Hello, thar. Meinos Kaen here.
Finally here! 10.000 HITS! Thank you thank you thank you thank you, my readers, fans and friends! As promised, I'm going to unveil, fully and completely, the Project, that of course isn't going to keep this name. As I've said, this is a story you're going to have a hand in developing, in choosing where it goes. The question you have to ask me is how?
All of that and more is going to be explained here, right now, starting with the story's name. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, for the joy of cricket fans, Corridor of Uncertainty.
A Web Novel, not a Fanfiction. What's the difference? Well, I'll explain by telling you how I arrived to this idea. As those who have read the Countdown to 10.000 post, the start was in a dream I had. Well, it basically was what Naruto would be like if it was a Visual Novel instead of a Manga, with all the consequences of the changes, including Naruto himself being aware of the fact. Multiple choices, routes, the possibility to quake up with said choices. I thought it would be a fun story but I wasn't about to get to writing yet another one... Then, I thought of not making it a story, not a normal one. I thought, 'What if I emphasize on the Visual Novel aspect?'.
Thus, I did. I began thinking of the mechanism, how to integrate the multiple choices, the various routes, the alternatives. What came out was something that I liked, that I thought other people could like, really like. And thus, I decided it would become a permanent feature of my blog. What follow are the details for Corridor of Uncertainty.
The Placement: As you can see, the Counting Down... tab has changed to Corridor of Uncertainty. That will be where I'll keep a copy of the rules and the story's index. Each new story piece posted will be then linked there, in three versions: Original Blog Post, Online PDF File, PDF File Download.
The Routes: For those who are not familiar with Visual Novels, they are videogames that make their writing their strong point, and most of them have multiple Routes tied to multiple endings. Especially when it comes to those with adult scenes, each of these Routes is tied to a different girl, and so will be in this story as well. Each route will be tied to a different female partner for our main character, and the focus of the narration will be for him to get as many different ones as possible.
The Choices: Like in every Visual Novel deign of this name, at a certain point the main character is presented with choices that will determine the progression of the story and eventually which ending he will get. This will happen here as well, and you will be the ones presented with the choices, which will be resolved by Polls. The most popular choice will be the one I'll use to advance the story.
The Story Progression: I will post, starting with today's Prologue, a written piece up to the next Choice, which will open up a Poll. The Poll's duration will depend on how much further the story will progress in-between the result of that specific choice and the next one. At the Poll's end, I will post the next written piece and so on, until we reach an Ending. Upon reaching an Ending, there will still be a Choice with a Poll, that will let you decide up to which past Choice you want to go back to. Exactly like a Visual Novel, the fun doesn't end with the first play-through.
The Endings: There will be three kind of Endings but not each route will have one of each. The three kinds are: True Endings, the authentic ending of a route; Good Endings, endings that in a way or another are better than True Endings; Bad Endings, endings that you want to avoid at all costs and you have to watch out for, since sometimes the conditions for getting one will be subtle.
The Lemons: Yep. I couldn't live with myself if I took this out of something based upon Visual Novels. There will be lemons, at least one for each route. Sometimes it won't be the True endings the one you'll need to achieve to get to read one, and sometimes the difference between an ending's lemon and another will be substantial. There will be a warning at the beginning of each piece to warn you about the presence of M-Rated content.
Not that difficult to remember, is it? Especially the last part, I bet. Heh. Well, I can say no more. The story thus begins. I leave you to this tale of comedy, romance, disasters, eroticism, randomness. This time, with a great difference: this time, you choose what comes next. The first pool is up already. Read, and then choose. You've got the power.
Meinos Kaen out!
“For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.” - Unknown
Disclaimer: Naruto and all its characters, places and situations are property of Masashi Kishimoto-Sensei. Everything else is an original creation of mine.
“If this is really all there is to it, I'm so going to throw a tantrum.” He glared at nothing. Not because his gaze was unfocused but because there was nothing to stare at. “Aaaargh! Enough! Screw you, white!”
He couldn't describe it as anything else as he let himself fall only to float at the level where he had been walking. It was so strange. He could feel something hard as he walked but as he let himself fall to the ground, he felt something as soft as a jelly, but in both cases the fact remained that he couldn't see what he felt under his feet or back. No matter the direction he moved his eyes to, all he saw was an endless white expanse.
“Aaaargh! I want ramen, I want a bed, I want to see Sakura-chan and the others! I WANT IT IWANTITIWANTITIWANTIIIIIIIIIIIT! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!” True to his words, Naruto started throwing a tantrum. Flailing arms and legs, rolling around on the floor, screaming out to no one in particular. Till he ran out of breath. Again, he found himself staring at white. His breath was now ragged as he wiped the sweat off his forehead and gulped air. “But, that's the point, isn't it? I can't... I can't.”
With breath, came realization. Acknowledgment. He had lost track of time since he had ended up there but it must had been at least two weeks, and he sure as hell remembered what had happened before. The pain was all too fresh. He shivered. All the others. Gaara. Bee. He had watched it happen to him. “I can't because I failed.”
He never realized that just a thought could hurt so much. Maybe it was because of how much had been riding on his shoulders, the expectations of his parents being the least of it. The thought of having lost his life and the most important battle he had ever fought along with it stung like a son of a bitch. It stung his very soul, if such a thing was possible. He brought an arm to rest over his eyes. “I wonder if this is how mom felt when-Wait a minute.”
He suddenly shot up in a sitting position. “Wait just a damn minute! Why am I dead?!” Now that he thought about it, the same thing had happened to his mother. She had had the Kyuubi extracted from her but she had also told him that she had survived it! She had told him that Uzumaki had exceptional vitality and longevity! “Then, why the hell did I kick the bucket because of demonic extraction while mom didn't?!”
Now, he cringed. She could just imagine her mother shouting at him. 'What, should I have died right there?! You little ungrateful piece of condiment! You wouldn't have survived if I did, dattebane!'. He shivered. “S-Sorry, mom. I didn't mean it like that. Also!” Another piece of information hit him. “If this is the afterlife, why the hell am I alone?! Shouldn't there be lots of people?! Aaah! I don't get it!” He rubbed his head energetically, till it hurt. Maybe that was how he got the gears kicking, because the proverbial light-bulb went on above his head. “Then... Maybe this isn't the afterlife!” He got back on his feet. “Maybe I'm not dead!” Then he realized something else. “THEN WHERE THE HELL AM I?!”
He fell to his knees, palms on his face. He didn't know if he would die of starvation before going crazy-Oh, wait. He had noticed he didn't get hungry. He would definitely go crazy.
He stopped physically damaging himself. He turned his head around. His jaw dropped. “You've got to be-!” A door had just opened.The problem was that there wasn't a freaking door in that spot a few meters from him just a few meters from him. “Ok, asshole! Very funny! HAHAHA-freaking HA!-God, did I ever swear this much?-Now get the hell out here! What is this, Genjutsu?!”
If it was, he had no way of breaking out of it. Kurama was gone so he couldn't break it for him and he had tried, but he couldn't do it on his own. If it was a Genjutsu. He glared daggers everywhere around him, pivoting on himself to the point of making himself dizzy. “Ugh. My head's spinning.” He settled down and focused on the door, which was just slightly ajar towards the inside. “You want me to go through it? Is that it?”
No one answered. Instead, the door moved a bit more, another creaking noise echoing in the white space. “Fine, fine.” Naruto groaned, stomping his way to the door and halting in front of it. “Like I have a choice.” He swallowed and, a frown on his face, he slowly opened the door. Again, white. “Ah.” But this white was warm, enveloping. He smelled flowers. “It's-!”-I-
Hanabira zenbu o torigataruSono ato atama wo tabetagaru...
“Aah!” With a startled gasp, Naruto sat up in his bed, covers falling from his chest in his lap as he stared at his closet, alarm clock diffusing music in the air. “What...” He threw his hands to his face, patting it for good measure. Everything was in place. “I'm-Is this my apartment?” He threw off his covers and opened the shutters of his window. He gasped and opened the window, trusting his head outside. It was Konoha. “I can't... This is-Hey, kid! What day is it?!”
“Buy a calendar, idiot!” A bit taken back by the curt answer, Naruto pulled his head back inside and closed the window.
“No doubt, this is Konoha, then... I-I didn't die! I didn't die!”
“Tsunade-sama, these are the last ones.” Tsunade raised an eyebrow as Shizune presented to her a small stack of papers. She could easily hold them in one hand.
“Seriously? Only 11 AM and we're already finished with today's reports?” The blonde Hokage leaned back in her chair and raised her gaze to the ceiling. “Someone loves me, upstairs.”
“Tsunade-sama, this is the top of the Hokage Tower.” Shizune chuckled at her sensei's antics. “It doesn't get any higher than this.”
“Well, then let's just get those out of the way and enjoy a relaxing day, for on-”
“Baa-chan!” That's when the doors opened forcefully, the ANBU almost intervening before they realized it was Naruto.
“Brat, how man-!” The retort at the rude entrance and the use of that nickname died on her lips as Naruto caught her in a bear-hug, much to both the surprise of both women. Tsunade went stiff and blushed, while Shizune let the other papers she had been holding fall to the floor, her jaw slack and eyes wide. “N-Naruto? What the hell?”
“What? Can't I hug my favourite baa-chan in the whole world?” He pulled back and grinned widely at her. Tsunade recovered enough to smile and rap him in the forehead with her knuckles.
“It's not... A problem. But the suddenness almost caused my Anbu guards to skewer you in place.” She chuckled as he noticed the two masked guys glaring at him from the other side of the opened doors. “So, what made you so desperate for a hug? You feeling touchy-feely?”
“Well, I just felt like running around the whole village. You know because-Ah, by the way, why am I not in the hospital?” Shizune had recovered her composure and the papers from the floor, and she joined her mentor in staring at Naruto in confusion. The shinobi stared back, confused by the fact that they were in confusion. “You know, because I ghklha... Heh?”
“... What?” Tsunade raised an eyebrow and tried to make sense of the strange sound that had just come out of Naruto's mouth. Problem was: Naruto was doing the same.
'What the-Did I just mess up talking?' He clicked his tongue a couple times, to make sure that he hadn't an injury or anything else that impeded the oratory. Nothing. “Ehm, sorry about that. I mean, I thought that you would put me under observation after gakhalrya hupphafied huahuahua.” Naruto finished the sentence with his tongue hanging out.
“Naruto-kun, are you alright?” Shizune asked, worried, while Tsunade tried to make sense of what was transpiring in front of her eyes, which included Naruto pulling at his tongue. “Is this-I mean, want to go the hospital? Something wrong with your mouth?”
“Eh? N-No! I feel fine, I don't need to go to the hospital, it's just-Wait a minute.” It seemed that the pieces of puzzle in his brain clicked in place at the strangest times. He had just walked through Konoha and climbed the Hokage tower. “Wait a minute! This-This can't be possible!” He stared out of the window. “The tower-No, the whole Konoha! It was doagoled why wail!”
“... Brat, I think you need a check-up.” Tsunade declared. “Shizune.”
“Yes, Tsunade-sama!” Shizune replied enthusiastically, really worried about Naruto.
“I-I'm alright! But really, wail! Don't you remember heil?!” 'WHAT THE HELL?!'
“Shizune-nee-chan, you're worrying me.” Naruto's nerves were currently a wreck. Shizune had been going over his test results, which had took hours, for more than thirty minutes. They had skipped lunch and it was getting really late. “Out with it! Is there something wrong with me?!”
“No.” Shizune replied, settling down the bunch of papers and X-Rays. “Nothing's wrong with you. Your body and chakra are fine, Naruto, and that's what's unsettling me.” The black haired woman sat down in her chair, giving Naruto a worried look. “I just can't find a clinical reason for your... Situation.” She sighed heavily. “Are you-”
“Shizune-nee-chan, do I look like someone who would make people worry with such a stupid prank?” Naruto cut her off, a frown on his face. “I'm telling you: I try to say something, only gibberish comes out.”
“I-I'm sorry. I didn't want to offend you, it's just...” Shizune sighed, lowering her head. “God, I am so useless.”
“Heh?” Naruto blinked, staring at the bowing head of the woman in front of him. “Nee-chan, why the hell would you say something like that about yourself?!”
“Medic nins are supposed to help other people, Naruto. That's the basis of our nindo. But, I never...” Shizune's shoulders trembled, and Naruto's mouth slowly opened. “I never could help the people I really care about!”
“S-Shizune-nee-chan.” Naruto said her name, not really sure what else to say.
“My uncle died! Tsunade-sama may have spent her whole life running from her past or worse, joined Orochimaru if you hadn't come along! And now, I-I-!” Naruto's guts suddenly plunged in the pit that had formed in his body. The way she had suddenly threw her hands to her face and the way she started shaking was way too eloquent. “Now I can't help you either! Scratch healing emotional scars, I can't even do my job as a medic! I-I'm so-Hic!”
Naruto stared at the woman breaking down in front of him. He had never seen an adult woman cry, before. Shizune-nee-chan always seemed so strong, responsible, head-on-shoulders. To bear with Tsunade for all that time, she needed to be. She was crying in front of him, because of him. Because she wanted to help him but couldn't. What could he do to make her feel better, now? What?
He threw his arms open wide and hugged Shizune. Not as tightly as he had hugged Tsunade that morning. “Ah.” This hug was less enthusiastic, but more intimate. Warmer, gentler. “N-Naruto-kun?” He didn't reply. He just deepened the hug, trying to wrap as much as he could of his body around her own. He wasn't a big expert on physical demonstrations of affection, having lacked them in his youth. He went on instinct. The fact that Shizune was sitting on her desk and he was standing let him place one hand on the back of the woman's head, gently making her rest against his chest while placing his chin on top of it.
“N-Naruto... Kun.” Shizune's body, at first stiff, began to relax. 'So warm.' She let her head rest against his chest, her own arms going to hug him around the waist. He sighed in relief, the sharp exhaling and then intake of air moving the muscles on which Shizune was resting her head. "Hmm." Which only seemed to have the effect of making her relax even more.
"Nee-chan, never, ever say that you're useless again, okay?" Naruto said, blushing as he had just inhaled Shizune's scent. It was some kind of flower. He couldn't place the name at the moment. "After baa-chan, you're the best medic I've ever met, but she's an old hag! Never put yourself down just because you're not as good as her! You'll get as good as her one day, I'm sure of it!"
Shizune chuckled at that. He was probably just boasting with that last sentence, but she could feel he was sincere on the first part.
"So, never put yourself down like that ever again, you hear me? Or... I don't know, but I'll do something drastic!" He said, earning another laugh out of Shizune. "I'll hurt myself bad and then want only you to cure me! It won't be just me talking strange from time to time!"
"... Naruto-kun." As she raised her head, he had to raise his chin to allow her to do so. Her face had two distinct lines of tears but because of the wetness, they sparkled in the artificial light of her office and her warm smile completed the vision. “Thank you.”
'Holy shit. Shizune-nee-chan is pretty.' He could honestly say he had never noticed. Not only because of his crush on Sakura, but also because he had never thought of looking at adult women in that light, figures someone who had always treated him like a little brother. But presented with that face, he couldn't not acknowledge that Shizune was yes, his awesome nee-chan, a kick-ass medic, Sakura's senpai, but also a pretty woman.
“... uto-kun!” His daydream was broke by Shizune's voice. The pretty face had turned into an embarrassed one, plenty of red to go with it. “Y-You can let me go, now.”
“Heh? Ah!” Sadness gone, Shizune had realized just how personal the hug was, and his gaze hadn't helped matters. He quickly let go, like she was on fire. “I-I'm sorry.”
“Jeez, Naruto-kun.” Shizune cleaned her face with a napkin. She kept a box on her desk for all occasions. “I'm a bit too old for you.” He blushed up to his ears. He had been caught staring!
“N-No! I wasn't-I mean-Huuuh...” He waved his hands in front of his face, before surrendering, his head dropping. “I... Should probably go. It's late, so... And, I'm okay, you said. It's not like I can die from talking bad, so...”
“Yes.” Shizune nodded and chuckled as he walked to the exit, not bothering to raise his head. It was so easy to fluster him. Not as easy as doing the same to her, but still easy enough that even someone timid like Shizune could get through to him. 'A little revenge for having seen me cry.' “Goodnight, Naruto-kun.”
“Night.” He groaned. He doubted it would be.
Just as he thought. It was almost midnight and he still couldn't fall asleep. It wasn't only Shizune's fault, though. As he had had some rest and a good dinner, he had started actually thinking about his situation. He remembered the white. The door. He had found himself in Konoha. A Konoha that shouldn't exist anymore. It was destroyed, razed to the ground. He had seen it. He had cleared the rubble.
“So, how come I've walked by Ichiraku Ramen on the way here?” He sighed. Then there was the thing with his voice. What the hell? “... I should probably be grateful for being alive, I guess. Still, I don't like having questions.” Then, the clock struck midnight. “Hmm...” His eyelids fell heavy, sleep finally claimed him.
?????? ??????????1xFennel??????????Take things more slowly.
Hanabira zenbu o torigataruSono ato atama wo tabetagaru...
“Hmm... Huh?” He slowly removed his covers, sitting up in his bed. "Hmm... It always seems too early, no matter how much I sleep." He stretched and walked to the bathroom, observing his apartment as he walked. 'So, I'm still here. Wasn't a dream. Which leaves me with the question of what the hell exactly happened to me.'
Naruto searched his fridge and kitchen, finding unspoiled milk and a variety of food. He chuckled as he remembered Kakashi and his preoccupation with his dairy food. "Seriously, I forget checking the expiring date once and he thinks I eat green cheese daily." He went to put everything on the table only to notice something resting on it. A small wrapped package. "Huh?"
He put milk bottle and cup down and went to observe the object. The wrapping was simple brown paper and a string. No address, no writing except for a 'To Naruto'. "Is not my birthday, is it?" He really needed to get a calendar. "… Holy shit. For all I know, it could be!"
Last he checked, this Konoha had been destroyed. So, either it was all a Genjutsu, this was really paradise or... "Nah. I-It's impossible... Is it?" He didn't know exactly why but his gut told him to not discard the idea so easily, like he should know better. 'Then again, it would explain at least the how.' "Aaaah! Why do I have to think this much?!" He let out a whine. It just kept getting better and better, didn't it? He breathed in and out, deeply. "Ok, calm down. One problem at the time. The solvable ones first."
To answer his latest question, he would need a calendar. So, breakfast and package first. He brought the square object to his ear, shaking it. He could hear the faint noise of something moving. "Oh, well." He then untied- "Nnnn-! Damn it! Who makes knots this hard?!" Well, cut off the string and then tore away the brown paper, revealing a white box. "Finally." He raised the lid. "Huh? That's new."
The rectangular object could be held in one hand. A screen surrounded by a smooth black surface with round angles, didn't reach half an inch in thickness. "What is this?" Turning it around in his hands his eyes laid on the naruto symbol on its back, as in, a symbol in the shape of the ramen condiment. "A symbol inspired by ramen topping." Naruto grinned. "Cool! But how do I turn it on?"
No instruction manual in the box, Naruto observed the object more closely. In the end he found four buttons. A big one on the front, and three small ones: two on the left side and one on the top. 'Which one should I push?'
'The one on the top.'
“It's working!” Satisfied for getting it on the first try, the shinobi grinned as the screen lighted up, showing the fishcake symbol over a black background for a few seconds. Then the symbol sparkled and it was replaced by a more elaborated interface, in shades of orange and yellow. “Ooh! Nice colors! Whoever bought me this, really knows me! Huh, 'Slide here to release'? Hmm-Ah! It worked! It works on touch?! Cool!”
"Damn, this thing is awesome!" As he ate and got dressed, Naruto got familiar with his newest possession. While he still hadn't understood its purposed use, he liked the way he just had to touch the screen to make things happen."I really have to thank whoever gave me this-Oh." The phone suddenly told him he had a new message. "A message? From who?" He touched the screen and the display presented to him..."... Stupid end? Take things more slowly? And what the hell is a 'Fennel'?" Try as he might, he couldn't make head or tails of what he had just read. "And who the hell has a name like 'results', anyway?" He squinted his eyes. No one came to mind. "Whatever. At least I know that this thing is for sending messages." He put down the 'messenger' and went to tie his forehead protector around his head. "Ok. Now, next problem! A calen-" The Messenger suddenly emitted a small chime-like sound and a buzz as it vibrated. "What now?" He picked it up again. "Today's Agenda?" The meaning of the word eluded him at that moment but he checked it out anyway. The screen turned into the copy of a green squared paper with notes and-"Ah! Now I remember! An agenda is like, something where you write your plans for the day and stuff! Nice! I can check the date with this!"
Indeed. He just raised his eyes to see... “14 March-!” That settled it. His gut had told him not to discard the notion so easily and now he had confirmation. “Forget the destruction of Konoha, ero-sennin should still be alive!” He put a hand on his forehead, the notion now evident but not fully able to process it, mostly because he had no idea how or why yet. In more common terms, Naruto had just been mind-fucked.
“Damn it. This is crazy.” 'Well, not crazier than two weeks of walking in nothing.' He stared at the Messenger for a few seconds more before exhaling heavily. “It is crazy but I'm... Kind of grateful.” Just the thought of being able to see his teacher again made him smile. That thought out of the way, he focused on what it was actually written on that day's 'agenda'. “It's Sunday. And it says that for today, I have no active duty. I begin again tomorrow. Hmm, good-Wait a minute. How the hell is my agenda on this thing if I just turned it on for the first time?”
He was going from shock to relief to surprise to shock again too quickly for the discovery to have any significant effect on him, of all people. "Whatever. I'll file it under 'things I can't explain as of yet'." He turned off the messenger and put it in the inner pocket of his jacket. "Alright. So, I have a day off... I guess I could get some training done." 'I have to see if I can still use Sage Mode.' He put a hand to his chin. "Or I could take a walk around Konoha, see if there's anything different from how I remember it." 'What should I do?'
- Go to the Hokage Tower
- Go to the Shopping District
Go to the Hospital