disclaimer: none of this is mine.
This is part 1 of the (rather extensive) rewrite of Naruto: Arcane Heart, where after several revisions, expansions and streamlining to the story structure, I hope that it turns out to be much better than the previous version (if you must know, I was able to get to around Chapter 15 without outlining).
So here we go, and again, if you have anything to offer that I can use to improve this story, my door is always open.
Just be careful with how you approach... really.
This story came to me when I heard "Eternal Blaze" and "Haruka Kanata" one after the other on my computer: gradually, the pieces of the main storyline gradually fell into place, all revolving around two questions: The first would be what would happen if Uzumaki Naruto had a family to guide him through the Ninja Academy and beyond.
You will know what the second question I asked myself was when you finish reading this chapter.
By the way, this first chapter will make a lot more sense if you've watched through the first season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. (Consider the details revealed in the movie, the series manga AND the movie manga to be part of this story as well - but I will be revealing just how well they fit into the narrative gradually.)
All right, I've taken up enough of your time - here we go.
Everything felt like it happened a lifetime ago. What I wanted was my family. What I received was a second chance.
And though I might not deserve it, I am obliged to do what I must; for something like this can be easily called Divine Intervention.
Naruto: Arcane Heart will now begin.
Naruto: Arcane Heart
Chapter One - Body and Soul
"I am here of my own volition."
"What would a failure like you want to come here for? ...to gloat in your victory, perhaps?"
"No... I chose to come here. To ask you again... because you are my Mother."
"...you are no daughter of mine."
And as I fall away into the distorted space, together with my daughter Alicia, something she told me so very long ago comes back.
"Maybe someday I'll get to have a sister."
I look back up towards her... and that girl in white, trying to remember more, but it is too late.
Alicia and I...
That dream again.
I ease myself from bed and get ready for today, looking through the pantry for something to make breakfast with.
I end up laughing at myself - never one for domestic activities, usually leaving that kind of work to Linith or...
Never too late to learn something new, that was what my grandmother said.
"I'm late, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!" a voice cries out from the other room, and a yellow flash heads to the bathroom.
I smile... maybe I should get to preparing myself once my daughter leaves for school.
"Youth is not a time of life. It is a state of mind."
The quote goes through my mind as I finish drying myself off, and I take the moment to look at my reflection in the mirror.
I... wait a moment.
My reflection seems odd, and I gasp as I put a hand on my face.
I don't feel the lines along my eyes anymore; and not only do I look younger, I feel younger - like I could very well pass for thirty when my age was over fifty.
The years seem to be gone from my body as I resume examining myself carefully... but the years in my mind... my heart, my soul?
Those will fade with time - but never vanish outright.
Especially the events leading up to twenty-six days ago.
I'll not spend time pondering these things. Today is a very important day; too important for abandoned possibilities and conjecture to distract me.
The rest of my ablutions finish without a thought on that.
Today's last-minute preparations are over.
The house has been cleaned, the new clothes put away, even the stuffed animals my daughter uses as both toys and pillows as she sleeps - all of them are in their proper places.
Proper places... I find myself thinking of the phrase.
Has it really been twenty-six days since then?
Thankfully, the only extravagance I entertained was readily available - and I spend some time going over my looks in the full-length mirror.
My hair - which had grown down to my knees upon my arrival here - had been cut to a more manageable length, just slightly beyond my shoulders. I have to suppress a grin as I turn my head and see my hair in a ponytail, the tail itself is shaped into a bun and held in place by a few metal needles and a small swatch of mesh armor re-purposed as a net. Given where I'm at, these people might yank at my ponytail - a painful and distracting experience that my tutors said could cost me my life.
I would've said that I was already dead inside, only being held together by the hope that I would one day... but that was not what came out of my mouth then, only a nod of understanding.
So this is what hiding in plain sight means... too bad I'm not under the illusion that it will remain the same for long, as tomorrow, I shall be subject to a psychiatric appraisal - a prerequisite to further become a part of this place, these people.
I do a small pirouette in front of the mirror, admiring my outfit. It's what these people usually wear to work - a set of sport underwear under a wire mesh shirt and a sensible blouse over all that, a heavy denim for my jacket, a flowing purple miniskirt under compression shorts...
...and the sandals.
While they look a little too unwieldy, they handle the strain I put them through exceptionally well - I was never one for looks, more for utility - and my outfit shows off both in spades.
Well, I do consider looking decent a necessary extra that comes along with wearing something useful, so there.
I place my equipment in their pouches: triangular metallic knives with rings at the edge of the hilt, pointed pinwheel stars, more metal needles...
...and I slip on the necklace with the red pendant, in shape of a sword.
"Good morning, ma'am."
"Good morning, Hrist. Let's do our best today."
Yet, even through my enthusiasm, that girl's face passes through my mind, and I am filled with gloom as I head out the door of our rented apartment, lock the door behind me, and make my way to Training Ground #19...
There are three people before me.
The nice old man who gave my daughter and I room and board here when we had next to nothing - apparently, he and I run along the same line of thought.
Originally, he had planned on asking me to take on a more sedate role, but after bringing one of his employees to look over me with those strange gray eyes as part of me and my daughter's physical checkup, he found out both of us had physiologically qualified for their line of work.
But I let that thought slip from my mind, as the first test was upon me - the first of three arts I had been taking a crash course in for the past two weeks - Ninjutsu.
The first one steps up - his stance seems slack, but his one uncovered eye is ever wary. He puts an orange book he was reading not moments before in his pocket, brings out one of those triangular knives they call kunai, gets into a stance...
...and moves in.
Fast... but he's going to try and attack from multiple angles, most likely. This is just a test; try to remember your mnemonics.
The ground cracks below me, and faster than I react to a spilled vial of acid, I tumble to the side.
Those hand seals were for this technique. Hmm.
I remember my pendant glowing as soon as I began talking and reading in this place... Hrist seemed to know the language, which was fortunate for both me and my daughter. It was only the basic structure and words that were directly placed in our minds thanks to Hrist, but it was enough.
No time for that, I tell myself as I bend sharply at the waist to avoid that electricity-laced palm heading towards me. Raiton: Sutekki Hajji. A D-Rank lightning elemental ninjutsu.
Thank goodness I had always been eager to analyze anything I ran across; this technique was no exception.
The crackling hand passed by me, sending the familiar scent of ozone wafting across my nostrils.
He's not manipulating the polarity of the jutsu. Just using its elemental properties. Strange.
I go into hand seals of my own, content that with my two weeks of limited training, I would be able to at least do this.
Visualize the field of containment, expel a mix of physical and spiritual energies out. Endow mix with static power.
I feel a familiar buzz through me, as if the technique I was going to use and the arts that I have known nearly all my life had some sort of common thread.
Here we go.
"Raiton: Suteki Hajji!" I declare, my right hand awash with the crackling yellow that was my lightning-element chakra as I thrust it forward in one motion as I recover from my bend. The one-eyed ninja meets my palm thrust with his own...
...and gets pushed back several feet.
His eye widens in momentary surprise before he returns to his usual pose.
"Of all the times I've met a lightning user in combat, I've never seen that happen," he says nonchalantly.
Well, what they don't know is that Hrist has been relaying me their conversation.
"How did she do that?"
"That was... an unexpected outcome."
The old man breaks the silence.
"What happened?" he asked.
I smile. "Used the same polarity as his technique did. Like charges repel."
The four ninja gathered nodded as they understood immediately what I meant; but the signs they were giving each other confused me.
"She would make a more valuable ally now; to be able to understand and implement advanced principles on Raiton-based ninjutsu on the fly..."
"Nevertheless, we still have to appraise her on the two other arts. Kurenai; Guy; get ready."
I go into another stance. What will come next? Whatever it is, I'm going to get through it - I'm not doing this just for myself.
But as the woman steps toward me with barely a nod, the last message Hrist intercepted left me a little frightened.
"Kurenai, do not use the Hell Viewing Technique."
My teeth chattered.
I was in the middle of a roaring blizzard.
And then I breathed out.
I was stranded on a blistering desert.
There I was, in a forest, hearing the crickets chirp and the shadows playing tricks on my eyes...
But Hrist was still here.
Her voice was still clear to my mind's ear, and she was giving me a warning, that this wasn't real, that this was just an illusion somehow generated by that bandage-wearing woman, and that...
"Incoming... from your six!"
I charge forward, and all of a sudden, the spell is broken and I am in the training ground again.
I look back as the tree that was supposed to have grabbed me with its limbs vanished, a few leaves floating towards the ground the only trace that it was ever there.
At least I didn't end up caught in what they call a genjutsu; that's what I'd call a decent enough victory... I thought, right until she appeared before me in a swirl of leaves and pointed a kunai at my neck.
Oh well... you can't win them all, can you?
"You actually managed to ward off a significant number of my illusions," the woman said.
"That's not true," I say, admitting my own shortcuts in the face of such brutal honesty. "I cheated."
"Still, this shows I'm still a long way from the mastery of my art. The name is Yuuhi Kurenai," she says, her expression softening as she withdraws the knife on one hand and offers me up with the other.
I smile weakly as I accept her offer. That dispelling technique of mine needs work.
Two down, one to go.
I get up slowly, gingerly.
Even if Hrist managed to summon part of my Barrier Jacket at the last moment to prevent grave injury, that kick still hurt.
She was still trying to make sure I wouldn't end up with cracked ribs - or worse - by the time I stood up.
The man with the green bodysuit, eerie smile and even eerier eyebrows beckoned to me in that strange combat stance.
Only a minute had passed by since I was given a chance to prove myself in what they called taijutsu - hand-to-hand combat - and I did not put up as well a fight as I hoped I did. Of course, you can only go so far with only basic manuals and movements as a guide.
Well, throw all that out the window.
The thought that I was in a ninja village returned to me.
And ninja, well... by what little I read from the world I came from - ninja don't fight fair, do they?
I grip the pendant that is Hrist, close my eyes briefly, and whisper to her.
"Hrist, let's do this. As soon as I make for him... Knight Sword mode; Barrier Jacket, Drakan Mode."
A brilliant red runic circle comes to life at my feet, and I feel my Linker Core being harnessed to power my Intelligent Device, my outfit shifting and transforming into the Drakan Module of my Device's Barrier Jacket. The sight dazzles the three observers and maybe others, and my green-clad opponent seems to be shaking in anticipation of this newest development.
Before anyone can react, I dash in, activated Device in hand, and take a swing at my designated opponent.
He blocks it and throws a spin kick my way, which I dodge, throwing three quick thrusts in return.
Backpedal, then swing with two hands downward.
I throw my own kick, he dodges; he attacks, I retaliate.
This exchange of attack, defense and counterattack goes on for just over five minutes until I hear the old man's voice cry out.
His stance flows easily from combat to ceremony, and bows deeply to me... I cannot help but answer with my own bow.
"Hokage-sama was right. You have indeed the potential to be a youthful member of our ranks," he declared, "with enough training."
"Still - there will be the chance that your duties as parent and ninja conflict, what with your daughter taking the Academy entrance test at the same time you have," the old man known as the Hokage added. "Your potential is simply too great to be ignored, though, so I have a solution that will have all of us satisfied."
As the old Hokage relays the details of the plan to me and the three observers, I have to admire his genius. A desk job means that I can train in the ninja arts on my off time, earn my keep and have enough of my schedule left to tend to my family.
I return home sometime after lunch weary, but satisfied - still, there's my explanation of Hrist and the psych evaluation to come - but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.
Throughout the afternoon, washing the new clothes takes extra effort because of my taijutsu appraisal - that Might Guy hits hard.
And then, the clock strikes four-fifteen, the door to my apartment opens... and in runs the reason I'm actually putting nearly all my eggs in the basket known as the Village Hidden in the Leaves.
"I'm home, mother."
I smile at the face that fills me both with untold joy and self-loathing.
"Welcome home, Alicia."
The worst dream ever is the dream of falling.
And they say that it is never the death that is the agony; only the dying.
It is with these thoughts that I open my eyes to see white ceiling tiles.
The memories return.
You... you're not Alicia.
I remember the grass.
But you are my daughter as well...
It is too late...
The broken glass.
She's gone... she's dead.
The tears come, but they stop just as quickly when people appear before me.
"Where am I?"
"Konoha General Hospital," the old man in white tells me in a kindly voice. He seems friendly, but carries himself like a Bureau admiral. But Konoha... the word is strange; I've never heard of it - come to think of it, how was I able to understand the old man?
I quickly look to my left and see the small pendant that was my other Device.
"Konoha?" I ask.
One of the old man's escorts responds to my question. "Konohagakure - the Village Hidden in the Leaves. We'd like a few answers from you."
This was new. "What kind of answers?"
"Such as your identity, for instance," the second escort answers. The way these people carry themselves remind me of Bureau enforcers. Come to think of it, was I captured by the Bureau? Only part of the Bureau would find a way to appeal to mine and their interests... but until I'm absolutely sure of where these people stand, I'll speak truthfully for the meantime.
"My name.. is Precia Testarossa. Where is my daughter?"
That's new. The old man (who I think is a high-ranking civilian or military officer here) and their escorts seem as confused as I am upon hearing my name. So... I really am in a different world... which means I need to find...
The confusion in the old man's eyes vanished quickly upon my question, replaced with something reassuring.
"You have nothing to worry about," he said, "she's on the bed next to you."
I disregard everyone and everything and turn my head to the side. There, on the bed, lay my daughter, my darling, the only good thing I have left in this world...
One moment, I am on my bed, the next, I am at her side. I saw the escorts get into some sort of stances as I move with alarming speed towards my daughter, but the old man has them stand down.
Please let it be true.
I put a hand on my little angel's chest and...
...Her heart beats.
Her chest rises and falls.
Could it be...?
Yes... yes it could.
I promise to pay back whatever God there is who managed to give even a scoundrel like me a miracle like this.
Tears fall, and I do not care. I sob out my thanks to whoever managed this miracle and call on my daughter's name.
After all my tears of joy and relief had been shed and I was given a glass of water, I returned to my own bed and my usual composure.
"Feeling better?" the old man asked me.
I nodded in reply. "Thank you for this. You have no idea how much this means to me."
"Well," the old man who had the title of Hokage said, smiling, "I can arrange for you and your daughter to have a little chat with me after you're done with your recovery. Consider it a little interview and a way to show your gratitude – after all, there is still so little we know about each other."
"Of course, sir..." I answer, my voice softening to a point I never knew was there - not since Alicia died. There was really no reason to continue on the path I was on, because Alicia is alive. How and why, I don't know - that would be something to figure out for next time - along with where we were and many other details.
For the first time in a very long while, there was hope in my heart... hope for a new beginning.
Chapter One - END
author notes: The first chapter - as you know - is in Precia's POV. The reason this is so is because a first-person narrative would be of more help in showing what a mind being put back together would write like.
Also, the Raiton jutsu used here is the same as the one in Team 8, but with a different name.
Do leave some feedback on if the rewrite is better... I plan on finishing the rewrite before resuming Twin Fates, but who knows!