Subject: [FFML] Re: [Naruto] [C&C - Part 1] One Hundred Days - Chapter Fifteen: The Will of Fire
From: "Eimii" <eimii@bresnan.net>
Date: 12/31/2006, 3:09 PM
To: "Aaron Nowack" <anowack@mimiru.net>, "FFML" <ffml@anifics.com>

This is... later than I expected.  I was hoping to be posting the 
final
chapter in this story by now.  Ah, well.

Bah; wait a year or two between chapters and _then_ you can feel bad 
about being 'late' -_-;...


Previous chapters are available at:
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2663204/1/
http://www.narusaku.com/library/viewstory.php?sid=6

As always, I welcome any and all C&C.  For various reasons, this 
chapter
(in particular the latter portions) has been proofread and
sanity-checked less than usual; the possibility of it sucking 
terribly,
or at least being disappointing, has risen proportionately.

Hate it when that happens; i can't find my own errors with a seeing eye 
dog and a trained, mine-detecting mime >_<;...


A bit of advertisement: because I clearly have way too much free time
(and a free domain name burning a hole in my pocket) I've set up an
anime/fanfiction blog thing at http://www.smalleyesbigmouth.com/  I
can't promise that you'll find anything terribly interesting there, 
but
if reading my random, poorly written thoughts and nitpicks excites 
you,
they're there.

Now I think I'm going to get some sleep.  And maybe after that catch 
up
on some C&C.

...oh yeah.  The fic!




[Day Ninety-two]

       "Are we just going to stand here and watch, Itachi-san?"
Hoshigaki Kisame's sharp teeth almost seemed to glow in the moonlight 
as
he bared them.  "I say we go in and take the Kyuubi brat."
       "No," Itachi responded flatly, his crimson eyes not turning
aside from the small collection of tents spread out below the hill the
two missing ninja stood on.

On a moonlit night, with the high ground looking down on an enemy 
encampment, should they really be 'standing?'

       Kisame grunted, his hand shifting on the grip of his giant
sword.  "And why not?" he asked, his irritation plain.  "We've been

Just a thought, but as Kisame seems to be a man of actions more than 
words, the 'and' at the start of his utterance might be

a tad superfluous. Plus, it makes them sound a little like a bickering 
married couple ^_^;

chasing that damn brat all around the world for the past three months,
and now he's finally in front of us.  Let's finish this."
       "No," Itachi repeated.
       Kisame hissed softly before carefully replying.  "If you won't
do it, I'll do it alone," he said.  "I've got no intention of just
trotting along behind that traitor like a faithful dog waiting for a

Might want a comma between dog and waiting, but i'm not certain of that.

better chance that won't ever come."  Slowly, he lifted his massive
sword off the ground and took a step forward.

So he's holding it; its not currently strapped to his back. That makes 
the image of his hand 'shifting' on the grip of the

weapon a somewhat unnatural motion, as it impiles some amount of travel.

       In an instant, Itachi stood in front of him, one hand grasping
the shark-like ninja's sword arm.  "Don't be an idiot, Kisame," he 
said.
"Orochimaru is there, and he's one of the legendary Sannin just like
Jiraiya.  You're not going to accomplish anything like that."
       "I don't see what we're accomplishing like this either," Kisame
grumbled, wrenching his arm away from his partner.  Still, he took a
step back, away from the Sound ninjas' camp.  "Besides, you've beaten
Orochimaru before."
       "Is he dead?" Itachi asked, his voice completely flat.  Kisame
grimaced, and the Uchiha nodded.
       "So what do you propose?" Kisame asked, still unsatisfied.
       "We wait for a better time," Itachi said simply.  "We still 
have
almost three years."
       "Unless that snake just kills the brat," Kisame said.  "Then
where will we be?"
       "If Orochimaru wished Naruto-kun dead, he would not still 
live."
Itachi's Sharingan began to whirl slowly.  "Isn't that true?"
       Mocking laughter filled the air.  "You are of course correct,
Itachi-kun," Orochimaru's voice answered.
       In less than a second, Kisame was kneeling, one hand on the
ground.  "Doton: Sanctuary-Breaking Technique!" he snarled.  Beneath 
his
large hand, the earth rumbled.  Almost calmly, Orochimaru slipped up 
out
of the ground, before the two Akatsuki.

You use 'before' twice here' i'd suggest changing the one in the prior 
paragraph (not only for that, but also because its a

little awkward.)

       Before the renegade Sannin's feet had emerged, Kisame was upon
him, the massive sword Samehada striking for Orochimaru's chest.  When
the scaled blade touched him, there was a silent explosion of flame 
that
knocked Kisame back several feet.  When the fire faded, the real
Orochimaru stood before his enemies.
       "It's a shame Sasuke-kun needs his sleep," Orochimaru said,
smiling.  "No doubt he would enjoy showing his elder brother what I've
taught him."

...he probably wouldn't enjoy it for long, though ^_^;

       Kisame tensed, but he relaxed slightly when Itachi didn't move.
"You know what we're here for," the Uchiha said simply.
       "I'm afraid you'll be leaving empty-handed," Orochimaru stated.
"I have my own uses for the brat."
       "We weren't planning on asking," Kisame said dangerously.
       "Kisame."  At Itachi's simple statement, the shark-like ninja
forced himself to relax again.  "And what uses are those?" the Uchiha
asked.
       "For one," Orochimaru said, "insurance.  Akatsuki stays out of
my business, and in three years a deal might be in order.  Interfere
with me, and the boy dies."

Has it ever been addressed what happens when a jinchuukiri dies with the 
demon still inside them? The most likely options

seem to be that either the demon is freed, or it is killed. Neither 
quite makes sense, though. If it were killed when the

host died, then someone would have killed Naruto long ago, and if it 
were freed when the host died, the the Kyuubi would be

working a lot harder to get him killed... and Akatsuki could still 
retrieve the Kyuubi even if Naruto were dead.

       "Your message will be heard," Itachi said, "but you play a
dangerous game, Orochimaru.  You know that our organization has no
patience for such tactics."  His eyes narrowed.  "What other reasons?"
       "It seems the boy has a talent for making people care about
him," Orochimaru said, smiling pleasantly.  "Your little brother,

I get the intimation, but i don't know if it's possible for snake-face 
to smile 'pleasantly' ^_^;...

Jiraiya, Tsunade-hime... the Kyuubi brat is a useful tool to 
manipulate
them."
       Itachi grunted.  "I see."
       Orochimaru's smile widened.  "I suppose you would," he said.
"So, shall I wake Sasuke-kun and the others, or will you two be
leaving?"
       "Kisame," Itachi said.  "Let's go."
       "Itachi-san," Kisame began to protest, but a simple glance from
the Uchiha stopped him.  Still, Kisame raised his sword, pointing it 
at
Orochimaru.  "One day," he said, "sooner rather than later, I suspect,
we'll finish our fight."
       Orochimaru smiled once more.  "We shall see, Kisa-chan," he
said, and then the two Akatsuki were gone.  Orochimaru spent a moment
ensuring that they had truly left, then he laughed and walked back 
down
the hill to the silent camp.

***********************************************************************

       Sakura took a deep breath as she locked the door to Naruto's
apartment behind her.  She idly wished that she knew some sort of
warding technique; now that she knew just why his neighbors hated 
Naruto

Is she idly wishing that she knew a warding technique as she stands in 
front of the door, right after locking it? The

'behind her' sort of implies that she has already proceeded on her way, 
but (to me, at least) it seems like she'd be having

these thoughts of wanting to do more while she was still standing at the 
door. Just wondering...

she didn't feel comfortable leaving his home empty and unguarded. 
Then
again, as awful as they had been to her, there hadn't been any damage
any of the times she had been gone on a mission before.  Why should 
this

Totally my opinion this time; feel free to ignore me ^_^;. This sentence 
sounds a little odd to me, though. I'd probably

write it:

Then again, this wasn't the first time she'd left on a mission. As awful 
as they'd been to her, there had never been any

damage before, so why should this time be any different?

Again, only a suggestion, though in your original sentence, i'd probably 
change it to "gone on missions before."


time be any different?
       Thankfully, it was much too early for any of the neighbors to 
be
out and about.  There was only the faintest light in the sky overhead,
and a few stars were even still visible.  Had Sakura been able to 
sleep

I think the 'even' is unnecessary, and probably incorrect here. If you 
want to want to keep it somewhere, i'd probably put

it before 'a few.'

well the night before, she still wouldn't have gotten enough sleep to 
be
feeling well-rested.  With all the worries that had kept her awake, 
she
thought it a minor miracle she could function at all.

Though in character and dramatically appropriate, that strikes me as 
irresponsible for a professional soldier. She and her

teammates are heading into a life or death situation with probably a 
less than 50% chance of survival, and everyone is going

to be counting on everyone else to be in peak condition, or as close to 
is as they can manage. If she couldn't get to sleep

on her own, then the logical thing to do would be to find some mild 
chemical or other assistance to get to sleep. I'm sure

they have _something_ for that...

Not saying you should change it. Just that Sakura's letting her worries 
interfere with her common sense ^_^;.

       Those worries threatened to consume her as she reminded herself
of them.  Orochimaru had taken Naruto.  Naruto held the demon fox 
Kyuubi
inside of him.  They were going to try to get Naruto back, but... 
Sakura
remembered seeing Orochimaru in the Forest of Death.  She had become
vastly stronger since then, but even so she could not imagine fighting
the infamous Sannin.  He was on a whole different type of level.  Even
with Shizune, what chance could there be of five chuunin even lasting
minutes against him?

I think the 'type of' is probably unncessary here. It implies not just a 
different scale of measurement, but a different

criteria, perhaps.

       Sakura shook her head firmly.  Thinking about that wouldn't 
help
matters.  Shizune wouldn't be ordering the mission if there wasn't a
chance of success.  There was no guarantee that they would be forced 
to
fight Orochimaru himself after all.  Sakura grimaced.  It wasn't like
fighting their way through the Sound Village - which she suspected 
they
would have to do - would be much easier.

Just as a suggestion, you might want to begin new paragraph with Sakura 
grimacing. That lets a 'beat' pass, allowing one

thought to end and the next to begin.

       An involuntary yawn distracted Sakura from her thoughts, and

Hmm... it seems right here, but it strikes me: aren't all yawns 
involuntary ^_^;?

before she could return to them she forced herself to set out.  The
damaged streets of the Leaf Village were unfamiliar in the pre-dawn
light, but Sakura still managed to make her way to the gates in
relatively short order.  Shizune was already there, along with 
Shikamaru
and Neji.
       "Sakura-chan," the older woman said in greeting.
       "Shizune-sama," Sakura returned quietly.  "Neji-kun, Shikamaru-
kun."  Neji nodded back at her, and Shikamaru grunted.  There was no
further conversation, and Sakura couldn't say that she was displeased.
What was there to say?
       Rock Lee was the next to arrive, but even he seemed
uncharacteristically subdued.  "You spoke to Gai-sensei?" Neji asked
softly.
       The green-clad ninja nodded.  "Yes."  He grimaced.  "I wish he
could come with us."
       "If he wasn't in the hospital," Shizune said mildly, "he would
be with Tsunade-sama."
       "I know," Lee said, and once more the group was quiet.
       Ino arrived a few moments later.  "Sorry for keeping you
waiting," she said.  "I needed to say goodbye to my mother."
       A sudden flash of jealousy hit Sakura, but she forced it aside.
"Hi, Ino," she said softly.
       "Sakura," Ino said.  Her eyes watered.  "We'll get him back,"
she said.  She grinned weakly.  "If Orochimaru gets in our way, we'll
just have to beat him up."
       Neji snorted.  "Optimistic, aren't we?"
       "Might as well be," Ino answered.  "I don't see how being 
gloomy
helps anything."
       "All right," Shizune said loudly.  In an instant, all eyes were
on her.  "Haruno Sakura, Hyuuga Neji, Nara Shikamaru, Rock Lee, 
Yamanaka
Ino.  As you've all been told, this is an S-class rescue mission.  Our
first objective is to rendezvous with Jiraiya-sama and Hatake Kakashi 
at
the Swamp Country border.  Following that, we will proceed into Rice
Field Country to locate and retrieve Uzumaki Naruto.  Do you all
understand?"
       There were nods and a chorus of "Yes, Shizune-sama."

One would think that _someone_ would wonder why Naruto is so important 
to rescue that they'd risk five chuunin to do it.

Shizune, Shikamaru and Sakura know why, and Lee probably wouldn't 
question the necessity of saving a valued comrade, but

Neji and Ino might at least think of it a strange tactical decision.

       "Good."  Shizune sighed.  "Since you are all only chuunin, I'm
required to tell you that your participation on a mission of this rank
is strictly optional.  If you wish to reject the mission, say so now 
and
no mention will be made in your record."  There was only silence.  "I
didn't think so."
       "I already had to go through all the trouble of waking up this
early," Shikamaru said.  "It'd be a waste if I quit now."

He _is_ prone to complaining about everything, but this time it seems 
like a bit of a throwaway line without some sort of

surrounding description to hint at _why_ he's complaining (to lighten 
the mood, to keep up the facade of being cranky and

cantankerous, etc).

       "Shikamaru-kun here," Shizune said, "will be my second-in-
command."
       "What about Jiraiya-sama and Kakashi-sensei?" Neji asked. 
"Will
they be joining us on the second phase of the mission?"
       "I don't know," Shizune answered.  "That depends on what sort 
of
condition they're in."

I also note that this entire exchange is made in this format: 
"Dialogue," [speaker][action verb]. "Dialogue." It does speed

things along, but it also makes reading it seem a bit repetitive.

       "Understood," Neji said.
       "All right then," Shizune stated.  "Unless there are any 
further
questions, let's get moving."
       "Actually, would you mind waiting just a moment?" a new voice
said, and everyone turned to see Mitokado Homura approaching slowly.
       "Of course, Homura-sama," Shizune said carefully.  "Is Koharu-
sensei coming also?"
       Homura shook his head.  "Just me," he said.  His eyes swept the
chuunin, pausing slightly on Sakura.  The pink-haired chuunin 
swallowed

Use of 'chuunin' twice in somewhat close proximity. It's probably fine 
here, but still noticeable.

nervously.  "I wish you all good luck," Homura said gravely.  "Come 
back
safely."
       "Thank you," Shizune said, and Sakura thought she noticed the
older woman glancing between her and Homura.  "Is there anything 
else?"
       Homura shook his head.  "That's all."
       "Then let's move," Shizune said, and she gestured to the tired-
looking gate guards to open the gates.

***********************************************************************

       Naruto yawned as he sat up, his eyes blinking wearily.  He

Hmm... since you already established an actor in this sentence, and 
'blinking' is something he could consciously choose to

do, maybe 'blinking his eyes wearily' might work better. Just a thought.

raised an arm to rub them, then froze as he saw that he was wearing 
that
familiar orange jumpsuit that he hadn't worn in a month.  His heart 
sank

Hmm... it's more than familiar to Naruto; it seems to be his favorite 
article of clothing, and the reader is presumably

quite familiar with it themselves. Therefore, you might not use so many 
distancing words when he thinks about it, like

'that' and 'familiar.' Again, just a suggestion. Plus, you use 
'familiar' again below...

as he glanced around, noting the too-familiar moldy walls and the
fouled, murky water he was sitting in.  A moment later, he felt the 
dank

Unnecessary comma after 'later,' i think.

breath of the Kyuubi on his face, and he forced himself to stand.
       Knowing that he really had no other choice, he made his way
through the dim corridors until he stood before the massive gate.

I do know its a dream, so sensations can be odd, but would he feel the 
Kyuubi's breath on his face if it had to travel

through a long, winding corridor? He might smell in in the air, 
perhaps...

He
wasn't able to stop himself from swallowing nervously as he saw the 
rust
creeping up the metal bars and the charred edges of the paper with the
character for seal written on it.  Twin, massive eyes shown in the

might want single quotes around 'seal.' Just a thought, though.

darkness, and the Kyuubi laughed softly - at least, softly for it.
       "What do you want, you stupid fox?" Naruto asked.
       "You're an interesting one," the demon said.  "Even in the 
midst
of such pain, you fought to keep my power contained."
       Naruto winced.  He remembered the startling familiar green eyes
of the Sound kunoichi Midori.  He recalled the fiery pain that 
consumed
him, then the blessed darkness that had followed.  "What of it?" he
asked.
       "With my power, you could defeat any foe."  The Kyuubi laughed
again.  "Yet instead you let yourself be taken."  The giant demon's 
eyes
glowed brightly.  "Foolish."
       "Whatever," Naruto said.  "I don't have to explain myself to
you."  He snorted.  "Isn't about time for you to be telling me that 
the
only way out is through or something?"
       There was a sudden sensation of terrible power, an almost
physical force that pushed the young ninja away from the gate.
"Remember who you stand before," the demon snarled, and for an instant
its sharp claws were visible in the darkness.

I know its canon, but it strikes me that the Kyuubi is remarkably lucid 
and intelligent for a demon. It's been commented

recently by Akatsuki that tailed demons are no better than dumb beasts 
that can't properly use they great power they possess

when they aren't controlled to a human, and Shuukaku seemed little 
smarter than a child when he was fully released. Maybe it

varies, though... or maybe the Kishimoto is changing history -_-;...

       "Sh- shut up," Naruto managed to say as he straightened, but 
the
terror he felt creeping in his bones was evident in his voice, and the
demon only laughed once more.
       "This time, I'll let you go, brat."
       "Why?" Naruto asked weakly.
       "Because I know it is only a matter of time until you give me
what I want."  The Kyuubi's giant face pressed against the walls of 
the
gate, and the gate shuddered.  "Soon enough, you will see the futility

A gate doesn't have walls. It _is_ a wall, of sorts. It does, however, 
have bars.

of your decision and throw this gate open yourself."
       "Never."  Naruto tried to put what firmness he could in his
voice, but the demon only gave him a malicious, fanged grin.  Naruto
took an involuntary step back, and then -
       Naruto groaned as he awoke, his eyes blinking wearily.  He 
ached

Same sentence formation as the beginning of this section; intentional?

all over, so much that it took him almost a full minute to note that 
he
was securely bound and slung over the shoulder of Yakushi Kabuto. 
"Ah,"
the medical ninja said, "I see you're awake, Naruto-kun."

When switching from Naruto's actions and observations to Kabuto's 
dialogue, you might want to begin a new paragraph.

       The genin ignored him, instead looking about as best he could
from his present position.  Kabuto was running, and Naruto could see 
two
of the Sound ninja who had captured him trailing behind - that 
six-armed
guy and the kunoichi with the flute.  He thought he could hear more
people from in front of Kabuto, but he couldn't see them.
       "Orochimaru-sama,"  Kabuto called out and Naruto's stomach 
sank.
If the renegade Sannin was here, whatever slim chance he'd had of 
escape
had vanished.  "Our guest has awakened."
       Suddenly, Orochimaru was behind Kabuto, right before Naruto's
eyes.  "So he has," the infamous missing ninja said.  "I suppose we 
can
stop for the moment."
       Kabuto halted, gently putting Naruto on the ground.  "I should
look at your injuries, Kidoumaru-kun."  The six-armed boy nodded, 
giving
Naruto a slight glare, and went off with the medical ninja.  Naruto
wasn't able to stop himself from gulping as he looked up at 
Orochimaru.

Might want to move the 'Naruto wasn't able to...' sentence to the start 
of this paragraph.

       The much older ninja smiled, and there was no pleasantness in
his expression.  "So nice to finally have a chance to talk, isn't it?"
he asked.
       "If you have enough time to talk to him," a familiar voice 
said,
"you have enough time to train me, Orochimaru."  The snake master's 
eyes
narrowed dangerously.

Again, this last sentence might be better placed at the beginning of the 
new paragraph, to emphasize the suddenness of

Sasuke's utterance.

       Naruto looked around frantically, his eyes finally settling on
the source of the voice.  "Sasuke," he snarled, for a moment almost
forgetting his situation and trying to leap at the other boy.
       Sasuke just snorted, his dark eyes not meeting Naruto's gaze.
"Well, Orochimaru?"
       "There are times when your insolence is amusing," Orochimaru
said mildly.  Sasuke staggered suddenly, clutching at his shoulder.
"This is not one of those times," the Sannin finished, not a hint of 
his
earlier gentleness remaining in his voice.  "Remember your place,
Sasuke-kun."

The last time gentleness was witnessed, it was in reference to Kabuto. 
In this encounter, Naruto has only sensed unpleasant

things from Orochimaru, despite his constant smile.

       Sasuke straightened, his eyes flaring crimson for just a 
second.
Then they faded to black and he looked away.  "Yes... 
Orochimaru-sama."
       "Very good," Orochimaru said, sounding amused.
       Sasuke turned around.  "I'm going to go get some water," he
said.  Without waiting for permission, he vanished.
       The pink-haired Sound kunoichi glanced at Orochimaru, who gave
her a slight nod.  She bowed, then vanished herself.  There was an
expectant pause, and then Orochimaru turned to the other Sound 
kunoichi.
The green-eyed girl - the one with the eyes that reminded Naruto of

Hmm... you've used 'eyes' many times in the last few paragraphs.

Sakura - grimaced.  "Now, now," Orochimaru chided.  "I'm not asking 
you
to actually sleep with him, Midori-chan.  Just provide a bit of
competition to properly motivate Tayuya-chan."  He smiled.  "Is that 
so
much to ask, in return for all that I have given you?"

I wonder if Orochimaru can actually restore Midori's ability to have 
children, should the thing with Tayuya prove

unworkable.

       Midori made a disgusted face, but after several seconds she
said, "No, Orochimaru-sama," and vanished herself, leaving Naruto 
alone
with Orochimaru and the last of the young Sound ninja - Jabisen was 
his
name, Naruto recalled.  He looked quietly at his master and Naruto for
just a moment, then bowed and walked off.

Poor guy- he doesn't even get to 'vanish' like everyone else ;_;...

       "My apologies for keeping you waiting, Naruto-kun," Orochimaru
said mockingly, crouching down in front of the bound boy.
       "What do you want, you bastard?" Naruto snarled.
       "Very many things," Orochimaru answered.  "But for one, this."
Moving too quickly to see, he reached down Naruto's shirt and yanked
away the necklace Tsunade had given him before becoming Hokage.

Ah yes, the bizarrely phallic necklace...

Orochimaru held it up, letting the gem catch the sunlight for a 
moment.
"I don't know what Tsunade-hime was thinking, giving something so
precious to someone like you," he said.
       "Give that back!" Naruto demanded.
       "I think not," Orochimaru said.  He smiled.  "No doubt Tsunade-
hime will thank me for returning it to her when we meet."
       "You," Naruto growled.  For just an instant, crimson chakra
flickered around him, but then it faded.
       "Wise," Orochimaru said.  "I am not so gentle as Jiraiya, even
if you could manage to summon that power with the drugs Kabuto-kun 
gave
you in your system."

Hmm... i would remove either 'Kabuto gave you' or 'in your system.' Too 
much information, at least in my opinion.

       Naruto blinked.  He didn't feel any different.  "Bastard," he
said simply.
       "You should be glad I have you," Orochimaru said.  "Unlike
Akatsuki, I have an interest in seeing you live, for now at least."

Hmm... for intimidation value, and to distract Naruto from the 'big 
picture,' maybe he should mention 'Itachi-kun' by name,

rather than just saying 'Akatsuki.' ...but that's _really_ just an idle 
thought ^_^;...

       "What do you mean?"
       Orochimaru smiled, and he stood, slipping the necklace into a
pocket.  "I see no need to tell you," he said.  "Maybe if you're good, 
I
will later."

***********************************************************************

[Day Ninety-three]

       Shimano Ren was bored.  "Boring" was not how she would ever 
have
expected to describe being the prisoner of an enemy village during
wartime.  Like she supposed most ninja had, she'd occasionally 
imagined
being tortured.  She'd imagined holding on to information that was 
more
valuable then her life, perhaps winning a war by refusing to break and
give the enemy what they wanted.
       She now knew just how silly those fantasies were.  For one, it

You probably don't need the 'For one,' especially since you use 'one' 
again a few words later.

was one thing to imagine resisting torture.  It was quite another to
actually be in the hands of the enemy, knowing that they had absolute
power over you.  It was quite another to know, that, childish dreams
aside, if they wanted you to break, you would break.
       The other way reality differed from Ren's imaginings was that
she knew nothing that was worth more than her relative comfort as a
cooperating prisoner, much less her life.  It had been known that her

It had been known by whom? If she's pondering her own knowledge, than it 
might be best to just say 'She had known'...

mission had a high risk of capture, and she and her team had been told
nothing of the greater war strategy.  As a genin of the Hidden Mist, 
she
knew plenty of minor secrets, but nothing that couldn't be found out
with minimal difficulty by an interested person.  Why should she 
refuse
to tell the Leaf's ANBU things they almost certainly already knew?
       Her easy cooperation had indeed insured her some level of

Maybe 'secured' more than 'insured,' as they can take that comfort away 
whenever they want.

comfort, but it also meant that after the first few days of her
captivity the ANBU had pretty much left her alone in the converted
storage room that served as her cell.  She was fed regularly and
adequately, though the food wasn't particularly tasty.  A surprisingly
sympathetic guard had even given her a novel to read, though it had
proved to be a propagandistic piece of trash about the last war 
between
the Fire and Water Countries.
       She'd still read the slim book from cover to cover at least 
four
times.  It was amusingly bizarre in its own way.  It was actually kind
of amazing that the author was able to make even her root at least a
little for the Leaf protagonists in their battles against the "Bloody
Mist."  Then again, most of the Mist characters were such thin,

Might use single quotes rather than double, as it isn't spoken dialogue 
here.

villainous caricatures that it was impossible to sympathize with them 
at
all.
       Ren spent much of her time wondering just how the current war
was going.  Her captors' tales of unmitigated disaster for the Mist
seemed about as believable as the trashy book, leaving her with 
nothing
but speculation.  She didn't even know whether the rest of her team 
was
alive, captured, or dead, and that was the worst part.
       She let out a quiet sigh as she rolled over on the cot the ANBU
had given her, picking up the book once more.  It wasn't like she had
anything better to do than read it again, was it?  As she flipped idly

A few too many words for a 'rueful aside' here, i think. Perhaps just 
'It wasn't like she had anything better to do.' would

suffice.

through it, she frowned, glancing at the door.  Had she just heard
someone moving outside?
       The door suddenly slipped open, admitting a familiar figure in 
a
gray prison uniform.  "Mitarashi-sensei?" Ren asked, then her eyes
widened.  "No, you're -"
       The door shut silently behind Anko, and in less than a second
she was standing in front of the Mist kunoichi, one finger pressed
against her lips.  "Quiet, girl.  I'm good, but not good enough to 
keep

Her own lips, or Ren's lips?

the guards from noticing if you start screaming."
       Ren blinked, confused.  "What do you want?" she asked softly
after several seconds spent futilely trying to make sense of what was
going on.
       Anko looked Ren in the eyes for a moment, then answered her
question with another.  "Do you care about your teacher and your
teammates?" she asked.
       "Of course!" Ren said, just a hair too loudly.  "What -"
       "Shush!" Anko hissed.  "Do you know who Yakushi Kabuto is?" 
Ren
nodded.  "My sister and your teammates were last seen leaving the
village with him, and he said he was taking them to Orochimaru."
       "So?" Ren asked.  "The Sound are allies of the Mist."  Anko
roughly pushed down the neck of her shirt, turning to reveal three
black, comma-like markings on her shoulder.  "What are those?" Ren
asked, a sinking feeling in her gut.
       "It's called the Heaven Seal," Anko said.  "One of Orochimaru's
techniques.  It grants incredible power, but at a terrible price." 
The
special jounin's face was grim.  "Nine-tenths of the subjects don't
survive the sealing.  They're the lucky ones.  The survivors belong to
Orochimaru."

I wonder what the survival rate is on the other seals, and what the 
signifigance is of there being different seals. It was

noted that the 'earth' seal borne by Kimimaro is the only one as mighty 
as the 'heaven' seal, but that's about all we know.

I would figure that, if they enhance different aspects or abilities, 
Midori and Kimi might have gotten different seals.

Perhaps Kimi would have gotten the 'heaven' seal as well, for poetic 
justice, but it seems to me that if Tayuya's seal

enhances her genjutsu ability, and Midori's techniques are primarily 
genjutsu, Midori might have gotten a similar seal to

Tayuya...


       "And you?" Ren asked suspiciously.
       "He had no use for me," Anko said simply.
       "Why tell me this?"
       "I thought," Anko said, "that you might agree to help me save 
my
sister's soul, and most likely your teammates' lives."  The Leaf
kunoichi's eyes were hard.  "I know Orochimaru.  He'll give Kimi this
seal, given the chance.  If Midori and Saburo are lucky, he won't come
up with a reason not to kill them quickly."
       Ren shook her head.  "The Sound and the Mist are allies," she
repeated.  "I don't -"

Just like the Sand and the Sound were 'allies,' kid ^_^;...

       "Listen to me!" Anko hissed.  "Orochimaru doesn't care about
treaties and alliances.  My sister and your teammates are in terrible
danger, and I intend to save them.  You're welcome to come with me, or
you can stay here and rot."
       "Why should I trust you?"
       "Because I'm about to break you out of here?" Anko asked
irritably.  "Now, answer."
       Ren stood up.  She wasn't certain how much she could believe
what the older woman was saying, but if there was even a chance that
playing along would get her out of here, it seemed worth the risk.
"I'll come," she said.

Given that water is necessary for survival, and hidden Mist ninja are 
specialists at water manipulation, one thinks that Ren

would at least be drugged or something at this point, to keep her 
relatively 'safe,' and who knows what sort of condition

Anko is in...

       "Good," Anko said, walking over to the door and opening it.
       Morino Ibiki stood in the doorway, a grim expression on his
face.  "That was an interesting conversation, Anko," he said.
       The woman took a step back.  "Ibiki," she breathed.
       "I'll give you a chance to come back to your cell and we can
pretend this never happened," the interrogator said.  Ren shrank back
against the wall of the room.  Was this all some theater for her
benefit?
       "If you listened to what I told the girl," Anko said, "you know
I can't do that."
       "Why not?" Ibiki asked quietly.
       "She's still my sister," Anko said.  "No one deserves this."
Ibiki just looked at her, and her hand slowly went to her shoulder. 
"I
know what you're thinking.  I don't... I don't think it's that.  If 
you
think it is..."  Anko trailed off, then swallowed.  "Kill me," she 
said.
"If he can control me this much without my knowledge, I'd rather not
live."
       There was silence for a long moment, and Ren swallowed 
nervously
herself.  If this was theater, both of the Leaf ninja had missed their
true calling as actors.  Finally, Ibiki stepped aside.  "You're lucky
that we're so short-handed that you're in the interrogation squad's
custody instead of still with Special Dangers."

Aaaaah! [looks around for insane Culture warships] Oh wait, that's 
'Special Circumstances'...

Sorry if you didn't get that lame joke ^_^;...

       Anko grimaced.  "This is precisely why I said that the
interrogation squad shouldn't have custody of me in this situation," 
she
said, then sighed.  "Thank you."
       "I'll cover you as best I can," Ibiki said, "but it'll only buy
you a couple of days at best."
       "Thank you," Anko repeated, and then the interrogator was gone.
The woman glanced back at Ren, grinning weakly at her.  "Well, what 
are
we waiting for?"
       Ren stepped forward, her eyes glancing at the hand that still
covered the strange seal the older woman bore.  "What... what was 
Ibiki-
san thinking?  That you wanted him to kill you if..." Ren trailed off.
       Anko's grin widened and seemed even falser for it.  "Oh, that,"
she said, fake cheer in her voice.  "It's just that there's a decent

It may be just me, bit i sort of associate the word 'fake' more with 
smiles and 'false' more with cheer. [shrugs]

chance that the only reason I'm doing this is because Orochimaru wants
you for some reason."

That would be a terrible, paranoia-inducing state to live in -_-;...


[C&C to be continued in Part 2!]

~Eimii 


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