Hello ladies and gentlemen, it me, Akashic Silhouette here. I have returned to release the next chapter of Instances and Intestines. I am quite happy to see some reviews, and positive ones no less! I admit, I had some reservations in hindsight with how I wrote, it's strange how my writing turned out, to me at least. Now, to respond to some reviews

CYBOOT says that my power progression is somewhat flawed because other prodigies in Naruto are more advanced than Naruto right now, yet our protag has a supersoldier's mind. Also, Hiruzen should have talked to Naruto more.

My ANSWER: Firstly, I have revealed little about Naruto's skills at this point, he simply does not have access to a host of A-rank jutsu or advanced techniques, so he's been forced to make do with what he has. Also, Itachi and Kakashi were raised during a world war, and so there was much greater pressure to advance as early as possible, techniques and harsh training were more widespread and available. Naruto currently only has access to what he can observe, what he already knows, and basic academy jutsu. That being said, he has refined these significantly, so don't count him out yet. Also, this is an AU, so obviously certain events aren't going to be exactly the same, Hiruzen doesn't talk to Naruto because he's been living at an orphanage with other kids, the Hokage doesn't show favouritism. In the show, Naruto has a tight relationship with the Hokage, but we see him at 12 years old, while the academy starts at 8, that gives them 4 years to develop that hypothetically, using my timeframe.

LOVEFANFICTIONS72 shows great appreciation, I am thankful.

Now, to the story.

∞Naruto a year before∞

Another restless night, and still I wasn't sure why. I sighed and glanced upwards to the night sky as I trotted idly down the alleyway. I was seven now, and recently, I just couldn't sleep, no matter what I tried. In the end, it wasn't particularly detrimental to my body, since I seemed to have a ludicrously resilient body, I could recover from sleeplessness very quickly. The stars were, as always, beautiful and saddening at once. They reminded me of how far from home I was, of the brothers and sisters I'd lost and left behind. I wondered for what felt like the millionth time, was the war over? Had we won? Or was humanity wiped out by the Covenant, and this world was all that remained of my people?

I kept wandering, until I found myself just outside the Uchiha district, only where there were once a pair of grouchy guards, there was now only silence. The Uchiha clan was one that intrigued me, along with the Hyuuga, I'd often wondered how Doujutsu came to be, especially in the case of the Byakugan. How did Chakra draw light from behind an individual into their eye to allow for three-hundred and sixty degree vision? I cleared my head, and decided to enter the district, there was something that buried itself in my gut, a feeling that reminded me of certain classified Office of Naval Intelligence operations I'd been on, including the one I'd been on before I was reborn in this world.

My eyes darted to the sides as I carefully checked my surroundings. I kept myself stuck to the shadows, and tried to condense my Chakra into myself, to avoid detection. Unfortunately I had no one to test my technique on, so I couldn't be sure it worked. As I snuck deeper into the compound, I made sure to use minimal amounts of Chakra for wall climbing, I knew the Sharingan could perceive Chakra, and I had little doubt my Henge would be seen through.

Then, before I emerged from a dark alley, I paused, smelling the air. That heady scent came back to me in an instant, blood. I pulled out a kunai, and entered a wide street filled with freshly killed corpses. I could still see the blood pools expanding, and I heard a near silent shlick of a blade running through someone's neck to my right. I quickly spun around and leapt back, creating distance as I held my kunai in a guarded position. There he was, perhaps ten metres away, and walking casually out of one of many homes that dotted the street. I recognized the boy quickly enough, Itachi Uchiha, his ANBU uniform was impeccably clean, but the straight shinobigatana in his hand still dripped with crimson ichor. There was a melancholy, bittersweet smile on his face. Itachi's eyes matched the colour of the blood on his weapon, and they narrowed in caution as he turned to me, having detected my presence. For a brief moment, I was hypnotized by the swirling Sharingan pattern in his bloody eyes, but with a burst of Chakra I dispelled whatever Genjutsu he'd attempted to catch me in. Itachi offered a faintly sad smile as he noticed the ineffectiveness of his Jutsu. My eyes shot down to his feet, avoiding eye contact was paramount when combating a Sharingan user of Itachi's level. I quickly dropped into a defensive stance. I was sure I was at the very least equally skilled as the genius Uchiha, but I lacked his power. My body had not matured as much as his, and so he undoubtedly outclassed me in speed and strength, furthermore, he also had access and therefore knew far more jutsu than I did. This was not a battle I would win; I needed to stalemate him long enough to escape.

"There will be no rescue Naruto-san, look into my eyes and I will spare you, my quarrel is only with my clan." Itachi's voice was deep for his age, and smooth, it was pleasant, and for a brief moment I wondered if he could've been a singer in another life. I had to stifle a chuckle at the thought; I did not know the Uchiha's psychological profile, it was best to maintain professional focus.

"Unfortunately, I have a difficult time accepting your generosity Ita-" I was caught off as he abruptly appeared in front of me in a shunshin, and swung his sword towards my thigh. I barely registered the strangely non-lethal move before I moved my kunai to intercept with one hand, while my other hand made a series of blindingly fast one-handed seals. I felt Itachi's muscles tense through his sword, and I knew immediately he was surprised, it seemed as though he wasn't expecting my level of skill. In what felt like an infinitesimal fraction of a second I released Futon: Kamaitachi no Jutsu, the Sickle Weasel technique. A roughly short-sword length blade of compressed air shot from my hand at tremendous speed, already aimed to Itachi's abdomen, directly to his heart. In the same instant Itachi attempted to leap back, but found his blade stuck to my kunai as I had subtly made use of the Chakra sticking technique used to walk on vertical surfaces, to stick my kunai to his shinobigatana. Unfortunately Itachi reacted extremely quickly, no doubt his eyes provided him with some understanding of what I'd done, and I only just managed to cut into his uniform before he pivoted to the side, and ran lightning chakra through his sword.

I bit back a scream as my muscles seized from the electricity running through them, but fortunately I had just channelled a wind jutsu, and it was easy to repeat the process and direct the wind natured chakra throughout my body to cancel the lightning. With some sleight of hand I leapt back, leaving my kunai still attached to Itachi's sword, but with a paper bomb stuck to it. I also dropped a smoke bomb at my feet to hide my exact position, I was almost certain Itachi couldn't afford to use more destructive are of effect techniques without alerting ANBU. Itachi threw a series of shuriken at me before he used a replacement technique to avoid the following explosion. I used another quickly drawn kunai to deflect the shuriken, before crouching as I realized my mistake in giving away my location from the sound of clashing metal, and used a replacement technique of my own to avoid another hail of much faster kunai from the side as Itachi burst from the alley I'd originally come from. I allowed myself a small grin, I was sure the ANBU would come running in any moment now that the explosion went off.

"I underestimated you Naruto-san, you are very skilled for your age."

Itachi Uchiha turned to face me, as I slinked from the roof I'd appeared at with my substitution jutsu, there was no point hiding, I knew he could see me.

"Why are you attacking your own clan Itachi? I could see the sadness in your face." I ignored honorifics as I asked him, drawing a second kunai in the meantime.

Itachi paused for a moment, "you do not understand Naruto-san, I do what must be done. Please, allow yourself to be caught in my genjutsu, I will spare you; you are of significant value to the village."

My eyes widened in shock, I of course knew to some degree what Itachi was talking about, the signs were obvious, no what really shocked me was what Itachi didn't reveal. I could tell he was not very experienced with espionage and deceit, at least not as experienced as I was, though that could be attributed to the emotional turmoil I felt he was going through.

"You aren't doing this of your own volition are you?" I muttered, some of my surprise colouring my tone.

The air became tenser between us, and I heard Itachi speak, very quietly "that's classified Naruto." Then there was a sound similar to a summoning jutsu, only quieter, and I noticed a pair of clones that stood beside Itachi. "I'm sorry Naruto, but I cannot allow this to continue, you've been a good conversationalist."

At first I was slightly incredulous, a mere incorporeal clone was little threat, and I could easily tell which was real or not, but then I noticed something. I could hear the crunch of gravel under their sandals, and I could see their footprints. The clones appeared ahead of me in a burst of speed, and before I could think about using my admittedly slower and clumsier shunshin, I was forced to use both hands to block their strikes. The real Itachi appeared in front of me in a similar burst of speed and I quickly leapt back, attempting to put distance between myself and my opponents. Then I readied my shunshin and disappeared in a tunnel of speed, reappearing in another street filled with older corpses. Before I could escape into one of the alleyways, Itachi emerged from it, and I heard his two other clones land behind and beside me. I exhaled quietly through my nose, I knew there was no chance of escape at this point, perhaps I could drag our confrontation out for a little longer, but I'd noticed no ANBU presence after the explosion I'd caused. My instincts told me I was right, Itachi was running some kind of black ops mission, much blacker than almost any mission I'd been on, assassination was one thing, and this was something else. I glanced around at the bodies strewn across the streets. "Don't you have a younger sibling? Parents? People you love?"

I heard Itachi sigh; I still dared not look into his eyes. "Unfortunately Naruto-san, sometimes the path of the Shinobi supersedes all others, my little sister will live," he paused, then in a distinctly more bitter and sarcastic tone he added, "I will have need for her eyes after all."

I paused at that information, still not entirely sure what he meant, "well then Itachi-san, I hope I can continue to live," I did a stiff bow "please take care of me", mocking the traditional school introduction, I straightened myself and looked into Itachi's crimson eyes, spinning with a pattern of Sharingan I'd never seen before, there was a softly amused smile on his face.

My world went black.

∞Present∞

"So, Hokage-sama… why are you here?" It seemed to me that he was evaluating me for something, I'd seen a similar look on many faces during my time in the UNSC, not that I'd ever served anything else.

My words shook the elderly man out of his melancholic thoughts. He cleared his throat and sat up straighter. "Now that you have turned eight years old, the time has come to join the Academy, if you'd like."

A frown wormed its way across my face, if I'd like huh? This made little sense to me; I was clearly of some interest to the Hokage, considering he came to meet me personally, not to mention what was likely some kind of wetwork agency watching over me nearly twenty-four-seven. Even the villagers paid me great attention, indirectly by avoiding me, and directly by hurling abuse. It seemed as if everyone was waiting with baited breath to see if I'd do something, and it set my nerves on edge. Surely the more experienced and disciplined people here didn't actually think I was some sort of demon? It was ironic really; that I'd carry that moniker with me even into the next life, only now it was my own species accusing me. Still, I remembered reading about the Kyuubi attack in a library, at first I'd been disbelieving, but considering all the things I'd seen Chakra do, and what I'd hypothesized about its effects… perhaps a hundred meter tall nine-tailed fox wasn't out of the realm of possibility. There was clearly something going on behind the scenes, as there inevitably always was.

"Naruto-kun?" Hiruzen looked somewhat concerned as he leaned forward, his brow furrowed in a gently puzzled expression. I jerked my head up and suppressed a greater reaction as I was roused from my thoughts. If the Hokage noticed my reflex he gave no indication, still looking for all the world like a worried grandfather. I nearly gave a curdled smile; he really was a good actor.

"It's nothing Hokage-sama, I was merely lost in thought" I waved my hand dismissively, "but," I paused, my brow furrowing, mimicking Hiruzen, "the Academy, do I really have a choice?" I injected a portion of the incredulity I truly felt into the question. To my eternal surprise, and perhaps even a little shame, the Hokage actually looked hurt.

"Of course Naruto-kun! I…" The Hokage paused for a brief moment; I watched his adam's apple bob.

"… the war is over, the wars are over, I don't intend to lead Konoha into another conflict."

I arched an eyebrow and leaned forward, clasping my hands together "but, I seem to be a military asset."

The Hokage's eyes widened, before taking on another misty, unreadable look, soon the mist cleared, but it seemed that Hiruzen had come to a realization. "You're correct Naruto-kun."

My eyes narrowed, "I remind you of Itachi, don't I?" I asked almost accusingly, though in truth, I did not hate the man. Hiruzen sucked in a sharp breath, and his lips tightened, but I could tell he would say nothing.

"Why am I an asset? I am, for all intents and purposes a child." I pressed my advantage further, and wondered how much the man would reveal. The Hokage seemed almost thankful to return to our previous topic.

"Chakra is a force multiplier; children displaying prodigious talent can become extremely powerful Shinobi." Hiruzen Sarutobi replied, though I could tell he had not revealed the whole truth.

I sighed, "I can't see myself as anything other than a Shinobi Hokage-sama, when do I begin?"

A strange cocktail of emotions flickered across Hiruzen's face, sadness and relief, followed by immediate regret, and then the mask was up again. He smirked, "you start now."

∞Four years later∞

At first, I'd been surprised that the Hokage had granted me a stipend, as well as my own apartment. I had been only eight after all, but it quickly occurred to me that this world had no shortage of super intelligent children, if the rumours were any indication there was an entire clan of them in Konoha. The concept of the Shikamaru clan intrigued me; in fact, the idea of clans or bloodlines in general triggered a kind of curiosity. I wondered if they'd come about through some form of primitive genetic engineering or eugenics, or possibly a more advanced form of genetic engineering, like what I'd been enhanced through.

I was twelve now, and much to my shame, puberty had begun to set in. In my old life, I'd been made sterile by my enhancements, and furthermore, my sex drive had been severely dampened, there would be no complications in my battlefield performance. Now, I was feeling an acutely human sexuality I hadn't experienced in decades. Nevertheless, I vowed that it would not control or affect my performance. I had been attending the Shinobi Academy for four years now, and I took careful note of their education, unsurprisingly, although various benign subjects were taught, including a decent level of mathematics and sciences, it was almost all geared towards warfare and the Shinobi lifestyle in some way. I felt nostalgia for the similar, yet much harsher training and education I'd received as part of the Spartan program.

I brief, bitter smile spread across my face as I turned from my window, in truth, I wasn't really paying attention in class, any of the sciences or mathematics assignments were light-years behind my own knowledge, and I'd already read far ahead in Shinobi history and politics. I was thankful for once, that Iruka-sensei did not call me out, having already learned that I could and would answer any question he attempted to give me as punishment. As I scanned the classroom, my eyes met a pair of glaring, familiar onyx ones, Sasuke, a distinctly male name on a distinctly female Uchiha, of course, anyone that attempted to mock her ended with their face in the dirt. I offered a small, sincere smile and nod; I hoped she would not interpret it as a challenge as she had in the past. The girl was very prideful, but I could feel here anger and frustration over not being the best in the class. Sasuke's scowl flattened and she quickly looked away. I knew she was the number one kunoichi this year, but those distinctions mattered little to her, she knew I was more skilled, and she wouldn't settle for second place. I approved, though I only wished she didn't direct her frustrations on me.

I sighed and turned back to Iruka-sensei's lecture, soon we would graduate, and our teams would be formed. I felt a brief ache in my heart of my lost brother-in-arms, and I wondered how S-241 was doing. Sometimes I missed being part of a binary team, headhunting built truly close bonds.

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