Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, or any of the other franchise that I may reference in this story
AN: My first fic, I look forward to your feedback. This is an SI fic, where instead of replacing Naruto, Sasuke, becoming a sibling to an important ninja, or using a Naruto-in-Name-Only story to pretend it isn't an SI fic, I decided to see how much words could change by replacing Inner Sakura. Explanations of my my opinion of Sakura can be found on my profile. If you notice a reference to another fanfic, have an idea or reccomendation you feel would improve the story, or just think that I should go die in a fire for writing this, please feel free to leave a review.
Sticks and Stones: Chapter 1
" A member of team 7 has always dealt with a voice in the back of their mind, a voice convinced that knowledge is the most dangerous power there is"
"Have I ever given you reason to doubt me, little scholar?"
"Fine, I understand that this request is more nonsensical than my previous recommendations, so I will make you an offer: You have a week before team placements, a week for the administration to incorporate you into the system and the bureaucracy to feel important by signing papers and moveing them from one office to another. A week with no school and no training, nothing to occupy your time. In that week, you'll being with the basics, and in exchange, I will tell you your exactly who will be on your team, to prove my knowledge. If I'm correct, you will trust me to be at least somewhat knowledgeable and continue your studies, and if I'm wrong, I'll drop my requests."
"Fine, if it'll get you to shut up about it, but how do I know you're not just guessing and hoping you'll be right?"
"Simple, your teammates will be Uchiha and Uzumaki, little one."
"Naruto? Now I know you're making it up. That idiot didn't even graduate, there's no way he'll be on my team. I'll take your offer, but when you're wrong, you have to give me some new ideas for chakra experimentation."
"Terms accepted, little one."
For as long as she could remember, Sakura had heard the Voice. It was always there, in the back of her mind, serving as a counterpoint to her thoughts, helping her work out her problems, taking amusement in her happiness, empathizing with her pain. It was her secret friend, always there: even when Ino had stopped being friends with her. She knew, intellectually, that it was odd to have a voice in her thoughts, so she kept it a secret, because Ishi was her first and greatest friend, even if they didn't agree on everything.
But she trusted Ishi, even when faced with an odd new idea. Because, while she was talented when it came to absorbing knowledge, memorizing things easily, Ishi was smart when it came to applying knowledge. Ishi's creative, sideways, insane way of looking at something had helped her rise to the position of top kunoichi, despite her weak taijutsu and lack of clan support. Ino could go jump in a lake, because Sakura was going to be the best kunoichi ever.
Everything Sakura wasn't, Ishi was. She was young, but Ishi was like a mentor, or old wise figure. Where Sakura was subdued except when angry, Ishi was enthusiastic unless she (or someone else) did something that really pissed him off. Sakura was focused, and Ishi was flighty. Sakura was cautious, Ishi was confident. Sakura was smart, and Ishi was wise. So when she had a problem that she couldn't solve, she tried to be like Ishi.
Most of his insane suggestion had a very good reason behind them, even if he was prone to nonsensical statements and outbursts. She just wished she knew why he wanted her to learn Fuuinjutsu.
Nevermind, she understood exactly why he wanted her to learn fuuinjutsu.
In short? It was perfect for her, it hinged on mentality and creativity, needing a special blend of the kind of creativity that let you cheat the universe /chakra into doing what you wanted, and the obsessive focus needed to spend hours writing out on paper exactly what you meant, and hours staring at paper to find your mistakes. It was a bizarre blend of math, science, creativity, and insight that most ninja never bothered to look into beyond making the most basic storage scrolls and explosive tags, relying on rote memorization in application.
But for her, it had several great strengths:
With preparation, it was labor intensive rather than chakra intensive. Even seals that used jounin-level chakra reserves could be charged over time before being compressed to accommodate her own limited reserves.
It turned idea's into power. She only needed to design and debug a seal once, and then she could make as many of them as she wanted, given time and supplies, in essence allowing her to premake jutsu or effects for use when she needed them.
Since most ninja never bothered, the information on fuuinjutsu was readily available to anyone who wanted to "waste their time with ink and scrolls, instead of learning real jutsu" as the chuunin who manned the entrance of the public shinobi archives had said when he thought she was out of earshot. She didn't need a clan or a teacher, just imagination and drive, to learn it.
It was primarily mental, actually compressing the seal required chakra and a steady had, but designing a seal required creativity and intelligence. Meaning that Ishi could help her with her sealing, in a way he couldn't with taijutsu or ninjutsu. He could help proofread seals as she drew them, and his "insanity" helped her. He would create off the wall ideas, and the basic structures to make them work, and she would polish them, to make them work well.
And, most incredibly, in the right hands, it was incredibly potent. The Second and Fourth Hokage's had become legends through fuuinjutsu, turning the tides of wars and craft legendary weapons. The former had crafted the Blade of the Lightning God and developed the Flying Thunder God technique, which the latter had dissected and mastered in synergy with incredibly potent taijutsu and short range ninjutsu to basically wind the third shinobi war single wasn't sure if it could "Bind demons and shackle kami to her will" like Ishi claimed, but for now, it was almost tailor made to her strengths.
Admittedly, Fuuinjutsu seemed as though it was made to compensate for either lack of chakra or lack of control, and while it represented infinite potential in the long term, in the short term it was inflexible and un-adaptable. Given a few hours, she and Ishi could design seals to counter elemental jutsu or drain chakra, make a stockpile of tags, and counter specific techniques dozens of times using only a token amount of chakra. But in a battle, she would be limited to what she had already made.
For a kunoichi with no clan or ninja relatives, and a psuedo-genius with nothing but time to think up new designs for her to polish to perfection, it was a godsend.
In the week leading up to team placement, she had already finished up with a single use, hemi-spherical, barrier array, which would repel anything solid trying to pass through it until running out of chakra. She had mastered and modified exploding tags, making a simple flash-bang and incendiary tag as well as developing various alternate triggers beyond the simple fuse. On Ishi's recommendation, she had made the triggers "modular" so she should be able to apply them to any other seals.
Storage seals, however, was where she and Ishi had come together and made something beautiful.
Storage scrolls, it turned out, do not actually store objects "in" the scroll; they shunted them into some pocket somewhere to be untouched by air or time. Most scrolls had a mechanism that drew them back if they were damaged, so as not to lose valuable items or intel into the ether when a stray kunai cut open the seal. To an unassuming eye, it seemed like a piece of useless trivia, and a warning in some of the better textbooks to add redundancies and failure points to your array's to prevent unexpected side effects. But to Sakura, it meant that storage seals could be applied to anything, even her person, meaning that not only would she not have to carry heavy things or a pack, but she could lock them and carry weapons or supplies that couldn't be taken away. She would still carry a kunai and shuriken pouch, because a ninja without supplies in the field was just asking for scrutiny, but she decided to design a storage seal to put on her wrist or hands, letting her pull a weapon or similar item from nowhere.
Then Ishi had had an idea, put the seals on here fingers. At first, she thought that it would mean that she could carry 10 items instead of 2 in her personal pocket, but Ishi had directed her to her modular trigger designs, including one that differentiated between multiple effects depending on chakra signals and a unifier that associated signals from multiple points to a governor to generate arbitrary chakra pulses. In essence, they formed a series of switches, and after a short lesson on "binary" from Ishi, she had learned that with her thumbs acting as an activator and 8 fingers acting as "bits" (whatever those were) she could direct the release seal to pick between 256 pockets! All she had to do was remember what pocket each item was in, then channel chakra to different fingers corresponding to the correct pocket while sending chakra to her thumbs to activate the release seal and prevent her from emptying her pockets on accident. Additionally, she needed to separate her chakra into yin and yang elements and send the correct piece to the correct thumb, or it wouldn't activate, so she could still use her hands to manipulate chakra without fear of sealing or releasing something by accident.
Designing and debugging the seal had taken most of her week. Making the flash-bang seal, incendiary seal, and their lesser variants (lantern and torch) had taken most of a day, after she found textbooks that weren't useless and learned the basic syntax of 8 trigrams sealing. (In the future she would make sure to study 5 elements and Yin/Yang sealing, and something called "Uzumaki" sealing, and she could hear her friend muttering about designing a new form of syntax when they had time). And most of that time was spent walking to an empty training field once the syntax errors had been fixed to make sure there weren't any logic errors or logistical problems. Her modular trigger seals and switching seals had take a few hours, and the basic sealing scroll had taken about an hour to decode and remake.
By contrast, she and Ishi had spent a days designing the basics of the array and digging up the references she needed to put it together, a day working out the syntax errors and compressing her first test seal on a blank scroll, and the next 2 days working out the various errors and writing a stealth compression seal to hide the final result of the seal when it wasn't in use. She wasn't sure why Ishi insisted she reinvent the wheel when there was a perfectly good stealth compression seal in one of her books, but that, and the improvements they came up with took 2 days to finish.
At first, Ishi had thought that was enough, but Sakura enabled the pockets to contain multiple items, and release them one at a time, or all at once (she didn't know what FILO meant, but she'd revisit it later).
The seals were inked carefully onto her fingers and hands, making sure not to smudge anything. The writing process had take 8 hours, and she had spent another 4 checking them. she was hungry and tired, but this had the potential to be dangerous or useless, so she was going to get it right the first time. No playing it safe and partially charging the seal before compressing it, she couldn't sit around and wait for her chakra to replenish, not only would it increase the chances of her smudging the seal, she would look ridiculous walking around with the illegible script adorning her hands and wrists. Taking a deep breath, she began compiling the seal.
The ink glowed as she channeled chakra into the seals, twisting and shrinking into its compressed form, it took almost all of her chakra, greedily sucking in an order of magnitude more than any seal she had charged so far, until she started feel herself going to sleep. NO! If she lost focus now, she'd have to start all over, and she would not let the last week have been wasted on her new passion. Strengthening her resolve, she focused, pouring herself into her work. After several long seconds, the array stopped moving, then faded to black, the kanji for "release" and "Seal" on her palms, "Yin" and "Yang" on her thumbs, and the numbers one to eight on her fingers. After a moment, they black ink faded to match her pale skin, until she couldn't even see the outline.
Nervously, she took a pebble she had brought home from the training ground, placing it in her left hand, and, holding her breath, channeled some chakra to the kanji for seal, as well as her left index finger and right pinky.
The pebble disappeared.
She sighed, knowing that at least one function worked properly.
Channeling yin and yang chakra to her thumbs and normal chakra to her left index finger and right pinky, the pebble appeared in her right hand, as the black kanji for "release" became visible.
She and Ishi both yelled with joy, prompting her mother to run in and ask when she was doing. Completely forgetting her fatigue and hunger, Sakura babbled about her project and how it had worked, prompting a blank look from her mother, followed by a reminder to be at the academy on time tomorrow.
Falling back into her desk-chair, Sakura, pulled out several kunai and shuriken, and began testing her inventories functions, ensuring the ordering of the pockets, the ordering of items in the pockets, individual and mass storage and release functions all worked properly.
Each success made her giddy, though that could be the hunger, and eventually, she took out a little journal and began sealing her excess ninja supplies, textbooks, as well as a canteen, tent, and other miscellaneous items into her hands, taking meticulous notes of what went into each pocket, before sealing her pocket's inventory in pocket 255, and her sealing supplies and textbooks in pocket 0.
"Make sure to include a towel in your inventory."
"You should never go anywhere without your towel, you never know when you might need it. Now that you have an extra-dimensional inventory, I can't in good conscience let you walk around without one."
'Just...fine, I'll get a towel.'
This had been a good day, she might even break her diet and pig out before going to bed, she though while absentmindedly releasing a pencil from her pocket and sealing it away again.