Arc IX Chapter 2
Thunder roared in the distance. A bolt of lightning enlightened the night amidst the wild torrent of rain. Towers of black steel absorbed the expanding flash.
Two figures discussed matters of grave importance, matters directly concerning Amegakure's future and well-being.
Akatsuki controlled Amegakure from the shadows for the last decade. Pain was responsible for the village, a duty he slightly neglected at times. Administrative duties were never his particular forte.
He never possessed Yahiko's charisma nor his talent. His rule mainly relied on authority, on decrees, on proclamations, on fear. He led by force.
Amegakure didn't follow him because they adored his ways. They followed him because they feared him. Fear and intimidation granted Pain legitimacy.
Few souls were brave enough to question his authority. Few souls were foolish enough to defy God.
Unfortunately, his uncompromising nature gained him few friends. The lack of qualified personnel hampered his efforts to rule the village, but he wasn't without fault.
His rampant tendencies contributed to the current state of affairs. He eliminated the majority of Ame's military and bureaucratic elite the day Hanzo met his demise. He eradicated his family, his friends, his allies.
Not the wisest decision in hindsight. His actions antagonised powerful figures within Amegakure and provoked resistance.
Hanzo's death caused a severe breakdown of leadership. The village fell into a state of turmoil and chronic instability, but such didn't matter.
In the end, even Amegakure represented a mere stepping stone towards the ultimate goal. In fact, the village proved quite labour-intensive, a strain on Akatsuki's lmited resources.
Nagato sometimes regretted his rash decision, but his regrets were short-lived.
He decapitated Amegakure, but his actions were necessary. His methods were harsh, but just. His ire, his fury, his thirst for vengeance were justified.
His enemies, the enemies of Pain, deserved their judgment. The sinner had forfeited their lives. In their arrogance, they defied him and the divine order. They killed Yahiko and elicited his wrath.
Konan studied Pain. She stood at Nagato's side since their childhood. Today, Konan doubted his decision. Konan rarely questioned his wisdom, but today she did. Doubts clouded her mind.
Nagato erred. He committed a blunder they would come to regret bitterly. He failed to realise the consequences of his actions. The girl couldn't be trusted.
Nagato's people skills were ... improvable. Nagato misjudged people and their intentions. He struggled to understand human emotions.
Unlike Yahiko, Nagato was never a born leader.
Konan pondered her words. “Pain-sama, I would advise against giving her such a degree of power.“
“The girl will act in your name. I would advise against investing her with such a responsibility. The village might be ... beyond her capabilities.“
“Not to mention, her intentions are unknown. Trusting her might be unwise. We have no idea what she is planning.“
“...“ Pain didn't answer. He observed the night.
“...“ Sunk in thought, his silence continued.
“Nagato.“ Konan's patience ran out. Her words showed effect and reached him.
“...“ Nagato reacted. He turned.
“True, I considered such, and I concluded the risk is minimal at best. The girl is unlikely to pose ... a threat.“
Konan disagreed. Her assessment differed, the girl posed a threat, an incalculable risk.
Konan opposed her selection. The Black Princess of Konoha, her reputation preceded her, but Konan didn't object, giving her tacit consent.
Konan was a flower, and flowers didn't speak. A flower had no opinion. A flower decorated. Her emotions remained hidden behind her stoic mask, her thoughts unknown to the world.
Konan voiced her discontent. “I still doubt this is the best course of action. Nagato.“ Her mask didn't slip. Her composure never wavered.
Nagato remained adamant. “Your opposition is noted, Konan, but the girl convinced me. Asami has a point.“
His words sparked Konan's curiosity. “Such as?“
Pain shared his thoughts. “She said when facts speak, even the gods remains silent. I can't deny she has a point. The state of Amegakure is deplorable. The village is rotting since Hanzo's death.“
“The economy is on the brink of collapse due to our policy of isolationism. The finances are disastrous. The treasury is empty. The infrastructure crumbling. The population declining in the face of famine and poverty. The administration either corrupt or inept.“
“Ame's forces are in a desolate state. Desertion is rampant and morale disintegrated. Ame's ninja ceased as a coherent fighting force.“
“Ame is suffering, and it's our fault.“ Nagato studied his once precious village.
Konan narrowed her eyes.
This wasn't him. This wasn't Nagato. These weren't his words. These were hers. The girl swayed Nagato against his better judgment.
Konan regretted her carelessness. She had underestimated the girl. Once again. The girl was dangerous. Not unlike Madara. Asami and Madara, they both played their own game.
Konan grumbled. “Still ... Her loyalty remains dubious.“
Pain sighed. “I am aware of such, but I am not an unreasonable person.“
“The situation calls for a pragmatic approach. Circumstances force our hand, Konan. This is not a matter of choice. The girl is right, the situation is beyond dire. Urgent measures are required. “
Moments of silence passed.
Pain spoke. His voice betrayed no sliver of doubt. “I granted her request. The girl will speak and act in my name for the time being. Her activities will be observed.“
Konan listened. “...“
Pain elaborated, “I hope her new responsibilities will keep her from pestering me for the foreseeable future. Her constant nagging, her incessant questions annoyed me."
“She even threatened me to introduce me to her cute little sister.“
Konan declined to comment. “...“