We're all just Dreaming of Sunshine
I've come to the realization that we fans of Silver Queen's "Dreaming of Sunshine" need a place to properly discuss this incredible story. So here it is, and have fun.
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(Set in the Soulless!verse, during the chunnin exams)

"Tenten, correct? Maito Gai's genin student?" The young woman who had so suddenly appeared in the hospital hallway had a scar across her face, but it was an old one. More to the point, she wore a battered chunnin vest and a serious expression- a superior officer, then.

It still took a moment for Tenten to register the question.

"Y-Yes," Tenten replied, eyes tracking the smoke outside the hospital windows in horror. Neiji had already left with his uncle to help Hinata- left her behind like she could be of so little help- and him with an injury from fighting in the Exam Finals! And the village was under attack. Had been under attack, for minutes. It was… hard to concentrate.

"Genin, how long does it take you to get a handle on a new weapon? A long-distance weapon, I mean. Three minutes? Ten?" the older kunoichi asked, voice as firm as Gai-sensei when he got serious.

A superior officer was asking her a question. Tenten snapped to attention, as best she could.

"Less than two minutes to hit a still target, ma'am. Never less than five. Moving- it depends." Teten confessed. Better to confess her limitations than overstate her skills.

"At the edge of the weapon's range?" The kunoichi pressed, no-nonsense but not skeptical.

"Never less than five," Tenten repeated. "And anything above two minutes was always at the edge of a weapon's range anyway."

The kunoichi nodded.

"Come with me."

The kunoichi- "Kako Kinokawa, Barrier Corps Special Jounin,"- led Tenten to an out-of-the-way blacksmith's shop, to pick up a sleek little contraption of wood and metal. Mostly metal. "Old Hue still hasn't been able to land a contract with R&D, but he makes good stuff," Kinokawa-san said, scribbling out a receipt and stuffing the weapon into a storage scroll.

"I'll scout out a few places to practice on the way to our target," Kinokawa-san said, holding Tenten as she leaped, so that they would move faster. "Gai-sempai speaks highly of your aim."

A sick dread was starting to curdle in Tenten's stomach. No, no, I can't do this you've got the wrong person; I'm not an assassin, I'm a genin. I'm not the person you want for this! Tenten wanted to shriek.

She'd never wanted to kill anybody.

She'd wanted to heal them.

But she didn't say anything. Tenten practiced, instead. (It was the longest long-range weapon she'd ever gotten to see, much less touch, much less use. It might might be the longest-long range weapon in Konoha. Tenten wished she could be more excited about the feel of it in her hands.) She did get a handle of using the weapon at the edge of its range- three minutes, good enough- and then Kinokawa-san stopped them for a short briefing.

My last chance to tell her I don't want to kill anyone, Tenten thought, semi-hysterically. At the same time, shamefully hoping the kunoichi only chalked up any nervousness to pre-combat jutters.


"Orochimaru managed to set up a Soulless out by the top of the Hokage Monument. Its range is too wide for any long-distance ninjutsus users to get a lock." Kinokawa-san said abruptly.

Tenten nearly dropped her weapon.

A Soulless.

Oh no. Oh, no.

A genin couldn't fight a Soulless. A chunnin couldn't fight a Soulless. Traps, that's what you did with a Soulless. Traps where it might go, and then lost of running the hell away.

"The Aburame have it cornered as best they can, but –they can't hold out for much longer," Kinokawa-san continued. Tenten wondered what she had been going to say instead. "My plan is to get you close enough, fast enough, that it can't pull us in. I'll protect you, while you prepare to aim. Hopefully you can get it on the first shot, while it's distracted. If it sees us as threats it will start to target our area specifically and intentionally, giving it a longer range of attack in that direction. And then- well, things might get tricky."

Tenten swallowed.

Kinokwa-san shot her a concerned glance, then looked at the weapon. Maybe she thought Tenten was scared because she doubted her own abilities, not because-

"Gai-sempai speaks highly of your aim," Kinokawa-san said, her voice gaining warmth and reassurance. Very different than the previously hurried, matter-of-fact cadence and clip of her voice. …And it occurred to Tenten for the first time that Kinokawa-san might be scared, too.

And then she really knew she couldn't say anything.

Tenten nodded, instead.

Kinokawa-san paused, just for a moment. "Ignore anything you hear that's not me," she said at last. "Just focus on the target. There's not much cover; you should be able to finish it quickly."

Then Kinokawa-san grabbed her, and the landscape became a blur.

There wasn't much cover, no.

There were a lot of seizing, screaming Aburame not far away from where they had landed.

There was one moving target- a person!- and lots of …very still… Aburame and other shinobi, spread out for yards around it. Some of them were Sound. Lots of them were Sand. Lots of them were Leaf. All of them were on the ground, unmoving.

Massive swarms of bugs moved, uncoordinated and undirected, around the lone haggard female figure- no, around the target!- still standing on the battlefield.

"Take your time," Kinokawa-san said, voice calm. Hard warm and reassuring on Tentens shoulder, as if the special jounin expected a grounding touch to somehow shield Tenten from the pull of a Soulless.

Tenten shut her mind to the hysteria, shut her ears to the grunts and sobs and plaintive cries around her, and took aim.

Tenten missed.

The worst part, Tenten reflected dully, was hearing all the still-living Aburame around them scream out in unified agony, as her failed shot drew the Soulless' attention.

"I- I can't" Tenten sobbed out, as Kinokawa-san replaced and replaced and replaced and then started truly running, Tenten on her back until such time they got far enough out of range that Tenten could start running, too.

"I'm sorry, but I couldn't-" Tenten continued, and she wanted to say she couldn't aim as well as Gai-sensei had said, she wanted to say it was a failure of skill but not of nerves, but she remembered the screams of Konoha shinobi losing their souls around her and she couldn't- "I only ever wanted to help people, I wanted to be a healer in the first place, and I've never killed a person before, and I couldn't!" Tenten said.

Kinokawa-san had gotten them far enough away, apparently, because she let them stop. She looked at Tenten, something odd in her face.

A curious openness that hadn't been there before.

"You know, I've never once heard someone acknowledge that a Soulless was a person, or even used to be," Kinokawa-san said, and oldness and a sadness in her voice.

But then Kinokawa-san blinked, and shook her head as she changed the subject. "Don't blame yourself. It was my own failing as a commander. My failure to listen. As much as I disapprove of shinobi who always look to killing as a first resort- I didn't consider your own feelings and principles. I treated you like a weapon, rather than a valued subordinate, and that was wrong." Kinokawa-san- Kinokawa-sempai, maybe- looked out towards the place where the Soulless was with a strange distance in her gaze. Alien. Like she didn't belong. Like half of her was looking into some other world entirely- had already let go of the land of the living, in anticipation of her own death.

Fey, that was the expression.

Tenten had a terrible premonition that Kinokawa-sempai was going to ask Tenten to hand over the weapon, and go herself. Kinokawa-sempai might be able to use the weapon, but not at the distance Tenten could. Kinokawa-sempai would have to get closer.

...It would kill her.

"What do you mean that the Soulless used to be people?" Tenten said, grabbing wildly any any distraction she could.

"What soul is closest, when that pull starts within a markless child?" Kinokawa-san asked distractedly, popping a solider pill ad opening several storage scrolls in quick succession as she rummaged around.

"A parent, usually. Or a guardian, or a neighbor," Tenten said, nervously, mind only half on the conversation. They'd covered this in school.

Kinokawa-sempai shook her head, and met Tenten's gaze and gave a sad smile. "The child's own," she said, sadly.

Tenten swallowed, feeling sick.

"It's not wrong to feel compassion. To want to save someone. The Soulless we're fighting is too far gone to be saved- but it's not wrong to want to. It's not even wrong for you to disagree with my assessment, what you need to remember, going forward, is to bring such things out into the open beforehand."

This… felt like a goodbye.

"I can still help!" Teten said. "I can shoot- distractions and things, right? You have explosive tags- I can draw its attention while you kill it. I- I don't disagree that- I mean, I saw the other shinobi. I saw what she did to them. I'll help you! I won't let you down this time, I swear. Just because I can't kill her doesn't mean I'm too afraid to get close again."

Kinokawa-sempai looked at her, surprise in her eyes. "You are… an extremely brave person, Tenten." she said. The compliment was a little stilted, but it felt sincere and heartfelt. "All right. I will accept your help. I have… something I can use as I try to get a little closer, but I won't be able to rely on my chakra for anything else, so some cover will be ….helpful. Or, well, more necessary than helpful, to be honest. Flash-bangs and explosives attached to anything you shoot out of your current weapon would be ideal. But above all, you must keep your distance. Even if it puts you out of range. Don't be afraid to advance and retreat in quick succession- actually, do be afraid to advance. You saw what happened to the Aburame. …And, when we get out of this, I'm going to try to convince Genma-sempai to introduce you to senbon, and his collection of non-lethal poisons."

"Genma?" Tenten asked, lost already as they began turning back toward the soulless –back toward the Soulless! But no, she could keep it together. She would.

"Genma-sempai was on the same Genin team as your sensei," Kinokawa-sempai explained. "He wears a bandanna, and tends to wear dark blue rather than green."

Tenten immediately had a vision of-

"…Not like Gai-sempai wears green," Kinokawa-sempai added, a note of dry humor in her voice.

"And Tenten," Kinokawa-sempai said, voice tentative. "I want you to know- there was already nothing we could to for the Aburame around us. They were making noise but- I'm a sensor. They'd lost too much already; it had been too late for some time before we arrived."

"Right," Tenten said, swallowing. Well, she was still terrified out of her mind, but she was kind of glad that Kinokawa-sempai was talking more. "Okay. Let's do this."

They did it.

The loss of that dragging at Tenten's soul felt like the calm after a storm, and she heaved a sigh of relief.

Then Tenten realized that Kinokawa-sempai was chakra-exhausted, wounded, and the only help available around was Tenten and countless Aburame-less bugs.

…Who seemed a little scared at being Aburame-less, and wanted to cling to the only Konoha shinobi not lying dead and soulless, so that left Tenten and a half-conscious Kinokawa-sempai (who kept insisting she could walk).

They weren't draining any chakra, at least. Or very, very little, considering how many of them there were. Maybe they just wanted to go home to their hive. Did they already miss their people? Tenten didn't know.

"All aboard the Tenten express," Tenten said, dragging Kinokawa-sempai onto her back despite the older kunoichi's groggy protests.

Thanking goodness Gai had given her all those stamina exercises. Thanking goodness she'd lost the prelims- if she'd fought in the finals and had to do this mission, neither her nor Kinokawa-sempai would have made it.

Not thanking goodness for the cloud of bugs that covered her like a carpet- but Tenten was a kunoichi, and she wasn't about to play into all those stereotypes about girls being afraid of bugs. In addition, if Tenten ran into any Sound or Sand nin, she would rather they saw an amorphous carpet of insects using her as their perch, than the girl and the injured kunoichi hidden underneath

…And she Tenten like disloging them would be disrespectful to the Aburame, somehow.

Even if Kinokawa-sempai had said there handt been a way to save them- they'd saved Konohoa, by keeping such a dangerous Soulless on the outskirts of the village for so long. They deserved any respect Tenten could give them. She should… report to someone? No, medical attention to Kinokawa-sempai first.

Tenten started the long walk home.



Because I love to see MamaBear Kinokawa- but what if this version is just a tiny bit different, a tiny bit worse at interacting with people she's just meet, even if they're younger than her?

What if this Kako Kinokawa, so concerned with protecting and hiding Kamaru, is a little more awkward with people? What if she tries to hide- as much as the Nara try to dismiss her as unimportant, to cover up the fact of their neglect- and tries to stay in the village, even as she works on her combat skills.

This Kako Kinokawa might not let herself loose her temper at an opponent enough to show her hand, even if he did insult her mother. (She would still crush him, of course, and crush him thoroughly, but she'd do her best to make that boys defeat all the more humiliating for only using the shinobi three.)

This Kako Kinokawa grew up in a Konoha where the Ino-Shika-Cho, most of the Nara, and many hardworking shinobi- including her mother and Inoichi-s wife- were frozen in a stasis seal at Konoha General during the night of the Kyuubi attack.

This Kako Kinokawa has the support of her landlady, who approves of Kako's practical nature and supports her with discounts and old kunoichi chakra tricks.

The support of Genma's genin team- who unconsciously compare her to Maito Dai in several ways, and support her via training.

And, after Setsumo Akimichi discovered their survival a year or two after the attack (and was none too pleased with the Nara for telling her little Kako was dead based on incomplete info), she supports Kako via telling Kako that she is lonely for female companionship outside the clan, and can't she bring little Kamaru for lunch.

…And… that's it. No political support. The Sandaime took a mild interest, but saw that the girl didn't want herself or her borther near politics with a ten foot pole, and decided it was better to work on young Kamaru when he became a shinobi, and young Kako was less afraid for his well-being. Where the younger brother went, so would she.

Also, I like Tenten being awesome.

(Btw, Kamaru is fine. Asuma-sensei totally saved him from the Sound shinobi.)

And Kako- as she does- once again managed to make a report of her actions without sounding like she did anything too impressive. Though she praises Tenten to the moon and back.

9/17/2016 #2,191
Mac Ceallach
You made me empathize with the Aburame bugs. Well done.
9/17/2016 #2,192
The Real Chys Lattes
And Kako- as she does- once again managed to make a report of her actions without sounding like she did anything too impressive. Though she praises Tenten to the moon and back.

I can envision that the Aburame suddenly like the two of them a lot better. And they have regular bug visitors because 'frieeeendd~ buzzz!'

9/17/2016 #2,193
For extra Aburame feels, consider that when all the mid-range and long-range ninjutsu users failed, the Aburame were all that stood between that Souless and its/her path to Konoha. Considering that it was coming from the land above the Hokage Monument, do you know who it would have gotten to first? The evacuated civilians and children. The dozen or so Aburame clan members, and their hives, held off a Soulless for almost twenty minutes before they were consumed. Kako, who developed several methods of getting useful feedback from even 'breached' barrier seals, went and got the both longest long-range weapon and someone who could use it, asap. But 'the Aburame who held off Orochimarus super-long-range Soulless and SAVED ALL THE CHILDREN' get the major kudos from Konoha, even though it's posthumous. Kako emphasized that she only arranges the pices together, and was only able to have the one to do so because of the Aburame, who also drained the Soulless of much chakra. (Btw, Tobirama had successfully established via Edo Tensei that 'consumed' souls still make it to the ninja afterlife, which even the people horrified by Edo Tensei (most everyone) were kind of relieved to hear.$
9/17/2016 #2,194
This talk about Souless is making think about how I think Hidan's immortality runs on souls. He's like a reverse Edi Tensei. Instead of sacrificing someone to bring someone back, Hidan sacrifices people in order to stay in the land of the living. Now imagine in the Souls!verse Hidan does this by ripping out the soul and leaving behind a Soulless.
9/17/2016 #2,195
Well, Asuma's death just became approximately a billion times more traumatic. And ouch, what if by that point Kamaru already knew he had been born a proto-Soullless? What if by that point Asuma has also realized/been informed and accepted Kamaru anyway? And then Asuma becomes this THING, and there's nothing Kamaru can do to stop it. (Or he knocks Asuma out, and drags him to Kako and pleads desperately for a cure, a miracle. And maybe it works (summons the soul back but leaves Asuma with Kamarus weaknesses and treatment needs), maybe it doesn't, but Kamaru is still going to have to deal with the memory of those minutes when he looked at his sensei and only a monster was staring back.)
9/17/2016 #2,196
for luck

what an awesome Tenten! I love how Tenten is trying so hard, her trying to figure out how to be a shinobi who doesn't kill is so compelling. It was so heartfelt.

And Kako being so bad at social interactions and yet still being very genuine in her compassion towards Tenten. Her comments about how people never think of soulless as people was just heartbreaking. You can tell a world of exhaustion and cautiousness in that statement. Plus the whole situation where she has to kill a soulless and everything.

That moment of humor with her comment about Gemma not wearing blue like Gai wears green was even funnier in this sad messed up situation.

9/17/2016 #2,197
The Aburame Have No IDEA what to do with this new attention. They didn't like being alien and became ignorable to avoid the gross! reactions. Then they resented people ignoring them but it was an acceptable compromise and they understood where they stood. This? Hoped for but terrifying. Flail. Also Lenten practices SO MUCH with her new weapon (rifle?) and when she goes to show Kinokawa-sempai her aim, call-me-Kako (sempai) has developed knockout tag bullets for her as an awkward apology
9/18/2016 #2,198
for luck

awkward apology bullets, how very like Kako and Tenten admiring her just a little less than Tsunade.

And yes, Aburame getting all the attention and admiration and having a terrible and hilarious time dealing with it

9/18/2016 #2,199
The Real Chys Lattes

I can imagine a lot of blushing under high collared trench coats and thick, dark sunglasses.

9/18/2016 #2,200
what if soulless weren't born at all, but created in the husk left behind when one ripped out that which they did not have?

Sounds a lot like the villains in Miss Peregrine's home for Peculiar Children, where some peculiars became hollowgasts, and if a hollowgast devours enough peculiars then they transform into wights.

9/18/2016 #2,201

Honestly, if anything, all this soulless stuff has been making me think of Bleach, and Hollows. Imagine if that's basically what's happening to these guy's souls, but internally, before they're dead. Like, for some reason, they were born without their 'soul chain' properly connecting to their body/chakra system/whatever, but instead of dying, chakra keeps them alive until they become monsters in a human shell.

(I've also, weirdly, had this idea that Shikako would come up with a Soul Seal (maybe with Tobirama's Edo Tensei Notes) that lets her 'grab' a soul from it's body, like Rukia's glove or Ichigo's badge did to shove him into shinigami form, so she could either pull people's soul's out and 'fix' them or pull soulless' hollow forms out to purify/kill them more safely. I dunno, that's probably getting too abstract.)

9/18/2016 #2,202
The Real Chys Lattes

Uzumaki's soul chains are actually the chakra chains- they use them as a weapon and to immobilize enemies!

Edit: Even better- Uzumakis have a way to manufacture soul chains for others. And they can share chakra between people- and have learned to share bits of soul that can regenerate- so Kushina could essentially fix a soulless or a 'hollow' in Narutoverse and Naruto has that potential. So would Karin have had. Uzumakis heal faster, regenerate faster, so can give away part of their souls, and make chains to attach those souls, so they are in high demand because they can learn to fix soulless... but some people wanted soulless as weapons, so destroyed the Uzumakis. (Aside from the canon reasons, of course.)

9/18/2016 . Edited 9/18/2016 #2,203
Ashen Author
Honestly, if anything, all this soulless stuff has been making me think of Bleach, and Hollows. Imagine if that's basically what's happening to these guy's souls, but internally, before they're dead. Like, for some reason, they were born without their 'soul chain' properly connecting to their body/chakra system/whatever, but instead of dying, chakra keeps them alive until they become monsters in a human shell.

It's a much less well-known series, but the Souless really remind me of the Returned from Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson. The magic system is that everyone starts off with one Breath and can give them to each other - Breaths are not quite souls, but there's a little overlap. Returned are people who died and came back to life with one Super Breath wortth 2,000 normal ones, which makes them demigods. But since they were dead, their body devours one breath every week, so every week they need to consume a Breath donated by one follower or else the Super Breath is devoured and they die again. (Eventually the good demi-gods spend the Super Breath to perform a miracle for their followers, which is why they are worshipped in the first place.)

On a different note...

"Yes? Shino-san, wasn't it?"

"Yes. I wished to speak with you, Tenten-san. Why? To thank you for avenging my clanmates' deaths."

"It was-" Tenten breaks off, squirming with discomfort and pride in an odd mixture. She can't say it was nothing; to do so would be to insult all the fallen ninja who hadn't done that same 'nothing'. But while she was proud of what she survived, she should have been so much better. "Compared to their sacrifice, what I did was nothing. I should have been better, and maybe a few of them might have survived."

"You know better than that." Tenten jolted in shock and the man who was probably the Aburame Clan Head stepped out beside his son. "Kinokawa-san's report was clear that they were beyond salvation by the time you two arrived. Furthermore, your bravery was cited as being above and beyond what is expected of genin."

"I was terrified. I bungled the short, I was scared so badly." Tenten confessed, looking at the ground. Aburame Shibi shifted, offering her a wrapped cloth package.

"Bravery is not action without fear, but action in spite of fear. For a young genin with minimal contact experience to enter a Souless's range for the first time, escape, and then willingly re-enter and remain is the epitome of courage."

"I... thank you," Tenten finally accepted with her best attempt at good grace. Wrapped in the cloth was a book and something not quite a jewelry box. "I'm sorry, but what are these?"

"When Kinokawa-san spoke with me to report the circumstances of my clan members' deaths she mentioned that you were interested in learning more about medicine and poisons," Shibi explained. 'And, when we get out of this, I'm going to try to convince Genma-sempai to introduce you to senbon, and his collection of non-lethal poisons,' Tenten remebered her saying. "This is a book outlining the basics of certain biochemical processes and how to compound drugs, poisons, and antidotes in appropriate doses from plant, animal, and insect ingredients. It is copied from our clan archives, so please do not loan it out to others."

"I- you- thank-," Tenten jawed, blushing at the display of respect.

"The box," Shibi continued, "contains a small marker, usually worn somewhere on your uniform, awarded to shinobi who have survived encounters wiuth the Soulless. The stripe of color indicates that you were partly responsible for killing the one you encountered." Tenten flipped it open, and after a moment of admiration something clicked in her memory.

"Holy shit!" the two Aburame raised eyebrows. "S-sorry. I just realized that Kinokawa-san had four of these."

"Five now, and all are colored," Shibi agreed. "She is considered our village's resident expert on the Soulless, and has the greatest encounters-per-time of anyone. In a few more years she may hold the record for most encounter and kills, period."

I'm also envisioning a scene where Tenten goes on a month-long mission with Shikamaru (and others), and up plopping down next to him to talk/conserve body heat/ something while discussing his sister (Shikamaru likes that she is one of the few people to recognize how awesome his Nee-chan is) and she gets a little trickle of cold, nibbling pull that raises her suspicions but decides that even if she's right she'll trust Kinokawa-senpai and not care about what she's guessed.

But I can't quite get it worked out yet, so... meh

9/19/2016 #2,204

Oooh. Ooh. Love this.

Especially the idea of the badges. Imagine when Shikamaru learns what he is, and that his sister is Konoha's resident Soulless Executioner. Whoof. That's going to be so tangled up, because she obviously know what he is, has kept him from becoming like them, but on the other hand, if one of them slips, and he goes down... she'll be the one to end him (if he hasn't already take her down with him.)

9/19/2016 #2,205
Love this! ...Also cannot get over the fact tha t everyone Kamaru ever met in his life is technically entitled to a medal of EACH TIME they 'encountered' him. Thats glorious.
9/19/2016 #2,206

@dona: Kamaru technically still has got his soul. After all: 'The soul that is closest when the pull starts within a markless child s the chld's own.'

And while Kamaru still doesn't have got a mark on his body, he's still got a soul inside, and that's what's important.

9/19/2016 #2,207

True! I expect that's a point Kako will try to pound home a LOT. I do think Kamaru has the benefit in knowing himself- he know he doesn't want to go on a crazy soul-stealing spree. But I wonder if he might start to look at certain things about himself differently, even if it's not warranted.

For example, Shikamaru is both extraordinarily lazy and 'someone it takes a lot to get to.' When something does get to him, he doesn't let go. But after the protocol-Soulless revelation, will he see himself as someone with a naturally long fuse?

Or will he just see how his classmates CARE about things so loudly and obviously, things that he thinks are so trivial. How a glance from Sasuke-kun can send Inos day soaring, how exasperated Iruka sensei gets, how exuberant and willing to fight and play and forgive Naruto and Kiba are, how easily Hinata is crippled by her anxieties. How easily Choiji is hurt by the regard (or lack therof) of total strangers who don't seem like kids much worth getting to know anyway. Shikamarus reaction to an annoyance is to avoid it, but he rarely gets very emotionally invested in schoolyard drama.

The thing is, people are like this. It's a perfectly valid way to feel and there's nothing wrong with it.

But I imagine Kamaru looking back on himself with this new knowledge, and thinking about all the times he felt so above all the classroom drama and so mature for not being dependent on a crush's glance to make or ruin his whole day... and feeling sick, and broken.

Because Soulless don't FEEL things the way other people do- don't have Souls to feel anything with- and Kamaru isn't Soulless, but... maybe he doesn't feel things the way other people do, either. He knows he loves Kako, and his team, and his sensei; he knows he cares about his village. But there's a secret terror that he just isn't capable of FEELING as much as they do.

If he'd had parents die in the Kyuubi attack and leave him alone with a baby sibling, an infant sister -an infant sister who's markless state his parents had whispered over- would a six-year-old Kamaru have fed her part of his soul, not knowing it would save her? Not knowing saving her was possible?

If he'd know the baby would -or even might- grow into Kako, then yes, of course. (But... urgh, his brain gets all tangled up inside as he tries to think about it- comparing his own emotions to others is HARD. Especially when Kamaru has only ever known his own. Maybe he'll ask Ino if she's noticed anything odd about himself. Though he's not sure he wants the answer.)

9/19/2016 . Edited 9/19/2016 #2,208

Brilliant dona, brilliant. Comparing your own mind to that of others is one of the most frustratingly useless activities I've had to deal with in my relatively short life.

9/19/2016 #2,209
"Compared to their sacrifice, what I did was nothing. I should have been better, and maybe a few of them might have survived."

Very well said.

I loved this whole sequence with Tenten and Aburame. One can really feel with her and for her.

9/21/2016 #2,210

Okay, so time travel was coming up on the recursive, and I definitely have Thoughts about this in various Soulmarks verses. So:


-So, that one where you can't be far apart from your soulmate once you meet them? I imagine the 'time' dimension of space-time counts as well. So, Shikako accidentally time travels to the past, and now she's stuck, because she can't leave her soulmate, and said soulmate (Madara?) is too important to history for him to come with her. Or, Tobirama accidentally sends himself forward in a sealing accident. He HAS to go back, or the time stream start breaking down/alter!Konoha won't get built/whatever. No body's happy about it, but the Village's needs trump those of one genin/special jounin; she has to go back with him when he goes back to his own time.

-Shikako traveling back in time a la the things I laid out here. Except in this universe, she's Madara's soulmate. (That's an awkward mission debrief for Izuna, "Um, hey, fought this girl in the forest, knocked her out and brought her back here, it turns out she's your soulmate. Eheheh." Madara's not actually mad, because he loves his brother, and no one actually got hurt and he doesn't know her yet, and he's glad to get an opportunity to meet his soulmate-from-another-clan, but there's still an awkward 'what-if' of tension.) Because Uchiha are possessive bastards, Madara decides the obvious thing to do is to put her up in some nice rooms like a guest, but with her chakra blocked until they talk/she agrees to stay. Shikako wakes up alone in an enemy fortress with no chakra. Too bad for them.

(Madara's annoyed, but mostly impressed that she managed to escape and cause tons of explosive damage (without permanently hurting his kin!) even without her chakra. The rest of the clan is kicking themselves. Because really. She's Madara's soulmate. What the hell were they expecting?)

-Alternate to the above where she's Tobirama's soulmate, and they decide to hold her as a hostage. This time, they're all angry, and the Senju are the ones who get to be impressed.

Matching Scars:

-The one where the kunoichi group goes back in time, and wow, is sure is great to have Shikako, Ino, and Sakura around to bring Mikako and Tobirama out of Tsukuyomi and to help with the aftermath. The problems and angst just solves itself! (Shikako is disgusted, that Izuna doesn't know the ins and outs of his own technique. She unseals her own medical records, some Uchiha clan records, and Sakura's own thesis paper on the effects of sharingan genjutsus and the medical techniques to fix them, and throws them at him. "Here. Educate yourself.")

-The one where Shikako goes back in time, and everyone realizes she must be Mikako reincarnated (so close, but no cigar) because her soul is likewise attacked to Tobirama, and they share injuries. Everyone is vaguely unnerved that her scars match both of theirs, even having been displaced by time. (Stabbed through the heart? Check. Tsukuyomi brain scars? Check. Almost lost her hand? Check.) A lot of uncomfortable implications about time, reincarnation, and the cycles ensue. I imagine Shikako trying to use Shadow state, and therefore no longer having a heart or organs or anything goes very badly for her new soulbonds. Alternatively, if her wounds only attach to Tobirama, not also Mikako, because of soul shenanigans, MAdara and Izuna are Very Smug about Tobirama having to suffer absurd mystery injuries for once. Either way, Shikako is very annoyed that she actually has to take care of herself for once.

-The one that may not be in Matching Scars proper, but somehow has blessings or reincarnation marks, where Shikako and/or Team Seven switch out in time with their counterparts. Whatever siblings remain on either side are like. Fix This. (It has to be fixed on the side that has Shikako and Tobirama. They're the only seal masters. Meanwhile, everyone else flails.)

-One that's definitely not in Matching Scars proper, but had the same family bonds, where Mikako dies young. Then, suddenly, this girl with their sister's mark/name/whatever shows up in Madara and Izuna's lives, claiming to be from the future. They mentally commiserate with Shikamaru, because they just want their baby sister to live this time, which means they're constantly like, "NO. Staaaaahp. That's dangerous! Come back here and let us wrap you in bubble wrap. How did you even manage to blow that up? What even is your luck?"

9/21/2016 #2,211
Timetravel with those 'previous incarnation' names written on your skin would also be ...interesting. (Actually, what if Shikako's work backwards? Like, Shikako is a blank, Mikako has Shikako's name, there's records of some mystery kunoichi two generations back with Mikako Uchiha and Shikako Nara as names... I imagine people would have weird rumors about the Mystery Kunoichi reincarnating backwards in time.)
9/21/2016 #2,212
With associated anxiety re: 'what happens when the timer reaches zero?' issues. Even free of the Timetravel, this might impact Shikakos own life. For example, I imagine Orochimaru might be Curious. The big question is why she still ended up named Shikako- maybe she cycled through different clans and no one ever mentioned it to the Nara exactly WHAT the last Nara name was. (Maybe it was some elder Naras eccentric side project, and no one mentioned to Shikaku WHY he should not name his child Shikako- it was just generally accepted that Nara should not name a clan heir Shikako. Bad luck or temping fate or just not done? But Shikaku was maybe feeling a bit like, "hey, defied the clan already to marry Yoshino and HAVE these kids and look, she's not the heir, so bad luck avoided." (The Nara elders agree that he brought this on himself, and in fanct were generally skeptical that this Shikako Nara- who turned out to be a blank- would in fact fail to be a ninja. In their opinion, Shikaku Nara had clearly cursed his poor daughter to a Weird and Troublesome fate.)
9/21/2016 #2,213

Wait, Dona, expand on that. I'm confused. This feels like it could be calling back to a number of things we've talked about on here.

9/21/2016 #2,214

Oops! That was me referring to what happens in reincarnation marks verse, where you have all the marks of all the ancestors or other dead people who you previously were marked on your skin, the clans tend to note and record the marks a child has and keep good historical records.

the clans in the Early Warring Clans era happen to notice that there is this one kid with a LOT of names from different clans.

So they note it down, wrote the names to look up when the can get ahold of some other clans records. A few generations later, they notice that this kid isn't gaining names as she's reincarnated- she's losing names that were apparent in the really old records.

'Timer down to zero' refers to the clans concern over that situation.

More on that situation: For example, maybe ten or so generations before DOS there was a Kako Hyuuga with three names on her skin. And, fifty years after that, maybe Akako Uzumaki was born who had only Mikako Uchiha and Shikako Nara as names on her skin, denoting her past lives. Then Mikako Uchiha just has Shikako Nara left as a name.

Smart clans who think the records are REally Important (and actually bother to trade for info with other clans occasionally) are wondering what the heck is up with this Shikako Nara kid, because they keep religious track of the 'list' of a reincarnating soul, and those reincarnating souls only ever GAIN names. And this weird soul seems to be either reincarnating backwards in time or gradually losing important pieces of her soul; the clans are CONCERNED.

9/21/2016 . Edited 9/21/2016 #2,215
@dona -- Whoa, Benjamin Button-style reincarnation, with lives instead of age? That's...mind-twisting really------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- All these time-travel plus soul marks ideas are so yummy!
9/21/2016 #2,216

Oh man. In that world, knowing that "Shikako Nara" is the 'last' soul in that chain, means Shikaku really did (to his mind) doom his daughter; this is her last reincarnation. No wonder Shikamaru's so paranoid. If he loses his sister, Game Over, because there's no chance they'll meet up again in their next lives.

9/21/2016 #2,217

Now I kind of like the idea that everyone else has just been assuming "oh no, the poor doomed child," is clearly losing bits of herself.

Whereas smol!Shikako, when she finds out THE HORRIBLE TRUTH, only sees the pages detailing how her makes seem to count down, not the pages and pages of horrible theories concerning what that MEANS. So she just kid of curiously asks 'whether anyone else reincarnates into the past rather than the future," like the fact of her disappearing soulmarks is no more unusual than being born left-handed.

*crickets chirp*

"Sorry dearheart?" Her dad asks, in a kind of strangled voice. This interpretation had honestly never occurred to him.

Or any of the other commentators. (Maybe it occurred to the Uzumaki, but they had long since forbidden from writing about any time-travel theories whatsoever.)

"I mean, is reincarnating backwards in time instead of forwards really odd, or is there records of someone else doing it, or is it common to kind of jump around in the timeline between incarnations, or what?"

*some more staring*

9/21/2016 . Edited 9/21/2016 #2,218

Now you have me thinking that as she gets older and starts making friends with the Rookie Nine, each clan starts to realize that if she was incarnating backwards that means at one point she was the sister of their great-great-however many greats-grandfather/grandmother.

Edit: and that means maybe her incarnations were based on the friends she made as a new soul.

9/21/2016 . Edited 9/21/2016 #2,219

Okay, but imagine that they're not living in a stable time loop. So when they start jokingly making requests like Sasuke saying, "Well, if you're really going to be my great-great Aunt, I'd appreciate it if you can convince the elders that tomatoes should be used in our clan's traditional eel dish." And he goes home for a family dinner that night and no one else in his family understands why he's exclaiming over the tomatoes in their dinner.

This power gets less useful the further back Shikako's reincarnation was, since she begins to forget, but they definitely use this power responsibly for Shikako's first few 'previous' reincarnations.

9/21/2016 #2,220
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