Ahoy, people XD. This is my first time publishing a fanfic, and I hope I'm doing fine. Any tips, help, suggestion, whatever would be very welcome... including pointers on navigating this place XD.


Chapter One: First Contact

"…. Wake up, brother."

Senju Hashirama groaned as someone tapped him on the shoulder. Lying on the ground with no idea how he had gotten there was certainly not something he liked. He sat up clumsily, blinking, as he tried to place the familiar yet odd voice. "…. You sound like Tobirama," he eventually mumbled.

"It is me," the speaker replied from beside him, clearly amused. "I'm guessing your mind's still feeling scrambled; I was rather disorientated when I woke up, myself. Then again, somehow growing over a decade younger might do that."

"What?" The Shodai Hokage suddenly felt very wide awake. Any trace of sleepiness certainly vanished when he turned to look at his brother.

The boy kneeling next to him wore a fur-trimmed blue jacket over a black shirt, along with dark blue pants and sandals. Spiky white hair framed a round face with an orange stripe marking the chin and each cheek. He was unmistakably Senju Tobirama. Aged ten or so.

"It's no genjutsu," Tobirama remarked, correctly interpreting his brother's expression. "Not a dream either."

Hashirama tore his gaze away, looking around. A boy about Tobirama's current age sat nearby, the characteristic white eyes of the Hyuuga watching him. The three of them sat in a forest clearing, sunlight shining down, a cold breeze rustling the leaves. The trees felt foreign to the Mokuton user; wherever they were, it certainly wasn't in the Fire Country. "So…. What happened?"

His brother shrugged. "I don't know. Woke up nearby, stumbled around, nearly fell over the Hyuuga, nearly screamed like a girl when he jumped up and attacked me, he near enough screams when he not only fails to properly make his nerve strike, but realizes I'm Second Hokage."

"You exaggerate, Nidaime-sama," the other boy stated calmly. "It is good to see that you are awake, Shodai-sama. I am Hyuuga Hizashi."

The boy with white-blond hair and dark eyes sat at one end of the clearing. The girl with pale mint-green hair and orange eyes sat at the other end. The two eyed each other warily.

"Go away," the girl said.

"Why?" The boy did not seem put off by her hostility, only curious.

"I don't like people, and they don't like me," she retorted. "Now go away."

He nodded understandingly. "People didn't like me either," he commented. "I guess they still don't, but I wouldn't know."

She looked at him suspiciously. "Why wouldn't you know?"

He frowned, hesitating, then decided it didn't matter. "The last thing I remember is killing myself."

The girl did not reply. Her fierce scowl slipped from her face, replaced by a thoughtful look. They sat in contemplative silence for a while, until the chirping of a bird drew their attention.

It perched on a branch, beady black eyes looking about. The small, plump body and round head was patterned in striking dark grey and white, while the beak and feet were orange. A tuft of feathers sticking up on top of the head lent the creature a comical feel.

"Konoha has nothing like that," the boy whispered.

"Neither does Taki," the girl muttered. "This place is weird."

"I agree," the boy said with a small smile. "What's your name?"

Her eyes narrowed. "Fuu. Why?"

"I'm Sakumo."

"I don't care."

"That's fine by me." They continued watching the strange bird in silence. Fuu occasionally sneaked a glance at the odd boy.

"How old are you supposed to be, Nawaki?" the orange-haired boy asked as they walked through the woods together, glancing around cautiously.

"Twelve, Yahiko," the brown-haired boy replied. "Why?"

"I'm supposed to be sixteen," Yahiko said, frowning at the odd paw prints on the ground. "Or eighteen. Definitely taller than this. At least you're about your own age. What about you, Utakata?"

The lanky boy trailing behind had a distant, thoughtful look on his face that was mostly obscured by his black bangs of hair. "I should be taller too," he answered distractedly.

The sapling stood as high as Hashirama's nose. He frowned at it, and the young plant stretched to just above his head. Suppressing an undignified huff, he sat down, examining the dark red jacket he now wore over a plain black shirt and pants. While the clothing was certainly to his taste, he was sure he had never seen them before in his life, which brought up even more questions to add to the steadily growing list.

"So, molding and using chakra is still possible," Sarutobi Hiruzen observed, fingering a small patch of burnt grass. His predecessors had found him just two trees away with Hizashi's help some minutes ago. "Although difficult, possibly due to the current state of our bodies." The Sandaime Hokage certainly did not like the pitiful result of his attempt at a Fire Release technique. "How do things look, Hizashi?"

"To my eyes, honoured Hokages, we are quite alive and well," Hizashi said, deactivating his Byakugan with a tired sigh. Having confirmed that they were all supposed to be dead, the presence of a heartbeat in each of them was a shock. Especially since Hizashi had certainly never met the First and Second Hokage in the flesh before. "Your chakra circulatory systems appear to be normal, though perhaps not channeling quite as much power as one would expect. And, if you will forgive my saying so, Shodai-sama, you have all the chakra control of a rookie genin."

Hashirama did not contradict the remark.

"Also," Hizashi continued, smoothly moving past the awkward moment, "we are not the only ones in this stretch of forest. I counted nine others in addition of ourselves, all with equally powerful chakra signatures….and equally poor control."

"So they may have arrived under the same circumstances we did," Hiruzen mused.

"Senju, Hyuuga, Sarutobi….we could use an Uchiha, round off nicely our group of representatives from the most powerful clans of Konoha," Tobirama noted wryly.

"Famous last words, brother," Hashirama muttered, looking up.

A thin boy in a dark blue high-collared shirt and light grey pants perched on a tree branch, watching them with too-serious dark eyes. "You look like the Nidaime Hokage," the boy said.

The white-haired boy scowled. "Because I am the Nidaime," he replied, affecting a tone of exasperation. "Who are you?"

Hiruzen's eyes widened. "Uchiha Itachi."

"The two of you look lost," the blue-eyed boy stated, the breeze ruffling his unruly head of spiky blond hair.

The green-eyed boy glanced at the brown-eyed boy, and back to the boy who had spoken. "We are lost," he said simply.

The blond-haired boy said nothing for a moment, looking them over. The green-eyed boy had shoulder-length white hair, one lock of which was bound in a red hair tie. He wore a black sleeveless shirt, dark grey pants and black sandals, with a grey-striped white jacket tied around his waist. His companion had straight black hair, worn shoulder-length too but without any accessory, and was dressed in a teal sleeveless jacket over a pale blue long-sleeved shirt, along with deep green pants and blue sandals. Both boys had a short, slender built.

"I'm lost too," the blond-haired boy admitted, flashing a brief grin. "Perhaps we could search together?"

The black-haired boy nodded. "That would be nice," he said with a small smile. This boy in the blue long-sleeved shirt and matching pants seemed alright. "I'm Haku."

"I'm Kimimaro," the white-haired boy said.

"I'm Minato," the blue-eyed boy replied. "It's a pleasure to meet the two of you. Come on, let's start walking."

"What do you think of that odd duck?" Tobirama asked, still glancing back at the bushes which the yellow-feathered waddling creature had vanished into.

"Not native to Konoha or the lands around it, that is for certain," his former student replied. The five Konoha-nin – or four Konoha-nin and one missing-nin – were walking through the forest, closing in on a pair of the chakra signatures Hizashi had spotted earlier.

"We may not be anywhere near the Five Great Nations," Itachi suggested. "Given that each of us distinctly remembers dying-"

"We might be in the afterlife?" Tobirama remarked. "Doesn't explain why we would meet each other just now, though; I died well before Sarutobi did, and you said you died three years later than he did. Unless there is some spooky you-are-here-for-a-purpose thing going on."

Minato, Haku and Kimimaro peered out from behind the trees. They appeared to had come to the edge of a small town. The blond-haired boy knelt, touching a finger to the ground. "I don't sense any shinobi…. I think. Perhaps only one," he said, frowning. "Though there do seem to be a number of odd chakra signatures….similar to animal summons, but I can't place it."

"We should not go in unprepared," Kimimaro noted.

"I have no weapons with me," Haku informed them, checking his person.

Minato performed a similarly futile search, shrugged, and lifted his hand, palm facing up. A blue sphere of energy slowly condensed in his hand. The other two boys stared. He grimaced, allowing the chakra to dissipate. "Too slow. It's going to take a lot of training to get back up to my usual standard….what are you doing, Kimimaro….?"

The white-haired boy was gritting his teeth in concentration, his left arm held out before him. Haku's eyes widened as a knob of white protruded at an angle from his wrist, quickly followed by a length of polished white, tapering to a sharp point as Kimimaro grasped and drew it. Passing it to a stunned Minato, he produced two more bone knives in succession, giving one to Haku and keeping the other for himself.

"Bloodline limit?" Haku eventually asked, an odd note in his voice.

"Yes." Kimimaro raised an eyebrow at his look.

"I have one too," Haku explained, lifting a hand. Ice shards crystallised in his palm. "My mother was killed because of it. My father tried to do the same to me." The expression on his face was inscrutable.

"My clan feared me and locked me away," Kimimaro replied in the same emotionless tone. The two glanced at Minato. He did not miss the flash of wariness in those looks.

"I know people with kekkei genkai abilities," Minato said neutrally. "The people of my village do not harbour hate or fear for any such person. But I have never seen a talent like yours, Kimimaro. How durable is this?" He indicated the bone weapon.

"Stronger than the finest steel." Kimimaro seemed glad for the change in topic, as did Haku. "I can increase the density of any bones I create so that they become almost indestructible."

"Ah." There was a momentary silence, broken by a stranger's voice.

"Who's there?"

Minato suppressed a wince – had he allowed himself to be so distracted a civilian could surprise them? – and duly stepped out into plain view to face the speaker.

A slender man dressed sharply in blue and black stood there, mild curiosity on his angular face and in his dark eyes. His hair was black and stuck out in all directions, but had a slightly squashed look to it that suggested recent use of a hat.

The oddest creature Minato had ever seen stood next to the man.

It had a head shaped like a hound or wolf, with tall sharp ears and a pointed snout, as well as piercing red eyes. Four lobes of some sort hung at the back of its head. The animal, if it was an animal, was bipedal, each limb ending in a three-toed paw. The head and limbs were a rich blue, marked with black, and the torso was yellow-furred. A stiff thin tail was just noticeable behind it. What appeared to be metal spikes adorned the chest and the back of each forepaw.

"What is that?" Minato heard himself ask.

The man smiled. "That's a Lucario."