"What? A revolution?"
The pale-haired boy looked back and forth between Sasuke and Karin. Sasuke had let Karin do the talking of course; he wasn't really one for charismatic talks anyway, and it was really Karin who was the brains of this operation regardless. Every time Orochimaru slinked out of hearing range, times that were few and far between, he and Karin worked to pull in another person to their side. Suigetsu was a bit of a wild card. He'd been captured by Orochimaru and used for experimentation, and even now the boy was kept in a sealed water tank, unable to leave without the seal's removal.
"If that means I get to cut that bastard snake up, sure. But then you'll probably just stick me back in the tank once you're done, won't you?" Suigetsu gave Karin a grin.
"Not at all." Karin shook her head. "The plan is simply to ensure your freedom when hell breaks loose, with the promise that you won't harm any of our people. After that, you go where you please."
"And what if I wanna cut you up too, huh? You've done just as much damage to people like me as the snake has."
Karin glanced at Sasuke. Sasuke in turn looked to Suigetsu. He activated his Sharingan, and with a small push of his thumb moved the blade of his sword slightly out from his sheath.
"Ah, so you'll sic your dog on me? Priceless, but at least you've got a contingency plan."
"A future Otokage has to be prepared." Karin retorted. "I've even got a little something extra for you that'll whet your appetite. You help us out with this revolution, and I'll point you in the direction of something real nice."
This, Sasuke had not heard from her yet. He turned to her, as confused as Suigetsu. He saw a smile spread across Karin's face.
"What if I told you I could point you in the direction of the Samehada?"
...oh, that was good. Even Sasuke could admit that. Karin wasn't just pulling Suigetsu to her side, she was fulfilling her end of the bargain to him.
Itachi had last been seen in the company of the rogue Kisame Hoshigaki. Sasuke remembered seeing the monster of a sword in that shinobi's hands...and if Suigetsu wanted Samehada, he could be a distraction. Keep Kisame off his back while he approached Itachi. Karin really was a clever girl.
And Suigetsu had taken the bait. His smug look had transformed to one of interest, and he leaned forward in the water, now very serious. "Listen, Uzumaki. You point me in the direction of that sword and I'll do whatever your little heart desires. I'll be the one to unite the seven swords of Kiri once again. That is a promise."
"Unite them?" Sasuke spoke up. "...so you would want the Kubikiribocho, would you not?"
"Well, duh, Uchiha, that's what uniting them means!"
"Then you'll get the blade, once Karin is Otokage. Then, if you still desire Samehada, I shall lead you to it. Our goals will align." Sasuke pressed an open hand against the glass. They could not shake hands, but this was the next best thing. "I will swear if you do."
Suigetsu did not hesitate. His hand also pressed the glass, mirroring Sasuke.
"Better keep that promise. Just when will this little revolution be anyway?"
"Not soon." Karin explained. "We have much to do. But when the time comes…" She pulled out a violet bandanna, making a show of wrapping it around her arm. "Our people will be wearing these. You got that? No chopping up anyone on our side."
"Fine, fine. No chopping purple. But you know...Orochi's not stupid. He's probably already aware you're up to something."
"I know. In fact, I'm counting on it." Karin insisted. "But I've got a trump card. While Orochimaru's dealing with the threat he thinks is in front of him...he misses something obvious right next to him. Don't you even worry."
Sasuke wasn't sure what Karin's trump card was, but as the two of them left Suigetsu's chamber, she did not seem to lose any of her confidence. She was sure of herself, which meant Sasuke had to be too.
The day was coming. The day where he would be strong enough to face his brother. But before that…
Kabuto had told him that Sakura had aided a rebellion in the newly dubbed Land Hidden in Plains. And Sasuke was never one to let anyone show him up.
"Sakura Haruno has arrived, sir. Along with the traitor."
Danzo did not look from his papers. This was typical for him. His agents would often give dozens of reports throughout the day, and if he was too distracted from his other workings by said reports, he'd never finish anything. This news, specifically, did not come as a surprise to him. He had known for several days now that the newly dubbed 'Shinobi Ambassador' would be arrive within the village walls, along with the agent she had wrestled away from him. Her arrival was simply one step of many in his plans.
"Estimated time for others?"
"Sunagakure's shinobi will be arriving in eight days. Iwa will arrive in ten, and the new Plains in similar time. Kusa and Tani will arrive in two weeks time. Ame is yet unconfirmed. Kumo has declined Konoha's invitation, and Kiri is likely still in upheaval, so they are not expected to arrive."
"You are dismissed."
The agent left, as silently as he had arrived. Two weeks, then, until everyone had arrived. Two weeks to ensure every piece was in place.
There was much to do, so much to do, always so much. But for Konoha?
Danzo would do anything.
In the darkness of his room, Shikamaru moved pieces on a dusty board. With near silent taps, he pushed piece after piece into place. He did not stop until each side was set up in starting position.
The starting positions, however, were not equal. That was not how this game had begun.
The opposing side had gotten a plethora of time to set up their pieces. To some, the game might have seemed decided from the start.
But Shikamaru wouldn't give up this game so easily.
He moved a single piece on his side of the board. It might be some time before he could move a piece again. All of the pieces had not yet arrived. In a small box next to the board, the remaining pieces waited.
There was still time. And Shikamaru had one advantage that the enemy did not.
He was aware of all of the pieces on the board.
The enemy was not.