Really sorry it took me this long to update this epilogue. Was tied up with some critical events in personal life and was not in the best of health.
Thank you for your support and patience throughout this story!
Music Recommendation: Forever Young by Youth Group (Available on Youtube)
Departure by Twelve Titans Music (Available on Youtube)
Transcendence by Twelve Titans Music (Available on Youtube)
(Two Years Later)
"My Brother- My Pride"
Nagato Uzumaki's eyes were full of grief and pride as the young Uzumaki instructor retold the heroic tale of his fallen sibling to a large class full of school children. Looking back at the television screen behind him and the smiling face of Naruto Namikaze on it made him feel as if they had just parted ways yesterday. Such was the advancement of technology in such a short span of time with humanity not engaged in never ending wars.
Glancing back at the young children before him from every nation made him smile and take some solace from the legacy left behind by his sibling.
"Life should be measured in deeds and not years, children. When I think of Naruto Namikaze's life of 27 years, I feel that there is no greater honor than being a soldier of humanity. No greater pride than in fighting for a better future for every human and living being on this planet" said Nagato proudly,
He smiled when one of the boys raised his hand nervously.
"What is it, Tenzo?" asked Nagato with a content smile,
"How did he make that final stand? How could he rush in to certain death without hesitation?" asked the thirteen year old young boy nervously
Nagato sensed quite a few among the children shared that fear and it was only natural for this was a generation that had never witnessed any conflict at all, much less a world war.
The Terran Federation alongside the Vow renouncing war forced humanity to come together, Madara's actions and Naruto's sacrifice resulted in every human being linked to each other through chakra. Each person better connected to others, able to feel and to some extent understand each others feelings and wishes- it was that enlightenment which the Sage of Six Paths had sought to impart and took 3,000 years of bloodshed and countless lives to achieve.
The War to End all Wars.
The irony wasn't lost on Nagato now that he had studied history so closely that mankind only achieved a true and lasting peace among itself after fighting wars for thousands of years.
And maybe it was part of their learning, their evolution for one couldn't truly fear the horrors of war if they hadn't experienced it first hand like these children.
"Naruto was in many ways a simple man. He promised us Spartans that he would bring us all home alive that time, no matter the odds. More than the strategic decision of buying time for his comrades until Kirigakure and Uzushiogakure's armies arrived to deal the final blow, he chose to sacrifice his life to save ours. I have seen quite a few heroes in my life, but none like him" answered Nagato truthfully,
"It is true. Naruto was something else, always lead from the front, always in the thick of battle, rescuing his comrades and bringing everyone home. He was a true leader" agreed Hayate Uzumaki with a respectful nod, his fellow Spartan officer having chosen to join Nagato's class much to his friend's surprise.
"A good friend and a terrifying enemy" agreed Kasumi Uzumaki, who was now married to Hayate just as Naruto had imagined and wished Nagato to accomplish which the redhead had.
"And what of all the people he has killed? Even innocents?"
Nagato felt the anger and bitterness in the heart of a young girl from the former Land of Earth and it was understandable after the destruction of Iwagakure and its citizens when the last war started. Granted, it was Madara who did the deed but Naruto's participation alongside the Spartans in the actions couldn't be denied.
"He paid for that action with his life. And so did we by losing family to the war. Is it enough? No. It was really an unfortunate and impossible situation everyone found themselves in. The leaders who orchestrated it died as a result, all we can do is learn from the past and not let such a tragedy repeat itself ever again" answered Nagato truthfully,
"Isn't this kind of co-operation just a farce?" asked the girl again, and this time Nagato saw a glimpse of a similar hatred which Naruto had once held in his young heart for Kumogakure when he had been of the same age.
It was why he was not angered by the harsh words of this foreign student exchange participant. The very reason they started this program was to ensure the next generation could not be held back too much by the past and forge their own destiny.
Make their own choices instead of senselessly dying in wars started by their ancestors.
"I don't know. But I can see that no human has ever taken another person's life in battle again, that all the resources being used for War before are now being diverted to the upliftment of all humanity. That children like you get a chance to study and enjoy life in peace today, have a future of your choice, and not pick up arms to die in never ending battles. I had already died once by the time I was your age and the only reason all of us from different nations can sit together and talk like this is because...people died to get us here. And I don't just mean my brother but everyone from all sides"
"We owe the dead to honor that peace even if it's fake to you"
His words struck the young girl hard and she looked away with some guilt making Nagato sigh and look at all the children kindly.
"Naruto was not perfect. He had his faults and made many mistakes, something which he openly accepted and even apologized for quite a few times"
"It was his mistakes that made him realize what was wrong in the way our generation thought and acted. The pain he suffered in life made him determined to never let anyone else experience that again. He tried to do it peacefully but was forced into war, but he never cowered or ran from that heavy burden. That kind of warrior cannot be created or purchased, they are born into this life, blessed with a higher sense of purpose and the understanding of what their fate may be on that path" explained Nagato patiently,
"But why did they call him Naruto-The Great? Some say he was a god" asked a young boy from Kirigakure, and one look in his eyes showed he admired the fallen hero.
"He was a god, or the closest to one we've ever known. Before him there were warring nations ruled by self centered feudal nobility, and after him a new world. A place not filled with senseless wars, one which is open to all no matter where you come form" said Kushina Uzumaki proudly, who had been silent for all this time but couldn't stop herself from answering that question.
She looked at the girl from the former Land of Earth and a few others who harbored mixed feelings about the man she loved.
"Conqueror and tyrant some call him...but no such man ever gave back so much. He could have stayed in Kirigakure, raised his family and died a celebrated man perhaps...but the world would not be what it is today if he had. All his life he fought for freedom and in turn gave us our own. Not a day goes by when I don't feel his presence in my life or the selfish regret where I want nothing more but to trade this peace to get him back" explained Kushina sadly,
That confession and the pain within her voice was enough to earn sympathetic looks from those children who held mixed feelings for Naruto's legacy.
"What if this peace fails in time? Wouldn't that make his sacrifice meaningless and a failure?" asked another child curiously,
"Maybe, but even so his failure would still tower over other lesser men's successes. The glory and memory of humanity shall always remember men like him with great vision and the strength to accomplish those dreams. He tried and showed us that peace is possible, how we sustain it is upto us now" answered Nagato,
For however long possible.
(Few Hours Later)
The four Spartans officers had been standing in Naruto's cemetery in the evening as had been their routine for nearly every evening, unless they were out on peacekeeping assignments on behalf of the Federation.
A lot of things had changed ever since the war came to an end two years ago.
With the feudal nobility eradicated, it was the Kages upon whom the responsibility of running their nations fell. Madara was not interested in micro-managing their internal affairs, only seeking they all co-operate in general.
Not that it was much of a problem anyway.
Nagato had been there when Madara used the power of his Rinnegan and the tailed beasts to link every living being across their planet with chakra. It had been like a jolt of lightning passing through his entire body followed by a warm sensation, but also there was a restriction at the back of his mind preventing him attacking a fellow human being with the intent to kill.
It affected not just humans but also the summoning creatures living in their own hidden territories bringing their own rivalries and battles to an end.
After several months of hard but peaceful negotiations, every nation across the world- big or small agreed to the Terran Federation's Charter. The most important of the reforms being Free Trade and respectful sharing of resources across the world for upliftment of their war torn world, another crucial agreement was the assent to not declare conflict or initiate hostilities against any nations or group of nations by another alongwith a joint defense pact to defend such a country if someone managed to break the Vow renouncing War or their planet itself came under external attack by the mythical Otsutsuki.
Kirigakure and Uzushiogakure had pushed hard for Education and Healthcare to be made Universal across the world for all citizens even if it strained resources temporarily, a move supported whole heartedly by the masses across the world.
More important reforms followed as months passed until Madara introduced a gift that nearly earned everyone's loyalty across the world.
None could have believed it and it took the Uchiha months to prove his claim, it involved the soul of a human being getting preserved into a collective conscious that was stored in the ten tailed husk.
At first people were horrified until Madara clarified only those who wanted such preservation could choose it and the same also required credible service towards the Federation's growth. Unworthy were never given this honor or those engaging in crime of any form.
The concept didn't sell until Uzushiogakure didn't manage to invent cloned bodies this year which the souls preserved in the Ten Tailed husks could inherit to actually live again.
It not only preserved the knowledge and experience of humanity, but also was critical to boosting their world's population which had fallen to drastically low levels after so many wars. Nagato had a feeling this had the markings of his brother's sharp intellect to get their world ready in everyway for the Otsutsuki and keeping the peace.
Of course those who wished to die naturally were allowed that choice which didn't lead to any major riots even if some fringe groups sought to oppose this blasphemy in their eyes. The masses however were coming around to the idea and their loyalty towards the Federation's cause had seen sharp increase in recent months.
Their world was just so open to new possibilities and collaborations...old hatred and distrust was slowly dissipating into a renewed sense of togetherness. Even the Summoning creatures were more often seen living across this peaceful human realm instead of always staying in their hidden territories.
The Shinobi who previously used their talents only for war and killing were now also providing their services to economic development with the private and public sector companies providing good fortune for their skills.
Military spending surprisingly was kept extremely low as their world was still recovering, even though the Federation had a decent army and reservists from across the world to call upon for any emergency. It would take a few years before they could field a United army again.
Kirigakure and Uzushiogakure had very good ties with each other as the strongest militaries in the Federation and co-operated in many technological advancements, Mangetsu Hozuki who was now the Fifth Mizukage and Naruto's successor shared his predecessor's desire to explore other worlds beyond their planet. It had lead to research in creating teleportation portals that could lead the citizens of the Federation to the Moon- their closest celestial object and mankind's dream for eons. Madara was leading that project himself with great vigor and the power of his Rinnegan.
"It isn't right...he shouldn't be here like this" whispered Kushina miserably as she laid a fresh set of flowers on the grave of the only man she had loved.
"Kushina, he would never want you to be so heartbroken even now" advised Kasumi gently, earning a sharp and slightly jealous glare from her fellow Spartan when she saw Hayate standing beside Kasumi.
"It has never stopped me from building the legacy he wanted...but it is my right to mourn him for as long as I live. I made him a promise which I couldn't keep but he did...Till the End" argued Kushina tearfully,
She looked at Nagato who was the only one who could understand her grief and what Naruto was to her better than anyone.
"Naruto was my friend. He was my brother" agreed Nagato somberly, and fought hard against the grief trying to break his heart all over again.
"He was Our Brother" said Hayate compassionately, as he knelt to place his hand upon the tombstone earning nods from the remaining three without hesitation.
"Spartans never die. He's still alive here" promised Kasumi as she tapped her hand against her heart earning a nod from Kushina.
They were all surprised when they heard a light cough and saw Commander Reika Uzumaki, one of their nation's elite officers approaching towards them.
"The Uzukage requests all of you to report to her immediately" she declared respectfully,
Nagato sighed but nodded as the world would never stop even if they all grieved each day for their greatest loss in achieving this dream of theirs.
"What is it, Mother?" asked Nagato curiously,
"The Spartans have been summoned to the Capital. So are many elites and leaders from all the Federation member states" declared Inoue Namikaze- The Second Uzukage,
"Why? You don't call such fighters and leaders together without good reason" pointed Kushina with a frown,
"Madara is forming an elite force- The Scouting Legion. It will be tasked with exploring the Moon and other worlds apart from our planet, go where no man has ever gone before. Maybe expand humanity's reach in the universe, he needs elite shinobi for that" explained Inoue in detail,
"He had said as much couple of months ago, but hesitated only because it lacked a Commander whom he could trust to lead suitably. Could he be choosing you to lead, Nagato?" asked Hayate curiously,
"Me?" said Nagato in confusion,
"It could also be one of the Seven Ninja Swordsmen or Sakumo Hatake, there are many suitors" suggested Kushina,
"But why call the leaders of all member nations?" asked Kasumi seriously,
"The one to lead the Scouting Legion will also be named as Madara's successor, it has been declared"
The four Spartan officers froze in shock upon hearing that from their Uzukage. Realization dawned upon them as they understood why the world leaders were also being summoned, it was not just to agree to provide men to the force that would face the Otsutsuki but also acknowledge the successor to the leadership of the Terran Federation.
Madara had made it clear he didn't want it to be a dynasty like the feudal nobility of the past, not that it would matter since he didn't have any children in the first place. Even the revived Izuna Uchiha was only content in supporting his elder brother's dream and had flatly refused to succeed his sibling.
"It should have been my brother" said Nagato sadly,
"Naruto is gone, but Uzushiogakure is not. If Madara chooses you, then you must accept for the sake of our people, this world and your brother's dream" implored Inoue honestly, and offered an encouraging smile to her younger son.
Nagato swallowed his regrets in the face of duty once again before turning towards Hayate who was his second in command.
"We will answer Madara's summons. Call the Spartans"
"All of them?" teased Hayate, but also couldn't hold back his happy grin for the chance of seeing all their comrades once again. As elite warriors, their services were sought after frequently for peacekeeping assignments and as a founding member nation of the Federation, Uzu had always provided its best fighters to the cause but it also meant the Spartans were often broken in small units to serve across the world instead of working together always.
"I am their Captain, my word takes precedence before Madara's. Tell them the last one to arrive will get VIP escort duty for next six months" replied Nagato with a boyish grin,
Kushina and Kasumi couldn't help but chuckle at the friendly ultimatum, knowing it would only make their fellow comrades rush to their leader's side as nobody wanted to protect VIP's as a meat shield. They were far more qualified for that idiotic job.
"Just don't start a war amongst yourselves, will you? I already have enough paperwork!" groaned their Uzukage, but her twitching smirk moments later showed her true feelings on the friendly banter.
"Will be done, Commander" agreed Hayate with a smile,
(Few Days Later: Terran Federation Capital- Former Land of Earth)
Mangetsu, Kisame and Zabuza alongside the remaining Seven Ninja Swordsmen stood in the large hall of Madara's Castle. Even Mei Terumi and many of their elite fighters had joined them for this historic event.
Across the room, they nodded respectfully at the delegation from Uzushiogakure.
The Spartans still were a force to be respected alongside their Uzukage- Inoue Namikaze and her husband-Yahiko, even Ino Yamanaka had accompanied them for this gathering and stood silently near Nagato and Kushina Uzumaki.
From the Land of Fire came Tsunade Senju, Sakumo Hatake and Mito Uzumaki alongside many of their best fighters.
There were also many more elite fighters from various smaller nations and the reemerging Samurai faction.
They all became silent when Madara who stood in the center of the room alongside his brother- Izuna raised a hand.
"Thank you all for coming here at such a short notice" began the veteran Uchiha,
"Nobody would miss such an important gathering. You finally chose a successor?" asked Inoue Namikaze curiously, and glanced suspiciously at Hanzo Uzumaki standing nearby the Uchiha brothers. She was forced to issue him a pardon on Madara's behest after the war and ever since the man had been working closely alongside Madara for reasons still not known to her.
The only reason she had not objected and agreed without much protest was the vast bounty in the form of land and resources from the defeated Land of Fire that were awarded to Uzushiogakure by Madara, similar reward was given to Kirigakure for their support in the war and Naruto's sacrifice.
"Not really, but I plan to today" replied Madara simply,
"Do we not get a say in their choosing? You promised it would not be a dynasty rule again!" said Tsunade Senju suspiciously, earning supporting agreements from almost every leader in the room.
"I won't select someone from among you if there is too much opposition! Those who wish to take up the mantle after me step forward, keep in mind they need to be a seasoned military commander with sound leadership ability. The fate of humanity rests on them so make your decision wisely, unless you want to be laughed and mocked" warned Madara, and released some of his killing intent to ensure desperate fools were stopped before they could embarrass themselves and everyone else.
Whispers spread across the entire hall as the leaders from member states seriously thought about the ultimatum and offer.
"In the Federation's history, Madara will be recognized as its Immortal Founder but his successor and those that shall follow shall be known as The Phoenix Emperor. None who take up the mantle shall try to establish a dynasty and preserve humanity's freedom and self rule. Their children will not follow after them in inheriting the title or leadership, not unless supported by majority of member states. The Emperor shall be solely responsible for the protection of humanity, Earth and all its citizens above their family, friends, their birth nations and everyone else. They will take no lands for themselves, nor amass fortune beyond a reasonable level. It is a position full of duty towards the people of this world, any who step forward must accept these terms" announced Izuna Uchiha frankly,
Even more furious whispering erupted among the ranks until after several long minutes only three men stepped forward.
Mangetsu Hozuki- The Fifth Mizukage and a member of the feared Seven Ninja Swordsmen.
Nagato Uzumaki- Captain of the legendary Spartans of Uzushiogakure and son to its current Kage.
Sakumo Hatake- the most powerful shinobi from the Land of Fire and a veteran commander.
Madara nodded respectfully at the nominations for they were truly good and capable men whom he respected. All things considered, their people had grown wiser in choosing their leaders after enduring disastrous ones for centuries.
"I want to present another nominee whom I have personally put forward for your consideration" declared Madara with a faint smirk, earning a nod from Hanzo Uzumaki near him as the former Uzukage gestured the guards to open the large door of the hall.
The action made everyone from all nations turn backwards to see a group of guards step in with each of them carrying the legendary blades of the Seven Ninja Swordsmen. When the six of them were respectfully offered the same, most including Mangetsu were furious as they had devoted them to one of their fallen - whose rank they had not replaced till this day by selecting no one else despite many applications.
"What is the meaning of this?" asked Mangetsu furiously,
"A gift from the man I have put forward for consideration" replied Madara with a calm smile, making Kirigakure's finest swordsmen glare at him murderously.
The Fifth Mizukage froze.
The same was the case with many of the veterans of the last war as they heard a voice long thought lost once again. A moment later, a large wolf the size of a horse entered the hall making Inoue Namikaze pale in disbelief for the creature was supposed to be dead as well.
"Shera" she whispered in disbelief and faint hope, earning a feral grin from the large wolf.
Not a moment later, the Second Uzukage froze in her spot as the son she had lost walked into the hall in all his glory.
Mangetsu and the Seven Ninja Swordsmen alongside Mei Terumi were gaping in disbelief upon seeing their fallen Kage now wielding Muramasa again coming to stand by the side of his feared wolf.
Nagato, Kushina, Hayate and Kasumi alongside every Spartan were stunned to see their former Captain look at them and offer the familiar and infectious smile of his.
Ino had gone deathly pale as she watched her dead husband standing before them all, one who offered her a genuine smile.
"How?" she asked in a trembling voice,
"I don't abandon my comrades, certainly not my most capable Commander and a son in all but name" scoffed Madara in disbelief,
"It took us nearly two years to find the lost Cursed Masks of the Uzumaki clan that can be used to summon the God of Death and release souls it has trapped. The First Uzukage- Hanzo personally oversaw the operation which was kept a secret from everyone save Madara and myself" explained Izuna Uchiha honestly,
"These artifacts were one of our most well kept secrets, but they were lost when many of our own fled the Land of Fire during the Clan Wars Era. I put Naruto through a lot of pain in his life, I couldn't leave him to suffer forever like that. With the help of Madara and Izuna, most importantly the ever loyal Zetsu we launched this mission to bring Naruto back once again" confessed Hanzo Uzumaki,
"Why wasn't I told of this?" hissed Inoue furiously,
"What good would it do to give you hope when we had so little ourselves? All of you had suffered enough due to his loss!" replied Hanzo unapologetically,
"I'm truly sorry for causing all of you pain and hardship"
Naruto's apology silenced any further argument as many of his family and friends looked at him hopefully.
"I had his corpse preserved fully alongside Shera's, even if in public we buried them both with full honors. Once we freed Naruto's soul from the Reaper with the invaluable help and sacrifice of the Zetsu's, I brought them both back to life with the help of my Rinnegan. We need all the help we can get against the Otsutsuki" confessed Madara truthfully,
Tsunade Senju and Mito Uzumaki's eyes also widened in shock as Tobirama Senju and Hashirama Senju entered the hall not a moment later and offered a grudging nod to Madara before being swarmed by their countrymen.
Madara had barely finished his explanation before Nagato had ran towards his brother before anyone else and engulfed him in a bone crushing embrace eliciting a pained grunt and chuckle from the older blonde. Their mother and Yahiko joined them swiftly and after decades the entire Namikaze family was together again.
None of them cared what those around them thought of their tears or laughs of sheer joy.
War had separated them and now peace had brought them together. Each of them had suffered and endured painful deaths, but their family was finally united and their enemies defeated.
Tobirama smiled contently upon seeing his son then get swarmed by his Spartan comrades and the Seven Ninja Swordsmen. Looking beside him, he saw Hashirama hugging Mito and Tsunade tightly while openly crying. For once, the former Hokage didn't want to stop his emotional brother from being open with his feelings in front of everyone.
He didn't react outwardly even when Madara stepped beside him observing the happy reunion.
"Of all the bastards to have a good son, the gods gave you the honor. Stubborn fool refused to leave even a stickler like you in the Reaper's belly alongside Hashirama. Nearly forced me to save your ass for once!" reminded Madara with a dry chuckle,
"He is a better man than me" agreed Tobirama,
"I want you to remember that"
Madara walked away to greet Hashirama much more warmly as Tobirama stared at his son who was now hugging both his wives- Ino and Mei quite happily.
Looking around the room, he saw the shock and hope in almost everyone's eyes and couldn't help but acknowledge Madara's brilliance in the way he had played this all out.
Giving the world the illusion of freedom in choosing his successor when he had already made that choice.
You crafty Uchiha.
Tobirama could see the foregone conclusion already as Naruto was dearly loved by Two out of Three nominees that stood in consideration, even Sakumo respected him immensely.
Naruto was the most beloved former Kage of Kirigakure with a lawful wife and heirs, one who built the nation to its glory.
Family to the Namikaze and Uzumaki clans of Uzushiogakure; son of its current Kage, elder brother to the current leader of the legendary Spartans themselves as well as having the honor of being their first leader as well.
Blood to the Senju nobility of Konoha through Hashirama and Tobirama, Uncle to its current ruler- Tsunade Senju.
Sakumo Hatake would not prefer to offend the Senju family who were the key to their remaining military power, with the Uchiha clan having already pledged their loyalty to Madara personally and the Federation after the war.
Naruto was also a veteran General of three great wars and the First Marshal of the Terran Federation.
The Young Wolf's legend had grown too strong to set aside.
"We have our nominees. I call for a vote" said Madara with a satisfied smirk,
Nagato Uzumaki- the chosen representative from Uzushiogakure for the position stepped forward before Naruto to look him in the eye.
"You are my brother. Now and always, my sword and life are yours once again in victory and defeat. The Phoenix Emperor!" promised Nagato fiercely, as he removed his sword and knelt before his elder sibling.
The Spartans following Nagato didn't hesitate for a second and repeated that pledge proudly.
"You have served Uzu better than most. We would be proud to follow you once more- The Phoenix Emperor!" promised Inoue Namikaze-The Second Uzukage as she too knelt before her son and was joined by the Uzumaki around her and even Hanzo Uzumaki- The First Uzukage.
Naruto gave a humble nod and didn't miss how Ino had also joined the Uzumaki in their pledge and smiled at him alongside Kushina.
Whispers erupted among the room for a few more seconds, before Mangetsu stepped forward after receiving nods from the Seven Ninja swordsmen, Mei Terumi and the Kirigakure elites nearby.
"You helped Kirigakure achieve all it has today. Protected us even if it cost you everything, we could never return that loyalty when you needed us most. We can only admit our mistake and seek your forgiveness" said Mangetsu sadly,
"It's all in the past, Mangetsu" answered Naruto with faint smile,
The Fifth Mizukage took in a deep breath as he stared at his holy sword returned again by the man before him. Looking behind, he saw Haku-his wife, Mei Terumi and the remaining Seven Ninja Swordsmen having the same feeling in their eyes as they stared at their infamous weapons.
"Lord Fourth fought, bled and died for us. Our swords are yours once again against the Otsutsuki and whatever bastards come for us! The Phoenix Emperor!" swore Mangetsu fiercely, as he too knelt making the Seven Ninja Swordsmen, Mei Terumi and the remaining Kirigakure elites follow swiftly with proud smiles.
The submission of the most powerful military forces in the Federation made the remaining smaller nation states to pledge their own loyalty swiftly one after another until only one remained.
Tsunade Senju and Sakumo Hatake felt a little nervous as the entire room full of leaders and warriors looked at their faction.
"Lord Hashirama and Lord Tobirama, whatever you both decide we shall obey" whispered Sakumo respectfully,
"We trust your judgement" agreed Tsunade quickly,
Hashirama and Mito nodded before sharing a look and entrusted the final decision to Tobirama who had been their nation's last ruling Kage after Hiruzen fell at Iwagakure, and father to the man in consideration at the moment.
Tobirama Senju walked towards his son and stood before him.
"I don't know much about the Federation, but I trust my son and ask your forgiveness for the past. We'll stand by you if you'll have us" said Tobirama frankly,
"It would be an honor, Father" replied Naruto respectfully,
Nothing more needed to be said for Tobirama as he too knelt before his son and made the final declaration.
"The Phoenix Emperor!"
The rest of the Senju family alongside remaining elite shinobi from Konoha including Sakumo Hatake followed suit by kneeling before Naruto Namikaze and swearing their support in the fight against Otsutsuki and aiding in humanity's continued glory.
"The Phoenix Emperor!"
"The Phoenix Emperor!"
"The Phoenix Emperor!"
The Uchiha's following Madara followed suit under Izuna's lead as they too knelt and swore their allegiance making the minor Samurai faction repeat the action.
Hashirama realized it was the exact moment when his dream truly died and Madara's came to life as he watched a real smile arriving upon his closest friend's lips alongside immense pride as he walked forward to engulf Naruto in a fierce hug, one which The Young Wolf now turned Emperor returned with equal vigor.
"Thank you for everything, Madara" whispered Naruto sincerely,
"You are my most trusted adviser, my finest General and a son to me in all but name. You died and went to hell for the sake of my dream, believed in me when my own blood and Hashirama didn't. How could I leave you behind to rot?" whispered Madara proudly,
"I wanted to retire as a farmer, you know" teased Naruto with a smirk, and saw Ino looking at him with true happiness in her eyes for remembering their shared dream.
"Bah! Wolves don't sow corn! I'll give you a damned large farm to pursue your hobby nonetheless, but your talents are needed where there is none other like you" replied Madara,
"War" said Naruto reluctantly,
"Protecting everything and everyone dear to our heart. The world we built together and in which humanity and its children will live" reminded Madara,
Naruto paused as he considered those words and looked at all the supporters from across the world who had proclaimed him as their Emperor.
"You were born for this, son. If you don't step up once more and we lose the final war- then your parents die, your brother dies, your wives and children die, we all die" whispered Madara, as he gestured towards the very people he had mentioned and dear to the chosen Emperor's heart.
It earned him a reproachful look but also a slight amused smile from the blonde at the same time.
"Well, that makes it simple then"
Mei Terumi, Kushina Uzumaki and Ino Namikaze were not surprised when Naruto asked to see them as soon as he was brought up to speed on the current happenings across the world and finished meeting with former comrades.
Their shared grief over his death had forged a unique bond among the three women even if they lived separate lives across the world.
Mei had become the leader of the Terumi clan after her father passed the responsibility to her and was content with it alongside raising her twin children.
Kushina was mostly on peacekeeping assignments for the Federation like most Spartans, eliminating threats to the peace they had all fought so hard for.
Ino had decided to settle down in Uzushiogakure and was a trusted advisor of the Second Uzukage.
They often met each other a few times in a year whenever they got a chance, especially during Naruto's death anniversary. Each having experienced a different side of the man they loved and the impact he had left in their lives. It was that bond and trust that had made Mei announce Kushina and Ino as the Godmother to her son and daughter respectively knowing that they had also wanted to have a family with Naruto...his children were the closest she could offer them to realize that dream. That single act had made the bond between that trio even stronger.
It was why they were quite relaxed when they entered the room and saw Naruto sitting at the window with a distant look upon his face.
"So much has changed"
Even if he said those words, the three woman couldn't help but feel he was the same person they had loved.
"It must be a lot to take in" said Kushina comfortingly, earning a faint smile in return.
"It is. I shouldn't be here" he whispered sadly,
"Don't say that! It's not about you but what you mean for us, this world!" rebuked Ino harshly,
"I know and I am truly sorry for what I put all of you through. All my life I have been at War, I don't know how to adjust to this peace. Hell, I do not even know fully of what this world has become or my relationships with everyone. I am a ghost of the past" said Naruto worriedly,
"Your children miss you. Would you like to meet them?" asked Mei with a knowing smile,
The three women didn't miss all the worries, guilt and stress vanish from his eyes and be replaced by infectious happiness as he looked at Mei as if she held his very heart in her hands.
"They're here?" he asked in a trembling voice,
"Your mother helped bring them here quickly in a few hours once we knew you..." said Ino gently,
"I would like to see them...though I doubt if they'll remember me" whispered Naruto hesitantly,
He watched as Mei gave him a smile and went to the door, Kushina didn't miss how Naruto became tensed at first and then his eyes became moist when the door opened and he saw his mother waiting outside with an knowing smile.
And two babbling children in her arms.
Upon watching their mother approach, the auburn-blonde haired young boy who was a miniature version of his father squealed in delight and made his sister cry out a word that left Naruto speechless.
His daughter's voice as she called out and reached for Mei like her brother washed away all his worries as he couldn't help but walk towards them hurriedly.
Mei had barely taken the twins in her arms from her mother-in-law when Naruto reached by her side earning curious looks from the children. The Emperor was relieved when they didn't shy away from him even if they remained silent.
"Meet your dada!" whispered Mei with a pleased smile,
It took a few long seconds before Naruto saw his son again laugh happily and reach for him.
Tears fell freely from Naruto's eyes as he took his son- Arima in his hands making the child laugh and cling to him. A disgruntled squawk made him look at his daughter who looked so much like Mei with her auburn hair but had his eyes. She was a silent one unlike her twin brother, but also reached out to him which made him take her in his arms as well.
It was then he laughed and wept at the same time even as his children touched his face and neck curiously.
Arima was his son and heir to his small but now well respected Namikaze clan. If the boy was his pride and hope for the future, then his daughter was his heart.
Inoue was a kind soul like her mother-Mei as she kissed her father's cheek earning an amused smile from her twin brother before he did the same.
"How you two have grown" said Naruto with so much happiness and sheer pride in his voice,
The women in the room were delighted to witness his joy and as such were surprised when after a few moments, Naruto paused and looked crestfallen.
"Son..." said Inoue worriedly, even as Naruto kissed his children lovingly before handing them back to Mei and Kushina.
"Do you see them, Mother? All those shinobi and warriors from the last war? They had families too, ones that would never see them again. Their crimes and cause were not greater than my own, then why am I here and they are not? It feels wrong" said Naruto, his voice full of guilt as he slumped in a nearby chair.
He only looked up when his mother came forward and placed a hand upon his shoulder.
"You're right, this isn't fair. To them or to you, the truth is we are weak" confessed Inoue,
"I don't understand..." whispered Naruto, as the remaining women also came and knelt beside them.
"Our feelings for you brought this outcome, more importantly humanity still needs a devil to face the Otsutsuki threat that Madara keeps harping about. Someone truly great and one who could cast aside their own humanity to face monsters. We have no right to ask any more of you, in a way you were freed from this cruel world and we brought you back for more of it" said Inoue sadly,
"You're right, Mother. I'm Emperor now- whether I like it or not doesn't matter, so many of my soldiers dedicated their lives to achieve this future. Most died without seeing this new world, if nothing else I have a responsibility to make sure this dream of theirs thrives otherwise I will never be able to meet the eyes of the fallen ever again" agreed Naruto somberly,
Inoue kissed his forehead and engulfed him in a warm hug before grabbing her grandchildren and going out of the room, leaving Naruto alone with the three women in his life.
When he remained silent, it was his oldest childhood friend who said what was in his heart.
"Are you afraid, Naruto?" asked Kushina calmly,
"I am" confessed Naruto reluctantly, earning a nod from the redhead.
"Good, then you know what's at stake. Do you remember our promise?" asked Kushina with a kind smile,
"Till the End" whispered Naruto with a fond smile, as Kushina grasped his hand and gave a firm nod in return.
"As am I" promised Ino fiercely,
"It is my duty and desire to stand by you as well" agreed Mei sincerely,
"I am honored by your faith and support. But it is also the truth that I was not the best husband, father, lover or friend. Each of you loved me and I believe I could not do right by you. I wish nothing more than to return this love...but I cannot" answered Naruto sadly,
He winced upon the common and sharp response from all three women but held their gaze for it needed to be said.
"I have loved each of you with all my heart, which is why I cannot choose to spend the rest of my life with anyone and leave the remaining two aside like that. Legally, I am still married to Mei and Ino and whatever little wealth I have will be devoted to the children and for you both to live better lives. It's the least and honorable thing to do after all the pain I have caused you all" confessed Naruto,
"And what will you do?" asked Ino with surprising calm, which was in sharp contrast to the conflicted look on Mei's face and the sheer anger in Kushina's.
"Fight and protect humanity, ensure we expand into the galaxy as is our birthright" answered Naruto truthfully,
"There is no need to go to such lengths of self isolation"
Naruto raised an eyebrow at Mei's cryptic words and looked at her for an explanation.
"The Namikaze clan is barely surviving, the Senju family is only doing marginally better. The war has gutted both their numbers alarmingly, they both need to be restored and for that you need to have more heirs. Ones who can continue both the Namikaze and Senju bloodline, it is crude and not something I would recommend unless we didn't face the prospect of a galactic war in the near future" explained Mei seriously,
"What are you saying, Mei?" asked Naruto hesitantly, making her blush a little.
"You already have two wives in the form of Ino and myself, if Kushina is also willing then we can make an exception so all of us could remain happy, most importantly our children and the families we love will be looked after with such a union in my opinion. The three of us have grown very close after your death, if they are agreeable then I won't stand in the way" offered Mei,
"I agree. Given the circumstances and of not having you in my life completely, I am willing to be a part of this Union" agreed Ino with a faint smile,
Naruto's face had grown extremely red and words seemed to escape his lips as they all looked at Kushina who shared the same feelings as him.
"I am willing to give it a try as well" relented Kushina with a heavy blush,
The Emperor blushed heavily as his now three partners looked at him for a response to their proposal.
"Never...in...my...wildest...dreams...did...I...imagine...this" confessed Naruto with a nervous laugh,
"We trust you know we choose to do this out of affection towards you and each other alongside our responsibilities towards our families, clans, this world and its future. We expect you to keep that in mind" said Mei honestly,
"I understand. Humanity's infighting maybe over, but the one with those beyond our world wanting to be our enemies is just beginning. I'll do my duty to keep this world safe with the Scouts" agreed Naruto sincerely,
They all hugged each other soon enough knowing they would need to depend upon one another for the future was still uncertain.
But they had hope which was all they could ask for.
(Thirteen Years Later: Unknown Location)
"My Prince, Lord Kinshiki has returned"
A pale skinned young man with long blue hair tied in a ponytail rose from his seat in the tent and looked back at the servant who had relayed the information. Judging from the way the fool refused to meet his gaze and was trembling meant the news would not be as per his liking.
It was proven when his caretaker joined him inside the palace.
"You look like shit" commented Momoshiki disappointedly,
His caretaker for life was missing an arm alongside one of his horns, Kinshiki looked like a man who had endured a terrible beating and felt it deep within his bones judging from his ashamed gaze.
"The Vanguard was massacred, I barely returned to tell you the news. Kaguya's folly has created the largest mess our race will be facing in generations" relayed Kinshiki worriedly,
"Explain" commanded Momoshiki with a murderous glare,
And so his caretaker did- of all that had happened on Earth since they selected it for cultivation of the Chakra Fruit and sent their own clansmen to nurture it. The Otsutsuki prince couldn't help but feel disgusted upon learning Kaguya's bonding with a lesser race who were somewhat similar to them in appearance atleast to an extent, how her sons had changed the world, the countless wars that followed before the world was united under the banner of The Phoenix Emperor.
"Emperor? That title only belongs to one being, Kinshiki" warned Momoshiki gravely,
"Yes, our own. Which is why we must relay this news to his majesty. This Phoenix Emperor- Naruto Namikaze and his Scouting Legion massacred my men" said Kinshiki honestly,
"You were beaten by Scouts and a human child?" demanded Momoshiki murderously, and to his credit Kinshiki stood his ground without flinching.
"Not a child but a veteran Commander who has won every battle he has fought. I faced him in battle and barely survived, he is a powerful fighter. The Scouting Legion that he faced us with is made up entirely of Veterans from several wars, they are not to be underestimated" warned Kinshiki,
Expecting more anger from his prince, Kinshiki was surprised when the royal merely raised a curious eyebrow.
"And what do you know of this Naruto Namikaze? One who has made you so nervous all of a sudden" said Momoshiki curiously,
"He rules Earth under the banner of The Terran Federation, a union of several nations who co-operate with each other. Apparently, they used the power of chakra to make themselves forcefully undertake a Vow Renouncing War amongst their kind and impart understanding among each other seamlessly" answered Kinshiki,
"Primitives" scoffed Momoshiki,
"Be it so and yet it did bring an end to their continuous war among each other. In just over a decade, The Terran Federation under the Phoenix Emperor has strengthened their world's defenses ten times over. Their armies while smaller than ours, are well trained and led. Living beings who can use chakra, worse they even recently managed to go beyond their planet and established a military base on the Moon. That is where we landed and were driven back, left unchecked they will become a serious problem for our people
"My Prince, This Phoenix Emperor is a serious threat which we must report. I have fought many battles and have never faced a commander as good as him, his eldest son and one of few potential successors: Arima Namikaze- The Young Wolf encircled our forces alongside his father. They must be dealt with soon...they spared my life and asked me to relay this message to you and the rest of our clan" explained Kinshiki hesitantly,
"What is it?" asked Momoshiki furiously,
"The Terran Federation shall remain free and independent till the end of time. Lay eyes upon our home and people- and the Namikaze clan alongside more than 150,000 warriors of humanity will march to your own home to test your clan's immortality"
Kinshiki dreaded his prince's reaction to such a blatant threat to their dominance and was confused when the man smiled widely.
"Finally! We have a worthy foe. We will relay this news to my father- The Emperor, he won't be pleased but our people have long sought a challenging war to fight after encountering pathetic and weak races for so many centuries. Call our armies" commanded Momoshiki with a gleeful smirk,
"My Prince, we need the Emperor's approval to call all of them and it will take time as well" warned Kinshiki,
"Then summon my guard and the Division that is closest. I shall lead the Vanguard while my brothers arrive with the main forces once our father learns of this. Tell me, is the Phoenix Emperor and his family loved by their people? I want to know more about them" said Momoshiki eagerly,
"Naruto Namikaze and his family are indeed well loved by the people of Earth. The man has three wives and five children through them, he is directly or indirectly linked to the ruling families or leaders of major nations in the Federation if the information we stole from one of his dying Scout's mind was accurate" reported Kinshiki,
"Five children? They sure breed like rats" cursed Momoshiki,
"Three sons and two daughters we believe. The eldest of them Arima Namikaze- The Young Wolf as his followers called him is a talented commander like his father who met us bravely in battle and prevailed. We weren't able to learn much about the others yet, but what we do know is the fact that this family is at the center of The Terran Federation and its unity and power. Destroy them and the enemy shall fall" advised Kinshiki, earning a nod from his Prince.
"Well then, it's been a while since we hunted Wolves...Kinshiki"
(Two Weeks Later)
Mei Terumi stood restlessly upon the Imperial Castle Walls in the Federation Capital, many of her family stood beside her waiting. Kushina and Ino supported her as they always had, yet her heart trembled in worry for her precious boy who had marched to war by his father's side.
"How do you accept this feeling, Lady Uzukage? Both your sons have gone into battle as compared to my one" asked Mei worriedly,
Inoue Namikaze- The Second Uzukage gave her an compassionate smile as she looked at the skies.
"You never do. But I believe in my sons, they won't fall so easily. My grandson has the same blood in his veins, he also has his Father and Uncle Nagato by his side. They'll both die before they will let anything happen to Arima" reassured Inoue confidently,
"Do not worry, Mother. They will all come back"
Mei looked at her beautiful daughter who looked a replica of her younger self at the age of sixteen.
Unlike her twin sibling who had followed in Naruto's footsteps as a Warrior and Commander, Inoue Namikaze- daughter of Mei and Naruto who shared the same name as her grandmother- The Second Uzukage had chosen the field of healing under Tsunade Senju- her aunt's tutelage and was now on her way to become one of the best medical specialists in the world.
"Inoue, thank you" whispered Mei gratefully, as she caressed her auburn haired and extremely fair looking daughter's cheek.
"I'll join the Scouts too once Father returns!"
The women were shocked upon hearing that declaration from a young boy of twelve, none more so than Ino Namikaze who looked at her own son in disbelief.
"Erwin Namikaze, have you lost your mind? You are too young for this!" scolded Ino furiously,
"Father, Uncle Nagato and Elder Brother-Arima are out there fighting for Humanity and the Federation. I wish to do the same!" protested Erwin with equal ferocity as his mother, making his grandmother sigh as the exact replica of Naruto down to his eyes stared back at his entire family in defiance.
"As will I, Brother. I want to see the outside world too!" agreed Naomi Uzumaki, daughter and only child of Naruto and Kushina who was just a year younger than Erwin who was curiously named after a famous manga character the Phoenix Emperor and his brother Nagato had read as children in Uzu and had been one of their greatest inspirations.
Before Kushina could bonk her daughter on the head, the youngest child of their family currently being held by Ino in her arms pointed his hand towards the skies.
"Look, it's Elder Brother" whispered Nawaki Namikaze in delight.
Ino's gaze softened as she held her five year old second son closer to her chest, his innocent laughter upon witnessing the arrival of the Scouting Legion bringing an end to all of their worries and arguments.
From one of the newer teleportation portals established recently by the now retired Madara between the moon and Earth came their best warriors under the lead of a young fifteen year old boy with a handsome face and auburn-blonde hair that he inherited from his parents.
Mei breathed a sigh of relief upon witnessing the return of her son and swelled with pride on seeing the victorious look on his face.
Arima Namikaze was declared as The Young Wolf - the same title like his father had once upon a time by the veterans after witnessing his battle prowess and leadership skills being so similar to the Phoenix Emperor.
The eldest son of Naruto gave a loud and victorious roar upon witnessing the Capital and its people, making the Scouts following him and every citizen waiting near the Walls echo that feeling including his younger siblings.
His infectious grin didn't fade as he landed upon the battlements with the help of his Flying Winged Device and was immediately assaulted by twin blurs of energy.
Arima laughed happily even as he hugged Erwin and Naomi who adored their eldest brother as their hero and wanted to follow in his footsteps to defend their world and humanity.
They were soon joined by a laughing Nawaki who jumped upon the trio mischievously and an equally happy but more restrained Inoue who hugged her twin brother first even as she pinched the cheek of Nawaki earning a laugh from the boy and chuckles from the other two.
When his siblings finally parted from his arms, the eldest son of the Phoenix Emperor and a person also being thought about by more and more men as a possible successor saw the woman he loved most approaching towards him.
"Mother!" said Arima excitedly, relief and happiness overshadowing the fifteen year old boy's eyes over those of a seasoned warrior he was becoming as he rushed towards Mei.
But he had to pause when Mei stopped midway with the greatest regret in her eyes and it was then Arima saw all the shinobi nearby looking at him.
For them, he was a Commander who had led men in battle now. It was important they saw him as such since he was Naruto's eldest son and not a boy still attached naively to his mother like a gullible child.
Thankfully for him, his grandmother-the Second Uzukage gave a sharp command making the members of the Scouting Legion who had followed Arima to usher away the nearby shinobi of the Capital to give the Namikaze family some much needed privacy.
As soon as it was done, Arima flew into Mei's arms as she held him close- fighting back tears of joy and worry.
Kushina and Ino smiled as well when Arima gave them a warm smile even as he hugged his mother dearly.
Inoue Namikaze- the matriarch of the family and a Kage in her own right was extremely pleased upon witnessing the bond within her blood.
You have done so well in nurturing this family, Naruto. The pack must survive and stay united.
She could see it in the way Naruto's wives shared that feeling as they raised their children together. The brothers and sisters loved each other dearly for they were all given the same warmth, affection and care. Naruto had gone to great lengths to ensure Arima- his eldest was worthy and ready to take up the responsibility of their family and his legacy.
It made him more strict towards the boy much to Mei's worry but thankfully Arima understood his position, and more importantly his father whom he respected most. He may never be chosen as Emperor after Naruto, but the responsibility of protecting the Namikaze clan would be falling upon his shoulders after Naruto. Since he was also declared as successor to the Terumi clan through Mei, his responsibilities were doubled.
But Arima had never faltered in face of such daunting task, while not a skilled politician like his mother and grandmother- he was a fine swordsmen taught by Mangetsu Hozuki-The Fifth Mizukage and members of the Seven Ninja Swordmen. Naruto and Nagato had taught him everything about warfare and leading armies into battle while Mei was teaching him the nuances of diplomacy at the same time with limited success.
Arima's twin- Inoue- her namesake was an extremely gentle and well mannered girl who looked after her younger siblings when they complained of Naruto spending more time with Arima and not them. She was the peacemaker in their family in comparison to her headstrong siblings.
Erwin was like a mirror of Naruto himself- in looks, personality and with his devotion towards his father's legacy and humanity. The Second Uzukage had trained the boy herself and among his siblings, he was the only one who had shown potential to master the Hirashin technique.
Naomi was a warrior through and through, even at her young age of eleven she was a brave girl like Kushina-her mother. Fuinjutsu was in her blood as was the power of Ash Release like her father and Uncle Nagato, something which the young girl boasted about shamelessly. Defiant little rascal but still fiercely loyal to her family.
Nawaki was the youngest and still too innocent to be pushed into the harsher aspects of life, it was why the Second Uzukage wanted her youngest grandchild to enjoy the peace they all had fought so hard for as his time would come as well.
Arima- The Young Wolf, Inoue- The Peacemaker, Erwin- The Fearless, Naomi- The Defiant, Nawaki- The Hope.
The Second Uzukage couldn't help but identify her grandchildren by those traits and it gave her deep relief knowing her clan's future was safe in them. She had done her duty, as had her sons even if Nagato had never married till now.
As the family rejoiced in their reunion, the Second Uzukage had her eyes now turning back towards the skies as she witnessed the arrival of her own sons- Naruto and Nagato with the rest of the Scouting Legion.
The Phoenix Emperor was surrounded by not just his younger brother, but also the legendary Senju brothers, Izuna Uchiha, Shisui Uchiha, members of the Seven Ninja Swordsmen except Mangetsu and Haku alongside many other notable warriors.
Behind them marched the finest warriors of humanity and the Uzukage didn't miss the admiration for them in Erwin and Naomi's eyes. As the Scouting Legion got closer, all the people near the Capital's entrance including the Namikaze family bowed in unison as their Emperor landed in the courtyard.
The years had refined Naruto Namikaze from a young and unbeatable Kage on the battlefield to an Emperor who commanded respect and admiration both. The most notable distinction in his appearance was a full and well groomed beard which only added to his commanding presence.
The commanding mask of the Emperor broke into a faint grin and warmth returning in his hardened eyes upon watching his youngest son- Nawaki running towards him with an infectious smile. Uncaring of what others thought, the Emperor lifted his youngest in his arms earning a delighted squeal from the boy which made Ino smile warmly.
His remaining children soon rushed forward to get their own hugs and were not denied by their father.
The sight of the reunion earned smirks from the veterans and pleased smiles from the citizens of the Federation as it showed a more humane side of their usually reserved Emperor.
Nagato Uzumaki was now almost as tall as his brother and sported a full red colored beard, and laughed as the children soon turned towards their Uncle whom he greeted with equal happiness after being away for months.
When Naruto was finished greeting his mother and wives, there was a hard look in his eyes as he turned towards his younger brother and eldest son.
"Call our armies" commanded Naruto, much to the shock of the citizens of the Capital for this could only mean one thing.
"Everyone, Elder Brother?" asked Nagato hesitantly,
"They have all sworn to defend our world and humanity while aiding my father against the Otsutsuki, have they not Uncle?" questioned Arima Namikaze frankly,
"Then it's time to honor that oath" reminded Arima in a steadfast voice and without a flinch, earning a thin but proud smile from the Emperor himself upon seeing his eldest son's resolve.
But from the corner of his eyes, the Emperor also saw the looks upon the faces of two more of his children- Erwin and Naomi in the exact same moment.
"You two, with me" he commanded gently, making the brother and sister grin happily again.
That earned him pleased smiles from both Ino and Kushina who were their mothers and ones who saw the look in their children's eyes when they saw their father looking at their eldest brother- as he often had.
The Phoenix Emperor and his two children walked through the Royal gardens inside the Capital peacefully.
Shera- The Great Wolf who was Naruto's battle partner for more than decade now walked a few paces behind the Emperor with his own wolf sons who were anointed as battle partners for Erwin and Naomi trailing after their own father.
Each of the Emperor's children had been assigned a wolf protector and battle partner from Shera's own children by Naruto himself.
The unusual bonding made people naturally associate the Namikaze clan with wolves more often, even if only Naruto and his children were bonded to them and not Nagato, Inoue or any other member of their clan.
"I saw the way you two were looking at Arima" said Naruto frankly,
"We love him, Father. He looks after us and loves us too, it's just..." replied Naomi hesitantly,
"Why don't you look at us the same way? I understand he is the eldest and talented, but we are your children too!" answered Erwin a little angrily,
Naruto stopped and wondered if Nagato had felt the same at any point in their lives. Regardless, it was his duty to dismiss such bitter feelings from growing further.
"I love all of my children. Arima happens to be the eldest and there are certain expectations from him. There will come a day when your parents and grandparents no longer live in this world, if it happens sooner than expected due to this war then I want him to be ready to protect our clan. That doesn't mean I am not proud of either of you and would not be happy to have you at my side anytime and anywhere" promised Naruto, as he bent down to look both his children in the eye.
"The way you look at him, Father. We want that too...which is why I want to join the Scouting Legion and see the outside world too!" said Naomi hopefully, earning a nod from her father before he turned to his son.
"And you, Erwin? Do you want to join the Scouts too?" asked Naruto curiously,
"Yes, Father" replied the boy fiercely,
"I want to know what the outside world is like and protect our people" answered Erwin,
"It's a dangerous path, son. Many Scouts have died in just exploring the dangers outside, many more in just the first battle with the Otsutsuki. It will only get worse and more painful, why do you want to go into such hell?" questioned Naruto pointedly,
"Then we should just sit back and let those enemies steal our freedom? The outside world maybe hell but if we don't take up the mantle then all those who died will have done so in vain. I refuse to let that happen!" replied Erwin fiercely,
Naruto's eyes widened in shock as he saw the ghost of a younger version of himself in his son. Out of all his children, it was Erwin who was so much like him in not just looks but also powers and terrifying determination towards their people's safety.
"Are you willing to go beyond anyone can dream of to keep this world safe?" asked Naruto seriously,
"I am" swore Erwin fearlessly,
"Then I am putting you two under your grandfather- Tobirama and granduncle- Hashirama's command. They will be responsible for defending our world alongside your elder sister-Inoue and your grandmother-The Second Uzukage alongside my wives. While Nagato, Arima and I alongside our army and the Scouting Legion shall go to war and face the enemy from the front" declared Naruto,
"You are leaving us behind?" asked Erwin furiously, and the same anger was present in Naomi's eyes.
"There must always be a Namikaze here to defend our world and family. Until I return alongside your Uncle and eldest brother, that will be you two and your sister-Inoue. Harsh days await us all and in such times we must protect our family and look after one another" advised Naruto patiently, and caressed their cheeks affectionately.
Before the two young ones could argue more, it was Shera- their father's trusted wolf partner who stepped before them.
"The pack survives while the lone wolf dies. Should your father and eldest brother not return alongside your Uncle, then the four of you- Erwin, Naomi, Inoue and Nawaki will be responsible for your clan and aid in protecting the world's future. Which is why you must stick together under the Senju brother's command. My sons shall be with you, do you understand?" asked Shera decisively, while nodding towards his own large wolf sons who were bonded to these two children.
It was only then the reality hit Erwin and Naomi as they worriedly looked at their father as well as their Eldest brother-Arima currently having a hearty laugh with Uncle Nagato off at a distance in the gardens.
The thought of never having another warm hug or smile from Father, the constant teasing and secret gifts from their Uncle...and the possibility of living in a world without Arima's hearty laughs and steadfast protection.
"We're really going to War, aren't we?" asked Erwin somberly,
"We only heard of your victories and conquests all this time, Father. But now..." whispered Naomi worriedly,
Naruto wanted nothing more than to wrap them in a comforting hug and tell them everything would be alright. But that would be a lie and he couldn't afford that.
"You were born in the long peace and have never known War. But it is coming and we must be ready. The enemy will come for our family earlier than anyone else, if you do not put your duty above your wishes...then our family dies. Naomi, what are the words of your mother's clan-the Uzumaki?" asked Naruto seriously,
"Family. Duty. Honor" replied his daughter proudly, earning a nod from the Phoenix Emperor.
"That they are and you must live by it. Promise me, my daughter" urged Naruto, making the redhead rush forward and hug him fiercely.
"Don't go, Father. You are the Emperor...please let your generals go while you supervise. Arima too!" begged Naomi with tears in her eyes, and trembled when Naruto returned the hug gently.
"As long as I or any of our blood is chosen for this position or any military command, they shall always stand at the front of their armies and lead their comrades. Arima is no different, as will you if your time ever comes" said Naruto honestly, and pointedly looked at his second son-Erwin who nodded fiercely.
"We will kill them all, Father. Every last one of them- They won't steal our freedom and world!"
The Emperor was left speechless as he saw the same ferocity and darkness in his second son's eyes, one that Naruto himself had harbored at the same age upon watching Kumogakure wage war against his island nation and killing his family. It had awakened a devil that had destroyed feudal rule across the world forever.
None of his other children had such fearsome determination and rage that he saw inside Erwin. This was a person who would burn the entire universe to protect the few dear to him and his dream.
Naruto was silent even after he sent the children away until Shera- his ever loyal wolf partner voiced his thoughts.
"You are right. The young ones shouldn't be sent to the battlefield, especially Erwin" said Shera honestly,
"He's not ready" replied Naruto,
"On the contrary, he is. The boy will not hesitate to become a devil against his enemies if it means protecting his family and freedom. There is a terrifying rage inside of him...just as you had once" whispered Shera carefully,
Naruto shivered for he could never forget that hatred which had kept him moving forward for years. All the innocents he had killed in the pursuit of revenge before realizing it was wrong and the toll it had taken on his soul.
But Erwin shared none of that guilt or hesitation even at this young age...
"I will never let him become the monster I became once due to such rage and hatred. As long as I live, he will not have to stain his hands with a river of blood. That burden is mine as his Emperor and as his Father...we must keep the children away from that violence, Shera" declared Naruto fiercely,
"I agree...but what about Arima? He's a good commander in making but still a youngling, they call him The Young Wolf for a reason. Does he not deserve the same consideration?" asked Shera seriously, making the Emperor look at his eldest relaxing at a distance in the garden with Nagato.
For a brief moment, real sadness was visible on the Emperor's face as he closed his eyes.
"It's because he is a talented commander and the eldest of my children is the reason he has to bear this burden. I need him by my side once we march into the hellish flames of the largest war our world would ever see. Should I fall in battle or taken hostage at worst, he should atleast be capable of protecting our clan and this world. My heart wants nothing more than for him to enjoy his boyhood, but I am the Emperor and as my eldest child...this is his destiny whether he likes it or not" explained Naruto regretfully,
"For what it's worth, Arima would follow you into that hell with a smile. The boy loves you too much" praised Shera with a smile, earning a gentle nod and smile from the Emperor himself.
"No father could have asked for a better son"
(Two Days Later)
Erwin was almost asleep when he heard the door to his room creaking open gently. Blinking the sleep away from his eyes, he gently placed his youngest brother- Nawaki's hand aside as the boy slept next to him and looked up to see their eldest brother enter the room with Shera's eldest son- a large grey and black colored wolf by his side.
Arima shushed him when Erwin was about to call his name and walked around to come near Nawaki. The auburn-blonde haired teenager gently caressed the cheek of his younger brother before kissing his forehead.
"Where are you going?" asked Erwin hesitantly, but had a feeling of knowing the answer when he saw Arima was fully geared up.
"To the Moon as Uncle Nagato's second in command. We'll be the Vanguard and will try to delay the enemy's main forces while Father musters our armies" answered Arima honestly,
"So soon, Elder Brother?" asked Erwin hesitantly, and a little bit worriedly as well.
"I only came here to see my family, now I must return to the frontlines" confessed Arima somberly,
"I wish I could come with you" replied Erwin sullenly, and watched as his brother came around to sit before him and ruffle his hair much to his annoyance.
"I'm glad you will be safe here for the time being. Until I am at War or in the event I die in battle-"
"If I fall, you are the heir to our clan. Don't be reckless and look after our little brother and our family, Understood?" asked Arima seriously,
Erwin didn't know why but for some reason he felt deep sadness within his heart as he gave a firm nod earning a relieved smile from his favorite sibling as Arima kissed his forehead.
"Till I return" whispered Arima as farewell, and got up from the bed.
The eldest of Naruto's children paused upon hearing the sleepy voice of his youngest sibling-Nawaki who was now awake and turning around he found the young boy beaming at him with his arms spread wide expectantly.
He saw Erwin while silent also was looking at him with slightly moist eyes which was the final straw for him as he rushed back to scoop his younger brothers in a tight hug.
Even if they shared different mothers, Arima had always considered these boys as nothing but his true younger siblings. Had been there when they took their first steps, played games with them as boys, stood by their side as a protective shadow against children their age who wanted to harass them sometimes and helped in Erwin's warrior training.
"Come back soon, okay?" asked Nawaki innocently,
"I will. Be a good boy till then and listen to your older brother and sisters" replied Arima warmly,
The young boy nodded and enjoyed their shared embrace before Arima composed himself completely. Gone was the caring older brother who was now replaced by Naruto Namikaze's eldest son and heir earning a determined look from his younger brothers.
With a final nod, Arima walked out of the room only to find his twin sister-Inoue waiting for him alongside Naomi.
"Thought you'd come this way sooner, Brother" said Inoue with a playful smirk, even as Naomi rushed forward to hug him and one which he returned by picking her up in his arms.
"I wouldn't have left without saying goodbye to my sisters" assured Arima, earning a kiss on the cheek from Naomi.
"I know...I'll look after the boys and this little rascal" promised Inoue, even as she tickled Naomi earning a giggle in return from the redhead daughter of Kushina Uzumaki.
Arima smiled gratefully as he came forward to wrap both his sisters in a warm hug and was surprised moments later again when twin blurs joined them from behind in the form of Erwin and Nawaki who had rushed out of the room upon hearing their sister's voices.
From a nearby corner, Naruto watched the heartfelt goodbye among his children alongside Shera and Nagato.
"Your pack is strong, Emperor. You should be proud" said Shera with a respectful nod,
"I am, more than you can imagine. They are the future" confessed Naruto with a proud smile,
"I'll look after Arima up there, won't let him get in too much trouble" promised Nagato fiercely,
"Thank you. Please look after yourself as well, Brother. If the enemy counterattack is too much, retreat back here" suggested Naruto,
"Age has made you a little soft, Elder Brother. I'll send Arima back if that happens but I am not abandoning our lone outpost outside this planet. Too many Scouts laid down their lives to get us there!" reminded Nagato stubbornly,
Naruto sighed but nodded as there was bitter logic behind that defiance.
"We cannot allow the enemy to attack our homeworld if we are to avoid major losses. Luna Base holds the Fuinjutsu markings protecting our planet from all kinds of attacks and teleportation directly by the enemy. It cannot fall, but considering our resources it will take time for me to lead the bulk of our army there. You know we can't send thousands at once through the link Madara established, it's too volatile" warned Naruto,
"Before we were Scouts, we were Spartans- Elder Brother. Holding the line is our specialty, you just get your lazy ass up there as soon as you can" teased Nagato, earning a chuckle from his elder sibling and Emperor as the blonde came forward to hug him.
"Don't get your Virgin ass killed up there, baby brother" teased Naruto, earning a knee to his gut.
"I maybe a bachelor still but not a virgin, asshole" replied Nagato with a laugh,
Shera merely rolled his eyes at the antics of the brothers knowing they were like this since they were children. He watched as they both then walked towards the children as Arima stepped before them.
"I'm ready" promised the boy known as the new Young Wolf,
Naruto stared at his eldest child and couldn't help but feel limitless pride over the man he was becoming at such young age.
"You're all I hoped for, son"
Arima's eyes widened in shock upon hearing those priceless words and his eyes became moist when Naruto came forward to wrap him in a tight hug. To the Emperor's relief, his other children also smiled and understood his reasons now for such praise.
"We'll hold the line, Father. Once you arrive with our armies, we will crush them" promised Arima sincerely, earning a nod from his Uncle Nagato.
Naruto gently broke the hug and looked at his auburn-blonde haired eldest son's face for a long moment. He had inherited Mei's beauty and pleasing personality like his twin sister, but his love and loyalty towards their family and people from the Emperor himself. While not yet a powerful fighter like the Emperor or Nagato; Arima was a brilliant commander in battle which had earned him the infamous title of "The Young Wolf", a moniker Naruto himself had once held.
"You may witness power that may frighten you to the core, son" warned Naruto honestly, making the boy bite his lip.
"How can I be brave if I'm afraid, Father? How will our men follow me if I cower?" asked Arima hesitantly,
"That is when you have to be the bravest on the battlefield. Use that fear to not lose sense of the fight, that awareness will keep you on your toes. No matter what happens- even if the battle is lost, the Commander must remain composed. Lose that and your men are doomed. Offer your chest to the enemies and your back to the men who follow you- men and women will give anything for such a leader" advised Naruto, recalling his own numerous experiences when his own troops had fought against impossible odds when he had followed the same principles.
Arima nodded gravely and looked at his father for a long moment.
"What happens if we lose the moon, Father?" asked Arima hesitantly, and saw his father and Uncle glancing at all the children without hesitation.
"Do you know what happened to the families of the Daimyo's in the last war?" asked Nagato seriously,
"They were all exterminated" replied Inoue nervously, as it was one of the harshest truths of their father's revolution and one that still disturbed her to a great extent.
Naruto nodded heavily before glancing back at Arima who had asked him the question.
"If you lose, the enemy will invade our world. When that happens: Our cities burn, our people massacred without hesitation, our family dies. All our dreams and freedom will be stolen forever" admitted Naruto,
All of his children seemed shaken by the revelation especially his youngest, but the revelation ignited a fire in Arima's eyes as he glanced at his siblings and then back at his father with determination.
"Then I'll take the fight to the enemy. They will not take our home!" swore Arima fiercely,
Naruto watched the hope being reborn in the eyes of his remaining children upon witnessing their eldest brother's courage and determination. The Phoenix Emperor was never more prouder of his son as he placed his hand upon Arima's cheek.
"Then keep on winning until I arrive with our armies. Show the Scouts and our people that The Young Wolf is still alive in you, Arima"
Arima nodded without hesitation before offering a final smile to his family and then departed with Nagato as Naruto watched his eldest child march to war.
It was the Emperor's elder daughter-Inoue who placed a comforting hand upon his shoulder as Naruto saw Arima out in the courtyard giving an inspiring speech to the men who would follow him under Nagato's supervision.
"You are grooming him to be your heir as Emperor, aren't you?" asked his daughter shrewdly,
"It is not in my hands as the Federation member nations choose who comes after me in the event of my death, captivity or retirement. But like me, Arima is connected to the major powers through blood or alliances. He is a good man and will someday surpass me in commanding armies, I have seen his potential. It is no wonder our people named him "The Young Wolf", he reminds me of myself when I lead Kiri's armies as the Fourth Mizukage" reminisced Naruto with a nostalgic smile,
"You want him to be ready in the event he is chosen then" deduced Inoue acutely, making the Emperor look at her proudly.
"You are as politically astute as Mei. I ruled this long because of her skill, it is a subtle but more effective power. Arima knows how to win battles, you must support him in achieving the best outcome in what comes after. Your brother will need your help someday as the Emperor or the heir to our clan atleast" advised Naruto,
"We're twins, Father. He is half of me, as I am of him. I'll stand by his side" promised Inoue,
"As will I" swore Erwin and Naomi together,
"Me...too" whispered Nawaki shyly, earning proud smiles from his siblings
They were all surprised when Naruto lifted Nawaki in his arms and brought the rest of them closer for a warm hug as they heard fearsome roars from the Scouting Legion as Arima raised his sword bravely with his grey and black haired wolf- Shera's eldest child howling fiercely.
Nagato lead the force from the front as its Commander with Arima and his wolf marching right after him with the Scouts following after the two leaders.
It was Arima's warcry that signaled the beginning of their greatest challenge and what they were all truly fighting for.
Author's Notes: End of Story.
Hope you guys liked it.
I guess I gave many of you broken hearts with the last chapter. Not every story of Blackwolf501 has a sad ending, let that be known! haha!
In case people still prefer sad endings, you can try and consider the earlier chapter as the ending...I have given an option like that.
I have written all I wanted for this story and honestly have nothing much to say except that I finish my stories even if takes years as I have really good readers who have given my stories such awesome support.
I'll be focusing on Wolves and Crows (My Got fanfic) and A New Path (Ongoing Naruto fic of mine) for the time being in case anyone wants to know which stories I'll focus on finishing next.
I would love to read your thoughts about this story, so review please for one last time?
Thank you for all the support.
Until Next Time,
PS: I have left the room open for a sequel to this story in case I want to expand this universe in the future. It will depend upon how good a storyline I have alongwith time to write it, if I don't have such things then I am content with ending the way I have and won't write it as I'm ending this story with a Million Views, 3K+ Favs and nearly same number of reviews which is also pretty awesome with an epilogue I'm satisfied with and I hope you are too.