|12-21-2008, 03:15 PM||#1|
tale of galant jiraiya
Join Date: Oct 2008
Thanked 108 Times in 63 Posts
Great Hero Ramen
The first letter didn't worry Tsunade too much. It should have, as it was from a lawyer, but Tsunade had not had enough experience yet with the administrative side of running a Hidden Village to realise the terrible peril that she was in. The lawyer in question was from the Wave Country and acting on behalf of a corporation called 'Great Hero Ramen', which had apparently bought up some of Tsunade's debts. The gist of the letter was a polite request for Tsunade to contact them to arrange a shedule of payments.
Tsunade crumpled the letter into a ball and threw it at the wastebin, missing (she might be one of the Legendary Three Ninja, but it takes more than than to get one ball of paper into a bin already full of of other wastepaper).
Poor Tsunade. Making such an amateur's mistake...
A week later there was another letter, this one with an additional paragraph apologising that the previous letter to this effect had apparently gone unaccountably astray. The pile of crumpled paper at the bin was getting quite large by now.
Another week passed and then the Ninja Postman told the Hokage that he had registered mail for her and could she just sign here, please. Even at her drunkest, Tsunade wasn't that foolish however. She declined and snitched the letter from his bag as he left. Another request for payments. Some people just didn't get a clue.
Sometime over the night, all the papers in and around Tsunade's bin vanished. She didn't bother to check that the clean up had been done by someone who was supposed to have access to her office.
The day after that, another letter arrived. Tsunade didn't have to sign for it so all was well. And it gave her a bit of a laugh. This 'Great Hero Ramen' company thought that they could threaten the Hokage? Hilarious!
Still, there was no point being totally dismissive. They might be a nuisance - deny Naruto his staple foodstuff and sent him whining to her or something - so she had Shizune pull the file on the company. Unfortunately, that was the day that she gave Shizune the slip long enough to get well and truly hammered, and forgot all about it. The file got lost under a heap of paperwork.
The next letter was directly from the owner of 'Great Hero Ramen' advising that they had bought up even more of her debts and that either she could make a good faith move towards repaying them or action would be pursued. The signature on the letter was an illegible scribble.
By this time, of course, the file on 'Great Hero Ramen' was totally lost, so Tsunade grudgingly authorised a C-class mission to investigate it and assigned it to Kurenai's team. Not being a total idiot, Kurenai took Kiba and Shino to check with the local merchants for information while sending Hinata to interrogate Konoha's Number-One expert on all things Ramen.
Hinata took lengthy notes, fulfilling her part of the mission and flattering Naruto, who was therefore a little less disruptive than usual for the next few days, as well as indulging her a little, since they had had their conversation over a Ramen at Ichiraku's and so could, almost, from the correct angle, if you stretched a point, possibly be mistaken for what looked like it might resemble a date (although Hinata discreetly played it down a little when her father absently asked her what she'd done that day).
'Great Hero Ramen', Tsunade discovered, on reading the reports, was much more than a Ramen stall franchise (although it was that as well). It also made cup ramen and a range of fancier family-size ramen dishes that were all the rage amongst those who had little time to cook for themselves. Like Ninja, for example. Their other, less important, subsidiaries dealt with about half the food industry in the southern half of Leaf Country, the company having risen to prominence on the wave of prosperity fuelled by greater access to Wave Country now that they had built a bridge to the mainland.
In other words, they could probably afford ninja debt collectors. It was fortunate that Tsunade need have no fear of such a threat, as otherwise she could really have been in a bind.
A week later, Shizune vanished. No one could find her, or even trace her movements after she left the Hokage tower the previous night. Given her access to classified documents, this was naturally a major security issue. Tsunade was about to panic when another letter arrived from 'Great Hero Ramen'.
It wasn't so much a letter, either, more of a... receipt?
The value of Shizune's services, noted as the per day rate for a jounin-rank ninja assigned to a B-class mission less maintenance, was being deducted from Tsunade's debts. At this rate, the recipt noted, the debts would be cleared in just under ten thousand years. Would Tsunade now like to come to terms?
The Hokage groaned. If this came out - and sending out ninja against 'Great Hero Ramen' would undoubtfully reveal all - she'd be ruined. Konohagakure, her teacher's legacy and a responsibility she was holding in trust for Naruto, would be a laughing stock. She was going to have to face up to her responsibilities. Now where did she put the 'Great Hero Ramen' company's address... oh, that's where the sake bottle went, well there's a little left and a day like this calls for a drink...
Without Shizune to keep her under control Tsunade went on a colossal bender, and woke up hungover, to the noise of Gai bashing on her door and wailing at the top of his voice about his Team being missing!
Once Tsunade had shut him up and managed to get herself a hangover remedy, she found another receipt on her desk. The value of three genin working on C-class missions, less the value of their maintenance, was now being deducted from her debts. The debts will now be cleared in a little more than eight thousand years. Could she at least let them know how far they need to push before she deals honestly with them, so that they can skip the intervening escalation?
Now Tsunade wanted to have Shizune back, really she did. And Gai being quieter would be nice. But... this was reducing her debts, wasn't it? And really, she's the goddamned Hokage, she could assign her ninja any missions she wanted, couldn't she?
Naruto scratched his head as he read the letter from Tsunade. If he was reading this correctly, and a correspondence course in corporate law that was whiling away the spare hours when Jiraiya wasn't in a fit state to train him suggested that he was, then Tsunade was basically offering to rent him he Village's ninja en masse to pay off her debts.
She really needed that law course more than he did.
He slurped up another 'Great Hero Ramen' cup ramen (just the way he liked it) and reached for his pen. Now then, time to hone those negotiation skills.
It would go down in history that Konohagakure was the first Hidden Village ever to face a takeover bid, but Naruto was pretty sure that if he managed to get the Hyuga on Tsunade's back (and Hinata would probably be only too glad to 'vanish' and cause exactly that) then she'd agree to just about anything.
"De facto Hokage now," he noted. "De jure when I get back..."
|12-21-2008, 03:16 PM||#2|
tale of galant jiraiya
Join Date: Oct 2008
Thanked 108 Times in 63 Posts
Re: Great Hero Ramen
Tsunade had to learn to get along without Shizune, as even after Great Hero Ramen accepted her terms for repayment of her debts, her apprentice reamined on 'detached assignment'. Judging from the letters she received from Shizune, she was working in a coastal region and mostly doing medical work.
In revenge, the Hokage took to sending a lot of her paperwork to the Great Hero Ramen offices. Since they were making the decisions, they could do some of the work as well, she decided. Her smug mood lasted for about three days, after which the papers started to return, at a rate that made it clear that they were being worked on far more efficently than she had managed. There was also a note that 'suggested that since she was spending so much less time in the office, she could do more medical work for the Village. Maybe she could train up some field medical ninja, as she had proposed during the Sandaime's first term in office.
Tsunade's support in the Village went up rather markedly after the hours that she was putting in at the hospital became common knowledge. Sakura's training also went up a notch, and Tsunade had half-a-dozen volunteers from genin sent back to the Academy after their genin exams to enter her new course for medical ninja. None of which made her feel any better about being manipulated.
She decided, in the end, to turn Jiriaya loose on her new 'manager'. After all, a corporation that was interfering in the activities of a Hidden Village might very well be associated with the Akatsuki. The Toad Hermit's response was sceptical, but he agreed to look into the matter. The fact that it would require him to spend time along the southern coast, where Great Hero Ramen was based, might have had something to do with it: the beaches along that coast were very popular with sunbathers. There was also an irritated note attached to the letter, from Naruto declaring that no one that made such super ramen as Great Hero Ramen did could possibly be up to something unsavory. Tsunade chuckled and put the note away - it didn't seem that Jiraiya's training was changing Naruto very much.
There was a near crisis about six months later, and Tsunade had to ask for several teams of ninja that were on loan to Great Hero Ramen to patrol the border with Rice Country and then to intervene to restore order after the Village of Hidden Sound abruptly left the country, having essentially decapitated the government with a wave of assassinations that slaughtered the daimyo and his ministers. The teams that returned were almost uniformly in fine condition - tanned and healthy (except for the occasional new scar), their morale high and their skills sharp.
It wasn't until Tsunade made a few discreet enquiries, careful not to disclose that she didn't actually have a clue what they'd been up to, that she discovered that they'd mostly been based around Rice Country anyway, making raids inside the country in the guise of bandits, samurai or even posing as Hidden Sound ninja, as well as enforcing what amounted to an unoffical trade embargo.
Hidden Sound, rather depleted in it's lower ranks, managed to escape of course, heading north if rumor was to be believed. Orochimaru was far too canny a snake to remain in a trap while it closed around him. It took almost three months for the diplomatic repercussions to be wroked out. It probably would have taken even longer if the economic situation hadn't been been solved by Great Hero Ramen making an investment in the region's famous Rice fields.
That little problem was barely out of the way when Hidden Mist declared war on the Wave Country's ninja village. Tsunade hadn't even known that Wave Country had a ninja village, but it would seem that they had. Normally the result of one of the Five Great Hidden Villages attacking a lesser village would be messy but over in short order. However, given the way that Tsunade found her ninja vanishing on missions that would conveniently take long enough for them to reach the contested territory, she suspected that it wasn't just one village that Hidden Mist was confronting.
For a while, she considered pulling her ninja out. A confrontation like this, even indirectly, with one of the other major villages could achieve what the Sound-Sand invasion had not begun: the start of another Great Ninja War. Before matters could go that far, however, a message arrived from Gaara of the Desert, invting her to join the Godaime Kazekage and the other Kages in arbitrating the dispute. Somehow, she wouldn't have been surprised to find that Gaara had developed a taste for Ramen.
The arbitration was, naturally, not easy and so when, in apparent frustration, Gaara proposed settling the issues in a limited contest between the best ninja that the two villages could field, Tsunade agreed quickly. Eight ninja from each village would battle over the ruins of the old Sound complex in Rice Country, entering at sunset and leaving at sunrise. Whichever village had more ninja able to reach the specified exit by sunset would have the dispute settled in their favor.
The Mizukage stepped forward for his village, supported by the current complement of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist. Then the Hidden Wave ninja stepped forwards and Tsunade had to restrain a despairing groan. There were eight of them, led by a muscular man in an extraordinarily loud hawaiian shirt, a lean figure wearing an eyepatch and an older man wearing white and red facepaints that covered his face entirely. All eight of the ninja wore huge staw hats to hide much of their faces, but the one in the shirt didn't hesitate to declare them to be the Mysterious Eight Great Youthful Heroes of Hidden Wave.
Tsunade could only hope that no one linked the idiots to Gai, Kakashi and Jiriaya. And for that matter, if Jiraiya was here, then where was Naruto?
"Place your bets!" came a young voice from the crowd. "Place your bets! Will the Mysterious Eight Youthful Heros beat the Seven Swordsmen... and the Mizukage? Will the power of youth beat the power of a Great Village? Hey, obachan! Place a bet?"
Tsunade rubbed her forehead as she looked down at the grinning face of Naruto and then sighed. “Oh what the hell,” she muttered and pulled out her purse. “A hundred ryou on Hidden Wave.”
“Right!” Naruto declared, noting down the wager and stuffing the money into his already bulging Gama-chan. “One hundred ryou from the Legendary Sucker on Hidden Wave!” he confirmed very loudly.
“You little brat!” Tsunade snapped, but he ducked her punch.
Word was already spreading however, and Naruto took wager after wager that day… oddly enough, almost all of them on Hidden Mist. When the Mizukage and two of the Swordsmen staggered out of the ruins at sunset, the Hidden Wave team was only down to six ninja. The Mizukage wound up almost getting lynched by the disappointed punters.
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