A/N: Thanks for reviewing this project everyone (: Sorry this took forever to update. I thought I'd already posted this up...I guess not...
"You think he'll choose any chicks this time?" asked Ino worriedly.
"You know what he thinks about girls and fighting," replied Kiba, dryly. He was, however, tired of doing just strumpets, because you really never were certain if they were completely healthy, and just Ino, because she could be a bitch in bed. But he was sure Ino enjoyed being one of the few girls fighting for the Akatsuki.
The two were walking towards a clearing in the middle of the village; it was time for the new recruitment of the child soldiers as well as laborers and execution of men who had tried fighting. There was already a bunch of people gathering around by the time they reached the area with Hidan holding a machete and a line of men and boys awaiting their destiny.
"Where's Deidara-sama?" asked Ino. She craned her neck, looking around.
Sometimes Kiba couldn't tell who she worshiped more, Deidara or Hidan. "Dunno, probably still asleep. You know how he gets bored of these 'rituals'." Hidan was one of the running leaders of Akatsuki, but it wasn't really liberation of the country that sparked his interest in the warfare. It was more of his religion, Jashin, that sparked him to slaughter as many people as he can. There was a ritual, however, that he had to pertain, but he that was his favorite part. Killing was, after all, part of his culture.
Hidan motioned for all to be quiet as he glared down at the first man. He looked thin and small, but still had all of his limbs. Still, that wouldn't be enough to save him. He gave his usual speech of the benefits of loyalty to the Akatsuki, of the evils of the government under Orochimaru, and how they all must fight hard to free the country and do justice for Jashin-sama's name. "You," barked Hidan to the first man in the chain, "have not been aiding the liberation at all. Give me three reasons why you should be spared?"
The trembling man could hardly speak, but before he could get his words out, Hidan chirped, "Too late", and cut off his arms. The man screamed at the sight of his limbs on the ground and was thrown aside by two Akatsuki associates standing to the side of the man. The next one was a young boy, around the age of thirteen, healthy and strong. As he was put forward, he trembled, but his countenance remained fixated. Hidan looked down at him thoughtfully. He let the machete's blade graze the boy's neck gently. "See how he does not falter? This is the bravery that we need. But would he only be a burden in the end…?"
A man a few spots behind the boy jumped up, yelling, "No! Please, please spare him! He is a good boy!" His face blew up as Hidan took out his gun and put a bullet in his face.
"Earthly ties can only lead to destruction in the end," said Hidan, putting the gun down. "Recruit him."
The next man looked more toned than the first one. He was dark from spending too much time in the sun. "Send him to the pearl fields."
It continued on until none of the men were left and Hidan had a sufficient amount of blood to sacrifice to Jashin-sama. The crowd began to disperse, but Hidan called for Kiba and Ino.
They approached him, wondering if they had done anything to offend him. Around him were the soon-to-be child soldiers. Shikamaru was already standing next to Hidan, being one of his best strategists. There was rumor that Shikamaru might be promoted to even being one of the leaders. Ino scoffed at the idea; if anyone was going to rise to those ranks, it would be her. Her dedication was almost unceasing.
"You three," began Hidan, "I've chosen because of your strength and exuberant energy for the Akatsuki. Train these fuckers to be what you three are today."
"Yes, Hidan-sama," said the three in unison.
He began to walk off, but before he did, he turned around and said, "The Sand Siblings will be joining you three."
The kids were young, the oldest being around thirteen years old. The smaller ones continued to tremble, but the older ones stared off with apathy.
"What the hell?!" screamed Ino. "The Sand Siblings?! Doesn't he trust us enough to train these bastards?!"
"God, Ino, calm down," said Shikamaru. Great. He was stuck with kids. He absolutely adored them. Not.
"I can't stand Temari!" she exclaimed, infuriated.
"Heh, she's not that bad," said Kiba. "She's pretty hot." That earned Kiba a violent punch from Ino. "SHIT, WOMAN!"
Shikamaru sighed. "Let's get going. We have a lot of work to do."
After receiving arms for them, the three lead the children to a clearing. "Kiba, I'm sure Hidan spared some for our use. Go take a look," commanded Shikamaru. Kiba nodded and went off.
The children stared in awe at the arms in their hands. They had no experience with machine guns, but they knew this was the item that had thrown them into this situation. One of the littler ones began to cry.
"Shut the fuck up!" yelled Ino. "We're here to teach you how to become heroes, not crying bitches."
"Ino," warned Shikamaru at Ino's profanity. The little boy whimpered, but suppressed his tears. Shikamaru directed his attention towards the kids. It was time to manipulate them. The younger they were, the easier it was going to be. But, he supposed, a little vituperation never did hurt. "Our country has been in turmoil ever since it came under the hands of Orochimaru. Your parents were bad people, and they deserved to die. But you children, you want to do good, right? Don't you want to save your country from destruction?" He looked down at them. He could almost see them digesting this information, the gears running in their heads. "These things you are holding, they're not evil objects. They're your staff, what you'll use to judge the good from the bad. Understand?"
They didn't move, just stared, until Ino growled, "Bitches, answer him."
They fearfully murmured an affirmative. "Ino, help me blindfold them," said Shikamaru. He handed her some pieces of cloth. "Kiba's going to be back anytime soon."
Right after Ino had finished tying the cloth around the eyes of the last child, Kiba came back holding a gun behind a man with his arms bound, gagged, and blindfolded, obviously a prisoner. "Who's going first?" grinned Kiba.
Shikamaru scrutinized them. The older one seemed most fit. The littler ones would follow his example. He nodded at Ino to bring that one up.
She grabbed him by his collar and yanked him up. "Over here, you little monster."
The prisoner was led towards a tree and ordered to stay there, trembling. The boy was put parallel to the man, the gun still in his hands.
"Hold the gun in your arms and grip it firmly. Make sure that it's not facing you and that your fingers are always on the trigger," commanded Ino. This wasn't her first time ordering around child soldiers. She knew what she was doing. "Now pull the trigger." The boy hesitated. "Pull the trigger." He still hadn't done it, and now, muffling noises could be heard from the prisoner. "PULL THE DAMN TRIGGER!"
"These kids are bit too old, yeah? I was six when the old man gave me a bomb, un."
"Shut up and bring it over here, Deidara."
"A little irritable today, now aren't we, Hidan?"
Shikamaru couldn't see a thing. He was blindfolded, but he could hear footsteps coming. He could tell there were two people from the voices, but the extra footstep, almost like a person being dragged, made the count go up to three.
"Which one shall go first, hm?" asked Deidara. You could tell he was looking forward to it.
There was silence, but Shikamaru could feel slight movement besides him. It was Ino, trembling. He wondered if it was better if he had let them kill her.
"This one." Suddenly, he was pulled up by the collar and forced to move a few steps ahead. They couldn't have wanted to kill him now. There wouldn't have been a point in giving him the gun. He was forced to stop. Commands were given to him on how to handle the object of destruction in his hands.
"Pull the trigger," came a soft command.
Shikamaru wasn't sure if he heard right.
"Pull the trigger," this time the command was firmer.
And yet, he couldn't abide by it. The fear of using the weapon was too much for him.
"PULL THE DAMN TIRGGER!"
About ten bullets forced their way out of the gun. There was the sound of something collapsing on the ground.
The shock pushed him back a few steps. "Good job, yeah." A hand clasped his shoulder. "You all can remove your blindfolds now, yeah."
Shikamaru slowly yanked off the piece of cloth. In front of him was a bloodied wall with a few stray bullets lodged in it. On the ground was a body faced down with bullet wounds. Blood was streaming from the cadaver and dust swirled around it from the impact. The other children gaped at the terror before their eyes.
The figure had an aura of familiarity. The dark hair, tall stature, dark skin, and the hands…the hands were so familiar…It took a while before it registered to Shikamaru that the man lying on the ground was his father. And yet, he couldn't shed a single tear. He had killed his father…he was bad now…he was branded with an unseen stigma that showed his dirty deed…
Kakuzu was a man made of money. His world wasn't heliocentric. It was more revolved around cash, whether it be yens, dollars, or pesos. And boy did he drive a hard bargain.
"Kakazu, you could at least give them a small discount for their mass order," commented Suigetsu. The two were walking together along a dirt path.
"Yes, but if I gave them an advantage, I'll lose Orochimaru as my costumer."
"I wonder when you'll get caught. Selling arms to the Akatsuki while getting paid by Orochimaru to have your men fight for him. You're an evil genius, you know that," complimented Suigetsu.
"You're not so bad yourself. Smuggling the pearls to the western world and selling some to the government as welll. This war's making us a fortune, isn't it?"
Suigetsu just grinned. In reality, the pearls weren't getting him that much. Tickets for planes going out of the country were going up and the tariffs were getting higher as well as the bribes. His plans to leave the country for once and for all were delayed. "If I did have enough money, I would've left this God-forsaken place a long time ago."
Kakuzu shook his head. He took the leather bag from Suigetsu's hand and took out a pearl. "Do you know why the pearls are tear-shaped? It's from all the tears that go into the water, from all the sorrows that have resulted from this fighting for the land. And the dirt-" he reached down and grabbed a handful of the red soil- "they say it's stained red because of all the blood that has been shed. You're not going to leave. This is home. T.I.A. This is Africa."