Stranger by angrypixels
Humans. The root of all evil.
Everything that had led to this fateful day was all due their pride. Pride led to envy. Envy led to greed. Greed led to wrath. Wrath led blood, violence and destruction.
In the end, it all led to death. Humans were doomed to die prematurely due to their very nature.
Whispers echoed around Sasuke as he sat in the middle of an oval chamber, words pounding into his head. His hands were placed loosely in his lap and were chained with chakra absorbing handcuffs. His bangs brushed past his eyes as he bent his head down staring at the ground, hiding his face from the rest of the world.
It was not the whispers of the audience who surrounded him on this fateful day, but the whispers of the dead.
It calmed him.
He did not fear the dead, unlike some blond idiot who trembled and looked spooked whenever he entered the Uchiha family compound, muttering things like 'creepy' or ' I swear that tree just waved at me.' All nins encountered death sooner or later in their life and did not fear it. Until just recently, Sasuke welcomed it.
During those days, he felt as if every single cell in his body was screaming in anguish, sorrow and frustration. There was nothing holding him back in the living world, only revenge. Every blow, every thrust was as treated as his last. He placed his life on the line in every battle, fighting to the edge of collapse, hoping that perhaps, just perhaps, his life might end just like that. He survived every time, another day drowning in the burning hell of revenge.
But now, he had a mission that did not permit him to cowardly take the easy way out.
Sasuke looked up. The Hokage had seated herself in front of him on top of a dais. His pink haired ex-teammate sat next to her, pen poised. He could see her eyebrows furrowed in worry as she watched him and the rest of the room. He spotted Naruo after a quick glance around the room sitting with that dark haired male who replaced him along with most of their yearmates. The rest of the audience were mainly Konoha shinobi with a few civilians, no doubt curious as to what was happening. Usually, trials of this nature were carried out behind closed doors in fear of leaking village secrets. Rarely would the Hokage allow any trial to be public. Both the Hokage and he agreed that his case was an exceptional one. The trial of the last known survivor and member of the Uchicha Massare and the infamous betrayer of the village.
Swinging back to focus on the Hokage, Sasuke saw the two Konoha council members sitting on dasis who seemed to be fighting between feeling smug and annoyed.
Sasuke's insides momentarily boiled up in anger. Patience, he told himself. They would get what they deserved soon.
"Silence" shouted the Hokage, as she pounded a fist into the wall. The whole chamber shook from the force and the audience immediately quieted down in the face of the Hokage's impatience.
Satisfied that she finally had everyone's attention, she calmly rearranged her robes and nodded to the guards at the entrance who closed the doors shut.
"Usually, traitors of the village would be privately trialled and executed with only a small announcement on the notice board outside the Hokage tower. However, I have decreed that it is in the interest of Konoha that the trial of Uchiha Sasuke be a public one given that his actions have indirectly led to the Fourth Shinobi World War and the death of countless nins and civilians." Tsuanade said tersely, ignoring the murmurs from the audience. "This is even more relevant given that our village is again rebuilding itself from the losses sustained in the war."
"Uchiha Sasuke, stand up and face me."
He stood up as instructed, eyes staring straight at the council members seated next to the Hokage.
Soon. Very soon. He clenched his fists for a few seconds and released it. A few hours was nothing compared to the years he had already endured.
The Hokage nodded to Shizune who stood near him. Shizune stepped forward into the limelight and took out a scroll. She opened it and the end of the scroll bounced off the floor with a length of at least a few feet long.
"Uchiha Sasuke." Shizune announced solemnly, her voice echoing loudly. "You are hereby accused of the following crimes…"
It took her at least fifteen minutes to read out the whole scroll. Sasuke was not surprised to hear that he was accused of aiding the Snake Sanin, Kabuto, Akatsuki and some other missing nin he had the misfortune of meeting in his years of wandering. However, he raised an eyebrow when he heard the long list of names of people he was involved in murdering or harming, both directly and indirectly, including Asuma. It seemed that the Hokage and Shizune had done their best to pin every single crime onto him, down to the missing cat of the fire daimayo who ran away due to the sounds of war.
"Uchiha Sasuke, do you plead guilty to all of your crimes?" the Hokage asked once Shizune had finished reading out the scroll.
"Yes." He said, just as planned.
The audience roared at his answer. Sasuke watched his female ex-teammate snap her pen in horror as she gasped. He saw the council members twitch beside the Hokage, no doubt pleased with themselves that he was to be executed.
"Do you have anything to say for yourself before I announce your sentence?" The Hokage shouted at him above the noise. Almost immediately, the crowd went silent, every eye focused on him waiting for his reply.
"Yes I do. However, I have a request."
The Hokage raised her eyebrow, a shadow of a smirk on her face. He had to admit that she was doing a fine of job of acting. "I see no reason to say no. Let's hear it."
"No one is to interrupt me until I have finished speaking."
"Granted. On my orders, no one is to interrupt him or they shall face punishment. "
Sasuke closed his eyes and took a deep breath to calm himself. This was it.
Contrary to what many people would have done in his place, Sasuke did not prepare a speech. He did not rehearse. It was not necessary. In his mind, countless scenes unfolded, all playing concurrently. Every body movement, every facial expression, each scar and wound, everything was as clear and vivid as if it had just happened this morning.
His brother, face cracked, eyes hollow and dead, brought back to life by the unnatural ninjitsu. Yet somehow, his brother reached out and touched him with his bare, dry hands. His brother loved him, despite all he had done and all that had happened.
His brother had loved him all along. His beloved and loyal brother, Uchiha Itachi.
Your sacrifice will be told to the world, ni-san. He thought to himself.
His mind focussed onto the very scene which was the start of this tragedy, watching it unfold in his mind through the eyes of his brother.
"A few years ago before the Uchiha Massacre, my brother, Uchiha Itachi, was summoned to a secret meeting with the Hokage and the Konoha council…":
It took more than an hour for him to finish. He started from his brother's story and fused it seamlessly with his own. What was done in Sound. What decisions he made. What drove him onwards. The final battle between the brothers. The war. His last meeting with his brother.
Sasuke was never an eloquent speaker. In the days when he was still a gennin with his team in Konoha, only spiteful words spewed out of his mouth. Once he stared training with the Snake Sanin, he found out very quickly that the best way to stay alive was to keep his mouth shut and maintain a poker face. He was a young, inexperienced teenage boy amidst ferocious and envious missing nin twice his age who wouldn't think twice before gutting him in order to take his position. After he killed the Snake Sanin, the force of a cold glare was more much efficient than a word when dealing with his enemies.
His words came out unsmooth and jaggered. The narration was rough and torn around the edges with no polish. He winced inwardly as he felt that he was doing no justice to his brother story. But he had to go on for there was no one else to carry out this duty.
His throat felt painful and sore from speaking loudly so that everyone could hear him. When he finally finished, the scene of his undead brother crumbling to dust dissolving from his mind, he opened his eyes to see the Hokage raising an eyebrow with grim satisfaction and the two council members trembling with rage.
"Preposterous! This is utter rubbish! Tsunade, how could you let this boy ramble on like this? Do you how his lies could affect the village in the state that it is in now? This is why we have trials in private!" Homura Mitokado shouted.
"Lies, you say?" the Hokage asked sarcastically as she turned her head to the fuming council members. "So you are saying that you had no part in the Uchiha Massacre?"
Homura frozen for a second before narrowing his eyes. "Tsunade. This is not a matter to be discussed in public! This is obviously within the category of top class village secrets! I do not understand your insistence for this trial to be public!"
"Indeed. I demand that the audience be removed this instant so that no further lies can be used to corrupt the reputation of Konoha." said Koharu Utatane as she pulled her robes furiously.
"I am afraid I cannot agree to that." The Hokage frowned and shook her head at the council members. "ANBU."
Immediately, a few masked nin appeared behind the council members and held them down while another few brought a few boxes and placed them in front of the Hokage.
The audience immediately came to an uproar while some even stood up in shock.
"Tsunade, what is the meaning of this? Are you trying to usurper our power?" the Homura shouted as he tried to stand up and failed.
"Council members, you shall address me properly as the Hokage." The Hokage spat as she stood up and faced the audience.
"Order! Listen or I shall truly throw you all out of the chambers!" She roared and the noise quieted down somewhat. "Before the end of the Fourth Shinobi World War, I received intel from reliable resources that something was out of place regarding the Uchiha clan massacre. This point was further brought to my attention by Uchiha Sasuke. I then created a special group of elite nins to investigate this matter and new evidence, which were painstakingly hidden from plain view obviously due to its dangerous implication, have come to light."
Sasuke knew that his former sensei, Kakashi was part of this investigation group, which explained his rare appearance ever since his return to the village. The Hokage then took out various stacks of documents which were heavily noted and stuck with tags and slammed them onto the table.
"I have before me documents detailing the alleged secret meetings carried out between the missing nin Uchiha Itachi, the then Hokage and the council members present today. The contents of the documents match with the accused's testimony. We have also discovered reports from Uchiha Itachi before the Massacre with his findings of a planned coup and after the Massacre where he gave us intel on the Akatsuki and other matters unfavourable to Konoha."
"Where did you find these documents?" growled Koharu.
"Sealed in a place only known by the Hokages of the village and hidden by Uchiha Itachi himself in places only known by very few. You must have thought that you burnt all records of this matter and hoped that no one would find out, didn't you?" The Hokage smirked cruelly.
Sasuke watched in satisfaction as the two council members' faces turned from red, to blue and finally pale white. Everything was going according to plan.
"We demand a fair trial! It is obvious that this scheme was well thought of beforehand and we have the right to prepare our own case against this…this.. defamation!" Homura argued.
"No." the Hokage shook her head. "You shall not have a trial."
She then turned her face to look at the audience.
"Let this be a clear message to all. Konoha is a nin village. We are not a country. We are not a democracy nor a monarchy. We are not ruled by a damiyo. We are ninjas and the Hokage position is given to the strongest nin in the village. We are not ruled by the usual conventions of other countries. We live by our own rules and regulations. We may accept a mission to protect a certain party today and accept another mission to assassinate the same party tomorrow. We hold no alliance and owe no loyalty to anyone but ourselves. We each have our own way of the nin, be it to complete a mission at all costs or to prioritize team safety. We are nins, we live by the second. It is us against the rest of the world. We care only for our own, which is why the price of betraying our village is harsh with no pity. There is no place for total fairness and justice in our life when our lives are at stake every moment."
The Hokage then turned to the silent council members and continued. " You are not worthy of any trial at all, nor do you have a chance to defend yourself. The evidence is clear in front of me. It was a fact that the Uchiha clan planned a coup. However, they had not yet done anything unfavourable to the village to forward this coup. It was all discussions and strategic placing of personnel in the ranks of Konoha. There were many options to choose and yet you, including the Third Hokage decided to take the quick and easy way out. Annihilating a whole ninja clan!"
The Hokage slammed her fist against her desk, creating a dent, to prove her anger. Sasuke could feel his heartbeat pounding loudly in his ears as heat spread throughout his body as she continued.
"A clan that held a bloodline limit unique and integral to the village. By doing so, you not only betrayed the people of this village by destroying a strong force and leaving the village with one less defence, you murdered countless innocent people who had nothing to do with the plan to overthrow the ruling party. One example is standing in front of you" The Hokage pointed to Sasuke and he felt the eyes of all immediately focus on him.
"Uchiha Sasuke knew nothing and had no part in the plan. Yet his whole family was killed in front of him, no trial and no explanation was given. You have given an order that has in fact murdered his soul and left him an empty husk only intent on revenge. And look how that turned out? Not only Konoha but all the ninja villages now bear the brunt of his anger. Where is the justice? Where is the fairness?"
The council members opened their mouths to argue but were silenced by senbons placed in their throats by the ANBU restraining them.
"Konoha gives no mercy to those who harm their own. How are we better than common mercenaries, thugs and thieves if we cannot even protect our own?"
The silence in the chamber was as heavy as stone as the Hokage turned to Sasuke. A few gasped as they saw her bow to the dark haired survivor of the tragedy.
"Uchiha Sasuke. On behalf of Konoha, I apologize for what had happened."
After a few seconds, she stood up again.
"It is a fact that the Uchiha Clan at that time was planning a coup. This is an act of treason which would have been punished harshly if proven true. If they saw themselves strong enough to rule the village, a more proper procedure would be a direct challenge to duel with the Hokage instead of revolting behind the scene. However, the Uchiha Massacre is something of the past and I shall now come back to the issue of Uchiha Sasuke. By order of the power vested in me as the Hokage of Konoha, I hereby announce that the fitting sentence for all the crimes committed by Uchiha Sasuke be execution."
Susuke watched the pink haired medic, who was watching the whole scene unfold with her mouth wide open, gasped and stand up.
"Sit down Sakura. I am not finished. Take notes." The Hokage said as she pushed her apprentice back down onto the seat.
"However, the root of all of his crimes was directly and indirectly caused by the reckless and selfish decision of the Hokage and the council members. I therefore announce that most of the crimes committed by Uchiha Sasuke be transferred to the Homura Mitokado and Koharu Utatane."
The two council members who turned paler and paler by each of the Hokage's words struggled and were held tight to their seats while the rest of the room stood up and roared deafening.
"However! However! Everyone, shut up and sit back down!" the Hokage growled and pounded her fist into the wall again, causing the whole chamber to shake.
Flicking away pieces of dust that floated from the ceiling from her eyes, the Hokage coughed and continued with a somewhat painful expression. "However, Konoha is not a merciless place, nor will I ever let the world spread false rumours of how the Hokage blatantly ignored past loyalty and abandoned its own people without a regard. As such, I hereby announce that a permanent banishment from the village be a fitting punishment for Homura Mitokado and Koharu Ultatane. Sentence is to be carried out immediately!"
Although Sasuke had the general idea of the Hokage's plan beforehand, upon hearing those words from her mouth, his mind stopped working. Everything blurred out and noise became muffled.
Finally. He thought dazedly to himself as he watched the Hokage sweep out of the chambers with the ANBU dragging the wheezing council members along.
He felt himself being towed along by a familiar blond idiot out of the chambers and stumbled along the newly laid village roads.
Trees, buildings, familiar faces both old and new flashed quickly before his eyes and before he knew it, he was standing at the gate with a suddenly large crowd watching on as the Hokage stared down at the kneeling council members before her.
He shook himself out of his daze and stepped forward, only to be stopped by the Hokage.
"Not yet." She mumbled quietly so that only he could hear her before she raised her voice to speak to the elders.
"Your belongings have already been collected and sealed within these scrolls." The Hokage took a few scrolls that were handed to her by Shizune and threw them onto the ground.
"The moment you step out of Konoha, you shall no longer be known as a Konoha nin. Konoha owes no protection to you from anyone and you are to be left to fend for yourself."
With a curt nod, she motioned the ANBU holding onto the council members to pick them up and deposited them just outside of the gate with their belongings while the large crowd behind silently watched.
The senbons in their throats were removed quickly and the council members slowly stood up, no doubt aching from the rough treatment from their former comrades.
For a few moments, the council members stared back hatedly at the Hokage.
"So, it has come to this Tsunade." Homura said. "It would seem that you have it all planned out from the beginning."
The Hokage smirked viciously. "Just as you had everything planned out. What goes around, comes around. It was just about time you received your due."
She turned around to face the crowd who all had mixed expressions of shock, fear and satisfaction.
"Uchiha Sasuke has been on probation under the eye of ANBU ever since he returned to the village. Upon reading their reports, I am satisfied that Uchiha Sasuke is remorseful and possesses no threat to Konoha. He has tried to integrate himself back into the society and is willing to become a helpful member of our village. I hereby announce that Uchiha Sasuke is no longer labelled as a missing nin and is reinstated back as a gennin. However, he is subject to various limitations including a prohibition of stepping 10 meters away from Konoha without supervision until I order otherwise and shall not embark on any mission without my permission. Uchiha Sasuke, do you understand?"
"Yes, I understand." He said stoically. Almost. Just a moment more.
The Hokage nodded and continued. "I also hereby announce that Uchiha Itachi is no longer labelled as a missing nin but a well-respected and self-sacrificing Konoha nin." She paused for a bit before giving Sasuke a gentle look. " His name shall be craved into the stone of remembrance without delay."
Something strong was bordering on bursting out of his body. It fought and screamed and burnt him without mercy. But he held on. Just a moment longer.
"Thank you." He said with a faint tremble in his voice.
"Here." Said a familiar voice next to him. Sasuke turned and saw his blond idiotic teammate grinning from ear to ear. In his hand lay a headband. His old headband.
Sasuke quietly took it from Naruto's hand and tied it against his forehead. Kakashi stepped forward and handed over Kusanagi, his sword which was confiscated long ago. He took a deep breath and nodded to Naruto and his ex-sensei. Both uncharacteristically just slapped his shoulder and stepped back to stand with Sakura.
Saskuke turned around to face the ex-council members who continued to stand outside the gate of Konoha, their faces livid with anger after listening to the Hokage's announcement.
There was no need to hold back anymore.
He lifted his foot and stepped out of the gates of Konoha.
It was time.