*Ahem*… ORDER UP!

XxChapter 13: The Pieces are SetxX

Everybody Faust had requested the day before sat at an extremely large, round council table. The Shadow Squad sat in a row, all looking as they did in Konoha, except for Mei. The alter-ego of the Mizukage was covered in multiple bandages and had quite a few visible bruises. The rage coming off of her was almost tangible, as well. She was obviously quite sore about her last lost, in more ways than one.

"Most of you are probably wondering why I called you here…" Faust began, slowly eying all of his attendees. "Although I'm quite certain Mei here already knows our coming topic of interest."

A deep chuckle echoed throughout the room. "I was wondering what had happened to you, Mei." Onoki mocked. "I always knew you were the weakest of us, but to end up like this—"

He was quickly cut off by a thin needle heading straight for his face. Without any effort at all, Onoki simply tilted his head out of the way while the needle deposited itself in the wall behind him, slowly leaking lava.

"This is off to a great start." Lily said exasperatingly, burying his forehead into his palms.

Hughes, on the other hand, loved it. "These guys are always super fun to watch!"

Then, a terrifyingly disgusting laughter showed itself, the source being none other than the tiny Byro. "I doubt you would feel the same on the opposing end of their wrath, boy."

"Mm. Such a disgusting laugh." Sugarboy commented offhandedly.

Knightwalker, finally having had enough, slammed her fist onto the table. "Can we get on with this? I actually have things to do in this army, you know."

Faust cleared his throat. "Quite. Now then, only Onoki and Tsunade would remember this, but I've already loosely explained things to a few of you. Erza and Sugarboy claim to have encountered a man resembling Namikaze Naruto, and Mei even says to have fought the child."

Tsunade's eyes widened considerably. "He lives?!" She exclaimed. "I thought you had killed the boy yourself!"

"Indeed, I saw the body myself." Onoki added. "He truly lives still?"

Faust nodded grimly. "It would appear so. But few things add up."

"And what would those be?" Ei's gravel-like voice sounded out.

"He's still a child, for one. According to the description they gave me, he hasn't aged a day." Faust revealed. "Additionally, he didn't use any tools for magic, according to Mei. He used magic without his patented 'Hiraishin' kunai. In fact, he fought nothing like the Namikaze we knew at all." He further explained.

"And there's another point to bring to attention as well." Mei's low, annoyed voice spoke, gaining everybody's attention immediately. "He brought up Earthland when explaining his magic. I have reason to believe he hails from said place."

Wide eyes adorned the room. That could mean only one thing.

"He's headed for the lacrima, then?" Lily concluded. "Presumably with Fairy Tail on his side?"

"Which leads us to the purpose of this meeting: how to deal with a possible attack on this capital?" The king asked.

Ei slammed his fist onto the table. "I move to be deployed immediately, along with the rest of my regiment. If Fairy Tail arrives, I WILL be waiting."

"Yes, but we can't mobilize too many troops. The civilians will get antsy, and there might be some overcrowding issues." Onoki argued.

"Then we spread our forces out. There are plenty of border colonies around Edolas that lay between us and Fairy Tail. We may not need to fight in the capital at all." Tsunade suggested.

Mei spat angrily. "I could care less about any of this. I just want to KILL. THAT. BOY!" She yelled.

Gaara finally decided to speak up. "Silence. It's unbecoming, not to mention annoying."

Everybody was quite surprised at the reminder the teen was even in the room. He had merely ben watching in disinterest for a while now.

"Besides. You all seem to forget one, large, additional factor. The Akatsuki."

And THAT is what silenced the room for the longest period yet…

XxBreakxX

Most of Akatsuki sat in a circle around a campfire, obviously in deep discussion.

"So we're really doing this?" Edo-Konan asked.

A small huff was heard to her left, belonging to none other than Edo-Itachi. "It's a bit too late to make such an argument; don't you think so, Konan?"

"Itachi is right." Edo-Nagato agreed. "Hidan may have pushed this plan forward, but it was an inevitability long before such an act."

"HA! If I'd known killing those guys like that would've pushed forward a war like this, it would have happened A LOT sooner!" Edo-Hidan howled.

The leader of Akatsuki just sighed at the man's attitude. He was a strong fighter and a valuable ally for certain, but he was still a bit… off, in terms of mental stability compared to the rest of the group.

"You should have just let me kill them with my art, hm! It would have been so much more beautiful to see their eyes at the moment of their deaths! To see them cower in fear before exploding into a shower of PURE ART!"

…Scratch that, Hidan fitted in just fine.

"Shut up, Deidara. Hidan as well. Don't make me kill you." Edo-Kakuzu scolded.

"FEH!" The immortal (?) spat. "Like you could. But you know that better than anyone else, eh, Kakuzu?"

A sick cackle was heard suddenly, soon revealed to be one of Edo-Kisames making. "Truly, must you all act like such children?" The shark-faced man asked sarcastically.

"Ano sa! Ano sa!" An annoyingly excited and childlike voice yelled. "Where's Zetsu-sempai at?"

Edo-Nagato rubbed his temples in frustration almost immediately. "He's gathering intel, Tobi. We went over this before we left this morning. We're to set up camp and wait while Zetsu checks out the next border checkpoint."

"Oh… Yeah, Tobi knew that, he was just making sure Leader-sama remembered!" Edo-Tobi exclaimed.

"I still don't know why you don't let me just kill him and get him out of our hair…" Edo-Sasori whispered into Edo-Nagato's ear.

"You know very well why." The red head responded in the same tone. "His skills are… unique, to say the least. He's the last one in this group I want against us."

His fellow red head grunted in affirmation. He knew quite well how a mutiny from Edo-Tobi would go. The fact that the man had any political views at all was surprising considering how he acted. But he wouldn't be a member of Akatsuki otherwise. The man, however eccentric, wanted the kingdom gone just as much as the rest of them.

"I don't believe it'll be as easy as it sounds, though. Do you honestly believe we can just waltz in and clean up at our leisure? At least one or more of us…" Itachi started, gaining everybody's attention.

"Will undoubtedly perish in battle. Of that I can be certain." He finished lowly, closing his eyes and exhaling.

The red-haired leader of Akatuski hesitated only but a moment, before answering with undeniable certainty. "If you fear such an outcome, then you shouldn't be here." Edo-Nagato said.

Edo-Itachi merely smiled at the response. "I never said I did. I was merely making sure we all knew what we were getting into." He paused to look at the rest of the group, all with a fiery look in their eyes (minus Edo-Tobi). "I see now that my concerns were unfounded. I believe we are ready for this."

"With that, I can assume we're ready to go over our plans." Edo-Nagato started. We'll go in order of your rings. Tell me your jobs."

Edo-Sasori started, having worn the left thumb ring. "I will assist in combat as necessary on our path to the capital. Once we reach it though, I will break off from the group to encase all entry points to the city in string traps. Nobody will be getting in OR out after our arrival."

Edo-Hidan spoke next, having the left index finger ring. "Heh, my job's the best. I kill. On the way there, when we're there, doesn't matter. Nagato says enemy, I stab."

Edo-Kakuzu, holder of the left middle finger ring was next. "I'll be working in tandem with Hidan to bring down the bulk of the enemy army. When the opportunity presents itself, or I'm forced to do so, I'll break off from our pair and engage any high profile targets. If a captain shows, Hidan will stay in place while I handle the larger threat."

Edo-Kisame wore the one on the left ring finger, and thus went next. "I won't be entering the city in the first place. There's a large military harbor on the western side, and I'll be turning their boats upside down. No naval combat or transportation will be happening on my watch.

Edo-Tobi was next in line with the left pinkie finger ring. "Tobi will be using his… talents to break Yahiko-sempai out of prison! After that, well… Should I fight or something? I could do that too." Getting a small nod from Edo-Nagato, Edo-Tobi gave a thumbs up. "OK! Save Yahiko-sempai, kill bad guys. Not necessarily in that order, but whatever!"

The ring for the right pinkie finger was held by Edo-Zetsu, currently not present. "I speak for Zetsu on this one, since his orders come from me specifically. Zetsu will do detailed scouting runs at every checkpoint on the way to the city. Once there, he'll split into two and have one come in contact with me while the other pinpoints the locations of the Shadow Squad and relays it to me." Edo-Nagato explained.

"I believe that's where I come in." Edo-Itachi said, holding the right ring finger one. "I'll stay on standby until Zetsu gives Nagato intel on the Shadow Squad's location. I'll be handling Gaara if things go well, otherwise Tsunade will be my target."

Edo-Konan, with the right middle finger ring, spoke next. "I'll be on that duty as well. Preferably Onoki or Mei should come into contact with me."

Edo-Deidara held the right index finger ring, and was next. "I'll be taking down some of the more… important buildings in the city. The knight barracks and the castle are high priority. My explosives should do the job, hn. I'll be on standby for a Shadow Squad member if things get messy though."

And Edo-Nagato was last, holding the right thumb ring. "I'll be going straight for the leader of the Shadow Squad. Ei needs to go down, and fast. Once everybody's jobs are complete, we should convene on the castle. Or at least its ruins if things go as planned. I have no doubt Faust will pull out Dorma Anima if things get that far. Naruto couldn't beat it alone, and I doubt any of us could. We take it together." He said before pausing.

"Any questions?"

There were none. Akatsuki was ready.

XxBreakxX

"Are we there yet?" Natsu's annoyed voice complained.

Edo-Wendy huffed. They were currently trotting through the desert at a steady pace, but Natsu seemed less than pleased at how long things were taking. "No. Now do you guys even have any idea what you'll be doing when you get there? And don't you dare ask me to fight anybody. I'm just dropping you guys off and running."

Naruto put a hand to his chin and hummed. "Well, I'm at full combat strength, so if one of those Shadow Squad dudes or a captain comes at me, I can take 'em. But I suppose looking for that lacrima stuff is more important. I'll make some clones and have them transform to do some information gathering. You know, ninja stuff."

Gazille just laughed dryly, not a hint of humor present. "Yeah, that's about all we CAN do. Until Mystogan shows up with those magic pill things, none of us but blondie will be able to fight. We're fucking useless. We just keep low, and have our eyes and ears open."

"I agree. There's not much more to be done until we're combat ready." Wendy agreed.

"Are we there yet?" The Fire Dragon Slayer intoned once more.

"No." Edo-Wendy replied immediately. "So you guys can't use that chakra stuff like Naruto? Sucks for you. I don't see why you didn't wait for that one dude who can apparently fix it to come on by. You're walking into a beehive without a suit on." She pointed out.

The blonde shinobi decided to fill her in. "Yeah, people on Earthland don't use chakra like I do, but that's not really important. We're pressed for time, majorly. Even if we're not combat ready, knowing where everybody is as soon as possible is the best possible move for us at this point. And besides, Mystogan is heading directly to the capital with the pills. You think he would know that we would ignore our earlier plan, then hunt down where the guild moved to, and still have enough time to save our friends? Hell no. We play with the cards we've got."

"Blondie's right." The Iron Dragon Slayer agreed. "We may not be able to do much, but it's better than nothing. Knowledge is power, right? Or some shit like that, I don't know. Sure beats waiting, I'll tell you that much."

"I think it's a good plan too." The Wind Dragon Slayer followed.

"Are we there yet?"

"NO!"

XxChapter EndxX

Sorry for the wait guys. A whole bunch of shit coupled with my innate laziness caused this hiatus, but better late than never, right? This was a medium length filler chapter serving the sole purpose on building up excitement. Matchups are teased, combat scenarios are put into place, and things should be wild once all parties finally meet, some obviously not expecting the other!

The next chapter will come in a week or so, and I guarantee the first Akatsuki fight scene then, hopefully up to par with my standards. See you soon!

Xeno out, peace.