Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Training for the Job ❯ Volume 4 Chapter 4 ( Chapter 64 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Volume 4 Notes: I usually rely on the review alerts to read my reviews, but e-mail has been acting oddly lately and so I haven't recieved many of them. I may get around to individual responses at some point, but not right now. I'm still recovering from my flu-like cold, as well, despite starting work on this fic again, so I really don't feel like making individual replies to everyone whose comments would normally garner a significant response. Much of what I have recieved, however, has been about Hyuuga-sama and her motives. There are literary and historical parallels to her character (at least three Roman emperors, a few old-testament biblical stories, some horror stories about feudal Japan, stories of the treatment of slaves and their sympathizers, American Indian wars both with 'the White Man' and with each other, African tribal wars, some backwater parts of countries like India even in modern times, etc. Just about every culture in the world, at one time or another, in fact, has had examples of people who behaved similarly, and many of the people who acted such way were supported, even encouraged, to do so), but I don't want to get into all of that. Instead, think of her as someone who thinks of herself as breeding stock looking after breeding stock -- the sick and the weak must be killed, whether they are her children or not. She has no emotional attachment to her children, and in fact wouldn't care about them -- the arranged marraige she was in was loveless, and any children produced from it are just more breeding stock and not people who she would have to worry about. As far as the others in the Hyuuga clan following her, they are ultra-traditionalists who believe in the purity of their line. The lives of anyone outside the Hyuuga clan are irrelevant, the lives of those in the clan are only relevant when they contribute to the 'purity' of the clan. It fits in with the canon Hyuuga -- a clan of people who literally enslave those who are not the firstborn in order to prevent the spread of their clan's blood into the lives of anyone outside of the clan. It's harsh, but actually more common then you'd think. The fact that it is horrific and not exactly comprehensible in many modern societies does not mean it isn't possible for people to think that way. So, I will defend her characterization in this story, regardless -- there have really been people like her in the history of the world, and many of them have been powerful leaders, so I don't see her character as being too far off the bend. She may be a reactionary, but is really just a product of the culture in which she was raised and the clandestine struggles she maneuvered into so as to avoid being enslaved by that very culture. There is also the question of it being unbelievable that she would be allowed to live after what she attempted, but I think that the answer I would give is much along the lines as the start of this chapter, so I'll let the fic answer it for me. However, do remember that the Blossom side was also unpunished for having killed others earlier in the action, and remember what it looks like if one side took all of the deaths and another takes none. It's a bit of a judgement call, I'll agree, but the alternative is the unknown of what the rest of the Hyuuga clan will think. And remember, better a known enemy then an unknown one. Actually, I recieved more flack for the last chapter, judging from the reviews I've seen, then I did for the Kakashi-confronting-Naruto-about-Genma's-Death thing way back when, yet I thought it went rather well (better then how some other things I've recieved flack for, at any rate). But, within these messages, I've also recieved some 'as-long-as-we're-talking-about-this' flack for Zetsu's death. Is it cheap? Yeah. But it's meant to be cheap. It's my equivalent of the death of Attila the Hun -- a violent and powerful barbarian warrior who could not be out-fought by his contemporaries, but was killed by a nosebleed on his wedding night. (The nosebleed is believed to be symptomatic of a different cause of death -- an aneurism, possibly -- but the proof of what is pretty hard to come by almost two thousand years after-the-fact. Besides, given Japanese cultural folklore about virgins getting nosebleeds upon the sight of a naked girl, him dying of a nosebleed alone on his wedding night is quite amusing... although somehow I doubt he was a virgin at that point) People of Attila's notoriety don't die in their prime by something like a nosebleed, but he did. People like Zetsu don't die as a result of a simple kunai thrown by the equivalent of a genin... but he did.
Chapter 4
"Hello, sister," Gaara said, bowing his head before Temari at the main diplomatic gate to Konoha. She had been waiting outside for him, and he was glad -- there were things he definitely wanted to know before setting foot inside that village. "How are you fairing?"
"Well enough," she said dryly. "I hope the event today doesn't signal my recall to Sand. I have unfinished business here with a certain ninja I happen to be living with...."
"You have done well as ambassador for our village these past few years," Gaara replied. "I am aware of the difficulties you have had maintaining a relationship with someone from another village. The records in Sand mention others I would rather hope you never have to face. That we are at peace with Konoha allows you the luxury of indulging without encountering the worst of these problems, but I cannot promise you that your appointment as ambassador will last a lifetime."
Temari cocked her head at him, confused. "Which means?"
"I am not replacing you now, but I may need to do so in the future," Gaara elaborated. "Which means you might want to consider taking pre-emptive measures in order to ensure that a reassignment won't seperate you. In other words... you might want to consider accepting Shikamaru-san's marriage proposal."
Temari blushed. "I think I'll hold off on that until it becomes a time for desperate measures," she sighed. "I do love the boy, but he is so... so... troublesome. Argh -- he's got me saying it!"
Gaara's lips twitched slightly -- which anyone who knew him would realize that he was mentally rolling around on the floor with laughter. "Indeed. Well, I hardly suspect you intercepted our entourage outside of the village just to show me how much you've become like Shikamaru-san. So, what news are you bringing?"
"A simple report on the situation," she replied. "When I relayed to you the hokage's invitation two days ago, a major battle had been fought in the streets of Konoha between the Hyuuga reactionary faction and the recent arrivals from Blossom. In my accompanying message, I explained how we feared future battles, especially as the decision had been made to spare the life of the Hyuuga matriarch who was the cause of much of the fighting."
Gaara nodded. "Your Shikamaru-san's accompanying analysis -- which I am sure he censored before giving to you, as you know his leaks are all 'approved' by the hokage, but was comprehensive nonetheless -- explained how the fear was if she were killed in a battle with those 'outside of the clan,' Hiashi's moderate faction would be forced into 'avenging' her death, spreading the battle across Konoha -- especially as he has larger numbers, and many more allies among the other clans. It was not so much that they wanted her to live, but that the one to kill her would have to be another Hyuuga or else civil war really would break out, and would not be limited to just a small part of the Hyuuga clan against the whole village. Furthermore, it gave Tsunade-sama a perfect excuse to ramrod this proposal she intends to make through Konoha's... possibly reluctant council. Yet that left this Hyuuga faction alive and, outside of those killed in the action itself, apparently unharmed for what amounted to a defiance of the hokage's direct orders to refrain from combat and an attempted murder of her own daughter."
"Correct. So far, there has been no additional combat -- not only were the reactionaries dealt significant losses in the battle, but the Hokage has placed overt surveillance around her portion of the Hyuuga compound. People are now coming to realize that Hyuuga-san will not be getting away with this entirely without retribution, as there is obviously something building in that regard, but the question of 'what' is on everyone's minds. Furthermore, the Blossom ninja are once again being sequestered, never having had the chance to really visit any of their homes or the other clans... outside of the Akimichi clan, where the baby who was involved in the incident had been taken for safe-keeping. It seems apparent that the battle has changed the focus of Hyuuga-san's attention from Hinata-san's faction to these Blossom ninja, but they are being kept out of her reach, and so peace is being maintained that way. They cannot remain besieged inside the Administration building forever, though, and the tension is largely over what will happen when they are permitted out of doors again. I expect that time to be soon -- they are getting quite restless over there, and after the battle their families are even mor anxious to see them."
"Have you been permitted to see them?" Gaara asked, picking up on something in her voice. "Or is this another 'leak' from Shikamaru?
"Yes to both, in a sense. I've seen them, but only in the role of Shikamaru's significant other. I was warned that any attempt to 'talk shop' would get my visitation priviledges revokes... and our 'overt source' in the hokage's administration would be shut off for a time." Temari sighed. "Maybe I would have tried something if Shikamaru had been getting on my nerves lately, just to get a break from him for a while, but he's been... fairly good, recently. It wasn't worth it for me, at any rate."
"Just as well," Gaara replied. "It is enough that you were able to guage their general mood. So, we must be careful not to step on any toes... on any side."
* * * * *
Tsunade stood in front of the leaders of no fewer then four other ninja villages -- five, if you counted Kakashi as the leader of Blossom. She was preparing to make a major speech that night, and there were only a few people who knew what the contents of that speech would be... and all of them were in this waiting room with her. She had the Raikage (who had just arrived), the Kazekage (who had been the first to arrive, almost three days before), the Jounin-oyabun of Grass, the Jounin-oyabun of Rainbow, Kakashi, Jiraiya, Shikamaru with Temari as a constant presence on his side, and Anko, all present and ready to support her. The question was more could she trust them to play thier parts rather then could she see this plan through to the end. With most of them, she was fairly confident, but a couple people still seemed a bit shaky. There was Anko, who continued to be convinced that she was more of a detriment to this cause then a functional ally, and there was the jounin-oyabun of the Grass -- an older man just out of retirement to take the reins of his country following the death of their previous leader. Grass had been ill treated by Blossom, and she was a bit surprised that they had agreed to come. Insisted on it, in fact -- they had not been invited, but somehow found out about her plans anyway and insisted on coming to show their support. It was rather odd, and she didn't trust him... but the game of diplomacy made it impossible to refuse him. The only check she had on his betrayal was that, while it would certainly weaken her rule over Konoha, he would forever after be shunned by the leaders of every other ninja nation -- even the ones who would be his natural allies and her natural enemies. A pretty powerful check, but risky nonetheless.
"Last chance to pull out," Tsunade called. "That you came to show your support at all will be remembered kindly, of course, but if there is any doubt in your minds as to whether you should support me in this I ask that you withdraw now." She was giving the Grass leader a chance to leave, practically begging him to take it, but he would not. The only person she didn't want to leave, however, chose to take that opening.
"I... don't think this is a good idea," Anko said, shaking her head. "I will cause more harm then good if I go out there and make my particular announcement. I withdraw."
There was a slight tightening around the hokage's eyes as she looked at the other woman. In her mind, Anko was showing not prudence as she claimed, but cowardice... but there was little she could do about it. Apparently, Sakura was at wits end about it, herself, as keeping the secrets of this woman from Naruto ate away at the souls of all who knew... Tsunade included. Still, she had made the offer, and for the same reason that the jounin-oyabun of Grass was unlikely to betray her, Tsunade was unable to rescind it. "Very well," she sighed. "Then go join the others from Blossom, but make certain not to say anything about this announcement to anyone. I suppose, at this point, it won't matter, but I'd still rather not give any advanced warning. Anyone else?"
Anko left the room as she waited for someone to reply -- as she had almost hoped the Grass leader would do. There was no reply, however, before someone came knocking on the door to the waiting room. "Everyone is in their places," a low ranking administrative ninja said through it. "We're just waiting for you, hokage-sama."
She took a deep breath, bracing herself for what she knew would be a rather... uncomfortable reaction to her planned speech. "Well, then," she said, gesturing for the others to stand and follow her. "Let's get on with it."
* * * * *
Just about every citizen of Konoha, ninja and civilian. had gathered in what might be called the 'town square' after the call came out from the Hokage's Public Affairs Office. A call such as this one was very unusual -- and hadn't been done since she had sworn her oath of office several years before. Fifteen years before that was the call announcing the induction of the Fourth as the new Hokage. And the time before that... well, few people were still alive from that time, when the First and Second had brought forth a twelve year old boy to be designated as the heir to the title, shortly before leaving for their last battle together, in what would now be designated a Class S-S guaranteed suicide mission.
It seemed unlikely to the general public that the Fifth was retiring just yet. After all, she was still young (or at least she looked young -- her outward appearance was a bit misleading) and in good health, and to the best of everyone's knowledge there were no outside threats on her life save from the Sound... and so few people had seen evidence of the Sound's activities in recent years that it was hard to remember they were a threat any more. Which made this gathering all the more curious. The presence of two other kages and several other important foriegn figures behind her seemed rather odd, as well -- never before had such a gathering brought forth any outsiders of such significance. The occasional ambassador, sure, but few of a rank higher then that. The ambassador to the Sand was present, as well -- altough apparently more as the date of the hokage's assistant then as an official representative... although that hardly mattered, considering the kazekage himself was in attendance as well. Other ambassadors were present as well -- from Mist, and Rock, and a large number of the smaller powers -- but not on the stage with the hokage. Something specific involving these four powers was going on, most suspected, and the speculation as to what had been great.
One of the more common rumors going around was that this was a precursor to some sort of war... a war involving an alliance between all five powers. There weren't many options as to who that war would be against -- the only power great enough to make the combined forces of Konoha, Sand, several minor powers, and even Cloud to work together would be the Rock... who just might be powerful enough to fight all of the other four kage-level nations on its own, by now, according to those who had dealings with them. Of course, there was also the possibility of the war being against the Sound, who... well, they were already at war with, so this level of meeting seemed a bit redundant for any kind of announcement on that front. They shouldn't need three of the greater powers plus some more help to fight the Sound, anyway. And then there was the Mist -- they had been rather quiet, lately, and in fact preferred to stay out of the world at large since actually losing a war to one of the minor powers along the coast -- the village of Sea Foam, which had in turn been wiped out by the Rain when they tried to capitalize on their success by striking against their neighbors -- but fighting them could be... problematic, considering they were in an island nation and likely had the best naval force in the world, better then what could be accessed by every other ninja power combined most likely. It didn't grant them enough of an advantage to be the effective offensive superpower their status as a 'kage-level nation' implied, but it did give them the defensive strength to withstand just about any attack from outside. Many years before, the Rock had forced them into a conditional surrender by employing a massive aerial assault using summoned birds, but in truth even that was more of a stalemate then a victory for either side. The end result was the Mist agreeing to a non-aggression treaty, and to refrain from taking on any employment inside the Rock's sphere of influence. Perhaps there was some movement underfoot to wipe out the Mist?
A merging of villages, perhaps. It had happened a time or two before -- Konoha itself was initially formed by the merging of no less then four different villages -- and the significantly improved relations with Sand since their brief spat of warfare were such that the two nations practically kept no secrets from each other. The betrothal of a promising scion of the Nara clan (who just happened to also be the hokage's assistant) and the sister of the Kazekage could well be a political marriage to cement the deal. A few people were well aware of the true nature of the relationship between Shikamaru and Temari, however, and strongly doubted that they would ever get married (they'd remain lovers for the rest of their lives, most thought, but both seemed too stubborn to ever make it official), much less allow that marriage to be used for purely political reasons. And, even if that were the case, what were the representatives from the Grass and Rainbow villages doing on the stage as well?
In general, no one really felt confident that any of their potential predictions were correct, which made everyone all the more anxious to hear what was to be said. Was it to be a new hokage, a war, a joining of villages, or... something else?
Finally, after the hokage had been standing up their surveying the crowd for entirely too long, the speech began. "Ladies, gentlemen, and other," she began. In most areas, that would be considered a rather bizarre, insulting, or humorous opening... but, in a ninja village as diverse as Konoha, there were a few beings which qualified as 'other.' Mostly summoned animals of those varieties of lizards and amphibians which changed sexes at various stages of their lives, of course, or neutered dogs adopted by the Inuzuka clan, but... well, sometimes, the Aburame clan would produce a few sexless 'drones' thanks to their insectoid heritage. Yet another reason few outsiders married into that particular clan. "I think the time has come for us to publically admit to a problem that has come into our midst, and to do something about it. For years now, a certain clan inside Konoha has been experiencing a great deal of internal strife. Normally, we have a policy of allowing clans to keep the business of their clan private. However, in this case, this particular clan is fracturing, and each part of the fracture is allying itself with other clans... which is splitting the rest of Konoha apart at the seams.
"Five days ago, this split ruptured when members of one faction attempted to assassinate a neutral party, dragging more then a dozen other ninja into close combat against them. This battle resulted in multiple deaths, and nearly cost the life of a newborn baby. I barely arrived in time to prevent further deaths... and I won't say that I would be capable of doing so if a similar situation erupted in the future." That she said staring straight into the eyes of the Hyuuga matriarch, obviously as a warning -- her one and only warning -- that she would not be saved if she tried something like that again. "I cannot handle this alone, and so I have decided to get some help."
She smiled mentally, and despite the stoic demeaner she had developed over the years for dealing with public affairs she couldn't keep her lips from twitching a bit in satisfaction. That caused a bit of a stir -- she knew that people would be thinking that she was bringing in outside ninja like the Sand and the Cloud to deal with the problem. How wrong they were. "I have decided to go into Konoha's history for a solution. I went and found the records of the First and Second Hokage -- both of whom are close relations of mine, as you may recall, and left me their personal records -- so see what they did... for, when Konoha adopted the kage system, we were in shambles. Externally, wars were brewing with the Rock, the Cloud, the Mist, and several other countries. Internally, clans were fighting for dominance so fiercely it wasn't unexpected to find that a full scale battle -- much like the one which took place five days ago -- had taken place on the streets every other day. So, the First brought in the Second... to share the powers of the Hokageship. The First would deal with the external situation, and the Second would deal with the internal one.
"By the time they had nominated the Third to be hokage, some fourty years later, things had settled down to the point that only one Hokage was needed. Internally, things were fine, and externally, the wars seemed to be ending. The fell in the final battle of the Bloody Mist war, and there was relative peace following their deaths for almost twenty years. However, during that peace, we slowly developed the roots of more trouble at home -- traitors such as Orochimaru began laying the groundwork for an uprising, the Uchiha clan started crumbling inside with no-one realizing it, allowing for Itachi to destroy his entire clan in one night. Things got worse, and the Third didn't know it... because he believed the internal situation was stable enough, and only the external situations were serious. The war with Rock took most of the rest of his attention, and so forces inside of Konoha allowed for us to be corrupted from the inside, and Orochimaru to leave Konoha... and eventually to start a new ninja village, one which we are currently at war with.
"All of this is history. The Third was a great leader for us, as was the Fourth during his short reign... but Konoha has been in decline since the deaths of the First and Second because the job of Hokage is too much for one person. Therefore, I am going to divide my powers, and create a second Hokage's slot, and bring in the Sixth before I retire. I will continue to deal with external threats, but the Sixth will take from me the challenge of managing the internal situation, such as our recent clan problems... and, hopefully, Konoha will regain its proper place once more. When I retire -- likely five years from now -- the Sixth will take my job and bring in a Seventh, and so on, and so forth. Normally, candidates are run through the council before they are announced publically... but in this situation, I do not trust our own council. They have been too badly divided by these internal conflicts, themselves, and would accept no candidate who could fix the problem without some pressure from outside of the council. And so I name the Sixth now, to you, in the hopes that you the people of Konoha can pressure the Council to do the right thing."
That caused a stir even in the Blossom crowd. "Who do you think it will be?" Naruto asked Sakura, trying to whisper but failing as he had to talk over the ambient noise of the crowd.
She looked at him strangely. "Isn't it you? I thought..."
"Me?" Naruto replied, startled. "She hasn't talked to me about it at all! And it wouldn't make any sense to make me hokage. I'm going to become hokage one day -- you can count on that! -- but the point is to end the civil strife, not to cause more of it. I think... well, you know what most people around here think about me."
Over time, the knowledge that Naruto was a jinchuuriki for the kyuubi had seeped into the populace of just about everyone in the village of Blossom... and, shockingly, no-one cared. They all knew him as Naruto, first and foremost, and whatever odd connection he may have with a greater demon of legend seemed... unimportant. In Konoha, however, Sakura knew that most of the older generations wouldn't accept him. They knew him as kyuubi first, and Naruto... never, in many cases. He did have a point... but then again, Tsunade had told Sakura that she would nominate Naruto to be hokage some day -- he'd won the right to the title back when they first met.
"But, Naruto--"
"I'm guessing Kakashi-sensei, myself," he mused, not hearing her over the crowd noise. "He qualifies. He's got more than a thousand techniques. He's well respected -- a legend of his generation, from what I can tell. And... he has experience running a village."
Sakura blinked at Naruto -- everything he mentioned could be applied to him, but he didn't seem to realize it from what he was saying. "You do, too, you know."
"Well, yeah," Naruto admitted. "But I've only had a few months of real experience, and Kakashi-sensei has a few years. He should get it -- I've long thought that Blossom should become the training grounds for the hokage, and he's been running Blossom long enough." He grinned. "Which is why I want to be named the new jounin-oyabun of Blossom."
Sakura paused to consider that, and realized that Tsunade's promise would work that way, as well. Putting Naruto into a position that became a de facto 'Hokage Training' spot would be a good way of ensuring that he would succeed, and actually become the hokage some day as he had promised. And... perhaps he was even right about his nomination as hokage dividing Konoha even more, which wouldn't be a good thing at all. "Well, I guess we have put down a few roots in that town, haven't we? I guess being a 'jounin-oyabun' isn't too bad, considering."
Before they could speculate further, Tsunade continued. "The candidate I am thinking of shouldn't need any training. He has had experience running a village, before, after all."
Naruto nudged Sakura. "See? Who but Kakashi-sensei has experience running a village?"
"He is fully qualified for other reasons, as well. Like every other hokage in the past, he has learned over a thousand techniques," Tsunade added. "He has learned how to fight from some of our village's greatest ninja. And while they are not all remembered with the greatest esteem, he is decended from some of our greatest heroes. Not everyone likes him, right now, but I am certain that once you all get to know the real him he will show you that you have nothing to worry about."
Naruto nodded. "See? I remember the story about Kakashi-sensei's father, and how he was supposedly 'disgraced' because he tried to save his teammates despite really being a great hero and all. I haven't heard anything about my clan, before, so I doubt my parents were anyone important. And Kakashi-sensei has a bad reputation, now, because of his deep cover assignment, but I'm sure people will get to know the real him again and realize he's a pretty good guy. Can't be me -- people are too scared of me right now for that to work -- but she sounds just like she's talking about Kakashi-sensei, doesn't she?"
Sakura gaped at him. She noticed the stone sculpture of the Fourth in the background, and how Naruto's current haircut matched the former hokage's perfectly. The resemblence was uncanny... and she would have known right away, even if Anko hadn't told her. His mother did show up on him on occasion -- his nose, perhaps, and definitely his smile -- and the kyuubi contributed the 'birthmarks' on his cheeks, but other than that, he was the spitting image of his father. "Naruto-kun... about your parents. Have you looked in a mirror lately?"
"What do you mean?" Naruto asked, confused. "What does a mirror have--"
"So, I nominate as the Sixth Hokage the son of the Fourth -- Uzumaki Naruto."
Naruto eyes widened as just about everyone -- even his friends -- went silent in astonishment. His voice broke that silence. "What?!"
* * * * *
Notes: I know I took forever to finally finish this thing (it's been sitting almost 90 percent complete for almost two weeks, untouched). Sadly, this chapter's release doesn't signal a return to earlier production rates. Without going into details, I have way too much real life work to deal with at the moment, thanks partially -- but not completely -- to having been sick for over a week and needing to catch up with the back work. I'm still going to be working on this, but... if I get more than a few minutes a day to work on this over the next month or two, I'll be lucky. But we'll see... Next Chapter: Naruto surprises Tsunade when he complains about being made hokage. Tenten confronts Lee about his drinking problem. Sakura's mother shows up in Konoha with a piece of advice.