Interlude_3.2: Behind The Scene
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In a small conference room inside the offices of the Leaf Genin Resource Command, a group of men and women sat around the table with overflowing loads of manilla folders ready to slide off the tabletop. These men and women looked exhausted with their messy hair, unkempt clothes, and mugs stained with coffee from repeated refills without cleaning.

"Who's next?" Ayano closed a manilla folder and with it she closed her eyes. They had been going through the piles and piles of genin for weeks without any semblance of breaks.

A selection committee had been formed the day after the Hokage had announced that the Leaf Military Police Force would be getting an influx of genin and a few chunin. The people in the room made up the committee in charge of selecting the genin who would be transferred to the Military Police Force.

"This one is from Momo city," Rai had his feet kicked up on the table as he leaned his chair on the back two legs. "He has a decent mission record, no complaints, his SOP is lackluster," his nose wrinkled, "but his team leader's feedbacks are so generic— he obviously fished for them last minute." The committee discussed the application and decided it belonged in the 'maybe' pool.

It was shocking how quickly, after the official announcement, applications flooded their post-box from all around the Land of Fire. Hidden Leaf village was the center for Leaf shinobi, but it wasn't the only place with standing shinobi. There were outposts and other big cities with shinobi stationed in them who had heard of the announcement and had scrambled to be part of the illustrious Leaf Military Shinobi Police. In some ways, the response from outside the village was much more enthusiastic than the village itself.

With hindsight, the number of applications shouldn't have been a shocker because of the Uchiha's prestige. In the village, they were a clan with a reputation close to: 'love to hate them' because of how powerful and skilled the Uchiha were known to be. The applicants were clearly hoping to get in some of that action and catapult their careers, even though they had no idea how the Uchiha would treat the outsiders they were getting. Some didn't even care about the Police Force; they only wanted to get posted at the Hidden Leaf with dreams about boosting their career.

Ayano smiled bitterly at the thought. Until she was a chunin, she hadn't taken a step into the Hidden Leaf. She was only called to the Hidden Leaf after her promotion. She remembered how excited she was to see the letter saying that her posting had been transferred to the Hidden Leaf. Her life had been a constant state of excitement and cloud nine feeling— she was going to the Hidden Leaf, after all! Finally, all her dreams were going to come true. She would climb the career chain, sit beside the famous names she had heard, and be a respected peer.

All her excitement had turned into an unceasing pool of muddy worry and anxiety when she realized how different the Hidden Leaf was from her previous posting. The competition was unlike what she had ever experienced— it was a dog-eat-dog world with a disproportionate number of people vying for available opportunities.

Sometimes Ayano wondered if staying where she was would've been better.

Even now, the new openings in the Leaf Military Police Force were dwarfed compared to the number of applications submitted.

"Next?" Ayano sighed.

'It would've been so easy if they were choosing the best of the applicants,' thought Ayano, rubbing her temple— but they weren't doing that.

Ayano looked at her fellow committee; they were hired to select 'suitable' candidates for the new positions available in the Police Force— not best— suitable candidates. The higher-ups didn't want to hand Genin Corp's best genin over to the Uchiha. Instead, they were to choose genin who were a level or two below the best, people that would barely satisfy the Uchiha. But they knew the best genin would apply for the Police Force. It was an unknown land with splendid opportunities not available ever before; it was only natural that those ambitious enough would brave an exploration.

Thus, the formation of the selection committee.

Their purpose was to shortlist suitable candidates before forwarding them to the Leaf Military Police Force. Who the Uchiha selected was no concern of theirs as long as they did it from the subset of people they had chosen for them.

"We have one with recommendations," Vashu held up a file for everyone to see. A red and blue post-it note each were stuck on the file's cover.

Rai whistled, "A jonin and chunin recommendation each. Now that's some serious juice behind an application."

Ayano pursed her lips, feeling a migraine coming through. The communications that went out regarding the Military Police Force positions had explicitly made sure not to mention the word recommendation, so applicants won't bother their chunin team leads for official letters of recommendation. Instead, they had mentioned feedback from supervisors/team leads, which some applicants had abused and had gotten statements from everyone they had worked under—and no one considered feedback and recommendations in the same breath.

Alas, some people had still gone ahead and stuffed letters of recommendation into their applications.

A chunin recommendation meant they had to consider the applicant seriously and work out an excuse that would hold under some scrutiny— that wasn't difficult for the committee to do. However, a jonin recommendation wasn't something they could ignore. The selection committee was headed by the jonin, but even that didn't allow them to overlook another jonin. A jonin recommendation meant they had to put the applicant into the candidate list.

"Who is it?" Ayano sounded tired.

"Takuma, no last name, orphan… oh, he's from the last year's batch— a rookie," Vashu read from the file. "Oh, he joined Chunin Umino Iruka's team," Vashu closed the file and lifted the blue post-it note. "Ah, it was Chunin Iruka who recommended him."

"Iruka, isn't he the one involved in the thing in the Land of Frost?" asked Rai.

"Oh yeah, that's right."

"Who's the jonin?" asked Ayano.

Vashu looked. "Yamanaka Madoka."

Ayano made a displeased face. Not only was it a jonin, it was a jonin from one of the big clans. At this rate, they had to ensure the Uchiha would take the kid.

"Iruka is part of Jonin Madoka's squad," Rai said. "She was his jonin teacher out of the academy. Iruka must've asked her to write a recommendation for this Takuma kid."

"Who the hell is this kid?" Ayano asked. Even if Takuma was part of Iruka's team, it must've been for less than a year— why would Iruka ask his jonin to write a letter of recommendation for a kid barely out of the academy? "Is he one of those special kids?"

"Actually, no. The kid's record is all over the place," said Vashu, his brow furrowed. "He had terrible academy grades but somehow won the Genin Corp's basic training tournament. He started out with great mission output, but recently he's barely making quota. And yet most of his recent missions are C-rank with D-rank missions used as filler to make quota. Not a single complaint has ever been registered against him… but he was part of Iruka's Land of Frost mission."

Vashu held up the file, and the open page was almost entirely redacted. The selection committee didn't have the clearance to view the contents of the mission.

"Put him in," Ayano said. "He matches the criteria, and it's not like we have a choice with that jonin recommendation."

Vashu picked up the file and threw it in the 'approved' pile.

———

.

Setsuna Uchiha read through the candidate dossiers sent to him by the 'selection committee.' He flipped through the files, and he knew they weren't the best— and he wasn't expecting the best.

The best were clan-trained shinobi, but he knew the Leaf's elite clans wouldn't send their shinobi under the Uchiha's command. Setsuna didn't find that insulting— the Uchiha wouldn't send their own to serve under another clan. However, he did receive shinobi belonging to minor clans and some prominent shinobi families in hopes of building ties with the Uchiha.

Setsuna would consider them and see which clans could provide them with benefits, political support, and loyalty. Fugaku had driven the conversation with the Hokage and had gotten the sanctions to expand recruitment from sources other than the Uchiha and their allies, which the Second Hokage had written into the by-laws when the Leaf Military Police Force was inaugurated.

After decades, the clan had seen an opportunity to strengthen themselves, and they weren't going to let it go to waste.

Setsuna opened another file and saw the career of a clan-less shinobi laid in front of him. On paper, the man was a shinobi with a stable and respected record, but under the deception painted by ink on paper, he saw the signs of an undisciplined man with problems peeking through. He sighed and threw the file into the rejection pile that only grew larger than the garbage can near the headquarter mess.

He picked up another file, and it was a clan-less shinobi. The record was ordinary, but in the feedback and background check performed by the Uchiha themselves, he could see a woman beloved by those who spoke about her. He gave it a deeper look and smiled when he saw a dedicated shinobi who helped the community she belonged to. He wrote down the name and registration before placing the file in the accepted pile.

Unlike many of their peer clans, the Uchiha had never had formidable relations with clan-less shinobi. Setsuna considered that a weakness of their clan's leadership. Any man or woman with a hint of talent could become a formidable shinobi with enough hard work. And Setsuna had seen clan-less shinobi achieve merits rivaling those from clans. He knew potential when he saw it.

Which was why he applied for the position; to be in charge of those coming into the Police Force. Many— most— in the clan disagreed with him, but he could see the potential in the clan-less shinobi— those who had talent but weren't provided with the resources to make those talents flourish.

The Uchiha could provide them with that, and in exchange, they would serve the clan and its interests.

There was a knock on the door, and Setsuna called the person in.

"Sir, the file you ordered."

Setsuna took the file from his assistant and read the name on the file:

Takuma— 055-0037

Takuma's application had been among the many selection committee had sent to his office. Takuma had his strengths and disadvantages like the applicants— but he had one thing unique to him, something not a single applicant had in their file.

A part of Takuma's file had been redacted.

Even the background check they had ordered couldn't reveal the redaction— which meant the level of clearance was higher.

Setsuna was interested in Takuma. He was going to accept the application, but before he could do that, he needed to know what was behind the redaction. As such, he sent it to someone who had enough clearance.

Setsuna opened the file and began reading about the recent Land of Frost mission that Takuma had been involved in. And the more he read, the more engrossed he became in the information that was not visible before.

Three kills… Field disposal of bodies… Retrieval of critical information… The ability to operate independently.

The notes painted a picture for Setsuna, and he liked that image very much.

He was going to accept Takuma before, but now he was going to increase his classification and who Takuma was assigned to when he came to the Police Force.

Setsuna closed the file and placed it in a third pile.

 

 


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