This story has some of Masashi Kishimoto's characters from Naruto in a universe of my own devising. I do not own Naruto. I do not make any money from these writings.
Warning: This story features male/male relationships. If you are uncomfortable reading about gay male relationships do not read this story.
This story is set in a very different world to ours. In 'known space', different societies and communities are often very isolated from each other and have very different histories. There is no common shared knowledge of Earth's history; in fact all knowledge of Earth as the home of mankind is lost. There is no shared law, no shared agreement of what what is 'right' and 'wrong', no pervasive religion.
Warning: The views, standards, mores and morals of the different groups in this story, including those of 'spacers', are not those of our world. They are the product of a fictional future history. Many of the behaviours they consider acceptable we do not; some of them are wrong by my definition in that they are damaging to one or more of the individuals involved and/or suggest that one individual has more intrinsic value than another.
The story cover for 'Iteration' is by kyuubi1010 (aka Gaia77). A wonderful gift, thank you.
I would like to thank all readers who have left a review or sent an email. They are very much appreciated. Special thanks to those who reviewed Tales in Tarrasade: xxShadowheartxx, kaname-luvr, Sable Scribe, Azh Hikari and Ryu Earth.
Apologies if the characters have grown differently in their new environment.
Many thanks to 'Small Fox' for beta-ing. For this story he had also been my muse, helping me develop many of the ideas and plot developments.
You need to have read In the cold of space you find the heat of sun and Tales in Tarrasade 1-10 to fully appreciate this fic.
If you haven't:-
Uchiha is an ancient, famous and powerful spacer clan that, in the past, has had the Uchiha family at the centre of a large and far-reaching organisation. It was almost destroyed when Itachi killed every member of the Uchiha family other than Sasuke. New Uchiha is led by Sasuke; Naruto, a fox-human hybrid, is his partner. Influenced by his late mother, by Iruka and by Naruto, Sasuke is trying to create an organisation that is based on developing and celebrating potential rather than exploiting, using and discarding individuals. At the time of this story, it operates as an extended family with Sasuke, Naruto and their children at its core.
At the end of this chapter is a list of all the characters, relationships and other information. This could be used as an aide-memoire for regular readers or to bring new readers up to speed.
Inari, Konohamaru and Tayuya are around seventeen. They have been trainees with Uchiha for three standards. Sumaru was given into Sasuke's care by his dying mother when he was twelve, which was also about three standards before the start of this story. Sumaru, his mother and his father came from a planet where the elite warriors, the Chosen, had their abilities enhanced by being infected with a symbiote. Using the symbiote causes damage that accumulates and kills the host. This caused Sasuke to ban Sumaru from using his symbiote. Rin, Uchiha's chief medico, has now created nanobots that resolve this damage.
Want to know more? Read 'In the cold of space you find the heat of suns' and 'Tales in Tarrasade'.
Chapter one: Mission
At the front of the hall, under the Uchiha crest stood Sasuke. Sumaru was to his right and Naruto to his left. Facing them drawn up in four rows of nine, were the other thirty-four adult members of Uchiha, Gaara and Lee. Above their head floated a holoprojection of deep space as observed from Sumaru's home system. The red Summer Day Star, Natushiboshi, glowed among other brighter stars against the black of space.
"We are here to honour the memory of Natsuhi, wife of Hotarubi, mother of Sumaru, Knife of the Hoshigakure, one of the Chosen," Sasuke began.
Lee stepped forward from his place in the front row. His hands began to weave. "I am a Knife," he intoned. "A Knife must be sharp. A Knife must strike its target. A Knife must cut and pierce and slash. A Knife may bend but it must not break. A Knife is a tool in the hand of his master." His hands stopped. "Natsuhi-san was one of the Chosen. She was a Knife. Through her bravery and dedication, the way of the Chosen was preserved. It can be taken forward and used to create a better future." He stepped back into his place.
Kakashi spoke next. "The quality of a fighter is preserved in those he or she teaches. Even as a boy, Sumaru-kun was skilled. He adhered to the warrior's code. He understood the need for hard work and dedication. He aimed for perfection. Her quality as a fighter is preserved in him."
Once Kakashi had resumed his place Gai stepped forward. "It has been an honour to stand in Natsuhi-san's place as Sumaru's sensei. I add my voice to Kakashi-san's. Natsuhi-san's quality as a warrior, as a Knife, can be seen in her son."
Kisame followed. "I wish to speak of Natsuhi-san's kindness. I know she was kind because she raised her son to be kind. When those we each loved were dying, he supported me and became my friend. He did not resent that I was blessed with the miracle I prayed for and he was not. Only a good woman could have raised such a son."
Tayuya stepped forward next. "I speak as Sumaru's friend and for his other friends. Thank you, Natsuhi-san, for making him what he is. He is loyal and consistent and reliable. He understands what friendship is. You did a good job."
Naruto then spoke from his place at Sasuke's side. "Natsuhi-san loved her son. When she knew she was dying she reached across known space to a man who would understand him and care for him. I was the one who first received her message. Now that I am a parent, I understand even better the depth of her love and the sacrifices she made for him."
Sasuke took a deep breath. "I know that you are still with him, Natsuhi-san, as my mother is still with me. Thank you for watching over him and being part of his conscience. Your influence ensures that he is stronger; that he can bend without breaking."
There was a pause before Sumaru spoke. When he did, his newly-broken voice was husky with emotion. "You loved us. You loved father. You loved me far more than I ever realised when we were together. Sasuke-sama is right; you will always be with me. You are part of me. You made me realise that rigidity can be a weakness and flexibility strength. You made me what I am and I will live my life so that you are proud of me."
He then took three slow breaths and began singing the lullaby his mother had sung to him as a child; the same song he had sung with his beautiful boy's voice in the crew room of the Oak over three standards before.
Summer Day Star, why is it red?
Last night I had sad dreams
Crying as I spoke
With red eyes
Summer Day Star, why is it lost?
I'm searching for a child who vanished
And so I will see sad dreams.
He did not cry. Sumaru only ever cried when alone.
"Why now?" Rin asked Kisame in a low voice once the ceremony was over. "We moved her from the tank to stasis when we retrieved her from Kabuto. That was well over two standards ago. He accepted her death then. Why wait until now?"
"He made a vow," Kisame answered. "In the first part of the vow he promised that he would not move on until he was allowed to operate as one of the Chosen. Thanks to you and Lee-san he can now use his symbiote, so he can move past his mother's death."
"And the second part?" Rin asked.
"To take her remains and throw them into the red star, Natushiboshi, which is a holy symbol to his people," Kisame told her.
Inari stood straight and proud under Kakashi-sensei's gaze.
"I have assured Sasuke-sama that you are ready for this," Kakashi informed him. "Your first mission in command. Two experienced fighters will be with you, but only as passengers and to assess your performance. There are only two ways in which you can fail this mission." He looked at Inari and waited.
"To ask for help when I shouldn't or not ask for help when I should," Inari replied.
Kakashi smiled. "Sasuke-sama is expecting you in his office."
Sasuke was at his desk. He gestured that Inari should take the seat on the opposite side.
"You will have the Silver Leaf. Shikamaru-san has calculated an ungated, three jump route that intersects with a shipping route. The Oak will take you that far. You will leave in seven days' time.
"You are going to the Hoshigakure system only to deliver Natsuhi-san remains into the red star. You will avoid contact with Sumaru's home planet or any people from his home planet. They will kill Sumaru if they realise he is one of the Chosen.
"However, there are various planets and space stations in that sector that are of interest. Shikamaru-san has ensured that there is information in the database. The only constraint is that you must make the planned rendezvous with the Oak, which will occur at the designated gate sixty-seven days after you are delivered into the shipping lane.
"Your crew will be Konohamaru, Tayuya and Sumaru. Sumaru-kun, despite his abilities, is too young to carry a knife and will be operating as cat.
"I expect regular reports.
"I have assigned Itachi-san and Kisame-san to travel with you. As I am sure Kakashi-sensei has explained, they will stay out of your way, live separately from you on the ship and only interfere if you request assistance or they judge that one or more of you are in danger. The one role they will play will be to accompany you when you leave the ship; think of them as hired protection. Do you have any questions, Inari-san?"
Inari considered. "Not at this time, Sasuke-sama," he replied.
"Good. I suggest you spend time familiarising yourself with the mission before briefing your crew and preparing for departure."
Inari's mind was buzzing as he walked along the corridor that led from Sasuke-sama's office. Tayuya would accept his leadership without question. He was less sure about Kono-kun. Haku-san was going to be less than pleased that Kisame-san and Itachi-san would be gone for so long. He would have to consider how to ensure that Hikaru-chan did not feel abandoned; he was too young to understand that Inari had no choice other than to go. Dropping to planets or docking at space stations would be a challenge; Sumaru was too pretty and Tayuya was a girl. Inari was glad that Sasuke-sama had said that he expected Kisame-san and Itachi-san to accompany them.
"Will I be able to train with Kisame-san?" Sumaru asked once Inari had opened the meeting and finished his introductory presentation. "Or will I have to pretend he isn't there?"
Sumaru's voice had broken, he had shot up in height and he was officially a trainee rather than a boy. Even so, he was still only a lad who was going to be separated from the adults who cared for him as he belatedly faced up to his mother's death. "Ask Kakashi-sensei," Inari decided. "Tell him that I sent you to him to clarify how the rules apply to you because you are not being assessed."
"We three are," Tayuya deduced. "Moegi is not included," she added with a small smile.
"As you say, it is us three who are being assessed," Inari reminded her.
"The core of the mission is to deliver Natsuhi-san remains into the red star," Konohamaru stated. "Shall I concentrate on how that is to be accomplished and deliver an interim report tomorrow?"
So that was how Konohamaru was going to manage his disappointment; he would claim responsibility for tasks within the mission. "That would be most appreciated, Konohamaru-san. Thank you."
Tayuya decided to follow his lead. "Shall I run simulations to define the supplies we will need?" she suggested.
"Yes, thank you, Tayuya-san," Inari acknowledged. "I shall consider how much intelligence gathering is compatible with the core mission. We will reconvene tomorrow, same place, same time. I declare this meeting closed."
Inari wanted to research the mission but it was time for him to visit the playroom and he had no intention of letting Hi-chan down. He opened the drawer where he accumulated things he thought that Hikaru would like and took out three bright yellow rubber bricks.
The yellow bricks stayed in Inari's pocket. Ryuu's body language said that Hikaru had been mistreating him and Inari never rewarded Hikaru's mean streak. Inari did not need the look Kiba-san gave him to know that it had been bad, the fact that Ry-chan refused to allow Inari to cuddle him, out of fear of Hikaru's jealousy, was enough. He knelt on the floor and made Hikaru stand in front of him by gently holding his shoulders.
"Why is Ry-chan sad, Hikaru-chan?" he asked.
Hikaru did not look at him. "He cried and Kiba-san was cross," he complained.
"You were mean, Ry-chan cried and Kiba-san was cross," Inari reminded him. "It starts with you being mean, Hi-chan. Maybe it would be better if Ry-chan played with Hoshi and Ayame. They would not be mean to him."
"Ryuu plays with me," Hikaru insisted.
Inari heard the unspoken message; Haru had Kazuki, so Hikaru must have Ryuu. "Ry-chan will only play with you if you are kind to him," Inari told him. He saw that Hikaru did not believe him. Inari sighed, the brothers were less than three standards and Ryuu, in keeping with his nature as a wolf-human hybrid, was already loyal to a fault. He would have to speak to Sasuke-sama about it before he left.
For now he settled for reading to both of them from a book and took some comfort from the fact that Hikaru picked Ryuu's favourite story rather than one of his own.
Inari, Konohamaru and Tayuya worked well together; the next meeting was promising and Sumaru's questions were often useful. They formulated a plan for the five days preceding departure and for the six day journey in the Oak before the Silver Leaf was delivered to the shipping lane. They decided to present their mission plan to Sasuke-sama in three days time, which would give them time to modify it if necessary.
Inari's regular appointment with C-san was scheduled for the day before the presentation. As everything was progressing smoothly, Inari decided that there was no reason he should not keep it.
C-san had taken particular care with his outfit, which Inari appreciated. He was dressed in a many-layered feminine kimono of which Haku would have been proud. Inari briefly imagined removing each item of the complex ensemble and then stored the memory to fuel later fantasies.
They had never fucked. Inari doubted they ever would; he was too much of a romantic to share such an intimate act with a professional, even one who was more than an acquaintance and close to being a friend.
C-san poured him tea. "I was expecting you to cancel," he admitted. "You must be very busy. When do you leave?"
"In the morning in four days' time," Inari replied. "Preparations are going smoothly. Kono-kun and Tayuya have responded really well."
C-san passed him his cup. "You have worked hard for this, Inari-san," he reminded him. "Over three standards invested in ensuring that they would not resent your leadership when the time came."
Inari had not known he had been so obvious. Then again, C-san was a professional therapist as well as a courtesan.
"Is there anything about the mission that is bothering you?" C-san asked.
Inari recognised that this was his only chance to verbalise his concerns; whatever he said to C-san was absolutely confidential. "There are two issues I will leave behind here and one which may occur on the mission," he admitted.
"I feel badly about Hikaru-chan. Sasuke-sama asked me to be his special person and I think I have done a good job. But the mission is at least seventy-nine days and he's too young to understand that I am not abandoning him. I have a plan to leave him recordings and I will send him messages when I can. Even so, he is a complicated, unforgiving child. I do not know that he will accept me on my return."
C-san considered. "I could visit him in your place," he suggested. "I could take your recordings and little gifts. I could make sure that the gifts were only given if he had behaved appropriately. Although I am not a child psychologist, I studied the subject as part of my degree. Your descriptions of him have intrigued me. It would be interesting."
Inari imagined C-san arriving in the playroom and the children's reactions to him. "I would very much appreciate that, C-san," he admitted. "At the moment, what worries me most about him is his relationship with Ryuu."
C-san nodded. "And the second issue?" he asked.
"Haku-san," Inari informed him. "Kisame-san and Itachi-san are coming on the mission to babysit us. I feel badly that Haku-san will be separated from them."
C-san smiled slightly. "You should not be concerned, Inari-kun. Although I cannot go into detail, I know that the decisions involved were theirs and not imposed upon them. I strongly advise that you leave such considerations to Haku-san."
Inari imagined Haku's reaction if he suspected someone of interfering and shivered.
"And the issue you fear will arise during the mission, Inari-san?" C-san asked.
"Sex," Inari admitted. "Specifically Kono-kun and sex."
"I shall not be there and you fear he will turn back to you," C-san suggested.
"I am probably being unfair," Inari admitted.
C-san refreshed their cups. "Yes, you probably are," he agreed. "You should rely on the depth of your friendship. Even if he wished to renew your relationship, I doubt that he would choose a time when you are under such close scutiny."
Inari sipped his tea and relaxed a little, reassured.
Inari thought that the presentation had gone well; all three of them had spoken confidently even though it had been nerve-wracking to explain their plans to Shikamaru-san and Neji-san as well as Sasuke-sama and Kakashi-sensei. Neji-san said nothing and Shikamaru-san asked one question. Inari knew that it would bother him for divs why Shika-san had chosen to ask that question in preference to any other.
"It is a realistic and practical mission plan," Sasuke acknowledged. "I like that you will use locally gathered intelligence to fine tune it. I have one question, what will you do if the ship looks like it is under threat of attack?"
Inari did not hesitate. "I would alert Kisame-san and Itachi-san. I would ask Kisame-san to man the guns and Itachi-san to be battle commander."
"And if, in retrospect, we judge that you have been over-cautious?" Sasuke asked.
Inari did not flinch. "Then I fail, Sasuke-sama."
Sasuke gave a small nod of approval and there was a quirk of Kakashi-sensei's lips that may have been a smile.
Inari only realised that Haku-san was accompanying them on the first part of the journey when they had said their farewells and embarked. It made sense, the crew for the Oak had been chosen from Haku's crew room and he would look after them on the journey out and back. It also gave him six extra days with Kisame-san and Itachi-san, who would live on the Oak until the two ships separated.
"You are certain that your small crew wishes to occupy the Silver Leaf immediately, Inari-san?" Haku asked. "You would be welcome to open up Iruka-san's crew room on the Oak. We will be using the galley. You could eat with us."
"That is kind of you, Haku-san," Inari acknowledged, "but we plan to use the six days to make sure that everything on the Silver Leaf is as it should be, to check systems and run drills."
"That is prudent of you, Inari-san," Haku agreed. "Will it be acceptable to you if I come onto the Silver Leaf to prepare the accommodation that Kisame-san and Itachi-san will be using?"
Kisame-san and Itachi-san were to occupy the old captain's cabin and to have one of the storage holds to use as a gym. The tiny room that Sasuke had used as his office had been refitted as a galley for them to use.
"Of course, Haku-san," Inari replied. "If there is anything you need, please say so."
The crew room of the Silver Leaf was large for four people. They stored as many bunks as would fit in the large wall lockers, took two each and scattered the remainder around. Inari noticed that Konohamaru arranged his as a double-width bunk while Inari and the others arranged theirs head to foot along the wall. He shook his head, refusing to accept the thought that the difference was significant.
Once the bunks had been arranged, Tayuya announced that she and Sumaru would begin the midmeal and that Inari and Konohamaru would be welcome to take some private time until they were called. Inari was momentarily stunned that the normally prickly Tayuya was being so pleasant but thanked her, finished hanging the drapes that would give him some privacy and began unpacking his belongings.
He paused when he came across the exquisitely wrapped package that C-san had sent for him. Inside was a basket containing a bottle of lube, three tastefully patterned small towels, a data crystal and a card bearing the words 'Good luck'. He found his portable console, connected the data crystal and activated ear pieces and goggles.
It was a holovid of C-san dressing in the outfit he had worn during Inari's last visit. It started with C-san modestly dressed in silk underclothes. Inari watched as garment after garment was donned and accessory after accessory added. He smiled. C-san knew him well. A holovid of C-san dressing was acceptable to Inari when one of him stripping would not be. Now Inari had all the information he needed for a long, detailed fantasy.
As for the identity of the person Inari would imagine undressing, C-san had never asked and Inari had never told him.
List of characters
From the old Uchiha: Sasuke, Kakashi, Jiraiya, Itachi, Kisame*, Asuma, Gai, Dan, Choza, Inoichi, Terai, Hamaki, Fu, Tatsuji, Kunugi
Served as crew of the Silver Leaf (not all at the same time): Tsunade [captain], Kakashi, Jiraiya, Iruka, Ibiki, Shikamaru, Sasuke, Naruto*, Rin, Shino, Haku, Neji, Anko, Suzume, Shizune, Tenten, Tayuya, Moegi
Recruited by new Uchiha: Kurenai, Konohamaru, Sumaru, Inari, Izumo, Kotetsu, Kiba*
Children: Asuma & Kurenai's - Akemi, Misora, Keitaro. Sasuke & Naruto's - Kazuki*, Kuuya*, Keizo*, Yoshimi*, Yuki*, Yasushi*, Haru, Hikaru, Hoshi, Ryuu*[adopted]. Izumo & Kotetsu's – Ayame.
Kaze: Temari [leader]
HDL [Hybrid Defence League] of which Naruto is patron: Roshi*, Yugito*
Fire Shadow organisation: Hiruzen [leader]
Crews: The Estelle, the Birch, the Beech
Individuals: C-san, Gaara*, Lee, Klennethon Darrent
*Hybrids – humans with some genes from another vertebrate species
Orochimaru [deceased], Kabuto, Kimimaro [possibly deceased]
Aging and ages
Age retard treatments do not extend life but they affect the way individuals age.
Purebred humans on age retard live to 120-140 standards (a standard is the equivalent of one of our years and is divided into ten divs). They mature by about 25 and then look that age until they are about 70, whereupon they age very gradually until they are 100, looked middle-aged between 100 and 120 and then age very rapidly before they die.
Hybrids' lifespans are affected by their non-human genes. Usually their lives are shorter than purebreds. Age retard for hybrids is not generally available, but Rin is working on it with some success. A hybrid's likely lifespan can be measured by a telomeric analysis.
Relative ages of some characters
Sasuke = 0 = Naruto [perhaps, actual age unknown]
Shikamaru, Neji = Sasuke +3
Shino = Sasuke +5
Konohamaru, Tayuya and Inari = Sasuke -3
Sumaru = Sasuke -5
Itachi = Sasuke +10
Haku = Sasuke -2
Iruka = Sasuke +6
Kakashi = Sasuke +18
Kiba, Gaara = Sasuke +2
Formalised by the exchange of love rings: Sasuke & Naruto; Kakashi & Iruka; Asuma & Kurenai; Izumo & Kotetsu; Neji & Shikamaru; Shino & Anko; Roshi & Yugito.
Well-established but without an exchange of rings: Tsunade & Jiraiya; Hamaki, Terai & Fu; Rin & Dan; Kiba & Choza.
Developing: Kisame, Itachi & Haku; Ibiki & Suzume.
Friendship with unrequited love: Lee & Gaara.
Former relationships that have been abandoned: Inoichi & Choza; Inari & Konohamaru.
Casual fucking between unattached members of a crew is acceptable. In most spacer crews, youngsters [cats] are expected to be available to older members of the crew. This was true of the Silver Leaf and also of the old Uchiha. As new Uchiha has developed, it has been decided that this is not compatible with valuing each individual, so other arrangements have been made. C-san is a professional courtesan under exclusive contract to Uchiha; appointments can be made by any member of Uchiha who needs him.
Roles in new Uchiha
Leader: Sasuke Uchiha.
Strategic advisors: Shikamaru (The Voice in Sasuke Uchiha's Ear), Neji, Kakashi.
Special advisor: Tsunade.
Head of the Uchiha household: Iruka.
Individuals who run crew rooms (traditionally called 'queens'): Iruka, Haku, Ibiki.
Other members of Iruka's team: Jiraiya, Choza [cook], Kurenai, Suzume [quartermaster].
Guardian (cares for the Uchiha children): Kiba.
Engineers: Izumo, Kotetsu.
Medicos: Rin [chief medico], Dan, Shizune.
Fighters: Naruto, Kakashi, Kisame, Asuma, Gai, Dan, Inoichi, Terai, Hamaki, Fu, Tatsuji, Kunugi, Itachi, Anko, Tenten.
Trainees (sometimes called cats): Konohamaru, Inari, Tayuya, Sumaru, Moegi.
The Uchiha Fleet
All Uchiha ships have controls, including weapons, that adapt to the physical capacities of the person using them.
The Oak: a huge 'mother ship' that has six docking bays for other smaller ships, a Mulligan drive (so can jump through holes without gates), an improver (a secret device that allows a ship to use less than ideal holes) and enough living space for conference facilities, guest quarters and a replica of the Uchiha household
The Dart: a small, extremely swift ship with a miniature Mulligan drive and an improver
The Sakura: a medium sized, well-armed ship with a conventional drive (needs jump gates), two crew rooms and two subsidiary ships, the Cherry, which is a fast, heavily armed escape pod, and the Blossom, which is a fast, heavily armed, kamikaze craft.
The Silver Leaf: a medium sized, well-armed ship with a conventional drive, one crew room and substantial cargo space.
The Spear: a small, well-armed ship with a conventional drive.
The Lancet: a small, well-armed ship with a conventional drive.
The Snow Willow: a very, very small ship with a conventional drive.
Uchiha owns other ships but they are on long-term hire to non-Uchiha crews.