Madara felt a burning anger when he awoke that made him direly wish he still had his eyes so he could light Hashirama on fire and watch him shriek like a child and run about looking for water that wouldn’t help. He was going to strangle that bastard when he found him.
He swung himself out of bed and cast out his senses. That Senju woman stood outside his door, no doubt guarding him, and various other chakra signature were dotted throughout the tower. None of them would keep him there.
He threw open the door and stood there, knowing the woman knew he was awake, and waited. Toka said nothing.
“You won’t keep me here.”
He got the feeling she was narrowing her eyes. “I wouldn’t discount me so easily.”
“Don’t insult me,” he bit back scathingly. “I may have no eyes, but I am no less powerful. There are none in this village who can rival me but Hashirama and you know that. You will not keep me from getting to him.”
Toka shifted her weight to her other foot, ready to push off if he made a move. Part of her felt apprehensive, as if she knew better than to try to stop him, but Hashirama had given her the order. She couldn’t disobey.
But something in her still told her it was wrong.
And something larger told her it would be stupid to try and get in Uchiha Madara’s way, regardless of whether he had his eyes, especially if him and Hashirama was what she stood between.
“I am more capable of assisting blind than most of the shinobi there,” Madara continued, giving her an eyeless glare. “And those are my eyes that were stolen. I don’t care what orders Hashirama gave you.”
Toka swallowed her indecision. She wondered if there was anything she could say to change his mind; if, had she been Mito instead, she would have been able to convince him. “He wants you to stay safe.”
He was quiet for a moment. “He’s taking too much onto himself. You know that.”
And Toka did. Her dumb little cousin tried to take too much responsibility and tried to weather too much so his comrades wouldn’t have to.
They both knew fighting would take up precious time, and most likely anger the Hokage should he find out. Toka knew she would have to injure Madara to get him to stay. There was no way around it.
He would probably take out a chunk of the tower just to be petty.
Something in Madara’s expression softened, ever so slightly. “If it were Mito, would you let someone stop you?”
Toka froze, a lump in her throat, because she didn’t have to imagine that scenario. Mito was on the frontline and she was not.
“What Mito is to you…” Madara paused, looking indecisive, hardly wanting to say something so personal to the woman. “Is what Hashirama is to me. Do not try to stop me.”
Toka stared at him. In her heart, she knew he was right. it was cruel to keep him from the one he loved when he felt he needed to help. Her own was crying out for her to follow in Mito’s steps where she should have been.
It was a risk, but if Madara could still use his Susanoo, then they had a chance.
“All right,” she said, making her decision. Hashirama was going to chastise her, but she knew she wasn’t strong enough to detain Madara if he was truly determined. “I’ll take you there.”
His eyebrows rose in surprise. Toka put her arm forward to lead him. “You’re a crazy bastard, but from what I heard, we need all the firepower we can get. Let’s go.”
Mito looked across the battlefield into the purple eyes of the Kyuubi and felt real fear.
It was still a mile away at least, speaking to its size, surrounded by smaller summons that were still much too large for normal shinobi to deal with.
High above, on the three-legged bird with the same eyes, a figure stared down at them radiating malevolence. Mito surveyed the line of summons and glanced at the grave expression on Hashirama’s face. The Konoha shinobi around them were shifting and muttering amongst themselves, obviously apprehensive, and it reminded Mito that there were so few summoning contracts in the village with boss animals large enough to combat a tailed beast.
She looked back to the creatures approaching them. A great multi-headed dog loomed beside the Kyuubi, leaking saliva from its three mouths, eyes eerily blank. There was a chameleon shifting colors on its back she hardly got a glance of before it disappeared from sight.
An ox and rhino trotted on either side of it, gargantuan in size and undoubtedly strong enough to cleave lines through their forces. There was a crustacean of some sort behind them, followed by a panda and a large orange centipede.
They were each riddled with black rods that she guessed were chakra receivers. They all had the same off-putting purple eyes. Even the Kyuubi.
Was this man broadening his sphere of hate to animals who didn’t know what human loathing meant? Were they even there willingly?
The Kyuubi was a monster who had no qualms slaughtering humans, but at least it didn’t constantly seek them out to consume and destroy. It hated humanity for its hatred and arrogance and wanted little to do with them.
Maybe some of its hatred was due to this. Due to shinobi taking it under their control like a tool to be used. Because, as she stared at the fox walking towards them, there was no way it was making its movements on its own. Its pride had to have stung with each step.
She glanced at the dog again. Each head had a chakra rod stuck straight through it. Mito was a shinobi and had hardened herself to sympathies long ago, but she allowed herself to feel some for it.
She glanced up to Hashirama, who had his palms together as his eyes darted from beast to beast. Even he would most likely have trouble containing them all.
She thought of Madara and Toka, in Konoha, counting on them- on her- to keep them safe. The lines of defense in the forests behind them wouldn’t succeed if they failed.
“Hashirama,” she called up to where he stood with Tobirama on a cliff overlooking the field they’d come to. He glanced down at her with a frown. “Prepare to bring any rogues under control. I’ll handle the rest.”
A crease formed in his brow, and his brother’s. Neither of them knew what she was referring to.
Then again, neither of them had ever seen her fight seriously before.
Mito gathered chakra in her legs and pushed off the cliff. A chorus of startled cries raised in her wake as she barreled through the air towards the far center of the field below. She heard Hashirama call after her. “Mito!”
Mito landed and slammed the large scroll she’d been carrying out on the ground, rolling it open and making the required hand signs to activate the mark on her forehead. It spread to the rest of her body, unleashing the full force of her stored chakra, as her seals extended from the scroll in a five-point pattern around her on the ground.
She glanced up at the Chinoike man in the air and narrowed her eyes when her gaze met purple rings tinged with insanity. I’m stopping you right here.
Golden chains burst from her back and drilled into each of her patterns, shooting into the air and growing larger and larger as they went until they rivaled the size of the summons.
They snared the Kyuubi first, wrapping and winding around its limbs and tails as it screamed in protest.
The ox and rhino fell to her second and the ground shook as the three beasts fell to the ground, writhing.
Three chains shot towards the panda and seized it as the crustacean fled. It twisted around the chains gunning for it but couldn’t escape as they doubled and grew, some of them shrinking to make sure it couldn’t wiggle out from the larger ones’ grip.
The centipede slammed into the ground, covered in chains from end to end.
The dog let out three identical screams and charged her. She directed her chains towards its feet and ripped them out from under it, sending it crashing face-first into the ground as each head as collared.
The creatures screamed, as one, fighting against her as great golden spikes fell to the ground and speared her chains.
Mito glanced up to the drill-beaked bird. It had stopped and now hovered in one place, close enough that she could see the enraged expression on the Chinoike man’s face; or what was left of it, anyway.
She could see strange formations beneath his clothes and there were odd bulges in his skin, as well as the same black rods dotting his body. Her eyes narrowed. So he was controlling them.
He leaned down with a snarl, signaling the bird to nosedive her.
Two chains lashed up from the ground and wrapped around the bird’s tail, whipping it around and around and slamming it into the ground without mercy. A cloud of dust exploded around the point of impact.
The shinobi on the cliffs gaped at the valley below. “So this is the power of the Uzumaki,” an Uchiha muttered in awe, making the Senju on either side of him nod mutely.
Mito jerked around when she felt the onrush of movement from a blind spot. The chameleon leapt out of thin air, striking out at her with the snake on its tail.
A golden spike slammed into it from above, spearing it through the abdomen and pinning it to the ground as it screeched.
The dust cleared away from the downed bird, lying with closed eyes as the Chinoike man raised himself to his feet and glared at her with gritted teeth.
“Uzumaki Mito,” he spat. His eyes hummed as he raised his hands. “Perish.”
Wood spikes made to skewer him before he could release whatever technique he’d been preparing. The man swore and leapt backwards, placing several more yards between them and switching tactics.
He held up his hands again, but he appeared to be trying something different.
The roots came right for him. He stood there and let them make contact.
A transparent shield sprung into existence around him, absorbing the wood as if it were disappearing into thin air. Surprised, Hashirama canceled his technique as he and Tobirama landed on either side of Mito.
“Was Madara too afraid to face me?” the man who’d turned himself into a chimera called out, looking angry. Tobirama grew apprehensive when Hashirama’s hands curled into fists.
“You attacked shinobi of Konohagakure. That means you deal with me,” the Hokage returned sternly.
Their opponent narrowed his eyes. They flicked over to his summons, and he slammed his hand to the ground, making Mito turn in surprise when her chains grasped nothing. All but the Kyuubi disappeared, one by one, and the fox struggled harder when it noticed the others being freed.
The ground shook as the summons began appearing around them. The panda appeared overhead with raised paws, trying to body-slam them, and was punted hard to the right by two separate Susanoo arms. One was a light teal and the other sunflower yellow.
They all whirled in surprise and found Hikaku and Izuna, who Tobirama realized with a start must have disguised himself in the other Uchiha shinobi, approaching with Naori flanking Hikaku in his Susanoo.
They stopped a few yards away and turned so they had eyes in each direction. “I’ve told the others to attack from a distance and try to unsettle the beasts’ footing,” Hikaku called out, ignoring the questioning stares being thrown his way about the Mangekyo he now sported.
Mito’s chains recovered and skewed in different directions to subdue the beasts again. “I’ll try to keep them separated so they’re easier to deal with.”
Tobirama glanced at Izuna, who only glanced over his shoulder and gave him a dark, withering stare. “Well, you wanted an un-killable soldier, didn’t you?” he sneered.
Tobirama looked away.
“All right then.” Hashirama pressed his hands together and looked up to where the Chinoike stared down at them with derision, now perched on the back of the rhino. “Let’s go.”
It was utter chaos that Madara threw himself into.
The bulk of the Konoha forces hung back, leaving the valley below to their commanders. Mokuton roots were flying in every direction and golden chains littered the field, lashing about as the Chinoike maneuvered his summons around them while trying to avoid Hashirama. The Kyuubi had broken loose at one point with the help of the three-headed dog and gone on a rampage before being subdued by the chains again, and its scream rocked the whole valley.
Unbothered by any harm that came to his body, Izuna wrangled the giant rhinoceros with his Susanoo while Hikaku handled the ox. Naori had the panda trapped against the ground with one long, willowy arm of the lavender Susanoo she’d summoned, leading to only more questions in Tobirama’s mind. She had ahold of the centipede as it wriggled in her other hand.
Madara could feel each of their chakra signatures bright and clear as day as he came flying through the trees and over the cliffs. He summoned his own Susanoo in midair and aimed for the creature he could feel below- the dog, if the noises it was making were any indication- and slammed into its back with enough force to take it down and fold it into a crater in the ground beneath.
All motion on the battlefield stopped, for just a moment, as everyone turned to stare at him.
“HASHIRAMA!” he bellowed, whipping towards the man’s chakra. “I’m going to strangle you!”
“Ah…” Hashirama veered back, even though he stood far away on his wood golem, as a bead of sweat slid down his face. He spotted Toka following in Madara’s wake and threw up his hands. “Toka! You had one job!”
“I’m sorry, Hashirama,” she called back, sounding very unapologetic. “I had to follow my gut.”
Madara pushed off and barreled towards the looming presence of Hashirama’s wood golem. As expected, wood rose to wrap around his ankles and guide him towards a gentler landing.
As soon as he had his feet underneath him, he turned and stomped towards the Hokage. He heard the man gulp. “What the hell is wrong with you, trying to leave me behind?!”
“You’re blind! You were supposed to stay safe in the village!”
“Tch! Don’t patronize me!”
“I’m not trying to patronize you, I’m trying to protect you!”
“I don’t need-” Madara was cut off by a blast of energy from the north side of the battlefield that unsettled the golem and sent even the Chinoike’s summons flying. He didn’t know where the man was getting enough chakra to pull this off. “Tell me where to aim, you moron!”
Madara summoned his Susanoo and folded it around the golem, helping to steady it against the second Shinra Tensei. He felt the dog leap at them from the right and formed multiple magatama projectiles to set loose and repel it.
“Sixty degrees right,” Hashirama yelled above the noise as the dog crashed into the ground and the battle raged around them. Madara took aim again, this time aided by wooden spikes, and heard a bird screech in response.
Hikaku and Naori wisely chose to retreat to Mito and give the titan more room to move. Mito focused all her attention on suppressing the Bijuu there and let the armored golem take out the summons one by one, causing the angry chakra signature on her senses to grow more unstable with each hit.
Sure enough, the Chinoike let out a wordless scream of frustration and released another blast, more concentrated that time and entirely focused on Madara. He barely had time to be surprised before it sent him flying out of his Susanoo towards an empty space in the battlefield.
“Madara!” Hashirama yelled, leaping onto his golem’s arm and running down the length of it after him.
Madara flipped around and landed in a skid, but on his feet. The Chinoike charged him from the right and he smirked, wondering if the man thought him helpless in taijutsu, stepping around the first blow made and elbowing him with enough force to break a rib or two.
He let out a startled gasp and flipped away from him. Madara heard the metallic grate of a sword being drawn and stepped back, holding out his arm and judging where it was coming in. He let it pierce his wrist and used it to draw the Chinoike closer and jab him in the throat.
Trees abruptly burst forth from the ground and separated them. Hashirama landed beside him and pulled the sword from his wrist, laying a glowing hand over it. “You’re too reckless,” he admonished.
Madara smirked at him. “It’s effective.”
He could feel Hashirama shaking his head at him.
He could also feel more trees growing from the ground. He knew what Hashirama meant to do without being asked.
As soon as there were enough, he unleashed a fire jutsu wide enough to set the whole miniature forest Hashirama had grown aflame. He used his Mokuton to carry them above it and deposit them in the center of the valley, where Mito, Tobirama and the other Uchiha had gathered.
For almost a full minute they could see nothing but the burning trees and smoke gathering in the air. Slowly, a figure crawling from the edge of the trees caught their attention.
The Chinoike got to his knees, holding his eyes with gritted teeth and taking gasping breaths. A sticky black form was in the process of separating from his back, two long tendrils reaching around towards his head.
A kunai sliced through one of them and embedded itself in the ground. Tobirama followed not a moment later, cutting through the thing’s body and forcing it to separate itself completely if it didn’t want to be skewered. He stabbed the Chinoike in a non-lethal place, pinning him to the ground, as the manifestation darted into the forest. Mito’s chains raced after it.
“Dammit.” Obviously dissatisfied, she retracted all but the chains holding down the summoned beasts and growled.
“Another day,” Hashirama told her, then started jogging after Madara as he approached the Chinoike with a scowl.
He stopped a yard away and raised a Susanoo arm to end it.
“Stop,” Tobirama interrupted him, making him jerk to a pause. “Don’t kill him.”
“Don’t kill him?” Madara repeated in disbelief. “Don’t tell me this is some weird mercy thing-”
“Not mercy. I’m not done with him.”
Madara stood there in silent confusion.
The Chinoike, with no small struggle, managed to raise his head towards him and snarled. “You’ll pay for what you did.”
“I doubt it.”
“Tch.” He glared at him with unsteady purple eyes and ground his teeth together. “Someday you will. Mark my words.”
He tried to raise a hand, but without Zetsu to bolster his strength, he barely made it an inch.
Tobirama turned and motioned towards the cliffs. Hashirama raised an eyebrow as a member of the Nara began sprinting over.
Izuna appeared from the trees, various parts of his body in the process of reforming. Tobirama kept one careful eye on him as they did. “Is he dead yet?” he asked, sounding bored to cover up his frustration.
Madara turned towards him. “Izuna?” he asked, marginally hopefully. Izuna eyed him and said nothing.
He was blind, but not ignorant. His brother must have been angry with him still. He turned away and tried to cover up his disappointment. The hand Hashirama placed on his shoulder was a small comfort.
The Nara reached them as Toka came up behind Mito and took her hand. They traded a small smile.
“Sir,” the Nara said, giving Tobirama a nod. “I’m ready.”
“Then begin.” Tobirama glanced down at the Chinoike with derision clear on his face and in his voice. “It turns out your life will be of use after all.”
Yataro stared back at him with confusion. The Nara ran through a set of hand signs before their shadows connected. She forced Yataro to his feet, even with the sword still running him through.
“Wh-what are you doing?” he gritted out, struggling to regain control of his body and failing.
“Force a chakra flow to his eyes,” Tobirama instructed. It had taken a while to find a Nara who could do so, but now that he had it suited his purposes perfectly.
The confusion of his companions grew as the Rinnegan blossomed in Yataro’s eyes once more. Tobirama motioned for the Nara woman to copy him and started running through the signs that had been mentioned on the scroll Madara had transcribed- a technique given a line and a half of attention as the Uchiha wrote paragraphs about the destructive techniques the Rinnegan was capable of, sure they were the only ones that would end up mattering.
The Nara finished the set, and thus, so did Yataro.
A gaping maw rose from the ground in front of them. “What is that?” Hashirama exclaimed, taking a startled step back and pulling Madara with him.
“What’s what?” he demanded, unaware of what was happening. No one answered him, as they were too busy staring.
A green light shot out of the creature’s mouth and zipped across the air- right into Izuna.
He yelped in surprise as a light flashed over his fake body. Pain coursed through him as his paper skin turned real, as the rubble that created the rest turned to organs and blood and the degradation of the Edo Tensei showed itself by way of wounds scattered across his body.
That pain, however, was minor, only a small consequence of the revival technique being unfinished and sloppily put together.
What was worse was the hurricane of feelings that swept over him. He felt like he’d been caught underwater and had just come up for air, gasping after drowning for years, clawing for his first real breaths. Emotions that had been lost to him rammed back into his head with hardly any warning.
He felt like he was Izuna again, instead of the traipsing corpse he faintly remembered being not a minute before.
How he could have thought those things- how he could have said those things to his brother- was beyond him.
He’d been so angry, but now all he felt was fear of whatever was being done to him now.
He let out a gurgling cough and crashed into the ground. The Chinoike’s hair turned stark white and he fell back dead.
“Izuna!” Madara raced over to him, stumbling and falling to his knees as he seized his brother’s mantle, still so concerned even after Izuna had treated him so horribly. “What is it? What happened?”
Disoriented, Izuna reached up to feel his face. He stared at the blood on his fingertips with wonder. “I…I’m bleeding…”
“What?” Madara’s mouth hung open in shock. Slowly, he raised his own hands and hesitantly placed them on his brother’s face.
His brother’s face. His brother’s real face.
Izuna stared at him as the world started to make sense once more and felt the most crushing sense of relief he’d ever experienced. He wouldn’t have to leave Madara alone again. For the first time since he’d come back, he could speak with the fondness and love he remembered feeling so vividly during life. “Aniki.”
A sob slipped past Madara’s lips. How hard had he longed to hear Izuna call him that again?
His brother was alive. Madara was never letting him go again.
“Oh my god,” Toka whispered, ashen. She turned wide eyes to Tobirama. “Tobirama, did you just-”
“I said I would fix my mistake,” Tobirama told them quietly, watching the tears that had started to run down Madara’s face as he held his living brother.
Hashirama glanced at Yataro’s body. “Then that means…”
“I didn’t tell you because I knew it wouldn’t set well with you, anija, even if he is an enemy. But you can’t blame me for using him if it fixed this.”
Hashirama stared at the Chinoike and thought of the hatred he’d seen in his eyes, and felt something similar to pity worm its way into his brain. The man was twisted and in pain but he had gone too far when he hurt innocents. He looked at Madara as he cried silently into Izuna’s hair and softened. “No, I know I can’t.”
Tobirama took out a storage scroll to store the body in. Hashirama glanced at the summoning beasts lying unconscious or in pain around them and the still wild-eyed Kyuubi in Mito’s chains and looked up to where their shinobi were waiting for him to signal them.
“Let’s clean up,” he said, quietly, so Madara and Izuna could have a moment to themselves. “It’s time to go home.”