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Fanfic / your move, instigator (draw your weapon and hold your tongue)

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The Third Shinobi War never ended. Sakura's parents didn't want her attending the Academy, but found they had no choice — as the daughter of shinobi, she was forced to go. Forced into service in more ways than one, as she grows up a Child Soldier, like so many others.

your move, instigator (draw your weapon and hold your tongue) is a completed work by Laysan_albatross that explores this bleak reality, joining the six-year-old Sakura as she and Kiba meet their new teammate Tenten. War Is Hell, and they are but children, and yet... the Will of Fire endures.

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This fanfic contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade:
    • Zig-Zagged with the members of Team 14; while all three have been forced to fight as child soldiers, they've been Conditioned to Accept Horror to some degree, and don't spend much time lamenting the unfairness of their circumstances. However, as the war goes on, certain events take their toll, and they have moments of weakness while still retaining their overall upbeat outlooks.
    • Played straighter with the adult shinobi of Konoha, who have more perspective than Team 14 and are increasingly horrified and ashamed by the actions their leaders have taken.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Orochimaru never defected here, remaining in Konoha and eventually taking Tenten on as an apprentice.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Hiruzen is much less effective at dealing with Danzo, allowing the war hawk much freer reign while rationalizing everything as being Dirty Business.
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  • Anyone Can Die: The story opens with Neji's (offscreen) demise and goes from there.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Uchiha Izumi loses their left leg during the Kumo Crush assault.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: During a conversation with several older shinobi, Sakura points out that they're fighting against all of the other hidden villages, asking "What if... What if we're the bad guys?"
  • Armor-Piercing Response:
    • Sakura's mother coldly told the military recruiter who'd come to press-gang her daughter into service that "You are running a daycare," causing him to pale and retreat.
    • Faced with one of Danzo's speeches about "uniting the shinobi world," six-year-old Sakura blithely laughs and observes that "You can't unite the shinobi world if you're fighting everyone, silly."
  • Ascended Extra: Kiba, Akamaru and Tenten serve as Sakura's teammates here.
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  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Sakura locates the leader of ANBU Team 72A by noting how an apparent drunkard's eyebrows were dyed, with callouses from wielding kunai on his hands.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: When Sakura meets Namikaze Minato for the first time, it's as Uchiha Fugaku's more level-headed counterpart and Kushina describes him as her "sissy" husband. It's only seeing him ruthlessly fighting against Danzo to find and rescue Kushina that she's reminded why he's The Dreaded Yellow Flash outside of Konoha.
  • Book Burning: Shimura orders one in order to rid Konohagakure of all the books penned by Jiraiya.
  • Brick Joke: The extra scene post-Epilogue has Kakashi asking Team 7 for introductions, causing Sakura to burst out laughing when he repeats the exact same instructions Itachi awkwardly gave to Team 14.
  • Broken Pedestal: Tenten used to admire Tsunade, until she was forced to go to war and found Senju-sama wasn't there. Sakura finds herself similarly disenchanted after they meet and Tsunade laughs at her for using medical chakra while not knowing how to heal.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Kushina, as a result of Kurama being forcibly ripped out of her body, is left without any chakra.
  • Children Forced to Kill: At the start of the story, Sakura and Kiba are both six; Tenten is seven. Kiba claims that Hana will likely be jealous of him because she didn't get her first kill until she was nine.
  • Commonality Connection:
    • As part of welcoming Tenten, Sakura offers her a copy of Tale of the Utterly Gutsy Ninja, calling it 'the unofficial book of Team 14'.
    • After running into Kakashi while he's engrossed in his own reading, Sakura notes how they both like to read and walk at the same time, and asks if Icha Icha is just as good.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror:
    • Zig-Zagged with Team 14; while mostly conditioned in this fashion, they aren't completely broken, recognizing ways that their circumstances are incredibly unfair even while resigned to their situation. The fact that Sakura doesn't completely buy into all the propaganda particularly irritates Danzo after he takes an interest in her.
    • Played straighter with most citizens of Konoha, who have adjusted disturbingly well to the ongoing war, with Kushina and other strong shinobi having their images commercialized and upheld as heroes. This changes over time, especially as Team 14 become the last of their respective classes.
  • Conversational Troping: At one point, Team 14 compares their plight to being in a story, and discuss who the Big Bad would be, determining that while Danzo is the main villain, Hiruzen is just as bad for enabling him.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Team 14 gets one against the entriety of Iruka's class.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Sakura's parents had no choice in the matter; when they interfered with the recruiters trying to press-gang her into the Academy, both were sent off on missions that took them out of Konoha, and were kept out of the village as much as possible.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Izumi initially comes off as haughty, but gradually softens towards Team 14 after being transferred to another group.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Danzo finds himself on the recieving end of this after forcing Sai to kill his brother. They retailiate by escaping and spreading flyers in the same style as his other propaganda, championing the Yellow Flash.
  • Downer Beginning: The story opens with Sakura bringing Neji's eyes back to Inoichi and reporting his death.
  • The Dreaded:
    • Itachi and Kakashi both have this reputation, even sharing one of their epithets — 'Sharingan no Itachi' and 'Sharingan no Kakashi'.
    • 'Red-Hot Habanero' Kushina is recognized as the Nine-Tailed Beast's human host here, admired by Konoha and feared by their enemies.
    • Eventually, all three members of Team 14 hit this status as well.
  • Driven to Suicide: Poor Ami takes their own life after returning from the northern border of Waterfall.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After all the hell they went through, all three members of Team 14 survive, seeing the end of the war, Danzo's downfall, and Minato becoming the Yondaime. On top of this, Team 14 is disbanded so that they can join teams made up of their peers, with Sakura winding up in Team 7, Kiba with Team 8, and Tenten with Gai and Lee.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Shisui clearly sees Sakura flicking bird droppings at her teammate Izumi, who also happens to be one of his relatives, but doesn't step in to intervene, simply hiding a smile at her childish antics.
    • Itachi introduces himself to Team 14 by repeating the same instructions Kakashi gave Team 7 in rather awkward, stilted fashion.
    • Kushina attempts to force her way past Inoichi to meet Team 14, carelessly chatting about how her son needs more playmates and teasing the Yamanaka about being forced to cut his hair.
  • Everybody Has Standards: Izumi may be a bit detached from her former teammates, but she's disgusted to learn that they are being kept in a windowless room during the month-long wait before the last part of Kumo's Chuunin Exam.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Danzo recognizes that Sakura and her teammates are garnering attention as they continue to survive and succeed on missions, and tries swaying them to his side. He fails to understand why his efforts to turn them into 'good little mindless soldiers' aren't working, as well as the fact that part of the reason they're so influential is that they serve as living reminders of the fact they're sending children out to fight and die in Konoha's name.
  • Evil Is Petty: Part of the reason why Danzo specifically bans all of Jiraiya's works and has them burned is because he's angry at Sakura for not buying into his propaganda.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Inoichi is forced to cut his hair shortly before the Kumo Crush, much to his dismay.
  • Eye Scream:
    • Implied; the work opens with Sakura running back to report Neji's death while carrying what remains of his eyes. It's later clarified that she was the one who removed them after his demise.
    • The poison that Orochimaru has Team 14 test causes black ooze to foam out of the eyes, ears and mouths of its victims, turning their eyes completely black.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Itachi blandly observes that Kiba and his teammates need extra observational lessons while appearing right beside the startled Inuzuka.
  • Fair-Weather Friend: Implied with the Allied Mothers Force; despite ostensibly being formed to protect their children, they kick out Mebuki and turn a blind eye to how her only daughter is press-ganged into service.
  • Foil:
    • As the Yamanaka heiress, Ino is not made to serve like Sakura, Kiba, Tenten or other 'less valuable' children. Her friendship with Sakura provides a window into how she and the other heirs are being sheltered from the worst realities of the ongoing war.
    • Danzo is rather Obviously Evil to Sakura, as she quickly recognizes the hypocrisies apparent in his grand speeches about their efforts 'unifying the shinobi world'. Hiruzen, by contrast, is also a massive Hypocrite who quietly enables his former friend to act as the Shadow Hokage.
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • Due to the Third Shinobi War continuing far past its canonical end, Sakura and other children deemed 'expendable' are turned into Child Soldiers while their peers are protected.
    • Sarutobi Hiruzen remains in charge; the war never ending means he never stepped down and gave Minato or anyone else the chance to become Yondaime.
    • Kiba is given his ninken partner at a much younger age, receiving Akamaru at six rather than nine.
    • Instead of being targeted, Konoha launches its own Kumo Crush attempt at a Chuunin Exam being hosted by the rival village.
    • Kushina's status as the Kyuubi jinchuuriki is openly known, as she and others are used as People of Mass Destruction.
    • Sakura acknowledges at the end of Chapter 3 that if not for Neji's Heroic Sacrifice, she likely would have died before the story even began.
    • Since the Kyuubi wasn't released during Naruto's birth, Iruka didn't lose his family or gain a facial scar.
  • From the Mouths of Babes:
    • Inoichi is forced to start teaching Sakura about politics due to her reports being too forthright and brutally honest, such as her dutifully transcribing exactly what Neji's final thoughts about the Hyuuga were as he was dying.
    • Iruka-sensei goes increasingly pale as Team 14 casually discuss how they could be punished by getting shipped back to the front lines if they don't handle his class correctly. Like Clanless Bekko-sensei was.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Was crossed at some point in the Backstory; Konoha is not the only hidden village who sends out their jinchuuriki to fight on the front lines.
  • Head-in-the-Sand Management: Hiruzen feels guilty about the horrible cost of his decisions, as well as everything Danzo is doing, but refuses to acknowledge or address the problems growing in Konoha.
  • Hidden Backup Prince: Discussed when Kiba and Sakura see Sasuke for the first time; the Uchiha keep their children hidden inside their clan compound, only letting them out once they're good enough to graduate from the Academy within a year. Both note how unusual it is for Sasuke to be protected, since second-born children are generally considered less important than heirs like Itachi.
  • His Story Repeats Itself: Aburame Shikuro coolly observes that Orochimaru has once again taken another kunoichi like Anko under his wing.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Danzo sets his own downfall into motion on several fronts:
    • His interest in Sakura and Team 14 spurs him to use his connections to reposition her father in a Suna village that he knows is going to have its water poisoned, in order to get them out of the way. This fails, causing an ugly public confrontation between Mebuki and Hiruzen that stirs unrest and more questioning of Konoha's government.
    • He then responds to the above by having Mebuki jailed; this results in Sakura meeting Sai guarding her cell and building a bond with them over time, eventually helping Sai decide to flee ROOT.
    • That last is also spurred by how Danzo forced Sai to kill his brother; rather than molding them into the emotionless tool he desired, it causes them to bite back and escape, producing propaganda encouraging Konoha to elect a new leader.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Kushina expresses surprise that Team 14 isn't scared of Orochimaru, who not only can summon giant snakes but looks a bit like one. Sakura points out that she turns into a giant fox. After some frustration, Kushina agrees and says she'll apologize to Orochimaru.
  • Icon of Rebellion: After Sai escapes from ROOT, they aim to make the Yellow Flash as the Yondaime into a symbol of hope for the future.
  • In Spite of a Nail:
    • Under Itachi's watchful eyes, Sakura and her teammates are subjected to the Bell Test. Also Played for Laughs with his introduction, as he asks them to give their names, likes, dislikes and whatnot in the same fashion Kakashi does in canon, only for Team 14 to stare at him in silent disbelief.
    • Ino still crushes on Sasuke after meeting him.
    • The Crush attempt still begins with a shower of illusionary feathers — black rather than white, courtesy of Itachi.
    • There are still Tora Retrieval missions back in Konoha.
    • Naruto still plays pranks around Konoha, as evidenced by his Not Me This Time moment. He also apparently had an Accidental Kiss with Sasuke, just at a much younger age.
    • In the Epilogue, Minato has become the Yondaime, and Team 14 is split up so that the three chuunin can join different teams as their peers graduate from the Academy. Sakura ends up in Team 7 with Naruto, Sasuke and Kakashi; Kiba joins Team 8 with Hinata, Shino and Kurenai, and Tenten gets to be part of a three-man unit with Lee and Gai.
  • Innocent Inaccurate: Sakura and her teammates often miss or misinterpret details in ways betraying their naivete and innocence.
    • For instance, Sakura and Kiba noticed that Bekko-sensei's hands constantly shook while teaching them. They attribute this to their teacher having weak hands, but it's heavily implied he was deeply disturbed at how he was being forced to teach four and five-year-olds how to fight for their lives.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Kiba starts to tell Uchiha Sasuke that "You hit like a...", trails off, looks at his teammates and towards the Inuzuka compound before landing on "You hit like a cat." They respond with an angry screech.
  • Like Mother, Like Daughter: Much like her mother, Sakura tends to be brutally honest with her opinions.
  • Mama Bear: Tragically deconstructed with Mebuki. While repeatedly enraged by how her daughter is being treated, she lacks the political clout to protect Sakura — and the rest of the Allied Mothers Force kicked her out of their ranks rather than using their own influence to help out a fellow mother in need.
  • Morality Pet: Team 14 becomes a collective one for several members of Konoha over time, simply by continuing to survive one horrible mission after another.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Iruka is horrified when he realizes that complaining about Bekko showing his students disturbing imagery from war most likely led to his fellow teacher's death.
    • During the climax, poor Sai is reduced to stammering about how they honestly thought things would be better if they freed the Nine-Tailed Beast so that Konoha couldn't use them as a weapon anymore.
  • Mythology Gag: "Tales of the Utterly Gutsy Shinobi", Jiraiya's first novel, is a recurring element in the story. The name of its main characters come from the Defictionalization written and illustrated by Akira Higashiyama and Masashi Kishimoto.
  • Nepotism:
    • Upon learning that their new jounin-sensei is Itachi, Sakura asks Kiba if his clan pulled some strings to swing that assignment. Kiba denies it, declaring that "Ma doesn't need to baby me."
    • During the Epilogue, Sakura complains this is at play upon learning Kakashi is her new jounin-sensei, and that she's got Naruto and Sasuke as her new teammates.
  • Never Learned to Read: Downplayed; Sakura was not taught how to read by the Academy; Yuuto and Neji were the ones who sat her down and helped her learn enough to manage jutsu scrolls.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: After having to carry Neji's eyes back to safety, Sakura starts doodling pictures of eyes with the optic nerves trailing behind them.
  • No Social Skills: Tenten warns her new teammates that Itachi that she thinks he's "awkward around girls, or with people in general." Once they actually meet him, the rest of Team 14 is quick to agree.
  • Not Me This Time: Iruka gets enraged at the sight of some bright orange graffiti asking how many Uchihas were killed this week, and how long it will take for Konoha to run out of Uchihas entirely. He berates Naruto for this, who insists upon his innocence.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Team 14 engage in this when they talk about how Bekko-sensei was punished for exposing the clan heirs to graphic imagery while teaching their class by being sent to the front lines. All three blithely assume that they must have been killed out there, unaware of how Iruka, the one responsible for them getting shipped out, is turning paler and paler.
  • Out of Focus: Most of the Rookie Nine were spared from being forced into immediate service, due to their status as clan heirs. As a result, Ino is the only member who makes fairly regular appearances, due to being Sakura's best friend.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Played for Drama in how Sai's singular efforts to encourage Konoha's citizens to question their government more and consider ousting Hiruzen in favor of Minato makes things significantly more complicated for Minato and his supporters, to the point that the latter initially consider them a potential enemy.
  • Posthumous Character: Neji dies before the story proper begins, and is fleshed out mostly through Sakura's memories of him.
  • Propaganda Machine: Konohagakure is practically plastered with posters encouraging citizens to support their shinobi, uplifting the strongest ones as heroes and commercializing their images. This is coupled with slandering and villainizing all of the other hidden villages. It's eventually revealed that Sai is the artist behind the majority of these pieces, which he turns to his advantage later.
  • Public Secret Message: After Sai escapes ROOT, Sakura notices that all of the posters they release have images of birds flying freely, signaling that he's still safe.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Mebuki and Kizashi are sent on a variety of missions to keep them out of Konoha as much as possible, so that they can't interfere with their daughter being raised as a child soldier or shipped off on various missions.
  • Redemption Equals Death: During the finale, Hiruzen sacrifices himself fighting Danzo. In the Epilogue, Sakura debates with herself whether this is a case of Death Equals Redemption or not, as she still has deeply mixed feelings about them.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Tenten assumes that fellow orphan Lee was forcibly drafted into the war efforts like her and the rest of the kids from their orphanage. In the Epilogue, it's revealed that she was wrong; they survived the war due to their disability keeping them out of the fighting. Instead, Lee got adopted by Gai, and is one of her new teammates.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The deaths of Neji, Ami and all the other Konohan child soldiers happen offscreen, reflecting how many are desperately trying to ignore the high human cost of the ongoing war. Conversely, Team 14's enduring survival makes it harder and harder for others to turn a blind eye to their existence.
  • Running Gag: Adults swearing in front of Sakura or her teammates, then asking them not to repeat those words.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!:
    • Inverted with the Harunos; Sakura's parents have no political clout after Mebuki was kicked out of the Allied Mothers Force, making her a prime target for getting drafted into the war efforts.
    • Played for Drama with Danzo, who pulls rank in order to snatch Kizashi up and send him on a ROOT-sponsored mission to Suna, in hopes of eliminating Sakura's father.
    • Tenten manages to secure an apprenticeship with the blacksmith guild thanks to Orochimaru's influence.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Narrowly averted with Kizashi, who survives his poisoning.
  • Shared Family Quirks: Aburame Shikuro shares his nephew's habit of making a statement, posing a question, then answering his own query.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: While he died before the story proper begins, Neji helped teach Sakura how to read, enabling her to fall in love with Tale of the Utterly Gutsy Ninja. He also sacrificed himself to save her.
  • Sole Survivor: In Chapter 6, it's revealed that Sakura and Kiba are the last members of their graduating class who are still alive. Tenten is similarly the last from her year of graduates.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • The ongoing survival of Team 14 makes it harder and harder for others to continue ignoring how they're fielding Child Soldiers, especially after they're the last ones left standing from their graduating classes.
    • Young Sai also becomes a major wrench in Danzo's plan once they manage to escape ROOT.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Downplayed. While there is no Uchiha Massacre, the majority of the story is set at a point before said event took place, and most of the clan is forced onto the front lines. It's hinted that Danzo is still harvesting eyeballs, and during the finale, most of the remaining Uchiha find themselves dangling from chakra chains attached to Kurama's neck from a failed attempt to contain him.
  • Sudden Principled Stand: Sarutobi Hiruzen pulls one during the climax, having finally found a line they're unwilling to cross.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Mikoto Uchiha was described by Sakura's parents as a skilled kunoichi, only to be forced to step down by her clan to raise children. There's also speculation that she was forced to resign because of her close friendship with Kushina, Konoha's jinchuuriki.
  • Take a Third Option: During the climax, Sakura is faced with one: Kurama asks her to select his new host: Minato or Danzo. She instead offers him the chance to pick his own path, and he responds by sealing himself into her instead.
  • Team Member in the Adaptation: Sakura, Kiba, Akamaru and Tenten make up Team 14. Shisui starts as their team leader, but entrusts them to Itachi when he's reassigned.
  • There Are No Therapists: Zig-Zagged; Konoha has therapists, and Shisui signed up Team 14 to start sessions, only for poor communication to prevent them from attending until after Kizashi's near death experience.
  • Time Skip: The Distant Epilogue is set when Sakura is twelve, several years after the climax.
  • Training from Hell: Bekko-sensei subjected his students to this at the Academy, in order to prepare them for the front lines as best he could.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Everything is filtered through Sakura's perspective; being a young child, she doesn't pick up on everything that's happening around her, or realize certain nuances.
  • Uriah Gambit: Inochi speculates this was the case with Sakura's father by Danzo's orders, as he and his team were stationed in Suna right when Team 14 and Orochimaru were testing poison in the water supply and they were no paper records. He also suspects that other teams are being sent on similar missions, such as an Uchiha having their eyes stolen before their clan could retrieve their body.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Kiba throws up several times after making his first kill, partly because he ripped out the bandit's throat with his teeth.
  • War Is Hell: Especially with Child Soldiers on the frontlines.
  • Water Source Tampering: Orochimaru has Team 14 test the effectiveness of one of his poisons on a river. After seeing that recently shorn livestock have fallen victim to the test, the kids realize that this was the real intent of their mission.
  • Wham Line:
    • Chapter 4 veers into even darker territory when Kiba asks Sakura "Where did you say your dad was stationed at?"
    • Kiba gets another one when he reveals to Sakura that the two of them are the only ones left from Bekko's graduating class.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Mebuki rounds on Inoichi after learning that her daughter is involved in Operation Kumo Crush, screaming at him about how she's the same age as Ino.
    • She also calls out Hiruzen when he hits her Berserk Button, asking if he's stopped giving out missions in person out of shame:
      Mebuki: My only daughter does not even know what she is fighting for and yet she's already lost track of her own kill count! She is six! Look me in the eye, Hiruzen, and tell me the truth! Tell me why!
  • What You Are in the Dark: It's eventually revealed that Hyuuga Neji faced one such moment: given the chance to flee while their team leader bought time for them to escape, at the cost of the lives of said leader and their teammates, they chose instead to remain and try to save them. As a result, he died, but successfully saved Sakura's life.
  • White Shirt of Death: During an award ceremony, Tenten coughs into their hand and wipes the blood off on their shirt, causing the crowd to go silent.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Not only does Danzo not bat a lash at using Child Soldiers, he takes a particular interest in Sakura and her team, and attempts to make an example out of Sai after recapturing him.
  • You Monster!: A Kumo genin shouts this at Sakura after seeing the explosion tags she placed on a row of houses that includes her own.
  • Younger than They Look: Played for Laughs with Sakura mistakenly assuming that Kakashi is an old man. When asked why, she has a Long List of 'evidence', much to the astonishment of her audience.


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