

"And just what do you think you're doing?"

Permalink Eye

Yamato follows her, and crosses his arms. His face, if Ranko notices, twists into something scary.

A few of the girls are unnerved, but one of them just turns to Ranko and says, "Nothing."

The girl on the ground is eyeing the two newcomers warily. 

Permalink Eye

"This doesn't look like nothing to me."

Permalink Eye

"She got in our way."

Permalink Eye

"Did not!" shouts the girl, climbing to her feet and balling up her fists.

Permalink Eye

"Even if she did, which I'm not sure I believe you on, pushing down a kid several years younger than you is not an appropriate response. Haven't any of your mothers taught you manners?"

Permalink Eye

The lead girl crosses her arms. "I don't need a civilian lecturing me about manners.

Yamato chooses that moment to intervene. "Ganging up on a fellow student is grounds for suspension, I believe. Konoha shinobi don't fight their own."

A couple of the girls on the far side of the circle are starting to try and slink away.

Permalink Eye

"I don't think I'm quite what you mean by a civilian. I won a fight with several ANBU yesterday. At a handicap."

Permalink Eye

The girls are looking more uncomfortable now. "Why are you standing up for her?" asks the lead one, still unrepentant. "No one likes her."

Permalink Eye

"Why on Earth would that be a reason not to stand up for her?"

Permalink Eye

"'Cause she's worthless."

Permalink Eye

"That isn't how liking people works."

Permalink Eye

"Yes it is!"

Permalink Eye

"It really isn't! For example, I just arrived here yesterday, so very few people have gotten to like me yet, and I got in a fight with a lot of ANBU, so they dislike me, does that make me worthless?"

Permalink Eye

"She isn't worthless 'cause people dislike her, people dislike her 'cause she's worthless. And doesn't have any manners or a clan or anything important."

Permalink Eye

"You don't get to say someone else doesn't have manners when you're the one who scattered her things all over the ground."

Permalink Eye

The girl puffs up - probably to say something else - but is interrupted by Yamato.

"What is your name?"

"Like I'm gonna tell you!" she huffs.

"That, young lady, is an order from your superior. Tell me your name."

Reluctantly, she does so, and Yamato nods. "I'll be informing your teacher of your behavior today, and recommending he remove you if you don't improve. Konoha has no place for those who can't respect their comrades."

"But - but - that's unfair!"

Permalink Eye

"No, unfair is being ganged up on by several girls several years older than you."

Permalink Eye

"Whatever!" she huffs, face red, and then storms off. The handful of girls who'd lingered follow her reluctantly.

Permalink Eye

"What an unpleasant child. I hope she grows out of it."

Permalink Eye

"She and the others are mean." The girl crosses her arms, scowling after them. "I don't think they wanna."

"That's unfortunately often true," says Yamato. "But facing proper consequences might shake her out of it."

The girl just shrugs and scowls down at her spilled things.

Permalink Eye

Ranko kneels to start picking the things up.

Permalink Eye

Yamato goes to help.

Permalink Eye

As does the girl.

"Thanks," she mutters sullenly. 

Permalink Eye

"It's no problem. Are you okay?"

Permalink Eye

Sigh. "Yeah."

Permalink Eye

"Does this happen a lot?"

Permalink Eye

"I can handle it."

Permalink Eye

"How old are you, seven? You shouldn't have to!"

Permalink Eye

"I'm plenty strong!"

Permalink Eye

"That's not the point!"

Permalink Eye

"Then what is?"

Permalink Eye

"Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should have to."

Permalink Eye

She doesn't look convinced. "They'll leave me alone once I learn how to punch harder, anyways."

Permalink Eye

"It's not okay to harass someone just because they can't punch you hard enough to deter it."

Permalink Eye

"Not okay to be weak either."

Permalink Eye

 

"Debatable. But they're not doing it to make you stronger."

Permalink Eye

"I know they're jerks who don't deserve to be ninjas. But I'm gonna be a ninja too, and I need to be able to protect myself."

Permalink Eye

"There are better ways to learn to do that!"

Permalink Eye

"You heard them. I don't have a clan to teach me."

Permalink Eye

"...I guess you have a point. Want to be an honorary Saotome?"

Permalink Eye

"That your clan?"

Permalink Eye

"Yep! Saotome Ranko, heir to the Saotome school of Anything-Goes martial arts, pleased to meet you!"

Permalink Eye

"...I'm Uzumaki Mariko. Pleased to meet you too."

Permalink Eye

"And like I said, I beat up a bunch of ANBU, so I'm probably way better to learn from than some random bullies!"

Permalink Eye

Small smile. "Probably. But why teach me. You just met me."

Permalink Eye

"Well, why not?"

Permalink Eye

"'Cause people don't like me."

Permalink Eye

"So far the people who don't like you seem to suck."

Permalink Eye

Another smile. "Are you a Konoha ninja?"

Permalink Eye

"I'm not a ninja at all! I'm from somewhere else, I got sent here by a magic mirror."

Permalink Eye

"How'd a mirror send you here?"

Permalink Eye

"Magic!"

Permalink Eye

"Magic doesn't exist! It's stuff that can't be explained, and everything can be explained if you think hard enough."

Permalink Eye

"Well, if you figure out how a guy can turn into a duck on being hit by cold water, let me know."

Permalink Eye

"Use a transformation technique? Or have a transformation seal on him triggered by cold water."

Permalink Eye

"I don't know what those are."

Permalink Eye

"We're gonna learn the transformation technique in school. It turns you into other stuff! Seals are stuff written on things, that do stuff. They can do anything. I read about them in a history book!"

Permalink Eye

"Oh, cool!"

Permalink Eye

She nods. "I noticed seals 'cause Uzumaki Mito was mentioned as the First's wife, so I read more about her, and she was the best seal-master ever."

Permalink Eye

"The First?"

Permalink Eye

"The First Hokage? He founded Konoha."

Permalink Eye

"Oh, I see. Where I'm from we don't have Hokages."

Permalink Eye

"What do you have instead?"

Permalink Eye

"Uh, Prime Ministers and stuff."

Permalink Eye

"What's a Prime Minister?"

Permalink Eye

"Runs the country? I never paid much attention to politics."

Permalink Eye

"So like a daimyo? He runs the Land of Fire."

Permalink Eye

"--Japan hasn't had a daimyo in a while but kinda I guess."

Permalink Eye

"Why not?"

Permalink Eye

"Something something Admiral Perry Meiji restoration my brother did shit in school and I haven't existed separately from him long enough to catch up on history."

Permalink Eye

"Okay." She finishes getting all her things together. "I want to check with the Hokage before training with you. I'm not supposed to wander off with strangers. But I can find you after that, your chakra signature's really obvious."

Permalink Eye

"Okay!"

Permalink Eye

"...Thank you for helping with them. Even though I didn't really need it. I think I gotta get going now, though."

Permalink Eye

"See you later, then."

Permalink Eye

"See you!" And she runs off, books clutched to her chest.

Permalink Eye

"It was good of you, standing up for her," Yamato says quietly.

Permalink Eye

"Ganging up on a kid that much younger than you is ridiculous," she scowls.

Permalink Eye

"Children are often cruel."

Permalink Eye

"Trust me, I know."

Permalink Eye

He nods. "So, lunch?"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah."

Permalink Eye

Lunch is a dumpling place, that will in fact let her flirt for a discount.

Permalink Eye

Excellent! She's good at it.

Permalink Eye

She gets a pretty decent discount for her efforts!

The food's good, too. 

Permalink Eye

Wonderful.

Permalink Eye

After lunch, Yamato glances up, and says, "They should be done with Tetsuma by now, if you want to go back."

Permalink Eye

"Definitely."

Permalink Eye

So he leads her back towards the Hokage Tower, and, after talking with someone behind a desk, into a lounge where Tetsuma's fidgeting under the watchful eyes of several ninja.

Permalink Eye

Ranko immediately sits down beside him and smiles at him.

Permalink Eye

"Ms Ranko!" He bounces happily. "Can we go somewhere now? It's boring here."

Permalink Eye

"Sure! They have street plays, want to go watch?"

Permalink Eye

"What do they do?"

Permalink Eye

"I haven't seen very many yet, but the ones I did see were mostly comedy."

Permalink Eye

"What's comedy?"

Permalink Eye

"--Stuff that's supposed to make people laugh."

Permalink Eye

"That's allowed?"

Permalink Eye

"It's definitely allowed."

Permalink Eye

"Okay."

Permalink Eye

"What else did Danzo say wasn't allowed?"

Permalink Eye

"Um. Goofing off, running around, talking back, running away, making trouble - 'specially if I'm supposed to be learning, turning paper into stuff, practicing outside of official practice, hitting my minder, biting anyone... Lots of stuff."

Permalink Eye

"Biting people is usually bad but the rest of that stuff is fine."

Permalink Eye

"Though you still might want to avoid using your - special abilities - in public, it might not be safe if people figure out your bloodline," Yamato says to Tetsuma, who nods.

Permalink Eye

"Special abilities? Bloodline?"

Permalink Eye

"I can control plants! And do lots of other stuff eventually. Other ninjas can't, just me."

Permalink Eye

"He's at risk for being kidnapped, especially if the information gets to Konoha's enemies," Yamato says quietly. 

Permalink Eye

"Sheesh."

Permalink Eye

He nods. 

Permalink Eye

Tetsuma jumps to his feet. "C'mon, let's go!"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah!"

Permalink Eye

He seems more interested in running around than in sitting still to watch a play (he understands less of the humor than Ranko, and keeps poking her to ask for explanation, but does occasionally stifle a giggle).

Permalink Eye

Ranko can't explain all of it, not being familiar with local geopolitics. Running around's good too, does he want to play tag?

Permalink Eye

He's initially unfamiliar with the game but takes to it quite enthusiastically when it's explained.

Permalink Eye

Ranko will play fair and stick to a two-dimensional set of Places To Run for now.

Permalink Eye

He's fairly fast for a kid, and clearly has a lot of energy, being willing to keep playing for several hours.

Permalink Eye

Good! She's still a lot faster than him, but she'll play as if she were only a little faster than him, enough to give him a real workout but not enough to make the game futile and therefore unfun.

Permalink Eye

He's definitely having fun!

Eventually he starts to wind down a bit.

Permalink Eye

What a cute kid. She is not her father and therefore will not attempt to push him to the point of total exhaustion.

Permalink Eye

"I think it's nearly food time," he says after a bit (he's more hungry than tired, really). 

Permalink Eye

"Excellent point. Hm, I still don't have any local money..."

Permalink Eye

"I can pay for both of you."

Permalink Eye

"--Oh, hi, you're still here!"

Permalink Eye

Amused: "Yes, I am." He's been standing off to the side mostly, alternatively keeping an eye on them and on anyone passing.

Permalink Eye

"Doesn't watching a teenager and a kid play tag get boring?"

Permalink Eye

"Far from the most boring thing I've ever done."

Permalink Eye

"Fair enough."

Permalink Eye

"Any opinions on food?"

Permalink Eye

"I'm not picky."

Permalink Eye

"So something where Tetsuma can try a variety of things, maybe. Yakiniku sound good?"

Permalink Eye

"Sounds great!"

Permalink Eye

Tetsuma, it turns out, likes yakiniku a lot (though he pretty much likes everything that isn't rations or cafeteria food. He hesitantly ventures a complaint about them, which Yamato whole-heartedly agrees with.)

Permalink Eye

Ranko has never had either of these things but agrees that yakiniku is great.

Permalink Eye

"Rations taste yucky. Like chalk pretending to be strawberries. Badly."

Permalink Eye

"Oh dear. I bet they're not as bad as Akane's cooking, though."

Permalink Eye

"Who's Akane?"

Permalink Eye

"She's one of the girls my father's tried to marry my brother off to. She's a terrible cook."

Permalink Eye

"Oh, okay."

Permalink Eye

"She has other features too, though--she's a good martial artist, she's got a lot of perseverance, she's excellent at pounding perverts..."

Permalink Eye

He nods. 

Permalink Eye

"--Do I need to explain perverts to you?"

Permalink Eye

"Uh-huh."

Permalink Eye

"Perverts are people who want to try to look at you naked when you haven't agreed to it, or touch you in places you don't want, or steal your underwear, and if you ever meet any you should hit them as hard as you can."

Permalink Eye

"Okay!"

Permalink Eye

"Good."

Permalink Eye

He finishes up dinner, then asks, "What now?"

Permalink Eye

"What do you want to do?"

Permalink Eye

He thinks this over for a bit. "Train?"

Permalink Eye

"Okay! In anything in particular?"

Permalink Eye

"Can you teach me the stuff you did earlier?"

Permalink Eye

"I don't know! Let's find out."

Permalink Eye

"Where's the training grounds?" he asks Yamato.

Permalink Eye

"There's a good one this way." And he leads them to it.

Permalink Eye

"Okay! So, the Hiryu Shoten Ha is a technique primarily intended for opponents stronger than you are; it can be used against people who are weaker than you but at that point its main advantage is that tornadoes are flashy."

Permalink Eye

"Like what you used against that ANBU!"

Permalink Eye

"Exactly!"

Permalink Eye

"How do I do it?"

Permalink Eye

"How good are you at controlling your emotions?"

Permalink Eye

"I'm not good at making them not-there, but I can keep calm and stuff."

Permalink Eye

"The key to the Hiryu Shoten Ha is the Soul of Ice, which is a technique that turns your battle aura cold instead of hot and involves temporary but absolute calm."

Permalink Eye

"What's a battle aura?"

Permalink Eye

"A battle aura is the natural emission of chi you give off when you're fighting someone."

Permalink Eye

"...What's chi? Is that like chakra?"

Permalink Eye

"Seems to be."

Permalink Eye

"Okay. And what's an emission?"

Permalink Eye

"...Uh, like, a lightbulb emits light and a stove emits warmth."

Permalink Eye

"Oh! Okay. How do I do the Soul of Ice? Is it just being super calm while fighting?"

Permalink Eye

"It's not just calm, it's--the next thing beyond calm. Like--this." And she breathes in, and out--

Permalink Eye

--and the temperature in her immediate vicinity drops a couple of degrees; her face betrays not the slightest hint of emotion.

Permalink Eye

"Cool. I don't know how easily I can do that, though." He concentrates, trying to go beyond calm, maybe if he meditates on it...

(He mostly just ends up with his face all scrunched up.)

Permalink Eye

"I'm not sure how to teach it, the way I learned kind of sucked."

Permalink Eye

"Hm... I might be able to try..." Yamato says, then concentrates. His expression goes blank enough to send shivers up Tetsuma's spine... And it does indeed get slightly colder around him. Not as much as it had around Ranko. "Of course, I wouldn't recommend the way I learned to do that either. Meditating on your emotions might be your best bet..."

Permalink Eye

"Okay. I meditate best after practicing though. There's no one around, so can I use my bloodline?"

"...Sure," Yamato says. "Just not too noticeably."

"Yay!" He turns to Ranko. "Wanna see something cool?"

Permalink Eye

"Sure!"

Permalink Eye

He closes his eyes and tunes in to the chakra of the plants around him. It's really calming, and his chakra patterns naturally sync to theirs. He claps his hands, slams them to the ground... And an oak sprouts under his hands, growing rapidly. He smiles slightly when it's done, then impulsively hugs it - it's just such a happy tree.

Permalink Eye

"Oh, wow!"

Permalink Eye

Grin. He then scampers up the tree and leans against the trunk and closes his eyes. Manning the tree had taken up enough chakra to take the edge off his restlessness, especially after running around all afternoon. He slips into meditating, and, well, he's certainly getting past calm, but he isn't achieving the cold calmness.

His chakra signature does become distinctly plant-like.

Permalink Eye

"...I think you're going in the wrong direction, you're getting soul of tree not soul of ice."

Permalink Eye

"I dunno how ice feels like though."

Permalink Eye

"...Have you ever been so mad at someone it felt cold instead of hot?"

Permalink Eye

"...Usually when I'm mad I get really shaky and sick. Not cold."

Permalink Eye

"Hm."

Permalink Eye

"I can try meditating on just water chakra then try to get ice from there?"

Permalink Eye

"I'm not sure that's the right kind of thing but it can't hurt, at least."

Permalink Eye

So he tries that. He can definitely get his aura watery, but he seems to be having trouble with the 'stillness' part of icy calm.

Permalink Eye

"Yeah that's not it."

Permalink Eye

"Ugh. This is hard."

Permalink Eye

"Learning powerful techniques usually is. Hopefully this one isn't actually one of the ones involving obligatory trauma."

Permalink Eye

"I get kinda cold when I'm sad, maybe if I think about that?"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, try that."

Permalink Eye

He sits and meditates... And sitting still's getting harder, but he thinks about all the everything that makes him sad - at first it makes him want to get up and do something and ignore it, but he keeps meditating - and gradually his expression blanks. (He might've managed a drop of a degree or two. Maybe. Might've been the wind.)

Permalink Eye

Ranko watches carefully, biting her lip.

Permalink Eye

He eventually gives up out of frustration. "This isn't a very fun technique... Is there anything easier?"

Permalink Eye

"I do think you might have been on the right track this time, but sure. Uh, I don't know how much what you know overlaps with what I know...falling from heights? Fencewalking? Aerial combat?"

Permalink Eye

"I can catch myself if I fall, and walk on something thin like a rope. Does aerial mean in the air? I haven't learned how to fight in treetops yet..."

Permalink Eye

"Aerial means like in the air! It involves a lot of jumping."

Permalink Eye

"I wanna learn that!"

Permalink Eye

"Okay. So you know how to fall from a standing position; falling off something is harder."

Permalink Eye

"Why?"

Permalink Eye

"Because you're falling faster when you hit the ground, and because you don't have whatever part of you had been touching the ground to maneuver with."

Permalink Eye

"Oh. Okay. So we're gonna learn falling from heights first? Why?"

Permalink Eye

"Because it's safer to do anything else at heights if you know how to fall first."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, that makes sense."

Permalink Eye

"Good."

Permalink Eye

"Should I practice falling out of the tree?"

Permalink Eye

"That seems like a good start. --That's not high enough you'll get really hurt if you fall wrong, is it?"

Permalink Eye

"Don't think so?"

Permalink Eye

"Okay, good."

Permalink Eye

Lots of jumping off trees can commence!

Permalink Eye

Ranko explains what he's doing wrong when he does things wrong and catches him if he looks like he's going to fall badly and hit something important.

Permalink Eye

He is a shinobi child and children are very good at bouncing, fortunately. Getting caught if he'll fall bad is a bit weird - he's used to being allowed to learn the lesson then being healed once it's set in - but once he figures it out that makes it funner! He can take bigger risks!

Permalink Eye

Ranko seems to think that explaining exactly what he did wrong is a better way of teaching than letting him break bones! Also, she approves of taking bigger risks, as long as you have a safety net--the higher-variance things you can try, the faster you'll figure things out. 

Permalink Eye

He approves! Breaking bones isn't that much of a deterrent to him but it's nice being able to do big stuff.

Permalink Eye

Good! 

They can keep at this until she's satisfied with his falls or the sun starts setting, whichever comes first. 

Permalink Eye

He's a quick learner physically, so it'll be the first most likely.

Permalink Eye

"Okay, I think you're probably safe to try something a little less basic--can you grow another tree a little ways away, to practice jumping between the two?"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah!"

He does so - it's not the same height all the way through, and has lots of sturdy branches.

Permalink Eye

"Perfect. Now, watch me to start, see if you can see what I'm doing?" And she hops up into the first tree. Her "hop" takes her at least six feet up. 

Permalink Eye

"You're not using chakra?"

Permalink Eye

"...I mean, if chakra is chi, there's definitely chi in my legs..."

Permalink Eye

"But it's not changing."

Permalink Eye

"I mean, there's always chi in my legs."

Permalink Eye

"I always have chakra in my legs but I'd have to move it around and push it out of my feet to do that probably."

Permalink Eye

"Hm...I'm going to need to learn to sense chi--I mean chakra, I guess--better if I'm going to figure out what the discrepancy is. Yamato? Can you sense chakra very well?"

Permalink Eye

"If it's in large quantities? Kid has a good sense if he can tell that finely what you're doing."

Permalink Eye

"Okay. Hmm. How much chakra do you have in your legs at any given time?"

Permalink Eye

He shrugs. "Varies with stuff like time of day and exercise. Maybe usually around a fourth of my resting chakra?"

Permalink Eye

"And how's that compare with the baseline amount a, uh, civilian, would have?"

Permalink Eye

"Probably a lower percent, but not by much."

Permalink Eye

"No, I don't mean like what percent, I mean like how much total."

Permalink Eye

"I have several hundreds times the amount of chakra a civilian would on average, but it's hard to measure - chakra amounts ebb and flow, and don't really have - units? A medic who specializes in this might have a better idea?"

Permalink Eye

"Fair...I don't know, then. Maybe it's just that you're a kid, Tetsuma, I'm pretty sure my brother wasn't anywhere near as strong when he was a kid as when I split off from him. Anyway, practice can only help, why don't you try and I'll see if I can find any problems."

Permalink Eye

"I have lots of chakra," he says. "I can do that, but even taijutsu people use some chakra with stuff."

Permalink Eye

"Taijutsu as opposed to...what, specifically?"

Permalink Eye

"Taijutsu is bodily techniques, like martial arts forms and how to channel chakra to improve your muscles and the Eight Gates."

Permalink Eye

"I dunno what the Eight Gates are but other than that that sounds pretty much like everything I do...I guess aside from some of the ki techniques."

Permalink Eye

"The Eight Gates are a sort of mental or spirital limit on what you can do physically," Yamato supplies after Tetsuma seems stumped. "Opening them damages your body but allows you to move faster, be stronger."

Permalink Eye

"...I've never heard of anything like that."

Permalink Eye

"Might not exist in your people? I'm not sure if we've done a full medical comparison yet..."

Permalink Eye

"Maybe...but the Soul of Ice seemed to work for you, at least a bit, so even if that's true it's not like my techniques are totally unteachable, at least."

Permalink Eye

"I'd be sad if they were."

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"I'm sure we'll figure something out. Starting with jumping practice!"

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"Jumping's fun!"

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"Yeah!"

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"Wanna see how high I can jump with chakra?"

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"Okay!"

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Time to jump!

He leaves a (tiny) crater in the ground and easily clears fifty feet, laughing as he angles to land in the tree-top.

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"Huh! Might wanna work on your takeoff, but that's good!"

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"Some people can jump lots and lots higher, I haven't been doing this long."

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"Oh, definitely. I didn't mean to suggest otherwise."

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"How high can you jump? I heard the original Hashirama could go over mountains!"

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"It'd have to be a pretty small mountain, but..." she focuses for a moment, then jumps into the tree, one of the bendier branches creaking with the force she applies to it, then springs upwards again as she jumps, adding the spring force of the wood to the force her own chi-infused legs put into the jump, shooting into the air. 

She doesn't go high enough to lose visibility, but at the very top of her arc you could have mistaken the odd blue and red smudge she makes for some kind of escaped kite. 

On her descent, she reaches out to grab the tree branch again, bleeding off her kinetic energy as she arcs around the branch before dropping lightly to the ground. 

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He laughs. "That was so cool!"

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"Thanks!" she says, bowing theatrically. 

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"Should I try jumping between the trees without chakra?"

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"I wouldn't say without chakra, but try keeping the chakra in your legs instead of pushing it out."

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"Okay!"

And unassisted jumping can commence; he can't go as far at first, but quickly gets the hang of just influencing his muscles, rather than pushing off against the ground, too. Having to not cling to stuff means he's also slower, planning out jumps so he'll actually be able to land on something solid.

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"You're getting it!"

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"Yeah!"

He's pretty single minded, and energetic, so's fine doing this until she calls for a stop.

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She starts working on a technique of her own that seems to involve a lot of lunging, still keeping an eye on him.

They can probably keep that up until dinner time.

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Yeah! Dinner!

He's excited to try all the foods!

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They seem to mostly have the same foods here as they did back home, which makes it vitally important that Tetsuma get to try ice cream if he hasn't already.

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He hasn't! What's that?

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It's cold and delicious.

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"That sounds good!"

To icecream?

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To ice cream!!! 

 

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He'll try as many flavors as she'll let him!!!

Also he can eat a lot and doesn't seem to get sick or headachey. 

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He can eat as many flavors as she can flirt out of a flustered ice cream parlor man on their budget, minus a chocolate cone for herself.

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Heeee that's so many!

Witness a very happy and besugared small.

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She's witnessing it. Does he wanna play tag some more?

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He has yet to discover the limits of his energy, so yup!

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He has enough energy to make it fun. 

She's still faster than him. 

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Well duh she's an adult.

He doesn't slow down over the course of the game though.

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Hmm. Does this mean he can go even faster? Let's find out. 

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He can speed up a lot! Not as much as she can, but he's probably already close to some of the adults she fought earlier, especially if he's pushing off with chakra.

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Going as fast as possible is a) better training and b) a good idea for burning through sugar highs. She will encourage him. With tag. 

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He speeds up a good bit over the course of the training - then yawns, collapses face down, and apparently falls asleep on the grass when his energy gives out.

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Awwww!

She scoops him up and heads back to the house. 

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He doesn't wake.

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She tucks him into bed and goes looking for books. 

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Books can be found. Most of the ones easily accessible to her are either fiction or not very informative nonfiction.

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Hmm. What kind of not very informative nonfiction? Considering that she's from another world, even things that are considered extremely basic here could be useful. 

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Surface level and probably fairly biased guide to other nations; an atlas; a book about common plants; a book about the founding of the village that doesn't even pretend to be unbiased; a somewhat sensationalist and under-sourced book about life in the court of the Last Emperor; a book of fairy tales.

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She studies the guide to plants with an eye to comparing and contrasting with the vegetation in the various places she's been. What kind of biased is the village history? What do they want people to believe?

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The vegetation here's different - the guide also finds it important to mention which trees are resistant to different ranks of fire techniques - but not bizarrely so. The trees in Fire seem to get larger, and it's noted there's a few forests grown or regrown by the First Hokage.

The people who founded the village were heroes. Especially the Senju; the village was the First's idea. The Uchiha's leader was a proud an unreliable man who only consented to found the village after half his people defected to the Senju. The village provided the shinobi with unprecedented strength on the international stage, instead of having no significant voice in politics, and gave shinobi the ability to better negotiate contracts. A lot of clans quickly realized the wisdom of joining the village, and Konoha grew rapidly, inspiring the other nations to found their own villages.

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Hmm. Interesting. She can pick out some probably-fact from that. What about the guide to other nations? Will it help her understand any of the jokes that went over her head?

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Probably!

Other Hidden Villages are brutal, and unfair to their shinobi. Kumo are raiders, and steal bloodlines. Kiri purged their bloodlines. Iwa will cheat you out of a deal as soon as look at you. Suna are bloodthirsty. The small hidden villages squander their people's potential. There's also information on the civilians in the nations live, but not much, and it's mostly focused on the nobility. They seem to have very recently been an entirely feudal society. 

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...Huh. Weird. 

So is "bloodlines" the same thing as Tetsuma's tree thing?

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There aren't really examples given, though the Mokuton is mentioned as a famous and rare bloodline in the village founding book.

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She goes looking for Yamato.

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He's findable, loitering on the roof.

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"So I've been reading up on the other Hidden Villages, as much as I could with the resources available."

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"Smart," he says, voice approving. "Did you have questions?"

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"My first and most important question is how much do I have to worry about Kumo trying to kidnap Tetsuma."

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" - It's certain they'll want to if he's found out, especially this young. Attempts on children within Konoha's borders are very rare, but there's been a few notable incidents over the decades; four years ago, most recently, though that was foiled. Usually subterfuge is involved, instead of force, in those cases."

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"I guess I'll have to talk with him about that...if I catch anyone trying anything like that they're going to curse the day they were born."

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He snorts. "If they're part of an ambassadorial team to Konoha please check with espionage how to deal with them, Kumo's thrown a hissy fit over disrespecting the diplomatic immunity of their would-be kidnappers before."

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"If I have time I will but why is diplomatic immunity being given to people who we know want to kidnap small children?"

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"Because you don't shoot messengers even if the messengers are horrible people, and open war's usually undesirable."

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"Well, I'll try not to maim any ambassadors."

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"It'd be appreciated."

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"So my second question is Kiri: What The Fuck."

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"Nobody's really sure? Their leader's said to have gone insane by some; there's definitely been multiple attempts to overthrow him, but he's firmly entrenched."

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"So did they actually manage to kill everyone with cool powers or did they all flee to Kumo or something."

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"They killed a lot. Most didn't defect to other villages; there's a lot of ex-Kiri independent mercenaries, a lot who've joined non-Village mercenary groups, a lot of bandits... And probably still some cells of revolutionaries."

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"Does Kumo do horrifying experiments on people?"

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"Not that I know of, but the information department doesn't talk to me much. Most villages keep all experiments deeply under wraps though, horrifying or not."

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"Maybe they object to the child kidnapping. If I had a superpower and had to flee my home because of it I would probably go to the place that explicitly wants superpowers if I didn't object to them or expect to be experimented on."

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"Most villages are reluctant to accept adult shinobi; Kumo doesn't allow immigration."

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"They're willing to kidnap children but not allow consensual adult immigrants."

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"Adult immigrants might be spies. Hidden villages are - effectively a permanent military encampment with supporting civilian populations."

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"You guys have issues. Not like I'm one to talk."

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"Long, historically complicated issues. Still, it's better than the Warring States Period was..."

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"I'd believe it just from the name."

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"I don't know much about the particulars, just that a lot of bad blood still dates back to then."

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"Eesh. Most of the bad blood I've ever encountered was recent and justified."

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"Wasn't too long ago - old people like the Lord Hokage still remember it, and grudges have a way of causing more of the same."

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"Yeah. What in that area should I be aware of?"

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"A lot of it's complicated intra-village politics I mostly ignore... Uh, some of the tensions with Kumo and Iwa might date that far back? There's some small villages and minor unaffiliated clans with grudges that sometimes pop up, but, well, it's hard to list them all, and they're not usually major threats."

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"Anything that might affect Tetsuma?"

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"The Mokuton is desirable, and people will be after him more for that than the Senju name. It's probably best if his abilities are kept secret as long as possible."

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"Okay...I don't like it, people should be able to use their abilities, but if it's that or being kidnapped..."

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He nods. "That's unfortunately the way of things now..."

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"At least there's training trips."

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"He should enjoy those. Kids often do."

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"Yeah! The ones with my dad sucked but that's just because my dad sucked, the ones I went on by myself were great."

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"Might be able to recommend some neat places - the area right around Konoha's pretty."

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"And it's got lots of nice big trees for aerial combat."

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"We're good at that, yeah."

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"I guess that makes sense with the name."

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"It's a bit convenient, how the names can give you a clue of common specialties and all."

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"I dunno, I'd develop more sand-based techniques if I lived in a desert than if I lived in a forest, I don't think it's a huge coincidence."

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"There are reasons - wasn't saying it's a coincidence, just that it makes remembering things easier."

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"Oh, fair enough. Tetsuma mentioned something about elemental natures and I couldn't find anything about that in the books, can you explain it?"

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"There's five - fire, wind, water, earth, lightning. Everyone can use all of them, but most people are better at one and it's hard to master more than one. Some bloodlines make you good at multiple as part. Tetsuma's is a blend of or between earth and water."

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"Huh. That's interesting."

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"Different where you're from?"

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"I've literally never heard of anything like it...but on the other hand, I don't think most of our techniques could be reasonably said to fall into one of those categories. Even the Hiryu Shoten Ha doesn't involve directly manipulating wind."

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"Eggheads will be excited, if you're ever pointed at R and D."

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"Is there a way to find out which one you are?"

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"Modern way's channeling chakra through this specially prepared paper."

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"Can I try?"

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"Sure. I'll see about getting a hold of some."

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"Thank you!"

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"Need anything else?"

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"Not right now, I don't think."

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He nods. "Should have the paper tomorrow, then."

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"Cool." 

She moseys off to investigate the fiction. 

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Romances about people in court, stories about spirits and dragons and magic, a mystery about a woman trying to find out who killed her lover...

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She reads the mystery. 

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The woman suspects shinobi were hired for the deed. She has no such advantages, being the daughter of a courtesan - but she's learned a lot over the years, and she's able to investigate the physical evidence, talk to witnesses, and unravel a conspiracy threatening her nation. The happy ending is when she has the killers executed, and is rewarded for her service.

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What kind of stuff does the book depict shinobi as being able to do?

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Vanish without a trace, leave no tracks, move through walls, twist people's minds and perceptions...

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Sounds legit. 

It's late. She goes to bed. 

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The next day there's a masked man, in the same colorful ANBU mask, standing with her guard.

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"You're not with Root, right?"

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"No," says the ANBU, flatly. "I was sent by Lord Hokage."

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"'Kay, I just haven't seen one'a you guys who wasn't before. ANBU, I mean. I don't know if Root actually qualifies--qualified?--but they had Tetsuma calling them that, so."

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"Root was not authorized."

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"Didn't stop 'em from dressing like you, is all."

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He nods. "Caution is understandable. Your guard can confirm my credentials."

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"Yamato?"

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"Well, his paperwork's in order," her guard says, wryly, "And I recognize his mask, voice, and chakra signature."

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"Can chakra signature be faked?"

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"Yes. Not easily, not by most people, especially without any slips, but it's possible. It's extremely rare to be able to fool a sensor, though, and ANBU - and all forces - are checked by them pretty often."

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"Okay. Fair warning, if you are a fake and try to make off with Tetsuma I'm gonna break at least two limbs."

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"Reasonable," says the ANBU.

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"Awesome. Good morning, then, has anyone done anything about breakfast yet?"

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"Yeah, I'll make sure you two get fed before any official business happens," Yamato says.

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"I mean, has anyone else done anything yet or should I."

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"I was planning on ordering take-out," Yamato says.