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Generated: Oct 07, 2019 3:47 PM
Post last updated: Oct 10, 2019 3:55 PM
I took no time with the fall
Sasuke summons demon Cam
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Orochimaru is making Sasuke do his dirty work again. At least this time it only involves painstakingly drawing out a seal large enough to fit a person on a smoothed surface prepared specifically for this, rather than any wet-work. Sealing is dangerous if he puts a single stroke wrong, of course, but it's unlikely to lead to him being disciplined by his 'teacher.' Intentionally sabotaging it to spare Orochimaru's next victim wouldn't work here, after all.

He finishes the last stroke on the inner circle, sharingan active to make sure it's precise enough. 

Permalink Eye

Well, it's precise enough to do something. A person pops into existence - "pops" isn't really the word; there's no accompanying sound - in the middle of the seal. "Person" might or might not be the word; he's foregoing a shirt to accommodate a set of blue batwings and his pants are slung a little low to accommodate a blue barbed tail. "Hullo there! You're letting me talk, I appreciate that in a summoner, what can I do for you?" He glances around at the surroundings.

Permalink Eye

His summoner appears to be in that vague early- to mid-teens age range, probably between fourteen and fifteen. The room is windowless stone, the door wooden, the air still and heavy despite its large size. It's lit evenly by lights on the walls near the ceilings. There's a single new language, similar enough to Japanese that a non-speaker would probably get them mixed up.

His summoner also has bright red eyes, which are currently narrowed suspiciously at the new person. (Orochimaru could've told him this was a probably untested summons-seal, but that would require basic safety standards, wouldn't it.)

"I'm not used to humanoid summons," he says, evenly. "Which realm are you from?"

Permalink Eye

"...run that by me again? You're not used to humanoids? Do you typically summon angels off a body mod club membership roster or something? - is this Venusian Japanese?"

Permalink Eye

"I don't know what an angel is, or what Venusian is. I'm speaking the main language in the Elemental Nations. Most summons are nin-animals from different realms; if you're usually summoned to another continent I guess it could be different there. Where are you from?"

(Nin seems to mean "person" and implies "magic".)

He rubs at his face. Orochimaru is probably going to want information, too, not just 'hey yeah your seal worked'...

Permalink Eye

"I'm from a place called Hell and I'm really confused."

Permalink Eye

"About what?"

Permalink Eye

"Who hasn't heard of angels or Venus? What are the Elemental Nations? Where are you getting sapient summonable animals from? Given that all of this is not as expected how did you summon a demon anyway?"

Permalink Eye

"I haven't. They're a cultural group - Lands of Fire, Earth, Wind, Water, and Lightning. From summons realms. My teacher gave me a seal and told me to draw it."

He shrugs. "I guess my teacher wants me to get information. I can summon a snake, if you want to know about local summons."

And then maybe he can summon one of the talkative snakes and not deal with surprise interview.

Permalink Eye

"...sure, if you don't mind summoning a snake for me."

Permalink Eye

He folds his hands into a few odd shapes - not a language - and then kneels to tap the floor.

And, in a puff of smoke, a large snake mottled brown and white appears. There doesn't seem to be a summoning circle.

"Summoner!" she says, immediately coiling around the boy's feet. "I want noodles."

He sighs. "You can have noodles later. I wanted you to talk to - someone from Hell that Orochimaru had me summon."

She climbs up Sasuke, looking at Cam over his shoulder. "Lord Orochimaru has odd taste," she comments. "Is Hell a new summons realm? What's your name? I'm Shiromi, the rude one is Sasuke."

Permalink Eye

"I'm Cam. Is, uh, limiting snake access to noodles important for some reason?" Cam asks Sasuske.

Permalink Eye

"No," they say at the same time. Sasuke's tone is more long-suffering, while Shiromi sounds more energetic.

Permalink Eye

Cam presents the snake with a bowl of spaghetti. "Do you want sauce? I assume you don't want a fork."

Permalink Eye

"I don't need sauce. Where'd you get that from?" the snake asks.

Permalink Eye

"I made it. Help yourself."

Permalink Eye

The snake hums, then figures she's very hard to poison as a nin-snake and also can just dismiss home if she feels poorly, and then slithers into the bowl. Actually eating the noodles seems to be a mild challenge for her.

Sasuke sighs. Well, there goes his plan of 'make the snake do all the talking.' "How did you make it?" His sharingan is still active, and he didn't see any movement of chakra...

Permalink Eye

"That's what demons do, we make things. Do you have such conveniently summarized abilities yourself, I'm still a bit lost."

Permalink Eye

"I shape chakra into patterns, and it does stuff depending on the pattern. Chakra is the energy in everyone and everything. There's fields of focus, but they're not as broad as 'make things' - can you make people? Is there a mass or density limit?"

Permalink Eye

"I can make human bodies but not conscious ones, the intellects of things I make tops out around 'bug'. There are limits to volume per time but I think mass factors in at all, I can look up the current best understanding of the operative formula if you're curious but the upshot is it would take a few weeks to make a planet."

Permalink Eye

He makes a very complicated expression. Then, to the snake: "We're not telling Orochimaru."

The snake pauses in eating. "Should I dismiss, I feel like this is a 'no potential leaks' conversation - "

Sasuke sighs. "Go ahead. Tell Aoda I might be in trouble soon."

"Right! I heard nothing." And the snake vanishes, alongside the noodle bowl, in a puff of smoke.

Sasuke takes a deep breath and sets in to gather his thoughts.

Permalink Eye

"...I mean, that doesn't mean that I can be convinced to make a planet if someone wants a planet for bad reasons."

Permalink Eye

"There are a lot of things that aren't planets someone could cause trouble with, and I assume you're not the only person from your summons realm."

Permalink Eye

"I am not. What are we worrying about here?"

Permalink Eye

"First, if he doesn't need farmers to feed his troops he might decide they're all experiment fodder. Second, he can use living sacrifices to resurrect immortal, indestructible soldiers under his sole command. And if he has any other source of my bloodline power he might just kill me. Unlimited food, resurrecting the dead, and spreading bloodlines aren't bad,  he's just specifically an ass."

He's talking faster than he usually does, a bit agitated.

Permalink Eye

"You work for this guy why?"

Permalink Eye

"He doesn't like hearing 'no,' and it's another year before my best opening to kill him."

Permalink Eye

"Are we under any time pressure right now or is this a good time for me to get more general background?"

Permalink Eye

"I'm expected somewhere in a few hours."

Permalink Eye

"Okay. So this chakra thing, I'm not accustomed to that being a thing, can I get the introduction to what the heck starting from there?"

Permalink Eye

"Chakra is a combination of mental and physical energy. It's in everything, but most people can only use the chakra in their own bodies. Using it tires you out. If you use too much you die. Molding chakra can influence your own body and mind most easily, the natural world less easily, and other people the hardest. We've had chakra as long as anyone can actually remember, though there are myths it got introduced at some point by a Sage."

Permalink Eye

"What-all can it do - I'm looking for diverse examples more than necessary and sufficient conditions, I'm assuming you haven't got the latter -"

Permalink Eye

"I can make a solid but fragile clone which will return the memories to me on dismissal, summon snakes, channel lightning through my body or weapons, react quickly, memorize things, move faster... Orochimaru can jump into someone else's body every three years. Illusion experts can trick people's senses. Medics can change the body of someone they touch. Seals can be used to trap energy or objects in lines of ink to be released later. Really powerful seals can trap people. Sensors can track things with chakra, sometimes miles out. The Yamanaka clan can also possess people. Puppet masters can move and control objects, and sometimes people. At least one person can cause any injuries dealt to him to appear on opponents. There's a rumor of someone who can control gravity."

Permalink Eye

 

"Well, many of those things are extremely concerning. Why every three years, how does that kind of limit fall out of this system?"

Permalink Eye

"It damages his core self, the thing that's actually jumping. It takes him that long to recover."

Permalink Eye

"Okay. What's the advantage of this, is he doing it to be immortal or something?"

Permalink Eye

"Yes. And get powers from the people he jumps into; some things are easier with certain bloodlines. My memorization and reflexes, some elemental manipulations..."

Permalink Eye

"Okay, is there any chance he'd be easily appeased with mindless bodies with whatever genetics he cares to enjoy in them and cut it out with the bodysnatching?"

Permalink Eye

"Probably. Less risky to him. But he's also - he cuts people open to see what they'll do. He starts wars when he's bored. A very foreign library could entertain him for a while, but... Making sure he doesn't hurt people is hard." He shrugs. "But right now he's the only person who knows how to put back the dead, so... I guess there's advantages to just bribing him."

Permalink Eye

"Your kind of magic can put back the dead?"

Permalink Eye

"Imperfectly. The current technique sacrifices a person, overwriting them with someone dead, who is immortal, invulnerable, and somewhat under the control of the person using the technique. I don't know if a mindless body counts for it."

Permalink Eye

"And you don't know the technique and can't check, okay... hm. How'd you come by the design for this summoning circle?"

Permalink Eye

"Orochimaru gave it to me. I don't know where he got it, but I don't think he knew exactly what it does. I could learn the resurrection technique, if I had his notes. At least eventually."

Permalink Eye

"Do you have an idea of what subset of his notes that is?"

Permalink Eye

He can name titles.

(Orochimaru keeps very thorough and clearly labeled notes and mostly relies on ciphers and being terrifying to keep people out. Also, Orochimaru is either fucking with his head or under a really bizarre delusion that Sasuke's like him - or both - but it means Sasuke's trusted with a lot.)

Permalink Eye

Cam produces, during this recitation, a strange sticklike object that projects a rectangle of light off one side. The light changes to reflect what Sasuke is saying but Cam is writing it all in katakana because he doesn't have the local character set as a font yet.

Permalink Eye

He finishes his list, then peers at the stick and asks, "Is that a computer?"

Permalink Eye

"Yes." He opens a new file and takes retroactive notes on things messing with chakra is supposedly able to do.

Permalink Eye

"It's small," he says during what looks like an appropriate break. 

Permalink Eye

"Yup. How big are yours?"

Permalink Eye

He shrugs. "I haven't seen many. Bigger than me, mostly."

Permalink Eye

"Advancing technology lets them get smaller till they're yea big. They're usually bigger than this even at my tech level, though, because they usually need stuff attached to be an input method and this model instead relies on brain surgery to control it."

Permalink Eye

"For security?" He shakes his head. "Can you make the notes? And - are there customs, with summoning demons? I forgot to ask." Usually there's a trade with nin-animals, but usually nin-animals are very upfront about stating their typical demands.

Permalink Eye

"I can make the notes, but no offense, we did just meet and I don't have a clear picture of how you fell in with Bodysnatcher-san or your alternative vision of the future. It's customary to trade us for stuff but this circle was not done elaborately enough for that to be necessary, I can just make whatever."

Permalink Eye

He nods.

(He really doesn't like being the powerless one. He really doesn't like having to talk about his personal sequence of traumas. But whatever. This is probably at least more likely to leave his brain intact than throwing his lot in with Orochimaru.)

"I was a shinobi of the Hidden Leaf, the main organization of chakra-users in the Land of Fire. I'm one of two or three people with my bloodline, and was the only one still in the Leaf. The other two are stronger than Orochimaru. Orochimaru decided he wanted my bloodline. He found me, put a seal on me that fucked with my head, then ditched me to live or die on my own strength. I lived. He later sent his own shinobi to retrieve me. I told them to fuck off. They were stronger than me, and could manipulate my seal, so got me angry enough to trap. Next thing I was really aware of was being in one of his lairs. I've been here two years, mostly trying to earn his trust and sabotage him."

"I'd like people to stop hurting each other. My earlier plans were pretty vague, mostly involved killing Orochimaru and one other asshole. Figured I'd probably die somewhere in there, and if I didn't I'd have enough of a reputation to start un-fucking Orochimaru's research without being bothered too much. This world sucks, but - Orochimaru has a lot that could do good. With 'creating objects' available as an option - I don't know if our political problems can be fixed with ending scarcity and putting back the dead, but there's at least been some respected politicians who weren't dickheads."

Permalink Eye

Cam nods, taking notes. "Accumulated questions: What-all does the seal do to you, how's it work? What's the idea with letting you maybe die when you're scarce and he wants to bodysnatch you?
What're you up to trying to earn his trust? Who's the other asshole? Is this level of dramatic murder commonplace around here?"

Permalink Eye

"I don't know everything about the seal. It collects nature chakra, I think, and mixes it with my chakra. Which can cause transformations if I let it. It can be forced back by enough strength of will."

"He said I'd be useless to him if I was weak, when I asked."

"I mostly train his shinobi. I haven't killed anyone."

"The other asshole killed my family and was trying to kill my friend last I checked, and has made a general point of ruining my life."

"And I get accused of being a pacifist, so no, that's a very low level of murder."

Permalink Eye

"Transformations like what? Train them to do what? Why's the asshole up to assholery and does he have a name or anything? How does a society with this much murder in it sustain itself?"

Permalink Eye

"My skin turns grey, and I grow wings, and I get angry. I train them to fight. And I have no idea why, he said he wanted to test himself but lies about a lot. His name is Uchiha Itachi. My brother."

"Presumably civilians have less murder in their lives, and the Hidden Villages recruit fairly heavily from them. People also have a lot of kids."

Permalink Eye

"What defines a civilian as such, I'm assuming you can't just go be one but you're kinda young-looking."

Permalink Eye

"Civilians aren't trained in chakra use and usually don't fight. And I'm fifteen, not young."

Permalink Eye

"I'm a hundred and seventy-two and people where I'm from are not considered adults till they're like eighteen. Why were you trained in chakra use, is it a bloodline thing?"

Permalink Eye

"My family were traditionally shinobi. If you pass your village's basic competencies, you're a shinobi and therefore a full adult, and most people pass them by twelve. Someone old enough to be in the shinobi academy is considered old enough to fend for themselves, though, and that's usually seven."

Permalink Eye

"I'd wonder how long your years are but you do look fifteen in Earth years."

Permalink Eye

"There's a lot wrong."

Permalink Eye

"Sounds like it."

Permalink Eye

"I'm good at learning things, not at people. So my best place in fixing things is in figuring out techniques to help."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, I get that, but it sounds like the place is lousy with hostile actors and those can snap up whatever you invent, yeah?"

Permalink Eye

"Why I wanted strength and a reputation. And my friend wanted to change things too, and was better at people. I think he's still alive, but I haven't heard if he's changed his dreams."

Permalink Eye

"I can check on alive but cannot divine dream-related trends."

Permalink Eye

"...I would like to know if he's alive. Uzumaki Naruto."

Permalink Eye

Mini plastic Uzumaki Naruto appears. "He looks fine."

Permalink Eye

He nods.

"...Thanks."

Permalink Eye

"You're welcome."

Permalink Eye

"What's your future vision?"

Permalink Eye

"I'd really like to terraform Mars. In more local contexts I don't know enough about what it's like here to get very specific but I think aiming at reducing the murder rate would be a solid beginning."

Permalink Eye

"...Mars is - another planet that can be made like Earth?"

Permalink Eye

"Well, it is back where I'm accustomed to humans living."

Permalink Eye

"I don't know what our other planets are, but probably we'll need some made worth living on. At least eventually. So you could terraform one here, if you can't back there."

Permalink Eye

"That would be nice but it's definitely a longer term thing after murder rate reduction."

Permalink Eye

Nod. "...Orochimaru probably actually would be good at reducing wars, since he's good at manipulating them. I don't know how large a bribe that would take, though."

"Other people... The commanders of the Hidden Villages and the leaders of the various nations have a large say, and getting Mist to stop bleeding missing-nin everywhere would reduce rogues, and most of the very powerful criminals have been joining into one terrorist organization over the last decade."

Permalink Eye

"Missing-nin?"

Permalink Eye

"Shinobi - ninja - who betray their village. Sometimes who don't have a village in the first place."

Permalink Eye

"What tends to make them do that?"

Permalink Eye

"From Mist, because the village was collapsing. For most - disagreeing with the leadership, criminal tendencies, not following orders well, I think are common?"

Permalink Eye

"A system where your options if you disagree with the leadership amount to 'become a criminal' and not, like 'move', has some drawbacks."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. That might change some with more high-level peace, though."

Permalink Eye

"What's the high-level conflict about?"

Permalink Eye

"Politics. Sometimes it's over land, or resources, or bloodline theft, or old grudges from the last war, or deciding your neighbor is getting too powerful."

Permalink Eye

"Is bloodline theft a fancy word for kidnapping?"

Permalink Eye

"It's considered more severe if the kidnapped has a notable bloodline power."

Permalink Eye

"I mean, I suppose it implies a higher likelihood that they've been kidnapped specifically to force them to have children? Since bodysnatching in particular is niche?"

Permalink Eye

He nods. "Stealing body parts is also bloodline theft. It's more - about keeping that power in the village or clan. Probably making mindless bodies with a bloodline is technically bloodline theft, but I really don't care."

Permalink Eye

"What does one do with a stolen body part, how's that useful? Can you clone them or something?"

Permalink Eye

"Some bloodlines you can use them if you graft them onto someone living's body. For mine - someone could take my eyes and have some of the powers, though they wouldn't work as well."

Permalink Eye

"That's really weird - is there a chakra thing to make the eye go in properly, that's medically difficult - why wouldn't they work as well - is this all very short-term-thinking, I assume people with stolen eyes don't pass the eyes on to kids?"

Permalink Eye

"Yes, and because you need different brain and chakra structures to support it fully, and yes it's very short-term and usually people who are optimizing for their own gain."

Permalink Eye

"Your world sucks," Cam opines.

Permalink Eye

"I noticed." He's weirdly amused by that.

Maybe because someone who isn't Naruto actually noticed that the world is fucked up.

Permalink Eye

"You have freaking magic and you're spending it all on short term negative-sum conflict! Do you know enough history to have an idea of how things got this way? Who's doing things like inventing computers, is there some nonmagical civilization somewhere that exports technology and makes sure it doesn't have any ninjas in it so they get left alone..."

Permalink Eye

"I know some history going back - two, three hundred years? But that was hard to find. There's a lot of information suppression." History, fortunately, is like swords and is one of the things he can actually talk about

"We used to have a feudal empire covering the continent, that was more stable. There was a war, and the last emperor died without heirs, and then the feudal lords started fighting. Two hundred years later, we were still in the Warring States period. Shinobi were in small mercenary clans."

"Sixty three ago, the two most powerful shinobi clans in the Land of Fire decided to band together. They formed the Hidden Leaf, which I think was initially kind of like the old artisan's guilds or worker unions? They convinced other clans to join, and other clans in other nations copied them. That and a wider trend towards consolidation of smaller nations forced the constant small wars to stop, though the wars that did happen later were bigger. The Hidden Leaf - under I think the third leader - started to become less a guild and more its own state within a state. They're on the fifth leader now."

"And I think the computers are foreign, yes. I've been oversees once to somewhere with better technology. The Land of Snow. They have a thing that gives them temperate pocket climates, but I don't know how it works. They stay out of everyone else's politics, mostly. The leader might remember me, since I helped install her on her throne when I was still a Leaf shinobi."

Permalink Eye

"Okay. I kind of want to, like, bring you along as a native guide and then go park in the Land of Snow."

Permalink Eye

"To do what?"

Permalink Eye

"End scarcity without being constantly distracted by escalatory short-term ninja conflict. I mean, figuring out the short-term ninja conflict stuff also sounds important for the no-scarcity endgame but in the meanwhile maybe you also have lots of civilians dying of diseases I can cure or something like that."

Permalink Eye

He nods. "It'd also be - a diplomatic position."

And not involve Orochimaru. That's a bonus. They can just steal his notes. Probably Orochimaru will come after Sasuke again anyways but Sasuke's a lot scarier now than he was at thirteen.

"I don't know much about different diseases, sorry."

Permalink Eye

"I'm hoping the Land of Snow knows where I can find disease-related information. Do you have a general idea of how Orochimaru will try to track you down? My default plan is to fly away in a little shuttle under cloud cover, but if it's likely to be necessary I can go in the wrong direction for a few hours too, or go straight up and proceed through space assuming you're not about to tell me the planet is flat or something?"

Permalink Eye

"Why would the planet be flat? And he has a sensor whose range can cover the continent. Karin - she likes me well enough, but is loyal to Orochimaru first."

Permalink Eye

"I don't know why the planet would be flat but I also don't know why you can do chakra stuff and it's the sort of thing I'd like to check before attempting to exit the gravity well. Is the Land of Snow on the same continent? How does the sensor work?"

Permalink Eye

"It's on a continent to the north, but this nation is on the northern edge of this continent, so Karin wouldn't have to go far to notice me. There's three territories - Land of Iron, in the middle-south, Land of Snow on the north-east edge, and then some tribal land. Karin's never explained it, but she can track people, make predictions about what someone usually does with their chakra, and tell if two people are related."

Permalink Eye

"I could send mindless copies of you - optionally without any eyes - in a few other directions? And... leave one in geosynchronous orbit to be extra confusing maybe? Depending on what exactly she senses."

Permalink Eye

He shakes his head. "She'd notice. Normal chakra's got a mental and physical component."

Permalink Eye

"Are there any materials that block her? Lead or something?"

Permalink Eye

"I don't think so. But - she's assigned to guard the Eastern Prison by herself. That's fairly far, so I could talk to her before Orochimaru catches up if you can get me there quickly. She'd be warned I'm fleeing, but..."

Permalink Eye

"But what, what's your contingency here?"

Permalink Eye

He struggles with the words for a few moments. "She owes me her life. She might be bribable - probably not into staying silent, that's not safe, but into defecting entirely."

Permalink Eye

"So we bring her along?"

Permalink Eye

Slow nod.

"I think Orochimaru's next most powerful sensor is more on the scale of 'one small nation.'"

Permalink Eye

"That implies more of a search process, but still worth fouling up if they can be fooled?"

Permalink Eye

"I think so. They wouldn't look for me in the Land of Snow first anyways. The expected directions to go are 'the Leaf' or 'straight after Itachi,' which are both to the south. If I grab Karin, they'll think I'm trying to hunt Itachi, not that I'm neutralizing her. I'll be able to defend myself by the time they catch up, probably, and Karin will know they're coming."

Permalink Eye

"Do you know how the second-best sensor tracks, is it the same thing Karin does but with worse range?"

Permalink Eye

"He can hear chakra, and gets less detail, though probably also wouldn't be fooled by mindless copies."

Permalink Eye

"All right. They're creepy anyway."

Permalink Eye

Nod. He looks thoughtful, though.

"If I can figure out the resurrection quickly - Konoha has some seals that can block some sensors, but Uzumaki Mito, the woman who made them, died, so no one knows how they work anymore."

Permalink Eye

"Do you need to know how they work or would having a copy of one do?"

Permalink Eye

"Sealing's dangerous, and there's - dimensions beyond just the two that are inked in. I'd need to know how it works."

Permalink Eye

"Well, you are welcome to a mindless copy of Uzumaki-san to experiment on once preliminaries have been sorted."

Permalink Eye

He nods.

"We're underground right now. The easiest way to get you out is probably just walking out. Most of the people in this base are scared of me, and I can avoid the people who aren't. We'll be noticed when we leave, though."

If he felt like being dramatic he could blow a hole in the ceiling, and that'd probably even make him feel better, but it'd be monumentally more stupid than even his usual plans.

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, I don't have a very discreet method of tunneling - I could replace missing bits but can't make them cease to exist..."

Permalink Eye

"I can tunnel, but it'd be noticed faster, since that's obviously something I'm not supposed to be doing."

Permalink Eye

"Should I take off or hide the wings and tail? And dress differently?"

Permalink Eye

"You don't look any weirder than some bloodlines. If you usually go around shirtless it'd be odd that you don't have scars, so a shirt would help, but this mostly relies on acting like nothing's wrong."

Permalink Eye

"I usually do go around shirtless but I can put something on. A remaining problem is that presumably Orochimaru can reproduce the diagram that got you me. I honestly have no idea how it got you me so it could be an irreproducible fluke, but it's not actually good for a supervillain to have a circle that gets an unbound random demon."

Permalink Eye

"I can steal the related notes, assuming he has them in the usual places; it'll increase our chances of getting caught, but the payoff would be worth it."

Permalink Eye

"He doesn't keep backups?"

Permalink Eye

"He does of important things. I'm assuming he thought this at best a summons for a new nin-animal realm."

Permalink Eye

"Well, I suppose I can check if he has any other copies. I should probably do that before we go note-stealing."

Permalink Eye

"...That'd help, yes."

Permalink Eye

"Do you have a copy on you so I can check for instances of the diagrams or whatever elsewhere?"

Permalink Eye

He pulls out the notes he'd been following. Each only shows a section of the diagram.

Permalink Eye

Other instances of this and their surroundings in little flammable dioramas?

Permalink Eye

What looks like a room full of filing cabinets, and that's it. Sasuke seems to have one of only two copies.

Permalink Eye

"Cool. Where'd he even get this?"

Permalink Eye

"He didn't tell me. But he's always digging into old records, and he has some international trade. He might've also acquired it from the snakes, since it's also a summoning method, or from Uzushio's ruins, or from somewhere else entirely. If he'd developed it himself I would have expected him to oversee any tests."

Permalink Eye

"Because if he notices that you tried this, and then stole the only other copy and fucked off out of town, he will probably figure out it was interesting. I'll see if I can conjure from the snake realm..." How's that bowl of spaghetti doing?

Permalink Eye

Thoroughly eaten!

Permalink Eye

"Okay, and..." Copies of the notes from there?

Permalink Eye

Yes; one, in a more brittle condition.

Permalink Eye

"Snakes have a copy. Can we send your snake friend to wreck it with noodle bribery?"

Permalink Eye

"...Possibly."

He re-performs the snake-summons, and Shiromi appears.

"Summoner!" she chirps. "Why is the person I don't know about still here, are there going to be more noodles - "

"Yes. I need you to steal something from the White Sage's library," Sasuke says.

She sways back. "...You have very weird plans," she says. "And you'll want Kusana to help me. She's a good thief. And I want new noodles. With spices!"

He drags a hand down his face, summons a mottled brown and green snake about as wide around as his index finger, who listens to the explanation, then asks for an emerald mouse. For reasons.

Permalink Eye

Cam will provide spicy Thai noodles for Shiromi and an emerald mouse for Kusana, no problem.

Permalink Eye

And some very grateful snakes will dismiss with their prizes.

"They might take a while, but should be done before Orochimaru notices exactly what I stole," Sasuke says.

Permalink Eye

"If there is not a limit to how long you can keep a summons around, it might be a good idea to summon them again once we're in Snow so we can be sure they aren't gossiping."

Permalink Eye

"It's tiring, but doable for two their size. And I'm confident they won't tattle - but keeping them with us will also protect them from retaliation."

Permalink Eye

"Do they have to come when called?"

Permalink Eye

He shakes his head. "They can refuse, but some of the snakes are on Orochimaru's side."

Permalink Eye

"Ah, intra-snake retaliation. How does he acquire all this loyalty? Is he very charismatic? Does he make really good japchae?"

Permalink Eye

"He's charismatic when he feels like it, and good at bribery. He's also willing to take in people others aren't, which got him a lot of now loyal outcasts."

Permalink Eye

"Why were those people having trouble finding places to go?"

Permalink Eye

"Mist started prosecuting some bloodlines for no reason anyone could discover, Karin joined because she'd been a quasi-prisoner in Grass and Orochimaru gave her a place, some people have out of control bloodlines Orochimaru promised to help them master..."

Permalink Eye

"...and people aren't allowed to just move, at least if they have fancy ancestry. Right. How do all these interesting bloodlines start, they seem very consistently useful or at least survivable to be random mutation... unless you didn't mention the seventy percent infant mortality rate or something..."

Permalink Eye

"Nobody knows. Orochimaru's theory is either that our ancestors had advanced genetic editing, or we somehow interbred with aliens or spirits. Apparently it's possible to trace the origins of some genes, and bloodline genetics don't fit."

Permalink Eye

"There evidence of a previous advanced civilization that, uh, succumbed to ninja war or something?"

Permalink Eye

"There's a suspicious lack of evidence of any civilization older than five to seven hundred years ago."

Permalink Eye

"...it's weird if you have computers and have only had civilization for five to seven hundred years but I will do my history forensics once we have exited the supervillain lair. We should talk tactics on that, I know ideally we just walk out but if something goes wrong with that plan I'd like to know how best to be helpful, if you die I go back to Hell."

Permalink Eye

"...I'll try not to die then." Crap he's going to have to be actually cautious with his life, isn't he.

"Most shinobi are immune to most poisons, unless you have something really exotic. I can knock out most potential opposition fairly easily. The ones I can't are Yakushi Kabuto and Orochimaru himself. Yakushi is a medic, so if he touches you he can mess with your biology. Orochimaru has a broad spectrum of powers. I can just blast a hole in the ceiling, to allow a retreat."

Permalink Eye

"I might be invulnerable to any subset of ninja stuff, do you know a basic medical-type thing you could try on something I can replace? And something in the illusion department, which I'm less likely immune to."

Permalink Eye

"I know one very basic technique for stabilizing bleeds, but the same thing could let me try to cause bruising. I'm bad at placing illusions but do know some."

Permalink Eye

Cam extends a wing in his direction. "If you fuck up my wing I can cut it off and put it back. I have just administered some painkillers in case the thing you are gonna try hurts a lot."

Permalink Eye

He pokes the tip and tries to force the blood to clot when it really shouldn't.

It's non-effective.

Permalink Eye

"Excellent. Okay, I can stand between you and anything merely physically injurious, at least, try an illusion?"

Permalink Eye

His eyes start - spinning? There's definitely moving black flecks in his irises.

Also the lights are flickering, and there's vines moving around Cam, and Sasuke's fading out - 

Permalink Eye

"Yikes, okay, no, I see that, can you give me a rundown of mind-affecting shit I should look out for - it can't be bad enough to throw everyone into perpetual total Cartesian doubt but that doesn't imply that much of a ceiling -"

Permalink Eye

The effect stops. Sasuke's standing where he was. "Any illusion I know of needs a hook. If you can't perceive each other, they don't work, and they're harder if you're about a hundred feet away or more. I need eye contact, which is pretty common."

"Illusions are hard and even most experts flat out can't make them realistic, so usually they're used to disorient opponents and buy time. My brother is widely considered terrifying because he can make illusions indistinguishable from reality, though he's enough of a sadist he doesn't tend to for long. Try to avoid looking at him, but if he catches you - he'll probably mess up on stuff that's different from humans. If you're taking damage, it's probably an illusion."

"There's ways to dismiss illusions. Disrupting your chakra is the most common, causing yourself pain is the easiest, and you can disrupt illusions on other people. Shiromi and Kusana both know how to do that, if you don't mind carrying a snake everywhere."

Permalink Eye

"Okay, bite my lip if something weird is up, and I don't mind carrying a snake either. I could wear mirrored sunglasses?"

Permalink Eye

"That would foil me, though not every expert, otherwise there wouldn't be much point in illusions. Any sense can be used as a hook; sound's the second most common after sight, and has more specialists here. If someone looks angry and takes out a flute they're probably about to use an illusion."

Permalink Eye

"And destroy nearby flutes. Anything else?"

Permalink Eye

"There's a technique that's not technically an illusion that can change the user's appearance, which would complicate plans like 'just avoid Itachi.' It's not dismissed the same way."

"Teaching someone to use chakra is possible but not fast, so when we're escaped I can show you how to disrupt your chakra. On the way out, if combat looks likely I can put a hand on you to dismiss anything. If you felt like doing radical eye surgery, my eyes can see through almost all illusions."

Permalink Eye

"That might be worthwhile, it'd certainly be gory but I could probably go through with it sufficiently numbed up... that part doesn't require training?"

Permalink Eye

"No. Not if you specifically make an active one, but de-activating them can be hard and they drain chakra while active. The usual for implants is one eye that's kept covered with a chakra-suppressant when not in use."

Permalink Eye

"I might have infinite chakra, if that's a meaningful concept, but I also might not be able to make an active one, I can't generally make magic things and I don't know how ninja stuff counts."

Permalink Eye

"I'd assume it's not more magic than rocks? Chakra is attached to everything. And that's a meaningful concept."

Permalink Eye

"Can you drain people's chakra, to test that?"

Permalink Eye

He shakes his head. "That's a specialized ability."

Permalink Eye

"The reason I'm reserving judgment on whether chakra is or is not a special thing that I might not be able to make stuff interact with is that I think if it were attached to people where I came from someone might have come up with a way to use it."

Permalink Eye

He shrugs. "It might be something true just about this universe."

Permalink Eye

"Right down to the rocks, which is odd, but not impossible," agrees Cam. "Some worlds have wacky laws of gravitation. Actually over the sample I know about roughly half of worlds have wacky laws of gravitation. Anyway, since that might just not work and we apparently can't check if I have any chakra let alone infinity of it I'll at least postpone the eye surgery." He acquires mirrored sunglasses.

Permalink Eye

"Sensible." He tries to summon Shiromi, but she doesn't respond - "They're probably not done."

Permalink Eye

"Should we wait for them, how are we on time?"

Permalink Eye

"We maybe have two hours, but it's best to leave before then. I don't know how long they'll take."

Permalink Eye

"Does this supervillain lair have any features that are hard to walk on? I have very poor balance."

Permalink Eye

"It's paved with even stones, mostly. There's stairs between us and the exit. If no one's looking I can just carry you."

Permalink Eye

"I can manage stairs if I'm leaving the wings and tail on, they help."

Permalink Eye

Nod. "It might still make sense for me to pick you up if we're running. I'm faster than most shinobi."

Permalink Eye

"Yes, go ahead and pick me up if we specifically have to run, I can't run without falling down. I can fly about fifty miles an hour, I don't know how fast a shinobi is. If I make a shuttle it'll do a few thousand miles an hour."

Permalink Eye

He does some math. "Short tactical bursts, I could maybe catch the shuttle. Long-distance, more like a hundred miles an hour for sustained, a few hundred if I'm rushing somewhere. I'm on the upper end of the scale, though."

Permalink Eye

"That's really fast."

Permalink Eye

"Chakra strengthens muscles and can be used to directly accelerate."

Permalink Eye

"Apparently! So, run out if we can't saunter, then switch to shuttle."

Permalink Eye

He nods.

"Do you have any more questions?"

Please say no, Sasuke's brain is exhausted, and he's probably going to have to talk to get them out.

Permalink Eye

"Am I going to need to say anything? How should we best disrupt this circle before we leave?"

Permalink Eye

"I can use an earth technique to lift the ink. And no, I'll do any talking."

Permalink Eye

"I think I'm set."

Permalink Eye

He nods, forms a few hand-signs, kneels, touches the circle, and the ink rolls into a ball in his hands.

He stands, then: "Follow me."

And he turns to push open the doors on the end.

Permalink Eye

Cam torches the forensic models and follows silently.

Permalink Eye

Sasuke puts on his scariest resting face and stalks (slowly) through the halls. They don't meet anyone, and people who do get out of their way and carefully don't look at Cam.

The records room in question is well organized. Sasuke successfully his way past the guard by saying Orochimaru neglected to give him all the information he needed for his last mission, which gets a sympathetic nod.

He sorts through the files efficiently and silently, and steals a far more massive amount than they actually need, from an assortment of cabinets, taking out a scroll and sealing the files into small seals.

Their guard isn't alone when they leave.

There's a grey-haired shinobi, probably in his twenties, lounging against one wall, his glasses catching the light.

Sasuke casts an apparently bored glance at him. "Kabuto," Sasuke says, then keeps walking, angling to head past.

Kabuto sticks out an arm to stop him, smirking and tilting his head. "I'm curious who your friend here is, Sasuke-kun."

"One of Orochimaru's new pets," Sasuke says, sounding like a teenager being asked to babysit some neighbor kid. "Did you want something, or are we playing twenty questions?"

"It'd be remiss of me not to make sure he isn't carrying anything," Kabuto says with a laugh, stepping towards Cam, reaching out one hand.

Permalink Eye

Cam takes a step back.

Permalink Eye

"Go bother Ami, then; she cleared him already," Sasuke says, sounding annoyed. "You can ask Orochimaru if you want play time. He's mine until then, though, and I say who touches him."

(The guard is inching back into the records room, apparently deciding she's not paid enough for this level of drama.)

Kabuto pauses, tilting his head to look at Sasuke. "You're quite the presumptuous little brat, aren't you?"

Sasuke scoffs. "Orochimaru will be more pissed at you than me if you hold me back or break command, so go right the fuck ahead."

"I'll take pleasure in getting you on my table when you try to report that," Kabuto says, lips curling. "Maybe I can see what it takes to get someone like you to acknowledge that I outrank you." He steps towards Cam again.

"Then let's go ask Orochimaru which of us he likes more," Sasuke throws out, scowling.

"Maybe," Kabuto says - before lunging for Cam. He's not moving at the kinds of speeds Sasuke described, but he's still fast.

Permalink Eye

Cam trips in the process of flinching and winds up on the floor, but that doesn't stop him from putting a small layer of ultrahot plasma under Kabuto's hand.

Permalink Eye

Kabuto flinches, the burns on his hand already healing - 

And Sasuke slams a lightning bolt into him, throwing him down the hall.

Sasuke then blurs, resolving in a protective stance between Cam and Kabuto.

"We're going," he says, as the roof stops existing in a flash of light and an ear-splitting boom, though there's still a roof above that between them and the sky.

Kabuto starts getting to his feet.

Sasuke blurs again, picking up Cam.

Permalink Eye

Okay! Cam does his best to be carryable.

Permalink Eye

And Sasuke jumps, surrounding himself in lightning and rocketing straight towards the ceiling, which crumbles away from him.

He lands on the earth outside, a hundred feet up, sets Cam down, draws his sword, and spins to face the hole - where Kabuto has followed them out.

Sasuke points his sword at the sky, swings it down - 

And a massive lightning bolt slams down from the heavy storm clouds. It's not enough to kill Kabuto, but it sends him reeling. 

"Shuttle!" he shouts over the rolling thunder.

Permalink Eye

Shuttle! Right over there, door open.

Permalink Eye

And he gets them on it.

Permalink Eye

The door slams shut. Cam hops out of Sasuke's arms as it lifts off. "Well, that could have gone luckier."

Permalink Eye

"I got enough they won't know exactly why I was defecting, at least."

He shakes his head. "Do you have a map? We should get to Karin before anyone thinks to fetch her."

Permalink Eye

"I can have a map if you identify me a map. Stealing extra notes was a good idea."

Permalink Eye

He nods, and names a map of the continents. They're leaving the northern sea-ward edge of the Land of Rice Fields, which is on the southern edge of the giant bay that separates the bulk of the northern and southern continents. Karin is on a small, remote island off the south-east coast of the Land of Lightning's peninsula, due east of their current position.

Permalink Eye

Map: exist. They got a magnetic north on this rock?

Permalink Eye

Yes. Once adjusted for scale, the combined continents are large, roughly Asia-sized. The northernmost parts are brushing the Arctic circle.

Permalink Eye

Cam goes way up till nobody on the ground will be able to see them without a fancy telescope, then goes in the wrong direction for a bit, then heads for Karin's island.

Permalink Eye

And there's a redheaded teenager standing nearby a convenient landing place, hands on her hips, who Sasuke identifies as Karin herself.

Permalink Eye

"We good to touch down?"

Permalink Eye

"I think so. She doesn't look hostile."

Permalink Eye

Plop. Hatch opens.

Permalink Eye

"Hey Sasuke-kun, who's your friend?" Karin calls when he disembarks.

Permalink Eye

"Someone I met," Sasuke says with a sigh. "I wanted to talk to you - "

Permalink Eye

"Something about your dramatic break-up with Kabuto-san?" she asks, tilting her head.

Permalink Eye

After a pause: "About that, yes."

Permalink Eye

"If you're defecting…" she says warningly.

Permalink Eye

"I am."

Permalink Eye

"Just because I like you - "

Permalink Eye

"You owe me your life," he interrupts. "From before Orochimaru."

Permalink Eye

That gives her pause. "Huh. I'd thought you didn't remember that... Orochimaru-sama's rescued me since, though, and this isn't the type of thing I can avoid sides in."

Permalink Eye

"I'm not expecting you to just avoid talking. I know he wouldn't stand for it. But between the two of us, we can avoid anything Orochimaru could send, and - "

Permalink Eye

"The Leaf's not going to take in his cast-offs."

Permalink Eye

"Which is why I'm going somewhere else."

Permalink Eye

"And you think your plan will work - why?" But she's eyeing Cam.

Permalink Eye

"Without you helping them, by the time they find us I'll be stronger than Orochimaru."

Permalink Eye

"So, basically, I betray my whole life for - what, a cute boy asking me not very nicely?"

Permalink Eye

"I'm going to fix things. End the wars, the death. Not right away, but that's something I can do. Something Orochimaru probably could do, except he doesn't care."

Permalink Eye

"You're either delusional or you know something," she says with a snort. "And, knowing you, could really go either way."

Permalink Eye

"Name one thing you want. Any material object," he says, somewhat on an impulse.

Permalink Eye

She pauses, regards him, and: "The lost library of Uzushio."

Permalink Eye

"I'll get it for you."

Permalink Eye

"...You don't feel like you're having a mental breakdown… You know what? Fine, but if Orochimaru-sama catches up I'm saying you kidnapped me. Let's go."

Permalink Eye

"If we have time, I'd like to release the prisoners here - "

Permalink Eye

She rolls her eyes. "They'll break out soon enough on their own, but, sure, let's leave chaos in our wake, that sounds fun. You do realize most of them would attack me?"

Permalink Eye

"They won't attack me. We'll leave them supplies and boats, too, for any who can't cross the ocean on their own."

Permalink Eye

"Fine, whatever." And she turns and walks to a flat section of the cliff-face, putting a hand against it. The stone shimmers blue and then slides down. "This'll take me a few minutes to do right, but no one's even looking this direction yet. We've got about a hundred prisoners, some chronic injuries but nothing acute."

Permalink Eye

Sasuke nods, and turns to Cam. "I'll go make sure she actually does what she's saying. Can you make medical supplies, food, water, basic transport for that many?"

Permalink Eye

"Yes but the locals won't recognize the medical supplies I know. I can try to do a first pass on translating instructions for them if you give me an idea what kind of medical problems we're talking about? I also don't know if you lot are likely to be allergic to something I'm accustomed to everybody eating, like, are you lactose-tolerant, can you digest gluten, will somebody go into anaphylaxis if I include peanuts -?"

Permalink Eye

"Long term dehydration and starvation. Not enough to trigger re-feeding syndrome - chakra helps with that - but enough people will be weak. Some probably have suffered recent blood loss. Broken bones, probably that set poorly, burns, a few open wounds. Some people are probably on very strange drug cocktails but I can get a list out of Karin. If anyone looks unlikely to survive on their own I can press her into healing them. She isn't the best medic, but she was considered good enough to run this place alone."

"Things that are local - blood pills and soldier pills will stimulate recovery, and they're common enough in the military someone here will know how to administer them. Soldier pills are one per person per day unless you're willing to risk toxicity, for a maximum of five days."

"We're mostly lactose tolerant, except some people from Lightning, which is nearby, so probably assume some portion are intolerant. Glutenous grains are fairly rare and usually expensive a lot of places, so I have no idea how many people are gluten intolerant. Deadly allergies are rare, but I don't think most people will have ever eaten a peanut. I know of absolutely no one allergic to D-rations, which are good for travel."

"This place was mostly storage, not active experiments, so I'd generally expect walking wounded who'll be fine if they can get to the mainland."

Permalink Eye

"Okay. D-rations, universal blood transfusions, burn gels, I can re-set bones as needed and patch any open wounds that are bad enough to want personal attention, rehydration salts and water, and I guess the prisoners might have their own requests. Where do you want stuff, on the boats or on the shore or what -"

Permalink Eye

"Boats would be efficient for anything they're self-applying. They'll be anxious to get a head start on any pursuit."

Permalink Eye

Cam starts making little speedboats and filling them with rations and water and salt and bandages.

Permalink Eye

And Sasuke goes to keep an eye on Karin, explain the situation, and help the four who aren't moving under their own power out - two due to a missing leg, one to a broken ankle, one to simple weakness and fever.

Sasuke's guess that they'd mostly be dealing with older or more chronic problems was correct, but there's still a good number of people bandaged or in crude casts. Karin heals one Sasuke identifies as having internal injuries, though it seems to tire her a good bit. He also has her flush the experimental drugs out of people's systems, and identifies the names and doses of things people actually still need or will need to be weaned off of.

(Fortunately, one of the less injured patients has past medical training, and is taking charge of the group.)

Permalink Eye

"Do you want your leg back?" Cam asks of Missing Leg.

Permalink Eye

Both ones with missing legs would, in fact, like to no longer be missing legs.

Permalink Eye

"Do you want to be awake for the procedure? I have to cut off some of the stump to have a clean place to attach the leg."

Permalink Eye

One would rather be unconscious; he's had enough pain and blood.

The other scoffs at the idea of blood and says she'd rather see this.

Permalink Eye

Up to them. Cam puts the one under, checks up on things to make sure he doesn't have Weird Ninja Reactions to the anaesthesia, and gives him a minute to get properly asleep while he works on the other one, who has to lie on his side in case he throws up and can have a very thorough nerve block on the leg. Slice. Leg. "There you go." Then he repeats the process on the unconscious one.

Permalink Eye

No unusual reactions, though the one he operated on first seems fascinated with her new leg.

"Can I walk on it right away?"

Permalink Eye

"Well, the numbness'll take a while to wear off, but if you wanna try it despite that, go for it." He starts waking up the unconscious one.

Permalink Eye

She wobbles a bit and has to stare at her leg but manages some motion.

The unconscious one wakes up, and is mostly just thankful. He does not try immediately walking around.

Permalink Eye

Cam moves on to the next most urgent patients.

Permalink Eye

Everyone's cooperative, mostly, though some seem more resigned or wary. There's a general sense that they need to get out as fast as they can; a group of the less injured take a speed boat and leave before Cam finishes with the more injured.

(There's some attempt to coordinate where they're going, which Sasuke helps with, but a lot of them are planning to just scatter.)

Permalink Eye

That seems reasonable to him! He's not gonna hold anyone down for medical treatment, it's just available since he did go to med school.

Permalink Eye

No one's actually interested in throwing their lot fully in with Sasuke, though they get some thanks.

Soon enough, everyone who wants treatment has gotten it, and the last group is departing.

Permalink Eye

"Well, that was exciting."

Permalink Eye

"Ah. Sorry about the lack of warning on the prisoners."

Permalink Eye

"It seems like a sort of standard supervillain behavior, having a random assortment of prisoners to do sinister experiments on. I hope they do okay."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah... He was originally driven from the Leaf for unauthorized experiments on citizens. It's kind of his thing."

"Most of them will probably go into hiding for a while, keep their heads down. Orochimaru's unlikely to go back after any of them specifically; more effort than it's worth now."

Permalink Eye

"Well. Anything else to do here?"

Permalink Eye

"Me and Karin destroyed some of their records, sent the rest with the relevant people already. We're good to leave."

Permalink Eye

"It's nice to meet you," Cam remarks to Karin as he heads back to the shuttle.

Permalink Eye

"Good to meet you too! Did Sasuke-kun actually bother ever asking for your name at any point?"

Permalink Eye

"It's Cam. I don't remember if he asked or if it was the snake."

Permalink Eye

"Probably the snake."

"So what are we actually doing? And I'm curious why Sasuke-kun is so confident about all this."

Permalink Eye

"Well, you may have noticed that I can create arbitrary material objects."

Permalink Eye

"How arbitrary is arbitrary?"

Permalink Eye

"'Not antimatter'."

Permalink Eye

"...What's antimatter?"

Permalink Eye

"It's the opposite of matter. If it encounters some matter they can violently annihilate each other. I can't make it. Well, not with magic, there are ways to conventionally manufacture the stuff."

Permalink Eye

"That sounds unlikely but I'm not a physicist."

Permalink Eye

"I'd offer you a textbook but I don't have machine translation running for this language yet. Anyway, we're going to the Land of Snow to attempt to use the arbitrary material objects and also my being from another world and my consequent technology advantage to do some stuff without getting bogged down in stupid ninja fights, of which there seem to be many."

Permalink Eye

"Haven't been there before. I guess they're neutral; why not the Land of Iron, though - "

Permalink Eye

"I'd been involved in the Queen's ascension, and also Snow has a better technology base."

Permalink Eye

"Huh." To Cam: "I meant it about wanting Uzushio's library. I'm guessing we'll be prevailing on the locals for a building for the books?"

Permalink Eye

"A building is a material object. We'll have to talk to them about where it'd be good for us to settle in, but I was planning to offer the books in electronic format. They'll take up a lot less space that way even if I never do get around to inputting fifty thousand ideograms into my font library and all the text has to be images." Up up up they fly.

Permalink Eye

"I'm a bit confused how format conversions work - can you get everything by a single author - "

Permalink Eye

"Yes I can. I can do format conversion more or less naively, but the electronic formats I'm using don't know how to read your characters. If it were all an alphabet I'd be working on it, but since it's characters it'll take a long time to do manually. I've been taking notes in a syllabary from another language I know with similar enough phonemes."

Permalink Eye

"If you can make easier to use computers, Snow should have people who can do data entry."

Permalink Eye

"I can do that! I'd want to do some investigating before I give anybody the kind I have in case you people have weird brains but I can do kinds that don't involve that."

Permalink Eye

He nods. "I don't know enough about their economy for if we'd approach the Queen or private citizens for that sort of job..."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, I don't wanna just counterfeit their money either, so even if the Queen isn't doing something weird with her labor supply we'll probably have to start by selling some material objects."

Permalink Eye

"Command economies are considered an ideal on the southern continent, though they don't work at a large scale in practice. Possibly there'll be some regulations about who can do what, though."

Permalink Eye

"You can get away with doing a lot of inefficient things with your economy if you run it on daeva but if you don't have a bunch of us running around command economies do not work particularly well. Hopefully the Queen won't be too obstructive."

Permalink Eye

"I think they work decently in very small communities - clans still use them internally - but yes. She didn't strike me as that unreasonable."

Permalink Eye

"If the population's small enough they sometimes outperform their drawbacks, yeah." Fly fly fly. "You're gonna have to tell me where to land."

Permalink Eye

He points it out on the map; the Land of Snow is fairly big, but their port of entry is here, and the uninhabited ice fields they're less likely to be alarmed by an approach to is over here near the port of entry.

Permalink Eye

Cam swoops them over the ice fields and sets down by the port of entry.

Permalink Eye

There's motion at the edges, and soon enough a group of people clad in dark furs - though not as thick as one would expect given the temperature - are coming out to meet them. 

Permalink Eye

"Karin and I will want some kind of cold weather gear; we can keep ourselves warm for a while with chakra, but it's tiring," Sasuke comments.

Permalink Eye

"Sure, do you like the local styles or what?"

Permalink Eye

"Local styles are designed for local needs, yeah."

Permalink Eye

Now they are both in snazzy coats.

Permalink Eye

And they go out to meet the locals.

Sasuke introduces himself, clarifies he's escaped from Orochimaru, and that he's not a representative of the Leaf, and that yes he'd like to talk to their Queen.

Some conferring later, they're told to follow the locals back to the city.

Permalink Eye

Cam, who rather than be without free wing movement has opted to warm himself with warm air, follows along.

Permalink Eye

The city itself is a lot warmer than the ice sheets. There's a noticeable line where the air is faintly bluer, and where the snow cuts into green ground-cover. It's still cool, so Sasuke and Karin just open their coats. The buildings are designed so that if the climate control cut off they could stay warm inside, but with the windows and doors all open don't get too hot in the warmer temperatures.

They're told to wait in an official-looking building; apparently, the Queen is coming to them. The room they're led to is comfortable, at least.

Permalink Eye

Cam sits and starts teaching his computer the commoner components of local characters so he can maybe write a program later to read the language corpus and turn it into a typeface.

Permalink Eye

The Queen is there quite quickly. She smiles slightly when she sees them, and introduces herself:

"I'm Kazahana Emi, Queen of Snow. I recognize Uchiha Sasuke; who might you two be?"

Permalink Eye

"My name is Cam, it's nice to meet you."

Permalink Eye

"I'm Karin. It's an honor."

Permalink Eye

"The pleasure is mine. To what do I owe this visit?"

Permalink Eye

"I escaped Orochimaru, with their help, but I'm not ready to return to the Leaf. We have a proposal for you, though."

Permalink Eye

"I'm listening."

Permalink Eye

"I am from another universe with more advanced technology, and also I can create arbitrary material objects."

Permalink Eye

"Do you need to know what you're making? And what do you want from us, I suppose in exchange?"

Permalink Eye

"I need to know approximately if I'm copying something, and more exactly if I'm inventing something. Title and author is about right for a book. I'm hoping to call the Land of Snow home base for a while due to the low local concentration of stupid ninja fights, which seem like they'll be a nuisance on any project of generic world-improvement, but you can imagine that someone who can make arbitrary material objects isn't hurting for trade goods, you don't need to worry about that except insofar as I'll need permission to put stuff somewhere and I might want to sell things so we can purchase local labor and suchlike."

Permalink Eye

"If you start upsetting our neighbors enough they decide to bother crossing the ice to attack us, I'll want compensation of some sort, but I'm fine giving you permission to build in an uninhabited area, and to operate in my country, in exchange for some goods we have more trouble procuring here. I can direct local experts your way, too. What do you mean by 'world-improvement?'"

Permalink Eye

"I've been through medical school; if any of your diseases are like ones I know I might be able to work on that, though I don't know how much disease burden the average person on this planet operates under. I know things about economics and engineering and information technology. The shuttle I came in can go to space. There's also more of my species and two other also-useful magical species where I came from, though I'm currently uncertain it'll be feasible to get lots of them. If there's cool lost ninja techniques that are more useful than they are inciting I can get all the written material that was ever produced on those. Modulo stupid ninja fights there's lots of room to make everybody's life better."

Permalink Eye

"There's more lost techniques than modern techniques. Shinobi frequently fail to pass things on. The most useful would probably be anything from the time of the Sage of Six Paths, assuming he actually existed, or anything that was in official use during the imperial period."

"My nation could use disease prevention; malnutrition is a bigger problem, though. Our major bottlenecks are on food production, and some rare materials for our heat-generating machines, which would solve the food problem."

Permalink Eye

"I can solve that problem both directly and via rare materials!" says Cam.

Permalink Eye

"The heat machines are more directly useful, but pound-for-pound the materials will let us make more total. Depends on if there's a mass limit here."

Permalink Eye

"There isn't. I mean, there is but it's not something you're going to notice on the scale of a few warehouses, it'll probably take longer to confirm all the descriptions of what you want and how you want it packaged and where I should put it than for me to make it."

Permalink Eye

"I suspect this will be a very productive partnership, then. Do you have a timeline on your plans for world improvement?"

Permalink Eye

"Not a confident one. I need to know a lot more about local conditions. I've been on this planet for just a few hours."

Permalink Eye

"Then it seems you would benefit from the company of historians, diplomats, and the like."

Permalink Eye

"Wouldn't hurt!"

Permalink Eye

"It's possible I'll be receiving diplomats myself, who are curious about you, once word gets out. I'll turn away anyone from Rice Fields, so long as Orochimaru's in power, but I have no excuse to turn away the Leaf, who will at a minimum be interested in Sasuke-san."

Permalink Eye

"I don't suppose 'he can go wherever he wants' will hold much water?"

Permalink Eye

"If they send my old team, I can talk to them. It's possible if I make it clear I'm willing to be an ally, and not planning on kids, they'll let actual loyalty go."

Permalink Eye

"Not everyone has actually discerned their own lifetime plans for having children when they are fifteen, but if you think saying you don't plan on it will be reassuring..."

Permalink Eye

"I think I can make a case for it."

Permalink Eye

"Are you reasonably confident Orochimaru didn't like, steal samples of you to clone or anything?"

Permalink Eye

"His cloning process isn't very good, and artificial insemination tends to have weird interactions with some bloodlines, including mine. Shinobi also miscarry a lot, and it's worse if the mother has a different bloodline than the fetus. He hasn't figured out artificial wombs. He definitely has some of my genetic material."

Permalink Eye

"Okay, let me know if you ever want me to check up on that but it's probably not happening this week then."

Permalink Eye

He nods, though he seems a bit more withdrawn. 

(It might not hurt, once he has the resurrection technique perfected, to find some resurrectees willing to raid Orochimaru's labs for him...)

Permalink Eye

"Okay, so, where's a good place to set up and receive diplomats and historians and get Karin the lost library she asked for and suchlike?" Cam asks the queen.

Permalink Eye

She pulls out a map, and indicates a place somewhat more inland. "The land's stable, here, but the soil's rocky enough we're not using it for agriculture. Still, it's on one of the major railways; adding a stop won't be hard."

"If you'd rather not be on a railway, here..." And she indicates a place more westerly, "Is outlands, too far from other concerns for us to bother with. You'd be butting up against the reindeer herders during the summer months, but they'll likely be willing to trade the edge pasture for a medical center nearer them. There's a summer port to the north, though most shinobi will come overland."

Permalink Eye

"Being on a railway sounds great."

Permalink Eye

"That simplifies things on our end as well..."

She asks for a simple demonstration of his power, next - names an innocuous document - then provides him with information on which model of heat generator is the current one, though notes they'll need time to clear out a warehouse for receiving ones for their own use here.

Permalink Eye

He demonstrates. "I can come around when you've got a space clear."

Permalink Eye

"It'll be easy enough to send a message. In the meantime, I want information on Orochimaru from Sasuke-san. That snake hasn't come up here much, but anything you can relay would help still."

Permalink Eye

"There's a lot. I'll put together a written report."

He has talked enough today.

Permalink Eye

"Very well."

Permalink Eye

"Speaking of sending me messages, you can just write things down and add 'letter to Cam'," (he makes a note of how he's translating that into the vernacular), "and I'll get it next time I check my mail, I can just conjure everything with that on it."

Permalink Eye

"Just in kana? How should we spell your name?"

Permalink Eye

"Characters are fine, I'll check both. I suppose it doesn't translate neatly. You could put 'swan', that's what my surname means."

Permalink Eye

"That works."

Permalink Eye

Cam makes a note of this.

Permalink Eye

The other logistics are fairly easy to get out of the way. If he wants the train to stop at his location he'll need this set-up for a station... Here's the title of the manual for how the generators work... Here's how they're expecting to get correspondence back...

Permalink Eye

Cam swishes his tail as he makes sure everything is squared away.

Permalink Eye

Do they have anything else pressing?

Permalink Eye

"Would you find it convenient to have some sort of immediately demonstrable diplomatic gift for curious parties, or anything, before we go?"

Permalink Eye

"Yes, very much so."

Permalink Eye

"What would be suitable?"

Permalink Eye

"Some form of technology we don't have, preferably apparently harmless." She thinks of speculative technologies. "Can you do - like a screen but in three dimensions? Something that will entertain the ministers, but not make them get ambitious."

Permalink Eye

"Yes I can! Kinda content do you want me to load it up with?"

Permalink Eye

"At least one very obviously foreign film. If you have anything you'd recommend that'd give a sense of your culture even without a shared language..."

Permalink Eye

"Ooh, good question. There's kind of a wide spread of cultures. I guess I can just go with 'Atriama' and maybe a few years worth of the pre-drama Curator's Symposium? That's mostly music and dance, should be accessible through the language barrier."

Permalink Eye

"Should be interesting, at least."

Permalink Eye

"Do you want a little portable projector or a big stationary one?"

Permalink Eye

"Portable would be of more use, I believe. I'm often in different cities."

Permalink Eye

He makes her a little projector with wheels, already turned on and playing the overture to something performed on a circular stage. "There you go. The battery will last for a while, depending on how urgent other things turn out to be I might have managed to rig up something to convert local electricity by the time you'd need it recharged but if I haven't I can just swap the battery."

Permalink Eye

"Alright. I'll avoid running it constantly. Thank you; how do I operate it?"

Permalink Eye

Cam hands her the remote, which he has made without symbols on the buttons; he adds those in local characters as he explains their functions.

Permalink Eye

She tests them. "Fascinating."

Permalink Eye

"Glad you like it!"

Permalink Eye

"Indeed."

If there's nothing else, she'd like to go start on the assorted logistics on her end. And the politics.

Permalink Eye

That seems to be everything! They can get back in the shuttle and go find their snowfield. Cam brushes up on architecture on ice foundations.

Permalink Eye

It looks like there'll be some solid ground, especially if they decide on a heat generator, but there'll probably be permafrost and rock involved even then.

Snowfield: easily findable, with two railway tracks a bit apart running across it. No trains right now, and the tracks are elevated somewhat, and entirely free of snow and ice.

Permalink Eye

"Any requests for the initial building?"

Permalink Eye

"I don't care."

Permalink Eye

"I'd like a room with windows."

Permalink Eye

"You are people of simple tastes. No complaining if you don't like how tall I make the ceilings or something. Okay, I'm not sure how to get us hooked up to plumbing here so I'm just going to do a reservoir and a deep septic..." He mumbles in this vein while fiddling with a design on his computer.

Permalink Eye

"Eh, I'm happy with 'not a cave,' so."

Permalink Eye

"Gonna give us separate apartments and a few spare in case anybody else turns up and needs to crash..."

Permalink Eye

He shrugs. "Food storage options would be good, in case you need to head off at some point. And so it'll be useful to the locals, even if we all leave."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, I'll put in nice big pantries and freezers..." Edit edit.

Permalink Eye

"Are we at all concerned about security?"

Permalink Eye

"It's a flat featureless plain. Probably anyone causing trouble's going to walk in legitimately."

Permalink Eye

"What security features would you want, though?"

Permalink Eye

"Hm. Usually shinobi favor making things hard to find, at least to unauthorized people, but that'd be hard here... And even the usual minor stuff like 'make harder to find on a flyover' won't really apply out here, we'd notice anyone..."

Permalink Eye

"Going through earth's pretty easy, if someone felt like walking through the walls or floor. Metal's a lot harder, so sticking a layer of that in anything would foil at least some stealth. Force people to use the windows and doors. There might be a similar trouble with plastics, though I don't know that's actually been tested."

Permalink Eye

"I can do a layer each metal and plastic."

Permalink Eye

"That'll help."

Permalink Eye

"Can you do an outer layer in a chakra-conductive material? That way if I can reconstruct Uzushio's defensive seals they'll be easier to apply."

Permalink Eye

"If you tell me what kind of material that would be..."

Permalink Eye

"There's a specific metal," which he names, "Though that's considered better for making weapons out of. But the wood from Hashirama trees is traditional in Konoha for seal-work and construction."

Permalink Eye

"We always used paper from a specific grass species back home... And I think Uzushio used basalt? But wood's probably good for a building."

Permalink Eye

"Veneer of Hashirama tree, got it."

Permalink Eye

"I can't think of anything else specific."

Permalink Eye

"Then I guess we will all live in a house according to my personal take on 2080s vertical cob aesthetics." Design design. "Furniture, appliances, food requests..."

Permalink Eye

...He maybe has a few food requests. There's a few things he didn't get much of when he was with Orochimaru; apparently some things are inconvenient to import when you're a supervillain in a secret lair. Like tomatoes. 

Permalink Eye

He can have tomatoes in many forms.

Eventually, Cam has the apartment building designed and it goes up. He presents Karin and Sasuke with keys.

Permalink Eye

Convenient.

He's going to go shut himself in his bedroom with all the lights off and not talk to anyone at all. For several hours. At least. (And no one's going to punish him for being asocial.)

Permalink Eye

Karin, on the other hand, is actually social.

Though she does have her priorities.

"So... Library?"

Permalink Eye

"Sure, you want it electronic or hard copy?"

Permalink Eye

"It was reportedly pretty big, so let's try electronic."

Permalink Eye

"Local format or a more compact version?"

Permalink Eye

"Compact. I hate our computers, and yours looks actually user-friendly."

Permalink Eye

"All right, let's get you set up with one then. You can't have my kind unless you want me to scan your brain and stuff to make sure it's safe but here's the next best thing." He presents her with a little computer.

Permalink Eye

"I'll hold off on the brain surgery."

She takes the computer, and starts excitedly fiddling with it.

"Man, I'm going to have to figure out some of your tech... Maybe after I read through everything on sealing..."

Permalink Eye

"I gave you a pictographic operating system intended for new daeva who don't have any languages yet," Cam says, "since the OS hasn't been translated into your language, but if you don't care for it I can upgrade you once I've got machine translation going."

Permalink Eye

"Seals contain a lot of - not quite pictographs, but close. I'll be fine." Poke poke poke. Can she figure out how to access the assorted contents? 

Permalink Eye

It's not so intuitive as to be completely transparent, but she can figure it out with some work. The files are organized as they were in the original library.

Permalink Eye

Which she's never had access to, but is at least culturally familiar.

"Thanks. This is - a lot of previously lost knowledge."

Permalink Eye

"You're welcome, please reward my generosity by not using anything horrifying you find in there."

Permalink Eye

"I'm not really sure what you'd consider horrifying?"

Permalink Eye

"...can I think of an ethics textbook to outsource this to. No, not really. Uh. Do not do stuff to people without their informed consent unless they're like actually trying to kill you or somebody else??"

Permalink Eye

" - Okay but what if someone's already dead, who are we counting as a person whose informed consent needs to be sought - "

Permalink Eye

"A corpse is not a person but if you are doing something that might cause them to be a person you need advance permission from them or informed consent from - uh, non-estranged - next of kin. Those summonable snakes and what-all count as people though."

Permalink Eye

" - Obviously the summons are people? Okay and what do you mean 'cause them to be a person'? Is this, like, new person, or resurrection? What about people who've been dead a really long time?"

Permalink Eye

"I don't know what's obvious around here! Folks who summon me are usually on the fence about whether I'm people! I mean resurrection that might have side effects, if you are making a new person that gets into like... reproductive ethics I guess? And if it won't have any side effects and just actually makes them be alive no problem then I will consider that an exception to the thing where you need advance permission, run around doing that one all you want unless people tell you 'cut it out I'm trying to be dead'."

Permalink Eye

"You might need to explain that to Sasuke - I'm betting he's aiming at improving the Impure World Resurrection technique, and I'm not sure he has the same ethics sense as you."

" - Oh also we have a reincarnation system. It's next to impossible to prove who's whose reincarnation, but for when we can, can people consent for their past selves? Assuming it's even possible to resurrect someone who's already reincarnated..."

Permalink Eye

"...how does reincarnation work? If you can't prove it by having people, uh, verify their identities to their past life's kids or whatever?"

Permalink Eye

"You don't keep memories. Some sensors can catch it - I can - but there's usually enough of a gap between lives you can't guarantee there'll be someone alive who can recognize them as the same. Uh, main notable thing is personality continuity, some stuff that's similar about people's lives... Also people who believe in fate and fate-curses think that carries across lives?"

"We have souls, or at least distinct mental components to our chakra, that goes to the Pure World when we die, and then usually return to the Impure World some time later - the general theory is entering the body with the first breath, but it's really hard to confirm reincarnation in someone under around five so we're not sure on the timing there. There's no real continuity in bodies, except insofar as people's mental chakra is attracted to familiar physical chakra, so people do tend to reincarnate within their own or related clans."

"The Uzumaki are the main ones to have documented reincarnations, since we're often really long-lived and have a lot of sensors, so there's probably some actual literature in this library..."

Permalink Eye

"...okay I don't have a principled opinion I can generate in thirty seconds on reincarnations. If something is overwhelmingly unpopular maybe avoid doing it to reincarnations unless you have a really good reason to think they're an exception maybe? I'll think about that on the back burner and am happy to consult if you come up with a specific use case."

Permalink Eye

She shrugs. "If my or one of Sasuke's past lives was someone who might be useful for this, it'd be good if we could give consent on their behalf to being brought back with an early form of the Impure World Resurrection or something, because otherwise we might have trouble with making iterative improvements. But, yeah, not sure how to figure out who they were, unless you can grab 'everything by this person's past life' same as you can grab 'everything by this person'?"

Permalink Eye

"I might, actually, I have no reason to know if that's a conjurable parameter or not since humans I'm used to do not reincarnate."

Permalink Eye

"Oh, that'd be exciting, at least to know... I don't think I'll have tended to be anyone impressive, though..."

Permalink Eye

"Well, I can check, but it'll be little plastic models if it's anything, I don't know if you'd recognize their faces."

Permalink Eye

"If there's clan markings, maybe I'd recognize that at least..."

Permalink Eye

Cam makes an attempt. He hands her a little plastic model.

Permalink Eye

"An Uzumaki... No one famous, though. But thanks. I wonder who Sasuke's is - probably some old Uchiha... Though I guess we can poke him on that whenever he feels like being social again."

Permalink Eye

"He's had a long day."

Permalink Eye

"I've never heard him produce so many words in a row before."

Permalink Eye

"Really?"

Permalink Eye

"He pretty much doesn't talk, even when we've been on missions together? Like, he has ever gotten in trouble for shutting down and flat out refusing to say anything to Orochimaru-sama, though that was mostly when he was new."

Permalink Eye

"Gosh. Maybe he'll like electronic messages better, some people do."

Permalink Eye

"I think that's why he told the queen he'd produce a written report, yeah."

Permalink Eye

"Next time he turns up I'll give him a computer. And in the meanwhile I'll get your kana mapped to Japanese ones for a hacky way to type."

Permalink Eye

"Let me know if I can help, though otherwise I think I'm going to settle in to read some of this..."

Permalink Eye

"Enjoy! I'll send you the packet over wireless when I've got it usable."

Permalink Eye

"Thanks."

And she goes to settle in one of the more public seats - so talking to Sasuke after he leaves his apartment won't require being creepy - to read.

(Wow, the Uzumaki sure liked their complicated archaic and obscure words... She does need to get up to request a dictionary - she can name a good one - and a way of taking notes, but otherwise she'll be able to entertain herself for a few hours.)

Permalink Eye

It's less than an hour before there's a little message that says "font pack! tap this then tap the blue button." in the corner of her screen.

Permalink Eye

Oooooh, that'll be helpful.

She does so.

Permalink Eye

This enables her to type in local kana when she's doing anything that calls for typing, and starts a process with a longish progress bar.

Permalink Eye

Might make things easier for later if she figures out how to attach searchable notes to the assorted books and scrolls...

Permalink Eye

A little trial and error figures this out. Also, any existing kana in the library is being converted into the font pack to make it searchable, though the characters are still images.

Permalink Eye

Fun!

She annotates liberally, and keeps reading.

(It'll be a day or two before she's confident in applying chakra-concealing seals to the outside, though, partially because she does actually know what 'caution' is, and partially because there's a lot to memorize. Still, she's focusing on those.)

Permalink Eye

Once Cam's done the font pack, he sets up a corpus to get going on machine translation, goes and sits outside so he will see his diplomats and historians coming, sips hot coffee, and attempts to conjure local newspapers for a cursory assessment of what's up in the world.

Permalink Eye

Land of Snow news is mostly about various recent technological advancements, or praising the Queen, or a historical monument to the lives lost during the tyrant's reign, or the rebuilding of Kazahana Castle, or think-pieces speculating about if Lightning and Fire will go to war or just keep glaring at each other (the opinion is that since the Leaf helped the Queen get into power, obviously we wouldn't ally with Lightning, but that really we should be keeping out of any potential wars, and the Queen is wise and knows this). Snow doesn't have much in the way of international news, unless there's an outright change of leadership somewhere.

Broader news is concerned with missing people, or terrorist attacks, or the release of a new installment in a famous book series, or local festivals, or the installment of new hospitals across Fire, or what-have-you. The nation they'd fled - Land of Rice Fields - doesn't have newspapers. The Land of Water also doesn't have newspapers, but their neighbors are speculating on the outcome of them being in a civil war - which apparently went very quiet a month ago.

After an hour he can hear a steam locomotive approaching from the direction of the port they left.

Permalink Eye

He puts down his paper when the train approaches.

Permalink Eye

There's no foreign diplomats in the group - they instead consist of three historians, a cultural anthropologist, a doctor with a focus on infectious diseases who happened to be passing through, and one engineer, plus a few students recruited as assistants. Apparently the Queen's planning on sending more people, but anyone who couldn't just be pulled from the college will take more time.

Permalink Eye

What a delightful assortment of people! Cam introduces himself and invites them into the warm apartment building; it has a conference room. "Thank you all for coming!"

Permalink Eye

The historian who seems to be in charge smiles as they all find seats. "Thank you for having us. I'm Sagami Mariko," and she introduces the rest of the crowd. "In the interest of full disclosure, I'm also trained as a shinobi, though my focus is on research and development of historical techniques."

Permalink Eye

"Well, if you'll take any ninja fights outside, we'll call it good. My training is all from another universe but I am in that universe's context qualified in medicine, and all the kinds of engineering necessary to make buildings plus software engineering, plus extensive layman knowledge of that universe's last hundred and fifty years or so of history and scientific and cultural development and spottier information on things that happened before I existed. Also I can play the violin, but I don't expect that to come up."

Permalink Eye

"Is your species naturally long-lived or immortal?"

Permalink Eye

"Immortal! It's a sweet deal. But there's humans around too, that's why the medical training."

Permalink Eye

"Sounds it. You have a very good accent, too - is your species good at language acquisition?"

Permalink Eye

"Yes, although only with a specific shortcut I can't reproduce at arbitrary times, so it won't show up if you try to teach me a language except insofar as already knowing a lot of them helps."

Permalink Eye

"The continent doesn't have very many languages, unfortunately, and everyone speaks at least a little of this one. Still, I'd be interested in learning one of your home world's languages, especially if further contact seems likely."

Permalink Eye

"Sure! Yours is a lot like Japanese in many ways, so that might be easiest, but it's not one of the most commonly spoken - I can't exactly get you a normal bilingual dictionary since nobody's written any with this language in mind but there do exist tutorials intended for people who speak no language at all."

Permalink Eye

"That'd be interesting! I know a few historical and minor languages, though they're all the same family; it'll be nice learning something very foreign."

Permalink Eye

Cam makes a note on a list of things to follow up on when they adjourn to let the humans sleep or whatever. "I'm really curious," he says, aiming this remark at the infectious disease guy, "if you have any of the same diseases here - you have humans, and at least some of the same animals, but I don't know if anything I know about pathology will transfer except insofar as insect-borne disease can probably still be wiped out by extinguishing the carrier species and quarantine procedure is probably applicable across the board."

Permalink Eye

They can compare notes!

There's no direct exact same infectious diseases, though most of the ones locals get tend to attack a lot of the same pathways as diseases from Earth. Still, immunity might not transfer if they have contact between the two human populations. Or diseases might not jump the gap, since active chakra use makes you resilient against disease, and most infectious things that are actually deadly to adults with a functioning immune system suppress people's chakra systems, or are the types of things that crop up while someone's chakra-exhausted.

They don't have a lot of commonly used broad spectrum antibiotics, though, mostly for lack of international cooperation and research. They have more deadly bacteria than viruses, since bacteria are better able to interact with chakra. He'd be interested in establishing trials on antibiotics and antivirals from Cam's universe. Even things that might no longer be useful to Cam's world because genomes have marched on might be things that local bacteria aren't immune to.

Permalink Eye

"I'm working on machine translation and will get you something on antibiotics once that's running!"

Permalink Eye

"Thank you! It'll be more useful down south, of course, but it'll be nice to have more treatment options."

Permalink Eye

"I might bounce around, but only once I have an angle on dealing with any of the lack of international cooperation problems. Unless it looks like I should be wiping out a species of mosquito."

Permalink Eye

"The Land of Fire's southern third and their southern neighbors have some bad insect-borne diseases, as does the Land of Rivers and the Land of Swamps. Fire has a very modern hospital system, so they rarely have deaths that I've heard, but I'm less certain about the farther nations."

Permalink Eye

"If people aren't actually dying or getting maimed by the disease it's likely not going to float to the top of the priority queue very soon."

Permalink Eye

He nods. "I can try to contact colleagues. Fire at least is friendly to us, and if I say I stumbled on a potential insect-borne cure, which obviously isn't very useful up here, they'll be less wary of sharing statistics."

Permalink Eye

"I mean, the cure is 'release a lot of sterile insects' - sometimes you can do ones that do have offspring but only male offspring - rather than something they could easily implement on their own."

Permalink Eye

He hums. "That they might be hesitant to give permission on, at least until you have a firm reputation."

Permalink Eye

"It works best with mosquitoes, because only females bite. If something without a bias like that is transmitting the disease it's a way less appealing option."

Permalink Eye

He nods. "I'm afraid I don't know much about foreign insects. I do know people who might, but I don't know for sure how talkative they'd be."

Permalink Eye

"If you can get me the titles of their publications..."

Permalink Eye

" - We don't really internationally publish findings most places and for most things."

Permalink Eye

"Yes, but if you can tell me even just the title of a journal, I can make it."

Permalink Eye

"I won't know most of their titling conventions, but I've glimpsed the headers of a few memos - "

And he lists what he can remember.

Permalink Eye

Cam takes them all down. "Thanks! Okay, the other things I have obvious comparative advantage at are resource shortages - especially if there's enough transportation infrastructure to get a central supply where it needs to be - and general technological advance, though the latter will be handicapped by the fact that my world's technology won't be backwards-compatible with anything from here. I have a to-do on figuring out how to charge my stuff off your electrical grid."

Permalink Eye

"I'll let the Queen know to send you a team of electrical engineers. And our distribution system's pretty good - we've had railways for a while, and we're getting more laid all the time. We usually use shinobi with storage scrolls for outlying areas; it's a good milk-run for the new apprentices. The capitol's probably the best central warehouse for long-term storage, though the ports are designed to move goods better, so are probably where the Queen will be having you drop things off."

"We have a short growing season, even with the heat-generators and some work on sun-lamps. Anything that'll help treat vitamin D deficiency is good, as well as fruits and vegetables. Technology we can use the most short-term would be agricultural or medical related. Anything that doesn't require us to break up the soil, or that lengthens the growing season..."

Permalink Eye

"I can do vitamin D pills and canned or frozen produce! And agricultural robots! I am not currently prepared to attempt geoengineering but I can look up cold-tolerant crops."

Permalink Eye

"That'd be helpful! Does your world have sun-lamps, or - there was a theory, about growing non-aquatic plants in just water?"

Permalink Eye

"We do have sun-lamps, and hydroponics, though it turns out that with a good enough underlying transportation infrastructure it has made more sense to grow things in conveniently located dirt and then send them everywhere. I also have a to-do about whether you can copy that underlying transportation infrastructure, but it could be you can't, and if you can't railroads are the way to go."

Permalink Eye

"That does make sense. We'd have complicated politics about growing things elsewhere - being food-independent is a large part of our neutrality - but hopefully over time the politics will detangle some."

Permalink Eye

"Oh, yeah, you definitely aren't going to want to rely on importing all your bananas and stuff, I just can't provide as big a jump as you might imagine because the pressures on the economy where I'm from have been different."

Permalink Eye

She nods. "That's sensible. Still, even a small boost to our food stores for shortfalls would be a tremendous help."

Permalink Eye

"I am delighted to be of assistance." Wag wag.

Permalink Eye

Once the initial logistics are addressed: he has some more conventional historians and an anthropologist very curious about his home world! They can of course explain things about their world, but ancient and even more recent records aren't very thorough.

Permalink Eye

Well, he's happy to supplement records! He will talk about his own world but is not super clear on some things because he does not think this world is prepared for a summoning rollout even if he verifies that it would all work perfectly normally; he has the excuse of lack of translation to fall back on if they ask for anything that might leak details about summoning.

Permalink Eye

They're used to an intensely secretive culture where 'which insects do we have' can wind up classified, so if he indicates he doesn't feel like answering something they drop it pretty much immediately.

And they are intensely excited about record supplementation! They'd like original versions of these probably-copied documents, and then of these only-in-translation documents, and these that're only mentioned or excerpted... At his convenience of course. (The historians are maybe a lot excited.)

Permalink Eye

He will provide documents unless they or the person requesting them is sketchy!

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These historians are very carefully selected to be non-sketchy; the documents requested are also mostly stuff like really old treatises on philosophy, or four hundred year old records, or a history book written during the early imperial period and referred to in the late imperial period but since lost.

Sagami Mariko will eventually call the meeting to a close, though - it's been a long day, and the evening return train is expected soon, if she wants to get that message to the Queen without having to just run it herself.

Permalink Eye

"All right, have a good night everybody! It was great to meet you!"

Permalink Eye

"It was good meeting you too! Is it alright if some of us stay overnight? Our historians can produce a bit more of a coherent description of our own timeline, now that we know something about your world, and I think our engineer would cry if we dragged her away from the shiny new technology so soon."

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"I can put some people up! I made extra apartments."

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"Good!"

They make arrangements among themselves for sleeping, though it's clear most of them are intending to stay up for quite a while. The return train doesn't bring anyone new, though they're fine taking mail back to the city. (The doctor sends a request for titles of foreign disease publications; Mariko for an assortment of new personnel.)

Permalink Eye

Cam makes sure everyone's comfortable in a guest apartment and makes himself dinner and sits up all night long reading. He checks his mail, too, and writes a couple Hellish mailing lists.

Permalink Eye

No local mail.

Sasuke apparently is either a night owl or on a fucked up sleep schedule (honestly he doesn't know for sure himself), because he's awake at approximately one in the morning, wandering out of his apartment like a particularly grouchy ghost. He's not actually bothering to make any noise as he moves, either.

Permalink Eye

"Morning," says Cam when Sasuke impinges on the building's atrium. "I think. I haven't set my clock to the time zone yet."

Permalink Eye

He shrugs. He'd been vaguely planning on going outside to stare at the moon, but that would probably be tiring and cold, so.

"There's some notes of Orochimaru's I'd like."

Permalink Eye

"Which ones?"

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He names some titles; they're all on the Impure World Resurrection.

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"Speaking of that, I gave Karin a crash course in ethics, probably worth being on the same page there, how are you planning on using this?"

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"I was going to put back anyone who seemed likely to be helpful with improving the technique, fixing politics, or avoiding capture by Orochimaru, under their own control. If they objected to being brought back I was going to dismiss them again."

Permalink Eye

"That sounds pretty good. Being under their own control is just a parameter you can tweak?"

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"The version Orochimaru developed is a weapon. It puts the person under his control, but that's a - blank field that can be left out. I'm not sure if the original had that; Orochimaru changed it a lot."

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"Cool! All right, here you go." He hands over a computer like Karin's. "It's on there, let me know if you get stuck navigating but it's designed for people who don't speak any languages yet."

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He hums and starts navigating through it. "Is there anything you still need - explained?"

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"I think I'm doing okay, the queen sent over a bunch of neat people and I have a lot to read but not so many burning practical questions. You'll wanna grab those snakes sooner or later. Also it turns out 'past lives' is a conjurable parameter."

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"I summoned them earlier; they're making a nest under the bed. They might come out to bother you for food soon..."

And then he shrugs. "And I guess that might be something interesting to know? My past life. But it seems unlikely to matter."

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"...I didn't make this apartment building accessible to snakes, drat, I knew I was going to forget something. Let me know if they want me to put holes in things for them or something. It doesn't seem that important since you don't have memory continuity or anything like that but Karin was interested."

Permalink Eye

"Shiromi can turn door-knobs, but it might be convenient for Kusana to have some small holes, yes."

"It might be important for modeling, if my past life is someone I want to put back. Or avoid putting back."

Permalink Eye

"It'll be a little plastic model so you won't recognize them most likely, but -" Past life of Sasuke?

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A white haired man with red facial markings.

" - That's Senju Tobirama."

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"...okay? I have been absorbing a lot of information so if I've seen the name I've dropped it somewhere..."

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He shakes his head. "He was the second leader of the Leaf, and the creator of the original Impure World Resurrection."

Permalink Eye

"Gosh! Uh, congratulations?"

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Awkward shrug. "Might make it easier to convince him and his brother to help with politics. Though getting them will be complicated; they got sealed in the God of Death's stomach, which may or may not be a metaphor."

Permalink Eye

"One can be both reincarnated and... sealed in the God of Death's stomach? ...There's a God of Death? Is it just the one god?"

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"He died, I was born a few decades later, Orochimaru used the Impure World Resurrection to get him and his brother to kill the Leaf's third leader thirteen years after that, and the Third sealed himself and both of Orochimaru's zombies into the God of Death. I don't know if that's literal, and there's assorted gods claimed but not any proven. Orochimaru thought he had a way to break the Death God's seal, but was lacking some unspecified materials. It's possible reincarnation just forks someone's soul. No one really knows how it works."

Permalink Eye

"Well that sounds like a whole can of worms."

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He shrugs, and lifts his computer. "Orochimaru might've written down where his notes on breaking the seal were in these somewhere. Beating him to it might be smart."

Permalink Eye

"Well, good luck on that then."

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He nods, and wanders off to check on his snakes and start on reading.

Permalink Eye

Cam resumes reading and drinking coffee and occasionally making stabs in the direction of turning the character set into a full character encoding.

Permalink Eye

Hungry snakes are his next visitors - Shiromi is indeed capable of rearing up to wrap around door-knobs - and then in the morning everyone except Sasuke seems to wake up at a fairly decent hour.

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Cam makes adjustments to the building to allow the snakes to get around, and he feeds them too.

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The snakes are highly appreciative.

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What charming snakes.

What would his visitors like to talk about this morning? (And has he got any messages?)

Permalink Eye

He has a message from the Queen's office, detailing where they cleared out a warehouse for centralization of non-perishable foods. It's in the same port city they entered from.

The visitors would like to talk about fifty different things, but they did put together as detailed a timeline of recent history as they could without a giant stack of references and a larger department, if he wants to read that, as well as titles of history and geography books and publications that are minimally censored.

Permalink Eye

He appreciates the timeline and the titles! Do they have an idea when would be a good time for him to go fill up the warehouse?

Permalink Eye

"If you've gotten the letter, they're probably ready whenever. Daytime is more typical, midday or after is popular for any outdoor transactions because it's warmer, though there's always someone awake."

Permalink Eye

"Makes sense." Is there a list of desired items?

Permalink Eye

Yes. Names of foods and other supplies (non-food supplies are mostly things like 'vitamin pills'), as well as method of preservation and quantity of each thing.

Permalink Eye

What a nicely organized list. He will talk to his guests about fifty things and then lay out a lunch buffet for them and shuttle into town to fill the warehouse.

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Guests are mostly curious about how the internet impacted international cooperation, government censorship, spread of information, literacy rates, education...

For the port city: there's someone available to lead him to the warehouse, and it's already got areas for things marked out. There's some teenagers watching him curiously, all dressed somewhat similarly, but they don't make any effort to call him over.

Permalink Eye

The internet may or may not have merely dovetailed with preexisting trends about those things but if it did anything it was helpful for all of them!

Cam waves to the uniformed teenagers and starts strolling through the warehouse making vitamins and such off his list.

Permalink Eye

One of the smaller teenagers, with purple hair shoved messily under a white fur cap, thanks him while he's on his way out. They're staring at their feet, mumbling it, but they're really grateful about the help with winter supplies.

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"You're welcome! Can I get you anything else before I go?"

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"Ah - shinobi apprentices do pretty well, so I don't need much... I guess, like, some fresh fruit would be really nice?" the purple-haired one says.

"I want that new graphic novel from Fire," a blue-haired older girl says, naming something that sounds fiction. "No one imports books unless they're like super popular or you're rich."

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"Title the book," says Cam, handing the first kid a fruit basket.

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She does so, listing also the volumes she's missing.

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Bundle of manga.

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The other teenagers mostly want similarly foreign works of fiction.

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Cam will fill all these orders, tail a-wag.

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There's assorted excited thanks. 

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"You're welcome!"

And he returns to his apartment building.

Permalink Eye

No one's gotten into any ninja fights. Sasuke seems to be at least human-interacting again, and is curled up in a chair with both snakes draped over him, listening silently to Karin and Sagami Mariko talking about Uzushio sealing methods.

Permalink Eye
Cam sends Sasuke a computer message:

At some point I'm hoping to hear from a volunteer demon who's willing to risk being stuck here so we can see if my summon was a fluke or what. Humans who summon daeva on my Earth become daeva upon dying, which might complicate stuff with all your weird afterlife shenanigans if it takes effect here; since you've already summoned a daeva, ideally you'd do the experiment. OK?
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After a few moments of Sasuke fiddling with the interface, and then some typing, he gets:

I'm fine doing the experiment. I really don't care about afterlife complications. What types of daeva are there, if not just demons?

Permalink Eye
The others are called angels and fairies, but I'm expecting a demon in particular for the experiment because those are the ones I can correspond with here without lag time. If it works normally people can summon angels and fairies under standard arrangements.
Permalink Eye

Sensible.

Let me know when.

Permalink Eye
Maybe after my guests have gone to bed? You seem to have a weird schedule and I don't have to sleep.
Permalink Eye

I don't tend to sleep for long periods. My schedule's flexible, though, so the night is fine.

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Cool, I'll let you know when they've dispersed.
Permalink Eye

Thanks.

He apparently goes back to alternating between reading and listening to the sealing debate.

Permalink Eye

Cam reads the history summary between questions from visitors.

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The empire existed as of six hundred years ago, though there's some indications it was in its second dynasty. There's mentions from that time of a golden age three to four hundred years prior, but frustratingly little actual information.

The empire had assorted rises and falls over the next three hundred and fifty years. Shinobi became a notable force mostly in the last century, as chakra-trained mercenaries who could challenge even well-trained samurai. Some of them were probably rogue samurai, some self-taught, some monks who broke with their traditional pacifism...

There was a civil war that started two hundred and seventy years ago. The Emperor died in it, along with all his children and grand-children and nieces and nephews, with a somewhat suspicious thoroughness. The daimyo started warring among themselves for the seat, but then people started trying to overthrow the daimyo, and the provinces fragmented.

Ninety six years ago, the Senju and Uchiha clans were the two most prominent and powerful shinobi clans in Fire - and they were sworn enemies. Two shinobi of great future note, Senju Hashirama and Uchiha Madara, were likely born this year. Both lost assorted unnamed and unnumbered brothers to the fighting. Uchiha Madara had no known living brothers; Senju Hashirama had one, Senju Tobirama. 

Sixty three years ago, Senju Hashirama and Uchiha Madara united their clans to form the Hidden Leaf. This allowed them to pool defensive resources, and demand fairer contracts from clients. Other clans quickly joined them, and within the decade many other clans in other nations had formed their own hidden villages. 

Within a few years of the major hidden villages forming, the first Great War happened. Historians generally consider the Great Wars to be a natural outgrowth of increased consolidation. The first Great War lasted ten years, and by the end of it all of the early hidden villages were on their second or third leader. The second Great War started when everyone was on their third leader, and was the longest. It saw the destruction of Uzushio and several other nations. The second Great War was also when the mainland started fielding child soldiers again. That'd been a practice the early Leaf put a decisive end to, but by the time the third wave of leaders was in power no one really remembered the constant wars and early deaths of the Warring States period.

The third Great War was the most recent, ending sixteen years ago, though there was some scattered clashes for a while afterwards. It saw the rise of several place's fourth leaders.

There's a timeline of the known leaders and their policies for the most notable nations, especially the big five (Leaf in Fire, Mist in Water, Sand in Wind, Cloud in Lightning, Rock in Earth).

The current leader of the Leaf is their fifth, Senju Tsunade. She's noted for heavily advancing medical research. The current leader of the Sand is their fifth, Gaara. He's noted for being extremely young (Sasuke's age, in fact) and an advocate for peace. The current leader of the Rock is their third, Oonoki. He's old, and is known as the 'fence-sitter.' The current leader of the Cloud is their fourth, A (though this is a traditional name all leaders of the Cloud have taken on). He is known for being passionate and a bit of a war-monger. 

There's also a timeline for the Land of Snow. They united fairly late, out of wandering tribes supplemented by samurai who had left the fighting. They technically have a hidden village, but unlike in other nations theirs is fully integrated with the main nation. Thirteen years ago there was a coup, and the current Queen's uncle killed her mother, taking the nation for himself. The then-Princess was spirited away by loyalists, though her younger sister vanished. Three years ago, the Queen killed her uncle and returned to power. A Leaf team helped, mostly in guarding the Queen during her journey back. Snow has good trading relationships with Fire, but some of that's hampered by Lightning, which guards the easiest sea-route and which is hostile to Fire.

Permalink Eye

...missing princess's whereabouts still unknown?

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Sounds like it.

Permalink Eye

 

Where's the missing princess, pray tell -

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Conjuring for her surroundings gets a simple wooden room with a bed, inside a moderately sized house somewhere rocky and farm-ish. It doesn't look like a prison or anything.

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He zooms out and compares with his maps.

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She seems to be in a remote area of the Land of Earth, where it bleeds up north into this continent - to the south and west of their current location.

Permalink Eye

Maybe he will go on a field trip at some point. Not right away, this doesn't seem like an emergency.

He does ask his visitors if there was much search for the extra princess at the time.

Permalink Eye

There was - the Queen was very anxious to find out what had happened - but given that it'd been a decade and the lost princess had been a baby at the time, with any fleeing servants having to cross snowed-over mountains, and their mother had been definitely killed - well, that no one came forward was thought to mean there might be no one to come forward.

Permalink Eye

Makes sense.

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A very unfortunate situation, all around.

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And Cam makes everybody dinner, and checks his mail, and has a volunteer whenever Sasuke's ready!

Permalink Eye

Sasuke's ready a bit after moon-rise. It's unclear if he's slept in the intervening time, but he's definitely awake right now.

Permalink Eye

"Hey! I have found a demon who wants to adopt a baby - babies are not findable in Hell. The idea is I make a circle, you fill it in since I can't, she shows up, she's okay with staying here forever so as to adopt a baby if that's the outcome, but you try to dismiss her and if that works you summon her right back to go find an orphan somewhere. Sound good?"

Permalink Eye

"That sounds good. There are a lot of orphans, so."

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"Then she will enjoy a considerable selection. She might want tips on where to settle without much risk of her kid deciding to be a ninja, she thought that sounded concerning." Circle!

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"I'll think of some."

He completes the circle.

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There appears a lady demon, dark-skinned and odd-featured, with wings but no tail and dressed more conservatively than Cam. "Hello!" she says, smiling nervously.

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"Hello," he says. "Now to try dismissal?"

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"Yes, I suppose so," she replies. "You just concentrate on wanting me gone for about a minute."

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He does so.

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And she's gone.

"Marvelous!" says Cam, clapping his hands. "That opens up so many options. Here's that circle again so she can go get herself a baby." New circle.

Permalink Eye

He completes that as well.

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Mrindeh returns, grinning. "Oh good!" she chirps. "Um, do either of you know where I should go looking -"

Permalink Eye

"Talking to the Queen of this nation would be the least escalatory, and the Land of Snow stays out of fights, but does have shinobi. Most places will have tight restrictions on who can adopt; if you want to live somewhere warmer, the Land of Waves is much nearer the equator, doesn't have as many restrictions, and probably remembers me fondly enough I can write you a letter of recommendation. They completely lack a shinobi force."

"If we're likely to get a lot of daeva wanting to adopt, it might also be reasonable to take down Orochimaru. He's a criminal who kidnaps children to experiment on, then retreats to somewhere it's hard to just attack him. Any children he has will likely be orphans, with high medical needs."

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"- oh no! Why does he do that?" exclaims Mrindeh. "There are lots of us, lots and lots..."

Permalink Eye

"He has more curiosity than morals, and no one here's bothered to develop ways to do human experiments without humans involved. My non-military idea for getting him to cut it out was 'surveillance and bribery with a massive library', which has a larger chance of working without bystander casualties than anything military, knowing him."

Permalink Eye

She furrows her brow. "Well, I can get you names of lots of people who want babies... there are probably angels too, the fairies have their own system but maybe it doesn't cover them all... why are there tight adoption restrictions?"

Permalink Eye

"Most places are wary of strangers, though that may be less true in areas that're mostly non-shinobi."

Permalink Eye

"I guess that makes sense... I think I'll stay in this country where I won't have to do all the explaining about demons. I can probably take a ninja. And I'll try to get a baby that won't be interesting to ninja."

Permalink Eye

He nods. "That's sensible."

Permalink Eye

"What makes babies interesting to ninja?"

Permalink Eye

"Having specific bloodlines, or being the child of a powerful shinobi. Usually shinobi children are adopted to shinobi parents, though, and most adoptions favor next-of-kin anyways."

Permalink Eye

"Okay. I will look for a normal baby without ninja relatives. Is ninja-ness a conjurable parameter?" she asks Cam.

"I don't actually know, but I think it's just a matter of training, so probably not?"

Permalink Eye

"We'd have to ask someone from this country, but shinobi usually all live in one place, so 'literally any other city' works. The port and capital aren't shinobi cities; I don't actually know where the shinobi city here is, because it's hidden."

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"I'll check out the port and the capital, then," says Mrindeh agreeably.

Permalink Eye

He nods and names the actual cities.

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"Which way?" she asks.

"Follow the railroad thataway," says Cam, pointing. "I'm not sure how you get in to see the queen about it though."

Permalink Eye

"Sagami Mariko is able to send messages, though presumably there's something less than royal permission needed. We might want to wake her though to ask."

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"I can wait till morning," says Mrindeh.

Permalink Eye

He nods. "Anything else in the meantime?" It's directed kind of generically.

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"Sagami-san can probably take it from here," Cam says.

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"I'll go back to reading, then."

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"Thank you so much!" says Mrindeh, beaming at him gratefully.

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He nods, kind of awkwardly. "You're welcome." The words feel weird, flat. (People usually aren't thanking him, even back when he was on the side of the 'good guys' and doing helpful things.)

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And with that it would seem he is free to go. Cam introduces Mrindeh to Sagami Mariko when she's up and about.

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"It's nice to meet you!" Mariko says. She's fortunately a morning person. "Is there something you need?"

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"Cam said that I might be able to adopt a baby here!"

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"You might, yes. Are babies harder to come by in Hell?"

Permalink Eye

"There aren't any baby demons, not ever."

Permalink Eye

"That sounds unpleasant for people who want children, yes. If Cam-san and Sasuke-san are willing to vouch for you, it should be fairly easy to get approval for an adoption, though you'll be asked to read through the relevant laws first, and put up with social services visiting every now and then."

Permalink Eye

"She's part of a baby enthusiast club back in Hell and they referred me to her when I needed a demon willing to be here long-term for an experiment; I don't know her personally but she came well-recommended."

"I don't mind visits and reading laws," nods Mrindeh.

Permalink Eye

"We'll accept indirect recommendations; that's really more to make it non-trivial for random people to waltz off with children."

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"I indirectly recommend her," confirms Cam.

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"I'll pass that along, though we should probably work out an actual system for future demonic adoptions."

"There's a train scheduled for fairly early this morning, if you want to go in on that?" Mariko directs towards Mrindeh. "It's heading towards the capital, though there's a return in a few hours heading for the port. And I can send a message noting the recommendation along with you."

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"Ooh, I've never been on a train before," says Mrindeh. "Do I need a ticket?"

Permalink Eye

"Not for this one, though if you wanted to take trains to other places you would. This one's more of a cargo train with a little room for special passengers; it's not the main passenger line."

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"All right! How will I find an orphanage once I'm there?"

Permalink Eye

"You'll want to stop by the civil hall first, to get documentation..." Directions to that - it's pretty close to the train station. "Though I'm not sure where their orphanage is. Presumably the civil hall can answer that."

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"All right!" says Mrindeh, manifesting a computer like Cam's and taking down the directions.

Permalink Eye

She can name the relevant sections of legal code; she could recite them, her memory's eidetic, but for a demon it seems that 'this part through this part' is enough?

Permalink Eye

Yup! Mrindeh makes a little object to slip into her computer and is soon reading through the legal code.

Permalink Eye

It's an extremely simply laid out legal code, in plain language, with very few exceptions and loop-holes. Weird edge cases are left up to a judge's discretion, but don't tend to come up.

Children have the right to a certain level of education. Pure home schooling past age seven is extremely difficult to get approval for. Children also have a right to medical care, and to life, and 'your own children' are not exceptions for assault laws. Children are automatically full adults at the age of sixteen but can pretty easily get emancipated from twelve on, and can apply for specific legal adult rights without full emancipation. There's no draft for the military, but if a national emergency is announced you're expected to obey the military's orders, or whoever is your local enforcement for city-wide emergencies.

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"Hm," says Mrindeh. "Where can I learn more about what schools are like here?"

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"I wouldn't be someone to ask; I tested out of everything as fast as they could throw it at me. But we have college students with us, who could possibly be interviewed, or you could talk to a social worker in the capital itself."

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"A social worker will probably know what I want to know," says Mrindeh. "Thank you so much!"

Permalink Eye

"You're welcome! Good luck with adopting."

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"Thank you!!" Mrindeh repeats, and she goes and catches the train when it comes.

Permalink Eye

The train runs very directly to the capital; she should have no problem with it.

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Back at the base, to Cam, since Sasuke isn't in evidence: "Is there a plan to summon more demons?"

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"Demons have enough production capacity that I don't plan on arranging to summon more without a specific reason to do so."

Permalink Eye

It is convenient for them having another demon around, one apparently very friendly and more inclined towards parenting than world projects.

"Why this one, then?"

Permalink Eye

"Because demons can conjure mail, I can correspond with other demons; I don't have the ability to write to angels and fairies to get their consent to participate in experiments."

Permalink Eye

"That's sensible. Do you mind sharing what experiment was performed?" Whatever it is, clearly it operates on different principles from usual summoning, if the answer isn't 'Sasuke possesses the demon contract and not the angel or fairy contracts'.

Permalink Eye

"We wanted to see if she'd be able to go home; if I'd done this myself the answer could have been 'yes but no coming back', and I didn't want to risk that, so I found a demon willing to stay here indefinitely. She made a round trip."

Permalink Eye

"A good experiment to perform, then."

Permalink Eye

"Thank you."

Permalink Eye

She nods, and goes about her business.

Permalink Eye

Cam very shortly thereafter gets a message from Sasuke.

I am serious about wanting to stop Orochimaru somehow. He's maybe not the prime cause of misery on this continent, but he's the one I know about, and he makes people miserable in ways resurrection and immortality might not fix. I'd like some demon's help; it doesn't have to be yours.

Permalink Eye
What kind of plan do you have in mind? Also, if you plan to be on the field yourself I'd like to first set up someone with circles for me (and Mrindeh) in case you die.
Permalink Eye

Least violent is bribing him, as I've mentioned. He'd probably want to talk to be in person, would probably attack me if he got bored or decided not to agree, and at the stage I'm at might be successful in killing or capturing me if I was alone. A set up backup circles is reasonable, though I'll be trying to minimize risk to myself.

My plan is to complete the resurrection technique first, though, and see about breaking the Death God's seal to get at least my prior incarnation to help, if not also the other ones sealed there. Even Orochimaru would balk at that kind of opposition.

I'm hoping to approach Orochimaru with the bribe initially. If we can resolve this without violence, I'm fine. If he refuses, I plan to take whichever resurrected I've recruited, kill him, destroy his back-up bodies, destroy his other known methods for self-resurrection, and then possibly arrange for Sound to be taken over by someone with functioning morals. Possibly me, possibly a resurrected, possibly someone local. I'd rather not me, since I hate politics, but if I kill Orochimaru his followers will respect me enough that I can lead.

My current minimizing-risk plan involves sending in a shadow clone with a resurrected as a guard. Shadow clones are chakra constructs; they have their creator's memory and personality, and their memories return to the creator on their destruction. Orochimaru might still try to hunt me down, though.

Permalink Eye
Sounds like you've thought it through. Your demon assistant would be a bodyguard, or your supplier?
Permalink Eye

Plan was supplier. Bodyguards should probably be shinobi. Able to work at our speeds, familiar with our signals and culture. And sometimes having a weird power present is escalatory on its own. The resurrected would be a statement, but they're a statement within a framework everyone's familiar with.

Permalink Eye
Once precautions are precautioned I'll be happy to outfit you.
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Thanks.

I should have figured out the resurrection as used by Orochimaru by sundown. I'll need other files on what he had on breaking the Death God's seal, though.

He names the relevant scroll.

Permalink Eye

Cam gets it in electronic format and emails it.

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Very shortly thereafter:

This is fairly simple, but I don't know if it works. There's a specific mask within a specific shrine, both of which are named. Apparently if you put that mask on a living person, they will have a mantle of the Death God's energy, and if you cut their stomach open their life will be exchanged for the lives sealed. I have no idea how that works.

I have no idea if a mindless body relevantly counts, though if they count for the resurrections at all they should count for this.

Permalink Eye
Well, I can provide one if you want to try it. If you have a way to source suicidally depressed people you could probably talk me around on those too.
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I'll want to try going for Tobirama first, I think, which means the whole complicated thing with the mask. I'll need two bodies ultimately, though only one initially, the mask, and separately some of Tobirama's genetic material. Preferably, neither body should be genetically identical to him, as I don't know if that will interfere oddly. Might be best to try this tonight. I can have something ready by then.

I don't have a way to source suicidally depressed people. Probably suicidal shinobi would volunteer, that's in line with our culture, but I'd rather it not get out prematurely that I'm doing this.

He also names the mask and the shrine (it's in the form of 'the third mask from the left on the second row from the top in the Uzumaki shrine in the Leaf'. Apparently the Uzumaki involved themselves in a lot of weird things).

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Do you want me to try making the mask or does it seem likely that it's supposed to be the exact same one?
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I'd like to try with a copy, first. I should be able to tell if the mantling happens, and if it doesn't I'll use the body to summon someone else. Stealing from the Leaf might complicate diplomacy, and they're unlikely to hand it over.

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Legit. Should we go out a ways into the snow so if there are unexpected side effects we don't mess up the building?
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I can't think of anything specific that might happen, but that's probably smart. The dead won't care, anyways.

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They're convenient that way. Meet you in the atrium?
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Sure.

And, a bit after moon-rise, he's there, a scroll tucked under one arm.

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"Evening."

Out they go. Cam flies rather than hike or bother with the shuttle.

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Sasuke keeps up. It's more a leisurely stroll.

And when they're sufficiently far away, he comes to a stop, clears a rockier area of snow, and pulls out his notes to double-check them.

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Cam lands. "Say when."

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He finishes the double checking, tucks the scroll into a belt pouch, resettles his knife, takes a deep breath, and says, "Now."

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One of the standard healthy basement-dwellers used for med school.

Mask.

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He puts the mask on the body.

There's a visible shimmer in the air, translucent lines forming a terrible visage - grey skin like an old corpse, white hair, white horns, white robe, grinning face, withered hand clutching a straight knife. Sasuke makes a deeply complicated expression, before his face goes blank.

Silent, he drags his knife across the body's stomach.

A gash appears on the apparently-a-death-god's stomach, and five blue balls of light rush out, rapidly dissipating. One, though, hovers before Sasuke. The body stops breathing, faster than the wound should have killed it.

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Cam observes from a few paces back.

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He eyes the hovering ball of light a bit warily, then says, "I could use the second body and Tobirama's genetic material now."

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Vial of bone marrow, second body same as the first one.

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He unfurls the scroll he'd brought, which has a lot of really intricate flowing symbols, places the bone marrow at a certain point, and then presses bone-marrow-and-scroll combination to the body's forehead.

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The body is rapidly covered in dust and ash, reshaping into an adult man. The glowing blob in front of Sasuke settles down into the body.

And Senju Tobirama opens his eyes.

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"Hi."

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"You've summoned me, without any controls," he observes, rising smoothly to his feet. "Why? An Uchiha, and a non-human..."

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" - I wanted your help. With. A thing," Sasuke says, tongue tripping over itself. Argh. Why now, brain. (Maybe he's a bit burned out.)

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He tilts his head. "Care to elaborate?"

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"There's a supervillain who needs to go down and Sasuke here wanted you on board with that. Also it's great to know that resurrection works!"

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"This feels still like Orochimaru's version of my technique. Did you find a solution for the sacrifice problem?"

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"Oh, yeah, I can create mindless live human bodies."

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He pauses. "That has fascinating implications. Who is this 'supervillain' you wish for my aid against?"

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"Orochimaru. Sounds like you're acquainted."

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"He twisted my technique and used me and my brother to try to destroy the village we built. I am not fond."

He turns to regard Sasuke. "What do you wish to do with him?"

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"Stop him from hurting people. My plan was to try to bribe him. I - know how his mind works. What he wants. If that fails, kill him."

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"I would want to be consulted in specifics. But that seems acceptable."

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"I'm very equipped to do bribery."

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"What do you plan to bribe him with?"

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"I believe Sasuke said 'massive library'. If more mindless bodies to play with wouldn't be a security risk I can do that too."

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"I suspect he could do just as much damage with a large enough library as with his own experiments. But I don't know him well enough to say."

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"I'd rather resolve this without bloodshed."

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"Sensible. And I am amenable to monitoring him, assuming you do not wish to dismiss me once the task is finished."

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He shakes his head. "I was - hoping this would be. Permanent."

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"Resurrecting people just to re-kill them would be kind of fucked up!"

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"The shinobi world often is."

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"I've noticed that and object."

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"You might get along with my brother Hashirama, then."

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"Perhaps we'll resurrect him too, why not, this seems repeatable, yeah?"

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"He seemed likely to be helpful with fixing politics."

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"He sometimes has blind spots with people, but he does have respect going for him."

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"Has that aged well?" Cam asks Sasuke.

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"Yes. Now he's a dead legend. If he had flaws, no one remembers."

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"He had flaws. We all do. He will likely be reluctant to intervene in modern politics, because our time is over, but if there's anyone trustworthy, he could throw his support behind them."

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He shrugs. "I've been... Isolated. I don't know."

He knows what a couple of his year-mates were like as twelve-year-olds, but fifteen is a long ways from twelve.

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"I'm not even from around here, though I guess I'd be good at digging up intel on people."

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"What are your powers?"

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"I can make things. I don't have to invent the things, I can copy, so it's useful for forensics."

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"Do you form new things from raw materials, or do you create new matter? How much information do you need?"

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"New matter. For a book 'title and author' is about right."

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"Impressive. There's a good chance Orochimaru - or any other unfriendly actor - may try to subvert or control you if that gets out."

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"Yes, this concerns me and is among the reasons I am nowhere near Orochimaru."

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"It's another good reason to avoid a daeva as a bodyguard..." Sasuke mutters. Then, louder: "Do you think your brother would mind being brought back?"

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"I don't think so. Though bringing him along openly might be... Aggressive."

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"The Fourth would've known Orochimaru in life. I might try bringing him back, too. He'd be a good - more modern person."

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"I can do this all day," says Cam.

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"Then it might be best to grab everyone I know was sealed - at least to prevent Orochimaru from getting them."

"I need three bodies, and the genetic material of Senju Hashirama, Sarutobi Hiruzen, and Namikaze Minato."

"I don't know who the fifth soul had been, though."

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Bodies bodies bodies. Vials vials vials. "Do you know?" he asks Tobirama.

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He shakes his head while Sasuke starts on the process. "Possibly one of the Uzumaki. They developed the technique, after all. Or perhaps whoever was the enemy of this Namikaze; he wasn't sealed with us, and the Death God's seal always traps both the user and their target."

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"Might be a conjurable parameter." Body of the fifth lightball?

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This fails.

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"I do not seem to be able to use 'that lightball' to get a model of someone."

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He tilts his head. "Can you try for the other lightballs? In case there is something exceptional about that one."

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"Sure -" Conjuring by 'the lightball that turned out to be Tobirama'?

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Gets a miniature Tobirama.

"Fascinating."

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"I wonder what's up with lightball the fifth..."

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"I do as well. Namikaze might have an answer."

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"We can ask them!"

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Sasuke seems to be almost done with the first - 

(He overheard the discussion, and decided to prepare the Fourth Hokage's summoning first.)

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And a new person forms.

He glances around, frowning, and asks, "What is the meaning of this?"

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"Hello! We resurrected you! No people were sacrificed."

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"How did you break the Death God's seal?"

He concentrates for a moment, then relaxes ever so slightly.

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"The Uzumaki clan had a method, apparently," Sasuke says.

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"That sort of knowledge was certainly lost. How did you acquire it?"

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"I can recreate notes, among other things."

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"They seem legitimate to me; the Uchiha boy hasn't lied once. They had asked for my aid in dealing with someone named Orochimaru."

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"Orochimaru was a loyal shinobi of the Leaf, last I'd checked."

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"He defected after your death. He got caught experimenting on Leaf citizens, unauthorized."

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"I'll need to confirm that, before I offer any aid," he points out.

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"Does my word suffice, that the one time I met him, he was summoning my brother and I to attack the Leaf?"

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" - Is the Leaf alright?"

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"Yes. The Third sealed them both. There's a Fifth Hokage now, Senju Tsunade. She's uncontroversial."

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He hesitates, then shakes his head. "I still want external confirmation."

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"That's very responsible of you. Are there materials of a kind or volume you'd be sure I hadn't fabricated which would suffice?"

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"I'd prefer to talk to someone, actually. Someone I know is loyal to the Leaf."

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"Field trip option, okay. Sasuke, you have anybody in mind who's accessible?"

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"Kakashi. Naruto. Tsunade. Jiraiya."

"Tsunade's probably in the Leaf. Approaching might not get good reactions, I don't know. This technique's usually a weapon."

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"Naruto's not in the Leaf right now," he says, confidently. "And he's beside Jiraiya. Be right back."

And he vanishes in a flash of yellow light.

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"Whoa, he can teleport, that's awesome! I didn't know ninja could teleport!"

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"I think he's technically traversing the space in between, if I identified that technique correctly as a modification of my Flying Thunder God. Though he's going faster than I ever managed."

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"Less cool. But still cool."

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Sasuke, who's still working on the next resurrection, comments, "Teleportation is theoretically possible but probably requires a bloodline or a lot of math."

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Hee hee.

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Since they seem to be between dramas, to Cam: "Can you make bodies with bloodlines?"

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"Don't know. Perhaps, if it's just genetics, but I have a suspicion there's something more complicated going on because the human population I'm familiar with doesn't have any such things."

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"Something that bears experimenting with."

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"It'd have to be something that could be identified without the person needing to do anything, since I can only make mindless bodies."

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"I can sense the presence or absence of a bloodline, and how developed it is, but a mindless body might interfere with that."

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"Might it? How do you do it?"

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"I can sense at fairly high levels of detail. The yang portion of chakra is different between clans, and different if any modifications have been done to the body. The yin portion of chakra is greatly reduced in those bodies, though, to about the level I would expect in an insect. Some bloodlines, like the sharingan, rely greatly on small differences in yin chakra, while others rely primarily on yang chakra."

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"I'm curious what you can sense off me, if anything."

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"Your body isn't human, though your mental patterns are. You're fairly old. You've never actively wielded chakra, and I'm unsure if your body needs chakra to live like ours do. The wings and tail aren't original. You have some level of control of your body that's atypical for most untrained humans. I also get about as much detail off of chakra as far as emotions go as most people do facial expressions, though I can't read expressions."

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"Huh, all correct or things I've speculated myself."

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"I tend to have more detail about natives when I try, since I'm used to how the patterns ebb, but I don't tend to look that closely at people. Usually I pay more attention to anything relevant to potential conflict, or to medicine if I'm healing someone."

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"Makes sense. So if you can sense me that means I don't just not have chakra and leaves wide open the question of why nobody where I'm from has ever discovered its uses."

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"It might be a property of this universe, or a property that any who pass through gain. Also, there are no recorded instances of someone learning to use chakra without a teacher. We supposedly had a single original teacher from whom all traditions sprang. It's unclear where he might have learned."

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"Oh, okay, that could do it, especially if bloodlines have to be deliberately created instead of popping up sometimes."

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"There's instances of new bloodlines arising from an interaction of two others, but none of bloodlines from nowhere."

"I wonder if you could conjure the Sage of Six Paths, to at least confirm whether any such person ever existed."

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Sage of Six Paths mini plastic?

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An old man, with three odd eyes - the two that are where eyes normally go are purple with black rings, and take up the entire visible eyes. The third is in the middle of his forehead, bloody red and similarly ringed. He has horns growing from his forehead, and black lines across his body.

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"Well isn't he fashion-forward." Was he born like that, what did this guy look like as a baby.

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Chubby cheeks, two eyes, full head of white hair, and horns

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"He was born with the horns and a surprising amount of hair, the eyes were added later," Cam reports for the benefit of supervision who don't know what he's conjuring by.

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"I suppose that's possible with an odd bloodline, though I've never heard of one causing horns at birth."

"It's interesting he existed. I wonder where he learned, or if the idea that he taught everyone is the myth..."

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What'd his parents look like, were they, ah, horny, too -

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A normal human man, vaguely East Asian, and a woman even odder than her child. Her eyes are a smooth, unrelieved light purple, with no apparent pupil. She has a red eye - the same shade as Sasuke's sharingan - in the middle of her forehead, ringed, with nine tomoe rather like the three he has in each iris. She has quite large horns growing from her skull, bony protrusions in place of eyebrows, skin so pale it's debatable if there's blood under there, and white hair. 

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"He got it from his mom! That's interesting."

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"Not the oddest bloodline I've ever seen. Those eyes look like the byakugan, a bloodline of the Leaf, and the middle eye looks like a potential precursor to the Uchiha's sharingan, but I don't recognize the other traits."

"It does imply there was chakra prior to the Sage, if his mother had notable bloodline traits."

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What do the maternal grandparents look like?

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Like the woman, in a way you'd expect without bizarre moon logic genetics coming into play.

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"I could keep going but it looks tentatively like they're all whatever this is on that side of the family. Legends don't refer to these folks at all?"

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"Not among shinobi, but if they've survived in folk tales I might not have heard those."

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"Inconveniently I don't know what they would have been called or anything." Is this a coherent enough group of weird purple-eyed people that he can conjure the works of them as a collective -?

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Yes. There are a lot of works, only a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction in any language or even writing system he's remotely familiar with. That minuscule fraction is in what might be an older version of this continent's language, and might be its common root with Japanese.

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"We got a whole alien civilization on our hands here!"

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" - Any indication of where they came from?"

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"I will get back to you on that!" Home planet?

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Blue and grey and brown and white and definitely not this one or Earth. There's a lot of mega-structures on the surface, almost no undeveloped land.

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"Hey look it's their planet." He tosses Tobirama the planet.

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He catches it.

"I wonder why one was here."

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"Science fiction tells us that it could be anything from a random crash to being super into human dudes and setting out to find one to have a baby with, we just don't know."

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"How many have there ever been on this planet?"

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Cam checks.

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Two, both apparently female.

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"Sage's mom and this other lady if I assume that they have conveniently human-legible genders." Any other first generation crossbreeds?

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There's apparently just the Sage and another boy who looks massively similar to him.

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"There was another half-'n-half."

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"None of the legends mention the Sage having a sibling."

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"Could be the other lady's." He can check that.

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Nope. Appears that only one of the two women reproduced.

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"Isn't, though, so he had a baby -" Check. "Brother if we're assuming really humanlike aliens."

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"It's curious that interbreeding could happen at all."

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"No kidding. I don't even have gametes. Maybe they did it with a chakra technique or something."

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"That could explain why bloodlines are genetically incongruous, too..."

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"Genetically incongruous?"