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An Orchestrated Coup [Exemplary]

#1
Politics. One of the few things in which Kakashi had little interest. He could tell from how Minato had reacted to the assignment that the Hokage harbored a similar opinion. It went without saying that his child companion likewise could not care any less. Ultimately, though, it mattered very little what they thought of the assignment. Either way, it was a mission and it would be completely like any other.

At Tsunade’s urging, the group departed the Morikage residence at once and headed northward toward their destination. Neither Kakashi nor Minato had any idea where the building could lie, though luckily the dark-haired boy had taken it upon himself to lead the way. He seemed somewhat more familiar with the village layout, having likely spent more time in the village than the two elder ninja had. The lad carried himself with youthful confidence, grinning at the passing townsfolk as the jonin followed in his wake. 

“Oh, I almost forgot,” Minato said suddenly, turning his head toward Kakashi. “This is Kito, my newest student.”

The sharingan-wielder looked up from the mission scroll he was studying, nodding at politely at the genin. “Hello. My name is Kakashi.”

Kito slowed his pace, now keeping pace between the two taller ninja. “Nice to meet you,” he replied, returning the nod. Then, without missing a beat: “why’re you wearing a mask?”

“That’s just something he does,” Minato responded jovially. “I gave up asking years ago. I think he wants everyone to think he’s mysterious.” Kakashi stared blankly at the comment, eliciting a chuckle from his former sensei.

Kito gave each of the men a brief glance before shrugging. “Whatever. Anyway, we should be coming up on the council building any minute now. Or, at least I think so. I never knew what this building was for, it’s not really labeled or anything. Maybe that’s the point?”

Kakashi nodded in response, re-reading their mission description once more. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but something about the assignment seemed off. Why would the Morikage send a trio of well-trained ninja to what essentially amounted to moderating? Surely the task of arbitrating could be handed to any run-of-the-mill subordinate. Sending a former Kage and an elite Anbu captain to supervise a meeting would seem strange to anyone. Perhaps there was more to this assignment than Tsunade had let on.

“I hope the don’t have any questions for us,” Minato said, sighing. “I know next to nothing about the bureaucracy around here. Things seem to run differently here than Konoha did.”

“Hopefully this doesn’t take too long,” Kito replied, “I don’t really want to spend all day listening to grouchy old men complain in a stuffy office.” 

Kakashi rolled up their mission scroll presently, sliding it into his pants’ pocket. He could find nothing that made the mission anything other than mundane, a C-Rank mission at most. Other than the fact that the Morikage herself had shouldered them with the task, it was completely unremarkable. The silver-haired shinobi couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong with this mission. 

“What’s the matter, Kakashi? Anxious?” The former Kage inquired, chuckling. Though he displayed an air of levity, the copy ninja noted a knowing look of concern in Minato’s blue eyes, followed by a small nod and a glance at Kito.

The scarecrow nodded in return, turning his sights back on the now-looming domed council building. As expected, Minato had his own misgivings about the assignment, though for Kito’s sake he had kept it to himself. “Yeah, I guess you could say that,” came his veiled replied. “I’m not much of a...public speaker.”

“Well, just let me do the talking then,” the Kage asserted, squaring his shoulders. “As a former Hokage, I do have some experience with these things.”

“We’re here.” Kito announced, stopping at the large, plain-looking door.

Kakashi turned to Minato, tugging the door open. “After you, sensei.”
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#2
The trio stepped through the large double doors, Minato in the lead, into a large hallway that lined the circumference of the building. The way it had been built reminded him of Konoha's architecture. Tsunade had definitely made sure that this place felt like home, no matter how different it looked. 

'Ah! Finally!' A female's voice rung out above the murmur of voices that had filled the room. She sounded rather displeased and that worried Minato. 'We've been waiting thirty minutes for you to get here!' The woman scowled as Minato turned to face her. 

The woman was large, not overly large, but she was definitely lugging around some extra pounds. She wore a purple Kimono and had her hair up in a bun. She looked odd though, something about her posture and look just didn't seem right. But Tsunade did warn him that some of these families would seem strange to him, so he should have expected this. 

'Come! come come come come come come! We've go lot's of things to discuss!' The woman said, almost frantically, as she turned away from him and dashed back to the two men that she had been standing with prior to her waltzing over to the three. 

Minato crossed his arms and gave a confused look as he turned to look at Kakashi. The silver haired man just shrugged and returned his mentor's look of confusion with one of his own. Minato sighed and then turned to Kito, who seemed to be examining the people in the room.

'Kito?' the blonde questioned. The man's voice broke the boy's concentration, and he turned to Minato. 

'What?' The youth asked. 

'Who are these people?' The jounin queried, concluding the second half of his question. Kito sighed as he looked back to the families that had segregated themselves from each other. Each of the families seemed to be ignoring the others, for as long as they could at least. 

'Well… the lady that addressed us when we entered is part of the Makhel family.' the boy began. 'Tsunade told me that they showed up pretty early after the village construction began.' Kito finished as he pointed to another trio of people. 

'Those three belong to the Miu family. They are a quiet family, and don't really like fighting with the other families.' The young shinobi spoke as his voice trailed off. 'They usually have their daughter with them… But she's not here.' he mumbled, as if something about this situation seemed off. Minato glanced away from the family and back to his new student, giving him a nudge to break the disruption in his train of thought and return his attention to the original question.

Kito turned and pointed at one of the families that had been sitting closer to them, their strange – pointy – ears caught Minato's attention. Kito thought for a second, as he lowered his arm, and then spoke up. 

'They are Elves. I haven't had much interaction with their people, but I do see them around the village.' the young ninja explained. 'I think their family name is Windforge, but that is about all I know about them.'

The yellow haired shinobi examined the trio of elves. They seemed familiar to him, their pointy ears felt familiar to him. Minato remembered back to that woman he had briefly encountered while in the forest, she had ears similar to these three. His train of thought was only broken by Kakashi's elbow jabbing itself into his ribs. 

'Minato, pay attention.' Kakashi whispered, a frustrated tone in his voice. Minato nodded and looked back at Kito, who was looking at the last trio of representatives. His face was strained, and it seemed as if he had been thinking intensely. Kito scratched his head, turned to his two seniors and shrugged. 

'Those three, I've never seen before.' the boy spoke.

Minato and Kakashi nodded as a shrill call echoed through the room, it was time for the summit to start. They watched as all four families, one after another, began heading up a stairway towards the top of the building. 

'Up there?' Minato questioned. Kito nodded and headed towards the stairs, Minato and Kakashi following behind him.
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#3
Upon the arrival of Tsunade’s envoys, the gathered bureaucrats started up the building’s main stairway. The trio of newcomers waited their turn, taking up the rear after the rest had began their ascent. As arbitrators of the event, it was only right that they allow others the courtesy.

“Well, now that we’re all finally here we can get down to brass tacks,” the individual's words flowed through the air effortlessly, blending into the air like smoke. “I daresay we all have some idea of what we’re after.” The speaker’s tone was as smooth as silk, his voice the timbre of a practiced businessman.

As the remainder of the participants filtered into the room and took their seats, the shinobi triumvirate crossed the threshold, Minato at the head. Kito was right on the jōnin’s heels, glancing around quickly in an attempt to take in the scenery. Kakashi marked the final entrant, the silver-haired ninja snapping the door shut quietly behind him. 

“Yes yes yes, let’s,” the rotund woman in the purple kimono replied quickly, plopping herself in one of the many sturdy oak-hewn chairs around the enormous conference table. Her face bore what seemed to be a permanent grin, though her eyes did not quite seem to match the expression. The scarecrow could quite not place the look. 

“Not to be too much of a bother here, but can we get us up-to-speed here?” The blonde Kage took his seat in the chair immediately before the doorway, carefully tucking his haori beneath him as he did so. 

“As the most powerful groups within Mokugakure,” the head of the Miu clan began, her tone completely devoid of emotion. “We have some measure of control over how the village functions.”

“Tsunade is our leader, true,” the smooth-talking mouthpiece of the yet-unnamed clan spoke up once more. “But we are, I guess you could say, invested in the village in a much more literal sense.”

“This meeting serves as a way to establish how the village will be run in a more indirect fashion,” one of the pointy-eared individuals chimed in. Though not quite as extreme, their ears reminded Kakashi somewhat of the Night Elf he had assisted on his last mission.

“I think I understand,” Namikaze stated, nodding knowingly. He quickly took up a pile of fresh paper from the supply bin at the middle of the table, with it a writing implement. “I guess we’ll start to my left. What did you have in mind?”

Kakashi stood behind the former Kage as he spoke, a motionless sentinel observing the room. He had served this role many times before, a handful of times even with Minato himself. He sized up each member of the meeting individually, careful to note any change in demeanor or sudden movements. It was not unheard of at events such as these for assassinations to be attempted. In Konoha this was a rarity, though Mokukagure was a whole other ball of wax. He truly did not know what to expect from those gathered. The shinobi kept his guard up, his dōjutsu hyper-aware of even the most minute movement.

“My name is Sergei, head of the Aplistio clan,” the charismatic executive asserted. The man sat comfortably with a lax posture, leaning forward to rest his elbow on the table. He wore a slightly amused expression, icy blue eyes framed by extraordinarily pale skin. His fair hair was cropped tight to his scalp, each strand swept back and to the side with practiced precision. “We fund some of the more expensive projects in the village. You may have spied our name on this very building on your way in.”

“Oh,” Minato replied, scribbling a few quick words before meeting his gaze. “I didn’t notice, sorry.”

“No matter,” Sergei continued without missing a beat. “I feel as though our continued contributions to Mokugakure’s growth warrant some sort of recognition.” He stressed the word heavily before broadening his smile. “Surely it would benefit the village as a whole if we were to take charge of the finances. Perhaps manage our trading network in some fashion?”

The Yellow Flash nodded without looking up, scribbling down the man’s words. “That makes sense. I don’t have the authority to grant it here and now, but I’ll take note of what you’ve said.”

“That’s all I can ask,” Sergei responded, his sly smile widening. He allowed his narrow chin to fall lazily into his hand, his elbow rocking forward and backward on the polished table. “I do so appreciate your time.”

“Right,” Minato answered, smiling politely before turning his eyes to the next participant.

“Galan of the Windforge clan,” the pointy-eared representative stated immediately with a curt nod. The elf sported long, golden hair that fell past the back of his chair, his flowing locks complementing amber eyes. “My clan has been a part of Mokugakure since near its inception. Many of my kin serve as civil servants within the village, some assisting the Morikage herself. I feel with this experience and the history that my people have with the other elf-kin throughout the Tangled Green, it is only logical to afford us the office of Chief Diplomat, to assist with appointing ambassadors and establishing relationships with other groups in the Omniverse at large.”

“Thank you Galan,” Minato said finally, dotting the last of his I’s. “I’ll be sure to pass on your suggestion.”

“Yes,” the elf replied brusquely. His tone did not betray his emotions, his cold expression locked on the former Kage.

The silver-haired shinobi continued to watch the bureaucracy unfold, slowly getting a feel for how the clans handled themselves. Each seemed to have a carefully-chosen role in mind, all stations being fairly high on the totem pole. Though he did not have a large amount of hours clocked in the village, truthfully he didn’t need it. This type of bargaining for power was not unique to Moku; indeed, these sorts of ‘unofficial’ agreements were commonplace in most established villages from the smallest merchant town to even Konoha, the gem of the Land of Fire. For the good of the people, it was necessary to stroke the ego of the occasional powerful individual if it meant bolstering the village in some way. 

“Now, who’s next?”
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#4
Minato's question was answered by the rather loud, rather haughty, throat clearing of the Miu family's male representative. He looked directly at the blonde man, then to his wife, then back to shinobi.


'We… of the Miu family… would like to set up an official village Police force. The Idea had been floating around this summit for a couple of months now, but we'd really like to push this into action.' The man spoke, his tone trying to find assurance as the words left his mouth. Minato nodded as he jotted down the important dot points of the conversation.


'If possible, we'd like to set this up within the next few weeks.' the man finished, never breaking his focus on the former Kage, even if the latter wasn't looking at him. 'Well, I'll bring it to Tsunade's attention. That is all I can do.' Minato smiled as he raised his head.

'Now, now now now. It's our turn!' the big boned woman chimed. Minato turned his head to the lady as she placed her index finger on her chin and began to think. The two men with her stayed silent, as if they were only here to escort her. Their stern looks gave the Ninja a rather large amount of discomfort. 'We want to place one of our own under Tsunade's tutelage.' Minato paused his hand, and looked up at the woman.

'We'd like to help in managing the village. After all… Tsunade is only one woman.' The lady spoke, a slight hint of disrespect in her voice. The other Families started to speak amongst themselves, obviously this was a touchy subject. The slight murmur began transforming into quiet conversations. It wasn't long until the entire room erupted into yelling competitions and heated debates.


Objections here and there, rigorous yelling and shouting competitions echoed across the room. Minato finished his last, understandable note and then stood. He turned to Kakashi and Kito, who had become as equally annoyed as he had, and gave them a look. They nodded and stepped aside, allowing him to step away from the table. He walked to the edge of the room, picking up one of the spare chairs, and then turned back to the table. He tossed the chair into the air, then followed it with a jump.


'Rasengan!' The man exclaimed as he thrust the swirling ball of chakra into the chair. It made a large cracking noise before exploding into little pieces of wood and saw dust. The room went silent as the blonde man landed at the center of the table. He adjusted his Haori and turned to his empty seat. 'Now, I'll bring it up with Tsunade, I'm sure she'll come to a compromise.' He spoke calmly as he returned to his seat.


The next half hour consisted of many discussions that centered around the village. How they should spend their money, what they should do about restoring run down buildings, Which trade partners they should take on or let go. It was basically just short discussions on topics such as these. He wouldn't lie to himself, Minato was definitely bored out of his mind but, on top of his respect for Lady Tsunade, and always taking his missions seriously, he didn't want to come across as disrespectful. So he stuck it out and jotted down any important or necessary dot points that he felt he needed to relay to Tsunade.


'With that last finalization, this Meeting comes to a close!' The woman from the Makhel family exclaimed. Her enthusiasm left a seed of discomfort in the blonde ninja's gut. He didn't know why, but it just did. He leaned back in his chair, ushering Kito and Kakashi to lean in towards him before letting out the faintest whisper. 'I never want to do this again.' His two companions nodded in agreement as they watched the family representatives talk amongst themselves.


'Minato-Sensei' Kito spoke quietly. Not in a whisper, but he was definitely trying to keep his voice below the current mixture of the other voices in the room.


'I would like to trail the Miu Family. I've worked with them before, and I think something is wrong.' the youth spoke. His hushed tone conveying a sense of urgency and worry. Minato placed his hand on his chin and thought for a moment.

'Okay, if you think it's important. Besides, Kakashi and I can report back to Tsunade.' The senior shinobi nodded as Kito headed off on his new mission.


'Well, we better get going as well. We have to report back to Tsunade.' Kakashi suggested as his former teacher stood up, grasped the pieces of paper that he'd written on, and then nodded. 'Yeah, she'll be expecting us.'

'Excuse me… But could I speak with you two for a moment?' A familiar woman's voice spoke out.
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#5
Kakashi furrowed his brow as the woman approached, flanked by her small squadron of bodyguards. The ambiance of the room still felt quite tense to the silver-haired shinobi, but the portly woman seemed oblivious to the glares from the other officials in the room. She strode forward, smiling with the same questionable grin the scarecrow had noted earlier.

“Yes, what’s the matter?” Minato inquired, doing his best to maintain an air of formality. His protege didn’t need his sharingan to tell that he was growing weary of the meeting. 

The Makhel matriarch paused, watching as the last of the gathered families filtered out into the hallway. Satisfied that they would not be overheard, she turned back to her shinobi arbitrators. “I don’t want to stir up any trouble, but I feel as if I should say something.”

Minato blinked once, giving a small nod. “Okay, go ahead.” 

“Well, I don’t want to get everyone worked up over nothing…” the woman trailed off, her hands playing absentmindedly with the sash on her kimono. 

“Please,” Kakashi blurted out. “What’s the issue?” Minato shot the ANBU captain a look  of something between amusement and surprise. 

“If you insist,” the Makhel woman said, shrugging. Though she seemed to be trying to play it off like she didn’t care, Kakashi could tell that she was all-too-eager to share. “It’s just that before you three arrived, I overheard some talk from those elves.”

The silver-haired shinobi cocked his head, thinking back to the meeting they had just endured. “The Windforge clan?”

“Whatever they’re calling themselves, yes. Their leader is that tall, blonde man -such a rude one he is.” She shook her head solemnly, as if to pity the shinobi duo. “He was sitting across from you.”

“Yes, I remember him,” Minato stated, nodding. “What did he say that bothered you?”

“Well, it’s not so much what he said as how he said it,” she said, glancing over her shoulder at her bodyguard. “We weren’t close enough to make out every word, but it doesn’t take a genius to put two and two together.”

Kakashi stared blankly at the Makhel officials, the intricacies of the village’s gossip mill a mystery to him. “You’ll have to spell it out for us; what is your concern?”

The portly woman met his gaze, a smile once more playing at the corners of her mouth despite the apparent effort at maintaining a solemn expression. “It’s no secret that the Windforge want to overthrow Tsunade.”

“What?!” Minato exclaimed, his eyes narrowing. “Why would they want that?”

“Well, you see,” the Makhel matriarch said, taking a seat in one of the now-empty chairs around the meeting table. “The elves have been in the Tangled Green since before Mokugakure was even founded. They occupied most of the land in which we now stand. They allied with the ninjas shortly after Tsunade founded the village...some have speculated that it was more out of necessity than choice, however.”

“So you think they want to take control over the village because they feel like the land belongs to them?” Kakashi inquired, thoughts spinning in his head.

“Something like that,” the woman said, nodding. “I imagine Galoon, or whatever he calls himself, feels slighted for not being considered for the position of Village Leader. And today my companions and I overheard him in conversation with his kin, talking about how this village was in need of change and that they would be the ones to do it.” 

Ominous, Kakashi thought, casting a gaze out the open window of their meeting hall. He spied the slight figure of Galan among the procession of clans, marching nobly back toward the center of the village. The elf did seem somewhat perturbed during the meeting, and, if what he had just heard of the elves’ past was true, it was not hard to believe that the Makhels’ fears were true.  

“And you think it is more than just idle threats?” the blonde Kage inquired, now laser-focused on the woman’s every word and movement. 

“I do,” she replied, nodding sagely. “That is part of the reason that I would like one of my clan to work under Tsunade’s tutelage. My clan are all very skilled, it would not hurt to have another set of eyes on her on the somewhat likely chance that she might be attacked...”

“We appreciate the concern,” Minato responded. “We’ll look into it and let Tsunade know of your thoughts.”

“Very well,” the burly woman replied, a hint of a smile evident on her face. “Thank you.” With a final nod, she and her companions took their leave.
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#6
Everywhere he went, there seemed to be some sort of war. A world war, a civil war, it didn't matter. There was always conflict. He was always dealing with something. Sometimes he just wished that he could sit down and enjoy a little peace for once. Minato sighed as he leaned back in the chair that had housed him for most of the afternoon, the room around he and Kakashi was now empty.

'Sensei-'

'You know what Kakashi?' Minato began as he looked at his silver haired companion, his question returned with a somewhat questioning look. 'Sometimes I wish we could just have some peace and quiet.' the blonde sighed as he leaned back in the small, wooden, office chair. His expression depicted a look of annoyance and disappointment as he stared blankly at the table in front of him.

'Sensei, what are we going to do?' Kakashi asked. The very same words had been running through Minato's head as well. On one hand, the threat of a coup should be dealt with immediately but, on the other, Tsunade should also be informed of any potential threats to her life. He took a moment, thinking carefully on the situation, before speaking up. 'We need to follow it up. Telling Tsunade would end with the same result, but we'd just waste time reporting to her now.'. Kakashi nodded as Minato stood and slipped his hand into the pouch on his backside, checking it for kunai.

'One last thing, before we leave' the golden haired shinobi spoke, extending his hand to his friend. The silver haired shinobi looked at him, puzzled, before taking his hand for a moment. 'I can't teleport long distance anymore. I figured out that my range is about eight or so meters…' The blonde man explained as Kakashi felt the exchange of chakra between the two. 'If you stay within that range, I should be able to teleport to you.' Minato finished explaining as he let go of the man's hand, revealing his teleportation seal on the man's palm. Kakashi nodded in reply to his former sensei's statement.

'Oh, and one other thing. Don't rub or scratch at it with the intention of wiping it off. Otherwise it will come off.' Minato added, Kakashi nodding in reply, as the two began to descend the stairs that led to the building's lobby.

The sun, mostly obscured by the huge canopy that sat above them, sat high in the sky. The light that made it through the somewhat dense tree top had formed itself into small beams of light. The shinobi duo sat, perched atop a building, staring down at the elven man they had decided to trail. In all seriousness, he didn't seem like the kind of man that would plot behind someone's back. If anything, he seemed more inclined to voicing his opinions and concerns directly.

'Minato-sensei, he's moving again.' Kakashi spoke, Minato's head moving up and down, giving a firm nod as the two dashed to a roof on the other side of the road. They watched the man go in and out of shops, interacting with the people on the street, he seemed to be highly respected by the townsfolk. All the kids in the area gave him their widest smiles and he, in turn, returned them with his own smile. Minato was puzzled as to why someone thought he was possible of organizing a coup. The only reason he was even out here was because the threat of a coup was too great to ignore.

'I don't get it.' The golden haired ninja sighed. Kakashi turned to him, taking a moment, before speaking. 'I know, He seems like a well mannered, highly regarded, member of the village.' Kakashi spoke as the two ninja walked in time, along a flat roof top, with the elven nobleman. Minato nodded, scratching his head as he formed a thought in his mind.

'Village politics…' he whispered, keeping his voice low. Kakashi returned his statement with a nod. 'She was just trying to get us to get Tsunade to kick his family out of the village by making a false accusation.' Minato sighed, bringing his thumb and index finger up to the bridge of his nose. This sort of situation, now a days at least, had begun to give him headaches.

'So, back to the Morikage's office to report to Tsunade then?' Kakashi questioned. Minato letting out a single, final, sigh as he nodded.
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#7
Kakashi stole one last glance at their mark before following his mentor. Galan Windforge definitely did not put off the air of someone desperate to rule. Moku’s citizens seemed to greatly admire the man and he them. The shinobi had to wondered, however, if perhaps his behavior was an attempt to schmooze with the townsfolk in an attempt manipulate them. Kakashi hated to think the worst of people, but countless times in his life he had been reminded that attempts at optimism were often met with the cold smack of reality. The stark contrast between the behavior they had witnessed in the meeting and what they had seen in their investigation was definitely raising questions in the former Anbu captain’s mind.

“So this is getting a little more complicated than we originally thought,” Minato said, leaping gracefully across a gap to the next building. He landed nimbly on the tiled roof, his former student in tow. “I wonder how much deeper this goes.”

Kakashi remained silent, following dutifully behind the blonde shinobi. He had entertained similar thoughts, wondering if perhaps the corruption in the village was far more deeply rooted than they had realized. He had not been in the village for very long at all and even he could see signs of the tension. He only hoped that their conversation with the Morikage clear up some of the uncertainty.

- - -

“Hey, Kakashi. Long time no see.”

The silver-haired shinobi looked down as he stepped through the doorway, spying the familiar face of his ninken. “Good to see you, Pakkun. Where’re the others?”

“They usually hang around the academy. They might act like battle-hardened warhounds, but they love to be petted,” the miniature pug smirked at his master, his eyes widening as the shinobi’s partner came into view. “Lord Fourth, it’s a surprise to see you here, too.”

Minato beamed, squatting to pat the ninken’s head. “I think we should all get used to surprises. I’m glad to see that Kakashi has had some friends here, Pakkun.”

“Not to spoil the heartfelt moment here, but how was the meeting?” Tsunade stood leaning against her heavy wooden desk, arms crossed. She wore a look of something akin to stern curiosity.

“Oh! Right, we have the meeting notes here,” Minato said, chuckling nervously. He strode forward, dropping the folder onto her desk. “But there’s something else we should talk about.”

Tsunade’s eyes never strayed from the duo, completely ignoring the file they had brought. “I know.”

“You know?” Kakashi parrotted, somewhat surprised.

“Yes. I may have sent you two with the express mission of moderating the meeting, though I think we all knew I had an ulterior motive.” She blinked slowly, her composure cool and serious. "Listening to a group of egotists argue hardly necessitates sending shinobi of your caliber. I could have easily sent someone else.”

“That thought had crossed my mind,” the sharingan-wielder confessed. “So, you know about the coup? The Windforge Clan?”

Tsunade cocked an eyebrow, her composure breaking for the first time since their arrival. “What do you mean?”

“We were tipped off by one of the other clan-heads that the Windforge Clan were plotting a coup,” Minato explained. “We tailed their leader after the meeting ended, but he doesn’t really seem like the kind of person to be plotting something like this.”

The Morikage nodded. “You’re exactly right. And this accusation confirms that whoever is really behind all of this is simply trying to put us off of their scent. The Windforge Clan have been close friends of myself and the council since the Village’s inception.”

“He didn’t seem pleased with us when we were there. He seemed to harbor genuine animosity.” Kakashi said, letting his hands rest lazily in his pockets.

The Slug Princess turned her gaze to the open window. “I’d imagine that has to do with the death of his son. He was slain recently by an outsider, most likely a Prime.” She paused, her voice becoming somewhat quieter. “Galan protects this village as fiercely as he did his own son. He likely projects his anger and frustration with outsiders onto you two, as you’re newcomers in our village.”

“That does explain his attitude change. He seems to be loved and respected by the villagers.” Minato said, nodding.

“He genuinely is. He’s done nothing but work to keep this village safe since the beginning. It was his idea to have the regular scouting parties in the area to keep the orcs at bay. I have offered him countless times to join my council of advisers formally, but he has always declined.”

“He said that he was interested in taking the office of chief diplomat,” Kakashi said, recalling the elf’s words during the meeting. “I guess that makes sense.”

Tsunade nodded. “He’s mentioned it before. Galan wants to personally ensure that our relations with neighboring groups are civil, to prevent and unneeded violence. His son’s passing likely solidified his choice.”

“So it really was a red herring, then,” Minato confirmed, shaking his head. “Well at least we can rule him out.”

“It stands to reason that the culprit behind this whole thing is likely of the Makhel clan,” Kakashi offered. Minato nodded in kind, clearly having entertained the same thought.

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Tsunade said thoughtfully. “Or, at least not entirely. I knew that I smelled a rat, but I’m thinking that this could be more complex than we realize. I have some information, but I’d like to confirm it before I go any further with it.” She paused. “Where’s Kito?”

“He was going to find a friend of his from the Miu clan,” Minato answered.

The Morikage nodded, picking up the folder from her desk. “Well, I’ll comb through these notes. In the meantime, you two should return to your investigation.”

“Investigation?” Kakashi inquired, taken slightly aback. “Where should we be looking?”

“Sadly, I can’t really say. That’s up to you two to figure out,” the kunoichi said, pursing her lips. “I wish I could help more, but I have to stay here and act like I’m not aware of anything being wrong. I can’t risk tipping them off.”

“So just...look around?” the silver-haired shinobi asked blankly.

“Follow any leads you have,” she replied. “But do so in secrecy. I’ll send a few operatives to tail Galan to give the impression that he’s under legitimate investigation and let him know that he should ignore their intrusion. The rest is up to you two.”
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#8
Why did things have to go so badly within ninja villages? Coup’s, attacks, politics teetering on the edge of a Civil War. Couldn’t it just be peaceful, for two seconds? Minato needed a little time to breathe, after all. But it wasn’t, it never was and, instead of relaxing, he was now surrounded. Surrounded by a couple dozen men clad in armour.

Quote:Fifteen Minutes Earlier

Minato sat atop the wooden staircase, his arms crossed as he stared out at the village.  It looked so peaceful, but that was just a guise. A mask that was hiding what was happening behind closed doors. Minato sighed as his legs dangled from the platform, his companion standing behind him, deep in thought.

‘We could start with that lady from the Makhel Family.’ Kakashi suggested, Minato had been thinking that very same thing himself. ‘After all, she was the one who pointed us towards Galan in the first place.’  He concluded. Minato nodded in agreement with his former student’s conclusions.  Minato lifted himself from his sitting position, standing next to his silver haired friend as they both looked out over the village.

‘Alright Kakashi, let’s...’ Minato began as he turned to face his partner. As he spoke the sounds of an explosion and screaming cut him off. His head swivelled on the spot, smoke and flames had engulfed a building, and he could see the silhouettes of the villagers running around the streets. The two glanced at each other, exchanging the same look, before leaping from the platform and onto the roof top of a building below them.

First a coup, and now they are being attacked? Could things get any worse? Minato and Kakashi dashed from roof to roof, hastening towards the blaze.

‘Minato, could this be related to the coup?’ Kakashi questioned as the two dropped down into the streets and sprinted towards the blaze. Minato took a second to think before pulling one of his kunai from the pouch on his backside. ‘If it is, then we better be prepared.’ the golden haired shinobi replied.

The inferno had engulfed multiple buildings by the time Minato and Kakashi arrived. A few minutes and this much damage had already been caused. If this was part of the coup, then it needed to be stopped, and quickly. The ninja duo sat on a roof top, looking down at a group of small, red, winged, creatures. They hadn’t noticed the duo yet, but it wouldn’t be long.

The duo sat, perched, above a group of six of them, it seemed as if that’s all there was. Such a small group to cause this much damage. Minato glanced over at Kakashi, who returned his glance with a nod. The senior shinobi pulled a second kunai from his pouch, readying himself as he prepared to drop down on top of the unsuspecting group of creatures.

They began moving, it looked almost like they were hopping, towards the building that Minato and Kakashi were perched on. Small balls of fire appeared in their hands, illuminating the rest of their bodies, as they neared the building. Minato dropped from the roof, landing in front of the front two creatures, embedding his kunai into the tops of their skulls. The other devilish looking things mumbled some sort of high pitched  words before turning their attention to the blonde. He dashed forward, striking a third one as the other three dropped to the ground, shuriken sticking out of their skulls.

The blonde retrieved his kunai from the small beings as his companion dropped from the roof and proceeded to examine the bodies. They were small, some would say impish, and they looked like tiny little demons.

‘It’s hard to believe these little things did so much damage.’ The silver haired ninja spoke as he poked, cautiously, at one of the tiny, lifeless, bodies.

‘Yeah, but it could have been a lot worse.’ The yellow haired man nodded as his ears picked up a faint whistling sound.

Minato spun around, lifting his kunai up to defend his face as an arrow struck it. The steel arrow head scraped down the blade, deflecting away from the duo and into the ground. A man, clad in armor standing atop one of the buildings behind them laughed. A deep, coarse laughter filled the area around them as more and more of these men piled into the streets, surrounding the lone pair. Their their skin grey, their face tattooed with red markings, and horns protruding from the top of their skull.

Things had just gotten worse.
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#9
Kakashi stared in disbelief at what could only be described as carnage. Though the shinobi and his mentor had managed to fell a half dozen imps, still more continued to appear, emerging from behind buildings and on rooftops. The scamps cackled with demonic glee, raining hell on the terrified civilians with fire magic. Buildings stood ablaze, the cries of wounded citizens rang through air. They had responded almost immediately to the assault, yet still the hellspawn tore through the village with alarming swiftness. 

Before they could make to fell the imps, Kakashi heard a harsh clink as his companion deflected an incoming arrow, raising his kunai at just the right moment. Their attention immediately turned to its source, one of a small group of much larger attackers, adorn in dark platemail. Each bore ashen flesh, across which spread a web of blood red markings. The bow-wielding fiend threw his head back, emitting a harsh, distorted laugh. His hand found his quiver, drawing yet another arrow. In a single fluid motion, he let the projectile fly, causing the shinobi to dart sideways, taking the opportunity to eviscerate a pair of nearby imps with their respective kunai.

“What are they things?” Minato inquired, throwing a fist into the cackling mouth of another destructive imp. He formed a familiar blue sphere in his free hand, slamming the rasengan into the beast’s belly. The fiend rocketed forward, toppling a group of incoming imps.

The silver-haired shinobi remained silent, tossing a volley of shuriken at the next wave of attackers. He could scarcely heard the man’s words over the screams, despite being right next to him. Various Moku officials dashed through the chaos, shepherding people away from the battlezone. Deep, mocking laughter could be heard over it all as the armored demons touched down among the citizens, summoning formidable blades. The village’s militia (what little was readily available) challenged the demonic brawlers, managing only to stave off the blows as the weaker citizens fled.

“Kakashi?” the blonde kage urged, ducking a fireball and ending the life of another scamp. 

His words fell on deaf ears as the ANBU captain leered at the ensuing melee. The smell, the deafening screams, the buildings ablaze. It was all too familiar, in the worst way. In an instant he was a child again, the screams echoing in his ears as he and his fellow shinobi ended lives and waged war despite what was ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. They fought and killed for the sake of peace, though it never seemed to stop. Wherever ideals clashed, so too did blades. Kakashi blinked, and he was in Konoha. The moon hung overhead, nearly blotted out by the immense form of the Nine-Tailed Fox. Buildings crumbled as it raged, villagers-people that he had grown and served with-- were buried beneath the rubble, slaughtered. He and his peers cowered within shelters while the elite jonin assailed the beast. Among those was the man that now stood at his side, who had lost his life that day in another universe. War had slowly taken everything from Kakashi, in one way or another. He loathed it. Mokugakure may not be his home, but if it were to be met with war, he’d die to defend it. He’d lay down his life if only to ensure that war would perhaps leave some of these people untouched. If only.

Kakashi raised his hands before his chest, forming a plus-sign with his fingers. A brief moment and a simple nod later, a pair of shadow clones appeared at his side. “Sorry,” the copy-ninja uttered, drawing his chokuto from its sheathe. He cast a gaze at Minato, nodding. “I’m with you.” Minato grinned in response, raising his kunai.

Without another word the group dashed forward, carving their way through incoming hellspawn. The diminutive imps stood little chance, their black blood spilling upon the dirt as the quartet approached the armored demons. Their foes sneered as they neared, trampling minions to clash with the shinobi. Kakashi’s doppelgangers together took on one of the larger combatants, the two moving in sync as a massive axe slammed into the ground between them. The sharingan-wielder watched as Minato flicked his kunai effortlessly, his target dodging sloppily in time for the blade to sail over his shoulder. The demon’s face contorted into a jeer, falling slack a second later as his attacker vanished from his sight, appearing behind him to plunge the tri-tipped blade into his side.

“Sorry,” Minato said, ripping the kunai clean and aiming a swift kick at the fiend’s head. “I don’t miss.”

Presently the silver-haired shinobi dashed toward his own opponent, a menacing mace-wielder in inky black plate mail. As Kakashi neared, the battler raised the implement skyward, bringing it down with lethal force. The shinobi juked sideways, swinging his blade laterally at the attacker’s midsection. Steel met steel as his blade scraped harmlessly against the hellspawn’s armor, eliciting laughter from his foe as the vibrations shook the blade from his grip. Frowning, the masked ninja quickly drew a few shuriken, tossing the handful at the jovial demon’s face. The fist-blades embedded into the demon’s flesh, causing him to lose his grip and stumble backward, roaring with rage. At once Kakashi saw his opening, quickly retrieving a scroll from his pocket and slapping it on the leather grip of the demon’s weapon. He paused for a moment, channeling his chakra for a few seconds before leaping backward to avoid a fireball from his foe. 

“GRAGH!” the demonic warrior bellowed, stepping forward and taking hold of his weapon. Malice burned in his eyes as he leered at the shinobi.

Kakashi retrieved his blade, quickly snatching it from the dust and holding it at the ready. His foe had scarcely raised his own weapon before the shinobi brought a hand before his chest, forming a half-ram sign. Instantly, a ball of fire erupted before the copy-ninja, the screams of hellspawn filling the air.
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#10
The foul stench of ash and brimstone stung Pakkun’s nostrils as the canine bound through the village on his tiny legs. He had been tearing through the village, tirelessly making his way toward the Academy on strict orders from the Morikage. The miniature pug displayed surprising agility in spite of his size; he hoped that this could perhaps help him save lives.

“Pakkun, you are to gather up your fellow ninken at once,” Tsunade had said, grabbing her haori from a hook on the wall. “Escort as many people as you can away from the main village entrance. If it comes to it, evacuate the village.”

“Evacuate?” he had inquired, staring up at the towering kunoichi. “Who’s behind this attack?”

He remembered the look on her normally stern face with perfect clarity. Though the average person might see the expression as not much different than her typical stone face, the miniature pug knew better. Finally, she spoke; “I don’t know.”



“HEY!” Pakkun croaked, raising his gravelly voice over the sounds of crashing lumber at the village gate. He could just barely see the Academy, and with it the squadron of ninja hounds, each looking more perplexed than the next.

“Hey, what’s the ruckus?” Akino asked, raising a paw to fix his tiny sunglasses. 

Pakkun shook his head, instead issuing Tsunade’s order to the Shiba Inu. “We’re to round up any civilians and escort them away from the entrance. If necessary, we evacuate the village.” He found himself out of breath as he finished recalling the edict. Whether it was anxiety or overexertion, he couldn’t tell.

“Where’s Kakashi?” Biscuit poked his head out from behind the academy’s entrance. “Weren’t you with him?”

“That’s not important,” the miniature pug responded. “Let’s get moving.”

“Ruff,” the enormous bulldog asserted, standing to his full height. His squinty eyes peered toward the village entrance. He could smell it. They all could. Blood.

Biscuit nodded without another word. Dutifully, as if performing a practiced motion, he cast his head back and letting out a loud yappy bark. The call echoed for a moment, reverberating through the village. Barely a moment later, a fast-moving gray blur cleared the village wall, landing nimbly in the middle of the group of hounds. The intimidating glare of Fenrir locked eyes with Pakkun, nodding wordlessly at the pup’s dire expression. 

“Fan out boys, we’ve got work to do.”



“Shit!” 

Blade met blade, the wielder of each threatening to overtake the other at but a moment’s notice. Limbs quaked as the pair of clashing foes struggled against one another, sweat dripping from their brows. Each silently willed their blades forward, glaring at the other. Suddenly, the smaller of the duelists leaped backward, opening a gap between them. His opponent raised himself to full height, a broad grin spreading across his ashen face. 

A spent cigarette fell to the earth, quickly stomped out by a toeless boot. “Dunno why you’re smiling,” the man said, raising his diminutive trench knife. “This isn’t anything worth celebrating.” 

The smoker inverted the blade in his hand, the combatant’s inverted grip giving it the look of a tiny dagger. His foe’s eyes widened as a thick sheath of blue fire began to wind its way from the hilt to the tip. Reflexively, the ghastly foe raised his own blade, diving frantically forward to strike.

“Flying Swallow!” the bearded shinobi cried, his technique reaching completion just as his foe moved to strike him down

Life energy now encompassed the smoker’s blade, the blossoming energy reaching nearly 3 feet past the blade’s tip. As his opponent neared, he too pressed the attack, bringing his blade to clash against the pitiful creature’s own longsword. A horrendous screeching was heard as the energy-sheathed blade tore through the second-rate sword and cleaved the hellspawn’s head from its shoulders. 

Breathing heavily, Asuma Sarutobi ceased his chakra flow, lowering his trench knife and kicking the demon’s head away with needless spite. “Kakashi, Lord Fourth, you’d better get this over with quickly. I can’t keep this up all day.”
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#11
They had managed to fell but a few of an ever growing horde of these demonic men. How there could be so many hiding around here without anyone finding out was a mystery to Minato. But something was definitely wrong with these creatures.

“well… We’ve had worse odds in the past.” Minato mumbled as the demonic men formed a circle around the pair. They stood back to back, demonic laughter filling the area, as their enemy surrounded them like a pack of hungry wolves.

‘I don’t think that having worse odds in the past is going to help us.’ his silver haired friend mumbled, almost irritatedly, as the death circle that surrounded them seemed to shrink. Their situation was getting worse and worse, and all they were doing was throwing around some casual banter. It wasn’t the best choice in a situation like this, but Minato just needed time to think.

‘Kakashi, I have an Idea. But I need you to get some explosive kunai ready.’ The yellow haired shinobi muttered under his voice as he lifted two of his own kunai from the pouch on his backside. It wasn’t an escape, but they had to do something about the horde of death that surrounded them.

Minato tossed his kunai towards opposite ends of the ring, it didn’t matter whether they hit something or not, just that he got the timing right. He watched as his weapons darted towards their enemies, almost in slow motion as two, rather large, balls of spiralling chakra formed in his hands. He didn’t have much time, but he was the fastest Shinobi in the world.

Before they knew it, Minato had disappeared, a bright flash of yellow replacing him as Kakashi tossed his explosive Kunai. He’d caught on pretty quick. The explosions would disorient them long enough for his sensei’s rasengan to land.  The plan, unfortunately, was only making the best of a bad situation, and it didn’t guarantee anything.

Kakashi dropped to the ground, covering his face as Minato reappeared only mere moments after the explosions echoed throughout the area.

‘Rasengan!’ The yellow flash exclaimed as he thrust his attack into the chest-plate of one of the demonic beings, retrieving his Kunai and then proceeding to repeat the process with the second Kunai, before returning to Kakashi.

As Kakashi rose from the ground, the duo shinobi noticed that their efforts had only managed to, momentarily, disrupt their enemies. They’d only managed to maim another four of their dozens of attackers.

‘Well, four is better than none.’ the former kage joked, his protege groaning as the onslaught of enemies began to charge them. There was no time, the golden haired shinobi just found himself reacting and, before he knew it, he had told Kakashi to jump in the air as he transitioned into a crouching handstand.  He placed his feet against his companion’s and kicked upwards, throwing him up into the air.

Minato, Kunai in hand, then teleported to Kakashi – who was now roughly 15 feet in the air – and tossed his kunai at the roof of a building before throwing his companion, again, towards the same building. He then spun in mid air, facing the ground as the last of his upward momentum exhausted itself.

‘Big Ball Rasengan!’ The former Kage exclaimed as the large rasengan, roughly the size of a beach ball, that formed in the palm of his right hand connected with the ground. It took a moment, everything had slowed down for him due to the adrenaline in his body, but the impact had caused the ground to crack and break apart. The horde of enemies that the airborne shinobi had descended upon, had now been blown backwards into the surrounding structures by the shock-wave that had been caused by the man’s attack.  Unfortunately the former Kage hadn’t had many options, and this manoeuvre had taken out a few of the surrounding houses.

The man stood at the centre of  the newly formed crater, his enemies dispersed throughout the area. As his enemies stood, disoriented and bruised, he disappeared, a bright flash of yellow light replacing him as the demonic attackers began a search for the duo. They were a couple rows of buildings back, laying flat against the roof.  It wouldn’t take their foe’s long to find them, but they needed what little time they had to formulate a plan.

‘I think I used a little too much chakra with that one.’ Minato laughed, quietly, over his heavy breathing.

‘Yeah.’ Kakashi nodded as the wheels and cogs in his brain turned, he was trying to formulate a plan. If they left, the small army of armoured men would definitely take to destroying the buildings. At the moment, the hunt for the shinobi duo was all that was stopping the village’s imminent destruction. At least until Tsunade could regroup all of her troops. On the other hand, Minato was running out of chakra and, if he was being honest, he hadn’t been conserving his own chakra that well either.

‘What do we do, Minato-sensei?’ Kakashi spoke, almost as if he still had something to learn from his former master. Minato took a moment to think, the situation was definitely dire. He reached out, pulling his kunai from the wooden roof, and then sat up.

‘Sage mode.’ He spoke as he looked out towards the battlefield. ‘Sage mode should give me a large enough boost to hold them off.’ He spoke as he stood up and moved to the edge of the building.

‘Sensei-’ Kakashi spoke, Minato cut him off. He already knew what he was going to say.

‘Kakashi, I’ can give you enough time to return to Tsunade. You can regroup with her forces and then take these ass-holes out.’ His words cut through the air, both inspiring and saddening Kakashi. He was going to sacrifice himself, again, for the village. For another village.

‘There’s no need for that.’ A rather feminine voice spoke, causing both Minato’s and Kakashi’s heads to turn towards the source of the voice. A woman, clad in some kind of strange armour made of leather and some kind of animal bone.  The hood and mask obscured her face, and she carried a bow and two small daggers. Minato stared at her, a look of confusion in his eyes as she gracefully stepped towards the duo.

‘We can handle it from here.’ She spoke as she leapt from the roof of the building they were on to a building closer to the battle area. The sounds of steel against steel suddenly filled the area, as the demonic war-cries that once filled the air, began to drop off. The mystery lady was right, they  could handle it.

“I think it’s time to head back to Tsunade.’ Minato spoke as he returned to his sitting position next to his scarecrow-like companion.
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#12
Kakashi glanced down over the rooftop at their savior’s arrival. After wearing himself to the bone trying to keep back those abominations, he was more than a little skeptical that they were finally safe. He stood dumbfounded as he watched a small squadron of the newcomers draped in outfits similar to the female (?) that stood before them, weaving an intricate dance of death through the legions of snarling hellspawn. In the minute or so the copy ninja had stood observing, the numbers of the demonic horde were reduced by nearly a quarter without the leather-garbed warriors suffering even a single wound. Had he not the visual prowess granted by his sharingan, he would have found the movements of the champions difficult to even follow. Doubt or not, he could hardly argue with what he was witnessing.

“Worry not,” the mysterious soldier said, drawing a formidable falchion from their side. “We few are more than a match for these curs. You must return to the Morikage.” Without another word, the warrior leapt from the rooftop, joining their brethren in battle.

The shinobi duo shared a nod before hustling back toward the village. They had silently agreed to stay among the rooftops, as this would be the fastest way to get back with all of the destruction the attackers had brought. As they traversed the tiled trusses, moving as fast as their fatigued limbs would allow, Kakashi attempted to puzzle out what had happened. Some way or another, the group of monsters had bypassed the numerous patrols outside the gate, even managing to get inside the wall without the military presence noticing. Perhaps their foes were in command of some kind of invisibility or illusions, allowing them to sneak through without raising alarm?

“Kakashi,” Minato inquired, shaking the masked ninja from his thoughts. “Things are really getting bad, aren’t they?” Typically he would offer a sarcastic comment in response, but the normally jovial Kage now wore a look of troubled severity. As they ran, Minato kept his gaze trained on the village below.

“Yes,” the copy ninja replied. “It’s looking pretty bad. Hopefully Lady Tsunade will have some more information for us.” He paused, looking over at Minato. “We need to keep ourselves focused, sensei.”

The fair-haired jonin made no reply, instead gazing down at the frightened citizens, now just beginning to leave their houses as peace slowly settled. The scarecrow could tell what was on the man’s mind without needing to ask. The Fourth Hokage had lived for Konoha, his sacrifice for the village being the very feat that had ushered him into the Omniverse. Though this village was much more foreign to Minato, his actions back during the battle spoke volumes. He had always had a big heart, willing to do anything for those that needed it. Here, buried within the Tangled Green, he had found just such people in need. Though Kakashi had found himself drowning in his own shortcomings and inner demons upon arriving in Mokugakure, his mentor’s influence had begun to awaken something within him. It was perhaps the nostalgia of his youth, memories of training with Minato rekindling his sense of honor and duty. He found himself wanting to help the citizens of Moku, rather than simply robotically completing a mission. Even so far from Konoha, he now felt himself somehow closer to home. 



“Lady Tsunade,” Minato exclaimed, vaulting the windowsill and coming to a stop behind the leader’s desk. He heaved heavy breaths as he spoke, the signs of fatigue etched in his every feature. “Do we know who or what caused the attack on the village?”

The First Morikage sat at her desk, staring emotionlessly at the doorway. “We have a few ideas,” she said, turning finally to address the duo. “But nothing concrete.”

“They breached the gate somehow,” Kakashi reported, continuing to briefly recount their battle. Through his explanation Tsunade nodded, jotting down what small details she needed. It seemed she already knew much of what had happened. 

“We need to get out there and find out who caused this,” Minato asserted. Sweat still dripped from his forehead, golden locks sticking to his brow. Though Kakashi had exerted much more energy than he should have, his mentor had taken it to an extreme.

“I agree, though for now you two need to rest.” The Morikage got to her feet, riffling through a stack of papers as she spoke. “I’m redirecting all scouting and patrol parties to guard the village gate. Hopefully this will keep out another attack, though we’ll have to wait and see. For now, get to the infirmary.”

“Bu-” Minato began before being silenced by the stern kunoichi’s raised hand. He could barely form the words to retort before the spoke again.

“No. You’ve burned through a lot of chakra out there,” she said, dropping the paperwork on her desk. “You’re no good to this village dead.” Though the words seemed harsh, the look on Minato’s face told Kakashi that he knew the comment to be more out of concern than anger. She turned to the masked shinobi, nodding. “Kakashi, ensure he gets to the infirmary.”

“Do we have the time to be recuperating, in the middle of all of this?” the ANBU captain asked. Though his body ached with fatigue and his chakra reserves were circling the drain, the worry of another attack breaching the walls while they healed weighed on him. 

“Probably not,” Tsunade answered, frankly. “The odds aren’t great, but we’ll have to roll those dice.” The gold and silver shinobi exchanged looks, knowing full well the Morikage’s reputation for being a terrible gambler. 

They could only hope her bad luck hadn’t followed her to Mokugakure.
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#13
The fluorescent hum of the hospital light was less than comforting to Minato as he stared out of the window beside his bed. He could still see the dim glow, and fading smoke, of the dying flames that once threatened to consume the village. The man couldn't help but feel powerless now, especially when comparing himself to back then. Back then, he had all the power in the world to stop the threat to his village. He had proven that fact to his very last breath. His death had marked the beginning of a new era of peace for the leaf village. Or, that's what he had hoped. 

The golden haired shinobi gritted his teeth, a well of frustration forming in his chest as his hands rested on his stomach, above his belly button. The nine tailed fox, the masked man, he'd outsmarted and outmatched both of them, but he couldn't take on a few dozen lackeys. It made him angry. At this rate, he'd never be able to protect the village. Sure, in the end, his efforts had stalled long enough for backup to arrive and finish things up for Kakashi and himself... but he really should have been able to handle it. Minato grasped at his shirt, even after beating back that damned masked man, and sealing the Nine Tails...

He sat up, dropping his legs over the side of his hospital bed. Kakashi lay next to him, asleep. He always wore that mask, even when he was just a kid.

The floor was cold against his bare feet, but he couldn't bare laying there for any longer. He'd already been laying there, resting, for almost a full night now, it was time for some fresh air.

Minato grabbed his green flack jacket and slipped it over his blue shirt. He turned and looked at his Fourth Hokage haori. It had been neatly folded and placed on top of the table next to his bed, probably by one of the nurses, while he was asleep. He turned away from it, catching a glance of Kakashi stirring in his bed. He walked past the bed, snatching his ninja pouch from the end of it as he moved towards the door.

'I need some fresh air.'

The wind was cold and abrasive, despite the flames, it bit at his body as he stood atop the hospital's roof top. The last time he was up here, Tsunade was smacking him around but, somehow, he didn't think that she'd be here tonight. He crossed his fingers, making a cross sign with them as he gathered chakra.

'Shadow Clone Jutsu!' He exclaimed as nothing happened. He couldn't even do a simple shadow clone technique.

'Damn it! Damn it all.' He spoke, the light from his face illuminating his face as he looked out at the village. 

'If you need a sparring partner, I can fill that position.' Kakashi's voice spoke out. Minato turned, his rasengan dispersing, to see his junior standing in the doorway behind him. He was grasping his former master's haori in his hand. The troubled shinobi nodded and then pulled two kunai from his pouch as he steadied himself into a his battle stance. Kakashi stepped forward, tossing the man's robe into the air. They both watched as it fell through the sky, plummeting almost, as if it were being weighed down by something. The two watched as it neared the ground, the second it made contact, the two rushed each other.

Kakashi's gloved fist met with cold steel as they met. Launching themselves backwards, the scarecrow man slid, while the yellow flash opted for an acrobatic flip. Launching himself at his opponent, the grey-haired man let loose another barrage of punches, the blonde blocking each one, before dropping to the floor and delivering a swift, sweeping kick.

Minato fell to the ground, dropping one of his kunai as his left shoulder slammed into the concrete tiles that lined the roof.

'Damn it!' the golden haired shinobi exclaimed, slamming his closed fist against the ground.
'Minato...' Kakashi spoke as he watched his teacher grasp onto his knai and raise himself from the ground.

It was Minato's turn to attack, but something was wrong. There was no conviction behind his strikes, and Kakashi was able to deflect them easily. His swipes were simply that, swipes. They carried the mask of an assault, but the silver haired man new better than that.

'Minato, what are you doing?' he questioned. The blonde stepped back, replying with silence, before feeling the full weight of Kakashi's fist slamming into his stomach. Minato dropped to his knees, light tears dropping from his eyes. Their sparring had ended.

'I can't... I can't protect anyone any more.' he whimpered. Tears dropped onto the roof, soaking into the dust. 'I just... can't.'

'Stop it. That's not true. Who was it that single handedly wiped out the Hidden Stone Village's forces during the Third Shinobi world war?' The man barked.

'Well... it was me...' The blonde replied timidly, before being cut off by his student.

'And who was it that took on the Fourth Raikage and out sped him?' The silver haired shinobi questioned again, only to deny Minato a response.

'And who was it that gave up their life successfully fighting, and outmatching, the Nine Tailed Fox?' His last words shook Minato to the core. Kakashi was right, nothing had ever stopped him from overcoming an obstacle before. Why should it now?

The yellow flash rose, slowly, from his kneeling position before beckoning for his colleague to come at him one more time. He couldn't tell, because of the mask, but he was sure that his partner had smiled. The man dashed towards him, readying his fist as he got closer. The blond just stood, motionless as the gap between them closed. 

Kakashi was just mere feet away now, his fist closing in on Minato. Inches away from the man's face, time seemed to slow as adrenaline and reflexes kicked in. A surge of chakra filled his body before his friends fist passed right through a flash of yellow light.

'Thank you Kakashi.' Minato spoke as the masked man stumbled forward a step or two before catching himself. 'This new world seems to have limited me, for the moment, I'm glad I had you here to pull me out of it.' He spoke as he bent down to pick up his Fourth Hokage cloak.

'You're welcome.' The sharingan wielder replied as his former sensei slipped the cloak over his clothes and then headed towards the door.

'We'll get back to everything in the morning. For now, we should finish recovering.' Minato spoke as he slipped his kunai back into his pouch and headed inside. Kakashi followed behind him.
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#14
By the time morning broke, Minato and Kakashi had already dressed and begun preparing for the day. They sat in silence, assembling what supplies they would need, should there be yet another assault on Mokugakure. Kakashi sat upon freshly tucked bedding, his gloved hands pressed against an unfurled scroll. His eyes were closed as if in meditation, a dim glow emanating from the glyphs stenciled upon the paper. Some moments later a handful of kunai appeared between his hands, soon deposited into a pouch of the man’s belt. Satisfied that his supply had been restocked, the scarecrow rolled the scroll back up and slipped it into a pocket on his thigh.

“Summon take a long time here,” the ANBU captain noted, breaking the silence. His mentor opened his mouth to respond, only to be cut off by the abrupt entrance of a familiar face.

“Kakashi, Lord Fourth,” the bearded shinobi said, bowing toward the direction of the latter. He appeared somewhat out of breath, his skin flushed. “Lady Tsunade needs to see you.”

“Why?” Minato answered, crossing the room to meet the man at the door. “Has something happened?”

Asuma paused, as if unsure how best to answer his senior. “Yes,” he said finally, nodding. “We need to get to the Morikage--and fast.”

Without another word, the trio fled the infirmary, dashing down the long hallway and into the morning light. They had sprinted for a few minutes before any of the three spoke up. “This isn’t the way to the Morikage’s office,” Kakashi noted, spying the telltale edifice in the distance. They were turning away from it.

“We’re not going there,” the chain-smoking ninja grunted. His eyes were locked on another building, this one all-too familiar.

“Another meeting?” Minato inquired, surmising the same thing that Kakashi had realized. “Isn’t it a little early?”

“If they’d had it their way, it it would’ve happened midnight last night.” Asuma said, catching the former Hokage’s glance. His eyes were stern, focused.

“Who?” Kakashi inquired, asking the question on both if their lips. 

“Everyone.”



As the trio worked their way up the same stairs Kakashi had seen just the day before, they could already hear the sounds of squabbling. The multiple floors of thick wood muffled the noise and garbled the speech, though the silver-haired shinobi knew well enough the tones of conflict. He found his hand reflexively reaching to his side and drawing a freshly-summoned kunai, palming the eyelet and holding the blade parallel with his arm. He’d have to be ready for anything. 

“This is unacceptable!”

The newcomers reached the landing, striding through the open door. The same familiar conference room greeted Minato and Kakashi, filled with a few more people than last time. The same leaders were gathered, though each seemed to have brought additional personnel with them this time around. They were locked in debate, scarcely noticing the new arrivals.

“A major attack on the village, dozens of casualties. And what do we hear from the ‘Morikage’? Silence!”

Tsunade sat at the far end of the table, the windows to her back, just as she sat in hew own office. Her chin rested in her hands, elbows propped against the table, looking up at the nigh-hysterical Makhel elder as she plead her case. The kunoichi’s face was stoic, eyes locked on the woman addressing her.

“What does our leader have to say for herself?” the heavy set woman demanded, rising from her seat to point a finger at Tsunade. Her eyes were intense, appearing almost animalist. 

Silence hung in the air for a moment before the Kage made her response. “I responded to the best of my ability. No one could have seen the attack coming.”

A smile spread across the Makhel elder’s face for a moment before she took her seat. “And your best got villagers killed,” she said, shaking her head slowly. The same mocking smile remained painted on her face, somewhat inappropriate under the circumstances. “The only reason the village didn’t fall completely into ruin was the arrival --and late, I might add-- of your two subordinates.” She jabbed a thumb toward the group at the doorway as she spoke, keeping her eyes trained on the Morikage.

Chatter broke out among those gathered, worried expressions passing between them. Kakashi saw the blonde kunoichi share a fleeting glance with Galan Windforge before she returned her gaze to the woman addressing her. “You,” she spoke, staring intently at the Makhel elder before pausing, shooting a glance at Kakashi and Minato. A second later, her eyes were back on the burly clan-head. “You know as well as I do how fast these creatures strike. Minato and Kakashi saved lives.”

Kakashi heard his mentor’s feet shuffle briefly beside him. He could tell without looking what was on the man’s mind. In a way he felt the same. Could they have done more, had they been at the peak of their abilities? The answer, he thought, went without saying. They had done their best, but it hadn’t been enough.

“Say what you want,” the Makhel leader said, tapping her fingernail rhythmically on the table before her. “You know why we’re all here. We asked for this meeting.”

“I’m aware,” Tsunade replied, her emotion unchanging. “You each expressed concern with me privately and I felt it only fair to address it. An open forum is the easiest way to do that.” She spoke plainly and evenly, as if she had encounters like this on a daily basis.

“I can’t speak for the others, but my main concern here is your leadership.” The heavy-set woman took a deep breath, adjusting her kimono. The same savage look was in her eyes once more as she spoke again. “It is my intent to announce here the desire to replace you as head of Mokugakure. The Makhel clan are to become the ruling clan.”

All at once the room erupted into a maelstrom of sound. Each respective clan spoke over the next, attempting to get their opinions heard despite the steadily increasing volume and decreasing clarity. Tsunade sat silent, her eyes focused on the trio at the door. As if taking the Morikage’s gaze as a sort of signal, Asuma took a deep breath. “ENOUGH,” be boomed, glaring at the squabbling elders. The room fell silent for a moment before the next person spoke.

“I feel,” the deep, noble voice of Galan Windforge announced. “That village leadership changing hands during such a trying time would bring nothing but trouble. We need to remain strong for the villagers.”

“Ah, yes. Galan, speaking of peace. I suppose you’ll wait until everything has calmed down before you make your move, hmm?” The loquacious Makhel woman had spoken up once more, defying the elf’s wisdom. 

The Windforge clan-head’s eyes narrowed, his lips thinning as he considered his reply. “I can assure you, I have no desire of that kind.”

The burly woman rolled her eyes, turning to the remainder of the table. “And what of you? Do you not wish to depose the woman responsible for so many deaths?”

The Miu clan head spoke first, her face expressionless. “It is our wish that the village remain fruitful and safe. Whoever heads the village is immaterial.” Those gathered at her side nodded sagely, each bearing the same emotionless countenance. 

“We Aplistio also strive to keep the village stable and profitable,” Sergei Aplistio said, shrugging his shoulders. "If we can offer any help to keep the power balanced and the coffers full, that is our desire.” 

“Well,” Tsunade said, rising to stand at her end of the table. She looked relaxed, even confident. “If we have issues, let’s settle them. I can assure you, we won’t leave here until the issue is settled.” Her eyes strayed to Kakashi and Minato as she spoke. Though the look was brief, they understood her meaning in an instant. 

The silver-haired shinobi carefully slid the kunai back into his pocket as he and Minato turned to exit. Kakashi tapped their bearded guide on the shoulder as he left the room, fixing him with a meaningful stare and nodding. Asuma nodded, closing the door behind them.

“I guess you probably know where we’re headed, huh?” Minato asked, taking lead. His brow was furrowed, eyes intent. 

“I have some idea.”
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#15
The duo had made their way to the northern district of the village, the section of the village that had been attacked the previous night. The charred and broken buildings, the little amounts of blood that had been splattered on the streets, and the memorial flowers that had been left by the mourning people had all served as reminders of their failure. Whether they wanted to accept it or not, they had tried their best but their best hadn't been enough. That is the truth of the situation.

Minato clenched his fists as they came to a stop in one of the trees that lined the perimeter of the Makhel's housing estate. The building style was familiar to the two, sliding walls, tiled roofing that raised to a point. It was architecture that a lot of the clans within The Leaf Village used. 

Their eyes watched, like an eagle stalking its prey, as the few guards that still patrolled the Makhel estate made their rounds. First, they would walk around the outside of the building, then they would take position at the front gate for a few minutes, and then repeat that process. It was odd to them but the Makhel didn't come from the same world as they, themselves, did. So the difference was to be expected.

As the guards moved from their statue-like positions at the front gate, and around the corner of the housing estate, Minato and Kakashi made their move. They dropped down and dashed towards their destination. After leaping over the gate, with ease, they made their way inside the building. They were met with a surprising amount of darkness, considering the time of day and the amount of sunlight outside.

'This is... odd.' The silver haired man whispered, he didn't want to alert anyone to their presence within the building.

'Yeah. It's completely different on the inside.' The golden haired shinobi nodded.

The inside was almost completely dark. As if someone had set up a genjutsu trap or some sort of 'magic spell', a term that he'd only just recently heard one of the villagers use. Upon further inspection, he did notice candles that were mounted to the walls, but they weren't lit up, and he wasn't about to light one either.

While the darkness limited their vision, it also aided their infiltration. They would be able to move around quickly and quietly, without having to worry about someone seeing them from down the hallway. Not that their seemed to be anyone in the building, at the moment.

The duo decided not to linger at the entrance, each of them taking one side of the hallway, they made their way through each of the rooms, before coming to a stop at the end of the passage. They looked at each other and shook their heads. They had found nothing.

The sound of footsteps and the faint illumination of the corridor to the right of the duo jolted them into action, taking cover in a nearby room as someone roamed past. They each let out a light sigh of relief as the light disappeared around another corner.

'So there are more people here...' Kakashi muttered, Minato nodding in reply before closing his eyes and placing his index finger on the ground. His sensory abilities had returned. He could see the chakra of the two guards that patrolled the perimeter, and the one that was roaming the halls. There was also one more, below them, that seemed larger than all the others. 

'There's one more person here. Below us.' The golden haired man whispered as he wondered where everyone was.

'Don't you think that it's a little strange that there's so little people here?' his silver haired companion responded.

Minato nodded. it was, indeed, a little strange that there were so few people here. All but three guards, two of which were outside, and one other person left behind to guard the estate did seem odd. However, the rest of the clan could be out paying their respects with the rest of the village. Minato sighed as the two of them headed out of the room and back to the split path that lay before them. At this point, the silence had started to become a little too deafening for them.

'Which way, Minato?' Kakashi asked as his companion pointed to the right corridor.

'That way is the direction of the fourth person. They are below us, so there's probably an underground passage way down that hall.' He spoke softly, taking the lead as the duo tread lightly through the building, making sure to stay incognito. 

The only thing going through Minato's mind right now was the hope that their suspicions about the Makhel family were true...

And that they weren't making a horrible mistake.
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#16
Kakashi and Minato crept cautiously down the corridor, heading in the direction of the former Kage’s hint. Though his silver-haired protege had begun to sense an inkling of what he presumed was their mark, he’d have to trust in his mentor’s judgement. His sharingan ensured that the darkness held no secrets, though it was nowhere near Minato’s sensor-type ninjutsu. Kakashi instead took up the rear, stealing frequent glances behind them to ensure they were not being followed. Though it was likely that they’d sense a tail, one could never be too careful.

Truthfully, Kakashi wasn’t quite sure what to expect in their investigation. Now that they had arrived at the Makhel clan’s dwelling, it came down to searching; but for what? He doubted that even the Morikage knew what to look for, beyond the obvious ‘anything out of the ordinary’. The inside of the domicile was much different, completely alien in fact, than anything of which he was accustom. The floor, walls, and ceiling were mostly unadorned, composed of rough, splintery wood. Sconces, the only real ‘decorative touch’, dotted the hallways, cradling melted candles that remained strangely unlit despite the inky blackness. Perhaps the family simply left the candles out when they were out for the day? Still, the silver-haired shinobi had to wonder why they had taken the extra effort to blackout the windows they did have. 

As they progressed down the hall, the pair took the opportunity to give each room a cursory inspection, their sharp senses searching for obvious signs of trouble. They could find nothing, this bringing a mixture of solace and annoyance; as much as they weren’t looking for trouble, they hoped their search was not a fool’s errand. Kakashi found himself mentally going through his inventory, ensuring he’d be ready for any sort of foul play or ambush. Other than the occasional odd creak of the floorboards, there was nothing to cause alarm. 

“Should be up ahead I think,” Minato said, breaking the silence. His tone was hushed, despite the guards being well out of range. Years of ninja training had drilled it into his mind. 

Kakashi nodded wordlessly, drawing a kunai from his belt. What exactly the Makhel could be plotting, they couldn’t know. The outburst back at the council had spoken volumes about their attitude toward Tsunade and the village in general. Beyond even the words themselves, damning enough, the sheer aggression in her town was telling. The copy ninja was hopeful that they would simply be pilfering the clan’s plans or disrupting any of their other underhanded ploys; the infrastructure of the village didn’t need more strife. Still, those in positions of power rarely were willing to give up part of their control, and even less willing to relinquish it entirely. He couldn’t help but think back to the Third Shinobi War, just years ago, of all of the lives lost over the petty desires of the ruling powers. Among these, his closest friends. If he and Minato failed in their assignment, such a fate could very well fall upon the people of Mokugakure. Kakashi gritted his teeth beneath his mask, gripping his kunai tightly. He would not abide such tragedy.

The shinobi duo stopped suddenly, having reached the end of the hallway. Not a door nor a window could be seen anywhere nearby, the last room having been a supply closet a few yards back. The end of the hallway was simply a dead-end, a plain wall holding a single, lit candle. The wax cylinder looked to be freshly changed, having none of the telltale dribbles of wax present on the dozen or so that they had seen throughout their walk. 

“Strange that they would only keep this candle lit,” Minato muttered, scratching his chin. He closed his eyes, stooping to touch his fingertip to the floor once more. “We’re pretty close,” he said, re-opening his eyes. “The door should be right around here.”

The copy ninja nodded, stepping closer to inspect the candle more thoroughly. “There’s hardly any light coming from this candle,” he said, removing a glove and moving his hand close to the flame. “No heat either.” His keen sharingan eye sized up the candle holder for a moment, its owner furrowing his brow. “It’s also pointing at a slightly steeper angle than the rest of these fixtures.” With that, he raised a hand to grip the candle firmly before yanking down hard. A grinding noise was heard as the candle slowly returned to its resting position, the floor falling away just feet behind the shinobi duo.

“Well,” Minato said, staring down at the trapdoor that had been revealed. “Down we go.”
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#17
The former kage had been right, a hidden passageway was what they were looking for. Which, to Minato, seemed a little strange. The only hidden passages that he'd ever seen in practice were escape tunnels. But the person that he had sensed was just sitting in one place. Minato sighed as he thought about what lay ahead of the two as they made their descent.

As they descended into the underground tunnels of the Makhel estate, the wall structure changed from wooden planks to cobblestone and cement. Although he was here on business, he did have to admit, this place was built to last.

Minato examined the architecture as the shinobi pair stepped lightly through the halls.

'I wonder there's a second exit.' The blonde man thought to himself as they turned their first corner. Confronted with a new corridor, the first thing they noticed was a sudden change in lighting. A row of candles lined both sides of the new corridor, illuminating the stone grey walls as the two continued towards their target.

'Minato... We're probably walking into a trap.' Kakashi whispered softly, his eyes scanning the surrounding area for anything unusual.

'Yes...' Minato nodded in response. Of course he knew it was a trap. Missions like this were never easy. Three guards up top, one person down below. Where the hell were the rest of the guards? They were either hiding, or whoever was down here was confident that they could take whoever Tsunade decided to send. 'But we can't turn back now.' The blonde spoke, finishing his thought. 

It wasn't long before the hallway had ended, presenting them with a doorway. The doorway that led to their answers. Or, what they hoped to be answers. If the Makhel were actually planning this coup, then their answers had to be behind this doorway.

Minato reached for the door handle, Kakashi following closely behind. Both shinobi had already readied themselves and their weapons. The door was solid and wooden, as if it had just been carved out of a huge chunk of wood. The handle was made of brass and he could feel the mechanisms click as his twisted the handle.

The once silent corridors had now echoed with the squeals of the door hinges as Minato pushed gently against the solid object. Any sort of secrecy that they had once had was now gone. Whoever lay behind this door had definitely been notified of their presence.

“Ah! Minato, Kakashi, what are you two doing here?' A familiar voice called out as the duo stepped through the door. With one look their suspicions had been confirmed. The bulky woman that headed the Makhel family sat before them. The very same woman that they had only just left at the meeting thirty minutes ago.

The two shinobi stood, silent, staring at the woman. Her smile turned into a grin as the two men just stared. Their expression was emotionless, yet unforgiving. They just didn't understand why.

'So, you figured it out, eh?' The woman smirked, her smug laugh filled the room like a plague. It was annoying to even be around her at the village summits, but this infuriated the pair even more.

'Yes, we did.' Kakashi gritted through his teeth. He didn't like standing here, still, like they were. He wanted to apprehend her, turn her over to Tsunade, and make her pay for her crimes. But he would follow his mentor's lead.

'Well, that's what I get for trusting a lackey. They can never do anything right.' the woman snorted, before letting out a second loud chuckle. 'I bet he couldn't even finish Tsunade off, like I told him to.'

The golden haired shinobi clenched his fist around the handle of his signature kunai. He was usually calm and collected in situations like this, but something about this woman, no, something about the Omniverse had changed him. Maybe it was his lack of power, or the drive he had found to become even stronger than he was before, but he'd never been like this back in his world.

'Man, Kushina would be so disappointed in me... Losing my cool like this.' The blond thought to himself as his body seemed to react to her statements on it's own. Within a single second, he'd already made it from the doorway to the middle of the room and planted a fist into her robust stomach, launching her into the back wall.

The woman, hardly fazed by his attack, brushed the dust and shards of cobblestone from her Kimono as she lifted herself from the indent in the wall. Minato stared at her, anger in his eyes yet not on his face.

'Ah, sage mode. I have heard of this.' The woman spoke, watching and waiting for the second man to make his move. 'I see, so that's how you were able to make it across the room without me noticing. Interesting.' after finishing her thoughts, the woman discarded her robes. A set of plated armour sat beneath it.

'But I am no normal woman, either.' their foe spoke, her words becoming disgruntled as her skin darkened to a muddy green. Her waistline shrank as she got taller, growing from roughly five feet 7 inches to about seven feet. The woman let out a loud cry as her transformation came to an end. A wave of similarly coloured creatures, clad in armour, dropped from the darkened ceiling, surrounding the duo.

Kakashi dashed to Minato, covering is fellow shinobi's six and securing his own in the process. He'd never seen Minato like this. Sure, he'd seen him grieve when Obito had died, but never as angry as this. This new world, the Omniverse, was very different, and he'd definitely felt the limitations placed on them.

'Why do they always cheat?' The silver haired ninja sighed, gazing out at the ambush that they had, once again, walked into. Minato sighed, he didn't really know why they were doing this, and he didn't care any more, as long as they stopped them right here and now.

'We've had worse odds before.' The former kage replied, pulling a second kunai from his pouch and turning his attention back to the Makhel woman. 'But we need to stop them here.' his comments followed only by a confident chuckle from the monstrous woman.

There was no need for any more words on the matter from either of them. they already agreed on this fact, if they were left unchecked, they could do a lot of damage to the village. Hell, they'd already dealt a large blow to the village.

It was time to stop this.
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#18
Ignoring the host of newcomers, Kakashi quickly surveyed the room as his mentor locked eyes with the Makhel clanswoman, piercing blues boring into muddy browns. They seemed to have found themselves in some sort of ceremonial chamber; aside from a half dozen pillars supporting the stone ceiling, there was not much else of note. Flickering candles revealed deep gouges in the pillars and rusty red smears caked upon the cobble floors. Here or there the masked shinobi thought he would make out vague shapes of crude glyphs hastily wiped not-quite-clean from the stone. For what the room could have been used, Kakashi presumed he’d rather not know. Off to his left, he hear the door slam shut. Perfect.

From just behind him, the scarecrow could hear Minato breathing heavily, slow and deliberate. Something desperate had awoken within the former Kage, the crumbling back wall serving as evidence of his violent intent. Kakashi thought back to their exchange on the rooftop the night before; their arrival in this strange universe had heralded a great change for them, as it likely did with everyone else ushered in by Omni. For Minato, this change meant weakness. For a man who constantly bore the burden of others, such weakness was true torture.

“So,” Kakashi uttered, glancing at the handful of armed combatants closing in around them. Their jagged yellow teeth clashed harshly against the mossy flesh with which he had recently become all too familiar. “Orcs?” The man inquired; his left hand fell to his belt pouch, his right raising a kunai defensively before his chest. The tiny blade was almost laughable compared to the broadswords and claymores that the grinning fiends bore.

“If that’s what you’d deign to call us,” the leader responded. “Orc, goblin, gremlin. We Orsimer are called many things by men. The name is immaterial.” She produced a medium-sized rod from thin air, ancient and worn, with a flick of her wrist. Her flinty eyes gazed down at the tool with amusement, her lips rapidly forming silent words. As she muttered the mantra, smoke erupted from the staff’s head and billowed toward the ceiling. The pair of intruders could scarcely begin to worry about the smog before it spread around them, drifting downward and enveloping the encircling orcish warriors. 

“What are you doing?” The former captain demanded, tensing as the group around him began to cough and sputter. Attacking her own troops? The rod-bearer’s lips spread into a wide grin as he spell reached completion, the staff ceasing its pollution. No sooner had the last of the smoke dissipated around the orcish warriors than they began to cry out, bringing clawed fingers to tear at their faces.

“A gift,” the orc woman sneered, crossing her arms before her. “I’ve seen you two fight. I think we both know this will make things more interesting.”

Minato narrowed his eyes, opening his mouth to respond to her snide remark. He was forced to duck before he could find the words, however, as one of the ravaged warriors lashed out at him with bestial savagery. Kakashi was coaxed into a forward somersault, breaking their defensive formation as a battleaxe barely cleared his head. Shooting a quick glance to his rear, he slapped his left hand against the ground for a moment before springing high into the air, right hand forming a seal as the ground beneath him detonated. 

The scarecrow tumbled as he landed, hurriedly getting to his feet as the smoke cleared behind him. Minato had found his way across the room--his Flying Raijin no doubt leaving him ample time to flee the explosion-- making a break for the conjurer herself. Kakashi could spare but a moment of concern for his mentor before his attention was diverted to the sounds of snarling orcs emerging from the rubble. Their various instruments at the ready, the half dozen orcs charged, making to force through and follow the charging Kage. Thinking quickly, the sharingan wielder flung a pair of kunai at the two closest, the daggers that took up residence in their respective guts causing them to stall for the moment. He quickly found the handle of his chokuto, freeing it from the sheathe and carving a swathe through the bellies of the remaining four orcs in one clean, broad motion. Though he could likely not manage to take them all on at once, he could only hope to distract them long enough for Minato to bring their leader down. 

The incensed combatants growled through the pain of their injuries, each now setting his sights firmly on the silver-haired shinobi. Kakashi noted black spiderweb-esque cracks etched into their flesh, no doubt a result of the witch’s ‘gift’. Their eyes were of a similar hue, even the sclera bearing the color of night. They moved with terrifying speed as they dove toward him, ferocity noteworthy even compared to normal orcish behavior. Turning on his heel, the masked shinobi took off across the room, kiting his executioners to the side opposing the Kage and his mark. His fleet feet took him quickly from harm’s way, managing to flee the orcs’ range despite their augmented abilities. As he reached the far wall he paused, bringing his hands before him in the shape of a plus-sign. “Shadow Clone Jutsu!”

Steel met chakra metal as a pair of doppelgangers appeared to defend him, duplicate blades pushing back against jagged, orcish metal. Taking his stance between the conjured mirror entities, the trio of Hatakes smirked at the confounded sextet. Without a word the trio lunged, taking advantage of the momentary confusion to carve an array of slash wounds into any unarmored flesh. Cries of pain-addled rage sprang from their throats in unison as dark ichor splattered across the dingy floors. 

From the other side of the chamber Kakashi could see Minato squaring off against the Makhel leader, expertly dodging a magical projectile and disappearing from sight. A beat later he appeared at her flank, bringing a pair of tri-tipped kunai to bear. The oddly shaped daggers found their mark, slashing at the leather straps that held the heavy armor in place and burying the weapons into her flesh an instant later. Howling in agony, the spellcaster raised her staff, thrusting the blonde shinobi careening across the room and into the far wall, not a few meters from the trio of triplet swordsmen.

“ENOUGH!” the woman bellowed, dark gore dribbling from a visible wound on her side. She had discarded her damaged armor, now wearing a coal black leather doublet adorn with intricate symbols and strange lettering. Her eyes burned with rage as she squared her shoulders, murderous intent apparent on her countenance. 

The she-orc’s outburst gave the scarecrow pause as his opponents stopped their assault entirely to gawk at their commander. She raised her staff, pointing the end toward the squadron of underlings standing against Team Kakashi. The former Anbu raised his sword in defense, though he found himself untouched as his foes fell to their knees, six gravelly voices screaming in agony. The cracks upon their flesh glowed white-hot as they lost use of their voices, content only to writhe upon the stone floor as the light began to glow only brighter. Before he could stand transfixed for much longer he felt a familiar grip around his midsection as he was forcibly removed from his position at mind-boggling speed. Not an instant later the world was drowned out in an apocalyptic explosion.
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#19
He'd made it, swinging his arm and catching his partners waist with his forearm, the former Kage was able to teleport both shinobi away from harm. He didn't have a lot of time to react, and had taken the two to the only place he thought was safe from the blast. Behind their enemy. He'd figured that she wouldn't use an attack that would harm herself, so that was his best bet.

The duo reappeared behind the woman, her laughs cut short as she heard their feet touch the ground. Although she was large, she launched herself, swiftly, across the newly formed crater in the ground. Most of the building, that once segregated their battle from the rest of the village, had now been vaporised by the blast. Anything that did remain of the Makhel estate had collapsed into mounds of wood, stone and dirt. 

'M-Minato, your arm!' Kakashi exclaimed, the worry in his voice shocked the blonde haired man. He glanced down at his arm, only to find his sleeves burned away to his shoulder. His arm was mostly fine, greyish ash clung to burns and cuts. It seems that he hadn't been fast enough. The initial explosion had incinerated his right sleeves, allowing debris and flames to cut into his flesh. It stung a little, but that was only because adrenaline was fuelling his body.

'It's not as bad is at looks.' Minato replied, shaking his head as he lifted both of his arms into his normal battle stance. This caused the stinging to evolve into a sharp pain, but he pushed through it. He didn't have the luxury of letting his enemies know that they'd caused him damage. His kunai reflected the mid day sunlight perfectly, a smile appeared on his face for but a moment before a sound cut

'I'm impressed.' A deep voice cut through the battlefield. 'To think that you had the reaction time to save your friend in such a short amount of time. You two seem to be more dangerous than I had previously thought.' the orc woman concluded. She seemed more agitated now. Instead of her usual confidence, she displayed a slight amount of worry in her words. Minato's last stunt had showed his and Kakashi's own ferocity and battle experience. His last move had showed her just what kind of fight she was in for.

'We... We won't let you take this Village!' The duo shouted as the woman found her vision obscured by a bright light, Minato had used his kunai to momentarily blind their opponent. It didn't last long, but it was long enough for Kakashi to toss two of his exploding Kunai, which had been prepared during the woman's short monologue. Neither was a direct hit, but they didn't need them to be. Kakashi formed a seal with his hand, triggering the tags to explode. A combination of flames, ssound and metal shrapnel slammed itself into the sides of her head, disorienting the woman for but a few seconds.

Only mere seconds, but they were crucial. The golden haired man had already taken to the offensive, holding two rasengan, on in each hand, Minato dashed to their enemy. His eyes – momentarily - met with hers, their orange pigments and rectangular pupils displayed nothing but discontent and anger for her.

'Double...' The blonde shouted as he thrust his left arm into her stomach, her leather doublet shrieking with the sounds of being torn apart. The force oh his attack, alone, was enough to have pushed the robust woman off balance a few feet. But it had been coupled with the swirling force of his rasengan and this had launched her across the battlefield. But his attack wasn't over yet. Before she could react, he had disappeared and reappeared above her. The the yellow luminescence that defined his teleportation taunted her as she stared into his, for the moment, orange eyes.

'Rasengan!' the man howled as he propelled his right arm into her stomach, forcing the second rasengan into the same spot that his first had hit. This second attacked forced the woman into the ground, cracking and breaking it apart under the force of her weight and Minato's attack. The former kage flipped backward, sliding to a stop a few feet away from his original position.

His attack was definitely effective, but it wasn't enough to stop the woman, far from it actually. They still had quite the fight ahead of them. If her grin from but a few seconds ago said anything, it told him that they had backed a wild animal into a corner, and now it was ready to escape. They'd best be on their guard.

'Kakashi, ready yourself.' Minato breathed. His peer nodded, readying his own blade as well. The battlefield fell silent, distant murmurs and screams could be heard in the distance, probably from the explosion. The moment was cut short as the woman's muddy green hand hoisted her up and out of the shallow hole that she lay in. She glared at her enemies, their stances causing an eruption of anger inside of her. She screamed, a rather shrill scream, before raising her staff to the sky and bringing it down again. It was pointed at the two of them now.

'Everything was going fine until the two of you came along.' She began angrily, waving her staff around as she spoke. 'I didn't have anything to worry about. I could have moved someone in, under Tsunade's nose, and banished her in her sleep. I hear that's the only way to guarantee that a Prime stays away for a long time. Plus, I hear it's pretty bad there, what with Diablo living there and all.' the woman continued her monologue as the two shinobi never broke their guard. Underverse, Diablo? He'd never heard of these things before, but now was not the time to ask questions.

'And you two RUINED it all!' the Makhel woman screamed, returning her staff to it's pointing position. A single flame appeared at it's tip, sitting just centimetres away from the staff. It grew at an alarming rate, until the size of the fireball was enough to engulf both shinobi. The duo watched as the fireball compressed itself, becoming rounded and ball like.

'Now... BURN IN HELL!' The woman screamed before firing it at the pair, if they couldn't redirect it, the resulting explosion would probably engulf the entire area in flames. The duo looked at each other an nodded, both beginning to dash towards the attack but, before they could even take a step, were halted in their tracks.

A figure had appeared, and had already redirected the attack into the sky. The resulting explosion of flames created a gush of hot wind that spread over the combatants in mere milliseconds, as well as a light that illuminated the person that had saved them.

Long, golen-blonde hair, pointy ears, and pale pink skin. A man stood before them, a man they'd met with frequently, but why was he here, and how did he save them?
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"In order to save something dear, wars are waged."
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#20
“Windforge,” the brutish woman snarled, her chest heaving with rage. Despite her ire she spoke the words as if they brought her great amusement. Her filthy fingers twirled the gnarled quarterstaff she had conjured for a moment. “I’ve been expecting you.”

The noble elf made no reply, his steely eyes peering downward at the pair of shinobi. He bore a pair of ornate, polished daggers akimbo, crimson mist radiating from their lustrous surface and trailing into nothingness. The midday sky was visible behind him, the vibrant sunlight nearly obscuring his stoic face. “Minato. Kakashi.” He recited the names as if practiced. “Thank you.”

“For?” Minato replied, slightly out of breath. He didn’t wait for a reply, glancing away from the Sin'dorei to keep the battle-hungry orc in his sights. 

“Elf scum,” the Makhel woman snarled, gripping her staff tightly. The splintery implement began to glow with sinister light, leaving her opponents mere moments to wonder before a bolt of chaotic energy sprang from the tip, rocketing toward the newcomer.

Not taking his eyes from the two ninjas, Galan leapt nimbly into the air, somersaulting forward to land beside his comrades just as the perch upon which he once stood was blown to rubble. A slough of expletives could be heard from the other end of the arena as he continued to ignore the treacherous shapeshifter. “For coming here. There is no telling what she could have accomplished had she completed her ritual. It seems you arrived with mere moments to spare.”

Kakashi instantly recalled his notes from earlier, the rusty smears of blood still visible through the rubble that had blanketed the chamber following the explosion. “That does explain the decor.”

“I AM SPEAKING,” a familiar voice boomed from across the chamber. This time they would not be allowed the luxury of spectating; the raging orsimer was bringing the fight to them. With a flick of her wrist her staff extended, a darkened, jagged blade tearing itself free like a butterfly from a chrysalis. No sooner had she readied her weapon than she took off full-tilt toward them, her eyes white-hot coals. 

Minato had been the first to react, his brow furrowing as he sprang into action. The Kage’s haori billowed behind him as his superior speed drove him toward his goal. Kakashi watched as his mentor brought his kunai to bear, catching the head of the orc’s glaive one-handed between its prongs. His opponent could gawk at the man’s strength for an instant before he drew back his free hand, at once summoning a miniature typhoon of chakra and slamming the orb into the matriarch’s gut. Kakashi watched spittle spray from the ‘woman’s mouth as she doubled over in pain, pure stoic determination present in his mentor’s eyes. That look. 

“GRAH!” the warmaiden cried out, leaping backward to avoid an almost imperceptibly fast slash of the Kage’s blade. Thinking quickly, the orc brought her halberd down hard against the rough floor, sundering the stone and sending a fissure crawling rapidly toward the observing combatants. 

“Kakashi!” Minato called, breaking his focus to ensure his companion’s safety. The silver-haired jonin quickly sprang to his left, Galan mirroring the maneuver in the other direction. The fault continued until it reached the wall, still more rubble raining from above as the granite wall was rent by the seismic anomaly. Despite the disturbance, the men stood unharmed. With his comrades’ safety momentarily secured, Minato turned his attention back toward his opponent. His amphibian-esque eyes narrowed as he caught sight of his foe, now again murmuring some long-forgotten tongue.

“Down!” Galan roared, his composure breaking as he vanished from his position. A moment later he appeared beside the chanting brute, raising his blade just as dark cracks tore their way down the Makhel’s flesh. Before his blade could find purchase he was thrown violently backward, a second pair of arms tearing their war free of her armor. Inky black ichor dribbled onto the rubble as she let loose a menacing roar.

The scarecrow found his nerve as Minato at once dove back into the fray. Kakashi soon appeared by the blonde shinobi’s side, a fine haze emanating from his flushed skin. They could not spare the moment to ensure Galan’s safety; this was their moment to strike. The super-powered duo clashed with the quad-armed orsimer, each burying their blade of choice in the fiend’s bloodied flesh. The Makhel clanswoman cried out in agony, lashing out in every direction with her tetrad of limbs. Kakashi was forced to stumble backward as balled fists barely missed his noggin. Before he could raise his chokuto to parry an incoming strike from the savage glaive, another of the foe’s many arms caught him across the chest, knocking the wind from his lungs as he was tossed back some ten meters in the direction they’d came. Diaphragm spasming as he attempted to force air back into his deflated lungs, Kakashi glanced up in horror to see Minato caught in the orc’s grasp, now lifted into the air by his neck.

“Pathetic,” the Orc spat, voice slightly distorted. White-hot light burned beneath her cracked skin, her eyes now nothing but blinding beacons within their sockets. She pulled back one of her free arms, parrying an incoming assault from the might Galan. Without paying the elf a second thought, the fiend’s free hand materialized a demonic-looking shortsword, it’s wide edge managing to parry his gleaming daggers. “All of you.” Her voice seemed almost calm as she caught the elf by the wrist, lifting him from the earth only to slam him down once again.

Kakashi quickly brought his hands before him, rapidly forming hand signs as he got shakily to his feet. On the final seal he allowed his right hand to drop, fingers curling around an invisible orb. His free hand wrapped quickly around his wrist, steadying it as lightning began to crackle down his forearm. The scarecrow’s determination began to ebb as the bestial orc let out a sinister laugh, her extra limbs taking hold of each of Minato’s wrists. At his distance, he’d never make it. The orc’s remaining arm hefted the bardiche, raising it high over the head of the pinned shinobi. In that moment, Kakashi caught sight of the Hiraishin kunai, still clutched tightly in his mentor’s hand. Yes.

In an instant the sharingan-wielder vanished from sight, only to appear between the Kage and his captor. A smile spread across Minato’s face as Kakashi spun his arm up in a high arc, the chorus of chirping birds giving way to a symphony of screeching falcons as the Raikiri separated the monstrosity from her prey, cleaving the trio of arms at the elbows. 

“Flying Raijin’s Lightning Blade!”
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