New chapter of Wands and Vials.
The gate with the emblem of our family peaked in the center before us, arching downwards and then rising again to meet the columns that they were attached to at the hinges. Spellstone lanterns that radiated a somber light topped the column, attached to the stone fence that stretched around the perimeter of the manor. It was high enough that it obscured the green lawn that stretched between the entrance and the gateway, only broken up by a stone path with guiding lights leading to the end of the pathway where the estate laid.
As I stood there for a moment and stared at the emblem of feathers in motion, as if blown by the wind, the words of Alice’s mother came to mind. Twenty years ago was around the time that Grandfather died along with his eldest son, if I remember correctly. Father became the head of…
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Summary: While searching for Shin Uchiha, Naruto paid a visit to Orochimaru to find answers. He got more than he expected when he found a child named Hanami Uzumaki there alongside of him. Long red hair set into a bun, violet eyes that mixed red and blue, and a single whisker mark on each cheek. Had it really been around thirteen years since that night? Why hadn’t Karin told him anything?
“Lead me to Orochimaru.” A single demand made by Sasuke as they confronted two members of his old team. They needed answers about the person who’d taken Sakura, implanted with Sharingan.
Naruto entered Sage Mode immediately to avoid others having the drop on them again. His senses expanding as he caught the presence of two other people within the base. One was further out, but the other was nearing. “It doesn’t look like that’s gonna be necessary.”
Their eyes were drawn down the corridor, whereupon Naruto laid eyes on Orochimaru with a face that looked much younger than it had any right to. That, in itself, was a surprise for Naruto given that fifteen years had passed since the Fourth Shinobi War and the pardon had been issued—albeit with a guard stationed to watch him at all time.
However, a bigger surprise awaited them as he brought them into another room. The room itself was a laboratory. Monitors lining the wall, a solid steel table to the right, and three cultivation tanks with developing bodies within the center. Nothing out of the ordinary for the man who eluded death so easily.
But, in front of the tank with the most developed body, stood a young woman with her back to them. Long red hair set into a bun and decorated with a hair accessory. Dressed in a long sleeveless shirt that was plum in color and dark pants, she held her arms folded behind her back.
“It seems you were right, child,” Orochimaru said casually as the entered the room. “We have visitors.”
“One of their chakra feels warm. Radiant, as though I’m standing beneath the sun itself.” A slight turn of the head revealed her eye was a rich shade of violet, a blend of red and blue that had a single thin line beneath it. A shock ran through Naruto the moment their eyes met. “Are they guests?”
“I doubt they’ll here for long,” Orochimaru said simply as he came to a stop next to her in front of the tank.
“That’s too bad.” A bead of sweat rolled down from Naruto’s brow as the girl turned around to face them, the hair framing her face swaying to reveal the marking under her other eye to be a mirror image as she regarded them with curiosity. “We rarely have visitors.”
She’s a little taller than Sarada, maybe a little older. Naruto swallowed, but his throat remained dry. It can’t be…
Her curiosity drove her to approach the group. Tension threaded Naruto’s body as she passed him by. But either she didn’t notice, or she didn’t care as she came to a stop in front of Sasuke, her head tilted as she regarded him with a hand on her cheek.
“…You’re Mother’s old teammate, aren’t you?” she asked him. “Sasuke Uchiha… I’ve seen you in the picture, and Mother talked a lot about you.”
Sasuke regarded the child with a glance before shifting his gaze to Orochimaru. “Karin had a daughter?”
“Indeed,” Orochimaru said, holding his hand out towards her. “Introduce yourself, child.”
She did so. “My name’s Hanami Uzumaki. It’s a pleasure to meet you all.”
“Isn’t that Lord Seventh’s family name?” An uncomfortable number of eyes fell onto him at Chocho’s obvious question. Including that of the girl herself.
Naruto even heard Suigetsu mumble, “You know, Karin was always cagey on who the father was.”
But Orochimaru brushed it off with a dismissive, “One of my subordinates comes from the same clan as Naruto-kun.”
“Is that so?” Hanami mused as she took a step closer to him. “It doesn’t look like the dominant genes are present within his facial features or hair pigment. But I suppose some genetic variations should be expected given the different variables.”
Sasuke… couldn’t care less. Or rather, any curiosity he possibly had was buried beneath the mission. “We didn’t come here for that. We came here to find out about that man and child who had Sharingan they shouldn’t.”
“He’s an old experiment of mine named Shin,” Orochimaru explained. “You recall the arm that Danzo Shimura possessed, correct? That originally belonged to him. Since that child possessed a rare genetic trait that prevented rejection of tissue transplants, he was the ideal subject for experimentation with cloning.”
Naruto looked away from the girl at the familiar word. “Cloning?”
“Think of it as a Shadow Clone that won’t disappear,” he clarified. “A perfect replica of an individual down to their very genetics. Only it persists indefinitely.”
“If it’s like a clone that won’t disappear, then what do you do with them when you’re done?” Naruto asked.
“Your only option is to kill them, obvious.”
He naturally took offense to that. Life was sacred after all. To just dispose of them when they weren’t useful anymore disregarded the feelings and connections they formed. “Humans aren’t simple things to be discarded like that.”
“Humans are much simpler than you think.” Orochimaru turned to the cultivation tank with the largest body grown within. “Hanami has taken an interest in this particular field of study, so I suspect she can explain it.”
The girl nodded and then did so. “A person is basically determined by their genetic material. Skin color, abilities, everything can be traced to the genes that compose them. I look more like my mother and possess many of the same abilities as her because her genes were passed onto me, after all. So, for a clone who is made of the same genetic composition, there would be virtually no difference between them.”
“Exactly,” Orochimaru said. “The same applies to your daughter, Sasuke-kun. She looks like you because half of her genes were passed on from you. It’s all simply data recorded in an organic material, rather than an electronic one.”
…That’s not right, Naruto thought to himself while looking at the girl who bore his clan’s name. Those words weren’t something he ever wanted to hear coming from a child.
However, Sasuke took control of the conversation before he could voice it. “Why does that person call himself an Uchiha?”
“That’s his own doing,” Orochimaru said. “Though he is not an authentic Uchiha, he possesses the Sharingan and he ended up becoming obsessed with the Uchiha name. In particular with your late brother, Itachi Uchiha.”
“I see…” Sasuke closed his eyes for only a moment. Silently considering it. “Where can I find him?”
“Hmm… I suppose it would benefit me if your village were to capture him,” Orochimaru mused, before turning to Naruto. “Besides, I do owe you, Naruto-kun. How is that child doing, by the way?”
“…He’s doing well,” Naruto answered, albeit with more hesitation than he should have. “Though, if you’d told me that there was another child in your care, we would have accepted her as well.”
Orochimaru lightly chuckled. “That wasn’t my call to make. I only helped deliver Hanami, after all. Her mother was the one who decided to raise her as she has. All the questions related to that can be answered by her.”
Naruto breathed slowly through his nose as he caught the underlying message. “I understand.”
“Good.” Then he started to walk. “As for Shin, I’ll explain more in a room with a monitor. Follow me.”
Naruto did so, occasionally glancing subtly to Hanami as she walked behind them with Sarada. He knew he should ask the question, but he couldn’t find the words. Not right now, with Sakura’s life potentially at stake. But it gnawed at the back of his skull until he heard Sarada broached a question that drew the child’s interest.
“Your mother was the person in this picture, right?”
“Yes, when she was younger,” Hanami answered just as quietly. “I’ve seen that same picture in her office.”
“Is she here now?”
“No, she’s at a different place at the moment.”
“Oh… then, can I ask you something?”
Naruto watched out of the corner of his eye as the two girls went off. He knew that Sarada was doubting her connection to her mother from how she was behaving, but he had no doubts about it. Even if, by some chance, that Karin had given birth to Sasuke’s child and then passed her over to Sakura, the bonds between family through connections should be stronger.
But what about Hanami? Taking into account the nine months and Hanami’s appearance, there was very little doubt in his mind of her parentage, But, he didn’t want to think it was true, because Naruto didn’t want to believe that she lied to him thirteen years ago. Why didn’t she tell me?
He had to know that much at least. So he followed the girls to the office in secret and listened from next to the door, peeking through carefully.
“First we need a sample of your DNA,” Hanami explained, handing Sarada a buccal swab. “Simply rub the inside of your mouth with it and it’ll collect DNA samples. I’ll do the same with mine and then we’ll use this machine to analyze the data. If there’s enough of a match, then this will show that we’re related through the same mother.”
Once Sarada did as told and the analysis began, Hanami then added. “If I have to be honest, I hope that there is a connection.”
“Why?” Sarada asked.
“Because, if we are then we’ll be compatible enough for an eye transplant.”
Sarada tensed. “Huh?”
“If I gain the Sharingan while being a descendant of the Uzumaki Clan, then I’ll be able to test a theory on awakening the Rinnegan like your father has,” Hanami explained with a smile. “It’s exciting to think about, isn’t it?”
‘…Kurama, is that true?’ he asked. Until now the fox had been silent, observing without commenting. That in itself was worrisome.
‘Not likely. She’s not a direct transmigration of Father’s children as you and Sasuke Uchiha are,’ Kurama answered. ‘However, given who she has been studying under, the fact that chakra does transmit through genetics to some extent, and the fact that he hasn’t dismissed the theory itself, there’s a very faint possibility. More so if he managed to procure some of Father’s chakra during the War fourteen years ago.’
The implications of what he just heard made his stomach drop. Not because of the fact that those eyes even possibly returning in the hands of a child being raised under Orochimaru possibly spelled very bad things. But because he didn’t want to think that night, thirteen years ago, had been contrived for the sole purpose of making that outcome possible.
Sarada was naturally wary at the prospect, albeit for different reasons. “You want to take my eyes!?”
“Oh, not for good!” Hanami quickly added. “I’d give you mine until I awoke them and then I’d transplant one back. That way we’ll both have one, and there’s the potential for that to pass on as well through two different family lines with a little genetic modification. Though, if the Seventh Hokage has a male child then you could have a child with him as well and they could possibly inherit it.”
“I’m not having a child with Boruto!”
“Well, if you have a brother then I suppose that I could—”
“Are you seriously offering to have a child just because of the potential of their genetics!?”
“I mean, isn’t that better than letting them die out if something happened to us?” Hanami asked. Worse, from her tone she was being sincere. “Our clans are endangered after all, but as long as our genes pass on through our reproductive cells then they can live on. That’s how life works in the end.”
“But having a child means starting a family,” Sarada argued. “It’s not just a matter of genes. There’s something more there. Something precious.”
“Families just people linked by genetic material,” Hanami counterargued. Chakra chains began emerging from arms as she held them out in proof. “It’s an assembly of DNA where strong one’s merge to become even stronger and weak ones die out. You’re a prime example of that, just like I am.”
Naruto… couldn’t listen to this any longer. It was like listening to Kabuto for a second time. He emerged from behind his cover and said otherwise, “That’s not what a family is.”
“Lord Seventh?” Sarada was taken aback. Likely because of her reasoning for coming here in the first place, despite the fact that her mother had been taken. “I…”
Before she could say anything to justify the feelings that had driven her, the computer beeped. The results were in.
“It looks like they aren’t a match after all.” Hanami sounded disappointed as her chains disappeared. Then she perked up. “Then again, if this Shin person has a Sharingan and their tissue won’t reject me, then it should be possible to transplant it that way.”
“H-Hey—” Naruto tried to stop her and explain his point, but she ran past him in the direction they’d came. Towards Orochimaru and the others. “Sarada, go with her. This is a sensitive matter, and I don’t think Sasuke would like the notion of someone transplanting those eyes at all.”
She ran off after her, leaving Naruto alone. He watched her leave before turning back to the machine. He had to know for sure.
So, he went through the motions with the buccal swab, taking out the one that Sarada had used and replaced it with his own. Then he set the analysis to begin. The results…
They were exactly as he expected.
He looked to the photo on the desk and a weight that pressed down on his shoulders. The memory of that night felt like a vice clamping around his heart when he considered everything he’d heard. He needed time to process it all.
But Sakura came first. Reuniting mother and daughter came first. Then, when that was done, he would have words with Karin.
About how she had lied. About how she hid his daughter. About how she let Orochimaru’s thoughts on genetics dictate what her definition of a family was.
He told his own son that to the Hokage, everyone in the village is family. Because a family was the bond between people, not just history or blood. It was the love between them that dictated who your family was.
Even if she hadn’t been his daughter, the fact that a child wasn’t able to understand that…
It meant that something was very wrong.
Author’s Note: The premise of this… random thing is that sometime before Naruto paired off with Hinata after the whole moon thing (2 years after the war if I remember right), he had a one-time tryst with Karin Uzumaki. However, she never told him that she was pregnant or that she gave birth afterwards. Then, over a decade later, the Sarada Uchiha story arc happens and Naruto runs into Karin’s child.
A scream, raw and primal, filled the air as a table was upended, books, papers, and random writing implements scattering in every direction along the floor with a terrifying crash.
“I told you!” the beautiful, dark-haired girl blurted in a rush as she stared at the nearby woman, the only other occupant of this small, out-of-the-way office where she’d managed to escape interrogation by the Committee stooges. “I told you I shouldn’t have a roommate! I told you!”
Gaia Sinclaire gave a slight nod, her voice quiet and even. “You did indeed tell me that, yes.”
Avalon turned her head sharply, avoiding her adoptive mother’s patient, caring look. She didn’t want to feel better. She didn’t want to feel safe and protected. She wanted… she wanted… With a frustrated growl, the girl lashed out once more. Her fist hit the nearby wall hard enough to leave…
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“Now ain’t this just great? The daring duo, back together again for a reunion tour.”
On the tail of his pronouncement, Seth turned on his heels to walk backward down the damp sidewalk, long brown coat flapping a bit in the breeze as he passed in and out of the illumination cast by the flickering streetlights. Smirking, he added, “With a few additions, of course.”
It was, for certain, an eclectic group. Beyond Seth, they consisted of Asenath, the daughter of his sire and the girl he considered a sister, Namythiet, his tiny yet fierce apprentice who happened to be a pixie, her animal guardian Clubber the green sabertooth tiger cub, and Asenath’s frequent partner, the mercenary Pooka named Twister. Senny and Twister walked alongside one another, while Namythiet rode on the back of her emerald-furred companion.
In response to Seth’s words, Asenath simply gave the old vampire…
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“Another failure for the record.”
The admission came with no small amount of frustration as I entered the information into the research log. It had been the twentieth attempt. It had been the twentieth failure.
The resources spent. Time lost. Effort made. All of it was splayed out in front of me in the form of another page of the journal and another dead rodent that I’d finished dissecting.
I could still recall how it writhed in agony the moment I had a few drops of the liquid mana vaporized within a sealed vessel. I knew that pain very well considering what happened during my unexpected trip in the realm of the spirits. The failure of the potion to stop it only showcased what would have happened to me if not for Aeria—a reminder of the stakes involved.
“Are you finally done?” My sylphid’s wispy voice was followed…
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Kill the bastard, yes!
“Why did he do it? How long was he planning it? Was he in contact with the Seosten? Was he another shapeshifter, like the one who took over Paul? Were any of the others involved?”
Sands’s voice was a droning sound in the background as I gazed through the viewport of the room that I had taken to sleep in. The view was, I was sure, spectacular with the gorgeous starfield stretched out before us. But I didn’t care. I couldn’t focus on it. I just stared through the window, or video screen, whichever it was, without actually seeing any ofwhat I was looking at.
“I don’t know,” I answered quietly, my voice sounding hoarse even to myself. Even now, a full day after what had happened, I couldn’t comprehend it. I couldn’t understand it. It had taken all this time just to get things stabilized, just…
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Should have killed Isaac sooner.
Please note that there was a commissioned interlude focused on Jophiel and Elisabet (with a lot of information about the Seosten in general) posted yesterday. If you haven’t seen that yet, you may wish to use the Previous Chapter button above.
“You what?” The words accompanied a sudden rush of movement as I was yanked up from the ground. Professor Katarin had me by both arms, holding up to his eye level. Which, considering how tall he was, left my feet dangling in open air. “Would you mind repeating that?” he rumbled, the eagerness in his voice making him sound almost more like a kid in a candy store than the giant drill sergeant-like combat instructor I knew him as.
It was later that same day, and…
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Well, that would be one complete and utter waste of time out of the way, Elisabet silently announced while leaving the room where she and the other Crossroads Committee members had just finished yet another discussion. Just in time for the next one.
The ‘discussion’, such as it was, had been three hours of arguing over what they could possibly do about the disappearance of Felicity Chambers and the other students, and everything else that stemmed from that. Mostly it had amounted to little more than talking in circles. As usual.
Jophiel, the Seosten once called Aphrodite in the days of the Olympians, chuckled in equal silence, her amusement audible only to herself and her beloved human, her sianame.
Sianame. Pronounced See-Aw-Naw-May, it wasn’t…
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“So explain again how their warp speed or whatever works?” I asked Larissa a couple days later, as the two of us stood on the bridge of this stolen mining ship. Jokai was sitting at the controls next to Sands, going over them with the girl again. My teammate had really taken to the idea of being able to pilot this thing (not that I could blame her at all), throwing herself at the subject the way that Vanessa threw herself at… well, pretty much every subject back in school.
“Of course,” Larissa (was it weird that I kept thinking of Sands’ mother by her first name rather than as Mrs. Mason or anything?) replied easily while gesturing for me to follow her to the side of the bridge, where a small console sat. Waving her hand in front of it, she made a hologram appear. It showed…
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Wow, Flick getting that kill against the evil woman really is turning out to be an accomplishment.
“So you really didn’t know she existed until New York?” Sands asked a short while later, as she and I sat on the other side of the bridge. The brunette girl was looking past me, over to where her mother was quietly talking to Tabbris. “That must’ve been pretty… surprising.”
I coughed. “You can say that again. But I wouldn’t have gotten away from Charmiene’s trap without her help. I’d be Radueriel’s prisoner as he took me apart. And you guys would all either be dead, or Seosten slaves. Tabbris… she saved all of us from some pretty bad shit.”
Sands coughed. “Technically, you wouldn’t even have gotten that far without her. If she wasn’t possessing you, there wouldn’t have been anything to stop the Seosten from possessing you back when you were first made Avalon’s roommate. Or earlier. You probably would’ve been Charmiene’s puppet from pretty much…
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