In Which:

Suna sends an invitation – Naruto is made Otokage– There is a ninja-like plan –Tsunade gets a surprise.

To the Village Hidden In Sound

We, the Kazekage of Suna, Invite the Otokage of Sound and those Sound ninjas eligible to participate, to the Chunin Exams to be hosted within our Village.

As it has come to the attention of the other Hidden Villages that the former Otokage is now deceased and with him all his intervillage policies, the Chunin exams will also act as a medium for peaceful talks between the present Otokage and his/her counterparts from the other Hidden Villages.

The Exams will begin in five days time. The Village of Suna and its Kazekage formally request that all ninjas of the Village Hidden in Sound be clearly identified, as no latecomers will be allowed into Suna.


Sabuka No Gaara

Kazekage of Suna

Sitting in Himoto's place behind the missions desk, Naruto read the invitation over once. Twice. Three times. Then he buried his head in his hands. "Give me a break! We've got the Konoha mission to do, a pair of Akatsuki to capture, and now we're going to the chunin exams in a week?! We haven't even got an Otokage!"

Once again, many of the jonins of Sound were gathered in the missions room, many of them chuckling quietly at the blonde's exclamation. This was the last meeting they were to have before going on the Akatsuki mission, but they'd barely even started when a panting messenger had delivered the invitation.

Naruto scowled at the invitation in front of him, and pulled a piece of blank paper towards him. "Right. Here's what we'll do. Since it's clear I can't go on the Konoha mission, I'm putting Sakura-chan in charge, all other parameters the same, but no meeting with anyone from the village while you're there since I want Team Seven in the chunin exams – I know that Orochimaru promoted us, but I'd rather it be a title we earned."

He frowned, tapping his pen against his chin. "We'll have to leave for the Akatsuki mission in no less than a day, it's still early and it should only take about five hours' hard travel to reach their position…."

Himoto smirked to herself. "Don't worry, Naruto. We do, in fact have an Otokage."


"He's rather young, so he will have four advisors to help him lead, two from the village and two from the ninjas."


"Congratulations, Naruto. You are now the Otokage."


There was silence for a moment, and Himoto looked rather disappointed. Abruptly, a small furrow appeared in Naruto's brow. Sakura saw it and grinned, counting down under her breath. "Three…two…one…"

Naruto's head snapped up. "I'M THE OTOKAGE?! ARE YOU PEOPLE INSANE?!?!"

"Yes." Sasuke replied bluntly. "We voted, and the result was overwhelmingly in your favor."

"B-but I can't be Otokage!"

One of the joins leaning against the wall laughed. "C'mon, kid, I think you'll make a fine leader."

"No, you don't get it! You may accept that I'm a jinchurikki, but it'll count against all of Sound once the other villages find out! And Hokage's law or not, they will find out! And I want to enter the chunin exams! The Otokage can't enter!"

The jonin frowned, as did Sasuke and Sakura. Abruptly, Himoto chuckled. "Both problems can be fixed easily enough. Disguise Corps has just come up with a type of undetectable transformation jutsu – a true transformation, not a genjutsu - and with your monster stamina, I bet you could sustain both it and Orimota's Bushin in your own form."

Now it was Naruto's turn to frown. "So…the Otokage will be me in disguise and a bushin will enter the exam? But even my kage bushin poof into smoke if you hit one, and there's no way I'll avoid being hit for the whole exam!"

Himoto grinned at him once again. "Orimota's Bushin are different. They take forever to make – you have to buy your own weight in meat and bone meal, and it takes seven or eight people to provide the chakra so you don't exhaust yourself, but the result is a bushin that is an exact replica of you: thoughts, techniques, chakra system, everything. The bushin isn't a bushin – as long as you sustain it, it is you!"

Naruto blinked, then matched Himoto's grin. "That's awesome! Right, so that's all good. As soon as the teams are back from the Akatsuki mission, we'll get Sakura's team to heal us, and then you and I will troop down to Disguise Corps headquarters and get me all transformed and I can figure out what kinda personality the Otokage is going to have. Then we'll make this bushin and I'll figure out how to give it access to Kyuubi's chakra."

Just like that, Naruto was all business. "Himoto, before you start the Konoha mission, I want you to make me a list of genin teams that want to go to the chunin exams. Star the ones you and the senseis think are ready and leave it with Kabuto at the hospital. Once that's done, you plus Sasuke, Sakura, and Ikko will start the Konoha mission – and end it. This doesn't have to be a complete overhaul of our image in Konoha's files, only make enough changes to create some doubt about our 'evilness'. I want you back in two days maximum."

Naruto jumped up out of his seat, and clapped his hands. "Right! Off you guys go! Jonins for the Akatsuki hunt front and center. Form up into your groups and talk out your group plans, decide who's doing what and all that. I want as little talk as possible, so decide on a set of silent commands too. Get going, people, we move out at dawn!"

Kabuto sighed, signing his name on a request for extra bandages, and set the finished paperwork on the pitifully small stack in his 'out' box. He was undeniably one of the best medics in the shinobi world, but no one told you about the paperwork when you became a Medic nin. It was so boring.


Naruto's voice came clearly through the walls, making everyone jump. The hospital administration building was right next to the core administration building, and the walls were thin enough that the blonde's incredulous exclamation sounded almost like he was in the same room.

There were some quiet chuckles as everyone settled again, but several people glanced nervously in his direction. Kabuto went back to his work, smirking. If they thought he had been unaware of their little vote, they were stupid. He'd let out the information about his spying on purpose, to destabilize the results.

Because if people thought that he would willingly lead a dysfunctional village of former missing nins, they weren't just stupid, they were crazy.

The Akatsuki hunt left the next day. All the jonins had been equipped with Naruto's no -colour cloths, a clear understanding of the plan they had worked out, and a rather unique set of explosive notes. The notes were triggered by sound – in particular, they were triggered by a combination of the user's voice and a specific word. As soon as the trigger word was spoken, they exploded, but not even an application of the Kyuubi's chakra could make it explode without that word.

The jonins thought they were ingenious, allowing for simultaneous explosions and concentrated firepower without being within the blast range.

Naruto just thought they looked cool.

As soon as they were all organized, the group split into four groups of two, each group set to approach Deidara and Sasori from a different angle, all using Naruto's stealth technique. They coordinated their movements carefully, using some altered communication pendants to keep track of each other. If all went well, they would attack simultaneously. The two Akatsuki members wouldn't know what hit them.

Almost five hours of steady travel later, the teams were in position. The camp was in a secluded clearing deep in the forest and far from any village. Strategically, the two Akatsuki members had chosen a good spot: it had the benefit of nearby running water, was close to a small underground cave system, and with the benefit of knowing their surroundings better than any hunters would, the two could easily force any attackers into places where mobility was limited.

With the benefit of superior knowledge of their surroundings.

The first thing the Sound nins had done upon locating the camp was to spend almost three hours exploring the area and concealing the explosive notes, not to mention setting up traps and making small cachets of weaponry and medical supplies.

It was just after midnight when the Sound nins, still using Naruto's stealth technique, made their first strike.

They didn't fight the two Akatsuki. Naruto had insisted that there be the least amount of direct fighting possible, stating in no uncertain terms that Sound could not afford to lose jonin simply through ill-planned revenge.

Instead, the blond Otokage went about it a different way. The ninja way.

Naruto crouched at the edge of the clearing, watching the two move around the camp. The blond – Deidara – used clay 'sculptures' that could explode on command to attack opponents. With his bird statues, he also had the benefit of staying out of easy attack range. At the far end of the camp, two great clay birds towered, inanimate.

They were the first of the team's targets.

Naruto moved the kunai in his hand to rest against his communication pendant and tapped it twice. Almost two minutes later, both the Akatsuki members raised their heads and looked north. Sasori chuckled.

"Well, well. A spy approached."

In the firelight, Deidara's bright grin looked vaguely intimidating. "Feel like playing ignorant, Sasori-danna?"

The head of the odd puppet that housed Sasori's body nodded. "I believe that would be wise. It is interesting that they have managed to find us, rather than the bushins Leader-sama usually has us use. Blind luck or design?"

Smirking, Deidara settled back into a comfortable sitting position. "Suppose we'll find out soon enough. Let our little spy look all he wants, it's entertaining to see their faces when they realize we've just been playing!"

Once again Sasori nodded, and the two settled quickly into a debate on…the meaning of art?

Naruto frowned, tucking the conversation into the back of his head for later examination. Finally, he could fee the chakra signature of the sound jonin the two Akatsuki had sensed. The jonin wasn't using Naruto's stealth technique; instead he was under a more traditional set of interwoven genjutsus designed to divert attention away from the user. It was part of the plan – the jonin was a decoy to attract the pair's attention.

Slowly, ever so slowly, Naruto inched around the edge of the clearing towards the two inert sculptures. His technique insured that even if the pair somehow sensed him they would immediately assume that he was unimportant – an animal, the remnants of a recent jutsu, nothing important. Naruto refused to risk it. Better to be safe than sorry, after all.

It took him three minutes to circle the clearing as his decoy jonin moved around the camp high in the surrounding trees. Directly behind the two clay statues, the blond inched forward until he could duck between them, out of sight should one of the pair manage to pierce his stealth technique.

Naruto slipped two bundles of exploding notes from inside his loose jacket. Carefully, he scraped a small hole under the first bird's wing. He rolled up the exploding notes as tight as he could and stuffed them into the hole, packing the clay over the bundle and smoothing it out again. One down. Turning, he did the same to the other, then carefully and quietly slid the wings back into position.

Then he shuffled backwards to the edge of the clearing and concealed himself in among the foliage. The blond surveyed the clearing, noting the positions of the Akatsuki pair and their weapons, then lifted his kunai and tapped his pendant three times. Time for step two.

The jonin acting as a decoy immediately reactivated Naruto's stealth technique and disappeared from Deidara and Sasori's senses. The two sat up straight and stopped arguing immediately, surprised. Both scanned the trees, searching for the jonin. While they focused on their surroundings, Naruto noticed a particularly uninteresting part of the clearing right behind Sasori. There really was nothing of interest there; he should look to other parts of the clearing.

The blond Otokage grinned.

The second jonin was in position behind the puppet user. Really, it was amazing how quickly the jonins had taken to his stealth technique. He couldn't help but puff out his chest a bit, proud. These people were his people, and they kicked ass!

Moving swiftly, Naruto circled the camp once again, high in the trees, to where two other jonin were waiting. Soon after, they were joined by a fourth. In silence they waited for the signal that would tell them that the others were done tangling the chakra network that allowed Sasori to control his puppets so perfectly.

They didn't have to wait long.

A flash of reflected light from a mirror on the opposite side of the clearing, and they attacked.

He launched himself off the branch, using the momentum to literally fly towards Deidara, who shouted in surprise at their sudden appearance.

He lunged at the blond, vaguely aware of four of his jonins attacking Sasori to his left as the rest circled Deidara. Said blond narrowed his eyes at Naruto, his one visible eye sharp.

Parrying a strong blow from the Otokage, the other abruptly lashed out, catching Naruto a glancing blow across the cheek that sent him back a pace. Deidara launched himself upwards, snarling, and even as he and the jonins followed, Naruto was aware that they were heading straight for the two clay birds.

Behind him, Sasori was growling, enraged, as the puppets he had summoned moved jerkily in uncoordinated circles thanks to the utter mess that had been made of the chakra systems. He, too, leapt upwards and back, beside Deidara now, and both mounted the clay birds.

There was a momentary glow of chakra, and Naruto saw the mouth in Deidara's hand chewing busily, and the great sculptures came alive. Two quick beats of those wide wings produced a downdraft that knocked Naruto off his feet and the birds were in the air.

Naruto grinned, ready to speak the activation word for the concealed explosive notes.

Then he noticed one of his jonins slung over the back of one of the birds, and the plan went to hell.

Tsunade glared death at the massive piles of paperwork on her desk. Why oh why had she let the brat convince her to become Hokage? And then the stupid brat up and leaves, joining an enemy village out of loyalty to a teammate! She could understand that, but really, the reckless stupid brat could have at least warned her before he conned her into leading the damn village. Tsunade upped the intensity of her glare, ignoring the quiet snicker from her ANBU guard.

Goddamned paperwork. She bet Orochimaru never had to do the tedious stuff.

"Glaring at your work will not make it go away, Tsunade-sama."

The frustrated blond transferred her glare to Shizune, thoroughly annoyed.

"Come now, Tsunade-sama, you need to finish. With our trip to Suna for the chunin exams so near, this needs to be out of the way. Besides, those reports could give us some clues about the new Otokage." Shizune blinked as Tsunade choked on air.

"There's a new Otokage? WHAT HAPPENED!?"

Shizune sighed. "Tsunade-sama…just read the reports."

Argh! I can't believe how late this is, but…well, life kinda got away from be. Oh well. I think it's safe to say that updates will be coming once a month now, two weeks if I'm really lucky and have lots of free time. And I couldn't fit the Tsunade vs. Naruto-as-Otokage in !

On the upside, while I was supposed to be writing Traid, I found a beta, the talented Computerfreak101, who promptly inspired a two-shot tthe first half of which is posted, called Operation P. Go read it, it's good fun. –Heliotropic