"THE DARK day. Everyone saw it and nobody was dreaming; the day when a black streak swept the sky and formed a dark shadow over the kingdom of Fiore."
"From that day on, I had a deep feeling in my gut that something was wrong. We could not all have gone crazy at the same time. I bet the whole world saw that and since that day, I've been sensing the presence of dragons all over the place. I'm a dragon slayer and if there's somebody who's gonna find dragons, it's gonna be me."
"WELL THAT'S a first." Mirajane raised her brow as she slid the glass across the counter. "You sure we're feeling okay? Nothing bothering you?"
"I dunno; I'm just feeling really off." Lucy received the glass, her dreary eyes set low as her stared at it. She gulped and cringed, pushing it aside. "Ew, I'm gonna continue passing up on that stuff." She shuddered. "Why do people drink that?"
"It helps people deal with their worries." Mirajane chuckled as she took the beer away. "I had some at a party one time and …" She cringed. "I really regret what I did."
"What'd you do?" Lucy's brows stitched.
"Oh, nothing." Mirajane chuckled uneasily. "Just know that I hate wearing white shirts." She took the glass away.
"Okay …" Lucy spun the chair around.
Looking at the guild hall, the blonde huffed as she sifted through her mind. Her friends' smiles livened her downtrodden mood, but her thoughts still worried her. She felt a deep sense of worry she could not explain and wondered what the cause was. A fight quickly erupted amongst the men in the room and she shook her head as she never seemed accustomed to the occurrence.
Her name was Lucy Heartfilia and she was a member of Fairy Tail, the Kingdom of Fiore's strongest wizard guild. She spent her Monday morning as she usually did, having a drink in the guild hall, which she would rather be called a bar since everyone spent most of their time drunk. Job hunting on the mission billboard was a regular activity of hers, but she opted to do it with the members of her group.
They were Natsu Dragneel, the dragon slayer, Erza Scarlet, the redheaded queen of the fairies and Gray Fullbuster, the ice wizard who were all present, except for Natsu. Shifting her head around, Lucy huffed as she looked at her watch, seeing that it was 9:30am. Crossing her arms in impatience she leaned against the counter and looked at the doorway, seeing Happy enter the room hastily.
The magical blue feline manoeuvred through the hall, curving his wings as he avoided the heads of the people in the room. His eyes darted around, panic evident in them as he breathed heavily and searched for something. Seeing Lucy at the end of the room, a smile crossed his face as he zoomed towards her and hovered in the air.
"Lucy, thank God, you're here!" Happy panted.
"Happy, what's wrong?" Lucy raised her brow.
"It's Natsu! I haven't seen him since morning."
"What?! What happened?" She rose to her feet.
"I don't know! I just woke up and he wasn't there in the house." Happy looked around worriedly. "I sure hope he's okay."
"Natsu's missing?" A built, dark-skinned man, Elfman, walked up to them.
"I sure hope he's okay." His sister, Lisanna, turned from her table.
"Where'd that fool run off to now?" Erza frowned as she approached Happy.
"I knew he was a coward." Gray folded his arms as he leaned against a wall in the corner of the room.
"I don't know!" Happy turned to Erza.
"I bumped into him earlier this morning." Mirajane returned to the counter.
"Really? Where?" Happy hopped onto it, his wings disintegrating into glittering particles that whisked away.
"I was on the way here and I saw him when I went past the bakery. He seemed like he was in a hurry and said he'd be back soon." She took a seat.
"I think I saw him too. I was picking up a cake when he passed me." Erza sifted through her thoughts.
"Did he tell you where he was going?" Happy's brows rose as he walked up to Mirajane.
"He said he'd be out of town for a while." She placed a finger on her lip.
"Outta town? What for?" Lucy frowned.
"I don't know." Mirajane shrugged.
"Okay, we need to go out and find him." Erza turned to the others.
"Why?" Warren raised his brow. "It's not like he'd get in trouble; he can take care of himself."
"Do you want him to get the guild on the bad side of the Magic Council again? We barely got out of the last situation without ending up behind bars." Erza frowned.
"We're searching for him!" He stood up quickly.
"Make sure that you split up into teams and search in as many places as you can!" Erza barked. "He couldn't have gone far."
"What if he got on a train?" Lisanna walked up to her.
"Then you, Elfman, Gray and I will take some trains to look for him." Erza headed for the door. "C'mon, Gray."
"Yeah, I'm coming." Gray frowned.
The hall emptied quickly, leaving Lucy, Mirajane and Happy as the only remaining occupants. Saying their goodbyes, the blonde and the feline made their way out of the building and traversed the town of Magnolia, encompassed by mountains and forests. They searched high and low, asking the townspeople if they had seen their pink-haired friend.
Little to their surprise, Natsu's reputation preceded him as the 'Salamander', the wizard Hell-bent on starting a fight and causing property damage without reason or a second thought. Nearly everyone who they came across was relieved that he had left and provided little help in their search. Coordinating with the others via communication Lacrima, highly versatile magical crystals, they received word that Natsu was nowhere in the city.
LEAVING THE town after several hours of searching, they entered the forest, heading towards the mountains in its outskirts. Lucy shielded her face from the bright afternoon sun, huffing as she grew impatient and tried of Happy lying on her head. Tossing the feline aside, the blonde walked onward, receiving a groan from him as he writhed on the ground.
"Ow, why'd you have to toss me like that?" He whined.
"Ugh, just fly up and look for him, you stupid cat." She growled.
"What do you think I've been doing this whole time?"
"Well, get back up there and keep searching!" She moved on.
"Geez, somebody's mad." He walked up to her. "Is it cuz Natsu's missing?" He teased.
"Well, yeah; we're searching for him so it's no time to slack off." She frowned.
"I've been flying around and all you've been doing is yelling." He smirked. "You so worried about him you can't even do anything." He teased. "You love him."
"Oh, shut up!" She blushed slightly.
"Let go of me!" A voice yelled.
A rustling came from some bushes nearby and the two looked around attentively. Recognizing the voice, Lucy grabbed Happy, covering his mouth with her hand and hid behind a tree, awaiting the people who approached. A large man with long, spiky raven hair came down the footpath, shouldering a blue haired girl who squirmed around, futilely trying to escape his grip. Two felines followed them with their wings spread wide, a black one with green trousers and a white one in a red dress.
"Gajeel, let me go!" The girl pounded her fists on his back.
"You can't just go off like that, Wendy, it's dangerous." Gajeel frowned slightly.
"Carla, tell him to let go!" She turned to the white cat.
"I'm sorry, Wendy, but he's right." She looked down at her. "There's no guarantee that the dragon you're sensing is Grandeeney and there's a high possibility that you'd get hurt, child."
"But I'm a dragon slayer, isn't that proof enough that I can take care of myself." Wendy folded her arms.
"I'm sorry, my child, but you have ways to go before you could be as strong as Gajeel or Natsu." Carla frowned. "You'll just have to trust us."
"Sorry, Wendy, but it is in your best interest that you stayed in the guild hall." The black cat's brows furrowed. "Gajeel and I could go back and check on the dragon for you."
"But what if she's gone by the time you come back?" Anger dilated Wendy's eyes.
"You know what?" Gajeel placed Wendy before him. "If you wanna go on a wild goose chase over some hunch, then be my guest." He gestured behind him.
"Gajeel!" Carla gasped.
He stepped aside as Wendy ran past him, folding his arms as Carla frowned at him and flew after her. Lucy stepped into the footpath, blocking the young girl who manoeuvred around her and went on. Clutching her shoulders, she held her in place.
"Thank you, Lucy!" Carla descended beside her.
"Let me go!" Wendy squirmed.
"Wendy, wait; have you seen Natsu anywhere?" Lucy squatted before her.
"No, now let go of me." Wendy removed her hands from her shoulders.
"Wendy, why won't you listen to reason?" Carla frowned.
"I need to find her, Carla." Wendy turned to her. "I might never see another dragon again."
"What if it's Acnologia, huh? What would you do then?"
Wendy's brows furrowed as she sifted through her thoughts. "I dunno … but, I need to find out if it's her or not."
"Why're you looking for Natsu?" Gajeel walked up to Lucy.
"He suddenly left without a word this morning! Mirajane said he was heading outta town and we've looked everywhere for him." Happy turned to him.
"Is it possible that he's also sensed a dragon and went to look for it?" Lucy stroked her chin.
"Oh, Happy, there you are!" A voice came. They turned to a pink-haired man clad in a black sleeveless hoody, white trousers and black boots treaded down the footpath, a wide grin plastered over his face.
"Natsu!" Happy flew into his arms. "I thought you abandoned me!"
"Yeah, I kinda forgot to bring you along with me, little buddy." He chuckled. "Now that I've found you, let's go."
"Where?" Happy raised his brow.
"To find Igneel."
"I've been sensing dragons, so I wanted to go with you and see if it's Igneel." Natsu huffed. "Too bad; I left many hours ago, like 9: 20 am and I forgot ya. Would've been easier if I hadn't."
"You forgot about me?" Happy's eyes dilated in surprise.
"Wait, you left at 9:20am? That was only ten minutes before Happy came running in, saying you'd gone missing!" Lucy frowned.
"You panicked after ten minutes?" Carla folded her arms. "You really are a Tom Cat, aren't you?"
"How could you forget me?!" Tears ran down Happy's cheeks.
"You guys sure were fast." Natsu rubbed the back of his head. "I kept calling for you, but you were moving so fast."
"Where were you?" Lucy gritted her teeth.
"I was at the bakery and I shared some cake with Erza before I realized how much time had passed and I ran across the town and ended up here." Natsu stroked his chin. "Huh, you passed me then I passed you; how'd I still forget to take Happy with me?"
"Erza sharing cake with somebody? That's a first." Gajeel folded his arms.
"Well, let's go, Happy." Natsu turned to him.
"Oh, no, you're coming with me!" Lucy grabbed his arm.
"Lucy, I've gotta find Igneel!" Natsu let her pull him.
"No. After getting the whole guild and me worked up like that, you're gonna apologize to everyone!" Lucy frowned.
"C'mon, Wendy." Gajeel lifted her.
"Lemme go!" She whined.
"Enough fussing around, child." Carla took to the skies.
"Lucy, I'm sorry, but I've gotta do this." Natsu freed himself from her grip. "There's a chance this could be Igneel."
"Ah, c'mon, not this stuff again." Gajeel groaned as he set Wendy down.
"Natsu, listen to yourself." Lucy frowned. "You've been searching for Igneel, what is it, fourteen years? You think he'd just pop outta nowhere after been on such a long hiatus."
"He was probably watching The Flash and he had a bad subscription." Natsu shrugged. "There were a lotta production breaks."
"Natsu, Igneel is a dragon –,"
"And I've been sensing 'em since The Dark Day." Natsu frowned and the atmosphere grew heavy. "That had something to do with dragons and I know it."
"It is possible." Gajeel sighed. "I've been sensing them too since that day."
"Then why'd you wanna bring me back to the guild hall? Couldn't you have helped me?" Wendy raised her brow.
"Well, I didn't wanna risk my life on a whim." He folded his arms. "Even if I've been sensing them, I'm not sure that it's Metalicana. I mean, I could end up stumbling upon Acnologia and I'd definitely need the guild to back me up."
"See, Natsu, he's right." Lucy turned to him. "There's no way you'd be sure if it's Igneel and you could get yourself killed."
"Lucy, listen to me." He held her shoulders. "You and I both know that things aren't the way they used to be anymore. That streak in the sky gave everyone nightmares that day. Everyone! You, me, Elfman, Erza even Gramps. Something's coming and I know Igneel's sending a signal for me to go find him."
Lucy's eyes lowered, a sigh escaping her. "I know what happened." She clasped her hands before her. "I still shiver every time I think about that day." She frowned and looked up at him. "But that gives me even more reason to be worried. You can't just go on a search like that on your own; you'd get hurt."
"Okay, then come with me." He stepped back.
"I'll have to agree with Lucy on this one, Natsu; you should return to the guild." Carla hovered before him. "When Acnologia attacked, the whole guild used its most powerful spells on him and we failed to put a scratch on him. When the streak crossed the sky, the Magic Council's magic detectors began to short out and experts said that the energy was thousands of times more powerful than Acnologia himself. Natsu, they said that the detectors only sensed a very faint amount of the source's power." She landed. "If what you're sensing has anything to do with it, then you would definitely wind up dead."
"Listen to her man; you can't just go out on a whim like that." Gajeel walked up to Natsu. "Do you even have a plan?"
"Yeah, I'll just follow my nose." He folded his arms. "Hasn't failed me before."
"And what if you lost the smell, huh? Do even know that it's Igneel's?"
"I can't really tell; it seems kinda far from here." Natsu rubbed the back of his head.
"Which means that you could be mixing things up. Even if you're not, you're not even sure if it is Igneel."
"But I have to try; Igneel's been gone for fourteen years."
"So has Metalicana!" Gajeel frowned. "I know how you feel Natsu, same for you Wendy, but we can't go out searching around when we're not completely sure. At any rate, you could end up lost or attacked by Acnologia. Without the guild's help, you'd get killed."
"Please, Natsu, just come back to the guild hall with us." Lucy's brows furrowed. "At least try to get advice from Makarov or get help from the others."
Natsu looked to the ground, sifting through his mind as a frown crossed his face. He sighed. "Okay, I'll get back to the guild. But, I swear if I find that it's Igneel, you owe me."
"Owe you what?" Lucy's brow's stitched.
"An impression of Happy." Natsu shrugged.
"Dude, where do you come up with this stuff?" Gajeel shook his head.
Natsu gave a wide grin, bringing a frown to Gajeel's face and a warm smile to Lucy's. Making their way out of the forests, they headed to the town and tried to contact the others via communication Lacrima. Happy sat on Natsu's shoulder and turned to Lucy, seeing the blonde enter the details for her call.
"You happy that you found your man, Lucy? You looked like you were about to pass out back there." Happy smirked.
"No, I wasn't; it was just hot." She frowned.
"Or were you getting hot, hmm?"
"Shut it, cat!" She growled.
"You did seem pretty worried." Natsu chuckled. "You ran past me when I was near a café and I kept calling ya, but you didn't hear me."
"You should've seen her Natsu." Happy laughed. "She dragged me all around town, screaming, 'Natsu! Natsu, where are –,"
"I swear, I'm gonna make you eat this Lacrima, you stupid cat!" Lucy grabbed the feline, stuffing the crystal into his mouth.
"Just make sure you don't ruin your dinner, Happy." Natsu smiled.
Happy frowned as his screams were snuffed out, making the others laugh at his expense. Entering the town, Lucy let go of the feline, wiping the Lacrima on his coat and returning to making her call. Spitting repeatedly, Happy backed away from her and clung to Natsu's head, looking at her murderously.
THE DOOR of the guild hall swung open, giving way for Natsu, Lucy, Happy, Gajeel, Carla and Panther, the black cat, who entered the room laughing amongst themselves. Blushing slightly, Lucy turned away from Natsu, making Happy snicker as he fished out a salmon from his green backpack. A loud bang met their ears and they turned, seeing Erza and some guild members enter the room.
"Natsu!" She frowned.
"Oh, hey, Erza." Natsu smiled uneasily.
"We need to talk." She drew out a broadsword sheathed on her back.
"About what?" He backed away.
"Oh, man, Natsu, get outta here!" A fat man, Droy's brows rose in fear.
"Now, hold on Erza, let him explain before you shish kebab him." Lucy laughed with unease.
Erza stalked towards Natsu, her heavy boots creaking off the wooden floor as she walked, veins appearing on her forehead. Gripped with fear, Happy flew away as the others around Natsu dispersed, leaving him alone in her path. Lost in complete oblivion, he looked at her blankly as she approached.
"From the moment I met you I knew one thing." Her frown deepened. "You'd be the death of me." She smiled.
"That was a thrilling exercise!" She wrapped her arm around his neck tightly. "Sending us all around the town when you were here this whole time? Brilliant!"
"You know, I'd enjoy this if you weren't breaking my neck right now." His voice muffled as she pressed his face against her breasts.
"Lucky punk." A blonde-haired man, Laxus leaned against a wall and folded his arms.
"Now, onto other matters." Erza pulled back and kicked Natsu in the gut, knocking him over. "Don't do that again!"
"What? Didn't you just say –,"
"Do you know how many hours we spent looking around town?"
"Yeah, man; she kept pointing her sword threatening anyone who couldn't find you." Droy walked up to Natsu. Erza glared at him. "Don't stab me!" He backed away.
"Wow, first Lucy and now Erza." Happy chuckled as he walked up to him. "Geez, Natsu; you're one popular gu –,"
Erza frowned and stepped on him, grinding her boot against his face as pink dusted lightly on her cheeks. Rising to his feet, Natsu dusted himself off; backing away as she walked passed him and sheathed her sword. Moving to the end of the room, Erza turned to the others as they entered, clearing her throat as she spoke.
"Now that we're all here, there's an important matter we need to discuss." She looked around the room. "Due to Makarov's condition, he told me that he'll be retiring from his position as Guild Master."
"Gramps quit?" Natsu raised his brow.
"I sure hope he's alright." Mirajane sat at the counter.
"He couldn't be present to make the announcement, so I'm relaying it to you." Erza sighed. "His last act was to enact me as the new Guild Master."
"What?!" Laxus frowned.
"Whoa, congrats, Erza." Natsu gave a thumbs up.
"No, no, I should've been Guild Master, not you." Laxus walked up to Erza.
"You can take it up with him; I'm just telling you what he said." She looked at him blankly.
"That old geezer must've been hallucinating in his condition; I'll go talk to him." Laxus headed for the door.
"The old geezer is right here." A voice came.
Laxus turned to see an old man with an ice pack on his head standing on the upper floor near the steps above the bar. Drawing the attention of everyone in the room, the man walked down the stairs, visibly struggling as his shaky hands held to the guardrail. Mirajane moved away from the counter and came to his side, aiding him as he walked toward Laxus.
"Gramps, didn't think you were here." His brows furrowed.
"I just came to make the announcement; guess Erza beat me to it." He turned to her. "I told you I could handle it."
"I'm sorry; I just thought you were trying to get some rest."
"You shouldn't be walking around like that; you need to be in bed." Mirajane's eyes lowered in worry.
"Hey, gramps, lookin' great." Natsu chuckled.
"Don't toy with me, boy." Makarov growled.
"How could you?" Laxus frowned. "You give the position of guild leader to Erza? She's not even in my level of power for crying out loud."
"I'm an S class wizard, just like you, Laxus." Erza turned to him.
"It's just a title; wanna take it outside and see who's more powerful."
"C'mon guys, let's not fight amongst ourselves." Mirajane stepped in between them.
"My decision is final, Laxus." Makarov walked up to him. "You're just not leader material."
Laxus stepped back, shock evident in his face as he looked around the room. Frowning, he turned to Makarov. "Fine." He headed for the door. "I don't need this BS guild anyway."
"Wait, Laxus, c'mon!" Natsu walked up to him.
"Laxus, wait." A green-haired man, Freed, followed him. "What about the Thunder Legion?"
"Yeah, what're we gonna do without ya, man." A masked man, Bickslow stood in his way.
"Out of my way, Bickslow." Laxus growled.
"Okay." He laughed uneasily, moving out of the way.
"Laxus!" A brunette woman, Evergreen tried to follow him when he stormed out and slammed the door behind him.
A silence fell and the atmosphere thickened, worried expressions sweeping the hall as Laxus' footsteps receded out of earshot. Evergreen, Bickslow and Freed followed him hastily and people in the room returned to their business, feeling the tension in the air. Frowning deeply, Natsu turned to Makarov who was beginning to leave with Mirajane aiding him.
"Why'd you let him leave?" Natsu walked up to him.
"Please, Natsu, just let me rest." Makarov waved his hand.
"But he's your grandson; you couldn't have at least made him Guild Master on that ground?"
"Natsu, you know what he's done." Makarov turned to him. "He's reckless and too hard-headed to consider others in his actions."
"And you think Erza's any different?" Natsu chuckled.
"Hey!" She growled.
"Natsu, I've made my decision." Makarov headed for the door. "He's a grown man; if he wants to join another guild, then he can do it if he wants to."
Sighing, Natsu let Makarov and Mirajane leave the hall, walking past a worried Lucy as he moved up to the mission billboard. He began to search for jobs, sensing her come to his side as she tried to say something to him. He ripped a paper of the board and absentmindedly headed to the counter to get it stamped when Erza's voice came.
"As my first order of business, I'd like to take the entire guild out on a mission." She stood in the centre of the room. "Seeing as Mirajane, Laxus and the Thunder Legion aren't present, I'll excuse them from it."
"You're taking the entire guild on a mission?" Lucy raised her brow.
"What kinda mission is that? We hunting a demon?" Natsu walked up to her.
"We're going after Grandeeney!?" Wendy's voice rose in excitement.
"We're taking down a super powerful dark guild?" Gajeel folded his arms.
"We're going to pick up flowers and liven up the place?" Elfman smiled and everyone looked at him disapprovingly. "What?" He folded his arms. "Flowers are manly."
"No, they're the least manly thing in the world, big brother." Lisanna patted his shoulder. "Just sit down."
"Fine." He huffed.
"We're gonna find out how our first Guild Master Mavis died, but is still alive, but dead, but a ghost that only the guildmates can touch and see and nobody else can?" Warren stood up. "Cuz that's really, really weird." Mavis, a petite and blonde, elf-eared woman, was close to tears. "Not saying you're weird."
"Master Mavis' weirdness and anime writers' poor grasp of logic is not our mission." Erza frowned as Mavis started bawling. "We're –,"
"Are we gonna figure out why Natsu wins his fights on pure main character crap and the power of friendship?" Warren stood up again.
"Hey, watch it, pal!" Natsu clenched his fist.
"Enough!" Erza sighed. "We're going to stop a gang of thieves that's been going around stealing Lacrima." A cricket chirped.
"Uh, you do know we're all wizards, right?" Lucy raised her brow.
"We're stopping a gang of demons stealing pieces of Lacrima from ruins of the Tower of Heaven?" Natsu looked at Erza inquisitively.
"No." She pushed his face away from hers. "We're gonna be taking down a gang of thieves and we're doing it as a guild."
"Is the location dangerous maybe? Cuz I don't want to babysit a bunch of weaklings." Gajeel cocked his neck.
"Hey, we're not weak!" Jet, a brunette-haired man, raised his fist angrily.
"Guess you recognize yourself as one cuz I didn't mention your name." Gajeel chuckled.
"No, they've been robbing the Fiore Lacrima Enterprises repeatedly, taking the latest of their construction tech." Erza headed to the mission board.
"Uh, don't you think the whole guild is a lil overkill? I mean, they usually only send seven or ten of us to take on dark guilds, so wouldn't a gang of thieves be overmatched?" Lucy followed her.
"No, it would not be overkill; it'd be a good team building exercise." Erza ripped a paper off the board.
"Team building exercise? We don't need that crap." Natsu laughed. "Silly Erza, we're basically family. We don't fight, we don't argue; we don't have rumbles on a daily basis and I'm usually the voice of reason." He pocketed his hands and murmurs spread around. "We couldn't bond any further even if we were all merged into the same body."
"Liar!" Happy coughed.
"Hey, back me up, lil guy." Natsu turned to him.
"Nah, that basically sums up the load of crap you were spewing just now." Lucy chuckled. She turned to Erza. "Erza, you've gotta be kidding. A team building exercise? We don't have time for that." She walked up to her. "My rent's due in a month or so and I need to make some money."
"Yeah, how much are we gonna make if we do this job together anyway?" Gajeel took a seat.
"The prize is a 100, 000 Jewel, so we'll split it evenly amongst ourselves." Erza read the paper.
"A hundred thousand?" Laki, a purple-haired woman, shot up angrily. "Are you kidding me?" People in the room began to complain.
"C'mon, that barely covers my lunch." Natsu chuckled.
"Your lunch anyways." The obese Droy snickered as he took a bite of a large turkey leg.
"If I won that, I'd barely have anything left after paying my rent." Lucy frowned. "The Landlady raised it by seven thousand last month."
"Well, I'm sorry Lucy, but that's how things will work around here. We need to shape up and if we're gonna do that, then we'll need to progress as a team until we can take on S class or SS class missions that'd make us lots of money." Erza rolled up the paper.
"Moving up to S class? That'd take forever with these guys!" Lucy's eyes dilated in fear.
"We're still here, y'know!" Max frowned.
"Oh, man, I'm gonna get evicted. I'll end up on the streets." Lucy clasped her head in a panic. "I can't even afford the Fairy Hills, so where'll I end up? I'd end up moving in with Natsu."
"Cool." He grinned.
"And we all know he's not gonna give you any anytime soon." Mirajane walked passed her, giggling.
"Hey!" Natsu frowned.
"It's not like that!" Lucy frowned.
"Silence!" Erza stomped on the ground. "Orders are orders and my decision is final. If you have a problem with it, take it up with Laxus."
"Laxus?" Natsu's mouth fell agape.
"Now come, idiot." Erza draped her arm over his shoulder. "And let us set forth on our mission." She walked along with him, ignoring the confused gazes the others shot at her. "Now, now, no slacking off."
"Guess she's got a soft spot for Natsu for some reason." Gray raised his brow.
"Yeah, she even shared her beloved cake with him." Happy snickered. "She loves him." He teased.
"Oh, grow up, Happy!" Lucy frowned.
HOLDING A glowing Lacrima crystal carefully, a man in a leather jacket gingerly pulled it out of a display case and into a large duffle bag. Filling the pouch, he nodded to another man who stood across from him, a rifle in hand as he looked out the door. Traversing the expanse of the lab, the man lugged the bag around, careful to walk quietly as he moved up to his friend acting as sentry.
"I've got the stuff, call it in." His eyes darted around.
Fishing a communication Lacrima from his jacket pocket, the armed man dialled in the details for his call when the door suddenly went flying, slamming onto him. Pushing the frame aside, the man groaned as he saw who entered the room, reaching for his gun as the other man struggled to his feet. Natsu, Lucy, Erza, Gray, Gajeel and Happy entered the room, the blonde shaking her head as she looked at the pink-haired man in disapproval.
"Did you have to kick the door down?"
"What? I was making an entrance." Natsu chuckled.
"Well, your entrance will cost money if the guild's faced with the bill for property damage." She frowned.
"Look alive." Erza drew her sword.
Several men ran into the room, guns trained forward as they surrounded him. Seizing up the enemies, Lucy drew a key from her pocket and Gray held his hands at his side, placing a fist on his palm as a blue aura exuded from them. The men opened fire and the ice wizard shot his arms forward in the same position, creating an energy magic circle that appeared before him, spraying ice out of it and onto the ground, erecting a thick wall of ice that shielding them from the oncoming energy balls.
"Open, Gate of the Lion!" Lucy swung the key down, opening a magic circle before her. "Leo!" A puff of smoke exuded from it. "Get 'em!"
The smoke disappeared, revealing a young fiery haired boy with shades and clad in an over-sized black suit. Turning to him, Lucy screamed in surprise, startling him as he jerked back and took in his surroundings. Natsu and Erza hid behind the ice shield and shifted their gazes to him, bringing a chuckle to the pink-haired man.
"Loke, is that you?" Natsu stifled a laugh.
"What happened to you?" Lucy dragged him along and crouched behind the ice wall.
"What do you mean?" Loke raised his brow.
"Well, you're a kid." Lucy gestured to him.
Leaping over the wall, Gajeel ran toward the men through the volley of energy balls, completely unfazed by the onslaught. He held his fist at his side and an energy magic circle appeared over it, releasing iron that covered the appendage and moulded into a hammer. He smacked a man in the chest, knocking him over and kicked another in the head, rolling on the floor as he leg swept another man and hit his skull before he hit the ground, flinging him toward a wall nearby.
"So, this is the age I've changed into now, huh?" Loke looked at his hands, clenching and unclenching them.
"Will you tell me what's going on?!" Lucy pocketed the key.
"I'm sorry; I can't help you in the fight." He turned to her. "I doubt my childish body can generate enough magic."
"What happened to you?" Erza's brows stitched.
"I think you should deal with these guys first instead of talking."
"You read my mind." Natsu jumped over the ice wall and the energy balls pelted him.
"Natsu, that's dangerous!" Lucy turned to him.
"Relax, I've got dense skin." Natsu grinned. "Doubt a bunch of energy balls can penetrate my –," An energy ball hit him in the head. "Okay, that one hurt." He fell over, knocked out.
"Let's finish this." Erza stood up and held her arms outward. "Requip." A white light exuded from her body. "Flight Armour." The light receded from her body, leaving her clad in a cheetah printed bra with a white fur collar, black shorts, boots and brown arm guards and cat ears. "Well, I don't need swords for this."
She jumped out from the ice wall, traversing the expanse as she dodged the energy balls with immense ease, zooming across the room. Tackling them one at a time, she downed most of the men as she darted around at speeds that made her seem close to a blur. Gray stood up and held his hands at his side, a fist on a palm.
"Ice make – you know what." He pocketed one hand, waving his hand before him. Ice rose from the floor and encased the remaining gunmen, freezing them solid.
"I'm back on my feet." Natsu jumped up. "Fire Dragon Roar!"
He spat fire out of his mouth, enveloping most of the room in flame, damaging equipment, display cases and engulfing the walls in fire. Stopping the attack, he shifted his gaze around, confused as he completely missed the armed men and destroyed the lab. Turning to his left, he rubbed his head uneasily as his friends looked at him disapprovingly.
"Dammit, Natsu!" Gray walked up to him, grabbing his collar. "Do you know what you've just done?!"
"Geez, Gray, all I did was miss; it was an accident." Natsu chuckled.
"But your accident cost us our prize money!" Lucy frowned.
"We'll most likely have to dig into our own pockets to pay for the damage." Erza stood rose to her feet.
"Why'd we bring this idiot along?" Gajeel folded his arms.
"It was Erza's bright idea." Happy walked up to him. "Guess all the blood ran out of her brain and into her hair. And I thought Lucy was stupid."
"I swear, I'm gonna poison your fish on your birthday." Lucy sent him a murderous glare.
"You remembered?!" Happy looked at her in awe.
"Crap, we came here for nothing." Gray waved his arm around, making vapour exude from the ground and envelop the conflagration, snuffing it out. "I'll go thaw 'em out and we can take them to the police." He groaned.
"Ever wonder why they never do their jobs in anime?" Gajeel turned to him as he walked passed. "Kinda reminds me of Dragon Ball Z cuz Gohan didn't need to fight any of those thugs before Majin Buu attacked."
"Tell me about it." Natsu rolled his eyes.
"You're not off the hook; I've got a special punishment planned for you." Erza frowned.
"From her outfit, I've got a pretty good idea what the punishment will be." Happy chuckled.
"Shut it." She stepped on his face.
Gray thawed the men and Natsu and Gajeel came to his side, taking their weapons from them and leading them out of the room. Turning to her right, Lucy saw Loke seated in the spot where the ice wall was, balled over and staring into nothing. Walking up to him, she crouched, looking at him with worry as she saw terror in his eyes.
"Loke, what's wrong?" She placed her hand on his shoulder.
"I've seen the future." He didn't turn to her.
"What do you mean?"
"For over a week now, Celestial Spirits have been going to a different dimension after being summoned by their wizards."
"What? The Celestial Spirit World?"
"No, a different dimension entirely." He frowned. "A formless plane with no ground and filled with purple clouds."
"Is that why you're a kid now?" She sat beside him.
"The dimension is in the middle of several worlds and points in time; I've seen a lot of things." He sighed. "Our age keeps on changing and it feels like we're going to die, but we don't."
"How's that possible?" Her brows furrowed.
"I don't know." He huffed. "We go from old to young, then really old then really young; we never stay the same age for very long. It's happened to everyone and I've always feared coming here as a baby or an old man in the middle of a fight who can't do anything."
"But, how does your age change?" She raised her brow. "Aren't you supposed to be a spirit?"
"Guess it proves that I'm not." He shook his head. "Nothing's what I thought it was."
"You said you saw the future." She looked him in the eye. "What did you see?"
Welcome to the RealDone Universe. Hope you've enjoyed this chapter and are ready to explore our changes to the tale. Obviously, we've kept things intact, but some things are going to change definitely.
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