DISCLAIMER: I don't own Naruto, this pertains to all chapters of this work
A.N: So I decided to jump on the Naruto SI-OC bandwagon, sue me. This is my first fanfiction so yadda yadda… English is not my first language blah blah…
Chapter 1: Stirring
I was about three-years-old when I had to deal with the confusion that results from stuffing a lifetime of experiences into the brain of a toddler.
Was it a lifetime? I'm still not sure.
All I know is that suddenly I went from being an average three-year-old to an average three-year-old with all the knowledge and personality of a 20 something adult, but entirely missing in specifics of where, when and who. I had no idea how I got here, what's happened to me, or why.
I wake up to the feeling of the sun hitting my face, and as is my custom as a habitual procrastinator I try to turn away to steal a few more minutes of sleep.
As I twist about in my blanket, still partially dozing, I can't help the feeling of something being amiss. I figure it can wait for later as right now the simple joy of curling in my bed is dulling any and all concerns that are sure to make themselves known once the time to roll out of bed came. Considering the amount of light coming in through windows, I'd wager I have about fifteen minutes before the caretakers come to rouse me and the rest of the children for breakfast. Might as well make the best of what little time I have left curled up in my blanket.
Rest of the children?
I'm an adult. I don't have caretakers. I live alone in my apartment
Except that wasn't true.
I'm a child. I have older people that take care of me. I share my bedroom with some other children, with a whole lot more in the rest of the building
My name is Hakaru, definitely Hakaru, no duality there. At this point, I'm not sure if that should be disconcerting or not.
While I am confronting clear memories of living in what I now realize to be an orphanage for as long as I can remember myself, a significant part of my mind is repeatedly attempting to assert that none of that makes any sense at all. That this is some weird dream at best, or maybe a brain seizure. Heck, a child isn't even capable of handling this level of confusion without bawling their eyes out.
The damnedest part is that while my mind is trying to assure me that I am an adult by drawing memories to contradict my current perception, the resultant images are only increasing my confusion. I have some strong impressions of memories, experiences and who I was, but with little to none actual concrete, solid specifics. I can't even remember my name!
Starting to feel lightheaded, I realize that I've been hyperventilating for a few minutes now. I make myself stop examining my mental state and begin to take slow, forceful breaths to try calm myself and avoid blacking out, the last thing I need right now is to draw attention to myself. What I need is to stop, take stock, and reach some equilibrium. To that end I swing my feet off the bed, get up and start wobbling towards what one set of memories -not now!- tells me should be a door to a plain bathroom with toilets and sinks equipped with mirrors and stools.
Pushing the door open and stepping on a stool (and wasn't that a foreign concept), I reach for the faucet to wash my face when a familiar stranger greets me in the mirror.
Light skin. Brown hair. Blue eyes. About three years old.
What the actual f-.
I've been trying to come to terms with whatever it is that happened to me for most of the day as I've gone through the motions that seemed to be the norm to me, or who I was, or the body I inhabited, or however you want to put it. Sigh.
After the shock I received in the bathroom, I trudged back to my bed and waited for one of the minders to arrive to rouse the rest of my roommates and ensure we took care of our hygiene needs and got dressed to face the day. We plodded down to breakfast where the cuisine, along with the paper sliding doors, clued me in that I was in some Asian country, possibly Japan.
After eating, we were divided by age for morning classes. My class was composed of what you'd expect of education for three-year-olds, mostly reciting words, letters and correcting pronunciation with a lot of colorful pictures and a very slow pacing to account for the sparse attention span that age usually showed with plenty of games in between. Thankfully, it seemed that the prior rudimentary understanding the three-year-old part of my current self, combined with the mindset of my adult self, elevated my mastery of the language to the point it seemed I practically absorbed everything our teacher said and showed us.
Following that was lunch in what I now noticed to be communal hall where all the children ate together. The food's Asian theme persisted.
Later it seemed that my age group had no more dues and so we were released to play in the orphanage's playrooms and its large yard. I followed some of the children outside in an attempt to blend in and quickly found myself running around and playing all sorts of stupid game, surrounded by an abundance of youthful energy that I took to imitating. I quickly grew irked with the entire exercise, however, and left to find a tree's shade to sit in and try to finally sort myself out.
All of that brought me to my current headache, contemplating the big fat question mark that was my current situation. I'm leaning my back against a hard bark of a mighty oak and churning over what I know as self-described science enthusiast. I'm certainly not a neurologist, but I am pretty sure that the human mind simply isn't capable of simulating this level of realism. So that negates the possibility of some manner coma or drugged induced state. If the technology existed, I'd be considering the likelihood that I've been abducted and placed into a sort of virtual world with additional knowledge being fed directly into my brain, but that was probably decades away if it was even possible. And… what else?
I slouch down and start mindlessly tearing at the grass around me. The fact facing me is that I can think of no more science-oriented solutions and so, grudgingly, must force myself to turn to what little I know about a more esoteric option.
Quite honestly, it fits very well, which is galling because I consider myself a man (child?) of reason and science, and to find myself seriously contemplating that I've been reborn into another body felt like I'm betraying some core part of my psyche. Nonetheless, I decide to use as much logic as I can, and with as many unknowns as are facing me with, find that it does make a sort of sense. Gaining awareness at an age the brain was finished with most of its development, so that it can handle accommodating an adult mind. The holes in my memory as to who I was to prevent any hang-ups to my previous life. It seems like something decided to set me up for a new life.
My face scrunches up in frustration. But why? And how? The universe was supposed to be indifferent and cold, with no inherent meaning. I myself an insignificant speck; my entire existence could be summed up by the biochemical processes in my brain. There was no evidence of a spirit or a soul, no need for it to explain the human condition. I clench my fists. And yet somehow, I find the bulk of my ego, my self, transferred to a ready-made receptacle to just wake up and supposedly start a new life.
Laying my back to the tree again, I try to re-assert my calm by taking slow, deliberate breaths.
Faced with no other alternative, I resolve to assume I was reincarnated until evidence to the contrary present themselves before me.
Having come to that decision, I must now decide what I'm going to do.
Enjoy my vacation? I snort.
Seriously, what am I supposed to do? I figure that I'm in some rural part of Asia seeing as the only signs of technology I've seen so far were electric light bulbs and various synthetic fibers and plastics. The orphanage appears to be well funded, at least. All the children have clean clothes, we get three square meals a day with meat in at least one of them, and everything looks to be in good repair.
Childhood is basically one big under-appreciated vacation. I guess I'll try to keep my grades in the top five percentile of my age group or something like that to try and get set up on a course for higher education and better opportunities later in life. From what I remember your future was just about decided pretty early on over here, and they were quite zealous on education.
Mostly, though, I think I'm going to lie back, relax and enjoy my vacation for the next few years.
I settle on the grass, look to the sky, and begin cloud gazing.
Three weeks later
Vacation canceled! I repeat, the vacation is canceled!
I'm currently pacing back and forth in front of my tree, trying to reconcile what I just witnessed.
It started the day I awoke and has been bothering me ever since. Like there was something major that I was missing, something that wasn't quite right in the conclusions I reached on the day of my awakening. Various little things that I couldn't even put my finger on if asked to do so. I mostly just chalked it up as my unfamiliarity with eastern culture, however, and tried to continue as is.
Today it came to a head when the leader of the village the orphanage situated itself in came to talk to, and meet the parent-less children under his purview. Our caretakers explained to us a few days beforehand, and I figured I'd be able to catch a few hints about exactly where I was, or when. I managed to find a Georgian calendar on one of the walls in the communal hall, but was stumped to find the current year to be designated as 72 post-founding.
Imagine my surprise, no, my astonishment when the staff had just finished organizing us into a neat half-circle in the orphanage yard, and Sarutobi Hiruzen, the third fire shadow, Hokage outfit and all, leisurely strolls up to the gathered crowd. He proceeds by giving us a speech filled with thinly veiled propaganda about how Konoha was the greatest place to live in the elemental nations, ninja were cool and awesome and protected us, and wouldn't it be great to become a ninja and carry on the Will of Fire. Finally, to cement the fact that this wasn't some weird cosplay to entertain us, the Hokage demonstrated some actual freaking ninjutsu for us. As in, manipulated the universe with his mind to play around with the classical elements as if they were a thing.
Thankfully my dumbstruck face wasn't exactly out of place among the audience as most of the kids were pretty awed with the grandfatherly figure. When the time came for asking questions, I forcibly restrained myself from raising my hand and asking him about all the laws of physics that he was so callously breaking. Once the children started asking the typical questions you'd expect them to come up with, my attention quickly slipped as I tried to ponder the implications this new revelation. I barely even noticed being dismissed as I absent-mindedly drifted back towards my favorite tree.
I see that I'm starting to create a groove, so I make myself stop pacing and plop down with my back against the tree. I look at the rays of light streaming through the canopy and wait for whatever otherworldly power brought me here to cough up some answers. When I find none forthcoming a few minutes later, I choose to once again think about the ramifications of me actually living in the Naruto-verse. Frankly, they are awesome, both the good and the bad types.
On the one hand, the rulers of this world are feudal lords and super powered humans with morals and ethics that moved on the spectrum between little and none. Fundamental human rights probably weren't even a thing. My chances of dying an untimely death have risen exponentially even as a regular civilian citizen of Konohagakure, arguably the most powerful military entity on the continent. The village suffered two major invasions during the series, and that's without counting the various fillers and movies that I'm not entirely certain are even going to happen (I shudder thinking about the Sky Nation's air raid). Following those horrors, facing me is the possibility of being put to sleep to briefly dream of my perfect world, while a tree slowly eats me.
On the other hand, super powers ahoy!
Snort. In all seriousness, there is no way in hell I'm passing up on the opportunity to get me some of those sweet, universe manipulating, physics defying, chakra powers. To weather the things that were to come, I need every shred of power I can get my grabby hands on and use whatever underhanded tactics I can connive. And as far as the risk of changing the plot for the worse, I'm pretty sure that's already a moot point. The original story was full of close calls and split-second decisions, which the tiniest of changes in could have resulted in far different outcomes. As they say, the flapping of a butterfly's wings could cause a hurricane on the other side of the planet. My awakening has, and will continue to produce a continuous stream of minuscule changes, impossible to predict or compensate for, propagating outwards from my position in all directions at the speed of light. Canon is screwed.
Having reached some semblance of a resolution, I decide to lie down on the grass (the lotus position being far too conspicuous for a three-year-old), close my eyes, and start looking deep inside myself for the key to everything this world has to offer. Chakra.
This life is going to be an unbelievable power trip.
September 2nd, 3rd year after Kyuubi
It took me a month.
A frustrating and stressful month filled with anxiety and doubt.
Before I had any success, I was constantly fretting about my capability to use chakra, either because of the method which brought into this world or the presumed existence of some part of the population that simply wasn't capable of using chakra and myself belonging to that group. If that were true I'd be completely helpless, bound to the whims of chance. At best I could pass intelligence to the Hokage and hope that warmonger Danzo didn't get his hands on it and make a mess of everything. I think I'm the only person impartial enough on the damn continent qualified to mess with canon.
It took me some time to get the hang of meditation, especially while lying down and trying not to fall asleep. I used every minute that could be excused for this endeavor, either under my tree or faking sleep. Eventually, I think I've gotten pretty handy at centering myself and reaching a sort of Zen-like state. I may have completely misinterpreted what meditation was supposed to be about, but fortunately, my method eventually served its purpose.
In the end, the primary key to cracking the issue was looking for something new. I came from a cold and dull world, constrained by regular old laws of physics, where chakra is not a thing. I had to look inside, to feel out for something new, a new sensation or sense that I've never experienced before. I think I'd have probably been much faster to succeed by beginning the search on the day of my awakening before I had any chance to get accustomed to my new reality.
When I first started making progress I could barely feel it, like something at the corner of my vision, always fleeting. The sensation would be lost entirely at the slightest bit of distraction or lack of focus. As time went on, I slowly started to get a better grasp of what it was I was looking for, constantly trying and failing. Every minuscule success spurred me onwards with greater determination.
And it all culminated now, in this one moment.
I can feel it!
Like a dam breaking in my mind because, I suddenly notice that the feeling is suffusing my entire body. It's not some great frothing mass, just a gentle creek flowing around my frame. Nevertheless, I find it to be very reassuring.
I break from my meditation to find myself lying in my bed, curfew having past about an hour ago. I'm exhilarated and barely hold myself from cheering loudly, not wanting to wake my roommates, and settle for a stifled giggle.
Unfortunately, this almost entirely solidifies my reincarnation hypothesis. Chakra is ethereal, a whole new sense. I can no more explain it to a person who has never experienced it than I could explain the color red to someone blind from birth. It was, simply put, out of this world. My original world at least. I can't help but grimace and feel a pang of loss for a life I can't even remember.
Anyway, this was it, my first step towards achieving independence and conquering the terrors this world was ready to unleash. In this place where might makes right, I will be the sovereign of my own fate. Still, I can't stop now, to settle for knowing it's there. To stand a chance I must master my chakra. I need to sleep, breath, eat and think chakra.
Gathering myself, I smoothly enter a meditative state again, and I'm genuinely thrilled by how infinitesimally easier it is to find my chakra on the second time. I realize meditation is probably not even necessary anymore, which makes plenty of sense considering the most I've seen shinobi do before performing ninjutsu is tensing up. I try to grab hold of my chakra then awkwardly move it around, my reward is a slight increase in the speed of it circulating through my body. Emboldened, I continue the exercise for a few minutes. While doing so, I try and concentrate my chakra to various points to different degrees of success, finding it most easy to pool it in my stomach where the chakra already felt strongest.
About twenty minutes in, I start feeling a bit light headed. A cursory inspection reveals that my chakra has thinned noticeably from my trial-run. Choosing to push through and continue with the exercise for five more minutes rewards me with dizziness and a slight ache in my stomach. Deciding not to overdo it any more than I already have, I call it a day and immediately black out.
I'm idly munching on some breakfast the next day and planning my next course of action. Thankfully, it seemed that a good night's sleep was all I needed to remedy the aching and dizziness I suffered from in addition to my chakra completely replenishing itself. Was it flowing slightly stronger? I'm not entirely sure, and I don't trust my new-found sense enough just yet to be certain, definitely something to keep an eye on looking forward.
I focus myself back to the matter at hand, planning what to do now. The thing is, I don't have any advantage to exploit, no clan to give me training or kekkei genkai to grant me an edge. If I want to even the odds I have to use the only leverage available to me, start training as early as possible on all the things that I needed and would be extremely hard to learn later in life. I need to take advantage of my young brain and body as long as they are still malleable.
First is chakra: the primary currency of power in this world. I need to work on it daily and deplete my reserves, I'm pretty confident it works like a muscle, and I'm probably at a stage in life where it will be the most receptive to growth, subsequently increasing my potential later in life and allowing me to rely on high-end techniques. I reason I'll use chakra control exercises for the added benefit of improving my chakra control, besides the increase in efficiency it could also open a lot of doors whenever I decide to take up any of the more delicate arts.
Secondly, building up a highly acute level of situational and spatial awareness. I could be the most powerful of ninja with the most badass techniques, but still get my throat cut if I fail to pay attention to my surroundings.
Finally, I want to be a chakra sensor. In a profession where chakra was the primary tool of the trade, the number of tells I could gather from being able to sense it would be invaluable. My hope is that combining my training in chakra and spatial awareness will allow me to attune my chakra sensitivity not just inwards, but outwards as well, while my brain is still receptive and capable of any substantial growth.
Unfortunately, this is about the extent of the things I'll be able to train at this point given the resources that are available to me here in the orphanage. Keeping my body in top physical shape is pretty obvious, but I don't want to do anything to extensors without first consulting an expert for fear of hobbling myself. Mm… Throwing stones to improve hand-eye coordination? I guess more training exercises will occur to me as I go along.
I suddenly look up from my plate to realize that while I was ruminating most of the children have left the communal hall to head to the morning's classes and the last stragglers were already at the door. I'm almost certainly late. One of the staff members is frowning in my direction, and I can't help but chuckle nervously as I quickly get up and run to my class. That situational awareness definitely needs some work.
The next three months were stimulating.
As much as I worked with it, handling chakra always managed to be a novel experience: it felt like every day ushered a new discovery. My first practice with the Leaf Sticking exercise was exhilarating; for the first time, I had used chakra to affect a physical impact in the world around me. Albeit a tiny effect, the implications were heady and progress after the first exercise was swift. Over a few days additional leaves were added to various points on my frame, and at some point, I even started experimenting with using chakra to spin the leaves stuck against my body. All of this was done as sneakily as I could manage, usually with my great oak standing between the rest of the orphanage and me.
After deeming my progress with the leaf to have reached a sufficient point, I was eager to attempt the Tree Walking Exercise. I quickly found out that whatever level of control I had over my chakra, I was missing another essential ingredient to make defying gravity feasible. My childish and underdeveloped frame simply did not have the lower body strength needed to support it when suspended parallel to the ground by the soles of my feet. Inadvertently, that setback made me come to realize that there was an application for chakra I've overlooked, muscle enhancement.
Consequently, my chakra control training was split into two parts. Continuing with the Leaf Sticking Exercise and its various interpretations I'd managed to think up. Interpretations such as Dirt Sticking Exercise, to which there was ample supply in the orphanage's yard, and the Water Sticking Exercise involving holding a sheet of water against any part of your body. The later, I was only able to manage covertly thanks to the communal showers having doored stalls. The second part of my chakra control training was now composed of very carefully circulating small amounts of chakra through select muscles, and performing various physical fits more suited to a child twice my age. I was working at doing pushups and lifting several heavy rocks I found at the edge of the yard.
Thankfully, my hypothesis about chakra appear to be true, and I've seen a noticeable deepening in my reserves. I try using up whatever chakra I have left at the end of the day, draining it by rolling and sweeping it around my body. Though I worry that may soon prove to be an insufficient measure as it takes longer and longer before to reach a satisfying level of depletion.
The Less fortunate news was that situational awareness has been a headache so far. Progress was slow, and I was finding it hard to assess any measure success. As no my chakra sense have yet to pick up on anything external, I've taken to covertly meditating whenever I'm near other people in an attempt to feel out for them using my chakra.
Getting back to playing with the other kids was initially tiresome, but as the weeks went by, physically exhausting myself with simple games became a welcome respite from the constant work with my chakra. I have even started a new game involving throwing small stones at targets like trees and walls and got the other children to play along. The rest of the kids called it playing ninja, I was just glad none of them thought that ninja should have more human-like targets yet, I didn't want the orphanage staff to ban the game.
I've been reminding myself that all the incredible progress made was largely in thanks to my body's young age and that said growth should not be used as an excuse to slack off, but to press on and reap whatever benefits I can while possible. However, the realization that this pace was not sustainable has slowly made itself known, so in an attempt to not lose my mind I have decided to allocate myself a daily hour for idle lazing.
December 4th, 3rd year after Kyuubi
I'm sitting in the communal hall during lunch, brooding.
There has to be something more I can do besides training to increase my long-term chances.
The plot was probably not going to play out in exactly same way, but I'm pretty sure that the general line of events could be pretty similar. My best chances are to derail the plot before it reaches its climax in the 4th Great Shinobi War or I'd probably be joining the supporting cast no matter what level of strength I attain.
It seems there exists an insurmountable power gap between most shinobi, including most S-Ranks, and the members of the Otsutsuki clan and its progeny who have reached their heritage's potential. Senju, Uchiha, Uzumaki, Hyūga. I don't belong to any of those clans, and it would be wishful thinking to assume that my unknown family will resolve itself to be an offshoot of any of them.
Thinking about the Hyūga, they really got the short end of the stick, as far as all-seeing eyes could be considered the short end of anything. Compared to the Senju and Uchiha with their ridiculously powerful shinobi, and the Uzumaki who were resourceful enough to build a village of their own that was feared for its fuinjutsu, the Hyūga are practically mediocre. Hmm, maybe that's why the entire clan acted like they have a pole stuck up their nether region. That and the fact one half of family is practically enslaving the other. I really can't blame Neji for being the uptight tool he was before Naruto beat some optimism into him, besides his father having died for his main-family twin's blunder.
The Hyūga Affair! I give myself a mental face palm. Did it already happen? Can it be prevented? Should it?
On October 10th we commemorated the 3rd year since the Kyuubi attack on the village. Combined with my date of birth which I got from one of the caretakers to be on July 1st, some three and change years ago, I inferred what I should have probably assumed from the start. I was part of the rookie 9 generation.
But anyway, the point is that the Hyūga Affair is supposed to happen right around now. I'm just not entirely sure if it occurred yet or it will take place in the next couple of months.
I gather my thoughts and try to answer the question of should this event even be prevented. Net value is Konoha gets to keep one extra A-Rank jōnin. Neji and Hinata get to have a less stressful home life, Neji because he gets to keep his father in addition to not feeding his complex with the main\branch family issue and Hinata because she doesn't grow up with a cousin who resents her.
Konoha\Kumo relations are probably a bust either way at this point in time, unless something drastic happens, like if Obito decides to start abducting jinchuriki early.
So Hinata and Neji growing up to be slightly and very different people respectively… Was that a plus? I already determined that all close calls were a lost cause anyway, so restraining myself in the hope that Hinata still jumps in front of Pain while he has Naruto pinned and triggering his six-tails mode is pretty much a fool's errand. The best I could do was help them become better people than they'd be otherwise.
Ok, so I determined that the benefits outweigh the possible negatives, now I just need to find a way to check when the Hyūga Affair is going to happen if it hasn't already happened.
Oh, right, and think up a way to stop it with my meager resources without ending up in the T&I Division or dead in a trench somewhere.
Despite my reservations about my chances of success I can't help but feel an electric excitement. This is going to be the first significant plot changing difference that I was going to introduce to the world, and the potential repercussions were unknowable.
Having concluded that the thing I lack the most of at the moment is accurate intel, I get up from my seat and head to the front door with an extra spring in my step. It's time for my first broad excursion out of the orphanage and into Konoha.
December 15th, 3rd year after Kyuubi
I slump in my seat at dinner after wasting another afternoon traipsing around the village trying to figure out whether Hyūga Hizashi was still alive or the status of the Kumo delegation to Konoha. Regrettably, I have yet to find answers to either of those queries. Walking around the village while trying to be inconspicuous and eavesdropping on adults is incredibly tiresome, particularly as a three-year-old child. I repeatedly got asked if I'm lost and where my caretakers are. At that point, I usually whip out some excuse and make a tactical retreat since I don't think the orphanage staff will be agreeable with my little trips. Thankfully, people don't bother chasing me, likely because my clothes are clean and I don't look like some street rat.
On a more positive note, my tours of the village have yielded me with the answer to how I'm going to drop an anonymous tip to the Hokage. It's going to involve gloves, heaps of scented shampoo, and a little something called the post office.
As has lately become my habit during meals, I concentrate on my chakra and approximate what I think to be the feeling of stretching out my chakra and trying to feel out for anything else around me. Thus far, since deciding on a direction for my training on the day after I unlocked my chakra, I have not made any progress, but I persevere.
I continue concentrating through most of the meal when it happens.
I feel as if my chakra bumped against something, something foreign. My spoon drops from my fingers, and I barely have the presence of mind to swallow before any food can spill out between my lips. Immediately all my attention is turned to my chakra, and the feeling solidifies, there is definitely something there. My eyes go to where the chakra tells me I'll find the disturbance and see an adult female I am unfamiliar talking with one of the minders… Is that a new staff member?
Following a hunch, I continue to track her with my chakra while covertly watching the intruder and trying to gather as many details as I can. She looks to have a well-defined physique usually not found in women, along with an exceptionally balanced gait. They walk up to the area where the five-and-six-year-olds are sitting, and on the way pass close to me. I manage to get a glimpse of her hand as she gestures while talking and I see some callusing. She seems to be inspecting the children and looking for something.
That woman is almost definitely a kunoichi. And if I had to guess I'd say she is trying to assess the orphans and look for prospective students for the Academy.
However, that doesn't matter at all because I'm finally a Chakra Sensor!
It makes a lot of sense that first thing I'll be able to sense is a ninja. They naturally have many times more chakra than a civilian and so a much more noticeable presence. I just don't know if this is a recent development or something that's been going on for a long time because I never paid particular attention to any of the caretakers aside from noting their positions as part of my awareness training. For all I know, there could have been numerous shinobi streaming through the orphanage over the last few months, and I'd never noticed.
Still, this is a golden opportunity for me, and I'm going to capitalize on it as long as it lasts. I'm going to refine my sensing abilities as much as I can, before this scouting mission or whatever business the kunoichi was here on account of was done.
Over the next few days, I've been mostly concerned with practicing with my newfound ability, keeping track of the unnamed kunoichi, while she was, in turn, evaluating my older compatriots.
I was working on improving the power on multiple fronts. Foremost was extending my awareness training to my sensing abilities, to try and keep them on at all times and to make it so they will come as naturally to me as breathing. To date, that exercise was not succeeding as much as I'd hoped to it would, and I'm still forced to employ a large part of my attention for feeling out the visiting ninja. A secondary variable I was seeking to improve was the range of my ability. Here, the results of my practicing were showing some fruitful results. Where on that first dinner I could only feel her from a few meters meters and with no significant obstruction between us, I could now feel the kunoichi from almost a much greater margin and even through walls, though they cut my range to a fraction of its full length. I also attempted to fine-tune my chakra sense to be able to detect and perceive individuals with very little chakra, namely civilians. On that front, I've had slight but promising results. Now that I understand the feeling of foreign chakra a bit more, I'm able, with intense concentration, to feel wisps and whispers from most of the adults and a few of the children. It's fleeting and hardly precise, but it's still invigorating progress.
The entire discipline was exhilarating, to feel other people's chakra was the closest to a spiritual experience as I have ever gone through.
I am, however, starting to feel guilty over putting the matter of the Hyūga affair on the back burner. I resolve to continue with my trips to the village soon, even if the kunoichi remains at the orphanage.
December 26th, 3rd year after Kyuubi
Is my decision to pick up where I left off with my excursions to Konoha to gather intelligence on the Hyūga Affair today pure dumb luck or sheer stupidity on my part? I can't tell. The entire village is abuzz about a contingent of Kumo shinobi who are arriving tomorrow to sign a peace treaty.
I have just reached the orphanage after having run the entire way here and immediately hit the showers. After using a copious amount of soap and shampoo in an attempt to hide my scent, I dry off with a freshly laundered towel and don clean clothes. After finding one of the first-aid kits spread throughout the building, and taking a pair of latex gloves, I head over to one of the empty arts and crafts classrooms. Digging through the cabinets, I gather unopened package of pens and papers. Deciding to go with simplicity, I pen out a simple message, my calligraphy skewed but readable. "Kumo is going to abduct a Hyūga clan member." I persued upper year books to learn how to dictate that specific message. After folding the paper and writing "Hokage" clearly on top, I head out of the orphanage again at a more sedate pace.
After finding the post office, I use my burgeoning sensor talents to wait for an opportune moment where I can sense no nearby ninja, and no one seems to be paying attention to me or the mailbox. Once such moment arrives, I quickly walk by, slip my letter in and continue without breaking my stride. Turning at the nearest corner and breaking into a run, I cross my fingers in the hope that message makes it in time to make a difference, and that I made the right choice.
And that I don't come to regret this decision.