Chapter Preview.

Greeting all you fans of Escape from the Hokage's Hat! It is I, anothvortex, the writer that many of you have wanted to lynch for the last several months!

Please, don't aim for the face.

Now, I m sure that you are all wondering why this note is coming up as an update. After all, you have waited patiently, or not so patiently, for this particular chapter for way too long and are probably dammed pissed off about the delay. If anything is going to be posted about this story, it should be a proper update, right?

Well, I thought you might want to know what the problem is, and the steps that I am taking to fix it.

The truth of the matter is that I started running into trouble using Hoshigakure, or the Hidden Star Village as a base of the next story arc. As you probably remember from the last chapter (assuming that you reread the story recently) I was all set to deal with a minor village that Naruto managed to save ever so heroically in the original episode. So what s the problem with him doing so now, all upgraded and healed?

The simple answer is that the story outlining the Fourth Great Shinobi War that's happening at the moment in the Manga. After seeing just what the true Great Five Villages are capable of on the battlefield, having a bunch of punks like the Hoshi ninja trying to claim the title is just so arrogant it makes me a little nauseous. So every word I ve tried to write for this chapter keeps coming out in a sarcastic tone that nothing seems to tone down.

So I m not going to try to anymore.

The following is the first scene of the latest chapter. I m going to really try and complete this arc before the end of the year, but I admit that the holidays might get in the way. In the meantime, I hope that you enjoy this little snippet and understand that there will be quite a bit of bashing. While it s not my normal preference to bash anyone, I just cannot progress the story any other way. You have been warned.

No I don't own Naruto. Although I am glad to see some semi-interesting twists and turns in the plot once again!

Chapter Forty: Shining Egos

Flanked by his team, Shikamaru did his best to remain calm while taking in every single detail of their surroundings and host. The leader of Hoshigakure was a man named Akahoshi, who was currently the strongest ninja in their village. What was slightly unusual was the fact that he was acting only as a regent. According to Jiraiya-sama, Hoshigakure had always claimed to have a Kage, despite the title not being recognized by any of the Five Elemental Villages. It was only due to their relative size and lack of a tactically sound position that kept anyone from invading to demonstrate displeasure with such an action. However, the minor village seemed to take the lack of action as validation of all things.

Yet this man had not taken the title of Kage since ascending to power nearly a year ago. Either that meant that he had no intention of continuing the tradition, did not have enough support to justify the title, or was waiting until he preformed some act to properly unify the ninja under his command. Either way, the situation made Shikamaru nervous. Nevertheless, they had a job to do. "Lord Akahoshi, as requested my team has come to provide additional security during your village's training exercise. Is there any additional information that you can provide us so that we might better serve you?"

Smiling, the thin man seemed to present a facade of mild embarrassment. Given their current sources of information, it looked particularly fragile. "I don't anticipate any major issues per se. The problem is that with several of our younger generation tied up during that aforementioned training exercise and many of our more experiences ninja on missions, we just need some extra bodies for patrols of non-vital areas. In addition, you will be posted around our central shrine overnight, although you may not actually enter it. I expect that the whole experience will probably take about three weeks. Any longer and I will be sure to contact your superiors in Konoha for an extension."

While nodding in agreement, The Nara s mind began to race at frightening speeds. The information provided was just too pat, and its insincerity made him want to bash his head against a wall. No village, major or minor would provide half as much information like this to foreign ninjas. Therefore, this was so obviously a setup it was not even funny. Therefore, if he was to keep his teammates alive and their response plan on track, he would have to seriously bite his tongue. The whole situation was beyond troublesome to downright depressing.

Deciding that the sooner they left this idiots presence the better, Shikamaru sketched a short bow. "I understand you reasoning and promise to live up to the expectations you have placed upon myself and my team. With your permission, I would like to establish a perimeter around the site after familiarizing myself with the area. The sooner we get started the better." Seeing Akahoshi nod his acceptance, the Nara rose before leading his team out the door. Now he could only hope that the coded tapping against his kunai pouch would be shrugged off as a nervous tick. Otherwise it would be nearly impossible to transmit his coded interpretation of the meeting along with its content while under such heavy observation.