Fucking thing decided that my line breaks weren't actually line breaks and just out and out deleted the things. Fixed now. Fuck that shit.

"...who in the hell does she think she is?"

The blonder of the two shrugged, but continued to worry her little cocktail toothpick down to a stub. "I dunno...I mean, she is kinda a big deal. Apprentice to a sannin, slug summoner, healer extraordinaire..."

Tayuya blew a piece of hair out of her face. "That is the skimpiest fucking chinese dress I have ever seen in my entire life...and that's really saying something."

"Yeah, I know." Yugito shifted her butt on the chair, watching this 'Sakura' person chat with Naruto, both seemingly lost in happy reminisces. The other reinforcements from Konoha, namely the really pale guy, the Cyclops, and the cow-titted Hyuuga seemed content to sit on the periphery and watch. The really scarred dude with the bandana seemed to be chatting quietly with Tazuna.

"I bought it for her, you know. Took her out shopping one night when she was drunker than Tsunade after a bad mission."

Yugito looked over at the fishnet-wearing Jounin to her left, drinking sake directly out of a bottle. "Really? Chick doesn't seem the type to get sloshed."

Anko shrugged, taking another hefty swig. "Eh, she's not really. But she IS the type to go absolutely overboard when she does drink. It's honestly more entertaining to watch than porn."

"Speaking of which." Kankurou leaned back in his chair. "You seen that new video out of Yuki no Kuni? The one with -"

"Oh, where the chick -"

"Yeah, and it goes ALL the way in. That's some badass shit right there."

"Pfft. I could do better."

Temari put her hand on her brother's mouth before he could respond, sighing in the process. "As enlightening as all this is, I think I'll be heading to bed. I'm thinking we'll have a long day tomorrow, so the rest of you should think about turning in early as well."

Tayuya, who had not been paying attention at all to any of the conversation going on around her, snorted derisively. "Yeah, that's fine. Me though?" Her lip curled...in a cute way. "I gotta keep this hussy from doing anything untoward."

"You mean, the kinda shit you would do, given the chance?" Yugito smirked.

"I will smack the fuck out of you and make you shit out your mouth if you don't shut up."

Kankurou perked up slightly. "If you're going to fight, can you give me time to get something to record it with?" He hummed thoughtfully for a second. "...and some mud?"

Temari thumped her brother on the top of the head, standing in the process. "Right then. We're heading to bed. G'night."

"Hey, wait, we?"

"Yes, brother. We."

The black clad sand Jounin sighed heavily. "Aw, fuck me."

Anko chucked and made a cat sound. "Kinky. Let me know how the baby turns out, you two."

Temari simply gave them all the finger as she trotted up the stairs, brother in tow.

The women sat in semi-companionable silence for a few minutes, preferring to drink and stare rather than get into another conversation about alcohol, dresses and porn.

Anko leaned back in her chair, making an audible creaking sound. "Yo...Tayuya, right?"

Not tearing her eyes away from Naruto, Tayuya nodded.

"So...you're the one who blondie has been spending all his time with right?" Anko took a short swig. "I've been hearing some really interesting shit about him. Some mystical sword and speed that rivals his dad...that whole thing." She glanced over at Tayuya, who spared her a glance. "How much of its true?"

Tayuya paused for a moment, before sighing and slumping in her chair. "...some."

Anko quirked an eyebrow, and a side of her mouth. "Looking for a bit more detail there, hun."

"I know you are. But you're not getting it from me." Tayuya crossed her legs. "What he wants to share with you guys, he will. Not my call."

Yugito chuckled. "The sword thing is true, and he's faster than his dad ever was...kinda."

Tayuya's eyes widened and her head nearly twisted off in an effort to glare at the woman. "What the fuck, bitch?"

"Do you REALLY think it matters? There are secrets, and then there's common knowledge in rumor form." Yugito flipped her hair out of her face. "She's just fishing anyway. Konoha probably gave them all a file before they came here...she just wants to see how much we know."

Anko smirked. "Guilty as charged. Can't help it, spent time in torture and interrogation, information is kinda my thing." She turned to Yugito. "...what'd you mean by 'kinda'?"

Yugito shrugged. "I won't claim to know how Naruto's shunshin works, or even how Hiraishin worked, but it's not like Kumo didn't have any intel on your Yondaime." She took a sip from her glass of wine. "I'm not sure if what either of them did really counts as 'speed', hence the 'kinda'. Both techniques are so far outside the realm of normal shinobi that attempting to classify them really just doesn't work."

Tayuya sighed. "He explained it to me once." Both women looked at her with thinly veiled surprise. "Something about time and space connecting and completing a circuit...went WAY over my head. Personally I don't think he even knew what he was talking about, but that's just me."

"In reality, both techniques are very similar. Naruto simply has the chakra capacity to do what his father did without the need of seals and kunai." Forgotten in the corner, Rena stroked Usagi's white hair as she slept silently. Tayuya, Anko and Yugito all looked at her quizzically.

She shrugged. "Say what you will about Ame before our collapse, but our intelligence network was second to none. Our file on the Yondaime Hokage alone was enough to fill up an entire storage room, and at least half of that was scientific findings and conjecture on Hiraishin."

Anko hummed thoughtfully. "I take it you've read the entire room or something?"

"Not all of it, no...but most of it." Usagi stirred momentarily before burrowing further into Rena's midsection. "Some parts are sealed so thoroughly that it's literally impossible to open them without a small team of specialists backing you up. Even then, there are no guarantees."

"So, basically, you're saying that Naruto can do what his father could do, better?" Anko was silent for a moment after her observation. "Well that's good news."

All present sat in companionable silence for a while, merely watching the small din of conversation and drinking whatever their particular poison was.

Tayuya burped, before scowling at Sakura.

"How the fuck did she get tits like that?"

"So? How would you do it?"

Kakashi, on the roof, turned a page in his book. It was well past bedtime for most of the Shinobi in the Tazuna household, save for himself and a chain-smoking Naruto.

After marking his page with a dog-ear, he stowed his book in his Kunai pouch. "Subtlety. Disguises, fake papers..." He sighed and sat down on the edge of the roof. "Worst case, infiltrate Oto's forces in the area and piggyback on a patrol."

Naruto took another deep drag on his cigarette. "See, I'd thought that too...but I had something of an epiphany." He exhaled deeply. "Getting into the country, no matter how we do it, is going to be the easy part. The problem comes up when we try to go anywhere inside the country proper."

Nodding, Kakashi surveyed the area...an old habit of his. "Granted. But so long as they don't know we're there, there shouldn't be a problem moving around disguised as...whatever we choose as a disguise."

"That's the thing though. This isn't an operation to gather information or infiltrate, we're literally going to be destroying an entire army within the infrastructure of a fallen country." Naruto flicked his spent butt down off the edge of the building. "I mean, you can think of this like an insurgency or a guerrilla movement, but those rely on a network of people who are already dug in and indistinguishable from the native populous. Here, the native populous is oppressed and cowed, and the only organization able to combat Oto's advances, namely Ame, is cloistered and on its heels."

He stood and started pacing. After a moment, he sighed. "I'm thinking this isn't really going to be anything like an insurgency. There's no subtlety to this, no assassinations in the night, cloak and dagger, seduce and kill shit with this."

"This feels a lot more like..."

His eyes lit up, and Kakashi raised an eyebrow.

"This feels like we're going in as commandos, you know?"

Kakashi smiled slightly behind his mask. There was the Naruto he knew.

"Maybe." He feigned a shrug, preferring to let his once-pupil figure it out. "We won't really know until we get there, though."

Naruto shook his head, obviously oblivious to his teacher's circumspect attitude. "See, I don't like that kind of thinking. We're not going in to assess the situation and act accordingly, you know?" He took out another cigarette, scratching his chest and finally finding his lighter in one of his pockets. "If we let them, they will dictate the situation. We can't allow that. We have to be the ones to make it clear that we are dictating what is going to happen, when it's going to happen, where it's going to happen..."

He took a deep drag off his new cigarette, and released a deep sigh, finally seeming to calm down slightly.

After a moment, he yawned.

"So yeah. I'm thinking we go in big."

Kakashi allowed a chuckle.

"You're the leader here, Naruto. Not me. If that is what you think is best..." He trailed off, watching Naruto's eyes gain something at his recognition of him being the leader.

Naruto laughed and shook his head.

"Me. Leading you. What a fuckin' trip man." He scratched his chest, sitting down next to his once-teacher on the edge of the roof. "Who'da thunk it, right?"

Kakashi shrugged again, clearly amused. "I always knew you had it in you. It just remained to see what would bring it out."

Naruto took another long drag, staring upwards at the stars. His face wore a grin.

"Thanks, Kakashi. Not sure if I ever got the chance to tell you that."

"With as much of a handful as you were, I expected more than a 'thank you'.

Naruto looked at him, feigning offense. "Me? A handful?" He turned away, smirking. "Perish the thought."

Kakashi chuckled.

After a few minutes, Naruto got up, dusting off his posterior. He yawned, for once, not feigning. "Bedtime." His face set itself into something a bit more serious. "Tomorrow...we leave."

Nodding, Kakashi stood. "The rest of the forces from Konoha might not be here by the time we leave. There have been...incidents within the village as of late." His brow furrowed. "Good chance we'll be on our own."

"So be it." Naruto jumped down from the roof, followed by Kakashi. "We have enough of a force here to do what we need to do."

Kakashi nodded, opening the door. "Agreed."

Naruto stopped before entering the house, putting out his cigarette.

He sighed, looking up at the stars one last time.

Briefly, a meteor burned itself out in the atmosphere of the earth.

He closed his eyes, and when he opened them, he smiled.

There was joy in logic.

It had taken a certain amount of time for him to understand 'joy' however, meaning that logic had come first. He suspected that if it had been the other way round, he might have viewed logic as something more akin to drudgery or single-mindedness than 'joy'.

Naruto was an impetus. He was a spark. That's not to say that he wasn't also the resulting flame and the fuel thereof, but others around him almost invariably carried their fuel without that spark, for safety's sake. Most people viewed burning as a wasteful and temporary act, and as such spurned the spark...but then they would come across said spark, and their world would ignite in brilliant, glorious flames, and they would realize what they were missing.

The difference, as he saw it, was that over the past years that Naruto had been separated from Konoha, he had gathered more fuel. He had gathered a slow burning, but yet just as flammable fuel that could simmer, wax, wane and even go out…

But the spark was still there. And at all times, his flame remained lit, a beacon to those around him, and a dire warning to his enemies.

He hesitated for a moment, re-arranging something in his backpack. The others around him were doing much the same, packing their supplies and weapons into various pockets or pouches. Sakura, having no pockets, chose to wear a backpack, two kunai pouches and a butt pouch.

A pity, to cover such a posterior.

Naruto had gained some of the logic that Sai had cultivated over the years at root. He had cultivated it from different sources mind you, perhaps from tragedy or a simple understanding of the absolutes of the world they lived in…but it was logic nevertheless.

It had not tamed him. Nothing could tame him.

It had simply tempered him. Like the finest carbonized steel, folded in on itself hundreds of times to make a strong, sturdy implement of death…only once said steel had been quenched oh so many times, could the sword be said to be finished.

Naruto was not finished, either.

But he was tempered.

Sai slung his backpack over his shoulders and adjusted the straps slightly. Naruto was conversing with his female companions in a rather lively manner, flirting jovially and feigning disinterest when necessary. Even Hinata, not quite as shy as she had been, seemed to be enjoying the conversation, interjecting at intervals and supremely irking the red haired one.

The red haired one kept staring at the Hyuuga's breasts.


Kakashi and Ibiki were mulling over something…most likely stratagems or the like. Anko was walking off a hangover. Unfortunate.

As he surveyed the gathering, he gained a bit of perspective.

This was no ordinary mission. This was nothing like any of them, save perhaps Kakashi, had ever undertaken.

This was war by another name. No declaration, no intention, it was simply an intervention.

Sending ten Nin to do the work of hundreds.

Surprisingly enough, he wasn't all that worried.

Naruto being who he was, of course.

The goodbyes to Tazuna, Inari and his mother had not been difficult, per se, but rather uneventful enough to realize that everyone was tense.

They had waited, past the allotted time, for the second wave of reinforcements from Konoha. They had not come.

It was not worrying, but it was…troubling.

Regardless, they had a mission to accomplish.

Accomplish it, they would.

"Anyone else notice that we've been going downhill for the past few hours?"

Naruto perked up slightly at the sound of Sakura's voice. "Indeed. The country lies at the bottom of a valley, surrounded by a mountainous region." He surveyed the area in front of him, scanning the trees as they all sped through them.

"The geography of the area is one of the prime reasons why the country a nexus for inter-country battles." Ibiki chewed thoughtfully on a senbon. "It's often referred to as the 'cauldron'. Easy to get into, but hard to get out."

"So basically," Anko took a swig from a bottle of…something. It smelled awful, but supposedly cured hangovers. "Once you get in, there's no high ground the further you go. The mountains are it."

Rena, Usagi mounted on her shoulders, shook her head. "There is high ground. The place where the deposed government of Ame is currently located is a high ground, a sloping steppe that descends into a marshland. That will be our first destination." She quickly glanced at Naruto. "Assuming the Ryuujin concurs."

Naruto yawned. "Maybe. Our first concern is getting in. Past that," he scratched his chest. "…past that, I'm not quite sure yet."

"Naruto-kun…two o'clock, one kilometer out." Hinata's breath hitched. "It's…gigantic." She quickly regained her composure. "There's a clearing obscured by trees about two hundred meters in front of the…gate."

"Gate?" Naruto's brow furrowed. "What kind of Gate, Hinata?"

She shook her head after a moment. "Nothing I've ever seen before."

His brow furrowed further.

Coming up on the clearing, they all stopped quietly, rushing up to the small copse of trees that obscured them from the vision of any potential enemies.

He heard more than a few sharp inhales.

There, dug into the side of the mountain, were easily the most gigantic gates he had ever seen…their height was almost parallel to the peak of the mountain next to it, and their width spanned what was easily a full kilometer.

Whatever pass there had been into the country, Oto had sealed off.

Kakashi, next to him, sighed. "Rashoumon. One of Orochimaru's summons. This looks to be one of the larger ones, at that."

Naruto nodded. "Hinata, how many are we dealing with, and what's behind the gate?"

The girl focused for a moment, veins bulging around her violet-white eyes. "At least a hundred, though they look to be common foot soldiers, maybe chuunin." She focused further. "…I…can't see behind the gate."

Eyes narrowing, Naruto glanced at Kakashi. "Think you can distract them for about a minute?"

Kakashi nodded. "We can. I take it you have a plan?"

Naruto stood, cracking his neck a few times. "Not so much a plan, as a Jutsu. I'm going to blow that gate back to hell." He closed his eyes, sitting down further on in the clearing, crossing his legs. "Just keep them distracted for about a minute. When you hear it, start running."

Kankurou, standing at the back of the troupe, cocked an eyebrow. "It?"

Tayuya's mouth twisted into a shit eating grin of epic proportions. "Yeah. It. You'll know it when you hear it."

Ibiki put his senbon back into his pouch. "Not that I disagree with your assessment, Naruto…but we could simply go around." He looked upwards towards the peaks of the mountains on either side of the gate complex. "…or above."

"Naturally." Naruto cracked an eye open and glanced sideways at Ibiki. "…just trust me."

Scratching his forehead, Ibiki frowned…and then sighed. "Very well."

Naruto nodded at Kakashi.

Looking at each other unsurely, the group formed on Kakashi, who drew a Kunai. "Nothing fancy. Get in, cause havoc, and then run like hell when Naruto does whatever it is he's doing."

A chorus of acknowledgements.

They all leaped forward.

"Listen, alright? I'm telling you, this gate?" He knocked on the hard material that made up the gate they were guarding. "I've seen S-Ranked techniques hit this shit before. Didn't even touch it."

His companion, leaning up against the gate itself, hummed thoughtfully. "…but what's the point of a gate that won't open?"

A few moments of silence.

"Dude, just…" the first Oto Nin sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "…just shut up. Why are you always like this?"

"It's a legitimate question. Why did we even put this thing up? I mean, we could have just blasted the damn mountain and created a rubble field, right?" He banged on the gate. "This is overkill."

A female voice. "No, this is overkill."

A fist shrouded by a white glove hit the first shinobi's head square in the forehead.

The back of his head exploded outwards, showering the second shinobi's head in grey matter.

A kunai hit the second nin's neck, dropping him shortly afterwards.

Tayuya snorted derisively, looking at Sakura's handiwork. "Oh look, I'm Sakura, I can make people's heads explode and shit." She drew another Kunai. "Showoff."

Sakura blew a strand of hair out of her face. "Jealous."

"Fuck you." Tayuya turned towards the gate, satisfied as she saw the rest of the group making their own entrances. "Hate Kunoichi like you…going into battle wearing…" she gestured at the revealing chinese dress Sakura was wearing. "…that. Just screams 'slut'."

The first of several shinobi arrived at their position. Sakura flipped over the first, kicking the second in the neck, then inserting a senbon into the spine of the first. "Hey." She tore the senbon out sideways, earning a scream before he dropped to the ground. "You know what?" She cupped her breasts with blood-soaked gloves. "These used to be B-Cups not a year ago. Ok? I don't want to hear it."

Tayuya punched one of the shinobi that had diverted to deal with her, crushing his temple. "Wait, seriously?" She drew another Kunai, parrying a strike and then slashing at a nin's throat. "That's fuckin' impossible. Boobs don't just grow like that."

Sakura used her chakra-enhanced strength to blow a nin's intestines out the back of his trousers. "Hey, you know I'm a medic nin, right?" She shook her hand, getting a few entrails off. "Apprentice of Tsunade? You've at least seen pictures of her, right?"

"Of course." Tayuya watched as the few nin that had been charging at them stopped, perhaps rethinking their strategy. "Wait, you mean there's a Jutsu to increase your cup size?"

"Sorta." Sakura started forming hand seals. "More like…you increase your protein and fat intake for a few weeks, and use a technique to make sure it all ends up where you want." She finished her seals.

Tayuya jumped backwards, feeling a surge of chakra build up, just as a water dragon materialized from a nearby puddle. Roughly a dozen shinobi were crushed against the gate. "Man…that's cheating!" She cupped her breasts. "I've been drinking milk like, nonstop for months now, and it hasn't done a damn bit of good…you saying I can actually direct that shit?"

Sakura sighed, leaning up against the gate as the rest of the shinobi began a tactical retreat. "Yeah. Tits, ass…anywhere you want, really. Takes a lot of focus and control though. Not easy."

"Fuck." Tayuya all but pouted. "…still hate you."

Looking the red haired nin up and down for a minute, she crossed her arms. "So, you can't use chakra?"

Tayuya looked at her with something like surprise…but not quite. "…yeah. Got my coils crushed all to shit a bit back." She rubbed at a seal on her arm that held a great deal of Naruto's chakra. "Only thanks to Naruto that I can even use chakra at all if I get into a bitch of a situation."

Sakura rubbed the back of her head. "I mean…I can fix that if you want…later." She glanced over near the middle of the gate where Hinata was murdering bitches left and right. "It'll hurt a lot, though."

Impassively, Tayuya hummed. "…what would it take for you to teach me that…" She gestured at Sakura's boobs. "…thing afterwards?"

"Information." Sakura grinned. "Nothing more."

"Fuck." Tayuya huffed, scratching her chin. "…yeah. I'll think about it."

Sakura nodded. "Fair enough. When we get bac-"

A rumbling. A high pitched whine. A deep, emanating and low thrum. A glow.

Sakura had a chill run down her spine. "That…is that?"

Tayuya grinned, laughing, before taking to the trees.

There were many, many seals on his body. Some contained stored power, others contained items, still others contained nothing, but rather organized and directed what was already there.

Normally, his coils would contain his chakra, and anything excess was simply shed off or directed into a seal to be stored. This was, however, when he was consciously making sure not to produce excess chakra. It was, in fact, a conscious process within his psyche, a decision to create or release chakra, rather than a natural process. It had to be that way, because otherwise, he would simply be a walking avatar of raw, unadulterated chakra.

And then sometimes, he was.

He directed chakra into five seals, each over the first five gates of the chakra circulatory system. Each of these seals, in turn, fed one another, creating a compressed chakra turbine within his own body. The speed of his chakra in this turbine increased its power, and in turn, his coils kept feeding the turbine, as the turbine kept expending power. Kinda like an internal stage two Rasengan.

Past this, however, he had no idea how it worked per se, but he only knew that he was really, really, really powerful once he'd gotten this chakra turbine up to speed.

His eyes glowed blue, wind whipping around his frame at a frantic pace, lightning discharging every so often within this vortex, a product of friction more than the nature of his chakra. The ground where he walked cracked and groaned, and the air around him picked up anything loose and cut it into minute pieces, until no part of it could be seen.

He stood before the gate. The shinobi that had once been defending the gate, now retreated with vigor, some instead choosing to gape in awe.

He pulled his fist back.

He punched the gate, allowing the turbine flowing within him to release itself through his fist.

For a few milliseconds, space seemingly collapsed upon itself in cascades of blue energy, forming a bright, blue, glowing epicenter of ruination that pulsed once, and only once.

The shockwave would be felt for miles.

He watched a lot of movies.

Or rather, he had in his youth. It wasn't something he had the time or inclination to pursue currently, what with the war and all, but it was certainly something he was interested in.

In the movies, almost invariably, there was a good side, and a bad side. The good side almost always won, but lost something along the way, either principals or a bond between friends…something that the bad guys usually took from them.

The bad guys, however, had nothing to lose. Their goals were often nebulous, though straightforward in their premise. World domination, wealth, power…any number of carnal delights that men would do many things for.

And so, when the bad guys lost, and the good guys were walking away into the sunset, you couldn't really feel sorry for the bad guys…after all, they reached for something they could not obtain with means that were unscrupulous at best.

But while you felt justified in your schadenfreudian convictions regarding the evil doers, it was always about their methods, their means of getting what they wanted, rather than the actual things they wanted.

Society will always forgive a man for reaching past his means, so long as he plays by 'the rules'.

And this, he knew, is why 'evil' lost.

Not because they did not play by the rules. Not because their reach exceeded their grasp. No. It was a far simpler reason.

They lacked the necessary conviction to create their own set of rules.

He took a sip of his wine, a cabernet, well aged. It had come from the private stock of one of their more important backers, on his request…and he certainly was rather pleased with it. Not to say it was the best he'd ever had, but it was definitely appropriate for his current setting.

He brushed aside a strand of his dark hazelnut hair and rubbed his whiskers in the reflection of the glass, deep, expressive green eyes and a sharp, unforgiving face staring back at him.

He could have sworn he saw a grey hair.

"Sir. The…" One of his many adjutants glanced outside the command tent, the musical note on his forehead protector glinting slightly. "…package has arrived."

He swirled the wine in his glass, humming thoughtfully. "…and the errant commander?"

"Taken care of, sir."

He smiled. "Excellent. Send her in."

The adjutant nodded stiffly, before exiting the tent. He leaned back in his chair slightly, savoring the taste of his wine once more.

To be 'evil', one need not be cruel…one must be calculating.

The girl entered the tent, clothed in barely tattered rags, signs of abuse obvious…but a fire behind her eyes nonetheless.

To be 'evil', one need not be uncompromising…one must be stalwart in their convictions and purpose.

He set down his glass of wine.

To be 'evil', one need not be bloodthirsty…one must be willing to do what must be done.

The girl smiled ever so slightly. He smirked right back.

Because in the end, evil only existed so long as the battle raged.

"Hello, little one. Welcome to the front."

Because after the battle was won, after the weapons were laid down and peace settled in once more…

The girl laughed slightly. "Not for long."

Evil simply became the establishment. And all the means in the world, unscrupulous or otherwise, vanished when pen was put to paper.

Rules, after all, were written by the victors.