SUMMARY: Ordered by the leader to scope the activities of a mysterious village, Sasori is unexpectedly captured by the natives. From Tsunade's order, Sakura and her team are sent to investigate the bizarre disappearance of many townsfolk. Plans go awary when Sakura becomes the sinister village's next target.

Authoress' Note: I have the whole of this planned out already, so there SHOULD be regular updates. It will probably turn into a SasoSaku fic by the end, but no promises. Sasori will definitely have a grudging respect for Sakura by the end of it though, thus paving the way for my epic fic which WILL be SasoSaku. Anywho...I know this chapter is short, but they will get longer the more into writing this I get. On a side note, any OOCness isn't entirely my fault, since it's my first attempt at a Naruto fanfiction. Please let me know what you think and if there's waaaay too much description in it. Thank you -.

p.s. I am it's going to be largely based on facts I have seen in the anime, since I only have quick summarised versions of each manga chapter courtesy of my older brother.

p.p.s. Reviews bring more chapters, MUCH faster...cough please review cough

Disclaimer: Oh come on, if I owned Naruto then the manga would take a century to complete and the anime...well it wouldn't have been created because of my lazy-ness :P.

Chapter 1

The shuffling of a cloak across sand and stone was the only sound that could be heard, if indeed anyone was around to listen to the sound, as a small and hunched figure made its way across the desert in the Wind Country. The sun had been set for many hours now and the darkness allowed the bunched up person to move more stealthily to the Hidden Village located a few miles westward of Wind. The black cloak, coloured with a few red cloud shapes, engulfed the small figure and from a distance – or even up close – it was difficult to ascertain a gender to the being. Adorned on the small person's head was a straw hat and attached to that were wind chimes, which luckily remained fairly still on the journey.

As the desert began to flatten out more, a dense forest came into view. The trees were covered with dark leaves, nearly black in their colour, and clumped together so tightly it didn't look as though the slouched person would be able to fit in between each tree at all.

The hunched being grumbled in agitation, and it sounded like that of a savage beast only much deeper and more gravely. After such a sound any casual observer would be able to tell that the mysterious figure was in fact male. The small man shuffled as close to the trees as his form would allow, before muttering some quiet string of curses and then doing the most peculiar thing. His back appeared to have raised itself and then it opened up to reveal that the body was only a wooden puppet. The person inside hopped out and landed with the grace of a seasoned ninja next to the puppet.

His face was covered with a black cloth, which he quickly removed and placed inside the large puppet. What lay beneath this cloth was a mess of reddish hair and an angelic face that could easily fool anyone into thinking he was innocent. Except for his eyes, which appeared a warm brown at first glance, but held no real warmth inside them when looked at closely.

Sasori, for that was his name, closed his perfectly shaped eyes out of sheer irritation and spoke in a low, but decidedly pleasant voice, "This is already irritating me and I'm not even in the damned village yet."

He withdrew a scroll from within his black cloak and performed a simple hand seal to make the large wooden tool easier to carry around with him. He sighed in annoyance and started off at a calm pace through the dense wood to reach his intended destination: The Village Hidden in The Dark.

In the Leaf Village

"Sakura, Hinata and Ino, your new mission will be a C ranked one on the western border of the Wind Country." The 5th Hokage calmly ordered to the three young girls standing at attention in her office.

They all nodded in unison, although Hinata's response was a little nervous as opposed to confident like her current team members' attitudes.

"There have been reports of missing people – ninja and townsfolk alike – quite recently in the surrounding towns in the west of Wind. Your job is to find out who is responsible and what they are doing with these people. Do not attempt to engage if the cause is of hostile nature. Just come straight back with the information and, if need be, and ANBU squad will be dispatched to deal with the problem. I'm giving you three a month to complete your mission, so use your time effectively."

More nods of agreement and assent in the room. Sakura, Tsunade's apprentice, looked as though she wanted to say something, but was too afraid to speak up. Lady Tsunade motioned for the pink-haired girl to speak her mind, which she did rather rapidly, "Whatifweareattackedwhileonthemissionandhavenochoicebuttoengagetheenemy?"

"Oh for crying out loud, Sakura can you please ask me your question again without making it appear to my ears as some kind of stupid code?"

She 15-year-old took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and repeated her question clearly, "What if we are attacked while on the mission and have no choice but to engage the enemy?"

Tsunade crossed her arms and leaned back against her desk in thought, which left the three teenagers in total silence that seemed like it wanted to increase the girls' nerves ever-so-slightly. The older woman gave each Chunin before her a level stare, then said in her no-nonsense voice, "If that happens then you will have to defend yourself for as long as you can and then make a strategic retreat back to the Sand Village. Any more questions or can I send you on your way now?" Nobody spoke so the 5th Hokage took that as a sign that they were ready to leave. "Just remember you have one month to complete this mission, and it takes 3 full days to reach the Sand Village and a further 3 more days to reach the border towns of the Wind Country. Make sure to pace yourselves and rest when you need to. Good luck girls."

With those last words from their village leader, the girls departed from the office and ran to their homes to pack for a month long mission that, little did they know, would be the most dangerous one yet.