Hibiki Nagisa had been the right hand man of Orochimaru for more than five years. It was he that had assisted his master for years in his research of immortality; defy death by changing bodies. The technique was perfect.

At least it was supposed to be.

His master had come back from his attempt on Uchiha Itachi beaten and bloody. The Sharingan somehow blocking the attempt to take over the young prodigy. They rushed to find a replacement for his master's failing body. They had decided to use the Setsushi girl as a host. Her bloodline might help in the research of Edo Tensei.

It was a good plan. Orochimaru-sama had agreed it was a good plan.

But now...

"Ara ara. It's good for you to make friends Suigeitsu-kun. We'll still help you get stronger of course, but it's no good for your growth to stay locked up in a tube all day." Orochimaru-sama walked down the hall with test subject 1701. The boy was alternating between staring baffled at the Snake Sannin leading him and the staring at the well lit and painted walls.

Orochimaru-sama had changed.


He had no idea how or why. The girl that was sacrificed was a broken shell with hardly a will of her own, there was no way she could could fight against his master's attempt to possess her.

But something was wrong.

The body changing after being possessed was normal. It was supposed to happen. It was meant to change to an appearance closer to Orochimaru-sama, not change to look even more feminine.

Then there were the personality changes, which wasn't meant to happen at all. Couldn't happen in fact. So the sudden change in priorities and personality must be because of a change in plans. His master must be doing all of this for a reason. This must be some plan to secure true immortality.

Nagisa just had to be patient and see how this plan would unfold. It would undoubtedly lead to scientific breakthroughs and greater amounts of power in the hands of him and his master.

He just needed to figure out how posters of felines and the words "Hang in there" factored into things.-------


"So where are you taking me?" Suigetsu asked in suspicion.

This was probably really confusing for the boy. Besides the fact that I looked like, well, me; which really would throw anyone for a loop when they were expecting snake pedo. Suigetsu had gone into that chamber months ago, when everything out here looked very Resident Evil. Now the halls looked clean, there were splashes of vibrant colors here and there, and I got better light sources. It was still torches though, since I couldn't afford to run that kind of electricity yet.

Orochimaru apparently didn't have time for things like "establishing an economy".

"I told you, Suigetsu-kun. To make a friend."

The boy made retching sound in the back of his throat and began to pout as he walked beside me.

"Ara ara. You stick that lip out much farther and you'll trip on it." The embodiment of water looked like he had no idea how to respond to that. "Besides, we've arrived."

The door before us was made of iron. It also had metal gate with its own lock. The gate was open. It seemed Kimimaro was already visiting. Suigetsu stared in apprehension as I opened a door capable of stopping a rhino in full charge.

"Orochimaru-sama." Kimimaro was on one knee bowing to me in seconds. I stopped myself from sighing in frustration. The leader of my "body guards" would only take it as a sign he should supplicate even more.

The other occupant of the room, a copper-haired teenager that had clearly been eating his Wheaties, stood looking between Kimimaro and myself before slowly starting to lower himself into a bow as well.

I quickly interrupted his attempt. "Jugo-kun. This is Suigetsu."

The name Jugo is familiar to Suigetsu apparently, as the boy began to sweat marble sized water droplets. I put a comforting hand on Suigetsu's shoulder.

It does not seem to help.

"Kimimaro. Would you please be present for this? I want the two of them to get to know each other. Too few of our shinobi share in the bond of friendship. So I want to help our younger members bond."

"Yes Orochimaru-sama." Kimimaro said without hesitation, then seemed to pause as he processed what it was I had just said.

I gently guided Suigetsu into the room with the hand that still rested on his shoulder and he only fought against the push a little. "And to help you the bonding I brought a little something to help you."

All eyes in the room locked onto me and all of their stances tensed. Even Kimimaro.

Orochimaru, you absolute fucking psychopath.

I withdrew a simple rubber ball that fit easily in the palm of hand. I had gotten them to be used for reflex exercise in replacement of the very sharp kunai that we had been using. And if there was one thing I did know, if you leave boys alone with a ball they will play with it. It's just what people do.

I threw the ball to Suigetsu and gave my best charming smile. "I'll come back later to pick you back up and to take Kimi-kun for some tests. Play nice boys!"

I shut the door before any of them could respond.

The rubber balls were a good idea. I was glad that I had put them in the supply requests. That line of thinking then had me wonder how much the rubber balls had cost. Which in turn had me realize that Oto had next to no income. Which then had me come to the realization that I had probably caused my ninja to go rob a toy store.

I took a moment to run a hand down my face. Oto was not meant to run in a long term and was meant to completely collapse if Orochimaru had left for a significant period of time. It was a tool meant to be used and discarded. And I had decided to turn the mess into an actual functioning hidden village. I needed more soldiers, administrators, and connections to do that, but I couldn't because all the dumb-asses and psychopaths would start killing each other and random bystanders the moment I turned my back!

I then resolved to do something I hadn't wanted to do. It's usually not a great idea to invite a spy into handling the logistics of running your empire, but I was running out of options. I headed to my office and promptly sent off a recall order for Kabuto.

The medic had not yet become fully loyal to me yet, but I didn't feel like turning him away from Danzo would be a particularly hard sell. Danzo was far more stick than carrot after all.

In the meantime, I had decided that I had dealt with enough stupid for the day and resolved to go to a nearby town for shopping. The purple bow looked decent on me, but everyone else I'd seen wearing it had it look just awful.

The very fact Orochimaru approved the Sound Four's uniform really says a lot about him.------

Suigetsu held the ball at arms length. Slowly turning it to see if it had some sort of seal, poison, or...something on it. The thing had to be boobytraped somehow. There is no way Orochimaru gave them a rubber ball just to play.

"That was Orochimaru?" Jugo asked.

"Yes. That was Orochimaru-sama." Kimimaro intoned.

"Ain't so sure the 'maru' part of that fits anymore." Suigetsu said as he tested the ball with a squeeze to see if it released some noxious gas or exploded. Nothing happened with the ball, but he did get a good dose of killing intent from Kimimaro.

"You will show respect." Kimimaro stated. Suigetsu wondered how someone could have have so little emotion in their voice, and yet sound so threatening.

"I just meant maru is the ending to a guys name. And Orochimaru is clearly not trying to sound like a guy right now. She's going 'Ara ara'!" Suigetsu defended.

The stupid dots on Kimimaro's forehead drew closer together as he seemed to struggle with Suigetsu's words. The white haired prick was apparently troubled by Orochi-whatever's sudden midlife crisis.

"That was a guy? He was so pretty though." Jugo asked.

"Of sorts." Kimimaro said, "Orochimaru-sama is able to move from one person's body to the next. His most recent host is a woman."

Suigetsu highly doubted that was it. That wouldn't explain the sudden use of 'ara ara', which was something only middle aged women say. Plus he figured the snake sannin knew at least five different ways to still look and sound like a guy. This was clearly a choice.

"Then isn't Orochimaru just getting used to her body and is coming to accept herself? I don't think there's anything wrong with that." Jugo said while looking at the rubber ball in longing.

Kimimaro put one hand to his chin and muttered, "That could be it."

After a few more moments of Jugo staring at the rubber ball Suigetsu finally bounced it over towards the room's normal resident. He bounced the ball off the ground a few times, marveling at the simple act.

"That sounds like a decent explanation to me. From now on I'll just call her Boss Lady and if she doesn't like it she can kill me herself."

Kimimaro nodded his head, "Yes, that way you will be useful to me at least in death. Very well."

Suigetsu felt his eye twitch at the casual talk of his death serving a purpose.

"Hey. Jugo. Can I see that again real fast?" Suigetsu asked.

"Sure!" Jugo took way too much joy having the ball bounce back to Suigetsu.

The former Mist Nin then took the ball, wound up, and threw it as hard as he could at Kimimaro's head.

The head of Orochimaru's personal guard plucked the ball out of the air before it could connect with anything. He stared at the ball in contemplation for a moment, before glancing at Jugo.

"Orochimaru-sama did tell us to 'play'." He muttered before the rubber ball made Suigetsu's left shoulder explode in a spray of water.

Suigetsu glanced down at his shoulder in surprise. He hadn't expected a rubber ball to do THAT much damage to him.

"So that's why she wanted to make us be friends." Jugo exclaimed.

Suigetsu ignored him to take the opportunity to snatch the ball from his shoulder and tried to get it to ricochet off the wall behind Kimimaro to peg the smug bastard in the ass.

Kimimaro simply did a half-turn and let the ball bounce past him and towards Jugo. The giant oaf just happily grabbed it and threw it towards Suigetsu. Who had his pinky finger splatter apart when he reached for it.

"That's it, you're both dead. I'm gonna kill you both with this damn ball." Suigetsu growled and snatched the ball up again.------

The time at the local town was lovely, and just what I needed. I had used a snake skin technique to let me not look quite so...Orochimaru during my trip. I bought some clothes. I treated myself to a little something sweet. I flirted with a stall owner. Really just enjoyed some me time. It was the best two and half hours I've had since I came to this world.

It wasn't worth it.

Behind me a bucket line was frantically trying to put out a pulsing green fire that was eating at a wall and yet also was somehow not producing any smoke. Several dead pigs also lay around me burning with a green smokeless fire that none the less was slowly burning the pigs to a charred husk.

The two glanced over at each other, came to a conclusion together, and immediately came to a decision.

"She stole my subjects."/"He was trying to take my research notes!"

They immediately tried to throw each other under the bus.It had only been after I arrived that someone decided to kill the on fire pigs instead of letting them running around setting more things on fire.

The two major people responsible sat seiza before me with their heads bowed.

"So, would please tell me how exactly this happened. Rumiko-chan, Botan-kun." Their frightened faces attempted to to hide behind their bangs, "Did you at least discover something from all this?" I asked and didn't even keep a cool façade up anymore, massaging my temples.

"Um..." They said looking to each other with wide frantic eyes, both certain if they answered no to this I would probably kill them.

Which I didn't want to do, but killing people that fuck up on this scale is largely how Orochimaru keeps people from getting out of line. I would have no choice but to kill them. While both were not nice people, as with most all of Sound's sociopaths, I didn't want to kill someone over this stupid shit.

"Can you at least duplicate the smokeless fire?" I said, trying to salvage it. A smokeless fire could be very useful to shinobi trying to hide.

"Yes! Definitely."/"We can totally do that! I promise!"

"Then you can try to produce it, without live subjects, and show me results within the month." I said as I turned to leave the two to collapse in relief.

I then promptly went to my room, unsealed my shopping bags, and edited my urgent recall order for Kabuto to be the highest possible urgency.

"I swear, it's like Aperture Science as run by Three Stooges."-----