Myrmidon Chapter 39
So Long, Farewell, Goodbye For Now
Right now, the journey is concluding.
Of course, that's not how it actually works. That is how those whose journeys are concluding are thinking of it, but in reality their lives are simply continuing, moving on from one thing to another. For several of them, their real lives are starting. What has come before was simply a prologue to the rest of their existence.
Two Royal Guard, who no longer have a King to Guard, are completing their transformation into independent creatures. As ever, they are doing it in completely different ways.
Menthuyoupi discovered himself through others, and he is continuing on that path with no idea of where it will take him. He is the only one that the surviving Ants completely trust, because he is the only one who stood by them when the world shattered around them. Menthuyoupi cares about the seventy-two Chimera Ants who survived the Hunter Association's ambition and Team Eight's compassion, and they care just as much about him. Though none of them are slaves to what the Queen programmed into them anymore, they all see Youpi as their new King, even if Youpi himself is completely oblivious to this reality.
Whether he knows it or not, Youpi is the king who is going to take them to the land that Ging the Hunter has promised them. Several of those Ants have no wish to follow him. Colt is one of them, a squadron leader who held back for the last three months, always at the back of the pack, never putting himself at risk, treason nibbling at his mind the whole time. He made no impact on the past, and will make little on the future. His only goal is finding Reina, even if he has no idea who that is, even if he's painfully ignorant of the reality that Reina has been at his side this whole time.
They will discover that truth, in time. But it will be quite some time, and so is outside the purview of this journey and its ending.
Neferpitou discovered herself through introspection, and so is now in search of more of it. It's a paradoxical journey, which she understands and appreciates. She departs in a ragged cloak, meant to hide her ravaged body, her shame. With her diminutive frame, one eye, one arm, and barely any tail, it is easy for her to pass for just another orphan out of East Gorteau. She does not know where she is going at first, and perhaps that is the point, but once she has left the country aboard a small ferry, a destination resolves itself in her mind.
Meloreon, who first made her question herself. Whose arm she took, like Pouf did hers. There's no guarantee that he'll have anything new for her. Finding a literal chameleon who could transcend even her senses will likely be impossible.
But Pitou has nothing else to do. She is alone in a universe that is vast and uncaring, and it is up to her to determine why she exists. Going on an impossible quest is just as worth her time as anything else. And so, Neferpitou wanders. She makes herself stronger. She meets strangers, causes problems for some, solves problems for others.
She atones, and finds her answer, and herself.
The Hunter Association is returning to a state of equilibrium, after the shocking events in Gorteau. A Chairman has not willingly resigned in over one-hundred years, and no one is quite sure how to deal with it. The Zodiak is meeting, Ging arriving late, as usual, to determine the future. Netero has left no instructions. He thought it would be funnier that way.
Each Zodiak has a different goal, and a different vision for the future of the Association. They will come into conflict and nearly destroy the very thing they love in an attempt to make it align with their desires, as people so often do. For those of it who do not love it, like the Rat, this is a wonderful outcome.
But no matter if they are satisfied with the next Chairman or not, which few of them are, all of the Zodiaks will end up feeling like Netero played the most masterful practical joke of all time on them, and got away with it completely. Some admire him for this, and others decide to seek him out.
Hunters are all megalomaniacs, after all, and some of them have no choice but to concede to that desire.
Morel and Knov and Palm and Shoot and Knuckle and even Kite, who escaped from his destiny as a baby the size of a quarter born from the Chimera Queen in the moment of her passing, along with hundreds of other Hunters, will be a part of this struggle, with their own role to play. Like everyone who stepped foot in the NGL or Gorteau, they walk away with scars that follow them for the rest of their lives. Morel's, Knov's, and Shoot's are the most visible; Knuckle's and Palm's would only be seen if you were with them at night, to see how they thrashed and murmured, assailed by phantom lightning, fire, and blood.
A rare few Hunters will step off-stage and onto another. One of them is Clara Megallane, whose ambition could not be clipped as easily as her Conjuration. Still desperately searching for the Shinju, she will in time steal knowledge of the portal linking the world of Shinobi and the world of Hunters.
What comes after that is both predictable and regrettable.
There is a meeting between six Shinobi, four Hunters, and one Ant. A little girl is present as well, who denies classification.
Meruem, who had once been King of the Chimera Ants, is regarding his future with a rare feeling of anxiety. He has made two more promises, one to Naruto and the other to Komugi. The first is that he will follow Sasuke Uchiha wherever he goes, and learn as much as he can from him along the way. He cannot tell if Sasuke is happy to have a companion or not. Even he cannot read the man, just the same as when they first met.
Their first destination is the Dark Continent, his ancestral home. Though Meruem is not sure he's justified in feeling curiosity or joy, he cannot deny that the thought of the next journey excites him.
His second promise is to come back when he is worthy of Komugi's love, and defeat her in Gungi. Meruem wants to show the woman who saved his life that there is more to the world than a board game, even one that has so marvelously shaped both their lives. He wants to spend the rest of his life with her, or as much as she'll allow, and he thinks that it is only fair that just as Komugi opened a whole new world up to him, he should do the same for her.
That's all there is for the story of Meruem, at least for now. He's reached a cautious equilibrium. The rest will be up to Sasuke.
Gon and Killua have just returned from their last adventure, and are eager to move onto the next one. In the end, they hadn't needed Sasuke's help, despite him shadowing them without their knowledge. The Zoldycks are furious. Gon has a broken leg, and Killua looks like someone went to town on him with a meat tenderizer for an hour or so. Nonetheless, the both of them have never been happier.
They have Alluka with them, and she captures the attention of everyone in the room with her innocence. All of them wonder why a family of assassins had someone so unexpected as a cherished secret… and what use she was to them. In time, the Shinobi will grow to understand Alluka's value, and why she must be protected. But for now, she is simply a little girl excited to be with her brother and his friend, and that is enough for them.
Ging is watching his son get ready to leave, and enjoying the sense of delightful irony. Despite the complexity of his thoughts, he's a simple man at heart, and takes that moment simply to take in Gon's presence. His son is a true Hunter, off on an expedition to an alien land, and Ging is taking that accomplishment as partly his own. He has never been prouder of Gon, or of himself.
Isaac Netero is the same, looking to the future. He does not know what he will find in the world beyond his own, but at the very least it will be different. And perhaps he will be able to squirm another fight out of the Hokage. Right now, that's more than enough for him. Netero has rediscovered the patience that a long life of boredom stole from him, and he is eager to exercise it.
Naruto and Hinata Uzumaki, Gaara of the Desert, Shino Aburame, Kiba Inuzuka, Akamaru, and Sasuke Uchiha are waiting. Sasuke has his eyes closed; he is focused on a path only he can see.
When he opens his eyes, a tear in the world opens up as well, a bottomless black hole that leads to near infinite possibilities. He turns, and gestures.
Right now, Gon and Killua are the first to step through, taking Alluka with them as Killua reassures her that everything will be alright. As ever, they jump headfirst into their new adventure, without hesitation or regret.
Right now, Netero is following after them, his steps soft and sure. He vanishes without a sound, and scares the hell out of a shinobi on the other side of the portal purely for his own amusement.
Right now, Kiba, Akamaru, and Shino all limp through, eager to return to their families, students, and village. They think they accomplished something pretty incredible here, but they never want to do it again.
Right now, Naruto is smiling at his wife.
It all turned out okay, didn't it?
He says it with uncertainty that's unbecoming of a Hokage, and Hinata smiles and squeezes his hand. It did, she says. But I might need a real vacation after this one.
Her husband laughs, and smiles, and they step forward.
Right now, Hinata Uzumaki is going home.
This has been a really interesting story to write, and I've had an incredible audience with me the whole way. I'm moving on full time to my next big project Obito-Sensei now, taking the lessons I learned with Myrmidon: if you follow me, fantastic, if not, thanks for reading this, and if you were along for the ride from the beginning, your incredible patience.
I hope you enjoyed it, even in part.
That's the end. I've got nothing more to say. Stay healthy!