escape velocity

(n) The initial speed required to go from an initial point in a gravitational potential field to infinity

"…two hundred ninety-nine, three hundred! Okay, brat, you can collapse now."

With a gasp, Naruto dissolved the Rasengan he'd been holding in his hand. Normally he would have fired some sort of snarky remark to the white-haired sennin so complacently watching his training from underneath a shade-tree (bastard!), but he was too busy performing the predicted collapse onto the ground.

He lay on the grass, heaving for breath and twitching involuntarily in his muscles. One year into their training journey and he still wasn't used to the unspeakable rigors Jiraiya forced him through – every time he came near to adapting, Jiraiya increased the level of his sadism. He'd beaten the sunrise this morning (again…one day he would remember how it felt like to wake to daylight, not to pitch-darkness, he would) and then spent the day exhausting both his body and his chakra levels.

Right now Jiraiya was having him increase the amount of time he could hold the Rasengan – mostly for the chakra-control the exercise helped build, but Naruto also figured that if he could keep it coherent for long periods of time he might even be able to launch it, use it as a long-range attack. He'd spent the afternoon on that – the morning was spent scrambling away through heavy forest from packs of wild dogs Jiraiya had sicced on him. The ero-sennin had warned him against fighting the dogs – "defeats the purpose of the training, stupid boy!" – and so the blond genin had basically been on the run nearly the whole morning, until he managed to make his way to a river and jump in, washing away the meat juices his sensei had so lovingly dumped on him.


As Naruto searched through his ever-growing (and now multilingual!) collection of profanity for more descriptions suitable for an ero-sennin, he was distracted by the sudden thunder emanating from his stomach. He groaned, contemplated rolling over onto his back so that he could rub his poor unhappy belly, decided it hurt too much to move, and groaned again.

He hadn't truly appreciated how lucky he was in Konoha. At least there he was well-fed…well, not hungry all the time…well, his periods of semi-starvation were at least shorter then. He was sure of it. And then he'd had proper ramen – Ichiraku ramen – ramen he had yet to taste the equal of – at intervals. Here there was none. He seemed to spend most of his time hungry, while on the road, it seemed. And when he could eat it was usually some dry tough meat jerky that he himself had hunted. Bah. He was wasting away to skin and bones, he was.

Mournfully, Naruto took stock of his much-reduced physical well-being. He was always tired, he was always hungry, he hadn't learnt any really cool new jutsus lately, and he ached. Not just the twinging and soreness of hard-worked muscles, but a deep-down ache in his bones, like a steady painful pressure on his skeletal system. The other pains faded away soon enough, thanks (hah!) to the rapid-healing factor that being the bearer of Kyuubi meant, but not this.

Speaking of rapid healing, he could actually feel strength and chakra flowing back into his body, almost as a physical sensation. It felt good, like a rush of cool water on heated skin. Groaning, this time in satisfaction as his weariness and pain washed away, he rolled onto his back. A moment to revel in muscles that no longer twinged and burned, but flexed in quiet strength, then he arched his spine and flipped back onto his feet.

"Oy, brat. Go get us some dinner."

Naruto glared but turned towards the trees surrounding their little campsite. At the beginning he'd protested, but the year had made him used to his various duties. In a way he was beginning to enjoy it, the stalk and the chase and the wild rush when he brought his prey down…

He shook his head and loped off.

Jiraiya smiled slowly to himself as Naruto flashed out of sight. The boy was developing very nicely. At first just to get him to do his (admittedly unorthodox, but then all the good stuff was) training had been a battle and a half, Naruto constantly questioning and protesting and Jiraiya roaring at him to "just shut up and do it!"

Heh. Arashi had been like that too.

But now, with a year of experience behind them, they were beginning to settle in. Naruto was learning to trust Jiraiya, to accept authority when it ordered him to jump and run and play catch with flying blades. As he began to see the results of his training, he grew even more willing to follow.

Except when it led into peeping sessions.

Ah well, the boy was young. Perhaps after he finished his growth spurt…

a prologue. So expect actual plot to reside within the next few chapters, but not here.

I've been wanting to try my hand at a Naruto fic for a while - not just a drabble, but one with actual chapters, character development, fights, and all that other good stuff. Hopefully I can pull it off.