Yet another bout of inspiration. And yet again, edited by Aqualoner. I love that girl to pieces! Enjoy.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto

This can't go down any way but one.

(because this isn't some backwater little town, this isn't a filthy slum, this isn't a nomadic camp bereft of loyalty to its land and people. this is Konoha and Konoha will dig in its heels and brace its legs and it will stand to meet you.)

This won't be a fast battle, a tiny little skirmish that means nothing in the grand scheme of things. You won't ride in, crushing your opponent beneath your feet, to the center of the city and find a surrender waiting for you. This won't be fast, it won't be clean, and it definitely won't be easy, and if you think for even one second that it will be you're an even bigger fool.

(this will be brutal. it will be bloody. maybe you'll win; maybe you'll defeat your enemy and stand over his wrecked corpse, but the blood dripping on the ground won't just be his and if you manage to walk away from the fight, it will be in a graceless, broken hobble, and it will be that same hobble you will use for the rest of your life. Konoha doesn't let people just walk away from a fight. you may win, but it will be empty and meaningless.)

If you go in thinking you're taking on a bunch of peace-loving hippies, you'll be dead before you see the Gates. Orochimaru went in with that mindset. We all know how that ended. We all saw just what Konoha did to the Sound forces. This village is more than just strong. It is loyal and it is ready. For every ninja you send in here there are three ready to fight to the death to protect their home.

(it isn't luck that forces the combined armies of Sound and Sand back at the height of the battle. it isn't grief that has the shinobi of Konoha slowly pulling themselves together in the wake of Sandaime's death. it isn't weakness that sees the people of the village, civilian and ninja alike, climbing to their feet and facing Pain with banners flying. don't ever go in thinking that because Konoha values peace, it is weak. these men and women don't know weakness. they know fire and fierceness and the will to protect all that they love, but they do not know weakness and they have no desire to learn.)

(and you will not be able to teach them.)

Orochimaru attacked it without warning. Sand changed sides and abandoned it. Pain tried to raze it to the ground.

Iwa marched, ready to slaughter. Rain sent threats, foretelling destruction. Mist said poison, Cloud said rubble, and even tiny little band of thieves tried to entice with promises of slit throats and red painted streets in the early years if there was no surrender.

(Iwa was destroyed before they saw the border. Rain was subdued before it even began. Mist's poisons were flooded out, Cloud's storms never dared try to strike, thieves were met, fought, and broken in a matter of days.

Orochimaru was pushed back. Sand came crawling, begging for alliances. Pain repented and gave back what he had so brutally taken.)

We are Konoha. We are every man on the street, every woman in the shop. We are each child running free in the forest and every creature watching over them. We are the Academy students, learning to throw kunai and mold our chakra. We are the genin complaining about boring D-ranks. We are the chuunin out on the field, bringing people safely home. We are the jounin gathering intel. We are the Anbu silently hunting. We are the Hokage, watching over the village we swore to protect.

We are the dancing leaves that shield Konohagakure.

We are the burning sparks sprung from the Great Fire.

We are every person who loves this village and will fight for it.

We are the shinobi of Konoha, and we promise you, invader, that this will go down only one way.

In flames.

Hey there, everyone! This is my Konoha tribute, which is a little different from my usuall kunoichi tributes, but oh well. And I am very proud of myself, because I created an entire religion for Konoha. They now worship the Great Fire, which shot sparks up onto a barren earth and ignited life. Now, all living creatures carry a single spark within them, and when they die, their spark returns to the Great Fire, is cleansed of its previous life, and waits to be sent back to the earthly plane. I have religions for the other great nations too, but the Great Fire is my favourite.

May the Great Fire light your path and make you strong.

May your will burn in the dark, even after the stars have gone.