Thank you for the support. Really appreciate it throughout the story.
Music Recommendation (For Last Part of Chapter)- Medal of Honor Warfighter (2012) With Honors (Soundtrack OST)- Available on Youtube.
Hero of Humanity
Madara looked at the somber Zetsu in front of him as the creature finished his report of what transpired on Tiger Hill after the Spartans and the remaining Zetsu survivors were ordered to retreat. Only a fraction of their original army had returned back to their hideout to rejoin the last 30,000 Zetsu left in reserve for exactly such an outcome. The Uchiha leader had revived those Spartans who had fallen and healed the injured Zetsu with the help of his Rinnegan, just as he had promised Naruto.
"They butchered my comrade" whispered Madara, black rage evident in his frightening killing intent making the Zetsu tremble but earned nothing but cold silence from the Spartan leaders nearby. Especially Kushina Uzumaki who looked ready to butcher the enemies who not only killed but mutilated the body of the man she loved.
"They couldn't face Naruto like men...so the bastards mutilated his corpse to make themselves feel victorious" spat Kushina furiously,
"Even in death, Naruto destroyed their last and most powerful leaders. While the Allies still have 50,000 fighters...they lack anyone who can stand up to your power, Lord Madara. Lord Naruto saw to that when he destroyed all their Kages including the Senju brothers..." reported the Zetsu,
"God bless his soul"
The Spartan officers were surprised to hear that sincere prayer from the Uchiha leader, but one look at him showed them that the man truly loved Naruto like the son he wished for but never had.
"The Sealing of the tailed beasts is complete, we even revived the dead Jinchuuriki except Yagura who wanted to die- just as we promised Lord Naruto so they could be returned back to their nations. Naruto's sacrifice gave us the chance to finish this...execute it now by using this power. The Vow renouncing war can end this conflict before more lives are needlessly lost. It's what Naruto wanted" reminded Black Zetsu, who had overseen the entire sealing operation.
Nagato, Hayate, Kasumi and Kushina were about to protest angrily when Madara raised his hand making them stop before the Uchiha then turned towards Black Zetsu.
"Don't remind me of what Naruto wanted. I know it better than any of you for he told me...it's true I can end this now. But I won't" promised Madara coldly,
Madara Uchiha got up from his seat and looked directly at Nagato Uzumaki who had the same drive inside his eyes after hearing what was done to his brother's corpse.
"Prepare for battle, deploy all remaining forces for the Allies are rushing here with all haste before the combined might of Kirigakure and Uzushiogakure fall upon them from behind" ordered Madara,
"It will be done...and then we kill them all" demanded Nagato mercilessly, earning nods from the remaining three Spartans in the room.
"No...we will butcher every last one of them. There will be no mercy for anyone of them even if they try to surrender...not after what they did to Naruto. But it's too merciful still...Naruto was like a son to me, the only comrade who truly understood me and stood by my side against the entire world. I can't ever forgive or forget what was done to him by these 'heroes' who call us monsters...they called us darkness, so I will show what a true monster is unlike the kind hearted man they butchered on Tiger Hill" promised Madara, vengeance burning in his Rinnegan eyes.
Nagato felt a cold shiver grip his heart upon those words and Madara's decision next proved his misgivings.
"We will murder their armies, conquer their homelands and destroy all the hidden villages they hold so dear alongwith everyone in it till they are nothing but distant memory. They will all die screaming!" said Madara furiously,
Madara blinked in surprise upon hearing that stern command as Nagato stepped forward towards him making the rest of the three Spartan officers follow his lead.
"Have you forgotten what they did to your brother, boy?" asked Madara furiously, earning a scathing glare in return.
"He was my brother...my blood, my family. Don't ever presume to misunderstand our love for him, but my brother understood mercy...and honor" reminded Nagato bravely, making Madara soften a little and give him a gentle smile.
"You are as stubborn as your brother and honorable" grunted Madara,
"I can imagine no higher praise" accepted Nagato without a flinch,
"Honor got your brother killed, boy. The Young Wolf was the best of us...and they butchered him. I will not let that go unpunished" swore Madara stubbornly, curiously referencing to the title the survivors of Tiger Hill so fanatically referred to their fallen Commander by now.
"Neither will we, Lord Madara. But my brother wished for a world free of war and revenge, he died for it. We will kill their soldiers but not civilians and innocent children. Iwagakure was an exception which we didn't know about...I will not allow it to become the norm of this Federation we have fought, bled and died for" warned Nagato coldly,
"We will not allow you to destroy the remaining hidden villages and its citizens in the name of senseless revenge" promised Kushina fiercely,
"We are soldiers, not animals unlike the Allied madmen! Naruto would never forgive us if we unleashed a river full of blood of innocents in his name! He regretted similar actions of his own in the past and died to atone for that by creating a better world! You will not dishonor his memory and wishes, Madara Uchiha!" warned Nagato icily,
Madara was stunned as he looked upon the Spartans and their unflinching resolve even after all they had suffered.
They were no match for him and he doubted they could stop him if he went ahead with his vengeance, there was practically no one left who could match his power now...Naruto saw to that.
His heart broke as he remembered that young and gallant Commander who willingly marched to his death for Madara's dream. He had known he would never see the boy he respected and loved ever again...but was horrified upon learning the manner of his death and the mutilation of his corpse afterwards by their enemy.
Madara wanted their enemies to feel the pain they had caused him.
But a part of his heart knew that Naruto would never approve the slaughter of innocents afterwards.
"You honorable fool..."
The Spartans watched in surprise as Madara collapsed into his seat in frustration and clenched his fist tightly.
"Naruto made me the leader of this Federation that we wanted to build, I wish I can bring him back but even I can't steal a soul back from the God of Death himself" confessed Madara sadly,
Kushina teared up as she heard that harsh truth, the smallest of hope within her heart died but she still remained standing for a time of sorrow would come later...now she had to avenge Naruto or die trying. That was all she had left...
"He was the son I never had...I would have named him my heir- to lead this better world that we were fighting for once I am dead and gone from this world. But now..."
As Madara wallowed in his regrets, he felt a firm hand being placed upon his shoulder and looking up he saw Nagato Uzumaki giving him an understanding nod.
"My brother knew your feelings, Lord Madara. He is gone...but his dream is not. He believed you could finish what you both started...and we will support you in reaching that dream, but not upon the corpses of innocents and burned villages" assured Nagato, strong but respectful in his declaration.
"For Naruto" echoed Kushina tearfully,
"For Naruto" agreed Hayate and Kasumi Uzumaki loyally,
Madara held back his regrets and sorrow as he stood back upon his feet and looked at the Spartans with determination.
"For Naruto" he agreed with a solemn nod,
Inoue Namikaze found herself at the head of a formidable army as it charged towards the battlefield with all haste without pause. Looking back, she saw the Uzumaki shinobi were devoted towards their duty and held great affection for the Spartans whom they felt they had failed in the past.
But it was the Kirigakure forces that stunned her.
They loved her son more than his own countrymen ever had.
It showed in every single one of their shinobi as they had fought with maddening courage and devotion in their last battle, and even now as they charged valiantly to meet an even larger and stronger army for their beloved Kage.
She never thought shinobi could ever be loyal to this degree, her disbelief must have been easy to witness as she saw Mangetsu Hozuki charging by her side give an understanding nod.
"Why do you love my son so much? To go so far for him?" she couldn't help but ask,
"Because he is the finest man we have ever known. In our darkest hour, in all our struggles, against all our enemies- Lord Naruto offered them his chest and us his back. He is the Kage we chose for ourselves...in this cruel world, there are not many good men. Your son is one of them" answered Mangetsu proudly,
"This world is most cruel to such men" whispered Inoue, sadness enveloping her heart for all her eldest had endured. At times it made her wonder, how he had survived...the last Namikaze alone in the world for a long time, it was a terrible fate which she had wanted to spare him from.
"It is, but it never stopped him from doing what was right. He is not without his shortcomings as the rest of us...but we owe everything we have today to your son. When he led us in countless battles over the years: Men died for him because they believed in him...they loved him. He was there for me in my darkest hour after I lost my father...he saved me from my own demons, even saved my life on quite a few occasions. He is the man I want to be someday...many in our army do" explained Mangetsu sincerely,
Inoue fought back her tears of pride after hearing those heartfelt words and she saw Mangetsu meant every word of it, the actions of the Kirigakure army lent more credence than anything else to those beliefs.
Was that legend loved by so many the same laughing child she had once seen learning to ride upon the sea waves of Uzu?
Inoue loved both her sons with everything in her heart, they were her pride and joy. More precious to her than even the two men who had given her the priceless gift of motherhood.
Nagato was an Uzumaki truly, a carbon copy of Yahiko-his father with his love and loyalty towards his comrades, family and nation.
But her eldest, Naruto...at times Inoue had to remind herself that she had named him Minato. For a time he lived with that gentle name she had given him, but that was not his destiny. Even as a child, he was more special than his younger brother as much as it pained her to admit as their Mother.
Her firstborn was destined for glory and greatness but even in her wildest dreams, Inoue had never imagined him to achieve so much.
A hero to his comrades, a magnificent Kage who conquered nations, a deadly military commander who never lost a battle...
But also a man who suffered more than most, if she was given even a single fleeting chance...she would want him to go back in time and be the laughing child who loved surfing on sea waves.
My son...I wish I could have given you peace and happiness. I failed as your Mother...but once this is over, we can all be the family we were meant to be.
It was what drove her forward and would not make her hesitate in killing Tobirama- the man she loved once if he continued standing in the way of that dream.
They continued charging forward for another few minutes before Mangetsu called for a sudden halt.
Inoue was surprised when she spotted the Aerial forces from Kirigakure they had sent to assist Naruto appear on the horizon, alongwith a modest group of Zetsu's on the ground marching towards them solemnly.
She spotted a beautiful blonde at the head of this group...and Inoue had a feeling as to whom she could be.
Yet she couldn't help but feel fear within her heart as the group came near them.
Ino Namikaze stopped in her tracks when she spotted the impressive army from Kirigakure and Uzushiogakure on the horizon. In the front, she saw members of the Seven Ninja Swordsmen alongwith an old Uzumaki man- probably the First Uzukage who had caused her Naruto so much pain.
Yet her breath hitched in her throat as she spotted a fellow blonde in the lead, one who looked so much like Naruto. Or it was he who had inherited her beauty.
The grief and heartbreak still threatened to overwhelm her, but the desire for vengeance kept her going for now.
Knowing they would be meeting Naruto's mother and all those who loved him had made her alongside Zabuza and Kisame put Naruto's mutilated corpse back together as best they could, the same courtesy was extended to his loyal wolf who fought by its master's side till death.
Ino would never allow these sea of men and women so devoted to her husband to ever see the ghastly state the Allies had rendered him in.
But she could also not save them from the agony and heartbreak she felt deep within her heart as they finally caught sight of Naruto's corpse being carried upon a makeshift stretcher held by Zabuza, Kisame, Ganryu and a lone Zetsu in solemn silence.
"I've won every battle...but I'm losing this war''
Naruto's prophetic words during their last meeting haunted her heart. Looking back, she realized her husband had a very good idea of what awaited him in this war against impossible odds, most would have surrendered or fled under such circumstances.
But Naruto Namikaze had fought.
The armies of Kiri and Uzu just stood there in horror and stunned silence which was broken by cries of anger and grief as they saw their Kage and countryman's corpse being carried towards them in respectful silence.
Ino watched Naruto's mother alongside the First Uzukage and Mangetsu Hozuki rush forward while the remaining swordsmen kept the shocked army at bay. None of the arrivals stopped in their charge, wordlessly going past her without batting an eye and only stopped when they reached Naruto's corpse.
She watched in sorrow as Naruto's mother looked at her son with tears in her eyes, making Ino feel her pain as she had lost a child of her own once. They had put Naruto's corpse back together with all the skill they had, but it still couldn't hide the numerous wounds upon his body or the fateful mark of the Reaper Death Seal technique upon his chest.
"Reaper Death Seal..." whispered Inoue in a broken voice,
"Tiger Hill is lost, the Allied army lost half of their forces. All their Kages are dead...Naruto saw to that" said Kisame bitterly,
"We were too late. I'm truly sorry, Lady Inoue" whispered Zabuza in sorrow and shame,
It was all the anguished mother could ask as she looked upon her proud son's body. She wanted to break into a thousand pieces in this very moment, but the rage kept her going as she imagined the ways in which she would make the men who took away her boy scream.
"Naruto fought valiantly...Naruto fought nobly...and he died for us" said Ino Namikaze, loud enough for many to hear across the field.
It was only then that many from Kirigakure recognized her and drew back in shock for this woman was supposed to be dead. Mangetsu was about to ask many questions but stopped when both Kisame and Zabuza shook their heads.
Inoue on the otherhand now was sure about this young girl's identity as she saw the intimate love and absolute grief in her eyes as she looked at the fallen Kage's corpse.
"You loved my son. Tell me how he died?" asked Inoue sadly,
The Second Uzukage saw the blonde beauty give her a solemn nod before also glancing back at the rest of the army.
"I will show all here as to how Naruto fought for all of us" promised Ino sincerely, having gained the memories of the Battle of Tiger Hill from the Iwagakure kunoichi's mind she had invaded before going back to her original body during their retreat upon seizing Naruto's corpse for themselves.
There were so many questions in everyone's eyes, but she had promised the answer to the most important one making an unstated agreement take place within the army.
Ino walked forward to stand beside her husband's mother and offered her hand to the older woman which was taken somberly before Inoue offered her remaining hand to Hanzo Uzumaki-the First Uzukage who then did the same for Mangetsu until one by one in a few moments a long and mighty link was formed among the entire army of both nations.
The Yamanaka kunoichi knew it was going to be hard for her to speak and relay her message to more than 50,000 warriors...all wanting answers for this atrocity, but she owed it to Naruto and the sacrifice he had made.
Inoue watched veins bulging from the young woman holding her hand and felt her conscious joining with her and then with Hanzo Uzumaki, an action which was then reciprocated across the entire army in a few minutes before the girl spoke to them all...
"My name is Ino Namikaze, once a member of the Yamanaka clan. I can show you everything through the memories I have accessed from the enemies who fought at Tiger Hill against Naruto and his men. A tale of courage, victory and sacrifice for all of us to live free from the tyranny of the feudal system plaguing this world" stated Ino seriously,
Thousands upon thousands of fighters were then shown memories of the Battle of Tiger Hill.
They watched their fellow comrades fight heroically against an enemy five times their number under Naruto's leadership.
For the veterans of Kirigakure, it was a bittersweet experience as they saw their Kage in action once again. His power and glory dwarfing all the enemies strength and trickery. It made them swell with pride and regret for not being there with him in such a historic battle. His last...
For the armies of Uzushiogakure, it was the first time watching the full power of their Spartans against their enemies. Hanzo Uzumaki-the first Uzukage felt proud and regret similarly to his remaining clansmen for not being able to stand by such brave children of their clan for so long. But not anymore!
Even the surviving Zetsu from Inoue's army at Kharakan Pass or those from Ino's own ranks still alive were stunned upon seeing their fellow brothers fighting and dying valiantly beside the Spartans on Tiger Hill. They saw Naruto risking his own life to save many of their brothers, even taking mortal blows to save their lives. The Spartans under The Young Wolf's command were the same for never once they abandoned their Zetsu comrades, many died saving their lives, and never during the entire battle was any injured Zetsu left behind by the Spartans to die at enemy hands. The Zetsu's of Tiger Hill returned that noble loyalty in kind even if it meant death.
For three days, their comrades had fought heroically until the end came.
Even then the Terrans fought until majority of their faces achieved martyrdom in battle before returning back to the heights of Tiger Hill.
Inoue Namikaze then saw her eldest son and his wolf mount a last stand against the entire Allied army, while Nagato and their remaining survivors retreated back to their base to prepare for the final battle to come.
The Kage in her felt admirable respect for Naruto's actions, but the mother in her was shattered as she watched her son die slowly before her eyes.
Shera fell first defending his summoner to the last breath, the wolf had fulfilled his oath to her clan without hesitation which made her sad and proud all the same.
She watched Naruto, now alone and resigned while facing against the legendary Senju brothers.
She alongwith a few Uzumaki like Hanzo who knew about the Reaper Death Seal technique were nonetheless left stunned upon watching Naruto use it to put an end to both Hashirama and Tobirama.
Ino felt terrible as she then imparted Naruto's last moments when she had spoken to the dying Kage, him fighting the enraged Allied army for as long as possible before he was drained of all strength and fell to his knees with numerous wounds...
And the final blow from Danzo taking Naruto's head.
Stunned silence prevailed across the armies of Kiri, Uzu and the Terran fighters as they took in that moment, but not a single one of them was prepared to witness what came after...
Inoue Namikaze had never been a vengeful person, but watching the enemy mutilate her son and his wolf's corpse...to parade it across their cheering army as a final insult made her draw blood from her clenched fists.
The same bloodlust and frightening rage erupted across their entire army as they witnessed the monstrous depravity inflicted upon a man they loved and respected.
Thousands fell to their knees, either in sorrow, shame or heartbreak. Ino didn't know for she was fighting back her own tears as she relived that haunting moment...
It was no surprise when nobody was shocked upon witnessing the suicidal actions launched by Ino's forces alongside ones from Kirigakure Aerial Units led by Kisame and Zabuza to retrieve their Kage's corpse from those wanting to insult it further.
Ino felt respect and dull satisfaction from everyone in the army when they accomplished the task before marching back here.
The link was closed as the memories came to an end, blood leaked from Ino's eyes and nose but as she fell to the ground weakly...it was Naruto's mother who caught her protectively.
"Thank you for loving my son and ending the one who gave the final blow...and for telling us" whispered Inoue sadly, even as she gently shared healing chakra to restore Ino's strength.
"I failed...I...could...only...bring...him...back...like...this" lamented Ino,
"You've done enough, child. The war is not over and my son will be avenged!" promised Inoue with cold determination,
The Second Uzukage helped her stand back upon her feet before turning towards their army, even as members of the Seven Ninja Swordsmen respectfully carried Naruto's corpse to the center making everyone reach out to pay their final respects to the beloved Kage.
"For the fallen!"
It started as a lone shout from someone in the army, then a dozen more joined in not a moment later.
"For the Spartans!"
"For the heroes of Tiger Hill!"
Inoue Namikaze watched their entire army mourn and cheer for everyone of their own until she raised her own sword to point at the corpse of her own son.
Her cry was the most powerful- laced with pride, heartbreak and tears.
Thousands upon thousands of fighters unleashed their weapons and matched her outcry, their rage and bloodlust enough to shaken any army.
Ino watched with tears in her eyes as the very ground beneath her feet started to tremble with the power being unleashed by their vengeful army. Only one cry from everyone's lips echoing across the Valley alongside their tears of anger, sadness and eternal respect as she joined them.
As the army's roars of vengeance got even more louder and fanatical, Inoue Namikaze's furious declaration was heard by one and all even above the outcry of thousands.
"Split the skies and earth with his name! Let your anger and sorrow reach our enemies as distant thunder promising Fire and Blood!"
"We will avenge our fallen!"
"We will butcher every last one of those bastards!"
"There will be No quarter! No Mercy! Everyone of them shall die screaming!"
"When the sun sets tonight- we shall erase the very existence of every Allied fighter!"
(Six Hours Later)
Shikuchi Nara heaved a sigh of relief as he spotted the enemy's main base where the Jinchuuriki's from various nations lay captured. He still didn't understand how things had gone so badly for them so quickly, just three days before they had the most powerful army and three Kages leading them.
Now, their Kages were dead with their army gutted in half with so many dead, wounded and few desertions even.
Damn you, Naruto Namikaze.
The Young Wolf was the finest Commander the Nara clan head had seen in his entire service. Powerful, handsome, brilliantly charismatic and a sound strategist. In some ways even better than his own father-Tobirama whom he also defeated in battle.
Even in death and his only known defeat, Naruto dealt a blow the Allies would never recover from anytime soon which was a disaster in this war.
Shikuchi was extremely angered and disappointed with the desertion of Sakumo Hatake, Shisui Uchiha alongside several Uchiha and Senju clansmen among others. While not a large force to flee from the war, they were some of the last and most powerful fighters who could actually stand a chance against Madara and whatever defenders he had left.
If Danzo was not killed, he would have crucified the mad fool for his actions that led to some of their own valued men like Sakumo deserting them and the enemy to be surely fueled by vengeance.
The command of their remaining army had fallen to him considering there were not many experienced commanders of good caliber left in their ranks. Shikuchi had considered unconditional surrender but neither his fighters or more importantly the enemy would accept the same.
The first were riding high upon their victory at Tiger Hill even if only a few realized at what cost.
The last would never show them any mercy, not after what was done to Naruto's corpse at Allied hands.
Shikuchi agreed with those feelings, while he hated Naruto for slaughtering almost all his clansmen who had marched to war personally...the dead didn't deserve such disgrace.
It left him with only one option - which was to swiftly charge towards Madara's hideout, overwhelm him with their numbers and save their Jinchuuriki and hope to any god that existed they could accomplish it all before the armies of Uzu and Kiri arrived roaring for blood.
He grimaced when some of his hopes for quick victory were extinguished when he saw thousands upon thousands of Zetsu in the way between the Allies and the base. Leading the monsters were even greater ones in the form of the feared Spartans at full strength once again.
"Impossible" whispered Shikuchi in disbelief,
But then he remembered how they were revived by Madara originally and cursed Naruto's brilliance once again. By sending all of them back- alive, wounded or dead...the Young Wolf had dealt the Allies another critical blow even from the afterlife.
"Commander, we have reports from our rearguard Scouts that the armies of Kiri and Uzu are charging at full swing towards us. Their Aerial forces will be upon us in half an hour, ground forces not long after that. They have gone mad" reported one of his subordinates worriedly,
Shikuchi wanted to scream but knew it would do no good, morale had to be maintained lest chaos reign supreme if their troops discovered their perilous situation.
"Sound a full frontal charge! Every last one of our fighters is to storm through these bastards and reach the base!" ordered Shikuchi, and grabbed a sword himself to participate in the desperate action.
The remaining officers were quick in carrying out his orders even if many of their men flinched upon seeing the Spartans point their blades right at them challengingly, there would be no mercy shown by them after what was done to their leader.
Within a few minutes, the Allied army- some 50,000 strong all charged madly and bravely towards the outnumbered defenders.
Nagato and the remaining Spartans once again stood in the Vanguard watching another massive enemy horde charge towards them. They wanted nothing more but to butcher every last one of them, but were also more inclined to follow Madara's command.
It would be much sweeter.
Just as planned, the Spartans and the Zetsu army showed panic at the enemy charge...and even started to retreat a little making the enemies even more bold as instead of attacking in various organized divisions...they just charged forward, breaking all formation to catch maximum glory or reach the base quickly.
While the Allies had more numbers, they had no unity considering they were all from different nations who had always been at war with each other.
What they didn't understand was the fact that this was not going to be a battle like they were imagining.
It was going to be a massacre, the most brutal one in recent or perhaps all known history of shinobi.
The Spartans glared in cold silence as the skies above darkened once more and before the Allies could understand what was happening...two meteors the size of small mountains crashed into their center with overwhelming power.
The ground trembled like never before as thousands died in the blink of an eye as Madara Uchiha arrived on the battlefield.
The Rinnegan bearer launched a massive shockwave sending the entire front line of the Allies crashing away like ragdolls.
The Allies lost all cohesion but Madara was far from satisfied as he summoned the Gedo Statue next.
"You butchered the boy who was like a son to me in all but name...for that I will take your very souls!" roared Madara furiously,
Twin ethereal dragons were launched by the Gedo Statue which quickly started consuming the very souls of hundreds of the terrified Allied army fighters.
Madara stepped before his own army with his famous gunbai in one hand and a sword in another. He saw nothing but vengeance burning in the eyes of every Spartan and Zetsu as they gripped their weapons firmly.
"Kill them all...every last one of them" commanded Madara,
His army's thunderous roar of vengeance shook the battlefield, the mountains, the skies and the very souls of their terrified enemies.
Madara lead the charge in person just like he had seen Naruto do in every battle, the overwhelming power and the earlier declaration haunting the Allied army.
The sight of Madara Uchiha alongside the feared Spartans and 30,000 Zetsu charging straight towards them broke most.
While hundreds brave, enraged or suicidal of the Allies counter charged at the approaching enemy army with Shikuchi Nara's leadership...most realized all was lost and started to retreat in all haste.
Their wishes would not be granted as Madara blocked their escape by creating a powerful barrier.
For the first time in years, the Uchiha felt alive as hundreds upon hundreds burned or died at his hands with the Spartans and Zetsu creating their own river of blood. None left in the Allied ranks strong enough to match their overwhelming power...
The slaughter continued without stopping as no mercy was allowed with Shikuchi Nara himself grabbed by Madara personally by the throat. The Allied Commander wheezed in pain and gave one last scream before Madara yanked the man's head from his body savagely drenching himself in blood.
Watching their last capable leader be murdered so brutally made the rest of the Allies either fight back or run for their lives, Madara didn't care as he threw the severed head and blew up more enemies with the explosives he had attached upon it.
Behind him, Nagato burned hundreds alive by immolating their bodies with his Ash Release.
Kushina severed the limbs of dozens of enemies with her chakra chains before yanking out their very hearts to throw at the feet of their other terrified comrades.
Hayate and Kasumi lead the remaining Spartans in destroying hundreds more even as thousands upon thousands of Zetsu stormed through the broken Allied lines, while most just killed the enemies...hundreds more savage ones who had survived at Tiger Hill and knew what was done to their beloved Commander's body by these fighters returned the savagery in kind by eating their enemies alive.
The Gedo Statue under Madara's direction continued causing mayhem across the battlefield preventing the enemy from mounting any credible defense. Those groups who tried were destroyed quickly.
All hope vanished for the Allied army when a rain of explosives fell upon them from the skies.
Looking up, they paled upon seeing the arrival of the Aerial units of Kirigakure upon the battlefield.
Not a few minutes later, a thunderous war horn sounded from the rear as the entire might of Uzu, Kiri and remnants of Terran Federation army from Kharakan Pass came seeking vengeance.
More than 50,000 angered fighters ready to unleash hell.
Leading them were Ino Namikaze- The Second Uzukage and members of the Seven Ninja Swordsmen.
Usually the one to take a peaceful approach, Inoue had none of that desire even as she witnessed the systematic slaughter of the Allied army before her eyes. The memories of her son's murder and the desecration of his corpse still fresh in her mind, looking beside she saw Ino- her son's first wife had the same hatred burning in her eyes.
Mangetsu and few of the other Seven Ninja Swordsmen were further angered upon witnessing one of the Allied shinobi from Konoha wielding Naruto's infamous sword- Muramasa and maintaining one of the few well defended pockets of resistance.
What these men had done to their Kage was not enough, they even had to seize his sword?
"They'll pay for this" swore Mangetsu with vengeance, as he unleashed his sword.
"In Fire and Blood" agreed Inoue Namikaze with equal fury,
"And Broken dreams" whispered Ino coldly,
With fearsome war cries, the armies of Uzushiogakure and Kirigakure descended upon the Allied army from the rear completing their encirclement from both directions. With Madara's army butchering them from the front, the newly arrived reinforcements slaughtering them from the rear, and the Aerial forces raining death from the skies...the imminent defeat became a reality.
In less than an hour, Mountain's Graveyard truly earned its moniker as thousands upon thousands of corpses littered its lands with most belonging to the Allied army now butchered to the last fighter.
Their end had not been quick or merciful with most dying in screams of fear and pain, just as Ino had promised on Tiger Hill.
The Young Wolf was avenged.
And yet for all those who loved him- even this victory was not enough to fill the hole in their hearts.
"Burn these hyenas and dump their ashes in the gutters" said Madara without mercy, pointing towards the corpses of the Allied forces now staining the ground in a sea of blood.
Before the nearby Zetsu's could carry out the order, another firm voice made them stop.
"Stop" commanded Inoue Namikaze, covered in blood and few wounds but looking formidable as she approached towards Madara with many Uzumaki and the Seven Ninja Swordsmen in tow.
The Spartans led by Nagato froze in shock upon witnessing a small group from both Uzu and Kiri alongside many Zetsu as well standing protectively around Naruto's corpse.
Inoue was heartbroken upon seeing her younger son tear up and rush towards his brother's corpse, with Kushina and all the Spartans sharing those feelings as they joined Nagato's side.
"Lady Inoue, why are you countering my order? They deserve nothing more! Not after what they did to Naruto!" argued Madara fiercely, quite shocked over her of all people not understanding his decision.
The Second Uzukage of the island nation looked upon the sea of Allied corpses, a small part of her heart wanted nothing more than to return the treatment they had given to her boy's body. However, she also knew Naruto would never want such atrocity to be committed in his name.
"We have avenged my son. Their deaths will never be enough or bring back my boy, but these corpses are also someone's children, parents, siblings, relatives or friends. Whatever their crimes in life are now paid for with their deaths" explained Inoue patiently,
"But they mutilated-"
"I KNOW THAT!"
Madara flinched upon hearing the fierce reply as the grieving mother looked at him with tears and anger still burning in her eyes.
"Don't assume your pain is greater than mine! He was my son! My first child! There should be a difference between us and our enemies, whatever has happened can't be undone -but if Naruto was here he would never give such an order! Don't forget- we are shinobi, they are human beings" warned Inoue, as she pointed at the Allied corpses.
Madara and the Seven Ninja Swordsmen couldn't help but look at Naruto's corpse and then at those of their dead enemies. Even Ino couldn't argue knowing her mother in law was right, even if it was bitter to accept.
The bloodlust and rage from Madara's eyes finally subsided as he glanced back at Inoue Namikaze.
"Do what you want" he relented before walking away to actually join the mourning Spartans beside Naruto's body.
"Bury all the dead with honors. The Allies didn't give my son the same dignity, but we shall not take their last dignity away like that. This I order as the Second Uzukage" commanded Inoue decisively,
To her relief, the Uzumaki clansmen sworn to her obeyed with reluctant nods and went forward to carry out the order.
Moments later, Mangetsu Hozuki also sighed tiredly before ordering Kirigakure forces to lend assistance in the grim task.
Several hundred Zetsu couldn't help but join as well if only to honor Naruto's memory by obeying his mother's command.
Hanzo Uzumaki- The First Uzukage walked forward to stand beside Madara who looked devastated as he just stared at Naruto's corpse, all the wounds the man had suffered, and the mark of the Death God himself.
"We must face the consequences of our actions and mistakes- In life and death, even beyond. Isn't that so, Naruto?" asked Hanzo sadly,
"What?" questioned Madara with a frown,
"When you live like a warrior your whole life...this is how it ends. I knew him ever since he was a boy, no matter the threat he always stood up for freedom. At first for Uzu and its people against Kumogakure, then from the ghosts of his own past, to freeing Kirigakure from its own divisions and violence, to liberating other nations and bringing an end to the rule of Daimyo's who have used us shinobi as pawns in their endless conflict, and now for humanity's freedom from its own destructive nature. He knew life beyond our island nation was hell, that only horrors and death awaited him and yet he kept moving forward until his life and soul turned to ashes. There shall never be another like him" said Hanzo respectfully,
"You're right, Lord Hanzo. I don't think any of us could have done what he did" agreed Mangetsu, earning somber nods from the remaining Seven Ninja Swordsmen as well.
Inoue Namikaze listened to those words said by so many war veterans and found it to be a stark testament to her fallen son's extraordinary life.
"Life shouldn't be measured in the number of breaths we take...but in the moments that take our breaths away, then in that manner Naruto lived longer than any of us ever will. He taught us all to how to follow our dreams with confidence and to fight fearlessly for a cause" said Inoue proudly as she knelt beside her son's body to place her hand upon his cold face.
"You son was the bravest man I have ever known, Lady Inoue. He was like a son to me as well, I owe him a debt I can never repay. If there is anything your family ever needs, I will be there" promised Madara sincerely,
"You can by finishing the story you both started, build a future my son fought and died for even if it goes against some of your own wishes. Can you do that, Madara?" asked Inoue,
The Uchiha leader glanced at Naruto for a brief moment before looking back at the boy's mother with absolute resolve.
"Finish this, Lord Madara. Afterwards, we shall take Elder Brother home to say our final goodbye to him" said Nagato sadly, earning firm nods from the two Uzukage's and many other Uzumaki clansmen nearby alongside all the Spartans.
Mangetsu saw many Kiri shinobi were about to object fiercely for Naruto was their Kage, and deserved a final resting place among their own fallen back home in the Land of Water.
You left your Mizukage in the end!
Naruto's last words to them haunted his heart and knowing they had failed in standing by their Kage's side in his most desperate hour, while his family and the Spartans had. It was a regret he and most shinobi from Kiri would take to their graves.
It was why he silenced any protests with the backing of the remaining members of the Seven Ninja Swordsmen.
"Leave a reserve force here while I complete the ritual, send the rest to take control of the Land of Earth. They have no leaders left and shall serve as the headquarters of the Federation of shinobi states" instructed Madara,
"What of the Land of Fire and Sand alongwith remaining nations?" questioned Hanzo Uzumaki,
"Subdue them as well, offer them a chance to join the Federation without further bloodshed- not that they have any choice left after their armies are dead" said Madara without hesitation,
"What does this mean for us? Kirigakure and Uzushiogakure" demanded Mangetsu, for he didn't fully trust Madara as Naruto had even if both men had the same goals.
"Keep your lands and rule yourselves, I have no interest in middling in your affairs. As an appreciation for your support, I won't mind if you take some reasonable areas from the Land of Fire and other smaller nations nearby without any fights among yourselves. I want your nations to be the Founding members of this Federation, while the finer points will be discussed in detail in coming weeks and I intend to let all nations have equal say even in time even if they opposed us now, but your opinion shall hold more weight" explained Madara truthfully,
Many blinked in surprise upon the generous terms for everyone involved, even the defeated nations from the Allied forces.
"But we all report to you, correct?" asked Hanzo Uzumaki shrewdly,
"As per the rules and regulations we all shall form together in time. I am not forming a dynasty here, the reason for creation of this Federation is to unite and defend our world against the Otsutsuki...I know most don't believe this threat to be real, but it is and I intend to make preparations in full. That is the one condition which is non-negotiable, each member state must compulsorily support any measure in this task, non-cooperation or refusal in this regard will not be allowed" answered Madara, and many felt his power especially upon the last directive as the man looked at them challengingly.
"So post your retirement or death, individuals from member states can be chosen to lead the Federation next with your blessing?"
Reika Uzumaki gave a loud cough bringing an end to the political machinations already taking place among the various leaders. It was unavoidable but not the right moment for such talks as she gestured the shrewd men towards the grieving family and friends of Naruto Namikaze standing in silence near his body.
It was Madara who understood what she meant instantly...
"All of that can come later...first we must give Naruto a proper farewell"
(One Week Later)
Tsunade Senju stood atop one of the beautiful hills of Uzushiogakure with a magnificent view of the endless sea on the horizon. However, her gaze was only focused upon the large group of people waiting down in the open fields in unity, respect and grief.
There were warriors from Kirigakure, as well as those from Uzushiogakure alongside several thousands from the Land of Lightning.
To the astonishment of the victors, several dozen men including the likes of Sakumo Hatake, Shisui Uchiha and others of the defeated allied shinobi forces were also in attendance despite the outcome of the war.
With the defeat of the Allied army which incurred almost absolute losses, the remaining nations across the world surrendered in the next few days to the armies of the Terran Federation.
Since the fall of her Greatuncle-Tobirama Senju in battle, Tsunade was chosen to lead their defeated nation with Sakumo Hatake as her advisor. With their Daimyo dead, armies crushed, her first act had been of unconditional surrender...an action which Sakumo had nearly begged for. The fact that Madara Uchiha actually returned Lady Mito- her grandmother alive was the final straw which sealed her decision.
The remaining Jinchuuriki except Yagura Karatachi were also allowed to return to their nations, their tailed beasts however remained in Madara's possession until he executed his final plan.
Tsunade was actually surprised the Uchiha leader hadn't done so already...but it was also a testament to the actions of the fallen hero who brought all these people here and the legacy he left behind for every human being across this world.
The Senju heir had only briefly met her uncle and had found him to be a kind hearted man which made her understand and respect the feelings of Uzumaki shinobi standing guard around her now.
Even her grandmother- Mito had decided to attend this ceremony to express her gratitude for Naruto upholding his promise of keeping Tsunade alive.
The fact that her Uncle had given such a selfless promise, despite not knowing her closely and being on opposite sides made Tsunade clench her fists in silent grief when she saw all the people stand at attention and offer a clear path as a handful Spartans and the Seven Ninja Swordsmen came towards the beach where a fine cemetery had been created by the Second Uzukage for her country's most decorated warrior and her elder son.
Inoue Namikaze held back her tears in stony silence when she saw Naruto's casket being carried forward by Spartans led by Nagato on one side and the Seven Ninja Swordsmen led by Mangetsu on the other.
Yahiko couldn't hold back his grief and tears fell from his eyes when he saw warriors and civilians that had traveled from many parts of the world offer various forms of salute or respect for everyone felt grateful for the gift bestowed upon them by this shinobi.
A world free of war among mankind.
A peace which had always been nothing but a distant dream, now finally achieved after thousands of years and the sacrifice of countless lives.
The casket being the embodiment of every life lost to create this history.
Every Father, Mother, Son, Daughter, Husband, Wife, Sister, Brother, Cousin, Friend, and Comrade.
Hanzo Uzumaki and Captain Reika Uzumaki were not surprised when they saw the casket was draped in the flag of not just Uzushiogakure, but also Kirigakure and The Terran Federation.
For the person it belonged to had been the finest shinobi of Uzushiogakure, the unbeatable Kage of Kirigakure and the heroic Marshal of the Terran Federation.
Each of these entities had honored his sacrifice by bestowing upon him the highest honors of their nations, with the most important being given by the leader of the Terran Federation- Madara Uchiha.
Hero of Humanity.
Kushina watched the casket being carried right before her eyes and couldn't stop her tears even as she offered a heartfelt salute. Every unbearable second making her remember the fateful moment where the man she loved sacrificed his life to save theirs. She had been heartbroken when he ended their relationship and returned back to Kirigakure, only now to realize that he had never stopped loving her.
And when the moment came, he fought against the entire world and upheld their sacred childhood promise which she couldn't uphold.
Till the end, Ghost.
Hayate and Kasumi stepped forward to lay a comforting hand each on Kushina's shoulders even as they saluted their fallen friend and leader. Looking around at all the remaining Spartans alive and somber, they could understand just why Naruto had done the impossible.
"You brought us all home this time, Brother" whispered Hayate sadly,
"We will never forget this, Captain" acknowledged Kasumi tearfully,
Mei Terumi had been standing not far away with her precious children in her arms once again. Mito Uzumaki and Minase Terumi stood near her alongside a large contingent of Kirigakure fighters headed by General Abe and their nation's Anbu Commander.
Even after everything that happened, she could only feel unbearable pain and despair as that dreaded casket was carried before her eyes. She trembled when she saw her infant daughter reach for her father's casket alongside their son making many in the crowd look away in sadness. Almost all of the Kirigakure shinobi looked ashamed and were still unable to forgive themselves for their guilt of not being able to save their Kage in time.
Now she understood just why everything had happened this way and could respect the lengths which her husband had gone to keep her and their entire family safe.
But it could never replace the lasting hole left in her and most importantly her children's lives...
Looking back at her husband's blood family and friends alongside her own and fellow countrymen...
"Humanity was victorious and so are you, Naruto. You defeated us all" she whispered somberly, even as she offered her solemn respect.
Mei looked to her right to find her husband's first wife- Ino Namikaze alive once again and standing in silence with tears in her eyes.
Watching the casket being carried only made Ino remember the time she spent with Naruto, that playful smile, and that gentle gaze that always had unending love for her.
All of which she would never see again.
The broken kunoichi was surprised when she felt a gentle hand touch her shoulder and saw Naruto's mother looking at her with compassion in her eyes. No words were spoken, yet Ino saw the older woman understanding all her feelings when she embraced her.
They were soon also supported by Kushina, Yahiko and even Mei Terumi- all of whom seemed to understand and share Ino's feelings better than anyone.
Even as their family and friends grieved, Nagato lead a group of Spartans in a solemn and unstoppable honor procession towards what would be his dear brother's final resting place.
"Please look after them, Nagato"
Nagato clenched his fist hard as he remembered his failure on that fateful day, he could still remember his brother's heroic and painful last stand vividly alongside his final conversation with his sibling.
It was always you and me against the world, Elder Brother. How am I supposed to go on without you now?
Nagato now clearly understood just how terrible his sibling must have felt when he lost him and all the Spartans except Kushina in their first war. It was that pain and the desire to bring them all back home safe this time which also decided his final act alongside the wish to bring peace to mankind.
As Nagato wallowed in his regrets, Mangetsu alongside the remaining Seven Ninja Swordsmen felt their hearts become even heavier as the final grave got closer and the moment to bid their friend and Kage farewell become imminent.
The magnificent and large tombstone in front of them making everyone of them understand the gravity of their loss.
Naruto Namikaze- The Great.
Aged: 27 Years.
General of Kirigakure.
The Fourth Mizukage.
Marshal of The Terran Federation.
The Young Wolf.
Hero of Humanity.
Mangetsu, Haku, Zabuza, Ameyuri, Kisame and even Jinpachi took a moment to understand the sheer legacy of the man who changed their lives forever etched upon the tombstone.
But there was another title upon that tombstone that brought tears to all their eyes.
The Seventh Swordsmen.
The weight of the casket upon their shoulders became unbearable as they fought against the waves of past happy memories with him in each of their hearts.
Thankfully, their pain would be lessened if only a little as they finally placed the casket upon an elevated platform and took a step back as a squad of Uzu's Spartans, alongside Anbu Blackops members from Kirigakure and a squad of Zetsu's came forward.
Nagato and every member of the honor guard including the Seven Ninja swordsmen stood at attention and offered their salutes as the Spartan squad wrapped their island's flag respectfully before handing it over to Hanzo Uzumaki-their first Uzukage.
The Kirigakure Anbu's did the same act for their own nation's flag before handing it over to General Abe who accepted the same with a heavy heart.
The Zetsu's repeated the same honor for The Terran Federation's flag before giving it to a solemn Madara Uchiha himself standing nearby.
Hanzo Uzumaki, General Abe and Madara Uchiha couldn't help but feel the harsh reality of war when they looked at the grave of the young warrior and the flags he fought and died for.
Steeling themselves regardless, the three older men walked towards the grieving family of the fallen.
The First Uzukage- Hanzo Uzumaki felt great sadness within his heart when he handed over Uzu's flag to his successor and the Second Uzukage- Inoue Namikaze and her husband, Yahiko Uzumaki. The grieving parents nodded respectfully even as Inoue finally allowed her tears to break free.
General Abe handed over the Kirigakure flag to Mei Terumi with full respect, a gesture she accepted with a brief nod even as she looked at her restless children being held by their grandfather-Minase Terumi and looking at her innocently.
Ino's lips trembled and her legs shook as she watched Madara Uchiha stand before her. Her hands weakly grasped the Terran Federation Flag handed over by its ruler himself in person. A flag which held a Phoenix protecting a planet with its wings. She gently caressed it and felt a bare solace within her heart upon seeing the dream her lover had sacrificed himself for.
She looked up when she heard all the Spartans dressed in their ceremonial uniform walk towards their leader's casket in a well organized line led by Nagato.
The said Uzumaki removed the Spartan- Wings of Freedom from his chest before placing it upon the casket, with a trembling breath he punched it firmly into its body.
"We will meet again someday and I will look after everyone, Elder Brother"
Kushina walked forward next and laid her own Spartan wings upon the casket.
"I will always love you, Minato"
With a final salute, she punched her wings into the casket making Hayate arrive by her side next to complete their last act for their beloved friend and Captain.
Inoue and Yahiko felt their heart skip a beat every time a Spartan punched their ceremonial wings into their son's casket. They didn't want those echoes to ever end, as it was the final salute offered by these warriors alongwith a solemn promise of never forgetting their leader and joining by his side once again someday.
Mei set aside her misgivings and approached Ino who was trembling the entire time as the Spartans said their farewells, the two women looked at each other and understood their shared grief. It was why Ino didn't resist when Mei grasped her hand comfortingly and lent her strength while gaining some for herself against the haunting sounds of Spartans embedding their wings into the casket.
When the deed was finally completed, Madara had expected the ceremony to be brought to an end but was astonished when he watched the Seven Ninja Swordsmen step forward as well.
He saw Mangetsu looking at his comrades who all nodded at him in unison and without hesitation of any kind.
The Hozuki clan head was the first to step beside the grave and raise his infamous sword Kabutowari (Helmet Splitter) before stabbing it firmly in the ground.
Haku stepped forward next and embedded her prized sword Nuibari (Sewing Needle) into the ground with tears still falling from her eyes.
Ameyuri shared that grief as she devoted her twin swords Kiba (Fangs) and whispered a silent farewell.
Zabuza came next and looked at the casket for a very long moment, expecting the one it belonged to step out of it any moment and start an argument with him. Regret weighed heavy in his heart for how things ended between them even though Naruto never held it against him. With a final salute, he devoted Kubikiribocho (Executioner Blade) as his tribute to the fallen hero.
Jinpachi offered a solemn nod before devoting his sword Shibuki (Splash) to a prized comrade and leader.
Kisame was the last one to step forward and looked at his blade Samehada (Shark Skin) for a long moment, the man this casket belonged to had given up everything to ensure the Kiri swordsmen wasn't required to use this weapon against fellow humans ever again. It was fitting to devote it to him and so he did with a faint smile.
Not a single person present was left unshaken by the noble act irrespective of which nations they belonged to.
Yet for the first time- Ino, Mei, Kushina, Nagato, Yahiko and Inoue and many of the friends and family of Naruto Namikaze had a glimmer of a smile upon their lips when the Seven Ninja Swordsmen grasped their former comrade and Kage's prized sword Muramasa in unison before embedding it at the foot of the casket thereby completing the V shaped symbol around the sacred grave.
Victorious in Life and Death.
Author's Notes: End of chapter.
Hope you guys liked it.
It took me sometime to write this chapter, especially the last part which genuinely made me tear up. I am still working on the epilogue which is halfway done and will conclude this story. Should be up max within a week from now and will answer remaining few unanswered questions and the ultimate fate of the characters.
Writing this story has been a real joy.
Reviews are always appreciated, even more than before as next part shall bring down the curtains.
Until Next Time,