BY : Mannah_Pierce
Category: Naruto > Yaoi - Male/Male > Naruto/Sasuke
Dragon prints: 1191
Disclaimer: This story has some of Masashi Kishimoto's characters from Naruto in a universe of my own devising. I do not own Naruto. I do not make any money from these writings.

Iteration’ is part of the space saga that began with ‘In the cold of space you find the heat of suns’ and continues in ‘Tales in Tarrasade’. There is also a one-shot ‘Silver Leaf Tales: Tying the knot’.

Thanks to Small Fox for being my beta. For this story he has also been my muse, suggesting a number of the ideas that have evolved to create this arc.

Thank you to those readers who have written a review and particular thanks to The Horseman of Death, sadie237, Prism0467, meow-ku, disembodiedvoiceofthedying, v, unneeded, and richon who reviewed chapter 46.

In case any of you have missed it, Tale 15 was added to Tales in Tarrasade on December 25 2010. It is set after chapter 43 of this story.

Apologies if the characters have grown differently in their new environment.

This is posted in the Naruto/Sasuke section because it is part of a Naru/Sasu/Naru space saga. However, it does feature many other pairings (and a few threesomes). Apologies to those who are expecting Naruto/Sasuke or Sasuke/Naruto every chapter.

Chapter forty-five: Contrast

Pein was pleased.

It was a rare sensation. He would make the most of it. He would spend time with Konan. He would insist that they do activities she enjoyed and relish her pleasure.

They would make love.

He would make the most of this precious sensation before the dissatisfaction returned.

It was a burden to be chosen for greatness. There had been times, sometimes standards long, where Pein felt he was making little progress in bringing the Peace.

The Peace was a better future for humanity. People would live simple, happy lives on planets and without technology; growing food and having babies.

In order to achieve this utopia there would need to be an elite who relinquished their claim to a simple, happy life and gave centuries of service. They would impose the Law and keep the Peace; endangering their humanity by using technologies that must remain forbidden to the masses.

The Akatsuki.

The challenge was getting from here to there. For that the Akatsuki needed an army and a fleet. The army needed to be disposable. Pein valued life, so they could not be human; they could not have souls.

They could be hybrids or they could be clones. Hybrids were the better soldiers. Pein had almost decided on hybrids. That was why he had needed Orochimaru.

Now clones were a better option. They could be infected by the symbiote that Kabuto had discovered, creating super-soldiers. A sample of the symbiote had been taken from one of the individuals that Kabuto had infected and Uchiha had saved.

Pein had a way of circumventing what Kabuto believed to be a genetic compatibility issue. Zetsu had traced the warrior woman’s planet of origin and a team had collected stem cells from five hundred healthy and fit individuals. After examining the genomes, Pein had selected sixty.

Two clones of each model were already gestating. One clone would need to develop slowly and with stimuli to create a golem; a sentient clone that mimicked humans but had no soul. These golems would need to have mind nets installed and be trained carefully. The other copy would be used to see which models worked best with the symbiote.

Later, when an army was required, they could accelerate the development of clones to maturity and mindprint them from a genetically identical golem.

It was a much neater solution than hybrids. Hybrid development was unpredictable. Standards of experimentation suggested that mindprinting hybrids gave uncertain results.

Pein no longer needed Orochimaru’s expertise but Kabuto was proving surprisingly useful.

The symbiote had come via Uchiha. The warrior woman had gone to Sasuke Uchiha, presumably because she had seen that first interview.

Pein had watched it many times. It did not speak to him. The boy was beautiful, Pein could see that, but his love for the soulless hybrid was unnatural.

It spoke to others though; too many others.

The new Uchiha was strange and intriguing. So many of the boy’s decisions were irrational. He loved a hybrid. He took in the brother who had betrayed him. He had risked everything, even his own life, in the Warren.

Pein had decided that he was a rich brat who had been badly raised after his parents’ death; blessed with an Uchiha’s beauty and charisma but with few other redeeming qualities.

It was those around him that accounted for his success: his mentor, Kakashi, the medico, Rin, the renegade Hyuga, Neji, and, most of all, the typed-seven genius, Shikamaru.

Pein smiled. He had used the boy’s bad judgement against him. It had allowed him to plant a spy in their midst.

It had been a ploy within a feint. Pein had always known that this Ranmaru’s loyalty to Konan was suspect. He had planned it to be so and systematically weakened it. He had always known that his spy would be turned; his plan required it.

Sasuke was in his office thinking. Occasionally he would make a handwritten note. The display frame showed the picture of Naruto. Soon he would make himself another small pot of tea.

Joining the inner circle of Uchiha, what Naruto referred to as the family, had become a one-way process. It would remain so until they identified and dealt with their enemy. They could not risk crewmembers being taken and brutalised or killed.

He drew a neat Uchiha crest in the middle of a fresh sheet of paper.

There were two ways forward. One was to find more allies. The other was to recruit but to separate those recruits, making an inner and outer Uchiha.

Naruto would hate that. For him Uchiha was family; you either were family or you were not.

Sasuke sighed. He decided to make the next pot of tea.

He sipped his tea and thought about Uchiha’s history. He kept coming back to the same thought.

They were spacers.

Perhaps they should not recruit individuals. They should recruit crews. Each crew would be like a little family. That would please Naruto.

He uncapped his pen.

These crews would not be Traditional. The code would be modified. No one, not even cats, would be expected to fuck against his or her will. There could be recommended structures and procedures. They would be encouraged to pursue some activities and avoid others. Crews who qualified and signed up would be given some credit and a communication advantage over their rivals. In return they would give a small share of their profits and their allegiance to Uchiha.

Perhaps the more successful crews could become allies. Maybe some of those allies would end up working hand in glove with Uchiha.

Crews who signed up and then broke the rules would lose their Uchiha endorsement. Crews who shamed themselves would be shunned. Occasionally a crew might do something so awful that they would have to interfere.

Sasuke smiled. It was a good idea. He was proud of it.

He would discuss it with Naruto and with Iruka before presenting it to Kakashi, Neji and Shikamaru.

He was making more detailed notes when there was a knock on his door. He capped his pen and called enter.

It was Konohamaru with Yuki. Sasuke was pleased to see them together; it seemed to be working for both of them.

Yuki held up his doll. “I am giving Dolly to Mai,” he announced.

Sasuke looked from Yuki to Konohamaru and then back to Yuki. He came out from behind his desk and sat on one of the comfortable chairs. Konohamaru sat in another. Yuki climbed onto his Papa’s lap.

“You are sure, Yu-chan?” Sasuke checked.

Yuki turned big blue eyes on him. “Yes,” he insisted, “but he needs new clothes. Haku makes the clothes but he can’t because it’s a present for Mai. I asked To-chan. He says you are good at making clothes.”

“I can sew,” Sasuke admitted. He had no idea about making doll’s clothes. “What clothes do you want, Yu-chan?”

“A kimono and a uniform,” Yuki told him.

Sasuke’s heart sank. Mai was being decanted in three days’ time. The gift-giving was the day after tomorrow.

“Shika-san and Neji-san are already onto it, Sasuke-sama,” Konohamaru assured him.

The doll had been carefully measured. Shikamaru had generated patterns that were scaled appropriately. Neji had gone through the closet and the old clothes that had been put aside for recycling. He had then gone around the crew with a few specific requirements. Various people had made contributions. Shino had made tiny Uchiha lapel badges. Kiba had made boots and sandals.

They had set up in Iruka’s office. Konohamaru was in charge of cutting fabric, Sasuke the machine sewing and Iruka the hand finishing.

It was difficult, fiddly work.

Finally they had the two outfits ready for Yuki to view. Naruto brought him to Iruka’s office. Konohamaru dressed the doll first in the kimono and then in the uniform. Yuki watched gravely.

“You made boots,” he said.

“Kiba-san made the boots,” Sasuke admitted, not wanting to take credit for something he had not done. “Dolly needs boots if he is in uniform.”

“The kimono is prettier,” Yuki observed.

“We could make a display stand for the set of clothes Dolly is not wearing,” Iruka suggested. “Like the stand Haku-san has in the closet.”

Yuki smiled. It was Naruto’s smile; like sunshine. “The kimono could be on the stand and Dolly could wear his uniform,” he decided.

Kiba and Shino spent the evening making the stand.

Naruto sat at one table and Konohamaru at the other. The children were wrapping their presents for Mai.

He looked about the new room. Despite all their efforts, it still reminded him of the classrooms at the orphanage. This area had two large tables and a holoprojector. There was also a comfortable sitting area, a place for messy activities, nests for resting and a gym as well as the large, central play area. At the moment the children were still not sure what they thought about the new room, so they were splitting their time between it and the old playroom.

The kits had gone through a growth spurt once they had turned four. Kuuya and Yasushi were as tall and almost as wide as Ryuu. Keizo and Yoshimi were equally tall but slighter. Yuki was a handbreadth shorter and much slighter; he looked delicate. Kazuki was yet another handbreadth shorter and skinny but somehow managed to look wiry rather than fragile.

Hoshi was tallest, followed by Haru and then Hikaru. Hikaru and Ryuu were the same height.

Biwako-san spent the first half of each morning and the second part of each afternoon with Akemi, Misora and Keitaro. Three days out of five she spent the middle part of the day with the litter and Ayame. They did what she called learning through play. When one of them asked a question she answered it, with the exception of Haru who was allowed three questions a day. Hoshi had shown an interest in learning to read, followed by Hikaru, Ayame and then Yuki.

No one knew how Haru had learned to read; it had just happened.

Haru had abandoned the tablet and Shikamaru had given up trying to keep him away from the data streams. Instead he built wall after wall of filters which Haru broke through or circumvented one after another. It had become a game they played.

Iruka had suggested establishing boundaries that Haru was expected not to cross. Shikamaru had squirmed and explained that Haru would cross them and then pretend he had not; it would encourage him to become deceitful. In the end even Iruka had given up for the time being, although he insisted that they would revisit the issue when Haru was older.

Naruto kept Haru under close scrutiny. He was a nice child. He could be a little thoughtless but he was kind to the other children. He did his best to avoid confrontations with Hikaru. He always put aside his latest obsession when Kazuki wanted to play with him.

He was doing fine.

Naruto’s gaze went to Hikaru. He was having a good day; there had been several of those lately. He had chosen bricks for Mai but in girly colours. Naruto had tried explaining that there weren’t girl-colours and boy-colours, just colours, but he could see that Hikaru was not convinced.

Kakashi had started their training and Naruto believed that had made a difference. They had a session every third day. Hikaru was better than Hoshi and far better than Haru. He always tried his best, which Kakashi liked and praised. Between sessions he practiced with Ryuu.

He had told Inari that he was like Papa while Haru was like Shika-san and Ryuu and the kits were like To-chan. When Inari had asked who Hoshi was like Hikaru had frowned and decided that she was like Papa too.

Luckily Hoshi was even less competitive than Haru.

In truth, Hoshi resembled Sasuke more closely. She was attracted by beauty. She was solemn like him with the same sense of humour. She had his reflective nature and his musical talent.

Sasuke had been encouraging them to make music rather than only listening to him making it. They sang and used instruments that Naruto and Kiba had tested and confirmed sounded good.

The kits were enthusiastic and loved percussion instruments. Yuki adored the glockenspiel. Yoshimi and Yasushi liked the xylophone. The other kits liked the drums. Even Ryuu liked the big drum. Haru was happy having a go at anything. Hikaru, Hoshi and Ayame were learning the biwa.

Hikaru, Hoshi and Haru sounded wonderful when they sang together. When the others joined in it was lively rather than tuneful.

Naruto gave in and wrapped Ryuu’s present for him; otherwise they might never finish. Konohamaru wrote the labels. Then they spruced up the children and headed for the galley.

Haku was already in his place with Kisame on one side and Itachi on the other. Naruto watched as Konohamaru hugged Haku, reassuring him that the time had come to try to move on.

It was joyful but a little sad. It was hard not to think that Ranmaru should be there.

Yuki’s gift was the highlight. Haku was completely overwhelmed, both by the fact it was Yuki’s precious doll and the effort that had gone into producing the uniform and the kimono. He insisted that Yuki sit on Kisame’s lap while he changed the doll’s outfit and then changed it back. At the end Konohamaru and Yuki went with Haku to the nursery to choose a place for Dolly.

“You did a great job with the doll’s clothes, teme,” Naruto acknowledged once the children had been put to bed and they were alone in their room.

“I had lots of help,” Sasuke admitted. He sat cross-legged on the bed.

Naruto recognised the signal and sat opposite him.

“You asked me if I wanted more children,” Sasuke began. “Now I am asking you the same question.”

Naruto understood. This was the moment. If he said yes, the triplets would be born soon, so that they would reach maturity before he died. If he said no, Sasuke would wait.

Did he want Sasuke looking back, raising Naruto’s children, when he should be looking for someone else to love?

Did he want to see Sasuke’s joy?

Hadn’t the past four standards been the happiest of his life, even happier than the two that had gone before?

Was there any real difference between ten children and thirteen?

“Yes,” he answered before he had even realised that he had made the decision.

Pein forced himself to wait a day after the first batch of information arrived; he knew that distracting Zetsu would be a mistake.

Instead he concentrated on planning how to raise the sixty golems. It should be done by mindprinted clones of him and Konan; that would ensure the golems’ loyalty. If they raised them in groups of ten one mindprint from him and one from Konan would generate the six couples they required.

But Konan hated them raising children only to use them. She would listen to his argument that they were not human and had no souls. On a good day she would say nothing. On a bad day she would make a comment.

It was a bad day.

“You loved Chibi,” she reminded him. “He was a dog. He was not even a hybrid. He did not have a soul. It did not stop you loving him.”

It stung. “I could lie to you,” he retorted. “I could tell you that the mindprinted clones were needed for something else.”

Her grey eyes were suddenly cold. “The day you lie to me, Nagato, is the day I leave you. We both know where that will lead.”

He did. She would leave, he would fetch her back and, in the end, she would die and he would be left with nothing but soulless clones to remind him of what they had shared. “I am sorry,” he mumbled.

She stroked his cheek. “I should not have tried to hurt you,” she whispered but then she turned away. “Go see Zetsu. He will have done the initial analysis by now.”

Every fibre of Pein’s being tightened in anticipation as he walked through the doorway to Zetsu’s room. Had it worked?

The central wall of the display was full of symbols, words and pictures. Large parts of it were outlined in red; the colour Zetsu used to denote plans rather than evidence or ideas.

Zetsu was sitting in his chair, staring at the wall; lost in thought. He looked exhausted.

“You have a plan,” Pein observed.

Zetsu jumped to his feet, spun and bowed. “Excuse us, Pein-sama, we were thinking.”

“I understand, Zetsu-san. You have a plan,” he repeated.

“Yes. The information is incredibly detailed. Uchiha has a device called an improver that allows them to use poor holes. That is part of what makes them so mobile,” light Zetsu gabbled.

“The plan,” Pein reminded him.

“Yes. They have a planet, unoccupied, out in the Far Fringe. They are certain no one knows of it. When they are there they dispense with their usual impeccable security,” dark Zetsu told him.

“They take the children to the surface,” light Zetsu added. “Shikamaru and his lover are permitted to be alone without fighters to guard them.”

“And we know its location?” Pein checked.

“Not yet, but we will,” dark Zetsu assured him. “We are already narrowing down possibilities.”

“Whatever the location, the implementation will be similar,” light Zetsu insisted. “I recommend we finalise the plan and dispatch squads in stasis to the most probable sectors.”

Pein knew it would be better to allow Zetsu to continue planning so that they could dispatch squads as soon as possible. Even so, he could not resist asking one question. “Are you sure that the planet can be reached without one of these improvers?”

Zetsu smiled. “It has a standard ecology. That means it was seeded by the Colonial Service. We can reach it using a conventional Mulligan drive.”

You need to be logged in to leave a review for this story.
Report Story