Chapter Eighteen: Aftermath

Tsunade grumbled as she leafed through another thick folder on her desk. Not for the last time, she wondered why she even became the Hokage in the first place.

It had been nearly a week ever since the retrieval mission of Uchiha Sasuke and when the FIRE Nine were called in to curb the riot that the civilians of the village had caused when news of Uchiha Sasuke's punishment was made public.

Ninety-seven civilians were locked up in jail, twenty-seven ANBU placed in the hospital because of the ruckus that the civilians caused and all nine members of the FIRE Nine becoming especially irritated especially since most of them hadn't fully recovered from their injuries from their last mission. Suzaku herself was especially irritated as well especially since the paperwork that she had to handle was as much, if not more than the Hokage herself.

A certain pink-haired genin from the last graduating batch was arrested as well because of the trouble that she had caused in the riot and Konoha's rumour mill had quickly caught wind that an irritated and angry Tenken had filed a request in straight to the Hokage herself, officially requesting for one Haruno Sakura to be stripped of her genin rank and ninja privileges for causing a riot in the middle of Konoha's town square during these times after Konoha is still recovering from the invasion from the Oto-Suna invasion during the Chuunin exams.

A trial was set for Sakura before the entire shinobi council, with Tenken and Pearl of the FIRE Nine, along with the entire ANBU forces and jounins that had tried to curb the riot that had broke out giving proof and statements as proof of Sakura not deserving her ninja rank. As a result, Sakura was stripped of her ninja rank and privileges and this caused yet another riot to break out in which an irritated Suzaku who hadn't been sleeping well ever since the retrieval mission ordered her FIRE Nine as well as members of her FIRE Squad to use any force necessary to curb the riot. Especially since the last time, ANBU and jounins had tried not to use any force to curb the rebellion and this resulted in twenty-seven ANBU members landing in the hospital with fifteen jounins and thirty-three chuunins being on the 'off-duty' list until they've recovered from their injuries.

The FIRE Nine as well as the members of the FIRE Squad were more than happy to obey their superior's orders and another eighty-three civilians were locked up in jail for causing a riot. Fortunately for the Hokage that Suzaku had the sense to send out her ninjas to curb the rebellion before it got any worse, otherwise, the Hokage might have a civil war on her hands.

Ibiki and Anko – the heads of the interrogation department of the ANBU – were more than happy to spend some 'quality time' together with the unfortunate civilians who were arrested by the FIRE Squad and any ANBU member passing by the interrogation department winced as the horrific screams of whatever unfortunate civilian that happened to be spending some time together with Ibiki and Anko could be heard through three thick walls.

Two days after the second riot, Tenken of the FIRE Nine could be seen in the streets, conversing in low tones with Gekkou Hayate and Shiranui Genma – both whom were standing by the dango shop – when a very angry pink-haired woman who seemed to be an older version of Sakura – probably her mother – was coming towards Tenken, wielding a kunai in the air.

Tenken sighed in frustration as she merely sidestepped the Haruno woman's 'attack' and twisted her hand to force her to drop her kunai before pinning her to the ground by her knees. This had attracted a rather large group of people – both civilians and ninjas – and Hayate had proceeded to explain the situation.

The Haruno woman, meanwhile, was shouting curses and swear words which aren't meant for a child's ears and enough to make a sailor blush before Tenken had finally lost her temper and slapped the Haruno woman across the face which made everyone present winced. That had the effect that she wanted though – the Haruno woman was silent – though this doesn't last long.

"How dare you hit me?!" The woman nearly screamed at the FIRE Nine member holding her down with her knee in the crook of her back – Tenken, Hayate and Genma winced – they now knew where Sakura had gotten her banshee-like voice from. "My husband is on the council and he'll have your head and ninja rank for this – like how you stripped my precious angel of her ninja rank!"

"Oh? I guess that you hadn't heard then, Haruno-san," said Genma with boredom, his senbon needle moving from the left to the right. "After the two riots that had broken out in the same week, Hokage-sama had called the entire shinobi council together as well as some of the more influential jounins and ANBU members and had called for a vote. This vote stands if we should allow the civilians to have seats on the council or if we should just have the shinobi clan heads on the council like what the other villages are doing. And guess what the vote is?"

The woman paled instantly as she caught onto what Genma was trying to tell her.

"That's right. All shinobis who had been called for had voted for the same thing – no civilians on the council. Hokage-sama, along with Koharu-sama, Homura-sama, Jiraiya-sama and Yondaime-sama are now creating a new council without civilians in it. As from next month onwards, no civilians will be given a seat on the council since we shinobis feel that you civilians are abusing your right and authority in promoting and rewarding shinobis who do not deserve it and punishing shinobis for no reason at all."

"And Haruno. Let me tell you something," said Hayate. "Do you know that the mere attempt of an attack on a member of the FIRE Squad, especially the FIRE Nine is prone to immediate execution?"

The woman paled instantly.

"And guess what, Mrs Haruno? The one that you'd tried to attack is Tenken of the FIRE Nine – one of the most influential and powerful shinobis in all of Fire Country. If it's a member of the FIRE Squad, we could still overlook it, but if it's an attack on a member of the FIRE Nine, you will be given extremely harsh punishment since they're not normal ninjas of the village. And you know the laws – your husband is once on the council after all. Attacking a fellow ninja in Konoha is prone to severe punishment."

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As a result, Sakura's mother was severely punished and the standing of the Haruno clan among the village had fallen massively.

After Uchiha Sasuke was released from the hospital and given a clean bill of health by Pearl of the FIRE Nine, he was immediately placed under probation for three years – being watched closely by the FIRE Nine. He was no longer trained by Kakashi as Suzaku and the other members of the FIRE Nine felt that the Copy Ninja had done a poor job with his team and the Uchiha as a whole by actually teaching the Uchiha the Chidori which is classified as an A-rank assassination move which no genin should learn unless they've reached at least chuunin-level.

Suzaku had sent in a ten-page long report straight to Tsunade who had wholly approved of the punishment that Sasuke will be receiving and demoted Kakashi from elite jounin to a normal jounin and he would have to earn his rank as an elite jounin back again through exams and tests.

Uchiha Sasuke will also be stuck in the FIRE Squad's headquarters while he is serving his probation while being trained both mentally and physically at the same time by Shunshu and Wanizame of the FIRE Nine, sometimes both Tenken and Pearl helped as well. He only got one day off a week to show his face in the village and even then, three members of the FIRE Squad were stuck on him to keep an eye on him in the village and to ensure that he wouldn't run off.

It is also time for the FIRE Nine to select their potential apprentices and to train them and for two weeks, the village was suspiciously quiet, especially since the members of the FIRE Nine were extremely silent, scouting the village for any prospective apprentices.

The FIRE Nine were extremely picky over their apprentices especially since they don't just train anyone for the future post of one of the FIRE Nine. The members of the FIRE Nine held extreme influence and they can't have anyone abusing their right and authority especially since the FIRE Nine are the ears and eyes of the village and they have more privileges and authority than your average ninja.

The FIRE Nine don't just look for strength in their potential apprentices – anyone can have that – what they're looking for in their potential apprentices is their mindset, their mental strength, the capability to lead, the ability to not panic when in a fix, to know how to weigh the mission's objectives and the lives of the shinobis on the mission, taking priority of their subordinates' lives over the mission, etc.

The FIRE Nine are allowed to pick apprentices from other villages, but it is rarely done, especially since normally, said ninja usually chose to remain in Konoha and the kage of whatever village that they're from will transfer their ninja license to Konoha, though they will still be a ninja of whatever village that they're originally from.

Tenken had an interest in the wind user from the Sand village ever since she had first seen that girl in action during the Chuunin exams and the Hokage had given her permission for a leave of absence for a week to head to Suna and talk to the new Kazekage – who of all people, turned out to be Sabaku no Gaara – and get his permission for his sister to head over to Konoha.

Another shinobi who had caught the eye of one of the more powerful and influential members of the FIRE Nine was Nara Shikamaru. Shunshu of the FIRE Nine had gotten an interest in the shadow user ever since his Chuunin exams and two days later, the Nara clan head and his wife had gotten an unexpected visit by said ANBU about their son.

Another genin who had caught the interest of a member of the FIRE Nine was Kinzoku Tenten, the weapon specialist in the genin team of Maito Gai. Koneko of the FIRE Nine was the one interested in said kunoichi especially since she showed high skill of weaponry for a genin so young and this proves that she is serious in becoming a real kunoichi and had spent hours honing her skills.

Thus, by the time the week is up, Suzaku had received the requests from her FIRE Nine regarding the shinobis and kunoichis whom they wanted as their apprentices:

Sabaku no Temari of Suna, taken in by Tenken of the FIRE Nine.

Nara Shikamaru of Konoha, taken in by Shunshu of the FIRE Nine.

Kinzoku Tenten of Konoha, taken in by Koneko of the FIRE Nine.

Jiraiya of the Sannin, meanwhile, was expanding his spy network to the fullest in tracking down the Black Clouds' organisation and Namikaze Minato had made up with his daughter and was now spending some good quality time with his child. Tsunade had enlisted Minato as an elite jounin in fuuinjutsu as that was his rank before he had became the Hokage and Naru had often dropped by home to spend some time with her father whenever she could, especially she had her own ninja duties to fulfill.

The Black Clouds' organisation was currently lying low after the failed capture of Uchiha Sasuke and Akatsuki was also doing their best in assisting Jiraiya in tracking down the Black Clouds' organisation.

For now, the village of Konoha is having peace. But for how long?