It had been an unusual day in Konohagakure.
The village had awoken to a brilliant red cloud painted onto their Hokage Monument. "Dawn is coming," it said. Only some of the more astute members of the village knew that this did not bode well.
The Seventh Hokage, Konohamaru, had paced uneasily in his office for the entire day. He knew what this meant. It had only been a few decades ago that he had helped fight off this "Dawn." Could it be true? What did they want?
Suddenly, one of the Hokage's most loyal Jonin servants entered the room. "There's trouble at the front gate, Lord Hokage!" he yelled. Even Konohamaru could tell his voice was quivering.
"What is it?" Konohamaru inquired. He had a feeling, but...
"We don't know, Hokage-sama. The gates were abandoned by the guards, and any citizens near the gates are nowhere to be found."
Konohamaru knew what this meant.
"I understand. I will address this matter personally."
"But, Hokage-sama, we can handle it our-"
It was too late. Konohamaru had already left to see some old friends.
It was chaos at the front gates.
The guards had long since abandoned their posts, but there was a different fight going on.
A man in a long, black trench coat dotted with red clouds stood in the middle of a multitude of ninja. The man sported a smile... not of happiness, but of pure pleasure. As he looked around at his sport, he picked his targets. He was going to have fun today.
The dozen Konoha genin surrounding the man shifted uneasily as they readied for battle. Children though some of them were, all of them were thinking the same thing: this man wasn't going to leave without a fight.
One of them had just stepped forward to begin the fight, when a new arrival caused them all to pause.
"Hokage-sama!?" they all seemed to cry in unison.
The man in the trench coat's grin grew wider than ever before.
Konohamaru glared at him. "Hmph. I knew you would come for me one day, Zamikaba. Why are you here? What do you want?"
The man named Zamikaba threw his arms up into the air. "So the Hokage is here? I guess we should stop... this fighting..." he joked.
Konohamaru didn't laugh. "There's no need for violence. Tell me what you are here for now, or I will make you leave."
Zamikaba kept on grinning. "I would like to propose... an alliance." The genin were left speechless, and Konohamaru's glare had become so deep that it could burn through steel.
"What is your goal, Zamikaba? I know you always have a reason." Konohamaru responded, unamused by whatever joke Zamikaba was trying to pull.
Zamikaba's face became completely serious. "Tell me, Lord Hokage... have you noticed that the Feudal Lords... are turning against the Leaf?" Suddenly, a wide grin came back to his face. "We can change that," he continued.
Konohamaru maintained an expressionless face, though he was running through every option he could think of in his head. "What could they be planning...?" he thought to himself.
Konohamaru continued his thoughts aloud. "I won't trust any of you new Akatsuki members. I battled with the old Akatsuki as a child... you were demented people. Whatever you have planned, I refuse to be a part of it!"
Suddenly, a new man entered. He wore the same trench coat as Zamikaba, with striking red hair drawn into a ponytail. Konohamaru's eyes narrowed as he redirected his glare to the new arrival.
The red-haired man spoke, first to his partner. "Zamikaba, I see you have started without me. How rude... and typical... of you." He turned to the Hokage. "Hello, Hokage. I am the leader of the Akatsuki, and I have come to make a proposal."
Zamikaba lost his grin and furrowed his brow. "Damn, it took you long enough, Kantaro."
Kantaro turned back to his partner and chuckled. "I like to make dramatic appearances." He turned back to the Hokage, who was simply glaring at him, speechless.
"I'm very sorry about Zamikaba. Let me explain," Kantaro continued, throwing on a grin quite similar to that of Zamikaba's. "You may remember my uncle, Nagato? I'm sure the Sixth Hokage told you of his greatness."
Konohamaru remained unfazed.
Kantaro went on. "You see, I want to purify the legacy of the Akatsuki. I propose an alliance. We are an exceptional group of shinobi, and we are no fools; we are fully aware that you are on the tipping point of war. We would simply like to help."
Konohamaru looked down at the ground. "Damn... they've caught me in a position I can't refuse... and they're right, we are almost at war..."
Konohamaru looked up, but he still didn't lose the piercing glare he had held this entire time. "Yes, I remember Nagato. And, I suppose the threat of war is all too real... I must reluctantly accept your offer."
All of the genin still present simultaneously turned to their Hokage with looks of bewilderment. The two members of the Akatsuki simply grinned and walked peacefully away. Konohamaru frowned and turned his back. He would have a lot to consider today.
"I know their goals aren't that simple; they can't be. They've got something up their sleeves, but... I really don't have a choice. I'm doing this for the village, right?"
The genin watched the two cloaked men leave the village, and there was only one thing on their minds:
Could these Akatsuki be trusted?