Chapter 12- Bloodline War

~It has finally come down to this. After learning of Yashiro's plot, after all the preparations we made, after all our effort to stopping this war from becoming a reality… they have succeeded. Right now, as we rush towards the battlefield that is Mist Capital in the hopes of somehow stopping this war, I'm dreading what we may very well find… bloodshed the likes of which I've never seen. I've fought a lot of battles, risking my life against opponents that could only be considered monsters… but what I'm about to face… in all truth, I'm scared… and also sad, knowing the reasons behind this war. It's true, the MaShin manipulated the events, but they didn't start this hatred… they only used what was already there. As for us… we're strangers to this land, we aren't affected by its problems, if anything we'd benefit from their fall… but what is happening here is far bigger than the rivalry between ninja villages or the tension between our nations. MaShin is a threat to the very world we live in… this country is just the beginning… and who will they target next? Even though war is raging on this very moment, it's still not too late. If there's the slightest chance that we can save this land and its people from utter destruction, will we continue to risk everything…

-Uzumaki Naruto

(Water Country- Mist Capital)

"My god…" Those were the only words that escaped the lips of the rag-tag group consisting of the Konoha Nins, the Mist's Princess and the ex-leader of the bloodlines. They were able to slip unnoticed past the fortified walls and travel by rooftop towards the centre of the capital, where the castle stood. Though they had attempted to mentally prepare themselves for whatever they may encounter… nothing in this world could have prepared any of them for the scene of carnage raging down below, in the vast grounds surrounding the Shogun's castle…

"KILL THEM ALL! SEND THESE MONSTERS TO HELL WHERE THEY BELONG!"

"FOR EVERY ONE OF OUR PEOPLE YOU SLAUGHTERED, YOU'LL PAY IN BLOOD!

"FOR THE MIST! FOR KIRISHAKU! FOR THE PRINCESS! KILL THESE BEASTS!"

"WE'LL DESTROY THIS CITY AND EVERY LAST ONE OF YOU BARBARIANS!"

The two armies clashed, every single man, woman, even child fought like mad. The bloodline rebels were heavily outnumbered by the Mist's forces… most of which didn't even consist of the royal army or shinobi, but a militia of civilians and peasants. Despite being outnumbered the bloodline rebels carried natural strength and skill matching those trained soldiers and their powers were as devastating as the Mist Shinobi's jutsus. For all purposes, the two armies were equal.

Inhabitants of the Mist weren't the only ones fighting today… the MaShin took part as well. Fighting for the Mist's forces was Kamui. The hulking, muscular giant of at least ten feet, clad in full iron armour was an imposing sight and even fiercer in combat. Letting out a tremendous roar, he clasped both his hands together and swung them down on his opponent, a bloodlined fighter, the impact crushing his skull. All attacks that hit him had no effect, but it was not because of the armour; that was purely for show, its only purpose to mask his inhuman durability. On the bloodline's side, Kintetsu was attacking left and right, literally shredding his way through the Mist's warriors, their armours totally useless against his demonic thunder. Both Kamui and Kintetsu were each leading their sides on… killing with such excessive force, laughing wildly at their inhuman deeds, this savage display was all an act to make their sides appear even more barbaric to the opposing, driving everyone to fight even harder.

Naruto and his companions watched the battle in horror, some of them averting their eyes from the slaughter. Human beings were getting blown apart by bloodline powers, or vice-versa, a bloodline individual being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers before being taken down and violently killed. "Ahhh…!" Mizurei's eyes were wide in terror. He was trembling as he watched the war rage on. "N… no…!" He clenched his teeth… as he watched the battle rage below… "Y…! Yamero…! (Stop…!)" He fell to his knees, quivering at the sight of people he once called friends, being slaughtered one by one…

"S… stop it…! STOP FIGHTING!" Naruto suddenly screamed out at the top of his lungs. His friends jumped, surprised by his sudden outburst… as the war down below raged on. His cry for them to stop went completely unheard… the people continued to fight and kill one another…

"How… how could they do something like this…!?" Hinata trembled, close to tears. None of them had ever seen war. Even Kurenai, an experienced jounin was left speechless… "N-No! I… I knew these people…! This isn't like them!" she shouted. Having lived among the bloodlines of the Mist, she had known them to be gentle, kind people… but this… "They were good people….! They were all so nice! How could they take part in this… this insanity?!" she cried out.

"This is war." Ebi spoke seriously. "What you are seeing right now is the ugliest side of humanity… made even darker by the cause they are fighting for." His eyes narrowed as he stared over the battlefield, "Right now… all their anger, all their hatred… everything they have held back, they are unleashing it right here."

"What… what the hell are we supposed do…? What CAN we do…?!" Kiba asked weakly. This was beyond anything they imagined. "We brought Izumi-hime with the idea we could confront the Shogun and put a stop this war… but is that really gonna be enough!?" He shouted.

"I don't know… I don't think even my father can stop this now…" the princess said sadly. The warring populations were out of control, it seemed unlikely that the Shogun's word could stop them… "But… if there is even a chance it could work… we… we have to try!" She said, her gaze hardening. The sight of her country in such a state truly saddened her… she would do anything to stop it.

"Even if reaching the Shogun can accomplish anything… the question is, how are we going to reach him?" Shino asked. Between their little group and the Shogun's castle was a veritable ocean of fighting and chaos. "There is no way we could get to the castle without crossing that battlefield!"

"Then we'll just have to go right through it!" Naruto gritted his teeth.

"Nani!?" the others shouted, turning their heads to him.

"We have to act now!" Naruto shouted at the others, "We'll have to fight our way through! Punch them, kick them, knock them out… whatever it takes to subdue them! Anything to stop further killing and let us reach the Shogun!" He continued, "I know it's a stupid plan, but it's the only one we've got!"

"I'd hate to say it, but he's right." Mizurei clenched his fists tightly. It barely counted as plan, it was practically suicide, but he was gonna take part either way. "I'm not going to stand quietly while my people are dying! I will do whatever it takes!" the Bloodline Leader and Mist Princess said in unison. Naruto then looked at the others… wanting to hear their opinion…

"Do you even have to ask?" said Kiba, as he, Hinata, Shino and Kurenai stood ready. They were all prepared to go along with this plan, or lack of rather. It didn't matter. The time for thinking was over, they had to act now!

"Everyone, catch!" Ebi called out as he suddenly flicked several small objects, one to each person here. They all caught it, and saw what it was. He had given them each a soldier pill. "We'll need all the strength we can get."

"All right then…!" Naruto threw the pill into his mouth and crunched it between his teeth. The pill took effect immediately, a hot feeling spread through his body, he began to feel lighter and stronger. All the hunger an exhaustion that had piled up throughout their stay in this country had vanished. Everyone perked up, feeling totally energized, while Akamaru's fur changed into a deep red colour… "Let's do this then…!" Naruto bit his thumb and formed a series of hand seals, while drawing chakra from what felt like an endless supply, "KUCHIYOSE NO JUTSU! (SUMMONING JUTSU!)"

There was an explosion of smoke, as a giant figure appeared. The building they had been standing on moments ago had crumbled beneath its sheer weight. The smoke cleared, and the Konoha ninjas and leaders from the Mist stood atop the back of a monstrous red toad… none other than Gamabunta!

"HOLY SHIT!" Kiba screamed. Beneath his sunglasses, Shino's eyes were wide open in disbelief.

"What the hell is this…!?" Mizurei gasped. He had never even heard of such a thing… while the Princess, Kurenai and Ebi who were all familiar with summoning arts, still could not believe that Naruto actually brought this thing here!

"N… Naruto-kun…!" Hinata exclaimed, partly out of shock… but there was a definite air of hope in her voice. Seeing what Naruto had brought here, for the first time she felt they stood a chance…!

Gamabunta sat with his eyes closed, taking a deep puff from his pipe. Blowing out the smoke, he opened his eyes and scowled, "Eh…!?" He found himself standing stuck in the narrow space between several buildings, a human war was raging nearby, a bunch of people were standing on his back, while standing on his nose happened to be the youngest man to hold a contract with the toads… "OI! BRAT!" He roared at Naruto, the people standing on top of him had to grab onto the toad lord's robe to avoid bring thrown off. "WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA CALLING ME TO A PLACE LIKE THIS!?"

"Lord Gamabunta… we need your help!" Naruto spoke, in a serious, but pleading tone. The toad boss quietened down, noticing the boy's unusual behaviour. For that annoying little brat to be acting like this, things had to be serious. Gamabunta decided to listen. Quickly, Naruto explained the situation… MaShin's plot, the Princess surviving the assassination attempt, the truth behind this war, and their mission to reach the Shogun as soon as possible… he tried to include as much detail as he could without wasting any further time. "…and that's why I summoned you here, Lord Gamabunta! We need your help! I… beg you!" Naruto finished, and stood waiting for his response.

The big toad boss had listened to Naruto's entire story. Gamabunta stood quietly, in contemplation… A smirk crossed the toad boss's face. "Hm… omoshiroi…! (Interesting…!) I have been getting bored lately…!" he rather liked the sound of this boy's daring plan. Naruto's eyes brightened, as the toad shouted out, "Very well! I, the great Gamabunta will assist you!" He shouted out. "Just don't slow me down!"

"Alright!" Naruto smiled brightly and turned to the others. "You ready guys!?"

"HAI!" The others shouted in confirmation.

"THEN LET'S GO!" Naruto shouted at the top of his lungs. Gamabunta let out a huge roar as he pushed aside the buildings enclosed around him and rammed the one in his way, smashing right through as he stormed into the battlefield…

"WHAT ON EARTH IS THAT?!"

"IT'S A MONSTER! A REAL MONSTER!"

"IT'S JUST LIKE THAT BEAST THAT ATTACKED OUR MEN IN THE ENCAMPMENTS!"

"OUT OF MY WAY!" Gamabunta roared as he swung his front right arm down at the crowds, sending dozens upon dozens of people flying. People everywhere were screaming, many scrambling to get away from this monster as it begun advancing towards the castle… sweeping people out of the way without actually killing anyone.

Though Gamabunta was an imposing figure, the shock didn't last long. Still caught up in the intensity of battle, many from either side returned to fighting, while others among them were even daring enough to turn their weapons towards the beast, actually prepared to fight… that's when seven figures suddenly leapt from the top of the Toad Lord's back, each landing at a different corner. Naruto, Hinata, Shino, Kiba, Kurenai, Ebi and Mizurei all stood there, leaving only the princess to ride safely atop Gamabunta's back. Every one of them took a fighting stance, and faced the swarms of the royal army's soldiers, armed civilians, mist ninjas and advanced bloodlines…

"HAAAA!" Naruto let out a loud shout, as he immediately threw himself into the thick of battle with his fists flying, every powerful hit sending people flying in different directions. "No matter what happens… I'LL PUT A STOP TO THIS WAR!" Every move he made was a blur. The last and only thing any of them saw was Naruto's fist in their face. They were totally overwhelmed by his furious onslaught.

With her Byakugan in full flare, Hinata delivered many quick and devastating strikes with her palms. The chakra passed right through any armours, sending a shock directly to the target's insides and causing them to faint in a single hit. "Please forgive me… but we have to stop this madness!" She said sadly, striking down one after another, quite a few of them were people she recognized from the camps.

Ice gathered around Mizurei's spear, enveloping the sharp point and turning it into a bludgeon. Roaring out loud, he swung the heavy weapon with his amazing strength, the impact sent an entire crowd flying like rag dolls. "IF YOU WON'T STOP FIGHTING THEN I'LL STOP YOU MYSELF!" He shouted, swinging the weapon in wide arcs, every hit utterly blowing them away. Many of his fellow bloodlines were screaming at him and calling him a traitor. It truly pained him to have to attack the very people he once defended, but he knew it was better they received broken bones from him than death from their enemies…

"GATSUUGA!" Kiba roared as he and Akamaru whirled through the air, a pair of living cyclones that tore through the Mist's numbers. "YEEHAA! COME ON AKAMARU! LET'S SHOW THEM WHAT WE'RE MADE OF!"

Explosions rang through the air Ebi was hurling bombs over the field. People screaming out and covering their burning eyes as clouds of consisting of pepper or other tearing agents left them blind and vulnerable. "ORA!" Ebi roared, delivering multiple blows with a wooden tonfa, using a very small quantity of chakra to strengthen his arms; every hit he dealt knocked someone out. As the weakest member of the group, his attacks had to be precise and calculated in order to down an opponent in a single hit and conserve his limited supply of energy…

"Don't even bother trying to get up." Shino said, as people all around him collapsed to the ground, utterly paralyzed as a swarm of his insects was buzzing overhead. "I have converted my chakra into a paralyzing venom and distributed it among my bugs. Do not fear, it is not lethal… but don't expect to move before the day is over."

A number of armed men charged towards Kurenai, but in the blink of an eye… it was over. They were all frozen in place, Kurenai stood past them, her back facing theirs, as suddenly every single one of them collapsed to the ground. "You are a hundred years too early to challenge a Jounin of the Leaf." She said coldly.

More and more people from both sides fell to the onslaught of this group of newcomers. Not even counting those attacked by the giant toad monster, within the last ten seconds, hundreds had fallen at the hands of these fighters! "What are you…!?" One Mist soldier shouted to this new group. "Are you demons!?"

"No… we're not demons…" Naruto answered, turning to that one soldier… suddenly, springing forward and smashing the soldier's face, sending him flying and hitting the ground, totally out cold… "ORETACHI WA KONOHA NO SHINOBI DA! (WE ARE LEAF NINJA!)" Gamabunta continued ploughing through the warring masses with princess Izumi safe on top, while the others stayed down below to cover the toad boss's sides and rear from enemy attacks, bit by bit they were getting closer to the shogun's castle, but things weren't going so smoothly… The fighting showed absolutely no sign of letting up. Most of them were too consumed by the battle to notice or even care about Gamabunta's presence. Even though the efforts of our heroes had stopped hundreds, they couldn't stop a war this way!

Gamabunta wasn't progressing fast enough either. Despite his tremendous power, he had to hold back most of it just to avoid accidentally killing anyone. The Konoha nins and Mizurei were doing all they can to draw the attention away from Gamabunta, but despite their best efforts, they couldn't stop everything… "ARGH! YOU DAMN PUNKS!" Gamabunta flinched as flaming arrows hit his face. A group of soldiers ahead of him were shooting these projectiles. As the soldiers let loose the next volley, Gamabunta opened his mouth and shot out a huge ball of water. The arrows were swallowed up in the watery projectile and the group of soldiers screamed when the watery blast hit them, the sheer force sent them scattering. "OW!" Gamabunta's face twisted in pain and frustration as an explosion hit the side of his head. Turning to the side, he growled at a man from the bloodline forces who had just hit him. He immediately retorted by opening his mouth and shooting out his tongue, grabbing that man and flinging him through the air, sending him crashing in the distance.

"Kuso…!They just keep coming!" Naruto shouted as he floored another man with his fist. He could see his friends were beginning to struggle, they couldn't keep this up forever. The closer they got to the Shogun's castle, the more concentrated the royal forces became, making Naruto's group priority targets! Their progress was slowing down as they were being swarmed by what seemed like endless soldiers, and they had to fight harder than ever just to stay alive. The effects of the soldier pills gave them the energy to fight, but that didn't stop them from receiving wounds, which were gradually piling up. At this rate, they'd be totally overwhelmed long before they reached the shogun and the MaShin would have succeeded! Suddenly, Naruto caught something out of the corner of his eye… "WHOA!" Reacting at the last second, Naruto moved his head back, narrowly avoiding a kunai that whizzed past his face, and felt pain at the tip of his nose where it had grazed him. Looking in the direction that kunai came from, Naruto swore out loud. Four people stood in his way, each one bearing the metal headband of the Hidden Mist Village. These were Mist Shinobi!

"And just what would a little leaf ninja be doing running around in a place like this?" One of them spoke, a masked ninja armed with large metal claws, exactly the same as those the Demon Brothers used way back in Naruto's first mission. Triangular metal plates had been welded to the plate of his headband, resembling the horns of an oni, while an iron mask covered the lower portion of his face. There was some sort of liquid glistening on the surface of the iron claws… no doubt it was poison.

"Saving your country!" Naruto snapped back, "Please, listen to me! We have the Princess with us right now!" He pointed to the woman figure riding atop the giant toad in the distance, "We need to see the Shogun immediately!"

"Liar! The Princess is dead, everyone knows that!" The ninja with the claws glared at Naruto. "I don't know what your intentions are but we're not letting you get any closer to the Shogun… LEAF TRASH!" Before Naruto could speak, the Mist Ninja lunged forward and went straight for the kill… his claws aimed at Naruto's throat.

Naruto immediately reacted, jumping into the air and avoiding the poisonous claws completely… then in mid-air Naruto spun his body and delivered a kick directly to the Mist Ninja's face. The impact knocked the Ninja's iron mask right off, as it lifted him right off the ground before falling and hitting the floor hard. Taking a deep breath, Naruto stared down at the motionless ninja, realizing that he had just knocked him unconscious. He said nothing as he stared at the nin in bewilderment. For a moment, he remembered the day he first came across shinobi exactly like this one. That time he was just a kid, scared and unable to fight back… compared to now when he had beaten one out of reflex, he couldn't help but reflect on how far he had come…

"So we have confirmation then…" another Mist ninja glared at Naruto, "Amidst the mayhem caused by the uprising of the freaks, the Leaf Ninjas are trying to slip unnoticed, even bringing along some impostor princess! No doubt about it, you're here to assassinate the Shogun!"

"NO! You have it all wrong!" Naruto pleaded. He and his friends had learned that the princess had to make it appear that she was dead in order to successfully elude MaShin, but at the same time put her at risk for situations just like this. Knowing the stubbornness of Mist ninjas, if they were convinced Izumi was dead, it was likely they'd see her as a fake and kill her off without second thought! "Listen to me, the princess is alive! I'm telling the truth! YOU HAVE TO STOP FIGHTING!" Naruto pleaded, but the Mist Shinobi had no interest in listening…

"MIZU BUSHIN NO JUTSU!" a mist shinobi with a katana shouted, as water condensed from the snow and heavy fog, gathering together and changing colours to form five exact duplicates, each one drew their sword and dashed to Naruto…

"KAGE BUSHIN NO JUTSU!" Naruto shouted, creating just as many shadow clones, each drawing a kunai and charging forward… his shadow clones overpowered and destroyed the water clones, while the real Naruto and Mist Ninja swung their kunai and katana…

"WHAT?!" The Mist ninja screamed as his Katana clashed with the kunai, the force of Naruto's swing totally overpowering his and caused him to stumble back…

"I'm in a hurry… SO GET OUT OF MY WAY!" Naruto roared and delivered a mighty uppercut the Mist ninja's chin, flinging his head back and sending him toppling to the ground, his jaw shattered and many teeth were broken. Naruto turned to see another Mist ninja, larger and more muscular than the last wearing iron gloves over his fists suddenly appear from the side and swing at him with his fist… only to gasp in shock when Naruto stopped the punch completely by catching it his left hand. "HAA!" Naruto kicked the Mist ninja HARD, the iron guard on his leg smashing into the ninja's unguarded shin…

The iron-fisted ninja's mouth and eyes opened wide, some tears even gathering in the corners… "YEAAAAAAAARGH!" He screamed at the feeling of his bone cracking. The shadow clones Naruto had used to beat the katana-wielding nin's water clones suddenly all came and tackled this one to the floor, pinning him down and proceeded on with beating him to submission.

Naruto turned to face the last one, who recoiled slightly upon seeing what this boy could do. Naruto turned to his clones and signalled them all to disappear. With his clones gone, Naruto put away his kunai and turned to face the man… "Please…" Naruto spoke gently, with a look of desperation in his eyes… "I don't want to fight you! I am not the real enemy! I need you to JUST LISTEN TO ME!"

"Okay… I'll listen…" The Mist shinobi replied, dropping his weapons. Naruto lowered his guard and approached the now unarmed ninja… who suddenly let out a wicked smile, "SUITON: SUIROU NO JUTSU! (WATER PRISON JUTSU!)"

"WHAT…!?" Naruto screamed, as he was swallowed up in an orb of water. The Mist shinobi laughed, as Naruto tried to struggle…

"Ha-ha-ha…! Y… you… fool…!" The Mist Ninja laughed, drenched in a terrified sweat he had gained from seeing the boy fight. "I… can't believe that actually worked…!" He watched Naruto's struggles weaken… he was running out of breath!

"NARUTO-KUN!" Hinata's voice cried out. From within the sphere, Naruto could see Hinata was fighting through a crowd of men, rushing to get to him…

"Sorry, but I'm not waiting for your friend to help you!" still holding the water in place with one hand, he reached to the ground and grabbed a discarded spear in his other hand. Naruto's eyes opened even wider… "Sayonara, leaf-trash!" He raised the weapon, ready to pierce through the water and into the boy's heart…!

-WHAM-

"Wha…?" The Mist shinobi let out a shocked gasp, and collapsed…

"GAH!" Naruto yelled out as the orb broke apart, water splashing to the ground. Coughing and choking on the water, Naruto finally took a breath…

"Naruto-kun! Are you okay!?" Hinata asked frantically, grabbing onto him and helping him up.

"(COUGH) I'll… be fine…!" Naruto taking a few deep breaths before finally settling down. He then smiled at her… "Thank you Hinata… you just saved my life."

"Ano…! But Naruto-kun… I didn't do it…!" said Hinata

"Say what?" Naruto blinked… "If it wasn't you… then who…?" His jaw suddenly dropped. Hinata, wondering what was up, turned her head, and also let out a gasp. Standing there was a tall figure, dressed in Konoha's standard ninja uniform, with a head of spiky silver hair… "S-SONNA(N-NO WAY…!)"

"Hisashiburidana, Naruto." The voice spoke cheerfully, "I see you've gotten yourself into quite a mess while we were gone! It's lucky I arrived just in time… Although I have to admit…" the figure turned around and faced him, "It seems you've also done quite a bit of growing up without us." Kakashi smiled at his shocked student.

"Kakashi-sensei…" A shocked Naruto spoke… "What the hell do you mean by 'just in time'!?" he pointed at his sensei, "YOU ARE WAY… FREAKING… LATE!"

"Yes, I do admit I am rather late this time…" Kakashi chuckled. "But I have a very good reason for that."

"Oh?! And just what-" Before Naruto could ask, someone shot an arrow towards his back. "Huh?!" He turned around and cringed when he saw an arrow stopped just short of his face and a hand clenching it tightly; caught in mid-air. Naruto and Hinata's eyes opened wide as they were met with a smirking Sasuke!

"You want to save a country, but you still can't watch your own back?" Sasuke said smugly. He suddenly whipped the arrow through the air, back at the man who fired it. The soldier screamed as hit his shoulder, making him drop his bow and spilling over his bundle of arrows. "Except for that last part, you did a pretty nice job flattening those Mist Nins." Naruto was staring in bewilderment…

"Don't think we forgot the stuff you said back in the Encampments!" Sakura said as she dashed past a man with a sword, grabbing his arm and twisting it behind his back and forcing him to let go, before bashing him on the back of the head and knocking him out. "I know it's late, but for all it's worth, we're sorry!"

"When did you guys get back here?!" Naruto, Hinata and the others from Team 7 turned to see the others from Team 8, Ebi and Mizurei running towards them, all just as surprised by their arrival.

"I thought you all went back to Konoha!" said Kiba

"Yeah… we did…" admitted Sakura, "We let Naruto stay behind thinking it would give him time to cool his head, so that he'd eventually give up and go home… but it really turned out to be the opposite." Sakura looked down, both saddened and ashamed. "As for us… going home isn't so easy when you finally realize that someone who's become such a big part of your lives is missing… and things just aren't the same…"

"Not you though. We're fine with losing you." Sasuke glared at Ebi.

"Bite me." Ebi made a very rude gestureat Sasuke with his fingers.

"You guys…!" Naruto said, still totally dumbfounded as the members of Team 7 stood around him. Their arrival was just about the last thing he expected to happen. "Ah, WATCH OUT!" He suddenly exclaimed as from behind the team, a squad of Mist shinobi sprung up from the battle field, their weapons ready…

Suddenly, before Naruto even realized what was happening, that group of shinobi was instantly wiped out by a series of familiar jutsu that came from above. Naruto, Ebi and the members of Team 8 gasped, when they saw standing atop Gamabunta's back… Shikamaru, Chouji, Ino and Asuma… Neji, Rock Lee, Tenten and Gai… even Iruka was here!

"OI! DON'T JUST JUMP ON MY BACK WITHOUT PERMISSION!" Gamabunta shouted angrily. He was ignored, as Team 7 and 8, plus Ebi and Mizurei jumped up there.

"Damn man, what have you gotten yourself into while you were here!?" asked Shikamaru, looking around at the battlefield.

"As you can see Naruto, this is what was keeping us so long." Said Kakashi to a stunned Naruto. "Your words had a much larger impact than you may have realized, words that stuck with us, all the way back to Konoha."

"Naruto-kun!" Rock Lee suddenly called out, "When we heard that Sakura-san and Sasuke-kun were not to take part in the chuunin exams, and realized that you were missing, we knew something was wrong! We then asked your team-mates on what had happened to you! Upon hearing the tremendous task you have taken upon yourself and the noble cause that you are fighting for… we… we simply could not remain in the village! We JUST HAD to come!" Lee exclaimed as tears were streaming down his face and he began to weep uncontrollably. "F-forgive me…! I can't help it…! That was the most noble thing I have ever heard! I… I'M JUST SO TOUCHED!" he suddenly yelled out.

"Indeed!" Gai piped in from the background, grinning brightly with his arms crossed and a great stream of tears running down his face.

"Um… thanks?" Naruto blinked, taking a few steps back from Lee…

"Anyways, we just figured you needed help FAST, and there's no telling how long the chuunin exam could go on for (or if all of us even make it out alive for that matter)… so… we left!" Tenten said with a sweatdrop as she was patting Lee's back trying to comfort him. "We had to plead to the Hokage-sama until she agreed to let us come here! You should've seen how hard Neji-kun was pressing her, he wanted to come here to help you even more than Lee did…!" her joyful speech came to an abrupt halt when she noticed Neji glaring at her; a signal to stop talking, immediately.

"And the moment Iruka-sensei heard what you were doing, he wouldn't take no for an answer. He just had to come along!" said Sakura. "We thought that you could use our support, but we had no idea things had gotten this bad!" She then smiled at Naruto, "Not that it matters, we're not going to abandon you again! No matter what, we're here to help you!"

"You… you guys…" Naruto stood there shocked, ignoring Gamabunta complaining that it's not enough that the lot of them are standing on his back, but now they're having such a sappy scene… "You're all here… because of me…?"

"Well, you did 'burn it into our heads'… after all…" Sasuke quoted Naruto. "It was your words that brought everyone here… Besides…" Sasuke frowned, "We are a team… and perhaps it's time we started… acting like one." He turned his head and closed his eyes, trying to hide the embarrassment

"Heh…" Naruto smiled… They had all given up their chance to take the Chuunin exam, so they could stand by his side, undaunted even in the face of an entire war! His eyes were watering. He had to struggle not to let himself cry… he then shook his head. "Everyone… I… I have something to say to all of you." Naruto stepped back, so he was facing everyone. His smile faded and he had a serious look on his face, "The people of this country have been turned against one-another, by a group that has been manipulating everything from the shadows… a group calling themselves the MaShin…" Naruto's eyes narrowed, "I am telling you this right now, because if you choose to fight, you will inevitably encounter them, and it won't be men you'll be facing, but monsters… for each of these people is the vessel of a demon."

Everyone save for those who already knew, gasped at Naruto's revelation. The adults especially seemed shocked by this… having lived to witness the Kyubi's attack all those years ago and knowing full well that a demon had been sealed in Naruto, they knew it was possible… and now their enemies each carried something like that?!

"What are you saying!?" Ino screamed out, "Demons…? You gotta be kidding! That's just impossible!"

"Naruto is telling the truth!" Ebi stepped forward, silencing the others. "I know this because I have seen them with my own eyes. These demons are very real."

"How long did you know this!?" Kiba shouted, "All this time, we were going up against DEMONS!? Why didn't you tell us any of this?!" he said angrily.

"I was being stupid. Stupid… and selfish." Naruto said, ashamed. "I knew what these people were, yet I kept it a secret from everyone… hoping to deal with them myself. I didn't want any more people to know about them… because their existence made me feel ashamed of who I am…" he looked at the ground…

"Naruto-kun…" Hinata said quietly… as she, Ebi and the adults all watched. They knew what he was talking about. Most of the genin had no idea what he was saying… though the few who understood kept their silence…

"You have your reasons for hiding this from everyone… but we're not angry at you." Naruto felt a familiar hand being placed on his shoulder. Looking up, he met the gaze of his old friend and father figure, Iruka. "Regardless… we came here because of you, and we are all following you right now, Naruto." Iruka closed his eyes and smiled. Naruto looked around to see the others all smiling in support, they were ready for anything. They had all seen him fighting the Mist Ninja. The way he fought, Naruto could have easily crushed them, but instead he was pleading for peace. Hearing about what he was fighting for out here, and seeing for themselves his devotion, it touched them… "Go on… it's your call."

A smile crossed Naruto's face… as he clenched his fists and grinned brightly… "Okay everyone…!" He shouted, as the others surrounded him. They listened carefully as he explained the situation as quick and thoroughly as he could… as well as what they must now do. "So are you all clear?!" He asked, the others all nodded. "All right…! We'll stop MaShin…! Get ready…! For the sake of this country… its people… and its future…" The others could sense something about Naruto as he spoke… some incredible, overwhelming spirit… that just radiated with every word… Naruto suddenly turned and faced the Shogun's castle in the distance… "LET'S GO!"

Naruto immediately broke into a run, leaping right off Gamabunta's head and landed on the ground. In front of him stood what seemed like endless soldiers and Mist Ninja charging in his direction. All around him, the others were landing… and faced the army with him… immediately, they all leapt into battle.

"HAAAA!" Sasuke with his sharingan eyes active, darted straight into the fray. He attacked with a series of incredible moves and taijutsu before they could even lift a finger, delivering powerful blows to the vulnerable points of his opponents. "Hmph! Could there BE a stupider reason for war?! Just what are these people hoping to accomplish!?" He shouted as he fought. It didn't matter what side they were on, be it normal or bloodline, he was taking them down at lightning speed.

"BAIKA NO JUTSU!" Chouji jumped into the air and roared, his body suddenly expanded into the shape of a giant ball. Many people screamed as he suddenly came crashing down on them, then continued rolling through the warring numbers, crushing them down.

"I'll show you what I can do!" In her fingers, Tenten held dozens of thin, senbon needles. "HA!" Leaping into the air, she threw the needles with amazing accuracy. Every individual struck by a needle suddenly collapsed. "My projectiles were drugged! You get even a speck in your system and you'll be unconscious for hours!"

"Kage kubi Shibari no Jutsu! (Shadow Neck Bind Jutsu!)" a dozen soldiers were gasping, clutching their throats, as Shikamaru grasped their necks with his shadow hands. "Damn it…! How did I get myself into this!? This is even worse than the chuunin exams, which I don't even have to take by the way! I could be relaxing under the clouds at home right now…!" He complained, releasing the soldiers as they fainted. "Sigh… I suppose I should look for a bright side… at least I didn't end up fighting girls for a change…" Suddenly, he spotted a group of women from the bloodline charging towards him, while looking to the other side he then saw a bunch of Mist Kunoichi spot him and began charging his way! "OH GOD DAMN IT!"

"KAITEN!" Neji shouted, as many soldiers came at him from all directions. The force of the chakra he expelled, combined with the rapid spinning motion shattered the weapons all his attackers and literally blasted them away. "I don't know just what you people have against each other, but this it absolutely pathetic! This whole battle is nothing but a farce…! A sick joke on humanity! I'll bet you don't even know what you're fighting for!" He shouted, taking the Hyuga fighting stance, before dashing headfirst into their numbers once more…

"COVER ME!" Sakura shouted to Ino. While the others fought in the front lines and kept the waves of enemies occupied, Sakura closed her eyes and put her hands together. "Time to try out this jutsu…!" She closed her eyes focused, channelling her energy into the technique she had once encountered in the previous chuunin exam… and had been studying to use herself…

"HAAA!" Ino leapt forward, slamming her knee upwards against the chin of a man who tried to attack Sakura while she was concentrating. "Just like old times, eh, forehead girl!?" She dodged the spear thrust of a soldier and delivered a fast karate-chop to the side of his neck, knocking him out. "All these years, and you still need me to protect you!" She smirked.

"There's one big difference this time… NEHAN SHOJA NO JUTSU! (Temple of Nirvana no jutsu)" Sakura shouted, unleashing her genjutsu. Soon, what appeared to be feathers began falling from the air over the crowds… as many of them dropped their weapons and fell to the ground locked in forced slumber. "Beat that, Ino-pig!" Sakura returned the smirk. The two of them growled at each other, a bolt of electricity could be seen crackling between their eyes… then the two of them smirked, and returned to the fight, all the while throwing insults back and forth between one another. Sakura was repeating her genjutsu, while not a single enemy was able to get past Ino… until suddenly…

"Nani…!?" Ino gasped, she saw a single figure standing among the sleeping crowds… a mist ninja holding his hands together, having performed the 'Kai' counter-seal to resist Sakura's genjutsu. Suddenly, the Mist ninja darted right past Ino and went straight for Sakura… "SAKURA! WATCH OUT!"

"What…!?" Sakura broke her concentration and opened her eyes, only to see the mist ninja lunging at her with a kunai! It was too late for her to dodge, and she had no way of defending herself against his weapon…!

"KONOHA SENPOU!" Just as the Mist Ninja's kunai was about to pierce Sakura, what appeared to be a green whirlwind suddenly appeared in mid-air out of nowhere. The Mist Ninja screamed as the green blur spun faster than the eye could see, and landed a powerful kick to his head, sending him flying right off the ground and crashing in the distance. Sakura gasped as the figure landed and straightened up, standing in front of her, facing her fallen attacker…

"You who dare attempt to harm Sakura-san… you shall have no mercy!" Rock Lee spoke in a hard tone, glaring at the Mist ninja. Suddenly, Lee turned around to face Sakura and dropped down to one knee while grabbing her hand, "Sakura-san! Flower of my heart! Are you well!? Did that brute hurt you anywhere?!"

"Uh… I… I'm fine, Lee-san…" Sakura replied while Ino stared in shock, both girls carrying enormous sweatdrops…

"Oh, to know that you are unharmed brings warmth to my heart even in the chill of winter!" Lee exclaimed, his eyes shut from tears of joy… "How I wish I could continue to express my happiness… but alas… now is not the time… I have a duty I must uphold…!" He rose to his feet and turned around, facing the battlefield… "The conditions have been fulfilled!" Reaching down, he removed the weights tied to his feet and threw them aside… each of them cracking the floor as they hit. "HAAAAA!" the green-clad ninja darted forward at blinding speed, throwing himself into the warring crowds and begun attacking. The only thing that could be seen was a green streak, impossible for the human eye to follow, and everyone within reach was sent flying. The area around him now clear, Lee's feet shifted and he moved his right hand behind his back while he held his left palm open in front of him, holding his signature fighting stance, "All life is precious… that is why there is nothing sadder than war! Even if it costs me my life, I shall fight with all my power as the proud, beautiful green beast, to protect my beloved Sakura-san, and to save the lives of these innocent people!"

"WE'RE DOING IT! KEEP IT UP!" Naruto shouted as he and the others all fought together. With everyone gathered here, they were decimating the numbers faster than ever! Gamabunta roared as he pushed through sea of endless soldiers and bloodlines, enduring even more attacks than before. Meanwhile the jounin senseis were all occupied, facing many Mist Shinobi. Gai was taking on many foes at a time and decimating them with his incredible Taijutsu, and shouting to Kakashi over who had the higher body count while arguing quality over quantity. Asuma fought bare-knuckled in his hybrid boxing-ninjutsu style, his fist blades tucked away in his pack, while Kurenai stuck close to her jounin companions, using them to draw away the attention from herself as she was building up for her next wave of genjutsu.

Kakashi had just taken down another Mist Jounin. Behind him, he had left dozens upon dozens of soldiers and bloodline fighters unconscious. "The things I go through for my student…!" he groaned as two more local shinobi spotted him, and came dashing in his direction. Kakashi raised his fists, ready to fight… when suddenly…

"RAKURAI!" a voice shouted

"AUUUGH!" The two Mist Ninja stopped just short of Kakashi, screaming out loud as suddenly lethal amounts of electricity hit their backs and surged right into their hearts. Smoke came from their bodies as they collapsed, their hearts had stopped.

"You…!" Kakashi's eye widened, as he saw who had killed those two men from behind. The strange MaShin warrior he had fought with back in Konoha…

"Long time no see, nyah?" Kintetsu smiled. Having spotted Kakashi amid the battlefield, he had immediately killed those two just to get them out of the way…

"I had a feeling I'd run into you sooner or later…" Kakashi scowled beneath his mask. Kurenai, Asuma and Gai had their hands full taking on so many Mist jounin. It was going to be one-on-one. "I was careless, not taking you seriously because you weren't a ninja, and letting my curiosity get in the way. However… you too made a grave error by not killing me when you had the perfect chance." He lifted his headband to reveal his sharingan eye, and shifted into a fighting stance. Last time Kakashi had fought Kintetsu, he had held back at the prospect of fighting a different kind of enemy and the chance to acquire new techniques… but this wasn't the case now. "Because such an opportunity isn't going to present itself again in this lifetime."

"Good to see you're man enough to admit your mistakes…" Kintetsu also took a fighting stance. Seeing Kakashi was serious, he too immediately began channelling his demon… though not fully… he wasn't gonna bust it out its full power just yet… "Let's settle this right now!" The two of them darted towards one another…

"Unbelievable…! Even children are fighting!?" Iruka growled, as he wrenched a knife out of a child's hands and delivered a swift blow to the back of the neck, knocking him out immediately. Frustrated, Iruka rushed towards a bunch of soldiers and civilians, dodging their weapons and beating them down with his fists… he knew they were fighting to help them, but he couldn't help but feel anger and disgust towards the society that filled even children with such hatred. Looking to the side, he saw the back of an enormous armoured soldier holding the struggling body of bloodlined teenager… whose struggles came to a halt when the soldier snapped his neck and began to laugh. Iruka's eyes opened in shock and anger. Immediately he charged towards that laughing soldier… "TEME! (BASTARD!)" He shouted, leaping into the air and delivering a flying kick to the back of his head, knocking his helmet right off… "What!?" Iruka gasped, when he saw the man he had kicked didn't even budge…

"Eh?" a deep voice growled, as the large, armoured soldier turned around to face his attacker… it was Kamui! Iruka gasped, reeling back. Though he had never met him before, upon seeing him face-to-face, for a moment Kamui looked as huge as a mountain. Iruka shook his head… his senses were playing tricks on him… it was the power he sensed within this man that was making him see such things… "More garbage from the leaf village?" Kamui growled, looking down at Iruka and noticing the leaf headband. He immediately swung his arm at him.

"AAARGH!" Iruka screamed. He had tried to avoid it, but Kamui's reach was too long. From a simple swat of Kamui's arm, Iruka was thrown right off the ground like a rag doll. Iruka hit the floor and gasped, but quickly rose to his feet. "(I was right… this man… isn't normal!)" Iruka gasped but resumed his fighting stance. He may have been a chuunin, but this was no average soldier… "(The description Naruto gave me…)" He recalled Naruto telling him about the battle he and Hinata had fought, the gigantic bald man with truly monstrous strength… "(It's him?!)"

"RHAAA!" Kamui roared as he charged towards Iruka, hitting people out of his way and sending them flying everywhere before finally reaching the Leaf ninja and swung his fist. Iruka swerved his body to the side and narrowly avoided Kamui's punch. Iruka let out a shout as he spun around and swung his elbow into the side of Kamui's jaw. Once again, the giant didn't even flinch. "WEAK!" Kamui roared, as Iruka stumbled back. "Even weaker than that stupid blonde kid!" Kamui began to lash out at Iruka, forcing him back. Iruka gasped, coming to grim the realization that he was indeed faced with a demonic MaShin warrior!

Things weren't going too well for Kakashi either… Kakashi gasped as Kintetsu's outstretched finger grazed the right side of the face, leaving a thin cut across his cheek, just centimetres below his eye. Kakashi stepped back and gasped. If he hadn't moved his head just now, he would've lost one his eyes. His opponent left him no further time for thinking and immediately came attacking him again.

The two were trading blows at inhuman speeds, with movements that could only be accomplished by those who had achieved mastery of the martial arts. "That all you can do?!" He laughed, as he stuck close to Kakashi no matter where he moved. Kakashi growled beneath his mask. His greatest power lay within his ninjutsus, and this MaShin warrior was giving him absolutely no opportunity to perform them, instead forcing him to fight hand-to-hand!

For Iruka, all his skill and tactics were losing to Kamui's raw strength. "AAAGH!" Iruka suddenly screamed out when Kamui tackled him hard, sending him flying back and hitting the ground, his weapons scattered everywhere. Iruka growled, coughing painfully. Nothing he did was working… the sheer difference in size and strength was too vast. It was just like child trying to fight against an adult!

"Getting tired already?!" Kintetsu laughed as he continued pressing against Kakashi with his attacks. Though Kakashi possessed a Sharingan eye and tremendous skill in ninjutsu, here the MaShin warrior held every advantage… and Kakashi knew it. By channelling the demon, Kintetsu was able to keep his body fully energized, allowing him to keep up his non-stop attacks while at the same time suppressing Kakashi's ability to retaliate with proper jutsu. "You shouldn't have come here. You're way out of your element!"

Kakashi knew Kintetsu was right. Ninjas were meant to fight in quick clashes that ended in sudden death; not prolonged battles and large-scale wars. Kakashi could feel exhaustion creeping up while his sharingan continued to drain away at his chakra the longer the battle dragged on. Meanwhile, it was the complete opposite for Kintetsu. The demon provided him with near limitless energy. He could practically go on forever!

As the two of them continued exchanging lightning fast blows, Kakashi suddenly caught something at the corner of his eye… a man from the bloodline forces had formed a ball of fire in his hands and launched it directly at him. Kakashi immediately moved to avoid the attack, but that split second he was distracted was all it took… Kakashi's eyes opened wide as looked down and saw two palms placed against his chest… "Shimatta…!"

"SHUURAI!"

"NNNGH!" Kakashi's eyes closed as he felt a powerful surge of electricity surge into his chest. The attack ended and he fell to his knees, his body jerking involuntarily, and unable to move. To his relief, his heart was still beating… possibly because his own chakra also belonged to the same element…

"Don't forget, you're standing right in the middle of enemy territory!" Kintetsu smiled, kicking Kakashi down. Bloodlines fought to protect one another, and having replaced Mizurei as their new de facto leader, that one tried to defend Kintetsu from the outsider. That moment of distraction was enough for him to get the upper hand, and the electric shock had temporarily paralyzed Kakashi, leaving him unable to move his body… "This is it…!" Kintetsu raised his hand, forming the claws of lightning… it was his style of execution… "Nani!?" Kintetsu suddenly stopped, when Sasuke came at him from behind and grabbing the sides of his head tightly. Kintetsu reacted immediately, not giving him the chance to twist his head, and grabbed the attacker by the collar of his shirt and threw him off. The newcomer landed neatly on his feet, and faced Kintetsu…

"Damn, and I was hoping to snap your neck right there." Sasuke scowled. He had attempted a sudden stealthy approach, knowing the chidori was far too noisy and would immediately give him away to someone like Kintetsu who possesses such sharp senses… but he hadn't counted on this man reacting so quickly. "What are you doing lying around for, sensei?! Can't you do better than that!?"

"Ugh, genin these days just don't know respect…!" Kakashi grumbled, slowly getting up, his feeling gradually returning to his body… though his hands were still shaking a little from the shock. "I'd hate to admit, but I think I'm actually gonna need your help on this one, Sasuke." Sasuke nodded, as the teacher and student turned to face the MaShin warrior. If Kakashi was right, Sasuke could make all the difference…

As Iruka lay still on the ground, Kamui approached him and reached down, grabbing the front of his vest and lifting him up… Iruka suddenly pulled out a kunai and made an attempt to stab at Kamui's eye, but his blade was stopped just short of its target… Kamui had caught his wrist. "Nice try!" Kamui smirked, tightening his grip on Iruka's arm, almost to the point of breaking it and wrenched the kunai from his hand… "Let's see if that arm of yours comes off!" He began to pull Iruka's arm to the side. Iruka's eyes opened wide and began to cry out in pain…

"RASENGAN!" a familiar voice roared. Kamui screamed as the orb hit the side of his head… dropping Iruka as he was thrown right off the ground. Naruto stood there, chakra burning and an expression of fury, "GET YOUR HANDS OFF MY SENSEI!" he shouted at the downed Kamui. Naruto then turned to his teacher, "Are you all right, Iruka-sensei!?"

"I'm fine, thanks to you…!" Iruka answered, as Naruto helped him up. Turning around, they both looked to see Kamui get up to his feet…

"YOU!?" Kamui exclaimed, seeing Naruto. "BAKANA (IMPOSSIBLE)! Y… YOU'RE DEAD! HOW CAN THIS BE!? HOW ARE YOU STILL ALIVE?!"

"What can I say? I suck at dying!" Naruto smirked, taking a fighting stance.

"Damn you…!" Kamui snarled… no one infuriated him more than this boy… "H… heh! It's just my luck then!" he suddenly grinned, "THIS MEANS I'LL FINALLY GET THE PLEASURE OF KILLING YOU MYSELF!" he screamed, charging forwards. Naruto took on a defensive stance, as Kamui lunged down and swung his massive fist…

"KAGEMANE NO JUTSU!"

"WHAT?!" Kamui screamed as his body suddenly froze, his punch stopping just short of Naruto. "I… CAN'T… MOVE!"

"Shikamaru!?" Naruto gasped, seeing his shadow-manipulating comrade holding Kamui still. Suddenly, he saw Chouji charging towards Kamui

"RHAAA!" Chouji roared, his right arm suddenly expanded, and his fist grew larger than Kamui himself! Shikamaru released the shadow's hold just as Chouji's fist collided with Kamui's body, sending him flying off the ground and crashing!

"Chouji!?" Naruto gasped as the new arrivals turned to face him.

"Naruto! This guy isn't worth your time! We'll handle him!" Shikamaru shouted, "Get moving!" He pointed towards the castle.

"He's right!" Iruka said in agreement. "You have your own objectives! Don't waste any more time fighting him!"

For a moment, Naruto looked like he was about to object to leaving these people to fight against a MaShin demon carrier… But he knew deep down that they were right… he had to put a stop to this chaos once and for all! That was far more important than fighting Kamui! "All right… I'll leave him to you! But if any of you die, I swear I'm gonna dig you up and kick your asses!"

"Dully noted." Shikamaru nodded, as Naruto ran off. Ino and Asuma were occupied, so it was just him, Chouji and Iruka against Kamui. Shikamaru turned to see the giant stampeding in their direction… "(Plus, I'd rather be fighting a big, brainless muscleman instead of pitting my wits against girl… FOR A CHANGE!)"

In the distance, Naruto could see Gamabunta, and the castle not far away… immediately he broke into a run, hitting people out of his way as he ran until he reached the giant Toad.

"MADE IT!" Gamabunta roared in triumph, as he broke through the last line of soldiers and took one heavy step on the bottom of the stone staircase leading upwards to the castle grounds. At that moment, Naruto jumped high into the air and landed on top of Gamabunta's back.

"Princess!" Naruto shouted. The Mist's princess turned to see him. "We're there! Come on!" He beckoned with his hand.

"All right!" Izumi-hime nodded, and immediately ran forwards. The two of them jumped off right off Gamabunta's head, and landed on the stone steps.

"NARUTO-KUN!" at the call of his name, the blonde ninja turned his head…

"HINATA!" Naruto exclaimed, as he saw the girl fight her way through the crowds before busting through and reaching him. Naruto opened his arms as Hinata threw herself into them, sharing a quick embrace before letting go. "Come on. We've got to move!" Immediately the three of them turned and began running up the stone steps. "Gamabunta!" as he ran, Naruto turned his head and shouted at the toad boss, "I need you to stay here and guard the entrance! Keep any more enemies from following us!"

"Will do!" Gamabunta nodded, and turned his back on the castle, facing the battlefield once more, as many Mist soldiers and ninja were trying to pursue the three heading to the castle… "JUST TRY AND GET PAST ME!" He shouted, slapping away swarms of enemies. As he fought, he couldn't help but think that this whole thing was nothing but a human war, it did not affect him in any way, and even with the blood pact he had the right to refuse Naruto's request. But Gamabunta wasn't going to leave until this battle was over, it was a matter of pride. "Heh…! How long has it been since I fought a battle that made my blood boil like this…!?" He smirked as he continued holding off wave after wave of men…

"We're almost there…!" Naruto said as he, Hinata and Princess Izumi were running as fast as they could. They had made it through the battlefield…! They were almost within the castle…! Once they made it to the shogun, he'd see that she was alive, and he could command his army to halt. They could stop this war…! "We did it…! It's almost over…!" Naruto said, as they reached the top of the stairs and ran through the archway into the castle grounds… full of hope… "AH…!" Naruto, Hinata and the princess skidded to a halt… frozen in horror… and the hope that had filled them just moments ago had vanished…

Bodies… the ground was littered with them… the corpses of countless Mist royal guards and Shinobi. In the very center of them all were two people still alive. One was the Mist Shogun, on his knees with blood was running down his forehead… and the other figure… "No…" Naruto said weakly… "Not him…! ANYONE BUT HIM…!" He trembled, clenching his fists. Hinata was trembling hard. Tears were in her eyes, she was paralyzed with terror… for standing there was the man who had put them through so much pain and suffering… the one responsible for this war… Yashiro.

The princess gasped at the sight of her father… "F… FATHER!" she screamed.

"I… I-Izumi…?" The Shogun said weakly as he heard his daughter's voice. Turning his head, he saw a girl standing with two strangers… he recognized her immediately… "IZUMI!" He cried out, tears gathering in his eyes… "AHH!" He suddenly screamed, as a fist came down on his head, knocking him to the floor. His royal headdress fell to the ground…

"FATHER, NO!" With tears in her eyes, Izumi immediately tried running towards her father, but froze in place as the man who had struck the shogun turned his gaze on her. Suddenly, at that moment, she was petrified…

"Hmm? More trash coming to protect the Shogun?" Yashiro said coldly as he crushed the Shogun's royal headdress beneath his foot. The arrival of more shinobi didn't bother Yashiro. It didn't matter how many soldiers and ninja this country threw at him, the results were always the same… anyone who fought him was dead… "Ah…!" Yashiro suddenly gasped, as he spotted one among the three… the blonde haired boy in the orange jumpsuit, wearing a headband from the Hidden Leaf Village… "YOU…?!" He shouted at Naruto. "How…!? It's not possible!"

"Oh yes it is… I came back." Naruto took a defiant step forward. "I told you once before, until I stop you… I REFUSE TO DIE!" He shouted, and hurled a kunai at Yashiro's feet. The MaShin warrior jumped back, and landed a fair distance away from the shogun. Izumi ran over to her wounded father, but Yashiro ignored them totally… his only focus was Naruto. "It's over Yashiro! Your plan's failed! I have reinforcement from Konoha fighting to stop this war!"

"That's it? This is the best you could do?" Yashiro's eyes narrowed as he stared past Naruto to the battlefield below. He could see the Leaf Shinobi fighting with all their strength against the people from both sides… "Hmph… how arrogant…" he scoffed at Naruto, "You think that just because you're alive and brought over a handful of your little friends, you can stop an entire war? You still think that you can stop ME?!" He pointed at Naruto, "Face it! You've already lost and there's nothing you can do!"

Naruto growled… Yashiro was right. His friends were fighting their hardest, but there was no way a group of little more than a dozen ninja could stop a war! His idea to sway the Shogun was worthless after Yashiro had already gotten him! Hinata was paralyzed by fear of this man after what he had done, and while Naruto may be alive now, there was no difference between now and all the other times they fought!

"Heh…" a smirk crossed Naruto's lips. Why he was smiling… he didn't know himself. "No… there is something I can do…" Yashiro watched as Naruto shifted his feet and took a fighting stance. "It all started from you. You're the source of all this chaos… As long as you're around, it'll never be over." He spoke, glaring at Yashiro, "I'll defeat you… and I'll put an end to this madness!"

"Just try it." Right in front of Naruto's very eyes, Yashiro suddenly vanished!

-THUD-

"AGH…!" Naruto's mouth fell open and eyes opened wide, when Yashiro appeared right in front of him and punched him in the solar plexus. "AH… UGH…" Naruto doubled over as he stumbled back a few steps, gasping for air. Clenching his teeth hard, Naruto stood up straight and ignored the pain. "HAAA!" Naruto let out a roar as he grabbed a kunai and swung at Yashiro's waist. There was a loud clash of metal, and Naruto gasped when he saw that Yashiro had partially drawn his own weapon and stopped the kunai with its blade. Not waiting a moment longer, Naruto began forming a sphere of chakra in his other hand… "RASEN-GAAAH!" He suddenly screamed when Yashiro's knee slammed upwards against Naruto's chin and caused him to fall to the floor, the rasengan scattering his hand. As he lay dazed on the ground, Naruto could see the figure of Yashiro staring down at him…

"Naruto-kun…!" Hinata said weakly… quivering uncontrollably…

"Worthless…" Yashiro spoke. Seeing a defiant glare in Naruto's eyes, anger flared within him, and Yashiro suddenly kicked Naruto hard. The young ninja shut his eyes in pain, but he did not give him the satisfaction of crying out. "You, who have been blessed with such great power… you should be fighting with us, not against us!" He spoke not in his usual cold tone… there was anger in his voice, as Naruto rose to his feet and took a fighting stance once more.

"RASENKEN!" Naruto roared as he attacked Yashiro with a series of lightning-fast punches, the very sort that sent masses of soldiers flying earlier, its bone-crushing power turned even deadlier with the spinning blade of chakra at the end of his fists. His movements were fast and fluid, with skills that should be beyond the level of any mere genin… but all it succeeded in doing was to anger Yashiro even further…

"With talent like yours, you could easily have been accepted among us!" Yashiro growled, punching Naruto across the face. The impact sent Naruto spinning through the air and hitting the ground. "You've seen how LOYAL your friends from the leaf could be! Even the one closest to you turned her back on you the second she found out what you are! We welcome you with open arms, but you continue to fight against us!?" he began to shout, hitting Naruto again and again. No matter how many times Naruto fell, he simply rose to his feet and stood ready to fight. The fact that he was standing at all was sheer defiance. "Why can't you see our noble cause!? Has that ninja village poisoned your mind that far!? Are you such a slave to them that you would go against your own kind?!" He roared as he lunged forward and delivered another punch… "…nani!?" His eyes widened in surprise…

"I told you before…" Naruto spoke… Yashiro's fist pressed against his arms, which were crossed in the 'X' position. For the first time ever, Naruto had stopped his punch. "You and I… are nothing alike…!" For a second Yashiro caught a glimpse of Naruto's eyes and utterly froze. He could sense all the intensity coming from the boy, his will, his determination, all of it practically burning into him… willing him to lose! "HAAA!" Naruto roared, and Yashiro immediately snapped out of it only in time to raise his arms in defence as Naruto swung his fist. The impact sent Yashiro's entire body sliding back several feet.

"Kuso…!" Yashiro swore under his breath for allowing himself drop his guard. Straightening himself up and looking forward, he saw Naruto charging towards him with a kunai in his hand. Naruto lunged forward to stab him, but Yashiro swung his fist and smacked the kunai right out of his hand, also throwing the boy off balance. Yashiro then swung his leg in a sweep to knock Naruto's legs out from under him, but the boy reacted quickly and jumped into the air, dodging the low kick. Still in midair, Naruto spun his body and performed a powerful roundhouse kick with his right leg, directed at Yashiro's head. The MaShin warrior immediately raised both arms to his upper left side and blocked the kick… when suddenly, Naruto vanished in a burst of smoke! "What?!"

BAM!

"AARGH?!" Yashiro screamed out in both pain and surprise when he felt the heavy impact of a fist collide with the right side of his face… and he caught a glimpse of him… it was Naruto who punched him! The one that attacked Yashiro with a kunai was nothing but a shadow clone, and succeeded in drawing away his attention. When Yashiro had raised his arms to the left to guard against that clone's kick, he had completely dropped all his defences on the right! To Yashiro, it seemed as if time itself was moving in slow motion, as he fell… and hit the ground…

"N… Naruto-kun!" Hinata exclaimed, having snapped out of her shocked state and ran over to him, while the princess and the shogun stared in amazement…

"Who… is that boy…?" The Shogun gasped, staring at the child who had actually brought that seemingly unstoppable killer to the ground…

"Uzumaki Naruto. Konoha Genin… future Hokage… and the one who will crush MaShin." Naruto answered, as he stared down at Yashiro.

Yashiro got up from the floor and wiped away the small amount of blood running from the corner of his mouth. He stared at his hand… "Blood… how long has it been… since I've seen my own blood?" He asked, turning his gaze to Naruto. Out of all the times they have encountered… of all the times they've fought… this was the first time Naruto actually struck him. No, it was more than that… this was the first time in years that any opponent brought him to the ground. "Hmph… it's just one hit. Don't act so proud, you've accomplished nothing."

"You're wrong." Naruto replied. "I just proved you're not invincible."

At that comment Yashiro looked at the ground, and placed his hand on his forehead, "All those times we've fought… I had so many chances… so many opportunities to kill you… but I never did. Why?" He asked, tightening his grip on his forehead… Naruto and Hinata stepped back. They could sense deep, unfathomable rage boiling within Yashiro… but something was wrong… "Because we are kindred… we who carry the power of demons, we could have become comrades, brothers even… but this is your answer." Lowering his hand and standing up straight, Yashiro glared down at Naruto, "It is final. I will end them all… your life, and this wretched country."

"Naruto-kun, something is wrong." Hinata said cautiously.

"I know… there's just something different about him…" Naruto growled. Then it clicked, they both realized it! Every time they faced Yashiro, he was always surrounded by an intense evil aura, coming from the demonic spirit that inhabited his body! But right now… it was gone!

"Very perceptive." Yashiro smiled, as if he had read their minds. "The reason you can't sense the spirit of darkness is very simple… I'm not carrying it!"

"W… what are you talking about!?" Naruto gasped.

Yashiro lifted his hand. In his palm, small a dark flame appeared… "What you see here is only a tiny fragment of the spirit… can you guess where the rest of it is?"

"No…!" Naruto and Hinata gasped… "Masaka…! (It can't be…!)"

"Oh yes it is…" Yashiro grasped the spirit's fragment. "It begins NOW!" He shouted, releasing it into the air…

Something was happening, Naruto could feel it. The same for Hinata, the princess, and all of his friends down in the battlefield. Even the Kyubi inside Naruto's stomach was growing on edge, while the sky itself seemed to grow darker… and then, the change was becoming apparent…

(Meanwhile, down in the battlefield)

"K… kill…. K-kill…!" The people of this country, normal and bloodline alike were muttering…

"What's going on?!" Kiba shouted. He was fighting against a group of soldiers that surrounded him… but all of the sudden they started going crazy! They were screaming and swinging their swords like mad, and the opponent he had been fighting was howling out as he hacked at him with a sword. He immediately jumped out of his way, but that soldier continued hacking, even cutting down one of his own allies! "What's wrong with these people!?"

"They've gone completely mad!" Lee shouted out.

It was happening all over the battlefield. The people from both armies were growing more aggressive, screaming wildly and lashing out even fiercer than before. They fought with no regards for their own lives, striking down their own if they got in the way. Their eyes had gone completely white, their faces were twisted and muddled with absolute rage… they had all gone totally berserk!

Back in the castle grounds, Naruto was staring in horror at what was going on down below. It was then when he realized what was going on… "YOU…!" He turned to Yashiro… it was just like when he did the same to Hinata in the forest… "You're the one causing this… you're using the demon spirit to control these people!"

"But… but that… that just isn't possible!" Hinata exclaimed, "How could anything… even a demon, have the power to control so many people!?"

"You're half right. Even the dark spirit does not have the power to control an entire country…" Yashiro replied. "But the people of this land have closed off their hearts to all reason… they opened themselves to this very darkness when they gave in to their hatred and aggression… and now they are possessed by it." Yashiro smiled evilly, "They can't stop fighting, they have been consumed by the rage and will continue to fight, until every last one of them is dead. You've lost. You can't stop this war… IT'S OVER FOR THIS COUNTRY!"

"You…" Naruto growled… "How could you do this…?"

"They deserve their fate! This land… no… this entire world is corrupt!" Yashiro shouted, "MaShin will reshape this world! MaShin will turn it into a paradise! But for us to bring unity to the world, we must first purge everything from its past!"

"You… you're twisted… and the fact that you actually believe you're acting in the name of justice makes it even more so…!" Naruto growled "All this suffering… all this death and killing… you're responsible for it… You dare speak of creating a paradise while you commit all these ATROCITIES?!"

"Call it whatever you want… it doesn't matter. You cannot stop fate. It this land's destiny to fall… Just as it is your destiny to die here." Yashiro drew both his sabers. "This is true justice." He said, pointing the blades at Naruto.

"I've overcome death, and I'll overcome you." As Naruto spoke, the power of the Kyubi burned within him, its red chakra had begun to emerge from his body. "We'll see what's stronger… your justice… OR MY WILL!"

This is the moment of truth. Under the demon's influence, the Bloodline war has escalated to new heights. Thousands of lives hang in the balance as the conclusive duel between Naruto and Yashiro begins, while the Konoha Ninjas who have come to help him are in for the fight of their lives against the population driven out of control… Between the demonic warriors of the MaShin and a country gone mad, is there any hope left for the Konoha Ninjas?

(To Be Continued)