After the Akatsuki captured Gaara, his friends managed to retrieve him before the Shukaku could be extracted. Two battles ensued: one against Deidara and the other against Sasori.
Sasori was defeated by the combined forces of Sakura and Chiyo, but he managed to escape to a new body in secret. He hasn't returned to the Akatsuki or made his presence known to the world.
Hidan killed Asuma during their confrontation. Later, Shikamaru Nara exacted his revenge by blowing him up and burying him deep under a pile of rocks. Naruto and Kakashi working together managed to defeat Kakuzu, and they returned his corpse to Konoha to be studied. However, Kakuzu, upon realizing the magnitude of the reinforcements summoned, sacrificed one of his hearts to create a solid clone body to "die" in his place. He hung back and located and repaired Hidan. Both men then left the scene and returned to the Akatsuki, thought dead by the bingo books.
While Pein intends to teach the world maturity by fear, Tobi has a separate, clashing goal. He intends to use the moon to put an eternal genjutsu over the world. To enact his plan, he requires not only all nine bijuu, but also the Rinnegan, which serves as the biggest reason he keeps Pein close at hand. Both men desire peace, but they have different plans on how to obtain it.
Amongst the realistic world, however, Orochimaru has been believed dead. Hearsay would have it that the snake lord's once loyal and bookish servant has gone into hiding, planning on staying in solitude away from public scrutiny for his previous allegiances. However, some speculate that the bespectacled man may actually be planning something greater for the future. In reality, upon Orochimaru's death Kabuto absorbed the remains of his master's DNA into his system and yes, indeed, went into hiding. The new cells are inside of him and slowly transforming him to adapt to Orochimaru's power, changing his being entirely. Until his transformation grows closer to being complete, Kabuto will be working in the shadows and preparing new jutsu.
Once he gains power, it's likely that Kabuto will experiment in jutsu his successor left behind, including mastery of snakes, sound, and perhaps even the elusive Edo Tensei. Once Kabuto begins meddling between the worlds of the living and the deceased, will there be any stop to his power, or will he be overshadowed by the ever-growing Akatsuki?
This roleplay takes place after the "Zombie Combi" arc but with canon having taken a few alternate routes: Gaara still possesses the Shukaku. The Akatsuki begins in possession of only Yugito, who is still alive but imprisoned, and Yagura is still the ruler of Kirigakure under Tobi's hypnosis. Sasuke has defeated Orochimaru and formed Hebi but hasn't confronted his brother yet.