As he heard the report of his underlings, Shimura Danzo was for the first time in his long life, struck dumb.

"Repeat yourself," he snapped at Torune, who seemed distinctly uncomfortable at being put on the spot.

"Lord Raiha introduced the jinchuuriki of the two-tails as his wife. From what I can guess, she has defected from Kumogakure completely, and is now with Tsunade-sama, who seems to be in the process of debriefing her. I am unaware as to how this situation came to be. We had no indication that Lord Raiha had someone accompanying him, much less someone of this stature," Torune replied back, to which Danzo gripped his cane in sheer frustration.

Just as I think I have a bead on the boy, he does something more outrageous than his last actions. He growled gutturally as his frustration finally boiled over despite his iron-clad control over his emotions. He idly dismissed his men, even as he began to pace around in his chambers.

Be calm, let me analyze what has been revealed so far.

Kumo comes for a peace treaty, but it is a ruse to kidnap the heiress of the Hyuuga clan. However, the boy immediately counters the plot and resolves the situation. Too quick a reaction, and it was as if he had precise information about the plot beforehand. With the revelation of his wife, it makes more sense. Come to think of it, Tsunade had a chat with the girl after the council! How did I forget that? This means Tsunade had planned for all of this in advance. Hmm, with Orochimaru's betrayal and Jiraiya's buffoonery, we all just pushed her down the totem pole in importance, to speak nothing of not bothering to care about her whereabouts in her self-exile. A critical lapse on my part seeing as this allowed her to raise the boy in secret. I should not have forgotten that for all her vices, she is the granddaughter of the 'Shinobi no Kami' and the grand-niece of my mentor. Clearly, even in its direst straits, the blood of the Senju runs potent. It is as if Tsunade has remade herself into the Senju Toka of this generation. Hmm …

Danzo got up and began to pace around as he tried to reorganize his thoughts.

Hmm … with my delicate political struggles with Hiruzen, I actually blinded myself to events occurring outside the village. To lose interest in tracking of a critical asset like Tsunade was an extremely major lapse on my part. Or was this a part of Hiruzen's ploy? By keeping me engulfed in a shadow political war, he diverted my attention away from such matters. Hmm … well played … old friend … well played indeed …

He sat down on his chair, even as he began to jot down his observations on a piece of paper to outline his views.

One, Tsunade clearly has a lot more secrets than she has revealed so far. It seems as though she has completely transformed herself in her extended exile.

Two, the boy was clearly trained exceptionally well. From what I can see, he has been given access to Tobirama-sama's notes and journals and he is well on his way to mastering those skills. This is clearly a plus point for Konoha. Hiruzen and I are old, and Tsunade and Jiraiya while capable, cannot continue to protect Konoha for more than another ten years at best, before age gets to them as well. With Minato's death, there is nobody in the new generation to whom this village and its future safety can be entrusted to. Of the new generation, Hatake, Maito and Itachi were originally the only prospective candidates. Hatake is too damaged mentally by his past, and while Maito has the strength, he does not elicit the level of respect a Kage needs. Itachi is capable, but his health is weak. And now, suddenly, with his appearance, Raiha checks all the requirements, but he lacks the experience as an active shinobi to build up his credibility.

Which … here Danzo paused, even as a metaphorical lightbulb went off in his brain … is what his current actions amount to.

Here, Danzo chuckled as everything became clear to him in a flash.

Tsunade is grooming the boy to take her seat.

All the actions the boy has taken till date have been extremely beneficial for Konoha with absolutely zero losses.

Kumo has been neutered for at least the next three years. Of all the current Kage, only the Raikage was an active threat. When Minato was alive, he had been cowed, but as soon as the fourth died, he began to flex his muscles. Now, with Raiha's actions, there is an active civil war in the Land of Lightning. The Gold and Silver brothers and their lineage was a threat used by the Lightning daimyo to browbeat the Hidden Cloud village. Now, with their death, Kumo has a chance to get rid of the tyrannical Mori clan which has ruled Kaminari no Kuni with an iron grip for nearly two centuries. But, with the defection of one of their two jinchuuriki, Kumo's strength has been greatly weakened. It will take nearly three years at most for everything to settle. After that, even if he wants to, the Raikage cannot take action against us, because his forces will be depleted in the civil war. Furthermore, we will have accurate intelligence on the Cloud village's capabilities due to the boy's wife. Kumo will have to rebuild before it even thinks of revenge. Which means they will have to rethink strategies, deployments, and training methods to account for the loss of intelligence from the jinchuuriki's defection, which will again, affect the cohesion of their forces. All in all, it will take another four years for Kumo's forces to stabilize. Overall, we have gained seven years of peace with one single assassination. By that time, the next generation of the village will be ready and prepared for the next war. Absolutely flawless! This is an epitome of what shinobi strategy is meant to be!

Danzo chuckled in appreciation, even as he relaxed for a bit, before going back to his thoughts.

Added to this, is the fact that we have gained a new jinchuuriki. With the destruction of the nine-tails, we were in a precarious spot. But now, we have gained a jinchuuriki who has been trained to wield her beast's power without any drawbacks. Only the Fourth Mizukage and the Fourth Raikage's brother can claim greater control over their beast's. But with access to the First Hokage's scrolls on the tailed beast's, she can also be trained to get complete control over her beast as well. All that is needed, is to ensure her loyalty to the leaf, but considering the boy and his precision, I need not be worried too much on that front. Still, it would be wise to keep a minor detail on the woman for a few days, just in case.

Here, Danzo stood up and moved towards his desk, and pulled up his roster of agents to see who could be placed as minders for their new jinchuuriki.

Hmm … it seems that I will have to bring this up with the boy when he speaks to me. He has conveyed his intentions to speak to me via Fuu already. Besides, if Tsunade is grooming him to be the next Hokage, seven years is more than enough to burnish his credentials. All that is needed is to ensure that the other clans not resent the fact that the Hokage post is being monopolized by the Senju clan for the most part. Hiruzen and Minato were the exceptions, but even they were Senju influenced. If the boy is taking after his grandfather instead of his grand-uncle, then he will be a superb Hokage! Something which even I have no problems with! But I will still need to soothe the egos of the other clans, the Uchiha foremost despite my reservations. Tsunade has already eased the restrictions on their clan … wait, is this the reason why she … clever … most clever … the girl is already laying down the foundations for the boy's ascension. Hmm … it seems I will need to speak with Kagami to gauge the mood within the Uchiha … Perhaps I need to ease my surveillance on them as well … as a peace offering, Danzo chuckled, and feeling quite content for the first time in many years, left to take a well-deserved rest.

Ironically, for all his self-indulged gloating in brilliantly deducting the rationale behind the events in the village, he did not realize that every single point that he had theorized was factually incorrect. He had just imposed his own thoughts and biases in his deductions and assumed that Tsunade had morphed into some sort of super strategizing genius which she clearly was not. While his estimations on what was happening in Kumo was correct, everything else was … wrong. But as self-assured as he was, he did not even realize that he had completely fallen into a trap of his own making.

Few Days later, In Iwagakure,

As he sat in his office, Onoki, the Third Tsuchikage, was trying to come to grips with the fact that things were completely out of order in the shinobi world recently.

I thought we Iwa Ninja were supposed to be the hard cases of the ninja world! Not those damn hippies! Damn it, I am too old for this shit!

The Tsuchikage growled in consternation as he read through the various reports in front of him. For the last few days, he had been continuously bombarded with emergency missives from his spies, some of whom had even gone to the extent of breaking their cover by sending their reports via summons, something which he expected them to do only when there was a threat of an imminent invasion or an outbreak of war. Then again, the current situation was still fluid enough to snowball into the next world war.

Although, he chuckled, it is good to see that muscle-brained punk humbled for a change. The Raikage had been the only one to not adhere to the pledge of universal disarmament that the five nations had agreed to at the end of the last world war. The arrogant fool had resorted to stockpiling weapons, kinjutsu and had even resorted to bloodline theft to bolster his village's strength. Not that it did him any good. Onoki had had the heads of the fools who had attempted to kidnap a child with the explosion release bloodline mailed to the Raikage, along with an envelope full of dust. All attempts by Kumo to infiltrate Iwa's borders had fallen by half within the following weeks.

But the stubborn idiot had persisted in his efforts. From what his spies had reported, the Kumo Ninja had attempted to enter the mess that was the Kiri civil war next. The Raikage had attempted to bribe the survivors of the bloodline purges with a safe haven in Kumo in return for their loyalty and their bloodlines. Onoki chortled in mirth when he recalled seeing such a crude attempt of blatant power-grabbing. At this point, the rebels were beyond caring about their safety and were hell-bent on killing the Yondaime Mizukage, even if it meant their own annihilation. He recalled that the leader of the rebellion, a woman named Terumi, if he was correct, had melted the messengers alive with Lava as a warning, and had left one blubbering schmuck alive to take the message back to Kumo, ordering them to not interfere in Kiri's matters! The girl had spunk to blow off the Raikage of all people like that, he chuckled. It was pointless to note that the messengers the Raikage had sent with a similar offer to Yagura, with contrasting terms, offering to take care of the rebellion in return for gaining those bloodlines for Kumo, had fared even worse. Even Onoki shivered for a second when he had learnt of how, the by now clearly insane, Yagura, had dealt with those hapless mugs.

The Kazekage on the other hand was far more subtle and efficient. He had simply had the men who had attempted to kidnap a child with the Scorch Release bloodline buried in the desert. Alive. Needless to say, all further attempts by Kumo of that particular sort had ceased in the Land of Wind.

Not being content with that, and maybe to complete the set perhaps, the Raikage had attempted to strike Konoha last. With Namikaze dead, I guess he thought he could prevail, Onoki thought with a huff. And maybe he would have succeeded, Onoki grudgingly added to himself, if Hiruzen were still in charge. His erstwhile peer had clearly been burnt out by handling the Leaf village for four decades, dealing with two world wars and a bijuu attack. He would have buckled under the threat and the strain of mitigating the damage from the attack of the nine-tails on the Leaf village. However, he had retired and let his student take over before that happy possibility. Of all the people he had expected to see succeeding Sarutobi Hiruzen, Senju Tsunade had never even factored as a potential candidate in Onoki's eyes.

And now, we have to deal with the second coming of Tobirama fucking Senju himself! The fact that the Senju girl had been secretly raising the grandson of Tobirama Senju had hit the shinobi world like a thunderbolt out of the blue. He had nearly roasted his head spymaster on a rake of coals for missing out on such a monumental piece of information. His only consolation was the fact that the rest of the world was just as unaware as him, mitigating the shame that he had felt when he had originally learned of this news.

Curiously, the boy had declined to join Konoha's forces, and somehow Tsunade had indulged the boy, much to the shock of the shinobi world. Onoki however, had not bought that charade for a second. He knew by experience, how dangerous a powerful and capable Senju truly was. It was a miracle that Hashirama had died in the first war (taking the First Mizukage, First Raikage and First Kazekage with him along the way) and that the girl had not inherited wood release, Thank God!

With Tobirama's death in the early stages of the second war, the last heavyweight of the clan wars era had died. Hashirama, Madara and Tobirama, all three of them were the reason why Konoha had survived the first war and why the system of hidden villages had proven itself viable in the first place. For the short period that he had stayed with the Leaf village, Madara had certainly done his best to ensure its survival before becoming the most famous rogue ninja in the history of the world. There was a reason why Muu had been forced to wear bandages from head to toe for his whole life after attempting to fight that monster. And remarkably, he had gone to face Madara a second time, taking him along for the ride that time, and scarring him for life as a consequence. He had nearly drunk himself to death, celebrating, when the news came that Hashirama had put that mad dog down.

Now, with his harebrained stunt, the Raikage had once again provoked the wrath of a Senju, and the boy had proven that he was no less capable than his illustrious predecessors. Taking out Hanzo, stealing a bijuu in retaliation from Kumo, and destabilizing the Land of lightning itself; if the news of the newly breaking civil war was true, Onoki shook his head in reluctant admiration. The Raikage had burnt himself beyond recognition this time, and it would be a miracle if he managed to hold on to his position. The losses that Kumo had suffered were that severe.

Which means that the threat of a war is greatly lessened as even the Raikage, as hard-headed as he is, has to realize that a war with Konoha is not a viable proposition at the moment. If that boy can cause a civil war and destabilize a nation in retaliation for just an attempted bloodline theft, I would hate to see how he reacts to an actual declaration of war.

Onoki, at that moment, decided to halt any and all attempts to infiltrate the land of fire for the next two years. Konoha deserved a gift of sorts for curbing the excessive behavior of that arrogant Raikage, and he was a man who paid his debts after all.

As an afterthought, he put his stamp of approval on a missive declaring Senju Raiha an S Class threat with a bounty of two hundred million on his head.

He idly wondered what the other Kage's were thinking about regarding this issue. I hope that they are having as much of a headache as I am, with this mess!

He had no idea.

Author's Note

Well, somehow I finally found the courage to re-update this story. Even I was surprised that the prediction I had made at the end of the previous chapter turned out to be eerily accurate the very next week after that chapter was posted. Orochimaru bringing all the Kage back surprised the hell out of me even though I had made that rant as a joke! From then on, I watched as the Naruto Shippuuden series pulled out one asspull after the other, Obito as Ten-tails Jinchuuriki, Madara's predicted betrayal, then Zetsu's ass pull treachery and the deus ex of Kaguya. Frankly, I just gave up as these zig-zag plotlines ruined the directions I had planned for my original Naruto stories. So, I simply abandoned them out of frustration.

And then, I recently watched the disaster that is Boruto and it sort of made me think that Shippuuden was way better after all. I decided to give my old Naruto stories a go once more. It has been more than six years, but I think I have a rough plan of where I want to take this story forward.

Please be warned beforehand that this is an Alternate Universe story, and the behaviours of certain characters will deviate from canon and I will use them as i see fit, to make use of them in my story.

Updates will be done mostly once every 4 months. I have decided that I need to complete at least one story just to get rid of that bottle neck I have. My inability to complete a story fully has kept me back from updating regularly and I want to complete at least one of my stories, just to prove to myself that I can. Otherwise there is no point in me writing these stories at all. Therefore, while there will be updates from now, they will be much smaller, around 3 to 4k words at best. Shorter chapters means I can dedicate more time to this effort.

To all the readers, who have stubbornly stuck with this story, thanks very much for your continued interest.