92 Unreliable Allies

The latest fight has caught my interest, and it's Kiba (along with Akamaru) facing off against Choji in an elimination match. Both use completely different styles of taijutsu, and I want to know who will win.

Unfortunately, the suspense disappeared when Kiba, who didn't learn his lesson after facing Kimimaro, decided to use his biting tongue to call Choji fat, resulting in him and his canine partner getting crushed by Choji's body expansion technique.

Seriously, their silhouettes were clearly defined in the sand when they were pulled out.

One would expect that being raised in a clan that collaborates with animals, his agility would be greater, but I'll say in his defense that the field is limited, Akamaru is still young, and Choji's size increase worked against them. Although it's also true that Choji doesn't have great control over his spins, he could have worked with that... but now it's too late.

So, the finalists are decided:

Kimimaro Shino Haku Karin Kankuro Hinata Temari Gaara Choji

Naturally, my team passed without any problems. Now, the combination of fights in a month can be entertaining if there's not too much manipulation, and... who am I kidding?

Rather, should I be concerned that Tsunade will bet?

It's been a while since she did that, and I don't want her to have a relapse. Focusing on learning cutting-edge medicine from me has kept her positively occupied so far.

Although she still drinks as always.

I'm rambling; I have more important things to do next, like demanding explanations from some elders about kidnapping people who can't afford it.

—Third Hokage —I called once he finished explaining the last phase of the exam and was preparing to leave, appearing behind him and startling him a bit— I think we need to talk about something important. Is tomorrow morning okay with you?

I'm not going to leave my team here alone, and I still have to secretly heal Hinata, so even though giving politicians time to prepare is not usually a good option, I have some ideas to twist whatever they're planning.

—Something important? —he replied with a puzzled look, an old actor.

—Yes, given that dignitaries, representatives, and others won't arrive for at least another week, I'm sure you have a time window to talk before you're irreversibly busy —I explained clearly.

—Very well, tomorrow at ten in the morning in my office —he nodded before proceeding to leave.

Let's see, I have to settle scores for the attempt to kidnap Nemu, Fu, and Mikoto.

Maki? No, those were from Sunagakure. I could try to make Konoha take the blame, but there are witnesses to what happened, and it just wouldn't hold up.

Fu and Nemu are practically my daughters, and I like Mikoto, so... what should I demand from the old man?

...The next morning, in the Hokage's Office...

I considered bringing Tsunade with me just to poke fun at Sarutobi with her presence, but I wasn't in the mood to see the old man face to face, and respecting his feelings, I had to bring someone else.

Ameyuri thought about it and refused to participate in boring negotiations, even though I tried to make her understand that wasn't the idea. Pakura wanted to come, but she abstained because she knew she wasn't completely calm about Maki's situation and didn't feel at ease if she didn't keep an eye on the kids.

She's like a mother hen whose egg was almost stolen, and now she'll be on high alert for a while.

So Anko is sitting next to me, with a smile on her pretty lips that betrays how much she's enjoying the situation in front of Sarutobi, advisors Koharu and Homura, and Danzo.

Why did Anko have to come?

First, for obvious reasons that I don't think need to be reminded, it couldn't be any other adult like Mariko, Shizune, or Mikoto.

Second, if there's anyone who knows how this geriatric group behaves, it's the one who was repressed by them. It also helps that she has more up-to-date knowledge of the village, and Tsunade will help her gather information on some matters or dirty laundry.

Third, thanks to the ring on her finger that glows so provocatively, they can't bring up certain issues if they're smart, or they'll just give me political ammunition to attack them.

—Let's start the meeting —Sarutobi stopped looking at Anko and turned to look at me, as did the rest of those present— What matter did you wish to discuss?

—Well, I would like an explanation for the three attempts of kidnapping by your village on my people, and then, offer me compensation for emotional damages —I got straight to the point; this office has spent so many years exposed to the Third Hokage's pipe that the smell of tobacco permeates the walls, and I don't want to stay here longer than necessary.

—I don't know what you're talking about, what kidnappings? —Sarutobi asked calmly— As far as I know, your group is enjoying tourism in the village.

—That's right, you can't accuse us of something like that without consequences! —Homura said loudly, trying to seem threatening... trying.

—Look, even though juggling words and deceit may be your hobby, I don't want to be in this place longer than necessary. Because it stinks, and I have better ways to enjoy my time —I said, clasping my hands while Anko laughed, understanding what I meant— So, can we be honest and finish quickly?

—You claim there were kidnappings, so, at least you'll have evidence of it, right? —Koharu interrupted.

—Darling, do you mind? —I turned my head slightly to address Anko.

She nodded, smiling, understanding what I meant, and pulled out a bag before tossing it on the table, causing it to open, and the others present to widen their eyes.

—These are the (frozen) tongues of the men who attempted the kidnappings —I explained, pointing with my finger to the clearly visible seal on them— You see, using a seal to prevent information leakage can be useful in many cases, but when everyone knows that this is YOUR seal, an EXCLUSIVE seal of your men —I changed the direction of my finger to point at Danzo— It goes from being a safeguard of information to evidence of the crime.

—I don't know what you're talking about, those seals could have been placed after obtaining some random tongues. They prove nothing! —Danzo replied firmly.

—Of course, because surely many people know the sealing technique used on members of Root —I retorted, raising an eyebrow, making it clear that his evasion of responsibility was more than ineffective— Anything else to add?

—And how would you know that seal is from Root? —Koharu asked once again.

—Tsunade —I simply replied, causing her to widen her eyes.

She may not want to come, but I can throw her under the bus without problems if necessary. Her words: If it makes them upset, use my name without hesitation!

—I think there must be some kind of misunderstanding —understanding that they can't wash their hands of the matter, Sarutobi now wants to minimize or divert the issue while glancing at Danzo.

Something like complex communication through a glance, thanks to their years of closeness and mutual feelings? Perverts.

—My men found rumors of people being kidnapped, coerced, and manipulated —Danzo started to come up with an explanation after some well-disguised moments of reflection. Let's see where this goes— So, I was only extending the goodwill of the village to try to help the victims.

—Help the victims —I repeated with a flat tone and a stoic look— By kidnapping them all.

—The Uzumaki woman showed all the signs of being under a genjutsu, so I had to take a more direct approach —Danzo continued, I guess he's referring to Nemu.

The simplest method to free someone from an illusion is to disrupt that person's chakra with your own, right?

—A genjutsu... —Anko was covering her mouth to try to resist laughing at the blatant excuse.

Koharu and Homura frowned at her for it, but we simply didn't care.

—Then the identity of the Seven-Tails jinchuriki was recognized, who disappeared from our ally Takigakure years ago —Danzo narrowed his unbandaged eye— Helping an ally is Konoha's duty, so why do you have Takigakure's jinchuriki with you?

Oh, now he's trying to turn it around and make me defend myself, a classic.

—Just like you "helped" Uzushiogakure? —I replied with a big smile.

One could almost swear they heard the sound of a whip materializing in the deafening silence that followed.

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