Another Fistful Of Omake
DISCLAIMER: Original series belong to someone else.
NOTE: There are several takes on the Naruto - The Video Game concept, most of which i've found amusing. As far as i can tell - Chibi-Reaper did it first. Though the idea of being trapped in a videogame is pretty old - Tron did it first i think. Sorry "Sword Art Online" fans, but it wasn't SAO that originated the concept.
Wanted to try my hand at it, but with the Anime Addventure bugged and my own easily discouraged nature with the amount of critics. (shrug) Perhaps it would be best to let someone else give it a go.
Uses the initial setup of the shrine from the Blue Lantern omake.
Omake 30: Gaming The System
They had been going towards Wave Country, guarding an old bridgebuilder. At the end of the first day, there had been a rainstorm and they'd taken shelter at a shrine just off the road.
The little priest in charge had been odd, but then again they were ninja so odd wasn't all that uncommon.
A god of chaos, mischief, and trickery. Again, being as they were ninja - none of this was particularly odd. That it was a cat instead of a fox was the oddest thing about it really.
Kakashi stirred as voices interrupted his sleep schedule. Really, it was fine that Naruto talked to the priest during his turn at watch, but did he HAVE to be so loud doing it?
Then there were the images and a very different voice answering Naruto, and Kakashi realized that things were about to get very out-of-hand.
"As you practice and develop, your new kekkei genkai will also develop," said the cat-being.
"It's a bloodline?" asked Kakashi.
"Yes. So from now on the Uzumaki bloodline has its high stamina, healing talent, longevity, talent for fuuinjutsu, and this ability as well. The Weapon Master."
"Weapon? Like kunai?" asked Naruto. "I can already throw kunai."
"No. The first abilities are Scan and Reinforce. When your opponent has a weapon you can use Scan to determine what special properties it has. Reinforce makes your own weapon harder to break. Eventually you'll learn Repair and Copy. Repair to fix broken weapons or restore them to a like-new condition. Copy to learn weapons techniques that another is using. Eventually you'll be able to Manifest - the ability to create temporary versions of weapons you've used Scan on."
"That really doesn't fit Naruto too well," said Kakashi. "He's more prone to charging in and getting over his head."
"Kakashi-sensei, that's mean," protested Naruto.
"Perhaps, but it's true," said Kakashi. "Dog walking and ending up in a minefield? Clearing a field and pulling the crops with the weeds? Painting a fence, and also the sidewalk, the client, and two passerby?"
"Well..." said Naruto, grimacing at the memories.
"Well, I'd give it to Tenten if I had a better excuse. She really deserves something for being on a team run by Gai and with Lee and Neji being her teammates."
"Anyone who has Gai for a sensei really does deserve something good happening to them," admitted Kakashi.
"But this way it'll leave a possibility of Tenten being interested in Naruto, so that'll be interesting to see if it develops."
"How would she even know?" asked Kakashi.
"Hmph, ridiculous," said Neji.
"Something in the paper today?" asked Tenten, noting that Neji was practicing his Byakugan by reading different pages in a newspaper that was still folded up.
"The Uzumaki brat that was in the last class to graduate," explained Neji. "One of the genealogists that the various clans access came up with some findings regarding that 'deadlast' - that his ancestry may contains a Weapon Master kekkei genkai."
"Sounds intriguing," admitted Tenten. "What's it do?"
"Oh, there are ways."
"I don't suppose you can give him some self-control?" asked Kakashi.
"Where's the fun in that?"
"I take it back, both of you are mean," sulked Naruto.
"You're saying you could make Naruto less prone to charging in and messing up?"
"If I stirred myself to it, I could make it so that Sasuke Uchiha had been born a girl and thought Naruto was cute."
"Let's not go there," said a creeped-out Naruto.
"I could make it so that Sakura was only interested in other girls, or that Hinata was of the branch family of the Hyuga, or Jiraiya wrote cookbooks, or that Orochimaru had a catgirl fetish. I could change Sakura from 'tsundere' to 'cute bookworm' or a 'dojikko' or maybe something less used like a 'samurai-ko' type."
"Who?" asked Naruto.
"What?" asked Kakashi.
"Why? Is that YOUR wish, Kakashi Hatake?"
"If I had a wish," said Kakashi drily, "I'd wish that Obito and Rin were back. Since that's impossible -"
"Wha- what?" asked the young girl with the marks on her cheeks. "Where?"
Kakashi stared, slowly reaching up and uncovering his Sharingan, then slowly covering it back up.
"I couldn't do Obito because he's not dead."
Naruto watched as Kakashi's visible eye rolled up and he fainted.
"Uhm," said Naruto. "Hi. Naruto Uzumaki here. Hidden Leaf village."
"Rin Nohara, also Hidden Leaf..." Rin looked around. "Any idea what's going on?"
"Yeah, but I'm not making a whole lot of sense out of it," said Naruto.
"I'm going to show you one weapon. Of a sort. Scan it."
"Okay!" said Naruto, ready for awesome jutsu.
"Pika pi, pikachu!"
"Ungh," said Naruto.
"Well, he's waking up."
"That hurt, ya know," said Naruto, slowly opening his eyes.
"Pika!" said the pikachu.
"Yeah, you're considered a weapon," said Naruto. "See, Toltiir decided that just doing weapons was too close to someone else's thing, so he made it a bit different."
"Pika?" asked the pikachu.
"Do you mean you actually understand this pudgy..." Sasuke indicated the yellow blob with the rabbit ears.
"Pika!" said the pikachu, frowning up at Sasuke.
"Oooh, what you said," said Naruto, rubbing his forehead.
"So, what exactly is..." Rin pointed at the creature.
"That is a pikachu," said Naruto. "A pokemon. A creature from an entirely different set of universes."
"Looks pretty useless," began Sasuke.
"Pikachu, ThunderShock," said Naruto. "But not enough to hurt him. Much."
"Pika!" said the pikachu enthusiastically before going ahead and doing what it had wanted to do for awhile now.
Kakashi blinked. "That was a Lightning attack."
"No kidding," said the slightly crispy Sasuke on the floor.
"So, your 'weaponmaster' jutsu lets you scan creatures that are weapon-grade and then manifest them?" asked Rin.
"Yeah," said Naruto.
"Pika!" said the pikachu.
"What else?" asked Sakura, torn between gushing over how cute the creature was and berating it for zapping Sasuke.
"Well," said Naruto.
The pikachu adjusted his orange jacket and little Konoha headband. "Pi pi pika pi pi chu."
"Yeah, it does look good on you," admitted Naruto.
"Where did he get the jacket? Where did he get the headband?" asked Sakura.
"Pipi chu pika pi."
"He's right, Sakura-chan," said Naruto. "You shouldn't try to overanalyze these things, it'll just give you a headache."
"You're using words like 'overanalyze'?" asked Sasuke, briefly wondering if Naruto had been replaced.
"Oh," said Sasuke, deducing that Naruto had been quoting the little yellow thing.
"I can also do this," declared Naruto, making a hand-sign.
The pikachu faded out. Something else faded in.
Sakura, Naruto, and Kakashi all stared at Sasuke for a moment.
Sasuke recovered, coughed into a fist, and looked away from the new creature.
"Um, right," said Naruto, a bit uncertain. Had Sasuke gotten all sparkly-eyed and... no. Couldn't have been. "Dark Phoenix Hatchling. A flying/fire type."
"Might be useful for scouting," noted Rin.
"Why is it dressed like Sasuke?" asked Sakura, noting that it was wearing a Konoha headband and blue shirt much like Sasuke.
"Oh, anyone I defeat - I can then summon their counterpart," said Naruto. "And now..."
The Dark Phoenix Hatchling faded out. Nothing appeared though.
"Whatta ya mean I'm too low level?!" asked Naruto aloud.
"What did you try to summon?" asked Kakashi.
"According to this list," said Naruto, pointing at a spot in the air that didn't look any different from anywhere else, "I've defeated Sasuke, the Hokage, Mizuki, and my pikachu is listed as 'starting' and I should be able to summon their animal. I tried to summon the Hokage's and it wouldn't let me!"
"Well," said Kakashi thoughtfully. "That makes sense. The Hokage would be a high-level summons."
"WHEN did you defeat me, dobe?" asked Sasuke.
"When I tied you up and left you in the bathroom on team assignment day I guess," said Naruto, staring at the air. "That would explain the 'unlock' date."
"That shouldn't count," protested Sasuke.
"What is Mizuki's 'counterpart'?" asked Kakashi.
A large bull appeared in the room.
"A tauros," said Naruto.
"Looks like a bum steer," said Sakura.
The tauros glared at Sakura in response.
"Hmmm, big enough that Tazuna could ride it, which would allow us to speed up our trip," noted Kakashi. "Potentially useful."
The tauros snorted.
"No forehead protector," said Sakura.
"Well, Mizuki was found to be a traitor and his status revoked," said Kakashi. "So that makes a certain degree of sense. Still wearing a chunin vest so not sure about that."
"Somehow," said Sasuke, sounding quite thoughtful. "We have to get Naruto to defeat more opponents."
"Eh?!" asked Naruto. Sasuke wanted him to get stronger?
"The more of these you have, the more adaptable you'll be, and if that happens - I won't have to carry you like so much deadweight," noted Sasuke aloud.
Naruto twitched and glared at Sasuke.
"Where the heck would we find some ninja that Naruto could beat?" asked Sakura.
"Hmmm," hmmmed Kakashi, thinking.
"Hmmm," hmmmed Sasuke, pondering as he looked in Sakura's general direction.
"Hmmm," hmmmed Rin, looking directly at Sakura.
"Yeah, it's not like we're going to get some enemies I can beat up around here," said Naruto, looking at Tazuna.
Tazuna finished taking a drink from some bottle and put that away quickly. He was not liking the tension in the air.
A brief snippet of music played.
Rin and Team 7 all looked at Naruto.
"I don't get it," said Naruto, pointing at a section of air as far as everyone else was concerned. "What does it mean 'Random Encounter'?"
"It's like a video game?" asked Sakura, putting earlier comments together with this. "What does it say?! Exactly!"
"Uhm, it says, 'Random Encounter' and there's a couple of numbers but they're moving so fast I can't see 'em?" asked Naruto.
"Okay, got it," said Sakura, drawing a kunai and brandishing it. "I know what's going on."
"Does this actually make sense to you?" asked Sasuke.
"Yes, this new ability of Naruto's was set up at a temple for a god of mischief," said Sakura. "So it's operating like a video game. Probably because it suspected one of us would be familiar with the idea and it would get us participating with the madness instead of just being dragged along. Naruto, later I want you to try and find a 'Settings' menu. For now - just let me know when the numbers stop moving."
"Uhm. Okay..." said Naruto. "Ah. They just did. It came up '90' and 'Shellder'?!"
"'Shellder'?" asked Sakura.
"I dunno," said a heavily perspiring Naruto. "Uhm, ah. Maybe. Pikachu?"
The dressed-like-Naruto pikachu appeared. "Pika pi pika chu!"
A clam-like creature thumped to the ground, wearing a 'Kiri' headband.
"'Expy of Gedo Hamaguri' - or so it says," said Naruto. "'Minor character killed off during Chunin Exam arc.'"
"There are 'minor characters' in these games?" asked Sasuke, also brandishing a pair of kunai but glancing towards Sakura who at least seemed to have SOME clue as to current events.
"Yes, I..." Sakura began, but then realized that Sasuke was depending on her and looking to her as an expert. On video games. "Not that I play video games! I gave those up years ago!"
The Shellder shot a blast of water, missing the pikachu and hitting Sakura directly in the face.
"Pikachu, thundershock!" called out Naruto, thinking that a scene of extreme violence against a shellfish was about to be committed.
"PIKA!" complied the pikachu, throwing a lightning bolt at the water pokemon. Which keeled over.
Sakura spluttered and parted the wet hair, then sluiced water out of her eyes. When she could see again, there was a defeated Shellder in the path.
"All right, I caught another one!" said Naruto. "It looks like I can summon..."
"SHANNARO!" yelled Sakura, kicking the shellfish and causing it to fly far away.
"WHAT?! It says 'capture incomplete' and 'lost Shellder'?!" said Naruto, again pointing to a message only he could see.
Sakura stopped gritting her teeth and looking peeved. "What?"
"Nice going," groaned Sasuke. "Well, THAT was certainly pointless."
Sakura took a deep breath, visibly calming down. "Okay. Naruto. Is there anything like a menu that you can see?"
"Um, no?" asked Naruto.
"Are you looking at a little square screen that has information on it?" asked Sakura.
"Well, there's one that keeps popping up here," said Naruto, pointing at a spot off to his right.
"Try saying 'Settings' then," said Sakura, thinking about it.
"'Settings'?" asked Naruto, who then blinked. "Whoa. Something came up."
"What does it say?" asked Sakura.
"It says 'settings' and then it has a bunch of junk on this side," said Naruto.
Sakura walked up and punched Naruto in the head. "Exactly. What EXACTLY does it say?"
"Naruto is not terribly detail oriented Sakura," said Kakashi softly.
"Meaning he tends to charge straight ahead and plan accordingly," said Sasuke, using the opportunity to snark on Naruto. "If you can call that a plan, that is."
"Uhm, 'audio alert' is on, 'permit random encounters' is on, 'hints' is off, 'tutorial' is off," began Naruto.
"Turn off the 'permit random encounters' until we're done with the mission," said Sakura.
"Uhm, how?" asked Naruto.
"Try touching where it says 'on'," suggested Sakura.
"Hey that did it!" exclaimed Naruto. "You know a lot about this sort of thing Sakura!"
"Well, I generally prefer a different genre but this seems like it's a straightforward -" began Sakura proudly until she noticed Sasuke watching. "Not that I do anything as immature as play videogames! Not since my third year in the Academy!"
Sasuke sighed, rubbing his forehead as if he felt a headache coming on for whatever reason.
"A straightforward what?" asked Kakashi.
"Monster raising and training game like 'Monster Farm Deuteronomy' or maybe a Sim-style game like Sim-civilian," said Sakura. "Not that I know anything about those. I think I saw Ino play one once."
"Uh huh," said everyone else but Rin.
"What else is there or is that it?" asked Sakura of Naruto.
If you checked, Sakura Haruno had two hobbies. Trivia games and medical studies, though the latter only was true after Tsunade's return to the village.
That she had played some video games, themselves the result of the occasional misfire from trying to summon useful equipment, was not something she was proud of due to a perception that such was uncool and immature and therefore something to conceal from her crush. Nonetheless, she HAD and now could put that information to use.
Sakura therefore listened to the settings and had specific instructions for Naruto.
"Turn the 'hints' to 'on'," said Sakura. "Since it's weird just watching you do stuff to thin air - turn on physical interface."
"Okay," said Naruto.
"Is there a 'Save'?" asked Sakura.
"Uhm, yeah. Down at the bottom. 'Save Changes'?"
"Hit that." Sakura waited for Naruto to do so.
A box appeared on Naruto's belt.
"Ah HAH!" said Sakura, pouncing. Unfortunately her fingers went straight through it. "CRAP!"
"Eh?" asked Naruto, picking the box off his belt. "What's this?"
"A Wintendo DX Portable Gaming System," said Sakura. "There's only seven of them in Konoha. When they got these there are only six game chips they got at the same time. 'Sim-civilian', 'Monster Ranch Deuteronomy', 'FIPA Soccer', 'Call Of Honor', 'Angry Critters', and 'Mahjong Master.' There was a seventh, 'Duel Deck Deus' - but it was broken by one of the girls in the Academy."
"Huh," said Naruto, tapping on the controls.
"Hold it where I can read it," Sakura instructed Naruto. "Okay. I can't touch it - but I can read the screen."
What followed was Sakura rapidly giving Naruto commands to "open this" or "touch that" or "hit that arrow" or "bring this section down" or "see if that brings up a hint" or similar comments.
In the meantime, Rin took up a position near Tazuna and made several comments about his health and how he should get more exercise and drink less. Tazuna's responses were less than enthusiastic.
Kakashi listened but kept an eye on the surroundings, with Sasuke deciding to follow his sensei's lead.
"Okay, got the basics," said Sakura, stepping away from Naruto and the box, then going into quiet thinking for awhile as she figured out her report.
"Sakura?" prompted Kakashi.
"Okay," repeated Sakura finally. "The game that whatever-it-was put together is really complex. The centerpiece, main game, deals with Naruto having a sum-mon. This is a creature based partly on a creature type somewhere else in the multiverse and partly on someone that Naruto has either defeated or has assisted in the defeat of. Better chance of getting a sum-mon if he was the only one defeating the opponent."
"'Multiverse'?" asked Sasuke.
Sakura was clearly still distracted by her findings, as she wasn't paying attention to Sasuke and just answered off-handedly. "Multiple universes, parallel dimensions, alternate worlds. Some high-level summoning techniques access those but aren't easily controllable and have a huge chakra cost. Anyway, the main game deals with Naruto doing that. There are several mini-games or side-games which can be accessed as well."
"Mini-games?" asked Kakashi.
"There's a 'dating-sim' sort of game that can be activated, and Naruto - DON'T," said Sakura, raising a fist to indicate that if she caught him doing so there would be immediate and violent results.
"Eh?" asked Naruto, who hadn't even thought about that.
"There's also 'Clan Builder' - which is locked," continued Sakura. She hesitated on the next part, which caused some concern on Sasuke's part when he saw the furtive glance sent his way.
"Let's see," said Sakura, quite aware of Rin watching over the client. Also of Kakashi-sensei looking over her shoulder, Naruto glancing at her every so often, Sasuke glancing every so often but also watching their environment while flipping a kunai up and down in one hand. "Tap here."Naruto Uzumaki.
[History][Special Abilities][Inventory][Skills & Traits]
"Now hit the 'Skills and Traits' section," instructed Sakura.Skills & Traits - Naruto Uzumaki
Chakra Control - 0.5
Hand Seals - 1
Intelligence - 1
Speed - 2
Stamina - 4
Strength - 2
Bojutsu - 0
Fuuinjutsu - 0
Genjutsu - 1
Kenjutsu - 0
Kyokugei - 1
Ninjutsu - 2
Shurikenjutsu - 1
Taijutsu - 1.5
Trapmaking - 1
Uzumaki Style Gusari-do - 0, Not Learned.
Uzumaki Style Taijutsu - 0, Not Learned.
Bunshin - 0 (Chakra Control insufficient)
Henge (Hensojutsu) - 2
Kawarimi - 0.5
Oiroke - 3
Tajuu Kage Bunshin No Jutsu - 2
Eat Ludicrous Amounts Of Ramen - 2
Dodge Like A Maniac - 1
Selective Blindness - 1
Uzumaki bloodline (Stamina, Longevity, Recovery, Fuuinjutsu Talent)
Jinchuriki (Kyubi) (stage 1, Class IV seal)
Will Of Fire
Hunted by Akatsuki
Hunted by Orochimaru
Animosity Of Village (General Populace) -10 Reputation
5 pts available. Spend points?
"You have two points in eating ramen?!" demanded Sakura.
"I see you need work on your chakra control," noted Kakashi.
"Why is wearing orange a disadvantage?" complained Naruto.
"He has a bloodline?" asked Sasuke, wondering why he hadn't heard that or seen any evidence prior. Yes, Rin had said something like that - but he'd dismissed it as a possibility after initial consideration.
"I see," said Rin, nodding.
"I don't understand half of that," complained Tazuna.
Of course, everyone spoke almost simultaneously. This was followed by a pause.
"Why are these lines fuzzy?" asked Sakura finally. She pointed to a particular line which looked as if the light was scrambled right there to her.
"It's an S-Class secret," said Kakashi, wondering if he had to kill the client to block the image.
"What's going on?" asked Tazuna, sticking his pinky in his ear and waggling it. "Why is it I can't read most of that like it's gone all fuzzy, and why do you keep speaking but I can't hear anything?"
Kakashi eyed him. "'Jinchuriki'?"
"Did you say something?" asked Tazuna. "I could have sworn I saw your mouth move under that mask."
"So there is a security feature," said Kakashi. Tazuna isn't a member of the 'party' and is blocked from learning most of this?
"What's a 'jinchuriki?" asked Sakura. "'Power of human sacrifice'?"
Kakashi startled, then facepalmed. Whereas a party member might be directly censored but not INdirectly censored.
"Nice going, Kakashi-sensei," muttered Naruto.
"S-Class secret," said Kakashi. "You aren't allowed to ask about that. Or discuss it. You can't even dream about telling yourself it."
"Who is 'Akatsuki'?" asked Naruto.
"No idea," admitted Kakashi.
"Try going back and pulling up my stats," said Sakura. "That way we can get a comparison."Skills & Traits - Sakura Haruno
Chakra Control - 3
Hand Seals - 4
Intelligence - 3.5
Speed - 1
Stamina - 1
Strength - 0.5
Bojutsu - 0
Fuuinjutsu - 0
Genjutsu - 3
Kenjutsu - 0
Kyokugei - 2
Ninjutsu - 1.5
Shurikenjutsu - 1.5
Taijutsu - 1
Trapmaking - 2
Bunshin - 2
Henge (Hensojutsu) - 2
Kawarimi - 1
Ikebana - 1
Harumori bloodline (latent - pink hair)
Obsession with Sasuke Uchiha
Intelligence Deficit Disorder when distracted by thoughts of Sasuke Uchiha
2 pts available. Spend points?
"WHAT?!" declared Sakura, pointing at the disadvantage. "I DO NOT!"
"Uhm, actually," said Sasuke. "I've noticed that."
"No!" said Sakura, automatically denying it even if it DID come from Sasuke.
Sasuke watched her out of the corner of his eye. Actually, he HAD noticed but it was a minor thing and it generally only happened when there weren't other things going on. It WAS annoying though and perhaps knowledge of the trait would allow her to overcome the weakness? Except she was now apparently trapped in some loop where she was staring at him and then at the screen and then back. Ah, now she was slumping in place with a crestfallen expression.
"Wow, so you have a latent bloodline?" asked Naruto. "And your hand seal score is way up there."
"I wonder if this is a five point or a ten point scale," pondered Kakashi. He thought from what he'd seen, most likely it was a ten-point scale.
Sakura finally decided something. "Close mine. Open yours again. Go here. Hit the plus mark there."Intelligence +1
Intelligence = 2: Average
Removing Learning Disability
"Now save the changes," said Sakura.
"I've still got four points," noted Naruto as he did it.
"Do you feel any different?" asked Sakura.
"No?" asked Naruto.
"Great, it doesn't do anything," said Sasuke.
"Try putting a point here in 'Chakra Control' and a point in 'Strength' - then try saving again," said Sakura, encircling one of Naruto's upper arms with one hand.
"Fine fine," grumbled Naruto, doing that and then hitting save changes.
"WHOA!" said Sakura, practically leaping backwards.
"Hmmm?" asked Kakashi.
"I felt that," said Sakura. "If you were just looking you might not notice, but I felt his muscles growing."
"Eh? So it does do something?" asked Sasuke, now wondering what HIS information said about him. If it made him stronger now, he'd take it - even if it was a cheat. No, he was a ninja - he'd do it especially if it was a cheat.
"I don't really feel different," mumbled Naruto, checking himself out as best he could.
"Pull mine back up again," said Sakura. "I've got two points, let's see..."
Everyone waited for a few moments as Sakura was clearly lost in thought, mumbling to herself as she did.
"One point in Strength since that's my lowest score," said Sakura after working things out, her tone thoughtful. "Since there are half-points, go ahead and put half a point in Speed and half a point in Stamina."
"Huh," said Naruto as he tapped his way through those values.
"Now, save the changes," said Sakura, bracing herself for what she expected to be an unpleasant sensation.
"Ngahhh," said Sakura, practically wilting.
"Wow, it didn't hurt me at all when I did it," noted Naruto.
Sakura immediately recovered and started checking herself out, hoping that she hadn't suddenly become muscle-bound or something. No indication of such, though she DID notice her muscle-tone had improved.
Tazuna grumbled about not being a 'selectable character' and possibly getting a 'arthritis disadvantage' bought off. He was ignored by everyone else.
"We'll check Sasuke later," decided Kakashi. "For now, put 'random encounters' back on."
"Huh? Why? Won't that slow us down?" asked Naruto.
"True, and that WAS one concern," said Kakashi. "However, this 'game' seems to involve both ourselves and those pets getting stronger-"
"You want him to powerlevel," stated Sakura.
"If that's what it is called," agreed Kakashi.
"Hmmm," said Naruto, going back and checking a section. "Okay, Tauros!"
The large bull-like creature appeared, the three tails lashing the air briefly. "Grah."
"Why the 'Tauros'?" asked Kakashi.
"We can make better time if Tazuna-san rides it," said Naruto.
Everyone stared at Naruto.
"What?" asked Naruto defensively.
"My sweet kami, it WORKED," said Sasuke, pointing.
"What worked?" asked Naruto.
"Never mind," said Sasuke, recovering. "When we get a chance, bring up my stats page."
"Hnn," managed Naruto.
Sasuke glared at Naruto for a moment, then visibly decided it wasn't worth the effort.
An hour later, Sakura was about to say something about how their speed had picked up when the little gadget played some quick musical piece.
"Random encounter," read Naruto. "'A wild Jinchuriki appears! Recruitable character. Potential Rom.'?"
The startled-looking girl stared at everyone. "Uhm. What's going on?"
"Mah, this might take awhile," said Kakashi. "You're from Taki, right?"
"What's a 'jin'..." Sakura began asking, read the sudden spike in tension, and decided not to finish that question. "Yeah. Long story."
"It says 'Naruto party is attempting to use Negotiate'?" asked Naruto, reading his gadget. "There's a timer going."
"Okay, apparently we don't have time for the long story," said Kakashi. "Basically, we have access to a very strange device that has summoned you as a potential ally or friend and can possibly give you some additional skills. In order for that to occur, there's the possibility of Naruto here defeating you or something. We're still figuring it out."
"You're Kakashi Hatake of Konohagakure, right?" asked the girl. "Fine. I surrender, conditional to what you're saying."
"Eh?" asked most of those present.
Triumphant music began to play from the box.
"Wait! That COUNTED?!" asked Sakura.
"Okay!" said Naruto cheerfully. "'Fuu of Takigakure recruited! Unlocked Heracross summon. Unlocked High Pixie summon.' I don't understand this though - it says 'If she accepts invitation at time selected, Fuu can be selected as a party member for dungeons and raids.'"
"This has got to be the weirdest dream I've ever had," said Fuu. "I can have friends? Just like that? Don't I wish..."
"She vanished," said Naruto, disappointed.
"She just went back to where she started, which is for the better actually," guessed Kakashi. "Taki is an ally, but they are unlikely to take us kidnapping one of their ninja in a positive light."
"I wouldn't expect 'Negotiation' to work too often," mused Sakura. "Probably because we're just starting out."
"Well, you're the expert," said Naruto.
"No! No I'm not!" exclaimed Sakura, sending a nervous gaze towards Sasuke.
Sasuke just let out a tired-sounding breath but decided not to comment further.
"So, Tauros," said Naruto. "Let's just get..."
Music began to play.
"'Random Encounter' again?" asked Sakura, sounding annoyed.
"No," said Naruto. "Or yes. I guess. It's a different message."
"Eh?" asked most of the group, crowding close to see the display on the screen.
[Suddenly a group of Wild Fangirls attack.]
"What does that mean?" asked Sakura.
"AHHHH! IT'S SASUKE-KUN!"
Sasuke stood upright, an expression of horror disturbing his face, and he looked to the side. Then he was abruptly not there.
"AHHHH! SASUKE-KUNNNNNN!" screamed the crowd of girls as they charged out of the brush on one side of the road and charged off towards the other side.
[Wild Fangirls try to use Mob Attack! Sasuke Dodges!]
Sasuke leapt from the brush, running as if his life depended on it as he crossed the road and jumped into the brush on the other side.
"AHHHH! SASUKE-KUNNNNN!" screamed the crowd.
A little pink-haired girl stood there briefly. "We is in Hot Pursuit!" At which point she charged off into the crowd again.
[Wild Fangirls use Hot Pursuit. It's Super Effective!]
"Hey, I remember this!" said Naruto. "You were doing this with the other girls about two years ago."
"I... remember," said Sakura, sounding as if she very much did not want to remember this.
"It's like a feeding frenzy with a predator going after fresh meat," noted Kakashi. "Or young girls at a rock concert."
"AHHHHH!" screamed Sasuke as he crossed the road again, this time with his shirt missing and the rest of his clothing looking a bit frayed around the edges.
"SASUKEEEEEE!" called out the crowd, still in Hot Pursuit.
Sakura twitched a lot. "I wasn't that bad. Was I?"
"They even have the little hearts in their eyes thing going," noted Naruto as he sounded vaguely nostalgic.
Sakura paused. "Well, at least we grew out of it."
Tazuna looked towards Kakashi. "She's kidding, right?"
"Well, she has toned it down a little bit," admitted Kakashi.
"UNNN!" said Sasuke, holding as much of his remaining clothing on as he ran back across the road again.
"I think that was a call for help," said Kakashi.
"Nah, he loves the attention," said Naruto.
WHACK! went Sasuke's fist onto the top of Naruto's head as he ran back across the road.
"STOP!" tried Sakura as she leapt in between Sasuke and his pursuers.
[Wild Fangirls use Trample Underfoot.]
"Fire Release! Great Fireball!"
There were a few screams and then the crowd dispersed, fading away.
Sakura, who'd missed most of the fire due to being flattened on the ground, coughed briefly.
"What exactly WAS that?" asked Tazuna.
"Huh," said Naruto, punching buttons. "One of Sasuke's disadvantages is 'pursued by fangirls' - that might be it."
Sasuke limped back onto the road, clutching a few pieces of his clothing that had survived.
"I never acted that bad at least, right Sasuke?" asked Sakura, not managing to keep all the hopefulness out of her voice.
Sasuke directed a flat look towards her.
"Oh," said Sakura, thinking that maybe she should get rid of the shirt-piece she had in her collection.
"Well," said Naruto. "That was interesting. And odd. And oddly interesting. And slightly disturbing."
Sasuke merely vowed that when he had the chance, there was a disadvantage that was going to be bought off.
There were some areas better for ambush than others.
The choice was simple enough for Zabuza Momochi. If the bridge-builder made it this far, they would likely come across on a small boat that could sneak past the mercenaries. They would likely come ashore here, where the trees were close to the water and provided the most cover.
The same things that would provide cover for the ninja sneaking Tazuna back into Wave would provide the best chance for an ambush.
If they chose another area, the lack of cover would mean the group would be more visible at a distance. Most ninja would choose the less visible option, a sort of professional bias. That which made a ninja predictable could be exploited by another ninja - something Zabuza was quite familiar with.
Sure enough, there was the group disembarking from their little boat ride. Concealed in the brush without even a ripple of killing intent or sound to betray him - Zabuza was ready to kill off the little Leaf ninja.
Wait, what was that music?
"'Boss Encounter - Zabuza Momochi'?" asked Naruto as he read the screen after the music had prompted him with a clue that something was about to happen.
Sasuke blinked, looked briefly about, then threw shuriken into the underbrush.
"What?" asked Naruto.
When she got a good look at what was pinned by a shuriken through an ear to a tree, Sakura sagged in relief. "Just a false alarm."
"That coloration," noted Kakashi aloud, as a white rabbit was decidedly out of season.
"What the hell?" asked Zabuza Momochi, the branch he'd been standing on having abruptly decided it wasn't up to the task.
"Zabuza Momochi," said Kakashi. "One of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist."
"THAT is a big sword," noted Sakura.
"Yeah, the women tell me that all the time," said Zabuza as he picked himself up off the ground.
There was a moment of dead silence.
"Oh, wait, sorry, wrong prepared speech," said Zabuza.
"You four, stand back and guard Tazuna, this fight is way out of your league," noted Kakashi.
Naruto considered his options. Naruto made a gesture. Tauros vanished.
"Pika pi!" announced the pikachu as it appeared.
"Good idea, Naruto," said Sakura. "With all this water around, electrical attacks should be more effective."
"Eh? Oh yeah. Right. That was my plan."
"Pika?" asked the pikachu.
"A yellow pudgy rabbit thing?" asked Zabuza.
"PIKACHUUUUU!" CRACKLE ZAP!
Zabuza blocked with his sword. Zabuza got poofy hair and slightly charcoaled as a result.
"Uhm, no, Naruto," said Kakashi. "Really. Guard the client. Not engage the missing-nin in a pokebattle."
"A wha? It doesn't matter, Sharingan Kakashi. It's a pity that your little genin will die here, unless of course you're willing to just walk away from that bridge builder?" Zabuza decided to ignore the way his hair was still poofing out. Better that way.
"Zabuza Momochi, please don't take this the wrong way, but you're the most normal thing to happen so far on this mission," said Kakashi. "It's actually a relief to face someone like you in a life-or-death battle over the survival of a drunk client. This is something NORMAL."
"Uhm, right, confident aren't you?" asked Zabuza.
Music began to play.
"Naruto. Turn off 'random encounters' would you?" asked Kakashi. "I would have thought it would do that automatically."
"It says that we were queued for a random dungeon and it's available, and do you want to specify 'Zabuza Momochi' as random guest character?" Naruto asked, fairly confused.
"Some of this not-normal stuff you were referring to?" asked Zabuza. Beneath the mask he grinned. "Go ahead. Let's see what you've got-"
It was a cavern, lit by pools of leaping lava off to the side. It smelled of fire and brimstone and other less identifiable things.
"Okay," said Zabuza. "I'm going to go out on a limb and guess this is some of what you've been going through. Is this hell then?"
"Only relatively," said Kakashi.
"Sorry, I musta hit 'accept' somewhere," said Naruto as Sakura crowded close.
"Put my icon in the back," said Sakura. "Same with Rin. Right. Okay, select 'Fuu' as party member."
"It says 'Fuu is currently unavailable'," pointed out Naruto as he tried that.
"Would it be terribly difficult for someone to explain what exactly is going on here?" asked Zabuza. After all, if he killed everyone here - that was no guarantee that he'd go back to where he'd been a moment ago. He'd already tried dispelling a genjutsu and gotten nowhere.
"We're working on that, do we have a truce for now?" asked Kakashi.
"For now, in accordance with Article 26 of the Sarutobi Accord," agreed Zabuza, putting his sword across his back. He knew these Konoha ninja were sticklers for rules like that.
"Help menu," instructed Sakura. "Hit the section there. Okay. You can have one pet active at any given point, but you can swap them out at any given point."
Zabuza glanced at the yellow rabbit thing, figuring that was a pet - and the bull had disappeared as the rabbit appeared so he could swap one for the other. Some sort of summoning contract? But then what was the device?
"So we have a party ready," said Sakura. "Sasuke, Kakashi-sensei, and Zabuza-san in front. Naruto, Rin, and myself in rear. Rin's specified as Healer."
"Well, at least that part makes sense," admitted Rin.
"Am I on that thing?" asked Tazuna, deciding to sit down on a large rock.
"No, oh wait - here you are," said Sakura. "Under mission NPCs, and inactive."
"That explains why I tried to sit down and fell through the rock," noted Tazuna.
"I missed that?" asked Naruto, sounding disappointed.
"So how do we exit?" asked Sasuke.
"Hit that switch. No, go back. THAT switch. Here it is. Either we finish the dungeon, or we die, we quit, or we queue for another dungeon and abandon this one." Sakura glanced up. "'Die'?"
"Hold, adventurers," said a ghostly figure that formed near an archway cut into the rock. "Know you that past here is where a terrible darkness has gathered to threaten the world above!"
"Ah, this would be the quest," said Sakura brightly. "This part is kind of like Monster Ranch Deuteronomy."
"What kind of 'terrible darkness'?" asked Zabuza.
"I wonder if you are up to it," said the ghostly figure.
"It's a predetermined script," guessed Sakura. "Probably can't respond to questions."
"Hey! Maybe I can swap out..." said Naruto, checking a couple of things.
[Hiruzen Sarutobi is not currently available.]
"Oh, darn. Jiji woulda loved getting away from that paperwork stuff," said Naruto.
Kakashi twitched at the thought of what could have happened if Naruto HAD managed to pull the Hokage into this.
The flickering ghostly image nodded as they approached.
Sakura considered for a moment then tried what seemed the simplest approach. "Activate."
The figure just looked at them.
"Switch on. Click. Begin conversation?" tried Sakura.
Naruto scratched his head. "Hello?"
A great darkness lurks beneath the surface,
Waiting to erupt into the world above,
Bringing further horror and suffering
To an already beset world.
If you would stem this infectious darkness
from the destruction of all you hold dear,
you must venture to the heart of this temple
and defeat the enemy you find there.
Accept this Quest Y/N?
"I don't understand all of that," noted Naruto.
"Okay," said Sakura. "Seems straightforward. Yes, I think I understand."
Quit not available
until boss defeated or party loss
Sakura stared at the message as the NPC faded away.
"Sakura, did you just essentially lock us in here?" asked Kakashi, wanting to be clear on this point.
"Well, let's see where this goes then," said Zabuza. "Maybe I get to kill something. That's always good."
Shapes rounded a corner and came bounding down the corridor.
"Wait a minute, that's..." Zabuza's combat readiness abruptly collapsed.
"Zabuza-samaaaaa!" called out a group of young girls.
SLASH SLASH SLASH!
"Oooh," said one of the heads as it rolled to a stop. "You really know how to make an impression on a girl."
"WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT!?" asked Zabuza.
"Overkill, I'd say," said Kakashi.
"According to this 'Undead Yandere x3'," said Naruto.
"Ick!" declared Sakura, looking at the greenish spatter.
"They were some of the Academy students, graduation day," said Zabuza, shuddering slightly as he watched the bits of student crawling towards each other.
"Ah, yes," said Kakashi, turning towards his students. "Kiri used to have this wonderful system in place. Students were encouraged to cooperate and make friends through the Academy. Then, at the graduation, the final test was for each of the shinobi to fight and kill a classmate. They always arranged those fights to be between the best friends or comrades among the students."
"The idea, as I understood it," said Zabuza, using his sword to sweep pieces of Yandere into the lava, "was to have no greater loyalty to anything beyond the village as a whole."
"That continued until Zabuza here, not even a graduate, killed an entire class of graduates," said Kakashi.
Zabuza shuddered. "The dead should remain dead, damnit."
"Well, I sort of disagree," said Rin. "Though I'll admit that one should be either alive OR dead and not both or neither."
"So, to answer your earlier question," said Sakura, looking up from Naruto's device. "This is a 'random dungeon' which apparently is titled 'Unholy Order of Fangirls'."
"Quit! Exit! Escape!" called out Sasuke. "Abort! Stop! Desist!"
"Apparently after Sakura accepted the dungeon, we can't do that," noted Kakashi.
"Well, at least they're coming after the big sword guy," said Naruto.
"Ladies do like a big sword," noted Kakashi.
"Really, Kakashi-sensei?" asked Naruto. "But Sasuke doesn't have a sword and he's really popular - OUCH!"
Sasuke rolled his eyes after Sakura belted Naruto. That had been entirely too predictable.
"Can we get going? I want to get out of here," rumbled Zabuza.
"What's this sparkly bit?" asked Naruto, reaching out and touching something where a body had been.
Your share: 37s
"What's this?" asked Sasuke, pointing.
"We all got 'thirty seven s' - whatever 's' is supposed to mean," noted Kakashi as a little display had opened up before him with that message.
Zabuza checked his belt. "What the- I've got little coins in here."
"The 's' probably means 'silver'," noted Sakura, wiping a bit of greenish splatter off her arm.
Zabuza stared at her for a moment, then looked at Kakashi. "You mean, that in this weird cave thing, that when any of us kill something - we automatically get money out of it?"
"Actually, this is the first time we've done the 'random dungeon' function, but that does appear to be the case," noted Kakashi as he checked and found thirty-seven unfamiliar looking coins in his belt. "Probably have to melt them down for the metal."
"Not that," said Sasuke, pointing at something in midair. "It says here my portion of loot includes 'Sasuke's Speedo.'"
"Sounds like a rare item you can use to upgrade a monster like in the ranch game, or maybe a part for a ranch?" Sakura was momentarily unsure.
Sasuke held up what was clearly a pair of stretchy swimming trunks. "Okay, that's just wrong. It says here 'Sasuke's Speedo. +25% to swimming movement speed.'"
"You should wear it," suggested Sakura.
Sasuke and everyone else, including Rin, all stared at Sakura.
"What?" asked Sakura.
Sasuke rolled the thing up and put in away in a pack. He wasn't going to throw it away, but heck if he was going to wear it anywhere near a place with 'fangirl' in the name.
"Fire Release: Great Fireball Technique!"
The flames washed over them, causing one to fall. The remainder continued charging.
"Uhm. 'Flaming Tsundere' - they're fire-resistant but..." Naruto's voice trailed off and he quickly looked from the device to the charging group.
Zabuza began slashing, following by cha-ching noises.
"I enabled auto-loot," said Naruto.
A single one of the tsundere pulled out a large sword and parried Zabuza's attack.
CLANG! CLANG! CRASH!
"Interesting," said Zabuza as the little girl with the twin-tail hairstyle tried to get through his defenses.
"Kakashi-samaaaa!" called out a quartet of pretty young things, leaping in ambush.
"Me?!" asked a startled Kakashi. Usually they went after Sasuke. A few had gone after Zabuza.
"It says 'It's a Trap - 4 Crossdressing Yaoi Fanboys'," read Naruto, blinking at that and then looking at the leaping pink-clad forms in an entirely different light.
"Gurk," went Kakashi as he realized what was leaping at him.
"This is fate," said Zabuza with a nod.
Just before they reached Kakashi, kunai began hitting the frilly forms. Explosive notes went off.
"Time for a makeover," went a survivor, pulling out a sinister collection of knives with rods and gears stuck in at apparently random.
"Good boy, pikachu," said Kakashi, smiling down at the little rodent-thing.
Rin: Nurse Outfit
Naruto: Cheerleader Outfit
"Huh," said Naruto, selecting it and then making a face. "What?!"
"Oh?" asked Rin, holding up a white tube.
Rin's Nurse's Outfit
adds +10 to Medic-nin skill checks
"The crisp white nurse uniform is a bit dated, but
remains a classic in the medical field."
"Okay, let's see how this works," said Rin, examining a glyph on one end of the tube. As soon as she touched it with a finger, she was abruptly wearing an all-white outfit. "Oh. A little lacking in armor value though."
"That means..." Sakura looked at the little pink tube.
+10 hearing perception checks
"Fortunately includes an enchantment
that allows the wearer to run or leap
in high heels. The occasional clumsiness
is unfortunately unavoidable
but never occurs in combat."
"Not wearing it," said Sakura.
"But look at those bonuses," pointed out Naruto.
"Not wearing it. No how no way," insisted Sakura, looking directly at Naruto.
"Well, can't blame you I suppose," said Naruto, holding up an orange tube.
Naruto's Cheerleader Outfit
adds 2 ranks to Inspire skill checks
+4 to Acrobatics and Performance Checks.
"Can only be worn in female form. Female form is maintained
while uniform is worn. Compulsive behavior included at no extra charge."
Sasuke considered that for a few moments. "I don't think ANYONE is going to blame you for not wanting to wear that here."
"Thank you," said Naruto, inclining his head and putting the thing away with a shudder. Just that phrase 'compulsive behavior' sent all sorts of alarms going off in his head.
They crept out on the ledge in the manner of ninja.
Which really was appropriate all things considered.
Big lake of lava, castle on an island in the center, single stone bridge linking the island with the cavern.
After looking it over, they crawled back into the access tunnel. There was a moment of silence.
"If we dump a bunch of explosive notes into the lava, maybe we can swamp the castle and take out the big bad that way?" suggested Naruto.
"Good idea, but if they can stand that heat in there - that might not take out the boss," pointed out Sakura.
"On the other hand," pointed out Kakashi. "It just might take out the patrols."
"What was that odd outfit they were wearing anyway?" asked Sasuke.
"Dominatrix costumes, black leather with spikes, that also explains the whips," said Kakashi.
Rin, back in her usual outfit, shook her head once. "I don't think we've got that many explosive notes left. Not enough to make that much difference. Maybe if we could bring the cavern's roof down, but then we'd have rock dust and maybe be stuck here if that didn't count as completion."
"Here's what we'll do," said Kakashi. "To clear this mission, we need to infiltrate that castle, the 'Citadel Of Broken Dreams', and then we have to slay this 'Duchess Of Pain' - correct?"
"Yeah, that's what the updated quest log thingie says," agreed Naruto.
"Ah," said Zabuza, leaning against a tunnel wall and sounding nostalgic. "Sneaking into a castle in order to assassinate some minor lordling, dozens of guards ready to kill or be killed. Those were the good old days."
"It wasn't that long ago," protested Kakashi.
"Well, people hiring assassins aren't that common in Konoha," pointed out Rin. "If you want someone dead, it's usually Kiri or one of the other villages that specializes in that sort of thing that gets the job. Back home we get more 'guard' missions than 'kill' missions. Or at least that used to be the case."
"Well, that's basically true as well," admitted Kakashi.
"I suppose," said Zabuza as he considered that. "If I'd been assigned to guard someone like the old drunk there - I'd probably have blown the mission and killed him myself by now."
Tazuna lowered his bottle, regarded Zabuza for a moment, then shrugged and took another sip.
"Isn't that empty by now?" asked Sakura. "You've been hitting that for the past hour."
"Near as I can tell, no matter how much I drink in this 'dungeon' - the level never goes down," said Tazuna. "Don't know why. Not complaining."
"Can't blame you there," said Zabuza. "Mind if I try a swig?"
Tazuna handed the bottle off. "Knock yourself out."
Zabuza took a long swig of the contents then made a face before pulling his mask back up. "Couldn't find anything of lower quality, old man?"
"It was cheap. Don't have a lot of money," admitted Tazuna.
"Wait a sec," said Naruto. "Something's happening."
[Side Mission: Rescue Princess Y/N?]
"There's a princess to rescue?" asked Naruto, brightening.
"Is there money involved?" asked Zabuza as he handed the bottle back to Tazuna.
"Doesn't say," said Naruto.
Zabuza checked his little stash of money. "I've already made a little more here than I'm getting paid to get rid of the old drunk. If there's money involved - I'd say yes."
"That much?" asked Sakura as she checked. "That's weird. I had all these silver coins here. Now I've got a couple of bronze ones and a little less silver."
Zabuza smirked. "I'll take those bronze coins and trade you my more valuable silver."
"Sakura?" asked Kakashi. "That's gold."
Sakura's eyes got very large. "Wait. I've got three gold coins?"
"Spoilsport," said Zabuza to Kakashi. Kakashi merely shrugged in reply.
Sakura closed her little change-purse and began tucking it away in her backpack.
"So, you've made more off of this run than you would have made from killing Tazuna?" asked Kakashi.
"Which puts me in a... well, I suppose you can't call it a 'moral dilemma'," said Zabuza. "Have to have morals for those. Maybe call it a 'financial dilemma'?"
"Ah," said Kakashi. "Perhaps."
"So, sneak in, rescue some girl, kill this 'Duchess'," said Zabuza, checking his sword. "Sounds like a mission."
"It does at that," said Kakashi.
[Pikachu is now level 9!]
"All right," said Naruto, fist-bumping his pikachu.
"So what's that mean?" asked Kakashi as the defeated [Level 3 Mooks] vanished.
[Your share: 75s.]
[Sasuke - Leather Pants.]
"It means that his attack strength and speed went up, and he's one level away from getting an extra attack besides Quick and Thundershock," said Naruto after pulling Pikachu's stats up.
"No, Sakura," said Sasuke, responding to something Sakura had whispered. "I am not wearing those."
"But it gives you a '+3 to Fire Resistance'," protested Sakura. "Wouldn't that be handy?"
"Pika pi," said Pikachu.
"Okay," said Naruto, checking his device. "I'll let you rest, and pull out... this guy."
Zabuza reappeared out of apparently nowhere, having gone ahead to scout. "Keep it quiet. That room up ahead has an interesting scene going on."
"Someone want to tell me what's going on?"
"This is intolerable! I demand an explanation!"
"Since we're all prisoners, chained to the wall, in what's obviously a dungeon cell, it seems unlikely any of us are actually responsible for our shared predicament. Correct?"
"Wha' language wa' that?"
"Nerdish, I believe."
"Okay, everyone calm down!"
"I was calm, even considering the situation."
"You're... not human?"
"You can tell? Princess Asrial of Salusia. And you?"
"I've got a gift. You're neither human nor demon. I don't understand."
"I think the cat-eared girl has a point."
"From a study of Earth species, I believe 'skunk' is the appropriate term."
"Whatever. You're a princess. So am I. So is... Shion."
"How do you know my name?" asked the named Shion.
"There are nameplates above everyone's head, and each name is proceeded by the word 'Princess' - ergo we are captured Princesses held in a dungeon. That said, this is the weirdest and most realistic-feeling dream I've ever had."
"I'm not a Princess, I just portray one in the movies."
"I'm not technically a princess, unless you count my identity as Sailor Mercury who was a princess in a previous life."
"I'm not either. What does my nameplate say?"
"Ramen Princess Ayame."
"I work with my father at a ramen stand. I hardly qualify as a princess."
"Yer da' prolly consider ye a princess."
"Well, I certainly don't," said Ayame. "Come to think of it though, he HAS called me that a few times."
"And you're... Princess Merida?" asked the talkative princess. "Where have I heard that name before?"
"Ye heard o' me?" The redhead gave a swift tug at one of her manacles."
"Not sure where, but the name sounds familiar," said the talkative princess. "Oh, and I'm Princess Amelia."
"So we coom to da question of why and how," said Merida, rattling her chains.
The short-skirted girl in blue frowned. "Whatever these shackles are, I haven't been able to access my computer or my magic. They appear to have magic-negating abilities."
"Ye're a magickal princess?" asked Merida.
"So am I, but I haven't been able to access any magic since I woke up here," admitted Princess Amelia.
"Two of ye?" asked Merida. "Ah can only hope ye do better than me own experience with the hocus-pocus stuff."
"You mean like ninjutsu?" asked Ayame, sounding quite confused. "I don't have any chakra techniques but I know OF them."
"Ninjutsu? Are you from a ninja village then?" asked Shion.
"Konohagakure," answered Ayame.
"I've heard of that!" said Shion, seizing on at least SOMETHING being familiar. "You're from my world!"
"Waitaminute," said Princess Asrial. "I remember. Princess Merida - you're from that 'Brave' movie."
"Wha be a 'movie'?" asked Merida.
"Your mother got turned into a bear in a drama in my world," said Asrial.
"Oi! Ye know aboot that?!" asked Merida, blinking.
"And you!" said Asrial, pointing with one leg. "You're Ami Mizuno, Sailor Mercury! And you're Amelia from Slayers! The girl with the creepy sister!"
"Let's really NOT talk about my sister," said Amelia, hanging her head and wondering how long that sister would be a dark cloud hanging over her family. Not that she was hoping anything happened to her, just that she'd stop doing that sort of thing. ANY of that sort of thing.
"So what are we..." Asrial stopped as the door opened.
Five women, looking absolutely identical, in black skintight leather with high heels, walked into the room.
"Oh hell," said Ayame.
"New recruits," said one of the redheaded women, cracking a whip. "We'll make you hurt so good."
"You'll see things our way," said another, cracking her own whip. "Sooner or later."
"We'll make you proper princesses," said a third.
"Ready to wake up now," said Princess Amelia.
"You're all here because our great mistress is seeking to conquer your worlds," said the first redhead. "When you wanted to be elsewhere, away from your duties - you provided the key to your summoning. Our great mistress, the Succubus Queen, has directed us to convert you and then send you back to your homeworlds - as agents of conquest."
"Oh, it's one of THOSE plotlines," muttered Princess Ami. "At least it's not something silly like dream-mirrors this time."
"After all," said one of the false-leather-clad women, snapping her whip as punctuation. "Who could possibly save you now? There is no prince charming, no hero, no rescue for any of you!"
The door to the cell flew off its hinges, sweeping aside the lead redhead as it passed, and slammed into the far wall.
The other redheaded leather-clad women looked at the door, then slowly back to the open doorway.
A blonde kid riding an enormous rhinoceros beetle grinned at everyone in the room. "Anyone order ninja heroes?"
"YES!" said several captives.
"What's a 'ninja' anywhoo?" asked Merida.
"Naruto?" asked Ayame.
One of the leatherclad girls cleared her throat. "The Princess you are looking for is in another castle!"
Naruto stared at her.
"Well, it was worth a try," said the redhead, cracking her whip. "Has to work sometime."
"Heracross," said Naruto, patting the side of his mount. "Tackle!"
"Triangle formation! Whips out!" tried one of the remaining four catsuited women just before they were hit by a charging massive beetle.
"Kinda like the Earth-sport of bowling," noted Princess Asrial as the result of the two forces meeting was observed. The result being several faux-leather-clad forms being bounced off walls.
One staggered close to Princess Merida who brought her legs up, and managed to get her ankles scissoring around the woman's neck.
Kakashi and Zabuza just chose a wall to sit back and watch as Team 7 began beating on the redheads, the whips proving to be largely ineffective in short quarters.
"HEY! STOP THAT!" one of the punishers said after being hit by the whip wielded by another of them.
Then the fight was over, the superior numbers and ages of the defenders not up to the assault by the attackers.
Your share: 48s
Kakashi: Beach Outfit
Zabuza: Samurai Armor
"Seven seconds, you'll have to do better in the future," said Zabuza, deciding to ignore that for now. Though the tinkle of coins moving around in that little coinpurse gave him a warm and pleasant feeling.
[Choose Which Princess]
"But I want to rescue ALL the Princesses... Ayame?" Naruto stared. "You're a Princess?"
"No. My father calls me that every so often, apparently that was enough. And there's a timer on the wall behind you."
"If I'm right, only the first princess you rescue will count for whatever this 'recruit' means," said Sakura, glancing at the timer. "One minute. Does anyone object to being 'recruitable'? I'm thinking that one slot marked 'Guest' would be for summoned characters. Maybe?"
"Do that mean I'd get to swat yon skanky types?" asked Merida, dropping the pummeled-and-partly-strangled dominatrix to the floor.
"I think so," said Sakura.
"Count me in!" said Meridia. "I got dibs on bow or sword."
"Uhm, they looked like yoma, or at least possessed, so I believe that I can offer a certain degree of experience," said the one whose nameplate read "Princess Mercury."
"You said 'only the first'," said Naruto. "Kage Bunshin No Jutsu!"
[Achievement: Gotta Catch 'Em All!]
"Dattebayo!" cheered Naruto.
"That was verra uncomfortable," said Merida as she rubbed her wrists. And accidently kicked one of the fallen dungeon mistresses in the head. Twice.
"-and I have a visor which allows me to scan my surroundings," said Sailor Mercury to her neighbor.
"That is so cool! It's be great if I could tell what sort of spell would affect a monster before I cast it," said Amelia to Mercury, the two 'magical princesses' comparing notes.
[Guest slot available. You can summon characters]
[to fill the Guest slot. These Support characters can]
[add buffs or other abilities to the party. Combat]
[summon characters can be summoned to open slots in the]
[party or be put in the Guest slot to use their Support]
[ability. Summoning is an option available only at the]
[start of a raid/dungeon or Special Event.]
"How does that work?" asked Ayame, a bit concerned.
Sakura had her head near Naruto's, causing him to be slightly flustered, as she read over his shoulder. "Try that. And there. Now highlight 'Ayame' and see what-"
[Ramen Princess Ayame]
[Support Ability: can summon ramen once per encounter,]
[Giving special bonuses or 'buffs' that enhance certain]
[abilities of the character party.]
[Example: Miso Ramen heals 2% of damage taken every round]
"I always knew ramen was awesome," said an impressed Naruto.
"I should have known," said Sakura, rubbing her forehead as if there was a headache coming on.
"Oh," said Ayame. "That makes sense. Sort of. Kind of. I suppose. In some weird way."
Merida frowned. "Wot aboot me?"
[Princess Merida of DunBroch]
[Support Ability: Can provide steeds for noncombat]
[movement (+40% movement speed), or provide a bonus]
[to ranged combat, particularly archery. (+2/+4)]
[In a combat party slot, uses archery at a distance]
[and sword techniques at melee range.]
Merida's frown slowly shifted into the sort of mischievous grin that promised incipient violence. "So, yer be sayin' that I kin be laying the smackdown on some poncy types when me Ma might be plannin' some formal la-de-da?"
"If I understand all this, yes," said Sakura, a little uncertainly. This girl certainly didn't act like much of a princess but if she understood what the character information screen said - she actually WAS one.
"I don't get it," said one of the women. "I'm an actress who plays a magical princess in some movies. It's idiotic to assume that gives anyone any advantage and I can't see what I could possibly gain out of this!"
"You can always refuse to be summoned," pointed out Sakura as Naruto began working the little electronic gizmo again.
[Other names require unlock conditions]
[Support Ability: +4 to disguise/henge skill checks.]
[Combat Party Slot: transforms to Princess Gale and]
[is able to use sword, spear, axe, or bow.]
Yukie blinked. Blinked again. "I what?"
"As interesting as all this is," said Kakashi, jerking a thumb at the wall, "another timer started up when you did your princess-rescuing and it's about to run out."
"Huh?" said Naruto and at least two 'princesses' as they looked at the wall.
The clock went from "00:01" to "00:00" while they watched. At which point several puffs of smoke heralded the princesses vanishing.
"Aw," said a disappointed Naruto. "I wanted to see Ayame-chan summon ramen."
"Maybe next time," said Zabuza. "Come on, let's get this over with. What's a 'succubus' anyway?"
"Sort of a hannya I think," offered Kakashi.
"Oh, those can be nasty," said Zabuza.
"Personal experience?" asked Kakashi.
"You might say that," replied Zabuza.
"So the boss of this dungeon is the 'Succubus Queen' and she's a hannya of some kind," mused Sakura aloud. "We just faced a midboss, so we're about halfway there."
"Or," offered Sakura. "Defeating the mini-boss alerts the boss of the heroes' location and she arrives to personally crush them?"
As the vibration in the floor began increasing, Kakashi nodded. "Sounds about right."
[Princess Rescuing Complete]
[Heroic Zabuza unlocked]
"I'm a 'hero'?" asked Zabuza, pointing to himself and sounding somewhat amused and surprised. "Someone tell the Mizukage. He might just have a heart attack from the shock."
"Well, anti-hero maybe," offered Kakashi. "Mercenary shinobi perhaps?"
"I'm also really unsure about that 'samurai armor' that dropped a couple of fights ago though," said Zabuza. "Just because I use a sword or something?"
[Succubus Queen appears.]
Sailor Mercury looked around the table. There were her usual friends, all chatting back and forth, homework in front of them. "Uhm."
"Eh, Ami-chan? Something wrong?" asked Usagi.
"You didn't react to me disappearing and reappearing?" asked Sailor Mercury.
"What are you talking about, Ami-chan?" asked Usagi, who then blinked. "Wait. Why are you transformed?"
She checked and sure enough, she was in Sailor Mercury form and there was some tender skin where the manacles had supported her weight. So it had NOT been a dream.
"So, the time between being summoned and returned is a few seconds at most?" asked Sailor Mercury as she checked readings. "Or is close to zero time passage? Fascinating."
"Ami-chan?" asked Usagi again.
"Something interesting happened," said Sailor Mercury, shifting to Ami Mizuno again to explain things.
The ninja immediately slipped into "ready" positions.
Naruto leapt off Heracross. All three genin drew kunai.
Rin drew a ninjato she'd picked up three fights ago.
Zabuza held his sword in a ready position.
Kakashi also had kunai out, a spread in each hand.
[Succubus Queen Delilah Appears]
"Who dares to trespass upon my territory?" asked a woman's voice as a stream of bats entered the room, swirled together in a mass and then melted together into a pillar. The pillar shaped itself into a woman as it moved forward.
Raven hair. Ruby lips. Sparks flying from her fingertips. Batlike wings extending from her back.
Zabuza was an old experienced hand at certain things. By the time she'd completely formed, he was already behind her and bringing Kubikiribocho into a high speed decapitation strike.
"Who are-" began the woman before the blade struck, ripping through the neck. The head bounced once as Zabuza held the pose for just a second.
"How rude," said the decapitated head before it morphed into a few bats and flew towards the body.
"It was worth a try," said Zabuza, standing up.
"No it wasn't," indicated the Succubus Queen, making a gesture.
[Succubus Queen uses Infect]
"That doesn't sound good," observed Kakashi.
"Sakura, you just got a timer over your head," pointed out Naruto.
"What? Where?" asked Sakura, looking wildly about.
"Chidori!" responded Kakashi, forming lightning around one hand and charging forward.
[Succubus Queen uses Infect]
Kakashi's hand pierced through the chest of the Succubus Queen, still crackling with lightning.
The Succubus Queen responded by grabbing Kakashi and trying to suffocate him in her sizable chest.
"Rin-san?" said Sakura. "You've got a timer over your head."
"I don't think we ought to let our timers run out," said Rin. "Kakashi! Get clear so we can use explosive tags!"
Kakashi waved his hands wildly about, apparently agreeing with the sentiment.
"Not enough water present to do the impressive stuff," complained Zabuza, lopping off the succubus' wings only to see them liquify and flow back into the overendowed humanoid.
"Now you... wait a minute," said the Succubus Queen, plucking Kakashi out from where he'd been suffocating in her chest. "What the hell is this?!"
"We're kind of new at all this ourselves," pointed out Naruto.
"You're what... twelve?!" asked the Succubus Queen.
"No, actually, I'm 21," lied Kakashi.
"Quiet you," said the Succubus Queen. "Those three there are the obvious Heroes. And they are all just as obviously CHILDREN."
"Yeah, so?" asked Naruto.
"Look, you're not even going to get half the references in this dungeon," said the Succubus Queen. "And my plan to infect worlds, turning them into houses of carnal dark delights to feed my infernal appetites? Do you even have the vaguest understanding of any of that?"
"Errr," said Naruto. "No?"
"Look, can you guys come back AFTER your heroes have hit puberty at least?" asked the Succubus Queen.
"We don't even really know how we got here," said Naruto honestly.
"Rin? Your counter stopped at 'zero one'," Sakura informed Rin.
"Oh, so did yours," Rin said after checking.
"I stopped the transformation," said the Succubus Queen, who then turned and glared at Zabuza. "Do you mind? There's really no point in this continuing when the Main Character over there is a child."
"We're ninja, the mission is the main thing," protested Kakashi, using a kunai to slice through the arm holding him. Which immediately reformed but he was no longer being held at arm's length.
"Look, these dungeons are reflections of things out in the multiverse-" tried the Succubus Queen.
"'Multiverse'?" asked Zabuza.
"Multiple universes," said the Succubus Queen. "There are universes where you were born a woman, or are a samurai or dragoon or something. Then there are completely different branches where entirely different universes formed. It's complicated and I'm a Succubus Queen, not a physicist."
"So... you're not going to fight us?" asked Sakura.
"Well, you can always come back when you're-" began the Succubus Queen.
"Fire Release! Great Fireball Jutsu!"
The blast knocked the Succubus Queen backwards. When she came back up, her expression looked to be about two notches up past furious.
"Don't dismiss us," said Sasuke, pretty darn angry himself.
"Fine!" declared the Succubus Queen, making a slashing motion.
Tik went the counter over Sakura's head.
Tok went the counter over Rin's head.
"Uh oh," said Naruto.
Rin and Sakura went down like marionettes whose strings had been cut, completely limp.
"They died?!" asked an aghast Naruto. "Sasuke killed them?!"
"Death is part of being a ninja," grumbled Zabuza as he used his sword to block a wing that had morphed into a spiked tentacle. "The biggest part in fact."
"Hah," said the Succubus Queen, making a dramatic gesture. "Arise now as my minions!"
An aura of light surrounded both corpses as they floated to an upright position. Their bodies shifted as the glow intensified. When it cut off they were still recognizable, but dressed differently and looked fairly odd to Naruto.
"Oh come on, they're stacked even more than my centerfold jutsu!" complained Naruto.
Kakashi and Zabuza BOTH looked.
"Can I cook, or can't I?" asked Succubus Queen Delilah.
Rin stretched out as if awakening, her white latex nurse uniform moving like a second skin. The huge syringe that she twirled like an overly thick bo staff a moment later managed an evil gleam as she posed. "Naughty Nurse. I think my patient needs restraints and a full proctology workup!"
"WHA?!" asked Kakashi as he was suddenly bound in leather straps to a bed. His eye bulged a bit as he saw the way Rin was bump-and-grinding towards his position with that syringe held up.
Sakura smirked and licked her lips. "Sadomasochist Schoolgirl. Oh, my poor boyfriend needs a -"
"Oh that was cold," said Delilah. "You didn't even let her finish her opening statement."
"Actually, that wasn't cold at all," said the blackened and smouldering Sakura. "I feel the burn."
Sasuke threw shuriken at Sakura.
"WAIT!" yelled Naruto, throwing kunai himself in an attempt to hit Sasuke's shuriken with his own. His aim wasn't as good as Sasuke's though.
"Ooooh, it just makes me more hot for you, Sasuke-kun," crooned the stabbed and burned Sakura.
"Pikapi!" agreed Pikachu as he sent an arc of electricity to wash over the busty Sakura as she shambled forward.
Sakura went down.
Naruto was about to say that that was the wrong target and he'd wanted to zap Sasuke, but Sakura was down now.
[Congratulations! Defeated Sakura Haruno.]
[Sakura Haruno is now a recruitable]
[character! If not present at beginning]
[of raid/dungeon/spar,you can attempt to]
[summon Sakura Haruno.]
[Unlocked Sparring Chamber]
[Sparring mode is now available.]
[Unlocked Cherubi pokemon!]
"Pika," said a tired-looking pikachu.
"Okay," said Naruto absently, seeing how Rin was pulling one of the kunai he'd missed Sasuke's shuriken with out of one leg. "Pikachu, you did good! Rest now! Heracross, I summon you! Tackle Rin!"
"Wha?!" yelped Rin before an extremely large rhinocerous beetle smashed into her.
Kakashi landed on his back as the restraints and bed vanished. "Good thinking, Naruto. How'd you know those would dispel when she was knocked out?"
"Uhm. I'm getting better at this?" tried Naruto rather than admit it was just a lucky guess.
[Congratulations! Defeated Rin Nohara.]
[Rin Nohara is now a recruitable]
[character! If not present at beginning]
[of raid/dungeon/spar,you can attempt to]
[summon Rin Nohara.]
[Unlocked Chansey pokemon!]
"Such ruthlessness," said the Succubus Queen. "No hesitation in striking down your comrades."
"Ninja," pointed out Sasuke.
"Well, there's that," admitted Succubus Queen Delilah. "So we go back to the stalemate."
"Heracross dismiss, summoning-" Naruto paused as he went down the list and spotted something that looked new. "Foxgirl Kunoichi."
FWAM! a pressure wave went out centered on Naruto.
The torches which had been evenly spaced and glowing at a set radiance since entering the dungeon proper all dimmed and shifted to a reddish glow.
Th-thump! was a sound that would have been like a heartbeat except it was way too loud.
Naruto dropped to his knees, clutching his head, as a circle of red formed in front of him like a pool of blood.
Something came out of that pool.
At first he'd thought that the Kyubi was getting loose. No, there was rage here to be sure. But it wasn't an unfocussed rage.
Kakashi knew he'd be exhausted later, but moved his eyepatch upward to more properly see what he thought he saw rising up out of that pool of blood that Naruto had just vomitted up.
With the Sharingan, he could see that the blood had spread in a perfect circle. Kakashi could also see exactly what he thought he was seeing and that this was NOT a genjutsu.
"Kushina," breathed Kakashi as the woman stood there, looking around her. Though the clothes were odd. Some sort of kimono mixed with something else. And the fox ears and lashing four tails behind her were also new.
"WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?!" asked Succubus Queen Delilah, transforming her wings into tentacles which she lashed out with.
Kushina made a slashing motion with one hand and both tentacles burned with crimson flames so intense he felt the heat rolling over him where he lay and he was a little surprised his hair hadn't caught fire.
"What the hell are you?!" screeched the Succubus Queen, her wings now ragged stumps.
Kushina raised her hand, pointing her right palm at the Queen. Red chains appeared around her, lashing out to wrap around the Succubus Queen.
The Queen thrashed a moment as flames erupted from the chains, then died.
"Kakashi Hatake," grumbled Zabuza as he slowly got up from where he'd been tossed earlier. "What exactly is that?"
Kakashi gave an honest guess, but then again he WAS pretty rattled by this. "That's Naruto's mother, back from the dead to protect her son."
Zabuza flinched as that woman's gaze passed over him, the look she gave him giving the swordsman the impression he was an insect and she just wasn't motivated to squish him at the moment.
Then Kakashi found himself the recipient of a gaze from that woman. "Uhm. Hi, Kushina. Looking good. Well, better than you did when you died at least. Did I mention that I'm Naruto's beloved sensei?"
Zabuza made a choked noise that might have indicated something of his opinion towards Kakashi's statement.
She walked past the two fallen women, glancing once down at Sasuke and looking puzzled for just a moment. She stopped in front of Naruto, placed one hand on his head, and then faded out again.
"So," said Zabuza, putting out a fire that had started near his foot, "that fox-spirit was the boy's mother. That explains the whisker marks. Who died and apparently came back as a spirit of vengeance when her son was endangered."
"Something vaguely sort of like that I suppose," said Kakashi, feeling winded.
"I never thought I'd say this, Kakashi Hatake," said Zabuza. "But I think I'm getting too old for this. And I pity you if she ever decides you are slacking in her son's training."
"Sometimes I'm feeling a bit old myself," admitted Kakashi, not wanting to contemplate the second part of this statement.
A piece of ceiling came down.
Sakura startled awake, then began clutching herself. "I'm alive?! I'm alive! ALIVE!"
"Yeah, we noticed," said Naruto, holding his hands near his ears. "Rin's been awake for about fifteen minutes."
"Dying in the dungeon is apparently NOT permanent," said Kakashi.
"I kind of figured that when both Sakura and myself were disembodied and floating around near our corpses," said Rin. "So, do we know what's going on with the swordsman? He'd left before I woke up."
"Just that he had a lot of things to think over and that he considered the truce to still be active until he'd finished thinking things over," said Kakashi.
"You let him go?!" asked Sakura.
"Meh, I have a lot of things to think over too," said Kakashi, waiting for it.
"That was Naruto's mom?!" asked Sakura.
"Ah, so you DID see all that," noted Kakashi.
"I wish I'd seen all that," said a seemingly-depressed Naruto.
"Your mother seems... formidable," noted Sasuke.
"Zabuza-sama?" asked Haku, having followed Zabuza back to their lair.
"How much time passed while I was in that dungeon?" asked Zabuza.
"'Dungeon'?" asked Haku.
Zabuza Momochi considered Haku for a few moments silently then nodded. "So. Time there was not equal to time here. Another bit to consider."
Haku fidgeted as Zabuza was being mysterious, even more than usual.
Taking a small leather pouch off his belt, Zabuza upended the contents - sending a small scattering of coins across a tabletop.
Haku stared. "Is that... gold?"
Zabuza looked at the pile of coins. "We can't break the contract with Gato. If we do, and word gets out, then we lose potential business. Yes, that's gold."
"That's more than three times what we are getting from Gato," noted Haku aloud.
"I noticed," said Zabuza with a grunt. "Somehow. I have to come up with some plan. Don't kill the Konoha ninja, but not break the contract with Gato. This will be tricky."
"Don't kill them?" asked Haku, as that HAD been the plan. Not that he had a particular trouble with not killing someone. It was just unusual for Zabuza to indicate that as a goal.
"The job just got a lot more complicated," indicated Zabuza, whose eye went back to the pretty pile of gold and silver and little bronzish looking coins. "Also a lot more profitable, and if we play things right - more profitable in the future as well."
"Ah," said Haku. Since the main point of gaining profit was to stay alive and eventually finance a second coup attempt - more money was a good motivator.
Naruto clicked a few buttons with Sakura watching over a shoulder.
Pikachu - Naruto starting mon
Tauros - Mizuki defeated
Dark Phoenix Hatchling - Sasuke defeated
Infernape - Hiruzen Sarutobi defeated (locked)
Heracross - Recruited Seven-tails
High Pixie - Recruited Fuu of Takigakure
Cherubi - defeated Sakura Haruno
Chansey - defeated Rin Nohara
"Okay," said Sakura, pointing. "Click there. And now click that. And there."
Summonable for party slots
Fuu of Takigakure - available
Hiruzen Sarutobi -(locked)
Rin Nohara - available
Sakura Haruno - available
Summonable for guest slot
Ramen Princess Ayame - Ramen buffs and heals. [No.]
Princess Merida of DunBroch - Archery/Move Bonus. [Yes.]
Yukie Fujikaze - Weapon Wielder/Disguise Bonus. [No.]
Princess Asrial of Salusia - Tech/Defense Buff. [No.]
Shion of Demon Country - Perception Bonus. [Yes.]
Sailor Mercury - Water Jutsu/Analysis. [No.]
Princess Amelia of Seirune - White Magic/Morale Buff. [Yes.]
"This is all very strange," said Tsunami, watching her father and these ninja all gathered around in her home's common room and apparently fascinated with a little device that one of them had.
"I'm not a guest character?" bemoaned Tazuna. "I was hoping you could buy off my 'arthritis' disadvantage."
"Speaking of which," said Sakura. "Go to my character screen."
A fanfare began playing from the device.
[Sakura Haruno has leveled up!]
[Sakura Haruno has one attribute point to spend!]
[Sakura Haruno has one trait point to spend!]
[Sakura Haruno has reached level 5!]
[Specialty Path Unlocked!]
"Level 5? Is that good?" asked Naruto.
"The adds from my last change are still there," noted Sakura as she gestured for Naruto to scroll down the screen on his interface device. "Strength 1.5, Speed 1.5, Stamina 1.5 so changes there are apparently permanent. Hmmm. Wait. Chakra level? That's new. And low. But I can work on that on my own. Let's go with putting the one point in Kenjutsu."
"Can't," said Naruto as he tried.
"So I see," said Sakura, who then explained for those who didn't have a clear view of the screen. "It only allows for a half-point and then brought up a text-box that said I lack an instructor to properly learn that skill."
"So if we recruit Zabuza you could maybe learn from him?" asked Naruto.
"Naruto," explained Kakashi, "you can't simply go around recruiting missing-nin to your cause."
"Why not?" asked Naruto.
"Because they're missing-nin, they're liable to kill you at any given moment," said Kakashi.
"Awwww," predictably pouted Naruto.
"Try this box," indicated Sakura, focussed on the task at hand. "Specialty Path? Says 'requires trainer' - but I can at least look. Oh. Hmmm. Tag that and see what comes up, and that button there for full display."
A slightly transparent full-size image of Sakura appeared in front of Naruto. This one was older, perhaps sixteen, looking serious. That this was a Sakura as medic of the time of the Fourth Shinobi War was not apparent to those assembled.
"'Medic Sakura. Requires Naruto to complete 'Recruit Tsunade' quest for full training though groundwork for skill can be begun prior to Chunin Exam questline. Capitalizing on her exceptional intelligence and chakra control, Medic-nin Sakura follows the path of Tsunade to become a legendary level medic-nin herself,'" read off Sakura. "Oh. I like that one."
"Huh," said Sasuke, sounding slightly approving. It DID sound useful.
"Try that one," said Sakura, pointing at a second one.
The Sakura image changed and drew an "eep" from Sakura as she looked over the fishnet armor, leather bikini, trenchcoat, armored gauntlets and leggings.
"'Poison Flower Sakura,'" read off Naruto. "'Gaining the attention of Anko Mitarashi, she studies poisons and gains the snake summoning contract. Having found and exploited her dark side, this Sakura is the second-strongest in combat potential and the most likely to use Silent Killing and other assassination methods to accomplish her goals. Fast-tracked to ANBU after reaching Chunin.' I dunno, Sakura. This really doesn't seem to fit you too well."
"Let's NOT go there," agreed Sakura. Still, there WAS something about the self-confident but cruel stance and expression on this Sakura that seemed to appeal to her. "Try this one with the swirl-mist eye icon."
This Sakura stood in a half-crouch. One hand was up in a Ram hand-seal at eye-level. The other hand was back and holding a kunai. Dressed like the medic-nin version, though this one had long leather-looking bracers and fingerless gloves and leggings and a pair of long knives at her belt.
"'Mistress of Genjutsu Sakura,'" read off Sakura, much more comfortable with this one's appearance. "Requires the 'Matchmaker' special mission be completed. Sakura gets tutoring from Kurenai Yuhi and pointers to use her exceptional intelligence and chakra control, as well as developing her multitasking to new levels, to become a genjutsu specialist. Stealth, misdirection, some use of poisons, and always has a backup plan - this Sakura always leaves her opponents guessing. Is at a disadvantage however when fighting opponents with advanced dojutsu.' Well, that makes sense."
"The Sharingan can see through genjutsu," noted Kakashi. "Not that you'd typically be fighting a Sharingan user."
"Unless we're sparring," said Sasuke simply.
"Let's leave the other choices for now," said Sakura. "Kenjutsu Expert Sakura sounds interesting. As does 'Scholar Sakura' but leave the half-point in Kenjutsu for now and bring up Sasuke's stat screen."
"Hn," agreed Sasuke. Yes, it was cheating to get himself stronger. Which meant he might hesitate for a moment before doing it. Didn't mean he wouldn't do it.
[Sasuke Uchiha has leveled up!]
[Sasuke Uchiha is now level 5!]
[Sasuke Uchiha has three attribute points to spend!]
[Sasuke Uchiha has two trait points to spend!]
[Specialty Path unlocked!]
"That," said Sasuke, pointing.
"Let's see," said Naruto. "Specialty Path. Dark Avenger, Missing-nin, Crazy, Harem Master, Justice Blade, Playboy Sasuke, Sasuke 1/2, and Ninjutsu Master Sasuke."
Rin and Sakura stared at Sasuke. Sasuke ignored them.
"'Harem Master'?" asked Rin, sounding as if just the concept was distasteful to her.
"'Playboy Sasuke'?" asked Sakura, sounding as if the concept was so alien she couldn't grasp it.
Naruto was momentarily thoughtful. "I think those two would indicate you put that 'renew your clan' bit ahead of the 'kill that someone' part you said back when we were introducing ourselves to Kakashi-sensei."
Everyone considered that for a moment and finally there were a few nods.
"So 'Harem' would be where you try to collect girls, and 'Playboy' would be 'seduce and leave' as a strategy?" theorized Kakashi.
"Whatever," indicated Sasuke that he had no real interest in either path. "See what that one does."
The full display brought up an older-looking Sasuke. Some breastplate armor, dark blue with shoulder pads. Bracers. Hair out of its current style to hang back in a loose ponytail. He was standing in a relaxed pose, with both hands in front of his chest in a Tiger hand-seal.
"'Ninjutsu Master Sasuke is possible if the Missing-Nin and Dark Avenger paths are rejected during the appropriate questlines. This Sasuke is a master of a thousand jutsu, though he specializes in raining fire and destruction upon his foes. Rarely bothering with subtle, he seeks to overwhelm his enemies with powerful forces. Turning from his inner darkness, he also seeks to spare other clans from the tragedies that befell his own.'" Sasuke was silent for a moment as he considered that, then he nodded as that DID sound appropriate. Though he couldn't really abandon the need for vengeance.
"Why is there a 'missing-nin', 'crazy', and '1/2' involved?" asked Naruto. "Half what?"
"Doesn't matter," said Sasuke.
"I think it... matters?!" asked Naruto, having pressed the 'Sasuke 1/2' choice and now openly staring.
"Why is Sasuke a GIRL?" demanded Sakura, looking at the image.
Sasuke wanted to know that himself and so read out the text. "'Having rejected other paths before him, Sasuke turns to hidden and forbidden texts and discovers that the unlock conditions on the Sharingan's powers are different for male versus female wielders, as well as some powers being different. Rejecting the fate he had earned, Sasuke goes back in time after getting to one of the Tragic Endings and finds that he was now born a she. Requires one of the Fail or Tragic Endings be used. One (#8) found. Warning: Powerful Sasuke and may fall into squick category for some characters.'"
"You're not seriously considering that, are you?" asked Sakura, a bit put off by Sasuke's expression.
"No, of course not," answered Sasuke. "As Sakura suggested, we should leave that all for now."
"What was 'Tragic Ending' about?" asked Rin.
"Go to my stats," requested Sasuke. "I want to spend those points before any more interruptions. Yes. Skills and Traits. Put one point in Strength. One in Ninjutsu. One half point in Intelligence and Speed. Save."
Sasuke's eyes widened and he swayed slightly.
"You took that better than Sakura-chan did," noted Naruto.
"I was expecting painful, not -" Sasuke frowned. "Never mind."
"I wouldn't exactly call it 'pain' precisely," hedged Sakura, who'd experienced it before.
"Spend the trait point there," instructed Sasuke. "Now save. Good. Thanks, dobe."
"You just have to get a dig in, even when you're getting a favor," noted Rin.
"Let's see the sheet now," said Sakura, wanting a good look.
Skills & Traits - Sasuke Uchiha
Chakra Control - 2
Hand Seals - 3
Intelligence - 2.5
Speed - 3.5
Stamina - 2
Strength - 3
Bojutsu - 0
Fuuinjutsu - 1
Genjutsu - 1.5
Kenjutsu - 1
Kyokugei - 1
Ninjutsu - 3.5
Shurikenjutsu - 3
Taijutsu - 2.5
Trapmaking - 1
Bunshin - 2
Henge (Hensojutsu) - 2
Kawarimi - 1.5
Sharingan Use - 1
Uchiha Bloodline - fire affinity, Sharingan, overstimulation of hippocampus can cause chakra poisoning and damage to nearby brain centers.
Lingering effects of genjutsu inflicted by Itachi.
Hunted by Orochimaru.
Watched by Akatsuki.
Monitored by ROOT.
"Ah, so that's what does it," muttered Rin apparently to herself.
"Hmm?" asked Kakashi.
"Nothing, just something for me to research later," Rin said.
"You're hunted by OROCHIMARU?!" asked Sakura, staring at Sasuke.
"News to me," indicated Sasuke. That it was a bit concerning was left unsaid.
"Ah," said Kakashi. THAT was a priceless bit of intel that he'd have to make sure was in red and underlined when he turned in this report.
"There's that Akatsuki again," muttered Naruto. "Sounds like they may be major pains-in-the-butts. Why'd you spend a point on 'Fuuinjutsu' anyway?"
"Some writings I want to re-examine when we return to Konoha," said Sasuke, choosing to answer but keep it mysterious.
"What about me?" asked Rin.
"This may take some time," said Kakashi, standing up. "I'll be patrolling and sending a nin-dog with a mission update back to Konoha. Let me know when my turn comes up."