Jirobo thought that the current plan was absolutely brilliant. Best mission he'd ever managed to get on in his entire life. They didn't have to be sneaky, they didn't have to risk their lives, they were being paid, and most of all the perks.
"I'm sorry. It's what?" The Konoha ninja asked.
"Fun Nel Cake." He stated as he dusted the golden flakey crust with some powdered sugar like the first pure snow on a grateful land. The aroma made his mouth water and he was already eyeing the portion he had already made for himself off to the side. It called to him.
"I've never heard of it before." The Konoha ninja stated simply.
"It's new. A Sound Village invention." One of several that the brilliant mind of Orochitama came up with. He had his doubts about everything since the whole...boobs stuff. Even when the plan was being explained to him it didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense. In fact, he was still not totally sure of what was happening beyond the parts he was in charge of, but he was certain that it was a really great plan. "We're still setting up, so we don't have everything ready yet. But I know the shaved ice stand and the cotton candy stand are up."
"Cotton what?" The man asked in confusion as he was handed his steaming paper plate of delicacies.
"Cotton candy. Sugar and some other stuff spun into fine string and wrapped so lightly together that it puffs like cotton." Jirobo stated almost dreamily.
The ninja looked at his food in uncertainty and didn't immediately eat it. The food would be greatly cooled and less delicious in a few minutes. Still good, but not as good.
"So why are ninjas selling..." he shot a side eye at the confection, "cake in front of another village?"
"This is Sound's unveiling and we want to get off on the right foot." Jirobo stated from memory. It even sounded mostly like his own words, though he was told it didn't really matter if he sounded honest when he said it, he was in charge of all the food stands and would get a cut of all the profits. Profits that he could turn into more food.
"Uh-huh." The ninja said uncertainly. Jirobo rolled his eyes.
"Get going and test it for poisons and stuff. Make sure at least someone eats it after it's tested." The man stated before taking a bite of his own food.
Jirobo was one of the only people that could be a cook like this. To make the ninja feel at ease in serving them food several measures had been put in place. They made sure the ninja could watch the whole cooking process, but the main thing was that he would regularly take a small portion of the food and eat it himself to show there was no poison in what he was serving. Most other ninja's couldn't keep up with eating that much.
The ninja would likely still test it for poisons anyways, but now they at least considered buying the stuff.
The man looked at him oddly for a moment before turning around to leave. As the Konoha ninja was walking through the crowd of bustling workers Jirobo started to turn away to check that the oil wasn't burning when he felt a sudden flash of violent intent and he whirled around and caught sight of the Konoha ninja holding one of the carnival workers by the wrist, a blade placed against the ninja's throat.
Jirobo let out a snort of laughter. Looked to be the first one caught.
"What do you think you were doing?" The Konoha man hissed.
"This! Just putting this in your pocket!" The Sound nin gave a panicked reply. Jirobo leaned forward and rested his chin on his fist and wondered. This was one aspect of the plan that he thought wouldn't go over well, but Orochitama insisted it was a vital part of the plan.
The Konoha ninja glanced at the small paper voucher in the man man's hand, which he began to read aloud.
"Not very observant? Get more practice by coming back at twenty-five percent off entrance." The ninja read slowly, voice growing more incredulous as he went.
"Yeah. It's part of the attraction. But because you caught me you get this too." The man said frantically before flicking his wrist and bringing out a small plastic coin. "It's for a free Cotton Candy. Since you caught me." The man stated nervously. "It's just part of the attraction, so-"
Jirobo heard a bird call in the distance that he was pretty sure didn't come from a bird and the Konoha ninja removed his kunai from them man's throat and snatched both the coin and paper away from him. Eyes narrowing at it.
"Fine. Get out of here." The Konoha ninja stated before turning and marching away with purpose. Probably to make people think he left but then actually poke around some more.
"Well that went better than I expected it to." Kidomaru's voice suddenly came from behind him, making a smile begin to grace his face.
"I was expecting a bit more of a fight, but I guess I can't blame the Konoha ninja. He's surrounded on all sides by enemies. It wouldn't have ended well for him." Jirobo stated as he turned the heat on the oil down, now that there wasn't a customer around. They were just beginning and customers would be rare now. No sense on burning the oil.
"He had back up in the trees just outside our perimeter. Pretty sure a couple of them are Hyuuga keeping an eye on things." Kidomaru stated simply.
Jirobo gave a nod of acknowledgement. "He'd still be dead before they could save him."
Kidomaru gave a hum of acknowledgement and idly scratched at the stump of his lower arm.
"It still itches?" Jirobo asked mildly, trying not to hurt his comrade's feelings. The man had been sensitive about the injury for a while. At first it looked like they might be able to save the arm, but something about how it was torn off, rather than cut, made it where they couldn't save the appendage.
He was just glad Kidomaru had three more arms to compensate.
"Yeah. But I can ignore it by staying busy. It only itches when I think about it."
"You two done sitting with your thumbs up your damn ass? There's fucking work to be done." A familiar voice called.
"A lady shouldn't talk like that Tayuya." Jirobo stated disapprovingly. "Especially in front of customers."
"Tch." She scoffed dismissively. "I'm stuck trying to wrangle the group of howling monkeys that is our fucking band until Supreme Chuckle Fuck manages to show up with his fucking brats for the exam. You can deal with my fucking language if I have to put up with that."
Kidomaru rolled his eyes. "I'm in charge of the people that are supposed to reverse pickpocket a carnival of ninjas while also having them juggle and prep them for a few low key performances. You don't see me being all cranky."
Jirobo didn't have much to say to that. He was actually quite fond of his job and the only problems he had was getting people to understand that figuring out ways to add poison to the food without anyone noticing was not part of the job description. However, he did finally have an answer for their arguing now.
"Stop it. You don't want Orochitama-sama to scold you when she shows up." Jirobo stated.
The two immediately turned away from one another. Previously, their boss didn't care about any squabbles they got into, as long as the job was done. Now, she payed attention to how things were done. She would even scold them for arguing. Like she would actually scold them too. Not torture them. Not threaten their lives. Not make nebulous violent statements. Just talk about proper behavior and disappointment.
It was terrifying.
"Fine. I gotta teach these guys how to muffle their presence more anyways." Kidomaru stated before turning to march off. "Make sure your musicians are ready for opening day."
"Get your fucking wanna be street urchins in shape!" She yelled back at his retreating form. "I got Fren Chu Horns to have learn their fucking cues."
Jirobo nodded his head in satisfaction. Now he just had to man the stand in case more ninja decided to poke their heads-
Oh! A Suna nin.
"Hey! Come try our Fun Nel Cake! It's delicious!" He called out waving at another spy trying to figure them out. Hopefully there would be real customers in a few hours.
"The Elder will see you now." The secretary stated to me. She was a nice girl. Dutiful and polite and even looked a little guilty about making me sit in a lobby for two hours just to satisfy a power play from the leader of the Hidden Waterfall village. It was a bit annoying, but I have had worse. I could have just gotten in there and they couldn't have stopped me, but I felt that I needed more carrot than stick with this play. Even if that meant going through official channels and wearing a veil and long robes to have an attempt at people not connecting Orochimaru to Sound quite yet.
At least the people other than the Waterfall village's elder. That was going to be pretty impossible after the meeting.
The Elder's building was a rather understated place. It was only two stories tall and due to some prior snooping, I also knew that half the place was actually where the Elder lived. He lived and held his meetings all in one location. It said a lot about how the village operated that the elder didn't even get his own building. The smaller villages were at a disadvantage in many ways.
Which was rather the point of the meeting.
I walked into the meeting room. A desk with two wooden chairs sat in front of it took up most of the small room. There were a few shelves on the walls that had row upon row of meticulously organized scrolls. In most of the Elemental Nations, the meeting would be accompanied by tea. However, ninja meeting tended to not do that. Even if the person you were meeting didn't want you dead, a third party could often barely resist the temptation to poison someone and start a war between two other factions that they could then bend said war to their benefit.
Ninja kind of sucked.
"Elder Saito. It's a pleasure to meet you." I said giving a bow as the door behind me was closed. "We've been exchanging correspondence for a while, so it is nice to meet you in person."
The man sitting at the desk inclined his head in acknowledgement. He was in his mid sixties, and it showed. While not by any means decrepit, his hair and beard had turned a solid grey and his face had wrinkles on his forehead and next to his eyes. Though he had enough youth in him that his frame was muscular and strong.
"And you are this Treble from Otogakure that I've been writing to." The man said suspiciously. "It doesn't bode well that we are beginning this meeting with you disguising your face. You give an obviously fake name, hide your face, and then ask much from Hidden Waterfall. I'm of half a mind to tell you to get out now."
I gave a nod of acknowledgement at the words. "That is fair. I have been concealing much from you, and I realize that this has made my plans about our alliance seem suspect to you. Sound is, after all, just a new upstart village and it would make sense if we didn't have much power to be of any help to you in the first place. If your Daimyo hadn't requested that you meet with me I'm certain that you wouldn't even entertain the thought."
The man gave me an unimpressed look. "Quit the theatrics. You're obviously building up to something. Just put it out there. What is this magical bit of information that you are going to share that's going to get me to change my mind."
I pout for a moment. I'd been planning that speech for days now! No appreciation of a good speech these days.
I heave a sigh and grab the veil over my face and head and pull it down, revealing my face. As I did that, I released the hold I had on my chakra. Not a lot, but enough that someone paying attention could feel that I wasn't exactly a rank and file ninja.
"Even if my village isn't enough. Having my strength behind it would be quite the boon, no?" I stated with cheer.
Saito slowly set his pen down and sat ever so straight in his chair. The man's face remind serene, but the way his jugular pulsed told me that he was anything but calm.
"To clarify." The man said, his voice only slightly shaking. "Are you Orochimaru? Or just related to him?"
I sat down in the chair across form the man, crossing my ankles and adopting my best polite smile. "I was Orochimaru, but I've gone through some changes and go by Orochitama these days."
The man blinked a few times. "Those rumors were right? We'd heard some whispers about that but-" the man trailed off.
"But you thought it was a misinformation plan to waste people's resources, because how could one of the most dangerous shinobi on the planet suddenly change genders and gain an entirely different outlook on life? It is a silly idea." I agree, giving a small laugh. "It is, however, what happened."
The man sitting across form me went quiet, contemplating my words. I let him digest the information for a bit. It wasn't every day that the milf version of the most feared mad scientist in the world shows up for a meeting after all. Plus this wasn't like much of my meetings. I wasn't trying to baffle the man or keep him distracted. I needed him to leave this conversation feeling in control and confident in his decision. My typical strategy of confuse and have them question what happened just wouldn't work well here. I was here to make a friend after all.
"You have been courting us for this alliance of yours for quite a while now. I have been resistant. If I continue to say no, will I have to worry about the safety of my village?" The mans asked, fist tightening. Possibly preparing himself to use some sort of suicide technique or just preparing to meet my demands.
"No. If you don't agree I'll just leave. I'm here in good faith and having an ally that is forced just asks for a knife in the back. This will do me no good if it is coerced." I say with a shake of my head.
"You are correct that having you as an ally would be a boon for Waterfall. Lightning as of late has been acting like our boarder lines are merely a suggestion and what you're proposing would go a long way to make them back off." The man confirmed before beginning stroke the short beard on his chin. "Your reputation, though, should make me more worried about being your ally than worrying about any of my enemies. I would need guarantees to be able to protect myself and my village."
A wide smile grew over my face. He was considering it! Good.
"Our relationship does have an imbalance of power. I think the best thing would be for me to give you power with which you can leverage yourself." I state and take a moment to put on a thinking face, idly tapping the side of my cheek in apparent thought. It was an act, I had already planned this before coming here and he probably knew that, but ninjas just didn't feel comfortable if there wasn't at least some layer of deception involved in things. "I am prepared to personally train one team from your village for two years. I can train them up to be assets that would be valuable enough that it would be quite bad for me if they were turned back on me."
"Training?" The man asked, intrigued. Powerful ninja were what decided life or death of a village. One jounin was often worth hundreds of gennin. Quantity did have it's benefits, but the quality could outpace it drastically. In recent memory, Namikaze Minato being a one man army killer made it quite clear how a single powerful ninja was reason enough to fear a village. "That is a very tempting offer. However a powerful ninja is not always the best teacher. How would I know that you would even do a good job of teaching them?"
"I'm so glad you asked!" I said with a clap of my hands. "I wouldn't give them my complete attention. I am leading a village. I have a team to help me train and I give individual attention as well. I would just slot them in with the teams I already assist training."
"Others will be doing most of the training then." The man said, face beginning to sour. "This doesn't speak of it's quality."
"That's a good point. Well, if you pull up your mission records from five months ago, you should find a mission report of when one of your teams ran across one of my teams. It probably doesn't have names, but the three gennin that your team met were named Kin, Dosu, and Zaku. Since that mission I have taken them under my wing to prepare them for Sound's first Chunin Exams! I do believe you could see their performance to get a good idea of my teaching ability!" I said, dropping a closed fist onto an open palm in front of me as though I had just solved a puzzle and thought myself clever.
"The Chunin Exams?" Saito said, pondering. Adopting the same light tone I had been using. "The same one that you are apparently setting up a large fairground in front of?"
I ignored the accusation. "Yes. That's the one. Just pay attention to the exam and you'll see how well my team performs! No need to make a decision until after you see what you are wanting." I said with a wave of my hand. "It's understandable. I'm giving Hidden Grass the same opportunity after all."
The man snorted and shook his head. "So that's it." I had made this a commodity that would be passed out to multiple parties now. If he didn't join he wouldn't just be missing out, he'd be behind one of his competitors. I had kept my word. I didn't give a threat. I was just making an offer too good to refuse and all his alarm bells were ringing. "You came in here and I'm just dancing along to your tune."
"I'm just trying to bribe you into doing what I want." I stated simply.
"Uh huh." The man said disbelievingly. "Fine. You have my approval for now, depending on how the Chunnin Exams turns out. Your brats show they are much better now than our records indicate and you'll have your alliance."
I let out a gasp and hold my hands to my chest. "That's wonderful! I appreciate it!" I had done it! I just needed the kids to come through, and I'd have this in the bag. Though, there was another thing I should do too. "Now that we are allies, there is something I should tell you, but you probably want to keep it to yourself for now."
The man's eyebrows furrowed and his guard once again raised. "What?"
"Have you heard of the organization called Akatsuki?"