Greetings, and welcome all to chapter ninety two of Kage no Naruto! Anyway, since you all no doubt have begun salivating the moment you saw the alert, I'll get straight to the chapter then, shall I? But first, a familiar sight.

On a rather IMPORTANT NOTE- I believe that I have been somewhat ambiguous as to how much time has been passing recently, so I'll clear that up. As of the first scene in this chapter, it has been about a month since the attack on Konoha. And before people ask 'why did Sasuke take so long' just attribute it to reasons including having to take roundabout routes to avoid Konoha Shinobi, fake leads that may have drawn him aside, and other possibilities. And before anyone asks about the Konoha restoration, they fixed the village really fast after both the Orochimaru and Pein attacks. It was less than a month before they were back in working order. Not perfect, but functional for the most part.

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Summary of last chapter

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Sasuke and Co. woke up at their destination, recovering from a disease they got in the jungle. Juugo is off retrieving information while the other three recover. Nagato was beaten by the Raikage, Kirabi, and Gomorrah, but before he made his escape, he struck out at the Raikage and removed one of his arms. Kirabi brought the Raikage back to Kumo, while Gomorrah took the Hungry Ghost Realm Pein back to Dark Heaven Castle. Anko got drunk and revealed her thoughts and opinions on the circumstances behind how she came to be, who she was working for and her thoughts of the others she had with her.

Finally, Naruto completed his project. The Blood, Mind, and Heart of Kemmler, three of the four books that contained the horrible secrets and teachings of a long dead Necromancer who almost conquered the world, Naruto translated and transcribed them into a single volume. That volume is to be published and distributed, those with talents that they barely know how to use, if they know about them at all, will have the opportunity to learn true Necromancy. He plans to sit back while the forces of Necromancy warp the minds of those who practice what's in the books, until that group of people, given power, seek out what they can take for themselves and throw the Elemental Countries into disarray. When they do, whether they succeed or fail to destroy and conquer, he shall be waiting for them to weaken his foes and he shall fall upon them with all the fury of a wounded bear. Another strike at the world is underway, it's only a matter of timeā€¦.

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Konoha, Hokage's office, three days after Anko died

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Tsunade was doing more work than she had in ages. She went through mission assignments swiftly, sending the best teams she deemed for the job in question, as well as signing off on orders to authorize what needed to be done. The purchasing of building materials and equipment mostly, the village had to be repaired and reinforced, and while they were getting close to the first, they weren't nearly half done with the second. But Tsunade worked as hard as she could to try and finish that as swiftly and effectively as possible.

She was determined to make the village look good in the eyes of outsiders, merchants were encouraged to sell their goods here, and they did their best to get clients for missions from either their own country, or to steal them from other villages. Most would say that they didn't really need the money that quickly, that what they obtained from selling the Shodaime's necklace was more than enough to sustain them for some time. But Tsunade disagreed.

A few days ago they had another Council meeting, during which the expensive building costs were brought up. Specifically, several individuals complained about how making the building companies work faster caused them to charge more, and trying to convince her that if she gave them a bit of slack, they could save money at the expense of time. Tsunade quickly shot them down. She argued that if they let up and didn't prepare as best they could, they were inviting disaster. She pointed out the pattern that she had noticed to Naruto's attacks, the destruction of that power plant in days gone by, and the more recent bombing. Every time the attacks were all directed to cause immense economic damage by destroying crucial, yet expensive to replace, areas of town. His plan for years had been to drive them broke. Tsunade told them that if she altered the builders' work schedule, it would only be to speed it up. They needed everything that could be done to improve Konoha's defenses done quickly.

That was why Tsunade was working harder than she could remember, trying to get missions completed as quickly as possible. She always said that they needed enough money to counter another such attack. They would do everything to prevent it, but nobody's perfect. She would never let Konoha be weakened this badly again, she would gather and preserve enough money to be prepared for rebuilding again should it need to be done, but a lot more money went into making the buildings extremely durable, the number of sentries on the wall and in the forest increased. In other words, making Konoha as impenetrable as possible.

She looked out into the sky behind her, silently swearing not to let such destruction happen again, and terrified that it might happen anyway.

That was when an old man wearing a red vest like garment and white hair appeared near the top of the window, almost scaring the wits out of her with the sudden, unexpected shock.

While she probably shouldn't have been surprised, she didn't expect to see him back so soon. As Jiraiya opened the window and went to stand by the side of her desk, she gave him an irritated look. "Jiraiya, I thought you wouldn't come back within six months unless you learned something very important. So what is it?"

She really didn't want to see Jiraiya. If he was here, then something had happened. Something important. She couldn't survive it if Naruto moved against them now, they weren't ready. Her messengers had yet to return with responses from the various parties that she contacted, the rebuilding wasn't completed and wasn't scheduled to be for another two months. It was simply too soon. If Naruto was attacking them NOW, then they were done, it was over.

So, with that fact in mind, Tsunade waited for Jiraiya's response with baited breath, deadly fearful that Jiraiya's report was the prophecy of their destruction. Jiraiya waited for a moment, and then spoke "It isn't that Naruto is mobilizing, don't worry."

Tsunade let out a sigh of relief, her worst fear not realized. The Sage gave her a moment to enjoy the survival of hope before he continued "But in the last few days, I received some disturbing information."

She pierced him with a glare that made her feelings clear, but she enunciated them anyway "Get to the point already."

Jiriaya just gave her an infuriating smile before he grew more serious and said "Two days ago, a coroner identified the body of Mitarashi Anko. He used dental records that Konoha gave him in order to do it since she had been burned to death so badly that she was barely recognizable. The heat warped Hitai-ate told him where to look to find her identity. In addition to that, three Shinobi were discovered in unmarked graves in a forest near a town in Hi no Kuni. The three bodies were identified as once being Oto Ninja, namely three of the 'Sound Four' that escorted Uchiha Sasuke to Orochimaru's lair three years ago."

Tsunade looked at him, puzzled "Wait, Mitarashi Anko, wasn't she Orochimaru's apprentice?"

He nodded and said "Yes, she was at one time Orochimaru's apprentice. She defected from Konoha during the Suna invasion when Sensei died. Everybody assumed she died in the battle until she was later seen working with some of Naruto's Zombies. The Sound Four also vanished after Sasuke left, they disappeared during the mission and weren't seen again until they were spotted acting in Tsuchi no Kuni, again assisting Naruto's conquest there. It's more than safe to say that both the Sound Four members and Mitarashi Anko were all taken in by Naruto and have been working with him since they left whatever faction they previously supported. Now they're dead."

Tsunade's mind reeled at the possibilities and implications of finding several of HIS dead followers like that. The first thing she said was "Arrange to have their bodies brought to Konoha for more thorough examination." When Jiraiya said that they were already being moved, she waited and thought for a moment before Jiraiya interrupted her again.

"There's one more piece of information, this one is more important." Tsunade gave him a look and gestured for him to continue. "Yesterday, I was informed by a trusted spy that the Akatsuki had attacked the Hachibi Jinchuuriki in Kumogakure."

Tsunade's eyes went wide when she heard that "Did they-" Jiraiya raised a hand and said "No, they didn't capture him, the Raikage joined the battle and they managed to fight off the assailant. According to several witnesses, there were six members of the organization trying to capture him. And there's more." He interrupted Tsunade before she could spout implications. "The Raikage left with an individual that we have only heard described, and when they returned, the Hachibi was assisting the Raikage to walk, the leader of Kumo was missing his left arm."

The Hokage waited a moment for Jiraiya to continue, but as he didn't, she asked the first question to come to mind "Who is that individual that left with the Raikage?"

The Toad Sage sighed, this was the real reason he came back to Konoha. "The individual was described as having dark skin, and no hair. He also is supposed to have six arms. These descriptions match the descriptions we received from Tsuchi no Kuni during Naruto's conquest, and they all match the one photograph we have of the individual known as 'Gomorrah', one of Naruto's more powerful General Zombies."

If those other comments shocked Tsunade, this one knocked her on her ass. A General Zombie assisting the Raikage and the Hachibi Jinchuuriki. There were only two possibilities. The first possibility was that Naruto's agent acted to disrupt the Akatsuki, not help Kumo. That wasn't that bad of a scenario.

The second was far, far worse. The horrible chance that Naruto had some kind of influence in Kumogakure no Sato. They had very little information from Tsuchi no Kuni, but everything they could find out all pointed at one indisputable fact: that Naruto's country was stockpiling resources, creating new types of weaponry, and the rumors had more than that going on beyond those borders. But no matter what you heard, it all came down to the same thing, that Tsuchi no Kuni was preparing for war. Given what Naruto's creatures were capable of, all of that in addition to the output of Tsuchi no Kuni meant that they were in for a very difficult war, but a winnable one provided all four major villages came together.

If Kumogakure didn't join such an effort, they might have a chance with just Kiri, Konoha, and Suna. But if Kumo actually JOINED the enemy, then their chances of victory went from 'rather unlikely' to 'next to impossible'. Kumogakure's assistance was crucial if they were to have a fighting chance against Naruto's forces. The possibility of him forming a military alliance, or even a non-aggression treaty, crippled the possible forces that could be mounted against him.

Tsunade HAD to find out which it was, why one of Naruto's Generals was in Kumogakure and helped the Raikage fight off Akatsuki. So she asked Jiraiya "Jiraiya, what do you know about the situation before the attack? What was the Raikage doing, and where was this Gomorrah?"

Jiraiya closed his eyes, preparing to be the bearer of bad news. Then, with resignation in his voice, he said "According to every report I have in that regard, apparently the Raikage came out of a secret meeting with a heavily clothed man. I can only assume that this individual would be General Gomorrah." Tsunade's head sank as she felt fear race up her spine and despair flood her heat. There was every chance that things were completely lost now. If Naruto had won over the assistance of Kumogakure then it was very possible that the war was over before it even began.

Then Jiraiya said, his tone brighter "However, there is SOME good news regarding everything in Kumo."

The Hokage gave him a weary look and asked, her voice heavy with worry and anger over his apparent happiness, "What on Earth can POSSIBLY be considered good news in this situation? You've just told me that Kumo is all but guaranteed to either side with Naruto or remain neutral. In either case, winning the war became either extremely difficult or impossible depending on which of the situations is factual. So, enlighten me O mighty Sage, what is the good news of this accursed scenario?"

Said Sage smirked for a moment before letting neutrality govern his features once more. Then he said "I have managed to locate Hyuuga Hinata."

Tsunade looked like she just took a sledgehammer between the eyes. The other two bits of news knocked her on her ass, but this was actually GOOD news. Hiashi had been a wreck since he heard of Hinata's capture, the fact that it happened almost at the same time as Hanabi's death didn't help things at all. They had both been there at the girl's funeral, and they had never seen the man in such a state before. From what they heard, he spent most of his time in his own quarters, denying all contact save meals. If they could get his daughter back, it would most likely revitalize him beyond what any drug could hope for. They would get the full support of the Hyuuga Clan who would thank them all for the return of their Heiress. Not to mention that Hiashi would do all but kiss the ground where they walked. The leader of the Hyuuga Clan was a powerful ninja in his own right, having spent many years as an ANBU Captain before retiring, and he never let his training stop for a moment. When Tsunade first came into office, she was certain that Hiashi or Danzou would be her greatest inside threat, both of them had the political power to possibly seize her title, and both had the personal strength needed to hold onto it. He wasn't as strong as Sarutobi once was, but both Tsunade and Jiraiya felt that Hiashi could have given either of them a run for their money in a fight, he was a truly fearsome individual. He had to be, to run the most powerful Clan in Konoha, to take his title and defend it from all rivals. He would undoubtedly be a great asset if they could rejuvenate him.

The female Sannin was overjoyed at the possibility, but she wasn't blind to the circumstances. Her expression sobered considerably when she asked "Where is she?"

Jiraiya sighed a bit at that. This was the hard part. "According to my informants in Kumo, she's in Kumogakure, the Raikage Tower to be specific."

Tsunade didn't say anything, didn't do anything except slump onto her desk and slam her fist into it. Then after a moment she all but screamed "DAMMIT!" at the top of her lungs. It wasn't loud enough to leave the room, probably, but it got the point across. She lifted her head, stared at the wall for a second before saying, with real venom in her voice, "Why is it that every bit of good fortune is immediately covered in a RAIN of crap! Fuck!"

Jiraiya stood back and let her vent for a minute before continuing his report. "From what I can tell, Gomorrah went to Kumo on Naruto's orders, bringing Hinata as a bargaining chip. Odds are that he's going to try and use her to broker an alliance between his forces and Kumogakure. I say that because an alliance between Naruto and Kumo would be the worst case scenario. From their geographical locations, Kumo's forces would protect Naruto's right flank, while the sea covered his left as his forces attacked everything to the South. After they reached the Kaze no Kuni deserts, they would turn inland, catching Hi no Kuni in a pincer attack, striking from the North and the West simultaneously. Then they would take out the smaller countries, send ships across to conquer Mizu no Kuni, and leave Kaze no Kuni to starve to death after sending in a few raids to destroy crucial structures. An alliance between Kumo and Naruto would be nothing short of a deathblow. If Naruto can actually secure an alliance then he's almost definitely won."

Tsunade glared at him and said "And what do you say we do about this oh great Toad Sage? You wouldn't go into things in that much detail if you didn't have some kind of plan."

Said Toad Sage just smiled and said "Yes. What we do is engage in diplomacy with Kumo and try to get them to release Hinata to us, possibly forming some kind of alliance as well."

The Hokage sighed and said "Brilliant. So tell me, why on Earth would the Raikage do that? If he sides with Naruto, he'll be able to conquer the Elemental Countries. He'll become one of the two most powerful men in the world. Why would he give that up to bite the hand that gave him what his village tried to steal over ten years ago?"

Jiraiya's demeanor became serious when he said "Because the Raikage isn't an idiot." When Tsunade gave him a look, he continued "The current Raikage CAN be brash, he can let his emotions control him, especially in an emotionally trying situation. But normally he has a good head on his shoulders, he thinks things through. He knows what Naruto plans to do, as do many people in the countries bordering Tsuchi no Kuni. He knows that war is on Naruto's mind, and he knows that if he allies himself with Naruto that he'll be expected to support him. Sure, he would be one of the rulers of the world, but for how long? The Raikage had to have seen what Naruto did to Tsuchi no Kuni, he knows that the bastard wouldn't be satisfied with sharing power. The moment Naruto's forces and Kumogakure conquer the world, Kumo will be next on the list. The Raikage isn't dumb enough not to see that. He'll go along with an alliance with Naruto, only in the hopes of stabbing him in the back. We give him an easy way to do that, and he'll go along with us. We get Hinata back and set Naruto up for when he finally launches his attack. Instead of having an ally covering his Western flank while he charges a prostrate South, he suddenly finds Konoha, Suna, and Kiri ninja waiting for him and his supposed allies blindside him at the worst possible moment. If it goes down like that, we would have a real chance of victory. But for it to happen, we have to get the Raikage on our side."

Tsunade thought about the idea for a minute. She decided that she liked it. She smiled as she thought of the possibility of setting Naruto up and seeing how he liked taking what he'd been dishing out for so long. Finally she said "Okay, Jiraiya you're to contact the Raikage immediately with this plan of yours, you have my full authority to act on your own initiative. But whatever you do, don't get noticed. I wouldn't put it past Naruto to have guards near Kumo to watch for something like this. He isn't the most trusting individual."

Jiraiya nodded and ducked out the window without another word. What he didn't say to Tsunade was how much what she just said worried him. Naruto WAS NOT a trusting person, not in the slightest. There was every chance that he had a plan in case he was betrayed by Kumo, and that was the biggest worry Jiraiya had at the moment. Either way, it would be Naruto's first big push to the South that would decide everything. If he won, he would be unchallenged for the most part and free to do what he wished. If Konoha and their allies beat him, then they would have the momentum to launch an assault on Tsuchi no Kuni, possibly freeing the land and killing Naruto. Either way, things were coming to a head for sure. And with those thoughts, Jiraiya left Konoha, and headed North to Kumogakure.

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With Sasuke

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Sasuke and his team were up and about for the first time since they got to the small city in which they found themselves hospitalized. The Uchiha himself was stretching his muscles out, silently admiring how much better a bed was than a mat in the jungle. The other members of Sasuke's group were sharing similar sentiments as they prepared to leave once more.

There were no shops that sold anything close to ninja supplies in the city, nor could they legally purchase them even if there were, so they were somewhat under supplied, but the money that Sasuke had lifted from Orochimaru was more than enough to resupply them with food and medicine, which all of them realized was much more important than weaponry or smoke bombs and the like. It was a startling realization just how mortal they all were.

But that newfound sense of mortality did nothing to make Sasuke stray from his course, if anything it spurred him on. Now that he had actually felt just how easy it was to be killed by something inconsequential, he led the group out of the town heading North with new energy and fresh determination.

Sasuke knew that what was to come was not going to be easy, all four of them knew that. While Sasuke, Karin, and Suigetsu were laid up in bed, Jugo was gathering information about border security and other such crucial information. There was one railway into Tsuchi no Kuni, and while it would have made an excellent method of entry to sneak in with the train, that simply wasn't in the cards due to the fact that the only train allowed in Korin Station was a large red locomotive marked with an uncountable number of long, barbed spikes. Any attempt to hitch a ride on the metal behemoth would have ended up with Sasuke and his group either speared to the train or trampled under it. So, they had only one option and that was to go through the border guard.

That was the second part of the information Jugo had gathered. Several dozen teams of Naruto's creatures patrolled the border day and night. And from what Jugo had heard from the townies, and what he once saw when he traveled up here on his own to scout, everything pointed at these things not being limited to simple physical abilities. It didn't matter if they couldn't see you, they would still catch you and you would never be seen again. At least, that was the story. And this was the guard that Sasuke was determined to go through to reach his foe. No, rather this was the first line of the guard that Sasuke planned to go through. But that didn't seem to matter to him, he kept on walking North. Like obedient dogs, his three 'compatriots' followed him in utter silence. None of his followers knew just how worried Sasuke was. This was a man who, when he last met him, decimated Sasuke in combat. This was a man who had set his gaze upon a Nation, one with a Great Ninja Village protecting it no less, and conquered it. The Destroyer of Iwagakure no Sato and the slayer of the Tsuchikage. The conqueror of Houfu and the most famous revolutionary in the world. Sasuke felt some kind of recognition of these deeds and he could not help but feel real fear for the first time since he last saw Itachi. He felt fear and he hated himself and the one who caused it. But although he hated the emotion of fear, he couldn't help but wonder 'Could ANYONE face someone who has done what Naruto has done, and not be afraid? Or, could they not feel fear and still be sane?'

Sasuke was taken by his internal conflicts and remained silent. And, following his example, Karin, Jugo, and Suigetsu remained silent as well. This stayed the same for almost half an hour as they mindlessly traveled North. And would have continued for as long as it took Sasuke to come to terms with himself had Jugo not suddenly rushed ahead of Sasuke, thrown out an arm to prevent him from moving any farther forward and quietly said "Stop. Now."

The Uchiha stopped in his tracks, as did Suigetsu and Karin behind him, and Sasuke glanced at the large man, silently asking for an explanation. Jugo got the hint and said "This is as far as the birds have ever gone. The first time I asked them, they went farther but did not come back. After that they have refused. Please use your Sharingan and see what you can find out. It will most likely be important."

Sasuke didn't like being told what to do, he never did, but he saw Jugo's point. He activated the eyes his family were famous for and gazed upon the landscape with red eyes. And he was thankful and amazed at what he saw in front of him.

About twenty feet in front of them, there was a grayish misty haze blocking the way. It rose up like a wall of fog that obscured everything behind it. It went up for about a hundred feet before rearing back, forming a partial ceiling, and it stretched left and right as far as he could see. There were occasional breaks, about a mile or two apart, where sometimes, just for the barest instant, he could see past, but aside from that he could only see a massive wall of vision obstructing fog.

Sasuke's eyes returned to black as he thought about what he saw, interpreting the images that the Sharingan showed him. Finally he said "I think that there's some kind of barrier in the way, probably right on the border line. There are some breaks along the wall, weak points, but aside from those I can't see a thing."

Suigetsu and Jugo were silent, they didn't know the slightest thing about barriers or seals, or anything like that. But Karin did, and she was thinking furiously about what Sasuke reported. Finally, she said "I think that this is how the border guards know when people are trying to sneak in."

Jugo and Suigetsu looked to her for an explanation, while Sasuke continued to stare forward, but Karin knew he was listening as well. She said "I would say that this barrier isn't meant to stop anything from going through, but it will tell someone if someone does go through. A silent alarm rather than a wall. If you go through the barrier, it alerts someone on the other side and they send a guard team after you. It might even have some kind of tracking function for anything that slips through."

Suigetsu's eyebrows climbed toward his hairline when he heard that. He didn't know much about barriers, but he kenw enough to realize the amount of energy needed to put something like that up was gargantuan. "Do you realize how much power you'd need to put up something like that across the border of an ENTIRE COUNTRY!" he half shouted. "You'd need at least twice as much chakra as any Kage I've ever heard of, you'd need to have something like a Bijuu's chakra to do something like that."

Jugo was rather disturbed at the possibility that brought up. "Karin, do you think that Naruto himself is the one that put this barrier up?"

Sasuke looked back at her as she thought about the possibility. Finally, she shook her head in the negative. "No, I've never met this Naruto guy but from what I've heard of him, he isn't the kind to do this kind of drudge work himself. Most likely this is a group effort by a bunch of individuals, each one doing a section. That would explain those weak points Sasuke reported, those are the places where the barriers from two people meet, but don't overlap quite as perfectly as they should."

Sasuke knew a bit about barriers and seals, it was part of the education Orochimaru gave him, but he was no expert. So he asked Karin "How far away would the person doing this be? And how would you think we can get through?"

Karin thought about it for a moment. She was ecstatic that Sasuke was relying on her knowledge, but at the same time she loved the challenge that this presented.

Finally, she said "I don't know how close the person doing this would have to be. Within a mile at least, I'd say, but I can't be sure. As for how to get through, there's sure to be a hole in the barrier where the train goes through so that they don't get mixed messages. But since we can't go through that way, I would hazard a guess and say that those weak points might be our only real chance. Either that or a distraction of some kind."

They were silent for a moment while Sasuke thought things over. Finally, he said "Suigetsu, there was a small pond we passed on the way here, right?"

Suigetsu nodded, not sure where Sasuke was going with this. Sasuke continued "Good, go back there, and make as many Mizu Bunshin as you can, then bring them all back here."

The Kiri ninja looked annoyed by having to do something when he didn't know why, but he knew better than to defy Sasuke and annoy Karin. He went, and the remaining three waited for Suigetsu to return. Jugo tried desperately to become deaf when Karin started trying to seduce Sasuke again, but luckily they didn't have to wait more than ten minutes when Suigetsu returned, twenty two Mizu Bunshin in tow.

Suigetsu just looked at Sasuke, and all of his clones copied his slightly aggravated expression when he asked "Okay, now what?"

Sasuke took a kunai and flung it into a tree a good distance away. He said "Send your clones to that tree, and then send them running through the barrier. Once they're through, have them scatter in all directions. We'll go through a different point while they're busy with the clones.

He watched with his Sharingan active as Suigetsu sent his clones running through the fog, and he saw the holes that they made in the barrier. He waited a moment and said "Follow me, quickly." Then he ran to the other side of the section where the clones ran through, and went into the weak point there, hoping that between the weak point and the distraction that they would be overlooked. The other three followed him, and hoped that Sasuke's plan worked.

Once they were through, they ran as quickly as they could as they went straight North, quickly putting the barrier behind them. In under a minute, Suigetsu reported that the first Mizu Bunshin was destroyed, and then they started falling one by one like dominoes.

Suigetsu sent his clones running in all directions once they were through the barrier. The ones that were farthest to the East fell first, the ones closest to Sasuke and his group. But they apparently went unnoticed as the unseen enemy focused on the clones, heading from East to West, destroying every clone in sequence. Unlike the Kage Bunshin, Suigetsu couldn't retrieve the memories of what his clones saw and heard, but he knew that they were taken out quickly, each killed by a single blow. After they heard that, the four ran all the faster.

Finally, about twenty miles past the barrier, they finally stopped running, taking shelter in the ruins of a small village. The homes were all decimated, but they provided some small shelter as they stopped to catch their breath. They waited a while, and Sasuke took a map from his bag, spreading it out over the floor. He scanned the map and finally said "These are apparently the ruins of Sanren, one of the villages that was destroyed by Naruto's campaign. Our destination is Houfu, the Capital city, way North and slightly to the West of here. We'll stay far away from any of the cities, and hope that we can approach the valley somewhat unnoticed. Let's get going."

With that, the four stood and left the burned remains of the buildings and the salted fields behind, heading North. Fear filled their hearts at least slightly because they all realized that they were in enemy territory. They realized that they were in the realm of their foes. Not in the belly of the beast, but they were certainly in his mouth.

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Five minutes later, Dark Heaven Castle

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Naruto was working with Hogback in his laboratory, completing the last bit of work on his latest General when a Midnight Visitor knocked on the door and entered. He slipped inside, closed the door behind him, and knelt down against the wall, waiting to be acknowledged.

After a minute or so, Naruto finally said "What is it?"

The Visitor dipped his head even further toward the ground and said "Sasuke Uchiha, Tenpin no Jugo, Karin, and Hozuki Suigetsu have entered the border of Tsuchi no Kuni my lord."

Naruto stopped for a moment, and then smiled slightly. "So, they made it through the border guard then?"

The Midnight Visitor only nodded slightly in assent.

Naruto nodded and said "Keep an eye on them, but don't send anybody to attack them unless they get within five miles of a city. Understood? If they don't get too close, let them do as they want. But keep me updated of their movements."

The Midnight Visitor bowed his head and said "Yes, my lord." Before he stood and left the room.

Hogback looked up from his work and asked "Naruto-sama, why did you order Uchiha and his cronies to be let through by the border guard? They could probably have caught them for you if you let them."

Naruto smiled as he looked down at the most powerful General he and Hogback had created together. He said "Simple, they'll be a good test for GZ-011. When he's brought up to speed, his first assignment will be to hunt them down."

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So, the latest chapter has finally been completed. Sorry all that it doesn't have much of Naruto in it, but I thought I would bring everybody up to speed on what was happening with the other groups involved. So, please review, and I look forward to bringing you the next chapter when I can.

Until the next update,

Artful Lounger