AN: This idea popped into my head and wouldn't go away. Hiruzen was considered the 'God of shinobi.' This story makes the assumption that the title was entirely justified. Enjoy!
Chapter 1: Pushed Too Far
Sarutobi Hiruzen had just received the demands from the Raikage. Just a few days ago he had been informed that the 'head ninja' was dead. Dead at the hands of the head of the Hyūga clan. The title of head ninja wasn't accurate; it was really a meaningless honorific to grant additional weight to the diplomat of Kumogakure. Nonetheless he had been here to sign the formal peace treaty. The fighting had ended a bit over three years ago when Iwagakure had been forced to surrender by the Yondaime.
And now he was dead and the Raikage was demanding the head of his "murderer." Kumogakure claimed that he was murdered and that there was no abduction plot. That this was an insult from Konoha and that unless they gave up Hiashi's head they would declare war again on Konoha.
'It isn't just because the Yondaime is gone. The kyūbi attack devastated our village and they sense weakness.'
Hiruzen was tired. He had gotten little sleep that last couple of nights as he worried over what Kumo's response would be. It had been as he had feared. They meant kill the man who had done what any parent would do. It turned his stomach.
Hiashi was heading to his office now. His three advisors were already here and they all waited in silence. The Sandaime knew their council. The village was weak. It was still reeling. Kumo would pay for their crimes one day but for now it was better to sacrifice one shinobi than face a war they would lose.
It wasn't as simple as that. They would need the Hyūga's blessing. The Hyūga clan was one of the most powerful of the many clans within Konoha. They were also considered the most noblest and unlike the Uchiha they had the goodwill of the populace behind them. Their courtly manners and aloof attitude seemed so much more palatable than the conceited and arrogant Uchiha.
Hiashi entered and despite the situation no sign of worry marred his face. He bowed to the Hokage.
"Hokage-sama. I have been informed of what the Raikage has asked of us. If it will protect the village I will let them take my head. I have no regrets. My daughter will be safe and I will have done my duty."
Hiruzen had seen many shinobi die for their comrades. It was honorable. It was noble. It embodied the very Will of Fire. Perhaps he had seen it one too many times. Perhaps it was the tragedies that had hounded him over the last three years.
Minato. Kushina. His beloved wife. And so many others. And then after the tragedy of the nine tailed fox attack it continued to pile on. His own student was found conducting experiments too horrible for words. Hashirama's dream of peace seemed so far away now. His hand trembled.
He could feel the eyes of Danzō on him. He was watching, always watching and looking for any weakness. But it wasn't with frailty that Sarutobi's hand was trembling in.
It was rage.
Everyone in the room stumbled back as the Hokage's killing intent flared to a level that had not been seen in over a decade.
"No." His voice was iron.
"I have had enough. For decades our village has pushed for peace. The Shodai gifted the other villages with the bijū. And for what? For treachery and war to hound us. For the jackals to try to tear us down and destroy what we have built."
His thoughts raced one after another. He would not give them Hiashi. He would not bow to petty tyrants and a Raikage nearly half his age.
"They would seek the death of one of my shinobi. They would seek the death of a father who acted as a father ought. They would seek to cow us? No more will we seek peace at any cost. If the Raikage wants war we will give him war!"
Danzō looked at the Hokage in alarm. The roles had been absurdly reversed. Hiruzen was the one who called for peace when Iwa was on its knees while Danzō called for them to be finished. And now it was the peace loving idealist calling for war at the wrong time.
"Think about what you are saying. We lost a third of our shinobi to the kyūbi."
Hiruzen laughed. All inhabitations were gone. His vast intellect was already moving beyond this meeting to the steps he would need to take to assure this awful choice would never have to be made again. The sudden laugher coupled with the out of character response had everyone in the room starting to doubt the Hokage's stability.
His eyes were bright and alive, more so than they had been at any time since the death of his wife.
The suffocating killing intent died down as Hiruzen eyed them with excitement.
"Every action I have made was always done with deliberation and toward the cause of bringing peace to the Elemental Nations. It has made me shortsighted. I had hoped that yesterday's enemies could become tomorrow's friends. I had followed in the footsteps of my predecessors. And now our village is on the edge of ruin and a target for thieves and usurpers. The time is now for Konohagakure to stand up for itself and show the entire world that we will no longer consent to be their target."
"The time will present itself but it is not now." Danzō countered.
Hiruzen stood up. "I am going to show Kumogakure and the world that Konoha is done playing nice. Your objections are noted and dismissed."
A look silenced Danzō's next statement. Hiashi allowed a look of gratitude to mar his perfect Hyūga visage.
"Prepare your clan for war Hiashi. ANBU send a message and advise Uchiha Fugaku that I will be meeting with him in the hour. Tell Inuzuka Tsume that I will be at the Inuzuka compound in two. Have Namiashi Raidō, Shiranui Genma, and Tatami Iwashi report to my office at once."
The Hokage had not become known as the 'The Professor' simply by knowing a lot of jutsu. His keen intellect and ability to make rapid decisions was one of his greatest weapons. He believed this though he would also admit his high chakra reserves, skill in taijutsu, ninjutsu, fuinjutsu and bukijutsu certainly didn't hurt. And now he was using that decision making ability to formulate plans.
Danzō made to speak again and Hiruzen spoke above him as he opened his mouth.
"I want a full report on what combat teams are available in ROOT. I also want any intelligence about Kumogakure on my desk by tomorrow."
Danzō prided himself on his ability to compose himself as a shinobi. To not reveal emotion in the face of tragedy, turmoil or rage. At this point it was taking all of his iron self control to not scream at his childhood rival.
"Do not try my patience. I am the Hokage. I believe you want what is best for this village otherwise you would have been killed some time ago. My course is set and short of killing me there will be no halting my plans."
Danzō subsided and lowered his head. "As you wish Hokage-sama."
The man knew when to fight and went to run. Sarutobi's blood was up. Shades of his utter dominance on the battlefield had reappeared before his eyes. There was a reason he had inherited the title of Shinobi no Kami (God of Shinobi). Had age brought him low or did he still have the capacity through force of will and sheer power to defeat his enemies?
The head of ROOT walked stiffly out of the office to do his leader's bidding as he considered with a mixture of hope and trepidation what Hiruzen would unleash on the battlefield.
The three former bodyguards of the Yondaime Hokage were curious as to why the Sandaime had called for them. They were no longer on the same team so it was odd. Genma was of the opinion it might have something to do with a mission many years ago while Raidō was convinced it had something to do with the modified Hiraishin that Namikaze-sama had taught them.
Raidō ended up winning that bet. The three found themselves in the office with the Hokage alone. And they were actually truly alone. Not even the normal ANBU guards were hidden nearby.
The Sandaime had just finished completing his letter to the Raikage when they arrived. In the letter he wrote that the Hyūga clan would willingly give up Hiashi. The Raikage or a personal representative was invited to view the execution in Konoha. Hiruzen knew that they weren't going to accept that offer. They wanted Hiashi's body so they could take his eyes. However the falsehood would give him more time to prepare.
The Hokage looked up at three shinobi he had summoned. He minced no words and immediately got to the point.
"The Yondaime taught you how to use the Hiraishin as a team. You have one week to teach two more teams this jutsu."
The senbon dropped out of Genma's mouth.
"Hokage-sama but why? We haven't had a reason to use that jutsu since…" Shiranui paused. Everyone knew instantly that they hadn't used that jutsu since the Yondaime had died.
"So I need to explain myself to my own shinobi then?"
The three hastily shook their heads but Hiruzen continued.
"We are going to war and that jutsu will allow me to be on multiple battlefields at the same time. You and the six others will need to mark a number of individuals with the sealing formula."
Sadly the Nidaime and Yondaime's teleportation jutsu had not been written down, not even in the forbidden scroll. Both had felt it was too dangerous of a technique to put to parchment and instead it would be closely guarded and only handed down personally. And even then not just any shinobi could learn it. Minato no doubt had planned on teaching his son Naruto when he came of age.
"Who should we select?" Raidō asked.
"I leave that to you however they must be completely trustworthy. Hatake Kakashi and Maito Gai are beyond reproach. You'll need four more from there."
The three nodded. It would be critical to pick individuals who were trustworthy as well as ones who had skill and the ability to learn a new jutsu quickly. Many thought that Gai was incapable of ninjutsu however that wasn't true. The oddly dressed man simply preferred to rely on taijutsu.
The Hokage dismissed them and personally delivered the letter to the messenger bird, or more precisely birds. Messages in between villages of the highest importance weren't left to chance and so the message was duplicated and sent on a second bird.
That done, he gave additional orders to his ANBU and then headed for the Uchiha district.
Hiashi had returned to the Hyūga clan compound in a daze. He had expected to lose his life and instead the Hokage had chosen to go to war. He was honored by the decision and felt renewed pride for Konohagakure.
The elders and Hizashi were waiting for him.
Despite being elated on the inside he kept the stoic demeanor that was fitting of the Hyūga clan leader. He calmly spoke to the leaders of his clan.
"The Hokage has refused to barter my life away. He intends to make war upon Kumo."
The elders were naturally shocked. Sarutobi had been a proponent of peace at nearly any cost. Just a few short years ago they could have finished Iwagakure for good but the Sandaime had instead signed a peace treaty. It had not been a popular decision among the Hyūga clan.
One of the elders spoke up and said, "We were never going to give you up. It would have been your brother who would have given his life up for the sake of the main family. You should tell the Hokage this before he makes decisions that are irreversible."
Hiashi felt his cool mask dissipate. "What? Were you not going to tell me of this plan?"
Hizashi looked down. "No, not until the last moment."
The same fire that had been lit in Hiruzen was now igniting in Hiashi. He loved his twin and while he knew the branch family served the main family he would not have agreed to this. The fact that the elders had talked to his brother behind his back infuriated him.
"Hokage-sama has all the information he needs from the Hyūga. The Hokage will not allow sacrifices to be made so that we can appease our enemies. They struck at my daughter under my own roof. They believe we will meekly bow down before them in the name of peace. The Sandaime's actions today have opened my eyes. No more will we repay aggression with weakness. If they strike us we kill those who struck. If they kill one of ours we will kill ten of theirs. If they kill ten of ours we annihilate a clan. If they kill a clan we will annihilate their village root and branch."
The clan elders were stoic but the Will of Fire made manifest was an alluring dream. Like much of the senior shinobi of the village they had questioned the Hokage's decision to make peace instead of destroying Iwa. Old Hiruzen had long compared the Will of Fire to a beacon that would light the world in peace. But for too long now the enemies of Konohagakure had mocked that beacon and had sought to topple it. It was time for a new metaphor to rally the village. The Will of Fire would be a raging inferno that seared its enemies and annihilated those that would try to snuff that flame.
Caught up in the moment the elders could barely maintain their neutral expressions. In their hearts the flames of youth had been lit for a moment and they longed to race forward on the battlefield and bring destruction to their foes. For now the Hyūga would rally behind their clan leader and their Hokage against those that would dare to kidnap the heir to their noble clan.
Genma and the others had to think quickly to determine who they could recruit. Ultimately Genma wanted someone who he could trust. Even if the man was annoying. The man of course was Ebisu. Ebisu, Gai and Genma had all been part of the same genin team.
'I'm going to regret this.' He thought with great certainty.
As Genma swiftly tracked down his former teammate, Raidō went to find the other three. After much discussion they had decided that clan heads could be trusted. And one particular group of clan leaders was closely aligned and had served together with distinction. Yamanaka Inoichi, Nara Shikaku and Chōza Akimichi made up the Ino-Shika-Chō combination. Their status as clan heads made them trustworthy and their team work was legendary. They would be perfect for what the Sandaime had in mind.
Raidō sought out Shikaku first. He arrived and saw little Shikamaru earning how to play shōgi. His father was teaching him the moves. Raidō thought the boy was a bit young to learn but the Nara clan had always produced geniuses.
He approached and Shikaku turned to his son. "Go inside."
Shikamaru dutifully did so though his gaze was curious. Raidō was not a regular at the Nara compound.
"Yes, orders from the Sandaime. Please bring your teammates as well. We'll meet by training field 42."
There was a lull as the Nara processed the information.
Surprised by the quick conclusion Raidō nodded in affirmation.
"Yes. Kumo." His response was short. He had yet to fully process the reality of it. It hadn't been too long since the third shinobi war. Facing the prospect of open war troubled Namiashi. He wasn't fearful of conflict, that was part of being a shinobi but conflict on such a scale with the stakes so incredibly high was a different matter.
"We'll be there," Shikaku promised and used the body flicker technique to get moving, his mind no doubt already considering the strategic implications of war with another hidden village. This was no time for laziness as troublesome as it would be, haste was warranted.
AN: Don't expect many updates – Wrapping up Genius Sensei and then doing more with Nine Tailed Possession is still my priority. I got a lot of good feedback on having the shinobi world at war with each other in Genius Sensei so figured this might be a fun concept. Let me know what you think.