Chapter 1

In wartime, the guard duty at the village gate was an important job, but still an extremely boring one. This is why the two chunin guards currently had glazed eyes, even as they stood completely straight near the large open doorway. Nearly invisible, a single ANBU also stood guard from the nearby tree-line. He was just as still, but much more alert. Even with the war still going on between the hidden villages, the day seemed peaceful.

This appearance was not complete, however, as the ANBU suddenly stiffened, and turned his masked face. Soon after, the chunin also became alert as the chakra build up the ANBU had sensed became strong enough for them to notice. As the chakra continued to build, but its source remained unknown, the ANBU began to prepare for an attack, and the chunin sent out a quiet alarm: a specially marked eagle that made a spiral flight towards the center of the village and circled the Hokage Tower.

Less than a minute later, a group of shinobi had gathered, some staying out of sight and others not, along the wall and at the gates. All of the shinobi were of chunin rank or higher, and the group was casually tense, trying and failing to diffuse the worry the villagers had begun to display at the sight of so many ninja at the ready. As the two chunin explained to a few of the higher ranked ninja, the ANBU who had arrived took to the trees and began to spread out into the forest in teams of three, trying to identify the origin of the now massive levels of chakra that were emanating from the forest. One of the teams took notice of the ANBU who had been on guard duty, and jumped up onto the tree branch next to him.

"Any clue who or what it is?" asked the shortest of the three, a woman wearing the typical ANBU armor and a mask stylized like a falcon. The kunoichi's teammates, one a man wearing a tiger mask and the other a man with an eagle mask, both had brown hair. The team leader had inky black hair pulled back into a low ponytail. The first ANBU did not turn to look at the newcomers. His head, topped with spiky reddish hair, shook just barely before he spoke.

"There is too much of it. It has spread all over, and I was only able to get a vague direction earlier on. It is strange, however, that it does not seem ill intentioned. Dangerous, certainly, but not intentionally, nor towards us."

The eagle masked man now spoke. "I assume that is why an alert was signaled, but no movements for a full defense ordered." The red head raised a shoulder in a shrug. He did not know why the chunin had not sent word for defense against an attack on the village, especially since they could not have sensed the intent of the chakra, but he did agree with their actions. Meanwhile, it appeared that the chakra was finally doing something; the power coalesced into one area. The condensing of the power drew a wind into the air, forming a miniature tornado in a clearing near the group of ninja. As the chakra became visible and formed a solid wall of circulating chakra in the center of the clearing, the shinobi in the forest and near the gate all came forward to surround the area in ready stances in two man deep lines. Others ranged in the treetops behind and some remained on the village wall. It was as the chakra was being pulled into a final circular area of about 5 feet diameter that two more teams of ANBU arrived in defensive positions around a man who walked calmly forward.

The Hokage, the leader and the strongest shinobi of Konohagakure, walked into the clearing. The blond haired man faced the raging torrent of chakra with a curious tilt of his head, but no apparent concern. He continued forward until he stood within the circle of Konoha ninja, only feet away from the nearly solid formation of chakra. Despite this danger, the man dressed in a long white trench coat with flames rising up from the hem reached out till his fingertips just grazed the outermost layer of chakra. The energy jumped in a spark to his fingers and ran up his hand like an electrical current, till it had diminished into nothing near his elbow.

When the Hokage had first touched the chakra a large number of the ninja had stiffened, some of the younger ones even gasped. It was clear to the more experienced shinobi, however, that the spectacle was not an attack. As the Hokage nodded to himself, more of the ninja realized this and relaxed.

"Dragon," called the Hokage easily. The red haired ANBU jumped down from his perch and stepped forward, facing his young leader.

"Hai, Hokage-sama."

"If you could please name a team of 8 to watch this portal for a while, I need to go collect something from my office. All chunin return to the village--except for you two." He pointed to the two gate guards. "You stay on the road and prevent any curious villagers from coming this way. Dragon, put a jounin on the gate and send one to retrieve at least two medic-nin, as well. Everyone who Dragon does not choose return to what you were previously doing." With that the Hokage disappeared in a swirl of leaves, leaving his ninja to sort themselves out.

"Falcon, Tiger, Eagle, Panther, Lizard, Coyote," Dragon rattled off quickly before pausing. He looked around to see who else to choose, and then continued, knowing that there would be grumbling about his choices even as he named them. "Hatake and Morino, as well. Izumo at the gate, and Takama get the medics. Everyone else is dismissed." Just as he expected, Dragon heard several jounin mutter about getting passed over for two young and relatively new jounin. Some, at least, understood his choices.

Both of the young men had been and still were considered prodigies and geniuses in their fields, and were also loyal to a fault to the Hokage. Neither would hesitate to die for their Hokage or by his order. But that sort of loyalty was easy enough to find in jounin ranks. What was less common was the loyalty so strong they would not only fight and die by the Hokage's order, but do literally anything--murder, torture, even rape--if the Hokage told them to do so. It wouldn't matter the victim, either. A single enemy or an entire village of innocents, or even comrades or family members: to these two young shinobi the Hokage knew more than anyone else in the village and everything he ordered done had a reasoning behind it that made it necessary. At the same time, they did not expect the man to be perfect, and understood that he might make mistakes. They merely trusted that if he was wrong, the actions he had ordered them take would be better than the consequences would have been if he had been right and had done nothing.

This sort of loyalty went well beyond trusting the man with their lives. These jounin, only teenagers, trusted the Hokage with their minds and hearts, and were willing to tear apart their morals and inhibitions for the man and the village. This was the kind of loyalty that was rarely found outside of ANBU, and was the reason that the group was so secret and selective. True, they were the ultimate and final defense and offense for the village apart from the Hokage, but the real reason was because the missions that they operated were the sort that none of the civilians would approve of. Indeed only the most cynical or war-scarred of the veteran shinobi would approve of their methods.

Dragon had recognized this loyalty in the two, and it appeared that a surprisingly large number of the more experienced and knowledgeable nin had as well. It was because of this realization that not a single ANBU, chosen for the team or not, nor nearly a dozen of the senior jounin showed any discontent with Dragon's choice.

It was also this loyalty that Dragon suspected would be needed for whatever was about to happen, because the actions that had already been taken assured the man that something would be happening. The young Hokage had shown no fear or wariness facing the chakra mass, and had not shown any expectation of an attack, yet he had called for medics. That meant either he planned to do something that would result in injuries to the group Dragon had called, whoever had created the chakra mass would be injured, or they would be starting a fight with the originator of thing that as yet had an unidentified purpose. If the third did occur, it was becoming less and less likely that the creator was an actual enemy, which made it necessary for the selected team to be willing to follow orders no matter what shape their "victims" might take. Questioning orders based on morals could not be allowed, so Dragon had chosen his team specifically for their loyalty to the Hokage, which was to the point that others might see it instead as viciousness, blood-thirstiness, and lack of morality.

The other ninja moved off as the 7 ANBU and slightly surprised, but hiding it well, jounin circled the chakra mass in a much looser and more spread out defense. As the minutes passed, the chakra continued to gain strength, but remained nearly the same size, becoming more and more solid. It also flattened into a disk shape, and took on the appearance and consistency of a smooth surface. Nothing more seemed to happen, however, before the Hokage returned.

He approached with a rather large scroll under one arm. It appeared he had not only collected the scroll, but also the person following behind him. With long white hair, old-fashioned clothing, and a giant scroll strapped to his back, the newcomer was easily identified by the group as Jiraiya. The Toad Sage of the Legendary Sannin and the current Hokage's old sensei followed the blond with an exasperated but curious expression that gave the impression that he had no idea what exactly was going on.

The older seals master let out a low whistle as the two approached, and the exasperation dropped from his face in the blink of an eye. Once again crossing the ring of shinobi to stand before the chakra mass, the Hokage took his eyes off the phenomenon only to scan the group Dragon had chosen and to give said ANBU an approving nod. The blond-haired man, trailed by his white-haired ex-mentor crouched on the ground by the chakra and slowly unrolled the scroll he had brought. As it opened the surrounding ninja couldn't help but take a quick glance at the scroll, and then a much longer one as they processed the information it held.

The scroll held a technique which implemented seals, which explained the presence of Jiraiya, but it was the purpose of the technique that drew the groups attention. Set before them was a scroll entirely devoted to the theory of time-and-space movement. It was little known that it was such theories that had allowed the Yondaime to develop his hiraishin technique, which was now added into the margins of the scroll, missing only the final precise seals necessary to use the technique. It seemed that this was not the only thing the Hokage had worked on from this scroll, either. Towards the very end of the scroll, squeezed into the margins next to a proposed seal sequence for a similar movement technique, only planned for a much bigger impact, were notes on problems with the proposed sequence, recommended corrections, uncertainties in the procedure, and possible consequences if it were improperly done.

It was as they read a theory on the creation of this "time-and-space mass movement technique" they became focused on two main points. One was the possible appearance the "gate" between the original site and time and the new point would take. The second was on the need for a corresponding seal sequence to be done at the receiving point to prevent any chance of instability in the technique, which was also a risk if the people performing the technique failed to properly draw the seals in specific form and arrangement. The consequence of instability was added in after this recommendation and emphasized. 'Risk of explosion of the site of the attempt on both ends or implosion of the time stream and complete destruction of specific time line.'

With widening eyes, the group looked between the two seals masters now clearing the ground around the newly named "gate" and setting out supplies, the apparently harmless scroll which described the possible demise of the entire world if the seal master on the other side of the gate didn't know what they were doing, and the still powering up gate that suddenly seemed a lot more important than it had when everyone decided it wasn't an attack. For a moment Dragon wondered why the Hokage would risk anchoring an unknown person's gate to Konoha when it might now be the means of getting to the village to attack, rather than the attack itself. But then he realized: that was where the instability causing an explosion/implosion came into effect. They didn't have a choice, and nothing they did could help if their corresponding seal maker was incompetent.

Dragon's thoughts were rounded up by a singular statement from Lizard.

"Well, fuck."