Final Arc - Some Slight Turbulence
(Lost Keys by Tool)
Jaden was submerged in panic. Between the breath masks constantly smacking him in the face, and the static-crusted cries of the pilot from the intercom, to the cries and frantic prayers of his fellow passengers. He focused on his breath; inhale slowly through the nose, hold ten seconds, then exhale through the mouth. His hands were busy; tangling and untangling themselves into various Mudra. He could laugh. So many times did his mother complain about her youngest son was out to kill himself; the fights at school, the tournament matches, the brawls in the street, the stunts, the camping trip from hell.
Of all the things; this was how he'd go.
He remembered the explosion blowing out his eardrums, and the sensation of flames washing over him.
All gone in an instant.
"So, this is death?"
"I can still recognize my-"
The Voice came from what almost felt like all directions at once, as disembodied souls found themselves plucked from the Wheel's clinical grasp by a warmth not akin to a cozy household fire on a winter day. Or, at the least, there were few better comparisons to make. The voice was young and old, matronly and girlish, imperious and kind. In truth, what each soul "heard" differed according to personal perception and the being's whims."I am the one they call Kami, a god, one of many. My domain is Life and the Wheel of Reincarnation, on my world, across many worlds, yours included. I realize there are many concerns about what comes after death in your world, a world of 'mundanity', and this is the truth. There is no afterlife, only the next life. This is how it has always been, and it is how it shall always be."
It was like a bucket of cold water had been dumped on him. Sure, his dabbling in Buddhism had taught him such; but he'd always dismissed it as metaphor. He wondered what his family would think, if they could see this. Religion was a touchy subject in the Bernes household; Jaden's grandmother never approved of their secular lifestyle.
"My grandsons don't know God, thanks to you!" She would complain, every family get together.
And yet, here he was, staring them in the face.
He listened as Kami explained what was next. He was surprised he suppressed his laughter. So, Naruto is real, and he's about to go meet him! This must be a dream -it had to be. Perhaps in reality, Jaden was really laying in a coma in a hospital somewhere.
Or perhaps this was real.
Only one way to find out.
"Right. Well, for starters: I'd like to be reborn in Kumogakure; perhaps I'll come back as much of old self as possible"
Arc 1 - Rebirth: Year 1
(Rosetta Stoned, by Tool)
It all came at once: The darkness giving way to blinding light; the sensation of something hot, fleshy, and slimey forcing him out. He tried to force an eye open against the blindness, only able to make up vague shapes in the fuzziness. He could feel what felt like a tube attacked to his belly being cut.
And the voices. So many voices.
What the hell?! Where am I?! What happened to me?! Am I dead?!
"ああ、なんて可愛い子なんだろう！" His vision cleared. He was being stared down by a giant man in some kind of surgical mask that dangled him by his leg.
Who the fuck are you?! Where am I?!
"え？ 彼は泣いていませんか？ なぜ泣いていないのですか？ なんてこった！ 彼に何か問題があるのでしょうか?!" He turned, seeing a giant woman laying in a hospital bed with her legs spread open. She was a mess of sweat and matted black hair... Wait a minute. Did he just come out of her? So, he really did reincarnate! By Kami, this shit was for real! But what about his family and friends back in his world?
What about his promotion exam?!
"心配しないでください、ママ。 彼を泣かせてやる！" Wait, he recognized this language; they're speaking Japanese. Now, if he could just focus-
"AAAAAARGGGGHHH!" His ass burned with the fury of a swarm of flying cunts wasps.
"うーん、彼は泣いていません。 まあ、少なくとも彼の肺は機能しています!" The doctor nervously chuckled.
What'd hit me for?! Unhand me, you sonuvabitch!
He thrashed, trying to grab something, or at perhaps escape from this awkward dangling. In his flailing, he his landed in the doctor's eye. "ああ！ なんとも強烈な赤ちゃんですね！"
"はぁ！ それは私の男の子です！ すでに子宮から出てきて、彼はファイターだ!" Someone else beamed.
Put me down, asshole!
The shock of being cognizant of his own birth wore away in the following weeks. Still, being mentally nineteen while physically weeks old proved to be its own torture. Time seemed to move at a snail's pace. He was suddenly aware of how fast-paced his previous life was. Now, there were things to do, people to find, and disaster to avert; and he couldn't even walk, or talk.
His new parents were nice enough; mother was never far, often smiling and cuddly. But, breastfeeding proved an awkward experience he had to force himself to bear with. Father seemed to pop in an out, more often covered and smelling of soot. From what he could see of Kumogakure, it seemed to storm a lot. Strange, it didn't look like this in what he saw of the anime. Or, was this the corruption Kami spoke of?
It was here that he realized he had all the time in the world to think, and observe. And more importantly plan. The corruption may reveal itself one way, or another. So, it would be best to explore and gather as much info as he could. He would also need to find the other reincarnates... But, how would they identify each other?
And what about the locals? He could imagine "Hi! I'm a spirit from another world in which all of this is a popular work of fiction, that's being corrupted into the real life equivalent of a crappy fanfiction" would be a fast way to get tossed in the looney bin. Perhaps he didn't need to give them the full story. Even then, there may be some who'd believe him. An image of Naruto himself flashed in his mind's eye. Yeah, he just might believe it...
But, in the condition he was in, Naruto -and the others on his "To Do List"- might as well be on the other side of the planet! For now the best thing to do is focus on expanding his Japanese vocabulary.
More importantly, meditating. In Jaden's world; Qi, or Ki, was more of a metaphor for the breath. But, in this world, he could actually feel something coursing through his body. Sometimes it felt like a warm breeze; others an electrical current. So, he closed his eyes, and focused on his breath; feeling the flow of Chakra as his diaphragm pushed it through his extremities; feeling his mind and body connect little by little.
With practice, he was able to flex his fingers and toes, and move his arms and legs with more precision.
A week later
Akarui rounded the corner. She was well enough, finally, to do some lighthouse work. But, her thoughts proved heavy. Since her son was born, he had been... Odd. He always had an intense, almost pensive look on his face. He never cried. Ever. Instead seeming to yell when she, and her husband were far from him. When either were close; he'd wave them down then gesture for what he needed. He also didn't seem to like being breastfed
Perhaps it wouldn't hurt to check on him.
"Eh?" She blinked once, then twice. Even after the third time, it was still happening. She stepped away quietly, any disturbance could ruin this. She found her husband in the smithy, hammering away at another order for Ninja Tools. "Darling! Come look! Hageshi is doing something unusual again!"
"Huh? Again?" He didn't bother looking at her this time. "Is it because he doesn't wanna be breast fed again?" He caught one of his apprentices giving him a look "Mind yer business!"
"No! Just... Just come upstairs, okay?!"
Urasai motioned for another apprentice to take over has he followed his wife. It seemed ever since Hageshi came out, she'd been worrying over him nonstop. He seemed to lose more sleep because of her, than the baby. Finally, they arrived, and peeked into the room together.
And there little Hageshi sat in his crib, fast asleep.
"You brought me up-!"
Akarui shushed him. "Not so loud! Look closely!"
And so Urasai did. Hageshi, who was barely a month old was sitting in his crib, in a perfect Zazen pose.
"Well, would you look at that!" He beamed. "He's like a little Ninsō!"
"But, how does Hageshi know to do that?!" Akarui wondered. "This... This isn't normal!"
They keep calling me that... Wait. Is that my name? Of course it's my name! Well, at least it's not something weird like "J"
"Eh, it's probably just a coincidence." Urasai dismissed. "Anyway, I'll leave him to his "meditation"..."