Snap Back to Reality 13
There was something to be said about keeping calm in strenuous situations. Travelling with a group of experienced Jounin could count as a part of that. Everyone sent me odd looks when I joined the group alongside Gaku-sensei. Orochimaru's gaze lingered on me momentarily before he began stating orders like it was any other day. He looked irritated. Either it was irritation or something else because he was moving about a lot more than when we first met, and his chakra was fluctuating oddly. It set me on edge, and the questioning eyes on me didn't help it either.
"Sensei this doesn't add up," I whispered as I ran next to the man.
He nodded agreeing with my assessment. Everyone else in the group of 12 we were travelling with were at least low to medium Jounin level. The fact that I was stationed with this group was neither safe for me nor them. I'd get in the way of the battles that would ensue with a group as strong as this. Why send me with them unless they wanted me dead?
Sensei looked stressed… beyond stressed actually. There was anger and fear and some other emotion bubbling behind that barely hidden expression. I was scared, I realised. This felt more like I was running to my execution than to war. I shut my eyes tightly to stave off the emotion welling inside of me. This was what thousands of people in my old world felt, rushing off to war with barely any training. A world with guns meant thousands died with no real way to win other than sheer luck.
My previous battles held a modicum of safety in that I had training, and I had comrades and especially because we were at home base. The Iwa-nins I couldn't say the same for. Some of them were barely teens and they had been asked to rush into enemy camp to wear down our forces. Not to win. To deal a blow that would ultimately end in their deaths. That's why they sent a high level Jounin after wearing us down. The war was looking to be one of attrition, and it seemed I was an expendable piece. Either that or I was being tested.
I took in another deep breath and focused on keeping pace with all these Jounin. They were fast. I was using more chakra than I normally would feel comfortable using. I couldn't distract myself with thoughts that wouldn't change my situation. I needed to focus on the present. Kakashi was no doubt running battles in the front lines with Minato already, no matter how illogical it was to send a brat barely a decade old into battle, let alone the front lines. I couldn't expect to be coddled just because my sensei wasn't the Yellow Flash. My gaze turned to the front of the group where Orochimaru was leading, decked out in Jounin gear rather than the one I had been used to seeing in the manga. He was perfectly professional earlier, none of the crazy snake like shenanigans I expected. Maybe he was keeping it up in wraps so as to keep suspicion off his more illegal activities.
I shook my head as I nearly stumbled on a branch. We were going too fast for me to lose concentration. It also didn't help that the journey itself on foot would be about 3 weeks. A ridiculous amount of time, but we were making our way into Kumo and blitzing the enemy for 5 months straight seemed ridiculous. There must have been a separate reason for us to be there, something more to the mission than what we were told of. I knew I wouldn't have an idea what exactly until we got into the thick of things.
Our 3-week journey had me acquainted with the whole team of 12 ninja. I was met with a level of apprehension and concern, but no one was openly hostile to me, just to my situation it seemed. No one was happy about me being in the team and I could only whole heartedly agree to that. However I was here so there was nothing we could do about it.
Unsurprisingly everyone was quiet. These were all serious Jounin who'd seen their fair share of war. They were silent and fast, their footsteps barely making any sound. Their pace had been impossible to keep up with after 2 weeks. I was exhausted and had to give up my pride and ride on Yama the rest of the way. Of course a dog had more stamina than me. It put a damper on my spirit for the rest of the trip, but no one faulted me. The fact that I had managed to run at a Jounin pace for 2 weeks was apparently pretty good for a Genin. I had prided myself on being a stamina demon, but it was silly of me to think I could keep up with a Jounin.
After the second week of travel we had exited Fire countries borders. Our pace slowed down and all sensors in the group were told to keep eyes and ears out for enemy ninjas. The three Hyuuga in the group took point, switching places to activate their doujutsu. There was an Aburame woman who sent her wasps out at night for patrol. Sensei and I were set up near the front due to our enhanced smelling and hearing abilities, although it was mostly sensei who was useful. I was just wondering why the heck I was even here.
It was on the third week exactly that we stopped our travelling and rested for a day. I sat by sensei as we munched on our ration bars for the day. I was dead tired. Travelling non-stop took a lot out of a person. A day's rest seemed too good. Normally this was when the Jounin talked idly, in silent hushed voices within our privacy seals. I did not expect Orochimaru to come sit by me.
"How odd, a Genin such as yourself among the Jounin. One would think a force was at play on this decision."
I narrowed my eyes. What was he getting at, and why now after weeks of ignoring me?
"Do you know who it is?" I asked.
He just tilted his head down, as if that were an answer on its own. Sensei's attention was caught at our conversation.
"Orochimaru-sama, you were Hokage-sama's student. What do you think brought about this decision?"
"It wasn't Sarutobi-sama," I cut in.
"And what makes you say that?" Orochimaru said, a hint of danger entering his voice.
I looked away, the skin on my neck prickling. If it weren't for the anger, I felt at the decision that had been made regarding my life, I would have chosen to remain silent, taken the passive way out of this situation. As it sat now, I was screwed. Danzo was no doubt at play here. The man made no sense from what I remembered. The story touted him as some kind of extreme Konoha nationalist, but all he did was order the murder of a Clan, which he helped escalate the tensions of so he could steal a bunch of eyes and implant into his Senju hand. Orochimaru, at least, I could pin down the motives of. He was a man who craved knowledge, who would go to any extremes and lengths to achieve said goal. The first step to that goal was immortality. Danzo however… he seemed like a liar of the worst kind—the kind that lied to himself. He went on and on about putting the village first, but his actions spoke of a power-hungry war monger, not someone who genuinely wanted the village to prosper.
"Hokage-sama would not have any reason to send me here for 5 months. So far Konoha isn't in as dire straits as Iwa. We have a steady supply of capable Jounin, and he strikes me as the kind of man who cares about children. The only other people with the power he has to assign important team missions is one of his 3 councilmen. I don't know the motive, but that is what I assume is happening right now."
"Careful Hina-chan, your accusations are dangerous despite your deductions being quite astute," Orochimaru replied with an unnerving grin.
Ah, that cleared things up for me. He didn't have a hand in me being assigned into the team. If his body language and his strained smile were anything to go by, he didn't intend to have me on this team, or even to be on such a long mission. Was someone keeping him away from the Village on purpose? For what reason? Was he already starting his experiments? I paused at that last question. If I knew he was torturing and experimenting on Konoha citizens, wasn't it my duty to report it? Not simply because I was a Shinobi of Konoha, but because these were real living people, I was going to let get tortured and killed. I felt queasy at the thought.
"If I may Orochimaru-sama? How do you know of my student?" Gaku-sensei asked, his tone a little harsher.
"Hina-chan didn't tell you?" he asked, his voice basically purring at the realisation.
"It was at the week break we had," I piped in, before the Sannin could take control of the route the conversation was going to go. "I had bumped into Jiriya-sama at a hot-spring and he gave me a Fuinjutsu sealing scroll to decode. I was out at the training ground with my notes when Orochimaru-sama gave me some good pointers."
Sensei gave me a look that said 'we're going to talk about this later', and I cleared my throat nervously. Orochimaru chuckled, his soft laughter sounding unnatural even to my ears. His voice and demeanour were silky, like a well coiled snake playing to a piper. His chakra was intense, like a searing poison inside of him, fluctuating softly and then wildly with a sharp intensity to it. He wasn't particularly stronger than the average Jounin physically, in fact Gaku-sensei was probably physically stronger than him, but he was certainly more dangerous. His aura was enough to tell.
"How far did you go with Fuinjutsu?" Orochimaru asked curiously, yellow eyes gleaming in interest.
"I didn't—I uh—sensei and I were focusing on honing my Taijutsu and Ninjutsu first. I would love to learn Fuinjutsu but there's hardly any time to," I said quickly.
"There's always time to learn. Well then, it seems like it's my shift."
And then he left without another word and I felt my shoulders relax. It wasn't until Orochimaru was out of earshot that sensei finally said, "He creeps me out." I nodded in assent and Yama let out a low whine in return. One thing was for certain, however; any conversation with Orochimaru the Snake Sannin, was an interesting one.
The plan was simple. We would scout out the enemy border post and then set about making a plan of attack. If we could capture a Kumo-nin then it was even better. A weak one, Orochimaru said, preferably. It was easier to break the will of those who were younger, weaker, and susceptible to fear of death. He said it while sending me a rather lingering glance and I felt like puking from nerves. Apparently, the border post we were targeting was one a previous team had not been able to infiltrate. There were apparently 3 high Jounin level ninja there.
Sensei and I took lead. I was clinging to his back like a koala much to my displeasure. His feet were silent as they touched the rocky Kumo soil. He moved much like an animal, with an animal's grace to follow. I was paying half a mind to his impeccable footing as I was to the scents, sounds and appearances of traps around the area. My ears twitched and I tapped sensei's shoulder twice, a signal we used for identifying Fuinjutsu traps. Sensei threw a silencing tag on the ground in front of him before expertly dismantling the traps in the vicinity. We were to report back as soon as this task was complete.
Our attention turned to the left. Low Chunin, male, about mid-teens. I got all that with just the sounds of his feet, and the beat of his heart. Sensei pointed three fingers in the teen's direction, and I jumped off his shoulders and onto a tree.
Thump thump thump
The sound of a heartbeat. In three I was above my unsuspecting prey. Don't think just do. I jumped down using chakra slide to propel me in his direction. Gravity aided my mounting speed. I jumped on his shoulders.
Circle Step Form 1: Aerial Style Disarming Whirlwind!
My legs wrapped around his neck and I propelled my body in tandem with the momentum of my fall. There was a soft snap. A perfect kill. I hastily jumped off his shoulders, breaking my fall as lightly as I could. It was still noisy in comparison to any Jounin. I caught the teen before he fell. He had a youthful face. Couldn't be older than 15. I took in a sharp breath. This was war, it was me or him. Shouldn't I feel at least mildly guilty though?
This was war. In war you killed silently, you killed dirty, and most of all you didn't let your comrades down. Murdering a child aside, I had things to do. I picked up his body, using chakra to support his weight, before I took to the trees. Only once I was a safe distance away did I drop his body into the bushes. We didn't need to alert the camp just yet. I made my way to sensei and silently dropped onto his back. He gave me a thumbs up and we leapt away. Not a single word spoken between the two of us.
I dropped down next to sensei and he began his briefing on the enemy shinobi defence, smoothly and succinctly. I had my eyes fixed on Orochimaru, but my ears were focused on sensei. It was kind of awe inspiring just how professional these people were, how quickly and effectively they reported.
"There was one Kumo-nin we had to dispose of."
"Where's his body?" Orochimaru asked, smiling a cruel smile.
"I left him under brush not too far from here," I spoke up.
"Take me to him."
I sent sensei a look, but he didn't move, he just nodded at me. Orochimaru was already walking ahead and I scrambled behind him. Oh kami, he wanted me to show him the way! I was going to be alone with this scary man again! I awkwardly led the way, trying not to show my visible discomfort as we made our way to the teen's body. I dropped by the brush I had left him under and Orochimaru pulled out his body.
"Ah… can I ask what exactly you plan to do with the body?" I asked curiously.
I watched in morbid fascination as he pulled out a snake from his wrist which bit the boy on his neck. I could see the vein's around the boy's neck bulge a purple before it disappeared into his blood stream. Then Orochimaru went through a few hand seals and a chakra scalpel appeared in his hands. He began cutting into the boy's neck to the top back of his head. It was one thing to kill an opponent in battle, it was another to see someone cutting up said opponent later for who knows what. I reasoned that the kid was dead. There was nothing more to it. If Orochimaru was going to desecrate a dead body, I wasn't going to get in his way.
He pulled the skull off expertly, revealing the brain inside. A rather small snake slithered out of his mouth, down his arm and into the opening. My disgust turned into curiosity. What exactly was the snake doing?
"Are you going to control him via his frontal cortex?" I asked hypothesising. As far as I knew Orochimaru didn't hate my questions. He seemed to encourage them in fact. For it he sent me a pleased smile.
"Yes and more. The snake that bit him has a poison that reacts with air and turns into acid."
"He doesn't have any oxygen in his blood, until it spills out," I said in confusion. Well considering how long he'd been dead anyway…
Orochimaru tilted his head at that, his eyes appraising me further. I tried not to shiver under the intense gaze but eventually looked away flustered. He just grinned, that creepy no good grin. I wish I had kept my mouth shut, but this man was just a pool of information. I could weasel more out of him, but I had to play it safe.
"Yes, it will oxidise when it comes in contact with air. Until then my summon will be controlling him from the inside."
I watched in shock as the boy stood up, his arms sagging to his sides like a rag doll, his eyes unfocused despite looking around. Like a marionet he sagged forward before standing up straight. I watched on in amazement. Moral issues aside, that was one useful technique. Orochimaru essentially had a method to create an army of zombies before edo tensai. I couldn't help but look at the man in awe. He may be a sick creep, but he was incredibly smart.
"You must have a plan involving him then?" I ask, unable to keep out the growing excitement in my voice.
He grins back. "A Shinobi refrains from initiating combat if he can. You will do well to learn this lesson. We will be taking this camp without raising a finger."
Orochimaru was terrifying indeed.
The plan was so insane that it could work. Orochimaru was pragmatic if nothing, but a part of him was also stupidly flamboyant… which was oddly respectable. He wanted everyone to know it was him, to know they were doomed to die, and simultaneously it was beneath him to get involved in a fight. It was kind of refreshing in a way, to see someone so eager to go about attacking people in a manner that didn't end up in direct fighting. I'd assumed as Shinobi I'd be constantly thrown into battle again and again, that winning consisted of the strength we forged through combat. Orochimaru was no weakling in combat, but he valued the arts a Shinobi held in high regard. Trickery. Subterfuge. Fear. Assassination.
"Don't be nervous. We have a Sannin on our team," Gaku-sensei said, punching my shoulder gently.
"He is very smart," I agreed.
It seemed that Gaku-sensei had developed a deep respect for Orochimaru despite being creeped out by the man. I had to hand it to the Sannin, he managed to convince everyone that he was a true Shinobi of Konoha. He had a slimy kind of charisma to him, and his strength alone inspired others. If I weren't suspicious without good cause of his lack of humanity, I too would have been swept away by his presence. As it stood, he was a good ally when given a cause to help.
A giant crash took in the distance and sounds of alarms rose through the border post. I caught a glimpse of an enormous snake head. Ah, that was our distraction and sign to continue. I prepped myself internally. We needed to be stealthy for this to work.
We signed 'ready' before we ran silently into the woods. I clung to sensei's back, focusing all my efforts into suppressing my chakra. I felt more like a dead weight than any actual help which was frustrating on its own. We continued in towards the back of the camp. There were two Hyuuga with us and one brunette Kunoichi not from any clan named Suki. She was decked out in poisons though and had a giddy disposition about her. There were a lot of Shinobi I'd never met or read about from the manga. Some of them were amazing in their own right. She was one of them. Amazing in a terrifying kind of way.
It was when we reached the water supply that we began our plan. I disarmed some traps with sensei while the Hyuuga kunoichi used an earth style jutsu to dig a straight hole into the dirt. The brunette poisons specialist chuckled evilly as she threw in a clear concoction into the hole. I was once again reminded how stupidly effective things outside of direct combat was. Forget blowing up the whole place, there was no need to when we had effectively destroyed a vital source of resource required to even hold up a border post this big.
The deed was done. It had been so simple. Suki had laughed rather evilly about having a concoction from a Konoha native centipede which she turned rather potent. Kumo wouldn't have an antidote ready for it in time to help any of the victims. I almost felt bad for them. It was one thing to die fighting in battle. It was another thing to die caught unawares as your organs shut down slowly and indefinitely. Only those with an immunity to poisons would survive and by then the numbers in their camp would be low enough for a squad of just 5 to go in and annihilate the survivors.
Orochimaru was ruthless.
We made our way out of the border posts radius, and then rendezvoused with the rest of the team before travelling silently for a day. We were playing the long game with this border post, so we had to wait another 2 days before going back. I wasn't riding on Yama's back because there was a man strapped to his back knocked out cold. Well… man wasn't the word actually, more like boy. The kid looked to be about 16, so a teen. By this world's war time standards he may as well have been a fully grown adult, but it was hard for me to feel that way about him.
It wasn't until we stopped at our designated camp site, that Orochimaru gestured for me again. I sent sensei an odd look. He was tense but he nudged me to go with the Sannin. He didn't know Orochimaru was going to be a traitor, so I didn't fault him for his faith in our team leader. I reluctantly followed after Orochimaru and Suki. We were a good distance away when we stopped.
"Set the silencing seals around the perimeter Hina-chan," Orochimaru order.
I nodded and jumped quickly to set a meter-wide perimeter. Then I dropped next to Suki who was standing back casually, an unusually unnerving grin on her face. She stepped forward to help tie up the teen with rope, so he was hanging limp from the tree. Then almost out of nowhere she punched his face. I took a step back in mild shock, completely taken aback by the random outburst of violence. Orochimaru didn't even flinch, just looked completely bored. Why was I here again? The teen groaned awake, blue eyes fluttering dazed in confusion and fear. His eyes landed on Orochimaru and he paled. No doubt seeing an enemy Sannin would make anyone shit their pants.
"What's your designation?"
"I-I won't say—"
Suki grabbed his hand and cut of his thumb. I winced, head snapping back. The teen would never be able to hold a kunai again. The boy cried out in pain, his breathing going quickly ragged.
"Of goes another finger~"
Yuki grinned and pulled away. I frowned. What was the point of that question? You could tell from his chakra levels and his vest. Why ask?
"Ok then cutie, can you tell us about the information routes your Kumo friends take?" Yuki asked sweetly.
The poor boy's eyes widened, his lips pursed, and he shook his head despite the tears threatening to come out. Kami, he was just a kid. An enemy shinobi. I schooled my face. There was no way this was what turned me off being a Shinobi. I'd killed 7 people and now I was growing a heart? Maybe it was because a teen was being tortured, someone who's barely even an adult. I pursed my lips, my eyes turning to his bleeding hand. Yuki was taking her sweet time pulling at his other finger and she cut it off too. The boy screamed again, this time muffling his voice by keeping his teeth gritted together. A look of defiance crossed his eyes and Yuki only laughed.
"Look cutie, I could spend some time cutting off each little finger of yours, but that's clearly not going to break you. I have just the poison on me for this task. It's quite painful. Takes several minutes to kill its poor unfortunate victim. First the toxin enters your bloodstream and it expands your blood vessels until it reaches to your brain and heart. Then every single little part of you starts popping from the inside. Wanna try it out?"
Yuki just took the struggling boy's face in her hand and jabbed the needle into his neck. The teen let out a scream of pain and I watched on unable to do anything. This was… this was so wrong. This went beyond water boarding or chopping off fingers. This just seemed unnecessarily cruel. I didn't move an inch despite my startled thoughts. Was this normal in this world? Did one normally do something this vile to their captured enemies? Wasn't there some sort of Geneva code here or something against war crimes?
I felt sick… not because the boy in front of me was gasping in pain, but because I, despite knowing it was wrong, did not have the conviction to stop it. This was the enemy-shinobi. I had no reason to help him. If this were how my more experienced teammates were going to get their information from him, how could I say no? This wasn't some game.
I had the fortunate experience of living a rather sheltered life previously. Growing up in Australia, in the safety of a first world country, away from the war and slavery still rampant around the less privileged countries, I hardly thought about things like this. Why was it my issue if some poor kid in Africa was practically doing slave labour to create my smart phones, why was it my issue if there were people dying from wars caused by my country for oil reserves and money? It didn't affect me, so it wasn't my problem.
I was cruel.
I was cruel because I didn't care, I turned a blind eye because it was too troublesome to worry about things I couldn't change. The boy in front of me was screaming out information now, his mouth frothing at the sides. I could see he veins bulging out of his body.
"P-please! I told you everything I know! Please give me the antidote!"
"I don't have any," Suki said blankly.
"You heard me cutie. I like poisoning people, not healing them. You're just going to have to weather it out," she said patting his cheeks.
Orochimaru didn't say a word, his expression completely apathetic. He'd gotten what he wanted so he was leaving. Suki turned to leave to, and I looked at the boy. His body trembling from the pain as he vomited out some blood. He was going to die in about an hour or so. I grimaced. This was unnecessary. What was the point of leaving him here, silencing seal or not?
"Are you coming or not kid?"
I sent the woman an unimpressed look before pulling out a kunai. I walked up to the boy and put a hand on his chest.
"P-please," he begged, blue eyes begging for mercy.
"I'll make it quick."
He looked scared, but for a moment, a flicker of relief shone through and he shut his eyes tightly. I aimed my kunai at his skull, the part of it that should I stab through would mean instant death. With a well-aimed chakra enhanced stab, his body went limp and I pulled out the knife. I let out a breath and turned to see Suki grumbling. Orochimaru looked neither angry nor glad, just as indifferent as ever.
"Ugh, kid you're too soft."
"And you're being petty," I huffed at the lady.
"They're Kumo-nin, they ain't even worth shit!"
With that she stormed off. I let out an exasperated huff. What was that little tantrum? To my surprise Orochimaru snorted in amusement.
"Her hatred for the enemy is rather blinding."
"It was cruel," I said frowning. "It's one thing to torture for information, it's something else to let someone suffer for no reason at all."
"There was a reason," Orochimaru stated amiably.
"There was?" I asked in surprise.
"Well she hated him."
I blinked. What? Apparently, that was enough reason to go about torturing someone for no good reason to Orochimaru. I couldn't help the scowl that took my face. The strong survived in this world, but there was no reason for the strong to needlessly torment the weak and unfortunate. Take what you need and leave. Why cause unnecessary pain unless you were some kind of unhinged sadist?
"You don't agree with her actions?" Orochimaru asked. "How quaint."
"I'm not going to stop her. It's not my place to do so, but I don't have to stand back and watch people suffer without cause," I replied evenly.
Orochimaru sent me a look, but it was hard to read what he was thinking when his face was constantly pulled into that condescending smile of his.
"I thought this would be a good learning experience. It seems it was," he stated.
Oh… so that's why he had called me to go with him. That was really sick of him. To him I was actually a 6-year-old. If I really were this would have been a rather traumatising event. What was his goal? To scar me for life because it amused him… or for something else? He was constantly sending me that appraising look, as if he were judging my worth. I wanted him to find me lacking. I already had Gaku-sensei; I didn't need the Snake Sannin's help to become strong. Even if he did come at me with some promise to get stronger, I wouldn't take it.
I was very glad to be back by Sensei's side. Yama and Sensei were like an ever-present rock to lean on, emotionally and physically. I gave Yama some well-deserved neck scratches before shaking my head at sensei, a scowl still on my face. That whole event, which started off reasonable enough, had ended quite horribly—enough to leave a permanent bad taste in my mouth.
"Do you want to tell me what happened?" Sensei asked softly.
"That wasn't a proper interrogation, that was for pure pleasure," I grunted, finding myself a little put off. "I just find it distasteful…"
I was trying to keep my tone even. I didn't know Sensei's thoughts on things like what constituted a proper torture and interrogation. Not that I found torture itself distasteful. It was necessary for the larger scheme of things.
"He took you to witness an interrogation?"
Sensei's voice hitched slightly despite his face remaining stony. I sent him a look. Really, what did he expect when only three people left with a captured enemy nin? Of course it was because we were going to question him.
"I thought he took you to guard the perimeter," Sensei hissed under his breath, and then a following 'stupid' was said more to admonish himself. He turned to me, now unable to hide the worry in his expression. "Hina—do you want to talk? There wasn't any reason—"
"Sensei, you need to stop babying me. I'm fine," I huffed, crossing my arms. "I've killed people before. What's a little torture?"
Sensei looked alarmed at that. I winced. Had I said something wrong? I was trying to be professional about all of this, so I didn't have to be treated like a kid, which I was not. I was a 35-year-old woman who wasn't the most saintly of people. I didn't need to be coddled like a child. I had this under control. If I could be sent to war, then it should be assumed I could handle the shit that came with the job. Thankfully before Sensei could say anything the team was called to attention.
"Listen up everyone," an Uchiha ordered. "Orochimaru-sama, has issued out our next task. We are to attack the border post in two days. Do not pursue or attack those who retreat."
We all chorused our 'hais' before I pondered on what exactly all this meant. It made sense to wait for the poison to kick in. In 2 days the symptoms would be showing properly, then we'd have the advantage over the enemy. Why would we be specifically told not to pursue those retreating? Maybe it was because they were destined to die anyway. I had no clue what Orochimaru was planning, but I had faith in his scary ability to outthink his opponents.
And that was my first experience in the front lines.
I always thought that ninja should be a little bit sneakier with their war strategies than simply blitzing the enemy, although hit and run tactics are good in the long run too. Honestly, at this stage all sides of the war are having a really 'fun' time getting destroyed XD The only reason I think Canon Konoha even stood a chance in this war, was because they churn out really good, top-tier shinobi like the Sannin, Kakashi, and of course the Yellow Flash.
Hi Exclamation Point- Oh my lord, I'm not giving anything away about Gaku, but all I can say is that whether he dies or not, tears will still be shed… although not anytime soon.
ita123- Thanks for the encouraging reviews!
Immortal Potatoe- Thanks! Here's another one for you!
OllieZ- Oh I looked into Fu and Torune. I had completely forgotten about them XD They're somewhere more in the Naruto timeline and onwards right? Thanks for the insightful review!
Ah, my schedule for posting would be every 4-5 days. I don't really have a fixed date per week. I actually wrote a lot of these chapters' months in advance, hence why I'm pumping them out so quickly XD
Amatsumi- Orochimaru definitely needs a science bro to talk shop with. Hina's not so interested… but she's gonna be dragged in anyway XD
RileyBlue00- Oh yeah for sure. Her relationships with her younger friends will get a little break when she goes on missions, so she won't be as close to them as they are to eachother considering she's away for months at a time. Also her family is definitely a mess of emotions XD They need to talk things out one day! Thanks for always leaving a review! It warms my heart! XD
ishan19sati- Oh for sure, it's the same for me actually. I really liked Catch Your Breath, and Dreaming of Sunshine, because the females in that were characters first before they were wish fulfilment pieces. It's why I stay away from male harem stories, and female romance-centric stories, because the plot usually gets put aside for ham-fisted romance and smut. Thanks for the review!
RandomPasserby96- Ayye! I'm glad the stories still going hot! Thanks!
NNN11ght- That's actually a good point! There's pros and cons to masks though, especially for combat. On one hand people can't track where your eyes move, and on another you can use things like feints, where you move your body in one direction and change it when your opponent adjusts, or you could look somewhere misleading too! I think I personally would wear a mask or a helmet to combat XD
Guest- Definitely! ROOT likes to go hard on their more incognito recruits, but I'm assuming they have two sects. The one with the emotionless orphans, and the other with people who are still loyal to Danzo but more readily able to interact normally so they can infiltrate society. Kakashi's connections have definitely kept Danzo at bay from him for now.
Shadow Wolf 15846- Ayee thanks!
PrettyPansexual- Hahaha thanks! Hina's a somewhat self-insert character, and since I'm as lesbian as they come, I decided to make her gay too! I was planning to make her fully lesbian, but then I also like to keep my future options open, so I ended up making her bisexual XD