The sun was shining brightly on the training grounds, the creeks and the light breeze singing quietly a mourning tune for the fallen during the attack, happened weeks before .
I met with my team, and I gave to each of my genin a scroll in which I had listed exercises and whatnot to help them train themselves "The only thing war decides is who is left." I stated, observing how Choji seemed to take it at face value, Ino frowning lightly, likely trying to string together what I said with the other lessons that I gave them. And Shikamaru was... studying me pretending to be bored? Oh, kid. I was amused.
"You've never been at war, you were too young for the last." The Nara objected.
I snorted: "Wars are all the same. They begin under the direction of a few people, too prideful or narrow minded to do anything else."
I rose from my seated position: "When war begins, the people who order it ignore that, no matter how right they feel, they have no idea about who is going to die. They don't know whose children are going to scream and burn, what great dreams and futures sre going to be snuffed out before they have their chance to shine, because theonly ones to know the price of war, are the futures cut down along with those tgat would have birthed them."
My tone had turned from serious to frosty: "Nobody knows how many lives shattered, to never be mended, because those in charge never considered doing at the start what they will end up doing at the end: sit down, and talk."
Ino frowned, sensing that I was actually furious: "Sensei... You talk like this war wasn't in the working since the last one ended."
She shook her head, the illusions she believed into as a child had been shattered with their first wet work. Shattered by me, by my stories, by my stubborn and careless decision of making sure the next generation would see using chakra as a weapon like it was the dumbest thing ever thought.
"At the end of the day, sensei, we are shinobi." Choji continued her train of thought: "We will protect our families, our teammates, and by extention, our village."
I shook my head lightly, the Akimichi may have been the kindest of my students, but sonewhere along the way, I turned a kind man into an angry one. Another failure to add to my list of sins. I thought tiredly.
"The only way anyone can live in peace, is for everyone to be prepared to forgive, and we all should be the change we want to see in the world." I answered quietly, before clapping my hands and recalling my ducklings to order.
"You got your exercises, Choji, Ino. Shika, walk with me for a bit." I stated, and started walking alongside the little lake, taking in the gentle ripples the breeze was causing on the water."Anything you wish to tell me?" I raised an eyebrow, not bothering hiding my smirk.The young Nara tsked: "So you noticed? Troublesome."
"You're five years too early to lie to any jounin effectively, and... Shika, not to brag, but I am a motherfucking Sage, it grants me more than simple chakra sensing." I snorted.
Shikamaru sighed, his shoulders slumping ever so slightly: "Uncle Inoichi asked a lot of questions about your lessons, he wondered if I could try and figure out if..."
"If I am a traitor of some kind?" I asked with a smirk.The young Nara grunted, if in agreement or not, I couldn't tell.
"My unconventional lessons had only one pourpose, can you guess it?" I asked "And by unconventional lessons I mean most of our 'story time'."
The once lazy genius crossed his arms, his light frown deepening: "... prospective."I didn't bother in hiding my grin: "I wanted to see if I would be able to make you see the world without the rose tinted glasses of propaganda, yes."
"So we are an experiment to you?" He bit back, already knowing my answer.I shrugged, his indignation meant very little to me: "The Sandaime ordered me to teach, without a doubt to get a reading of some kind on me."
"Why the hell would the Hokage put to risk the heirs of three of Konoha's most prominent clans under someone he didn't trust?" Shikamaru proved himself quick on the uptake.
"Risk is a big word. I couldn't afford to half-ass your training because you were the heirs of three of Konoha's most prominent clans, Shikamaru, I taught you to see the bigger picture. You have all the clues you need, and I'll answer your questions, but make the right ones."
I reprimanded him. He sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose, and after a minute he asked again: "Why would the Hokage need such a roundabout way to get a 'reading' on you?" But from his tone, I knew it was a rethoric question.
"You've never given any kind of doubt regarding your loyalty to the village, otherwise we wouldn't be talking..." He reasoned out loud: "and we talked about perspective..."I nodded, encouraging him to keep following that logic train.
"How did you develop a impartial point of wiew in the first place?" he wondered then.
I grimaced, it was a good question, but it wouldn't lead where I wanted him to go, so I tried another route: "What do you think makes us human?" He raised both his eyebrows and his expression went slack in surprise, tilting his head to my non sequitur.
"And what actually is human progress?" I asked again."Do you know why Hashirama founded Konohagakure and dragged humans in the Age of Hidden Villages from the Age of Warrin Clans?" I asked suddenly, I demanded an answer to that last question.
"Because he wanted to protect the young who otherwise would have been forced into war at 4 years old?" Shikamaru answered with the first thing that popped into his mind.I nodded mockingly: "Oh, yes, so that instead of using children as meat shields we now have five years to grind them through the academy. He revolutionized the world to give children five years during which they could dedicate their efforts to learn how to better kill other children." the sarcasm was heavy in my tone.
Shikamaru gritted his teeth in annoyance but didn't rise to my bait."Try again." I told him, and I was no longer his benevolent teacher, but the merciless hammer that had crushed Orochimaru, I was the weapon that the world we were into had forced me to become."...He went beyond his clan's rivalry with the.." he tried to answer.
"Hashirama founded Konohagakure because he could." I cut my student.
"Thereby strenghtening his clan and making it wealthier with the system he..." Shikamaru tried to defend his answer."Do you actually believe he founded the village, captured and gifted biju around for money ?"
Shikamaru frowned: "I'm guessing in that way he reduced the risk of clan children starving, and provided a fortress were shinobi could actually feel safe, a place where scientists and whatnot wouldn't be assaulted in the night and be killed after having their research stolen..."
I snorted."You would measure human progress by the advancement in technology or the ever growing monetary flow?" I asked sardonically.
"In that case, why don't we sterilize some clan children and sell them to the higher bidder when they are still under one years old?" I shook my head patronizingly.
"The progress of any form of society is measured through the value attributed to the lowest of it's components. That civilian who got drunk and drowned in its puke in that alley two days ago, an unimportant life, a life without priviledge. The life of the akasen that disappeared in the night and got himself signed up for the academy in exchange for a rice ball."
I grabbed Shikamaru' shoulders with an iron grip: "The value of those lives, it's your value. That is what defines an Age, and That is what defines a species. If I failed to teach you anything else, I hope I managed to teach you this."
"What was that talk about the ones in charge not knowing what the price is..." He started, prodding for a reaction.
Like I had always enjoyed doing, my answer was far from any he could have expected."Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, it makes one a tool for the knowledgable."
I was cleay referring to Choji, who had translated my lessons in 'annhihilate threats to the ones you love'.
"And knowledge without integrity is dreadful and dangerous, making one alone and prone to madness." Orochimaru firsy example, and I acutely feared the more... feral side I had forced Ino to accept when I tossed her into the Forest of Death, so many months before.
She had knowledge of a basic truth: in the end, humans are very effective animals, but animals nonetheless.
And so she came to classify other humans in three categories: prey, fellow predators, and enemy predators. At her core, she had regressed from a cheerful and empty fangirl to a deadly, calculsting predator. Inoichi had likely noticed something along those lines, it was understandable why he disliked me so much.
How did I ruin Shikamaru, I wonder? I couldn't help but ask myself.
"And when this war will be over, the world once more remembering the might of Konoha, what then? Do our leaders know how it's going to turn out? How it's going to be like? What weapons and techniques are going to be discovered and spread during this conflict? What nightmares are going to hunt the next generations?" I wondered out loud.
"At the end of the day, Shikamaru, the ones who order war are a child throwing a tantrum, and they do not know what they want beyond 'more power' or 'stability' or my favourite: 'the last war to end all wars'." Finished my little monologue, I ruffled his hair, undoing his pineapple knot and granting myself an annoyed grunt."Good luck Shikamaru. We'll probably see each other on the field." Once that I said my piece, I walked briskly toward my yurt, I had a few things to pack and preparations to finish, bacause in less than a week, I would go to war.
I awoke with a start.
"I remember that conversation." It had been part of the discussion of Hypotetical Situations I had forced my team to go through.
But not that way. That was a chat we likely would have had in case of a declaration of war, but twisted along with my fears and insecurites, and I didn'tneed to be from another reality to see that iwa presence at the chunin exams had shot canon out of the window.
Am I going mad? I distractedly asked myself before taking in the wast Planes where the Elephants roamed. I looked at my companion, tall less than a couple of dozen meters tall.
The small (for its species) summon was eyeing me curiously, his tusks gleaming of a shiny red, but he didn't comment.
I ignored him for now, he would become much more talkative once he chose I was doing something interesting.
Maybe I am only having visions of what would have happened if I stayed at home. I thought, jumping slightly non my place and eating a mouthful of berries.
I would need my energy. I can only hope my back up plan works out.
I eyes mistrustfully the three scrolls sealing respectively the Shodai tge Nidaime and Orochimaru, before letting my gaze trailing over the Kusanagi and the Monkey contract.
My eyes stopped on another big ass scroll. In there, there was my first step towards an S-rank that didn't depend on Senjutsu.
"First thing first." I said, claiming back the wavering attention of the red elephant.
"Zoukatatsu, we need to study the Scrolls of Seals, and figure out how to tweak an active Edo Tensei."
21 May- year 13 AK
The room smelled of bitter medicines and ammonia, likely the result of an eccessive zeal put into disinfectating the environment.
I never liked hospitals. I realized.
Not that ever needed one, I just know, that a time or reality in which I did not feel uncomfortable roaming the white halls could never exist.
I nodded to myself, content that my brain had provided an explanation for my chosen words, before turning my head to my bedridden teammate.
Leaning heavily on my brand new crutch, I reached for the foot of the bed and took out Choji's papers.
Broken left fibula, broken right ulna, five lower right ribs broken, dislocated shoulder, concussion, punctured lung, shredded left trapezius. I read in my head, my eyes darting from each word to the wound it listed.
I sighed, at least there would be no long term repercussions.
I didn't know why I kept checking on the list, it wasn't going to shorten itself anytime soon, but somehow it grounded me.
It made easier to ignore the thrumming pain in my left leg, if nothing else.
My chakra whirled abruptly, random checking for genjutsus and brushing iver Choji's dimmed presence. He was stable, his slow, deep breaths reassured me, even if his own chakra didn't react to mine in the slightest.
"Chakra sensing has two faces." Daiki-sensei explained.
"The more obvious one, is recieving an echo of an active chakra system. There are a moltitude of techniques for feeling that, the easiest one is having a chakra control developed enough to recognize the impressions that an active chakra system uncousciously imprints around you."
I remembered frowning at his explanation. I could understend a shogi match, the hidden measures behind the Wind Lord economic choices with the same ease I breathed. But putting together the wishy-washy half poetry sensei used to explain the inner workings of chakra had always been difficult.
"The other face, is showing your chakra to someone and gauge his reaction. Very few can mask such a reaction, because its buried deep into our genes. Its the growl towards a new menace, the whimper that signales surrender, the roar of victory." Daiki-sensei had explained.
"Wouldn't flaring your chakra in that way alert everyone to your presence?" Ino asked.
"It's not chakra flaring." Daiki-sensei shook his head "But yes, anyone you used this on would feel your chakra, and their brains would go through a synesthesia to associate these persons to a idea which identifies them. It's personal and unreliable, but impossible to mask."
"I don't get it sensei, can you, for once, not use riddles?" I had snapped.
Sensei had chuckled, chuckled! Like there was anything funny about it.
"It's like showing your face instead of offering your papers." Choji had butted in.
"Yes! It's a good way to put it, well done Choji!" Sensei had beamed.
"It's just my luck that I would figure it out only now..." I sighed.
"Figure out what?" A raspy voice asked.
I turned on myself, flaring my chakra again and relaxing immediately when I recognized the person that had startled me.
"You shouldn't be talking." I reprimanded her. Ino was limping through the door, a brand new crtutch for her too, sonething to match her bandaged eye and the sling in which her left arm rested.
She rolled her eyes, before twisting her chakra in a familiar pattern.
I can talk a bit, you know, and my voice will return to normal in a couple of weeks. the voice I would always recognize as my more nagging teammate resounded in my head.
"That doesn't mean I have to suffer it." I smirked, hastly retreating when I saw Ino taking a threatening step forward.
She calmed immediately in seeing Choji: I'll take this shift, go home Shika, you stink.
I surrendered immediately, we both knew the other wouldn't relent on this: "Send someone if..."
"Okay, okay." I uffed "Nagging woman."
I'll never thank sensei enough for having beaten the 'troublesome' out of you.
A sharp tang of pain-loss-lost-distance riplpled through her chakra, drowning the moment of levity we managed to share with the dark certainity that was plaguing the days after the 'Betrayal', how the villagers had started to call the coordinated assault brought on Konoha by Oto, Iwa and Suna.
"They didn't find a body." I repeated her for the unpenth time.
"You felt that jutsu." Her raspy voice accused me.
"Everyone felt it, it was half a kilometer tall pillar of fire and wind. That stuff cooked alive the four that kept up the unbreakable purple thingy. It means shit, I'll believe him dead when I see his body." I shook my head "And then I'll just chant 'Troublesome' until he comes back from the dead to dope-smack me."
With tjose words and the uncertain ripple of relief across Ino's chakra, I limped out of the room, heading back to the Nara compound.
Doing twelwe hours long shifts was possible only because of our wounds, that squarely placed us on leave.
I watched the destroyed buildings being rebuilt and the people shuffling around, shinobi and civilians alike.
Half of the academy students' time had been redirected to help moving rubble, their curriculum had turned in something much more harsh that what I had endured when I was in their place.
It had been three days, and there was something hanging in the air. Like everyone was sharing a secret that they did not dare utter out loud.
I spotted veterans with missing limbs taking up administration posts, freeing our able chunin to do whatever.
I looked to the artisans' district, measuring the thick clouds of smoke against what my memories supplied.
They are bigger. I realized immediately.
Nobody was saying it out loud, but I could tell, everyone could, really.
Yondaime-sama had spared Iwa after his overwhelming victory, and now they tried to strike back? Allying themselves with our previous ally and Orochimaru's village of all things.
I distractedly heard a man whisper something about Tsunade as Godaime, the way his feet were placed made clear that he was a shinobi.
"Once you see the propaganda, you can't close your eyes." Daiki-sensei voice echoed again in my head.
Konohagakure no Sato had turned into a very different beast from the one I had grown up into.
Is sensei alive?
Is it on orders?
Sensei went toe to toe against Orochimaru and the first two kages, what kind of mission would necessitate him off the grid?
Something did not make sense in my head, it felt like a pebble in the sandal, or a slightly askew painting.
There was something wrong, and it felt like an itch in my brain.
"Read the books written by our fallen hero! Just a week ago, the Publishing House of the Rising Sun had us know that every single one of their books had been written by Daiki-sama himself!" A man shouted from a small bookstore, a giant poster of sensei's writing hung above the door.
Yeah. Okay, sensei is alive. I deadpanned silently. The fucker likely had foresaw the awesome advertisement his heroic death would grant to his works.
I'll have to tell Ino.
I reached the compound and my family's home without anybody else to interrupt my thoughts.
Soon enough, I was in my room and fell on my bed.
Fuck futons, those are for people that do not enjoy sleep. I thought distractedly.
I sunk my face in the pillow, letting the darkness claim my sight.
I was bothered, for what was likely the first time in my life, I had difficulties in falling asleep.
Then I felt it, there was something under my pillow.
I slid my hand under the pillow and rolled on my back, taking out what appeared to be a leather bound book, not particularly thick, with a single sheet of paper that somewhat stuck over the edge of one cover and onto the other, making it an obstacle that had to be tore in order to open the book.
My nose flared, taking in scents and whatnot, recognizing two contact poisons immediately, along with the smell of blueberry ink.
Sensei had us build immunity for those two poisons...
A memory came unbidden to the forefront of his mind, sensei used that ink when he hid a message among false ones for my team to find.
I fell into my well praticed routine, I shaped my chakra, feeling it fall behind and below, with that sensation that would be absolutely alien to anyone but a Nara, and I wrapped a tendril of shadow around my broken leg, thin threads shooting to the ceiling and helping me move myself to the edge of my table.
My eyes never left the slip of paper, where thin lines of ink were showing themselves.
"At it's core, Fuinjutsu is somehow taking something, and placing it somewhere else, before taking it back in some form." Sensei was explaining."Sure, the basic concept is easy enough to grasp, but there are a shit ton of reasons why not everybody and their mother is able to do anything beyond a simple storage scroll." he rolled his eyes.I watched him with interest, my mind had been enjoying the seals he had me memorize, and I still had no idea why they would do what they did.
"The key, is language." Sensei said, and gone was his usual carefree expression, he had turned serious and cold. It unnerved me, it always did.
"Language?" I repeated to myself out loud.
The characters slid one over another for a second, and the paper crumbled into ash.
I felt my eyebrows shot upwards and for a second I felt cold, then the first cover followed the suit of the piece of paper that had kept it closed, crumbling and letting me read the first page.
He worded a lesson we had months ago in order to have me open this book now. I speculated, my brain hammering on the coincidence too hard for me to ignore it.
Shikamaru, next time, check your bed Before jumping on it, carelessness kills.
Each page will fade after twelwe seconds, memorize each one.
What follows is for your eyes and your eyes only.
The page crumbled, reveing the following one.
The Sandaime Hokage had his memories sealed away after giving me my orders, placing their secrecy above S-rank. If such a rank officially existed, it would be SS.
In short, the next Kage must not be made aware of my actions.
I felt my eyebrows trying to jump off my forehead and run for the hills.
The page crumbled, and what i assumed were a shitload of state secrets started writing itself on each following page, my eyes burning each word into my mind.
Distractedly, a part of me was realizing the sheer Troublesomeness of the situation, while another held back the titanic migraine that was trying to kill me.
2 August- Year 13 AK
The room was dimly lit, why, I had no idea, but the people in it were of the dangerous sort. Mitokado Homura and Koharu Utatane were sitting at the sides of the one and only Shimura Danzō.
Seated at the long table, there were Tsunade Senju, who was laid back and sipping some sake, Jiraya himself. Kakashi Hatake was reading his smut without any kind of shame, an Anbu in a black mask with a dragon pattern, who I believed was the Anbu commander, and Shikaku, master tactician and whatnot.
I sighed, being summoned by the higher ups in what looked like a shady meeting was Troublesome with a capital T, and I was acutely aware that Shikaku wasn't my dad, not in this setting.
The real question was why I was sitting at their same table. And why half of them were just sitting there without doing anything, and the other half squabbling over bullshit of every kind.
I coughed heavily, dragging several eyes on me. "Excuse me, but why am I here?" I asked. "I'm not really one of you higher ups..."
Jiraya laughed out loud: "Ha! He has his sensei spunk, I like him."
"The reason is irrelevant, we will ask questions, you will answer." Homura explained in a blank tone.
I narrowed my eyes, they had let almost a month pass since the Betrayal, they clearly didn't call me to discuss a strategy on how to react.
Or did they?
Why they are acting then? I wondered.
Shit, is this the war council?
They want to see what I am capable of, tactics-wise. I concluded.
My reasoning had took less than two seconds, so I rolled with it.
I chose to cut the plesanteries, my eyes trying to gauge their reactions, even if I was aware that i would only be able to see what they wanted to show.
"This is a war council yes?" I asked, building up momentum. At their nods I went foward, guiding the conversation.
"Or at least, a mock-war council to see if I had half a brain to go along with what the Jonin Commander told you." I amended.
Dad snorted, and it was dad doing it, not the jonin, while Jiraya let out a delighted laugh and Tsunade smiled sharply at me, before downing another cup of sake.
"Firstly we account our pieces then." And I turned towards Tsunade: "Which is the condition of Sandaime-sama?"
She grunted, giving me an harsh glare that didn't affect me at all. We stared each other in the eyes for several seconds, finally she moved her eyes away.
"He died a week ago." She answered "But we kept it quiet, high morale and whatnot."
I nodded gravely, hiding my surprise and keeping silent for a second in respect of the man.
How the hell did sensei know? Well, he didn't know, he listed it as a highly likely, but still...
"What's your opinion on who should serve as Godaime Hokage?" the gravelly voice of Shimura Danzō brought us back on track.
They want my opinion? What can they hope to understand about me based on my preference? I frowned.
"Strenght-wise, the next Kage should be Guy-sensei." I said with a deadpan tone.
Jiraya spluttered, Kakashi giggled (not perversely), Tsunade coughed, her sake going down the wrong pipe.
Danzō simply raised an eyebrow, clearly asking for an explanation.
"Daiki-sensei always said that Guy is the strongest since the Sage." I said confidently, an image of him with shit eating grin flashing in my mind. "However, I don't think he has the... temperament, to be a Kage."
There was some random chattering about my answer, and even some shaking heads, but it soon faded. I rose from my seat and started walking in circles around the table, my arms crossed and a frown on my face.
"Sandaime-sama granted us a victory, removing Onoki from the picture. The logical successor, is Tsunade-sama. She can keep running Konoha and hammer our med nins into shape." in my mind, I refused to use sama, but out loud it was strictly necessary.
I really want to kill Danzō before he can go all power hungry, but with a war on our doorstep... I thought about my following actions carefully, comparing what sensei had written in that bullshit book of his.
I kept my eyes washing around the room, my footsteps echoing across the room.
My mind was running furiously, stringing together tactics and adapting them to what I knew first hand from the world I was living into. How does Root fall into this?
I fluctuated my chakra wildly, randomly checking for genjutsu: "Now, Suna is in disarray, Chiyo will probably hold together their council, we sholud either leave them alone and cut them in the moment they cross the borders, or hit them and instate a puppet as their Kage after having pacified the country."
"We do have two of the Kazekage's children in our cells." Homura offered me.
I blinked, taking in the information and rolling with the other things I knew.
"Is Gaara one of them? Is he... saner?" I asked.
Jiraya grunted an assent: "I wrapped him up after sealing back in the ichibi, his sister too is in our cells." he informed me.
"The Wind Lord will likely keep sending work our way. I voice for the second option, unless someone has a peaceful way to deal with Suna?" I looked around hoping in an answer. Nobody said anything.
"I will take care of it." Danzō uncharacteristically offered. I nodded in his direction. He was a sneaky bastard, but we were really short on capable people, and sensei believed that in case of war I could trust him to be unrelenting against those outside.
Jiraya raised an eyebrow: "I played around with the Gaara-kid seals, he's better, but it will take some time."
Tsunade butted in: "The girl isn't S-rank material." she explained to me.
I shrugged, not that I actually cared, but considering the shit most S-rank shinobi were capable of at sixteen, she would likely never reach the fabled rank.
Hell, considering the shit daiki-sensei was pulling, he was redefinin what the rank meant.
Besides, every jinchuriki ended up S-rank, a kage had to be S-rank, so it made sense to bet on the Gaara. Sure, betting on him meant brainwash him in a sappy friendship-bond between Konoha and Suna, but I was past caring at that point. And we could keep the other as ostage of sone kind.
Danzō's eye reached again the toad sage: "There will be resistance, I'll deal with the clean up before the jinchuriki is ready."
Nobody missed the light hostility that oozed off from both Jiraya and Kakashi, my chakra turned scorching, heating me consideratedly and making the air out of my mouth waver. Fire natured chakra would never stop surprising me. Easy to create, difficult to contain, easy to direct, impossible to tame.
"Iwa will more than likely put Onoki's son at the rudder, peace with them is out of the picture, and while Kumo gained a bloody nose during the exams, not managing to place a single one of their genin in the third stage. Still, they won't loose the opportunity to hunt for some of our clans. The Raikage has an obsession for the Byakugan and other of Konoha's bloodlines." I went on.
"Well, that's all nice and dandy, but we can't cover every front with our numbers, they'll swarm us." Jiraya butted in.
"We need Kiri." I nodded, looking at the map of the elemental nations: "As you know very well." I added looking pointedly at my father.
"What do we know about the hidden villages which are not part of the great five?" I asked, looking for ready numbers to throw into the equation.
"That they don't like the major hidden villages." Kakashi pointed out. At least he had put away his smut. I considered.
"They'll side with the more likely winner, they have a council made of the Heads of their clans, but it translates to a single upper tier jounin calling in the shots." Jiraya helpfully elaborated.
"What do we do about Ame? If Hanzo chooses to move he'll cut through regular shinobi like they were grass." Shikaku reminded us.
"Ame will not move." Danzō said.
Everyone narrowed their eyes and stared at the one eyed, bandaged bastard. Stay the fuck away from Ame. I recalled Sensei's words from the black book of bullshit.
"Kiri is in the middle of a civil war, the Yondaime Mizukage is the Sanbi jinchuriki and is leading his people against the bloodline users. Konoha has a lot of those. If he wins we'll be alone against the great Four and whoever they'll manage to rally behind them. Meaning everyone." I quickly spoke.
Everyone looked at me with open curiosity. "How do you know of this?" Shikaku asked, his lazy attitude vanished.
"Sensei used to chat foreign politics with me." I simply shrugged, it was even mostly true.
"We don't have the resources to enter another country's civil war." Danzō shot me down.
I brought my hands in a steeple, crunching through plans and countermeasures.
"The resistance is being led by Terumi Mei. She holds two bloodlines." Jiraya seriously said, clearly enjoying going agsinst the elder. What is he, a child? I rolled my eyes.
"Placing a puppet in Suna is one thing, but Kiri ninja are notoriously xenophobic, if they smell a puppet they'll fall on our backs like a ton of bricks." Shikaku pointed out, "And organizing a country that is just out of war is a nightmare."
I looked at him for a long moment, then dropped the bomb: "We need a small team of bloodline users to place Terumi as the next Mizukage, or at least help her achieve her title. Elders, could you write down some kind of treaty? It's really not something I'm capable of."
Tsunade snorted, if it was because of my carefree admission or the fact that I had blatantly threw a bone at them, I couldn't say.
"One does not simply walk into Kiri." Tsunade drawled, in such a perfect imitation that I couldn't not ask, a grin sprouting on my face.
"Have you been reading my sensei's books, Tsunade-sama? he would have been flattered." I asked.
She put down her jug of sake, it was curious how much she suddenly reminded me of Shin.
"He is the one who wrote the Lord Of the Swords?" She asked bewildered.
"Yup." I nodded happily. In that story, an Iwa blacksmith had forged the 'eighth sword' to dominate the seven swords of the mist, and the only way to destroy it was tossing it into a volcano in Iwa. I had read it, finding the final confrontation between Frodo and Gollum strangely insightful.
"He used a lot of pseudonyms. If a book fails to sell he would drop the author's name, you see." I explained.
"Returning to the topic." Homura cutted in, bringing us back to the problem we were facing. "Not only how do you plan to reach Kiri, but how do you plan to find the resistence?"
"Kakashi's team fought the wielder of Kubikiribōchō in their C-rank, put its restitution into the treaty, in exchange for something we don't really need, so we can pretend we are gifting it back in good faith." I informed the elders snapping my fingers suddenly, like I had just remembered about it.
"And I was kind of hoping they would be the ones finding the ones we send, we are really pressed for time, so we can't exactly enact guerrilla tactics, we need to be flashy and show them why siding with Konoha is the best option. So... I was thinking Jiraya-sama could go barreling through their border?" I finished with a question that almost sent Jiraya rolling on the floor in laughter.
"Bold." Tsunade nodded "And it will most certainly kill him, but Kami knows I'm tired of having him around."
"Goddamn brats these days..." Jiraya mumbled saddened.
How is her reaction my fault? I wondered.
"Still, neither Kumo nor Iwa have made moves to jump us, I still disagree with the general purpose of this council." Jiraya had stopped laughing and had intervenied with a somber voice, staring at me without wavering.
I raised an eyebrow in the direction of Danzō, hoping that he woukd tackle it. I know this is all a farce to see how I react, but do I have to? I almost whined in my head, my eyes finding Shikaku, or at least the impassible mask he had put on.
When the one eyed bandaged bastard remained impassible and everyone looked at me for an answer, I sighed.
"War is bad for my sensei side-business, of which I inherited a cut." I shrugged. Music, games, books and restaurants were hardly going to have an easy time during war.
"But even so, Konoha hosted Chunin exams during which Onoki died along several nobles sent as representatives from Kaminari no Kuni's Daimyo." I tilted my head.
"There will be retailation, if only because Konoha broke the treaty or looks weak enough to no longer deserve her place at the top of the foodchain." I looked intently at Jiraya in that moment, "If I'm here for this mock war council it's because our spies have reported a mobilitation in Iwa and Kumo."
Shikaku cleared his throat: "How would you proceed?"
I rolled my eyes: "Divide and conquer. We should perform a series of false flag operations between Tsuchi no Kuni and Kaminari no Kuni. Iwa is far from broken, but without Onoki they are weakened. Let's make them believe Kumo wants to obtain egemony over the Great Five. And we should also ensure Tetsu no Kuni stays out of the fight. Kakashi-sensei has the skill for the first task, and I would send Hyuga to the second. If Kumo gets greedy and assoults them in Tetsu no Kuni, the samurai will shut tdown their border with minimal assistance from us."
"Who strikes first, strikes twice." Tsunade quoted another of my sensei's books, her sake raised in a mock toast.
And with what was definitely a drunken drawl, the war council came to an end.
"My orders then?" I asked.
Tsunade arched an eyebrow at me, she was still somewhat sceptic that I was as strong as the facts suggested, I could tell: "You're on leave for the next week, then I'll have your orders, enjoy it, because then you won't be able to take another until this war is done. And congratulations, for your actions during the Betrayal, everyone on your team is promoted to chunin."
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