Author's Note: Now before anyone gets all uppity and self-righteous. Let me tell you that it is clearly stated on my bio what my preferences are. So if these next few paragraphs offend you, I just want you to know that I would stop reading too if the situations were reversed. The reason I'm being so vague about it is because it has next to nothing to do with the actual story. With that in mind. Enjoy.

~Chapter 2~

5 Days ago, in the Hokage's office.

Eleven ninja stood before the Hokage. Each a familiar face and eager to receive their newest mission.

Among them were some of the most famous young ninjas of the Leaf. Naruto Uzumaki, Sakura Haruno, Sasuke Uchiha, Kiba Inuzuka, Shino Aburame, Rock Lee, Tenten, and Choji Akimichi. As well as newly registered Leaf ninja Karin Uzumaki, Suigetsu, and Juugo. Each had volunteered in an experimental promotion trial. The ANBU exams.

Unknown to most of the civilian and even the ninja population, the ANBU had no prerequisites for joining. Any ranked ninja, or even a civilian could join their ranks. So long as they were deemed worthy. Becoming a member of the ANBU did have a pleasant side effect. Immediate promotion to Jounin. A loophole normally overlooked since most ninja wouldn't dare tryout for ANBU until after they had made Jounin rank. Normally to become a Jounin one would have to pass the Chunin exams (no easy feat) then after years of service, be promoted by recommendation from a superior officer. The ANBU exams skipped over those stages entirely. Making them ideal for powerhouses like Sasuke and Naruto to not have to compete in the Chunin exams which would be far beneath their demi-god levels. It also meant that new comers like the Taka trio could skip over the dull genin and chunin stages to a point that was more suited to their skill levels. Of course, they still had to pass the ANBU exams. Which had proven extremely difficult in their own right.

The first month had them trekking through one inhospitable wasteland after another. All to test their survival instincts. The second had them live amongst the civilians in a remote village, all the while trying to hide in plain sight from the exam proctors. Now they faced their third and final test. A mission, supervised by an ANBU captain.

"Alright everyone. Here is your final exam of the ANBU exam. I want to reiterate to you all that you passing or failing these exams is completely arbitrary. You all could have failed in the very first exam and wouldn't even know it. So it is imperative that you bring your A game on this one. This is your last chance to impress us, or more accurately, your ANBU captains."

Tsunade paused to let the three captains step forward to make themselves known to the cadets.

On Tsunade's right stood two ANBU males that looked to be in their thirties with fairly tan skin (or at least from what could be seen from their full body gear and masks. One had a dog mask on with grey spiky hair sticking out. The other had a similar dog mask but with more curling waves painted on the face. On her left stood Suizune holding Tonton, further on stood the third ANBU captain. A much younger and paler looking ninja wearing a hawk mask. The ANBU applicants all relaxed a bit when they all realized just who these captains were.

"Since you all no doubt know who they are, we'll cut the cloak and dagger stuff for now."

The men took it as their excuse to remove their masks. Revealing themselves to be none other than- "Kakashi-sensei, Yamato, and Sai. Wow, I totally didn't see that coming." Naruto sarcastically proclaimed. To which his girlfriend bopped him over the head. "Hush up Baka and be respectful." She couldn't help but smirk at her boyfriend's little joke thou.

"Nee, Sakura-chan, you're so mean sometimes." Naruto fake pouted.

"Only to you, Baka." She smirked at him.

Naruto raised an eyebrow as if to dare Sakura to call him a Baka further.

"Ahem." Everyone coughed aloud.

Naruto and Sakura were snapped back into reality where they remembered that they weren't the only two people in the room. Honestly it had been like this for months. Ever since the two of them had started dating they had subjected everyone to their lovey dovey crap.

To the rest of the village they were the Leaf's number 1 power couple. The hero of the war and the head medic-to-be. Everywhere they went they could soon be trusted to be holding hands, followed by whispers of sweet nothings that would make even the most stoic of eavesdroppers blush, followed by passionate make out sessions. They were the poster couple to what Guy would call the Springtime of Youth.

To their circle of friends and mentors, the couple had long stopped being adorable and now hinged on annoying. Having to see this at every social gathering became excruciating, especially since most of the remaining Konoha 11 remained single (save for Shikamaru, till the break-up of course). They all knew that if no one stopped them, they might end up having sex on the Hokage's desk. Witnesses be damned.

"Can we get back on track please?" The Hokage not too subtly asked. Naruto and Sakura turned their heads down facing away from one another. Keeping their mouths shut and their thoughts private. "Ok then."

"For the past 9 months our spy network has been hearing rumors of quote, monsters, lurking in the Valley of Teacups. The valley is named so, because of its geography. The entire valley is one giant crater. The mountain range encircles the entire valley, creating a natural barrier from storms and invaders. The valley is inhabited by a small village of less than 100 civilians. The valley itself has no unique resources or strategic value. So the villagers have enjoyed long periods of peace. Even so, the monster rumors only had them spooked until the first child went missing. That is when the village elder, Ichigo Rein, sent a request to our village for assistance. At the time, I considered the monster rumor to be pack of wild animals cloaked in superstition and sent genin team 13 to investigate. When they arrived at the village they found nothing. Not a single trace of the village was left. Not a building, hut or shack. Just open dirt fields with the occasional scorch mark. The village had been razed to the ground in the week it took us to respond to their plea."

Tsunade paused to let that sink in. Even to veterans of an all be it brief war, hearing about an entire village being destroyed never stops sending a sinking feeling down into the pit of your stomach.

"Obviously no animals could do that to an entire village. Even for a faction of rogue bandits. Being so thorough as to tear down a village while leaving no trace takes planning and a fairly large workforce."

Everyone's gears were turning trying to figure out answers. Most of them wishing that Shikamaru were still with them. He probably would have finished deciphering the answer by now.

"That's not the worst of it thou." She stated.

Of course… everyone thought to themselves.

"We suspect that whoever did this was using curse marks."

That got everyone's attention. The curse marks were a forbidden jutsu developed by none other than the snake sannin Orochimaru. Each brought the user under the caster's control. In return, the curse mark user was granted increased strength and chakra levels while making them more aggressive and dangerous. In advanced stages, the users could transform into monster like forms. Further increasing their strength and stamina while giving them animal like qualities in some instances.

"What makes you think that m'lady?" Tenten piped up.

"A discarded forearm found near the village site was recovered by the jounin instructor." Sakura began, answering for Lady Tsunade. "While the wounded area did indicate puncture marks consistent with an animal like a wolf. It was made post mortem judging by the blood splatter. The tattoos also indicate the owner was not a villager. Most notable however, is the muscle strain shown on the arm. Which is consistent of a long term user of the curse mark's second state." Sakura finished proudly as Tsunade and Naruto looked upon her with pride.

"That's impossible." Suigetsu stated. "We killed off all those curse mark bastards back at the base when we busted your ass outta jail Juugo."

Juugo, who was the first curse mark user and the base test subject for Orochimaru's experiments in that field could only nod as memories of screaming blood soaked walls filled his memory. Then memories of birds put a small smile on his face.

"It's not impossible." Sasuke interjected. "We could have easily let several slip by us on our way to pick up Juugo. Plus Orochimaru kept curse mark users in all his based around the world. There is no way we could account for them all."

Karin then made some coo about how smart and sexy Sasuke was, which Sasuke ignored.

Tsunade took the floor once again, "Which leads us to your mission." Tsunade then handed out dossiers of the mission briefing to the eleven ninja as well as their commanders.

"If curse marks are involved, then there are only two souls on Earth with the expertise to control them or create more. Orochimaru…and Kabuto. Both have gone missing since the end of the 4th Shinobi War. Two of your teams will each be assigned to hunt one of them down and discover any and all connections they have to the missing village. The remaining team will be sent to the Valley of Teacups to further investigate the area and hopefully discover the missing villagers."

Tsunade could see a look of determination across all her ninjas' faces.

"The lot of you will be split into three squads to tackle the three targets of this mission. Each squad will be given an ANBU captain as a squad leader and assigned a codename to last throughout the mission. You will find your squad placement inside your dossier."

"Squad 1 will be Gold Squad, led by Yamato. You will be in charge of tracking down Orochimaru and capturing him for further interrogation. Elimination is authorized."

Tsunade said that last part with some strain. Not many caught it, but Sakura and Suizune did. They both knew that to Tsunade, Orochimaru was an evil snake, but he was also her last remaining teammate. He had saved her life back during the war. A tiny part of her had hoped that he had turned over a new leaf. At least enough so that the two of them would no longer have to be enemies.

"Squad 2 will be Silver Squad, led by Kakashi. You will be in charge of tracking down Kabuto. The same rules apply for him. Kill or capture."

"Squad 3 will be Copper Squad, led by Sai. You will head out to the Valley of Teacups and continue the investigation. You will be sending daily intel reports. This mission will be covert. Stealth and silence will be key. There is a chance that if Orochimaru or Kabuto is behind this that they will be in the valley overseeing some new laboratory they have set up. Gold and Silver Squads will be checking out the far more likely bases that the two of them would work out of."

By now the shinobi had divided themselves into their squads. In Gold Squad was Naruto, Sakura, Kiba, and Lee. In Silver Squad was Sasuke, Karin, Suigetsu, and Juugo. In Copper Squad was Shino, Choji, and Tenten.

Tsunade then walked over to the table with the cloth laid over it and pulled it away for a dramatic reveal. Place along the table were eleven ANBU masks, each sporting a different animal design. Along with a set of standard ANBU gear. "And here are your ANBU uniforms complete with your requested mask design."

The Lady Hokage's statement was met with whoops of joys as the young shinobi gathered around the table to pick up their gear. Naruto had received a fox mask. Sakura, a vixen mask (a fox mask with pink waves). Kiba went with a red dog mask. Lee had a green dragon mask. Sasuke had a black hawk mask. Karin had a red cat mask. Suigetsu had a blue shark mask. Juugo had a yellow canary mask. Shino had a blue beetle mask. Tenten went with a Panda mask that she found cute for some odd reason. Choji had requested a bear mask but instead got, "…a butterfly?"

He looked at the mask equal parts shocked and offended. Right there on a mask meant to inspire terror in his enemies that he was an assassin, a shadow of the night, was a baby blue butterfly right smack dab in the middle of where his face was supposed to be. "You can't be serious. No offense Lady Hokage but I think there was some kind of mix up. I requested a bear design for my ANBU mask."

"Yeah I'm sorry Choji, but we ran out."

Behind Choji, Naruto and Kiba were trying to hold back their giggles. Suigetsu was more outspoken with how funny and unmanly he found Choji's mask. And Choji could swear he felt Sasuke smirking from behind his back. But before Lee could jump in and explain to Choji about how youthful the butterfly is, he was cut off by Tenten. "Hey ah, Choji, do you maybe want to trade masks? I mean a Panda is kinda like a bear and all. Plus I don't mind a butterfly so- "No trading codenames!" Tsunade cut her off. "Choji, you are testing to become a Jounin and beyond. If you can't handle a stupid little codename then you need to find another line of work. Succeed in this mission and maybe I'll consider changing your codename."

Choji looked like he was about to pout but kept his emotions in check to save what dignity he had left. "It's fine. Thank you though, Tenten…" He sighed and slipped on his butterfly mask which was of course one size too small. The rest of his peers followed suit. Donning their new identities.

Everyone's masks fit like a glove. Providing just enough space for them to breathe. The eye holes, while appearing narrow from the outside, actually didn't restrict the ninja's field of vision at all.

"Sasuke…Hey Sasuke…" Naruto spoke through the mask, his voice resonating giving it a deep tone.

"What?" Replied Sasuke with a muffled tone.

Naruto made booming deep breathes, "Sasuke…I…AM YOUR FATHER!"

Everyone looked Naruto's way, trying to figure out what the hell he was talking about. Till they heard Sasuke reply back, "That's not true…that's impossible…" He smirked to himself behind the mask.


"Are you quoting from that dumb movie you two saw!?"

"Oh come on Sakura, it's an awesome movie, if you'd just let me take you…"

"No way. I'm tired of fixing up your arm every time the two of you play Space Wars or whatever."

While Naruto tried to correct Sakura on the title of the movie no one cares about, Shino was busy admiring his own mask. And the coming mission where he would have a chance to prove himself worthy of joining the ANBU.

Author's Notes: How many references did YOU catch? And to answer your question. Yes, Yukie Fujikaze did star as Princess Leia. Sasuke also totally cried when Hans was frozen in carbonite. Although Naruto still ships Leia with Luke.