No I don't own Naruto. I also want to be extremely clear that I don't own, or have the ability to write any of the other stories used here.
I have asked for permission where I can, and when informed that I cannot use them, I have not. If I received no comment, or had no method of contacting the author because they deactivated their PMs, I will make a note of it at the beginning of the chapter. For those of you unfamiliar with the format or some of the OC commentary here, I suggest you check out Naruto Reads Naruto by Sage of Seals in my favorite stories section.

The Controlled Chaos of Free Will - Chapter One

An Offer That They Couldn't Refuse.

Looking upwards, Uchiha Sasuke, the last of his clan acknowledged by Konoha, gnashed his teeth in rage. No matter how much it galled him to admit, that dead last Naruto had completely and utterly defeated him. Despite his superior taijutsu, family's ninjutsu, and the strongest assassination technique their Sensei could provide, the blonde had blasted through everything he had attempted in their duel through sheer stubborn pride and overwhelming power. The blown out back of the water tower above him bore mute testament to that fact.

It made no sense to the young prodigy. For years, Uzumaki Naruto had been a loser, constantly falling behind and dragging those around him down. Yet, after a few short months as a Genin, he had progressed to match the top of the class in terms of power and nearly as much skill. How could he have come so far in such a short amount of time? Was Naruto truly that strong? Or was he, the genius and avenger of the Uchiha simply that weak? Either way, it was enough to infuriate him beyond all reason.

Smashing his fist into the unyielding stone of the hospital wall, Sasuke felt totally lost. In that moment of time, all he wanted to do was leave, and never look back. He needed power and strength to avenge his fallen clansmen and women. Yet, someone who was such a goofball was gaining what he needed without any apparent effort! It was just not fair that someone without a true purpose and had no idea what proper suffering was, dared to gain strength at such a rate! What had he ever done to deserve it?

Suddenly driven to move, to leave, to just find some sort of peace, the Genin prepared his chakra to leap into the air. But before he could complete the technique, the Uchiha found himself bound in place. Despite his best attempts, no part of his body would budge an inch. He barely had a moment to register the frozen clouds and birds in his field of vision, before everything seemed to blank out. The last thing he would remember from the experience was an unknown voice stating that, "It's not going to be that simple this time, you little brat." With that cryptic statement, Uchiha Sasuke felt himself fade into nothingness.

Falling on his side, Uzumaki Naruto fought his normal urge to cry out in pain and irritation. The more important thing for the moment was figuring out what the heck was going on here? One moment he was on top of the hospital staring at a crying Sakura and frustrated that his duel had been stopped. The next moment, he was appearing in the middle of some sort of featureless plane, with no end in sight. Rubbing his eyes at the weird sight, the blonde looked around more carefully only to blink in surprise. It appeared that he was not alone in this freaky place. Thankfully, they were all familiar faces.

In one direction, Kurenai-sensei was helping Hinata-chan to her feet, with Shino, Kiba and Akamaru keeping watch. Asuma-sensei was not far behind, with Ino, Shikamaru and Chouji flanking him from behind. Gai-sensei was closer, with Lee, Tenten and Neji in triangle formation around his position. While it was kind of nice to see his comrades from the Chunin Exam, the other members made him a bit curious. Was this some sort of makeup test? Or had something seriously gone wrong.

After all, why else would Baa-chan and Ero-senin be looking around like crazy, with Shizune-nee-chan backing them up? Then there was Iruka-sensei with the crazy snake lady and some strange chick with three dogs like Kiba. Even Gaara was there, with the fan chick and makeup freak keeping their distance. Then of course, there was Kakashi-sensei, kunai in hand shielding a still sniffling Sakura-chan and frazzled looking Sasuke. If this was some sort of do over for the Chunin Exam, why the heck would all of these people be looking so freaked out? "Kakashi-sensei, what the hell is going on? One minute we're on top of the Hospital, the next we're in the middle of nowhere!"

Not budging from his position, the gray haired cyclops replied. "I have no idea Naruto. There was a sense of disorientation, and we found ourselves here, wherever here is. I'm pretty sure no one else was hanging around the Hospital anyways." Feeling a sudden pressure, Naruto turned to see the disapproving gaze of Jiraiya. Mentally wincing, he held his ground without regret. It appeared that the old pervert had heard about his fight with Sasuke.

One by one, each of the various groups agreed with Kakashi-sensei's declaration. Kurenai-sensei had been in a training ground, going over some maneuvers before Shino left with his father on a mission the next day. Asuma-sensei had been treating his team at the barbeque place to celebrate Shikamaru's advancement. Gai-sensei, Neji and Tenten had been cooling down after their own training, while Lee had been heading towards the Hokage tower to discuss his surgery. Baa-chan had been going over procedures of her position with Shizune, and Iruka-sensei had been heading home after a mission. The Snake Lady and the Inuzuka kunoichi had been going drinking, and Gaara's team had been heading home after a border patrol. All in all, everyone had been doing different things in different locations all over Konoha and beyond. So the question was, why where they all here?

Stepping before his teammates, Gaara cleared his throat. "I have no idea why my siblings and I have been caught in this mess, but for the meantime, I am willing to work with Konoha to determine a method of escape. Could the highest ranked member of your party please come forward so that we can understand your chain of command?" Hearing that sort of logical argument, coming from the formerly psychotic sand ninja, left Naruto feeling stunned. What the heck had he dislodged during their fight to cause such a personality shift?

Stepping forward, Baa-chan nodded her acceptance. "It s nice to get that issue out of the way. I am Tsunade, recently installed Godaime Hokage of Konoha. As the ranking ninja of this group, it is my pleasure to accept help from our Suna allies. Hopefully, we can determine the limitations of what has happened to us, and how to best deal with the situation." At that comment, a strange chuckling broke out that made his hair stand on end. If he did not know better, Naruto would have sworn that a ghost had shown up!

"Perhaps I can be of some assistance in clearing your concerns up? I would not dream of inconveniencing the great and powerful Tsunade with anything more than a few minor theatrics." Confused by the unfamiliar voice, Naruto looked everywhere before being startled by a tap on the shoulder. For the rest of his life, he would state that his cry of surprise and sudden leap forward were totally manly in their execution. Thankfully, everyone else was too startled by their unexpected host to pay much attention to his antics.

Narrowing his eyes at the stranger behind Naruto, Kakashi felt his grip on the kunai tighten involuntarily. It was not like the figure was particularly intimidating. He was neither too tall nor too short, with slightly worn clothing of basic black, green and brown combinations. His face was too chubby to be handsome, but a bit to lean to be cute and his eyes seemed to shift from green to grey in the odd lighting of their location. No, the only thing that concerned the Jonin about the figure was his smile, which would not have looked out of place in the Forest of Death. That was not a look he wanted on the face of an unknown enemy.

He was about to move and subdue the figure, only to have Gaara get there first. Their supposed host had barely finished spooking Naruto before the Suna ninja had launched a wave of sand in his direction. Despite his experience, Kakashi was glad he was not the target of the technique. Even with his Sharingan, he would be hard pressed to overcome such a move. It took barely three seconds for the sand to cocoon their prisoner, turning the tables in an instant. Honestly, it was a welcome relief after their abrupt abduction.

Of course, when the figure moved through the sand as if it was not there, all that tension came back at full force. "I am sorry, my dear boy, but that won't do you much good here. Direct harm against any person or persons within this location is against the rules after all." Releasing another disturbing, high pitched chuckle, the figure continued as if he was just discussing the weather, as opposed to overcoming an A-ranked capture technique. "Of course, it was really my fault for not filling you in on the details. So don't worry you little head about it, ok? I'm sure all will become clear before too much longer."

Before another attack could be launched, Tsunade-sama stepped forward with all the authority of a Sannin, which in Kakashi's opinion, seemed to be pretty impressive. "Enough of these games! Identify yourself, and explain where we are at once! Otherwise, we will make you wish you had never been born!" Hearing the tone of her speech, the Jonin winced on the inside. If that was the Godaime's idea of diplomacy, the next few years in the village would be, to quote a Nara, quite troublesome.

Laughing again, their supposed captor's smirk only seemed to grow. "Oh, I was getting to that, Tsunade of the Sannin. I would not be much of a host if I didn't introduce myself after all." Standing straighter, the figure almost seemed to loom in the strange light of their current environment. At that moment, Kakashi almost felt an instinctive urge to flee, as if something higher on the food chain had suddenly noticed a gnat gnawing on their ear. "I am known by many names, including the Grey Star, Balance Bringer, and Imprinter. But for the purposes of this conversation, I believe that we can go by my favorite title. To you and yours, I am Anoth Vortex, the Laughing Magician. Please let me welcome you to my humble home!" Seeing the now named Anoth's eyes flash with an insane light, Kakashi suppressed an urge to flinch. He just knew that things were going to get a lot more complicated from here on out.

Grinding her teeth in frustration, Tsunade of the Sannin, Godaime Hokage looked on in impotent rage as their captor continued to laugh. She was all for smearing the bastard into the pavement, but that would just make her look foolish. Her trained senses had been fully active at the time of Gaara's attack, and she still had no idea how this Vortex character was able to phase through the sand like that. Anybody who could develop a technique for capturing multiple A and S-ranked ninja without any warning had to be dealt with carefully. So, for now, she would stick with demands and glares. That did not mean that the busty blonde had to like it! "Well, I'm still waiting for my explanation!"

Shaking his head in continued amusement, the figure finally stopped laughing. "Ah, I'm sorry about that. I just don't get a chance to let loose like that very often. It's surprisingly satisfying." Cricking his neck to the side, Vortex's smile seemed to take up most of his face. "As to the reason that I brought you all here, and yes it was me who did so, is quite simple. I was just that bored."

Hearing this creature talk about their capture so casually snapped the last vestiges of the Hokage's temper. Launching herself at their captor, the Sannin prepared to unleash her strongest possible punch. Unfortunately, like Gaara, her attack was simply phased through by the smirking figure. To make matters worse, the ground refused to even budge when the missed strike made contact. Clearly there would be no easy escape from their current torment. Unsatisfied by such pathetic returns, Tsunade snapped in full rage. "How dare you treat us and our lives so easily? We are not your toys, but people you arrogant asshole! What gives you the right to treat us in this fashion?"

Still smiling, Vortex's eyes seemed to grow cold. "This is just plain hilarious! I would laugh again if such a statement was not so pathetic! Are you attempting to claim moral superiority over me, ninja? Didn't your village arrange for a number of teenagers to fight to the death for the amusement of the masses a few weeks ago? What makes you think that I should care about your wants, hopes and desires? After all, in the grand scheme of things, you really are quite small." With that, their location changed completely.

Before, their prison appeared to be some featureless room, with no visible light or boundaries. Personally, the Hokage had assumed a genjutsu of some sort and had spent more time checking out her troops for possible plants and the like. But now, through some unseen mechanism, their surroundings had transformed into a vision of epic beauty and awe. Stars shone though gouts of blue flame. Chunks of rock smashed into one another, releasing clouds of white gas. Vast balls of light seemed to shrink and shatter, sundering the surroundings in giant balls of nothingness. It was beyond anything she could imagine and it terrified some primal core in the back of her mind. In all honesty, Tsunade had never felt so small.

Apparently, their host was made of sterner stuff. "Let me tell you a little story, ninjas one and all. Before your eyes are the wonders, and horrors of your own universe. To put things in perspective, each and every pinprick you now see are not stars, but whole galaxies. Your universe is comprised of billions of galaxies, which in turn are comprised of billions of stars, which tend to be the suns of a solar system of quite a few planets. That makes nearly trillions of planets out there that, even with the absurd number of requirements needed to make a planet livable at all, means that there are a near infinite number of life forms that are either around your average stalk of grass's intelligence level, or so far ahead of your understanding that it's laughable. That is the extent of just your universe and your own places in it, so why should I be particularly impressed? Especially, when I am not one who is limited by the nature of a single universe?"

With a mere gesture, the sweeping expanse of the area around them seemed to shrink into the size of a soap bubble, before being joined by countless others linked by the barest of contact. "You see, this is my domain. I don't claim to be some all knowing god, or superpower, but I am a figure of some minor importance in the Multiverse. For those of you unfamiliar with probability theory, not that I believe that it's been properly developed in your world anyways, this is where all reality could truly be said to exist, rather than the miniscule amount that you actually understand." Having no idea what the creature before them was talking about Tsunade forced herself to remain calm. It appeared that they we in a bit over their heads and pissing off Vortex would only make things worse.

But he appeared to be on a roll, with no signs of stopping. "This is the place where all possibilities lie. Want to see the world where Uchiha Madara became the Shodai? Then that's the universe for the show! Want to see a world where Orochimaru became Hokage, and ended up with thirteen children and Naruto as a step-son? Head down a dozen universes to the right! Any possible world, situation and existence are here for my viewing pleasure."

That was when the chaos element known as Uzumaki Naruto's big mouth decided to come into play. "Oh yeah? If we're so damn boring, why the hell did you grab us all? You claim that you've got tons of worlds you can watch at will, can see everything we could have done or do, and yet here we are! If we were really that tiny and unimportant, then you shouldn't even have bothered grabbing us! But just wait until I get my hands on you! I'll Rasengan your ass..." At that point, Kakashi showed his brilliance as a ninja, and forced the Genin to be quiet. Tsunade knew she was going to have to slip something into his next paycheck for that little bit of action, even if it was a bit late.

Surprisingly, Vortex did not appear to take offense to his actions at all. In fact, he only seemed to radiate sheer amusement. "Why, you're everything I expected, Uzumaki Naruto. This is going to be fun!" Rubbing his hands together, the creature in humanoid skin chuckled. "As to why I decided to grab you, well, you can blame a pesky inter-dimensional traveler for that one."

Waving his hands, their captor changed the room back into its previous, unremarkable state. "Among my interests within the Multiverse, I have a small side business renting dimensional spaces to those interested. As you can see, manipulating a personal plane of reality can be quite a bit of fun, and much better than any silly movie theater. One of my tenants, a Sage of Seals, was late paying his rent on a minor pocket of eleventh dimensional space, so I decided to give him a bit of a reminder. Imagine my surprise when I discovered copies of yourselves there, receiving information about the future." Hearing about other versions of her and her ninja left Tsunade feeling cold. Even if she had never seen this person before, exposure to similar people would give him all the background needed to deal with their specialtiesand tricks. That just made the situation even more difficult than she had thought.

Shaking his head, Vortex continued with a slightly unhinged look on his face. "Of course, the boy's actions were against a number of rules, and overall quite foolish. Given the impact of choice upon the Multiverse, for every world that is aided directly in such a way, another will suffer a proportionate amount. That's why directly influencing worlds in such a fashion is frowned upon in certain circles. In the end it is pointless in the true scheme of things. For his actions, I should have terminated the man's lease, wiped the memories of his guests, and notified the proper authorities. However, I decided that this could be much more fun." Hearing how their supposed host stressed the word fun, Tsunade felt a chill go down her spine. She really did not want to be a part of anything that this person found to be fun.

Sitting down, and ignoring that there was no chair for the moment, he smirked. "Here's the deal. I want some entertainment, and thanks to Sage of Seals, there is now an imbalance. I could simply allow hundreds of alternate versions of your own world get that much darker to compensate, but this is probably a bit safer. You actions and experiences will balance out the knowledge your analogues gained by his information distribution. Where the Sage is using data and hints to guide your analogues into the light, I will rely upon good old human nature. You will be granted a similar situation to what his guests are currently undergoing. Only, instead of providing you with glimpses of an alternative past or future of my choice hidden by a bit of trickery, I will offer you the chance to ask questions and provide answers, within certain limitations." Hearing that, Tsunade frowned. She knew just how dangerous information could be if in the wrong hands.

That did not stop her old teammate from interceding. "While this is all very interesting, wrong information can be more dangerous than no information at all. How do we know that what you show us is not going to be some simple trick designed to bite us later? How can we even ensure that what we see here is not going to be tilted to meet some unknown goal you have in the future? A few pretty lights do not an all seeing mystic make." Narrowing her eyes at the thought, the blonde Hokage nodded her agreement.

Taping a finger to his lips, Vortex seemed unmoved by their disbelief. "I suppose that is a fair question. I will admit that there are certain rules that will be upheld during the process. So I cannot state that I am not influencing things to some small degree. However I know two pieces of data that you might find interesting. First, I know the name of leader of Akatsuki. Second, I know a single, three digit number that would make Tsunade attempt to kill you again. What do you think about that?" Hearing that, the Hokage was brought up short.

Despite the dangers involved, Tsunade knew that they would have to give this a chance the second that organization was mentioned. Akatsuki was a complete mystery at the moment, so any information that they could possibly get about that was of vital importance. Plus, judging from how the perverts face was turning white, she really needed to find out what that bastard was talking about in terms of that number! Sighing in defeat, the Hokage nodded her agreement. She could always have Inoichi attempt to wipe the memories of certain individuals if things turned sour.

Reaching into his cloak, their host smiled. "Now then, everyone will take turns drawing lots from this bag. Some of you will get the right to ask a question, while others will not. If this proves to be amusing, we might do another drawing, but let's see how you manage with a single round to start. But remember that only the person getting a numbered slip of paper will be able to ask a question, and no outside interference! You will learn what you actually want to know, not what you think you do, and live with the consequences!" Opening the bag, he held it out with shining eyes. "So, who's first to the chopping block?" Narrowing her eyes, Tsunade reached forward, ready to start things off. With the way things were going, her luck was sure to land her with a big old number one!

Gulping, Sakura reached into the bag to draw her lot. Tsunade-sama's rage at getting a blank piece of paper had been terrifying to behold, but at least she had not attacked their captor again. Despite his self depreciation, anyone in a position of power within this Multiverse thing was not someone the Genin wanted pissed off. Remembering the scope of what he claimed was their Universe was enough to make her shiver in fear. She had never in her life felt so insignificant, and it was not a sensation she was eager to repeat.

Unfortunately, when she saw her own lot had a big number five, Sakura started yearning for that sense of unimportance. Anoth Vortex had already said that everyone was required to ask a question and get their answer. No one could chose to opt out, or they would all lose that chance for information. It did not take a genius to realize that Tsunade would kill them if a chance to gain valuable intelligence was lost because they did not have the nerve to ask a couple of questions. That did not mean that she was looking forward to the responsibility.

Honestly, a part of Sakura that was not terrified out of her mind at the moment was a little curious. What this Laughing Magician had described seemed completely impossible, but being on a team with Naruto had tempered her disbelief in strange shit. She wondered if her question would show a world where she was happily married to Sasuke or one where she was no longer a burden on the team. The chance to see her secret desires was only countered by her concern about how the questions would be answered, and how those around her would react to them.
Still it was not like she had much choice in the matter.

Hearing a sudden squeak, the kunoichi looked up at an even paler Hinata, holding a slip of her own. Even from this distance, Sakura could see the bright number one. Remembering the girl's attitudes and actions in the Academy and later the Chunin Exam, Sakura felt a ball of ice form in the pit of her stomach. While Sakura would never want to be the one to start, forcing someone like Hinata to do so was just plain cruel. After all, everybody knew that there was only one thing the girl would ever wonder about.

Smirking, Vortex retrieved his bag. "Well then, it appears that we have our first round. First to go will be Hinata, followed by Kurenai, Shizune, Sasuke, Sakura, Kakashi, Shino, Ino, Anko, Jiraiya, and finally Naruto. Now that we have that bit of business out of the way, why don't you get comfortable? This is going to be an interesting experience." Turning, Sakura was surprised to find a comfortable chair complete with boxes of snacks and bottles of drinks for the taking. Knowing that it could have been a trap, but realizing that there was little to do about things if it was, the Genin took a seat, noting that everyone else appeared to be following her example. This was not a time for conflict, but to analyze and gather information. Snorting, Sakura wondered if this was the sort of thing that Ibiki-sensei meant when he described his test back in the Chunin Exams.

Unlike her comrades and acquaintances, Hinata was neither sitting nor attempting to gather information. All she could see and comprehend was the fact she would be the first to ask a question in this twisted game. As a kunoichi of Konoha and a member of Team Eight, she knew that such information could prove to be vital to the future of the village. But despite that, the task before her seemed to be far too great for her to handle. The fact that everyone would be observing it only made things ten times worse.

Hinata knew that she had a question she wanted answered more than anything else in the world. Day in and day out, she had wondered if she would ever be able to truly understand her feelings for Naruto or better yet, express them to the blonde. Nothing would make her happier than knowing that all her faith and desires were not just a waste of time, or adolescent fantasy. The idea that she, the possible heir of a major clan of Konoha, could ever be in a relationship with a social pariah like Uzumaki Naruto would make most sigh in exasperation or laugh out loud. But to Hinata, finding a way for such a thing to be possible would make her happier than anything else in her life.

Unfortunately, this opportunity like all others had its costs. Perhaps she would ask her question, only to discover it was truly hopeless. Or, she could find a way, but the costs would be far too high. Then, there was the fact that her feelings would be broadcast to everyone in her age group, their Sensei's and the children of the last Kazekage. While she was not ashamed of Naruto, having such personal thoughts broadcast freely like that left her feeling cold.

Mentally sighing at the lost opportunities, Hinata turned to the smirking Vortex with a new question on her lips. The Genin had caught the reference to an Akatsuki organization that both the Hokage and Jiraiya-sama had seemed really interested in. For the good of Konoha, she would simply have to ask about that and keep her curiosity about other matters to the wayside for the moment. That did not mean that she was happy about it. "Very well, Vortex-san. I'm ready to ask my question."

Giving her a creepy smirk, their captor waved his hand, activating a spot light. "Well then, Hinata, feel free to step into the light. Remember, this question will be your own, and cannot be influenced by anyone or anything. Once asked, it cannot be unasked. But most importantly, you will hear the answer and you will always remember it. Now step into the light, and let's get this show on the road." Gathering her courage, the shy Hyuga stepped forward.

At that point, things went out of her control. It was not like Hinata was unable to move or anything like that. But the question she had crafted, asking about the details of Akatsuki or potential threats to Konoha refused to be spoken. Instead, to her horror, she found herself asking her true heart's desire, no matter how hard she tried not to. All the Genin could do was sit back in her own mind, and hear the words coming from her mouth. "There is a certain boy that I admire more than any other. But he has always been alone because I've been too scared to let him know my feelings directly. What I wish to know, is if I had gathered the courage to approach him, could something have developed between us? Or is it all some stupid fantasy I've deluded myself with?" " Feeling the loss of control end, Hinata staggered out of the light, mortified. She had been unable to do anything to stop her confession, and that terrified her more than words could say.

Shaking his head, Vortex gave her a smile, clearly tinged with amusement. "Did you really think that the rules here were so easy to change? I told you that only your own true question would be the one you could ask. No attempt to block it for the greater good or perceived orders of your leader would work. This is a question just for you, and as such, it is the only one that you can give." Feeling helpless and weak, Hinata fought back tears. She had been warned, but had never realized just how far he would go to enforce his claims. It left her miserablefor failing such an important task.

Cracking his neck, Vortex's smile turned surprisingly gentle. "Now for the answer to your question, I can honestly state that out of all the possible partners he could have, you are one of the most likely to succeed in a real relationship. So don't worry about that anymore, ok?" With that statement, every ounce of Hinata's self-loathing and depression dissolved like a steam cloud. It did not matter that they were not able to learn anything from her thoughtless question. As long as she knew that it was possible, hope would spring eternal!

Leaning back into the empty air, he continued his explanation to the captive audience. "In about sixty percent of the possible universes, you either become his sole love interest, or a primary member of his harem. Then, there are the worlds where you adopt a younger sister aspect, providing family bonds both of you need without any real romance." Blushing at the word harem, Hinata struggled to remain conscious. While she would admit, if only in the depths of her own mind, being a little curious about aspects of Naruto's transformation, entering into such a relationship was almost more than she could bear! That was when the bastard had to wreck her train of thought. "Then there are the worlds where you become his willing follower and servant. A relationship between you two is quite possible, but a healthy relationship will take a bit more work."

Scratching his head, Naruto looked at her in confusion. "Hinata-chan, who's this guy talking about?" With that, Hinata remembered that she was surrounded by numerous classmates and Jonin of her village, not to mention the Hokage herself! She also realized that, while she knew exactly who Vortex was talking about, not everybody apparently got it. Burying her head in her jacket, the Genin wished that the floor would just swallow her whole.

Chuckling, Vortex shook his head. "While I'm sure it will be obvious eventually, Naruto, why don't I speed things up? While I've seen all sorts of interesting worlds where Hinata realizes her feelings and acts upon them, we'll start off slow. Let's see just what would have happened if she had taken a small step several years ago?" Snapping his fingers, the room once again began to change. "See what could have been, feel what was felt and grasp the pain and pleasure that comes with understanding your actions." With that, everything began to change.

Author's Notes

So...I'm guessing you all want to kill me at this time?

Why don't I explain and then you can break out the machetes and firecrackers...

Now then, for those of you who follow my other stories, especially Escape from the Hokage's Hat and Different Techniques, you will be aware that I am currently going back to school to get a new certificate. Back in July, I admitted that I would be working on a summer course, but did not see any reason that I couldn't continue to update. It was done with the best of intentions, and I actually do have about fifty percent of the next chapter of Escape from The Hokage's Hat completed. That's when life decided to throw me a new loop -_-;;;

The certificate that I am currently training in? It was for a job in a different department at work. So I'm sure you can imagine my surprise when, halfway through the requirements, I was informed that I would be going to that new department anyways! Only, instead of a new title and resulting pay raise, I would be put on "probation" for about three to six months doing a more difficult job while making the same amount of money. A job with a giant backlog of work no one had dealt with since the end of February. So that, coupled with the additional classes I still have to complete took up quite a bit of time.

But hey, writing is how I unwind. So, after I finally finished dealing with the backlog on tap for my new job, I decided to jump back in to the chapter I had left hanging. Problem is, I realized that despite fully outlining the chapter in question, I was stuck on how to execute it! Yes, despite my best efforts, I had a full blown case of writers block!

Normally, when that sort of thing happens, I get to work on a new chapter of Different Techniques. Problem part two, is that the next chapter of that series is a Dr. Who cross, and I still have to sit down and finish the David Tennant movies which I borrowed about eight months ago -_-;;;

That's when I decided to break pattern a bit. Part of my existing writing style is to carefully outline and develop a plot before writing a single page. But, in the spirit of Sage of Seals and any other number of writers, I decided to work with existing work. That way, I can get a greater understanding of the characters and focus less on structure and more on reaction. Hopefully, the experience will get the old writing muscles back in shape and new chapters of my other stories will follow.

To be clear, I do have Sage of Seals permission to use his format, and reference his original character for this. While a crossover is not in the works at this time, especially since his story is on hiatus for the moment, there will be some references to his character and said character's actions.

I sent out requests to a number of other authors, and the only ones that will be used here without express permission are those who deactivated their messaging systems. Please pay attention to my notices of the original owners and titles of the stories in question. I have NO INTEREST in taking credit for someone else's work. Also, if you enjoy what you read, please go support them and their work. Writers always enjoy feedback, and doing so simply encourages productivity. *hint* *hint*

Oh, and to be clear, I did reference two separate stories by the excellent Lucillia in this introduction. I didn't ask for permission, since I didn t use any of the actual text, but let the credit go where credit is due.

For the story about Madara as the Shodai, check out her story Shodaime Madara.
For the story about Orochimaru and his thirteen children and blonde stepson, check out Yondaime. Both are short, but also quite a hoot!

Oh and Anoth Vortex? He's actually the first self insert I ever produced. Over the years, he's gotten quite a bit meaner than he originally was, but time and circumstances will do that to the best of them. I think that those stories might still be floating around somewhere, but for my own sense of self respect please don't attempt to locate them. Thinking back to those incidents just makes me want to hang my head in shame -_-;;;

Now then, stay tuned for the depths of Hinata's answer! Oh, and as always I'll supply a cyber cookie to those who caught which story I'm going to use first. :)