A/N: Very short prologue here - but the first chapter is almost done. Yes, the plot is cheesy and over-used, but it won't leave me alone. No, there will be no romance here. At least, nothing overt - if you want to read into it, that's your right.

Disclaimer: The usual for me, T for language and violence (and cliche' ness in this one), and I don't own Naruto.

Konoha mourned. The attempted kidnapping of the young Hyuuga heiress had sparked a brief but bloody war with the Lighting country, during which the Sandaime had fallen in battle. The horrendous loss – occurring only four years after the loss of the beloved Yondaime – was unimaginable.

The people of Konoha, though victorious, nonetheless felt as though they had been beaten. They were lost, leaderless. Children cried quietly as adults looked to one another in nearly hopeless confusion. The Leaf shinobi did their best to promote a feeling of security, but without a Kage to stand before them they were only so effective.

Finally, a leader arose from the chaos. The elder Danzo stood up, rallying the ROOT division behind him as he returned order to Konoha. Konoha's people would later reflect that that was the start of their downfall.

However, there was one ray of hope left to the people. On the day that Danzo took power, few noticed – and fewer still cared – that an Academy teacher's assistant was still unaccounted for, or that a small number of very young children went missing. After all, as kind as he was, his comrades were too busy tending their own broken families to worry about whether or not they had seen the orphan boy since the last battle.

By the time his absence was remarked upon, it was assumed that Umino, Iruka must have been among the dead.

And of course, no one missed the Kyuubi brat.