Test of Might
It was around evening when Natsu, his team and the two pirates named Usopp and Chopper reached the southwestern shore of Karuu Island where the large pirate vessel waited.
During the three and a half hours it took to walk through the forest the members of Fairy Tail learned more about the pirates and their world and the pirates, in turn, learned more about Earthland and magic. Conversations were a little awkward at first because the two pirates were still afraid of Natsu and the others – mainly Erza – but the uneasiness gradually went away as the two groups got a better understanding of one another.
The pirates, as spoken by Usopp, were known to be 'the most strongest and famous pirates' of their world, 'the Straw Hat Pirates'. There were currently nine members in their crew: the captain, Luffy; the captain's first mate and swordsman, Zoro; the navigator, Nami; 'the bravest and most accurate sharpshooter, the Great Captain Usopp' – why did he have 'Captain' in his title if he wasn't the actual captain? Natsu had wondered. The ship's cook was a man named Sanji; the ship's doctor was surprisingly Chopper the reindeer.
The talking animal didn't fail to demonstrate his knowledge of medicine. Along the trek through the old-growth forest, Chopper constantly paused to pick up medicinal herbs – hence the strong minty aroma coming from him – and explained in detail the special properties of each one when Happy asked. The blue feline got along fine with the furry pirate doctor – in fact, the two were fast friends. The two were very similar in a way: Both were around the same height excluding Chopper's hat and antlers; both were knowledgeable in their field of expertise and both carried a small backpack. Intrigued by one another the two animals often talked amongst themselves, giggling and laughing like kids (which Lucy thought was adorable).
The seventh member of the Straw Hat Pirates was Robin, an archaeologist and the eighth was Franky, the shipwright and also a 'cyborg'. A cyborg, according to Usopp, was half-man and half-machine, (much to Natsu's amazement). The last and most recent one to join their crew was Brook, also a swordsman but mainly a musician.
The mere nine pirates did not compare to the estimated one hundred pirates that had raided Karuu Port thirty-three years ago. The mayor overestimated the threat of the Straw Hat Pirates for they were more of an adventurous lot than a group of murderous thieves. Usopp's many interesting tales of his journey over the vast seas with his friends have left Natsu feeling a little envious of the pirates' grand adventures.
But what made Natsu greatly admire the Straw Hat Pirates was the story of how they battled through thousands of armed men in a fortified base, two giants and seven of some of the strongest people in their world government just to save a single friend.
If Natsu was in their captain's shoes, he would do the exact same thing to save one of his dear companions without having to think twice. Natsu understood them then; their determination; their desperation; their struggle to save one of their own – the Dragon Slayer absolutely knew how they felt. When Erza was arrested by the Magic Council… when Gray was foolishly willing to sacrifice his life… Natsu couldn't bear to lose one of his own. He had vowed to protect everyone even if it meant going against the Magic Council or powerful evil demons.
As Usopp and Chopper spoke of their captain's victory, Natsu couldn't help but respect their captain – that's why Natsu was going to challenge that Luffy to a friendly battle.
"No, you are not going to challenge anyone, Natsu," Erza had sternly told him when he spoke of his plan upon meeting the rest of Usopp's crew. "We have no time for that."
The Dragon Slayer pouted, looked off to the side in annoyance and grumbled, "There's plenty of time. Not like you need me to get those supplies with the pirates. Me and their captain can hang back and fight."
The scarlet-haired warrioress gave the fire mage a warning glance as she continued to lead the group. "And risk unnecessary injuries?"
"I'll hold back."
There was a whisper of "It's Luffy that needs to hold back…" coming from one of the pirates behind him. He snorted at them and ignored their comment.
Erza let out a tired sigh, facing forward once again. "No means no."
"I just want to see how strong he is."
"What if he attacks us?"
"Luffy wouldn't just randomly attack someone!" Chopper defended his captain.
Natsu shrugged, peering over his shoulder at the two pirates following behind him. "What if he had a reason?"
He saw Usopp frown a little with worry. "A reason? Like what?" the curly-haired boy carefully asked.
A wide, mischievous grin slowly spread across the Dragon Slayer's face when he thought of a brilliant plan, making Usopp's frown deepen. "Nevermind," was his answer, trying not to sound suspicious.
His smile disappeared and his attention was quickly back on Erza when she addressed him sharply with a sideways glare; "Natsu. There will be no unnecessary battles between Fairy Tail and the pirates. Do you understand?"
A shiver ran down his spine from her threatening tone. "Aye, aye!" he automatically replied, raising a hand into the air to portray his willingness to obey.
A tiny, satisfied smirk adorned his superior's lips before she returned her gaze forward.
That same evil smile returned on Natsu's face. "You're not going to listen, are you?" Lucy quietly groaned beside him.
He glanced over at her, slightly shocked at how fast she found him out. "How'd you know?"
The spirit mage rolled her eyes and stared at him sullenly. "It's all over your face."
It didn't seem like Erza had overheard Lucy or Natsu, much to the pink-haired boy's relief.
So when they arrived at the beach where the pirate's lion-faced ship, the Thousand Sunny, was waiting, Natsu's first question to Usopp was; "Is your captain back yet?"
After a moment's pause, the pirate boy shrugged. "Eh, it's pretty quiet," he answered, not regarding the sound of the lapping waves and singing gulls. "There's a good chance he's still lost on the island…"
Natsu sighed, feigning impatience when he was actually relieved. If he wanted to provoke the captain into a fight it had to be on solid land. Although the ship looked fun to ride, the mage dreaded the thought of taking one step on it.
"Is there a way to contact your captain?" questioned Erza as she stared out at the ship.
Looking thoughtful, the curly-haired boy scratched the back of his head and replied; "Well, I could shoot a couple flares into the sky. Maybe that could catch his attention?" He let out a short laugh. "For sure he'd be running back if he saw it – it's almost supper time."
The scarlet-haired mage nodded. "Then do so. The sooner we can discuss our plans, the sooner you would be able to return home."
"All right!" Usopp dug into the bag he carried and pulled out a green slingshot and three small red and round pellets. "Watch this! I'm known as the King of Sharpshooting! Flare Star!"
Fascinated, Natsu watched as the pirate launched one of the three pellets straight up over their heads. Seconds passed before it quietly exploded in brilliant red smoke, almost forming a star-shape.
"Oh! That's very high!" Happy praised, craning his neck to look skyward.
Usopp laughed mightily and brushed a finger under his nose as he wore a smug grin. "Of course! My marksmanship skills are unmatched! Flare Star!" He launched a second pellet into the air where it exploded once again at the same height as before. "Do you know why there are shooting stars? It's because I'm the one that shoots the stars down!"
"What? Really?" Natsu, Happy and Chopper exclaimed, extremely impressed by Usopp's ability.
The long-nosed pirate nodded with a wink, dabbing a thumb to his chest. "That's right! Only I can make shooting stars appear in our world!"
"Is that so?" Erza questioned, raising an eyebrow. "How about shooting one down tonight for us?"
Usopp nervously laughed as he scratched the back of his head. "Oh, well… You see… tonight's not going to be a good night. The wind's all wrong and the humidity isn't perfect… so… Yeah, not tonight."
Erza smirked in amusement while Natsu, Happy and Chopper groaned in disappointment.
The final pellet was shot shortly after, continuing to impress the watching group. "Hopefully both of our lost crew members can see the flares," said Usopp, scanning over the trees of the forest. He smiled at the mages. "So do you guys want to see our ship?"
"Aye!" Happy chirped with a raised paw. His eyes shining with excitement as he gazed across the ocean at the anchored ship. "I want to ride it!"
Natsu, on the other hand, cringed at the thought of stepping foot on it. Just seeing the ship bobbing up and down on the waves made his stomach twist uncomfortably.
Lucy was first to notice his queasiness. "Motion sickness already? You're not even on it yet!" Lucy exclaimed with a frown.
Natsu gestured at the ship. "I can see it!" he snapped irritably. He quickly turned away from the ocean and focused instead on the forest. "You guys go ahead, I'll stay here and wait till the captain returns."
From the corner of his eye, he saw Erza cross her arms at him but she didn't say anything. She instead started to walk down the beach to the water's edge.
"Wow, your motion sickness is that bad?" Chopper asked in bewilderment, trotting up to the pink-haired boy.
"Any form of transportation is his weakness. He even gets sick when someone carries him," Lucy had to add.
"Wow! Really?" Chopper sounded even more shocked at that fact.
Annoyed at the mockery he was receiving for his one weakness, the Dragon Slayer angrily huffed. "It's just a minor setback for me, all right?" he growled at everyone.
He glared at the half-naked Gray who was snickering at Natsu's misery. The idiot ice-user had chosen to tie his shirt around his waist hours ago so he wouldn't subconsciously take it off and lose it. "The hell are you laughing at, bastard?" Natsu lowly snarled at the stupid dark-haired mage.
Gray sneered at him, his dark blue eyes glinting with amusement. "You. Who else?" he evenly replied. "You're so pathetic. We're going to be out at sea for a couple days at least – how're you going to last?"
Natsu was about to retort but instead groaned at the terrible thought of sailing across the sea once again. And it wasn't just for one day… How was he going to survive the ocean especially if they run into a storm like the one the pirates had encountered? He plopped onto his back, (which was uncomfortable due to his backpack), on the warm sand and stared up at the sky in despair.
"Uh, Natsu…" the reindeer quietly spoke his name. The boy sulkily turned his head towards the animal beside him. "I have some medicine that might make you feel better."
Hearing that, the pink-haired mage perked up a little. "Medicine?" he questioned, rising onto his elbows.
Chopper nodded. "Sometimes one of us will get sea sick so I always have medicine prepared."
"Oh! That sounds great!" Happy cried out, leaping onto the fire mage's shoulder. "You'll be able to ride the ship, Natsu!"
Feeling hopeful, the Dragon Slayer jumped to his feet, nearly throwing his companion off. "That'd be cool. The ship does look fun!" he told the doctor.
Gray snorted at him. "Well, I guess you won't be so useless in the ocean after all."
"Oh, shut up." Natsu would have kicked the moron in the head if Erza wasn't looking their way.
The reindeer smiled. "I'll go grab you some, Natsu!" Chopper dashed towards Usopp who was standing near the water, calling out at the ship.
"Hey! Hello! We're back! Hey!"
After hearing no reply Usopp yelled again; "Anyone?" The pirate scratched the back of his head. "I wonder where everyone is? They should've seen the flares," he murmured after a moment of silence. "I guess we can't get back on the ship for now." He looked apologetically at each member of Fairy Tail.
"Didn't you guys use a boat to row to shore?" Lucy asked, looking around the beach.
Usopp chuckled and shook his head. "Err, no… Our captain actually flung us to shore. So the only way back is to either wait for him to return or wait until someone on the ship sees us."
"I could fly each of you there!" Happy suggested, taking flight on feathered wings to demonstrate.
The two pirates, (having already seen Happy's transformation earlier when each member of Fairy Tail showed off their magic), were still amazed by the fact that the cat could fly. "Oh! I almost forgot you could do that! So awesome!" Chopper exclaimed.
Gray stepped forward. "Better yet, I'll make a bridge," he said. And he did so within a blink of an eye. A long, simple arcing bridge made of white-blue ice stretching from the sandy beach to the anchored ship was instantly made. "That way you don't have to use so much magic, Happy."
More sounds of amazement came from the pirates; "Cool!", "Wow!" and "That's really amazing!" were uttered from the two.
Chopper and Usopp stood by the glacial bridge. "Is it safe to walk on?" the reindeer asked, staring and prodding at the magic creation with fascination.
Gray had already started walking across it. "Yeah. I made the ice rough so you won't slip so easily," he answered with a boastful grin. "Come on, let's check your ship out."
"Okay! I'll give you guys a grand tour of the Thousand Sunny!" Usopp announced with much enthusiasm as he took the lead.
"Oh! It's really cold!" Chopper commented with a shiver after taking a few steps on the ice.
Erza gave Natsu a slight nod before crossing the sea with the others.
Happy peered over at Natsu, frowning with guilt. Knowing what his friend was thinking, the Dragon Slayer waved him off. "Go with them, Happy. I'll be waiting here," he told the hesitant feline.
"Are you –"
"Yeah. Go. The lil' doctor says he'll bring me some medicine, right? Make sure he does." He emphasized the last part.
"Aye, aye!" With a giggle, the Exceed ran after the others.
The last to stay was Lucy who gave him a small pitiful look. "You're going to hang back here?" she needlessly asked.
Natsu snorted. "Hell, I'm not boarding that ship yet."
Her expression changed to suspicion. "You just want to fight the captain, don't you?"
The Dragon Slayer sneered devilishly. "You could say that's one of the reasons." Before Lucy could say anything to that, Natsu gave her a serious look and said, "Could you do me a favour?"
Unnerved, the spirit mage cautiously asked with a raised eyebrow, "What sort of favour?"
Natsu glanced over her shoulder at their superior's armored back. He lowered his voice. "Could you stall Erza for a while?"
The blonde girl's face quickly morphed into a horrified expression. "S-Stall? Erza?" she nearly shrieked. It was a good thing Usopp was chatting away over by the ship and keeping everyone's attention. "You know that's impossible!" Lucy waved her hands for emphasis.
The pink-haired boy crossed his arms and shook his head at her. "Just keep her from noticing anything on the beach. Simple."
"It is not simple."
Natsu didn't see how it could be any difficult. Wanting to help her lack of confidence, he grabbed her shoulders, turned her around and gave her a little shove. "I know you can do it," he encouraged, giving her protesting face an assuring grin.
Lucy sighed deeply in defeat and started to sulk as she trudged towards the bridge.
Calmly, Natsu watched as the pirates and the rest of his team ascended a newly formed glacial staircase to hop onto the ship's deck. He could hear the sounds of awe and wonder coming from his friends. He smiled even though he wasn't there to join in on their fun.
Now that Erza was on the ship and hopefully Lucy was keeping her occupied, all Natsu had to do was wait for the captain of the Straw Hats to arrive.
He faced the forest, cracking his knuckles and neck to ready himself for an upcoming battle. Luffy was strong – Usopp had stated it – had practically called his captain a 'monster' in terms of how powerful he truly was. Although their world lacked magic there existed a power that, in a way, was similar to magic that one could gain by eating a special fruit: a Devil Fruit.
There were many different Devil Fruits that granted many different abilities. Chopper was amazingly a reindeer that ate one of those Devil Fruits, the Human-Human Fruit – hence why he could speak in the human tongue and transform into a humanoid form (which was very awesome). And Brook, Chopper had warned them, was someone that may appear frightening at first because he was a living skeleton due to the late effects of the Revive-Revive Fruit that granted its user another life after getting killed (which sounded very awesome).
Apparently the captain also had a power of a Devil Fruit – the Gomu-Gomu Fruit – that made his body like that of rubber.
Intrigued, Natsu wanted to see how Luffy's ability worked in battle and test how it fared against his ancient magic.
It wasn't long when he heard numerous voices, ones he didn't recognize, coming from the ship. Someone yelled what sounded like a drawled out "Super!"amongst the chattering of people. From what he could hear, Natsu surmised that the others have met the rest of the pirates that were hiding in the ship. Curious, the Dragon Slayer glanced back at the Thousand Sunny but of course couldn't see much happening from where he stood.
He did, however, see something black that also resembled a person get thrown off the ship. There was a horrified scream of "Sanji!" followed by a mix of laughter and frightened shrieks. Soon, another black thing – more scrawny than the other – was also thrown overboard with a splash followed by a scream of "Brook too!"
"What the hell?" Natsu muttered in confusion.
Dumbfounded, he watched as the person with blond hair surfaced the waves, hollering out in a sing-song tone: "Oh, the stinging sensation of an iron fist from such a lovely lady is the most wonderful feeling I've ever felt!"
"Save Brook!" someone cried.
Natsu was about to cross the ice bridge to get a clear answer to what was happening when he noticed Happy flying back towards him with Chopper in tow. Both the feline and the little reindeer wore a panicked expression as if they were running away for their lives.
Sensing danger, Natsu rushed to meet up with them by the water's edge. "What's going on?" he asked urgently.
"It's Erza!" Happy exclaimed, dropping Chopper onto the wet sand before landing beside Natsu.
The boy narrowed his eyes. "She's in danger?"
He started to dash across the ice bridge but stopped suddenly when both talking animals yelled out: "No! She's scary!"
Despite the ice being rough, Natsu still slipped from forcing himself to stop. His face smacked the cold surface and he moaned in pain.
He sat up abruptly, rubbing his sore, cold face and checked to make sure his nose wasn't bleeding. He looked at the animals quizzically.
"She punched Sanji and Brook overboard!" Chopper was first to explain.
Sanji… who was that again? The cook? And the skeleton, Brook? Natsu glanced behind him and saw the man with blond hair and dressed in black swimming back towards the ship with another individual with black hair.
"And why'd she do that?" the Dragon Slayer slowly asked.
"Sanji tried to hit on her," was Happy's reply.
Nearly every male in Fiore knew that they would be forfeiting their life if they ever tried to hit on Titania. Natsu could clearly remember the time when Loke was nearly beaten to death after attempting to seduce Erza with his good looks and flirty behaviour.
So it came to a surprise when Natsu saw the man named Sanji was still conscious and moving after getting punched by Erza Scarlet. "Wow, he can sure take a hit…" the mage murmured, overly impressed. It was unfortunate that the other guy was knocked out cold from what Natsu could tell.
"And Brook! He… He… He's really a talking skeleton, Natsu!"Happy exclaimed, eyes wide with awe and wonder.
Natsu jumped to his feet. "Whoa! Really? That's cool! Is that why Erza punched him too?"
The two animals shook their heads. "No… Brook wanted to uh, see her… um…" The Exceed trailed off, looking nervously to the side as if embarrassed.
"Panties." Chopper finished in a whisper.
With a horrified yelp, Natsu fell back down. "Her what?"
No wonder the poor guy got knocked right out from one punch. No one in their right mind has ever made such a bold move on Titania and lived to tell the tale. Was it possible to kill a skeleton?
He blinked, suddenly realizing something. "Hey, what happened to no 'unnecessary injuries'?"
It wasn't fair that Erza could go back against her own word.
Happy gave him a sullen look. "She said it was an act of reflex…"
The pink-haired mage cringed, knowing how dangerous her reflexes were. He sighed and got off the ice bridge to walk back onto the warm sand.
"We're going to wait here with you," said Happy, glancing fearfully at the ship. It was obvious he was afraid of Erza at the moment.
Chopper soundly agreed. "Less dangerous!" The reindeer then took his small backpack off and searched inside. "Here, Natsu." He brought out a small clear bottle filled with brown tablets. "Take two of these pills when you feel sea sick."
With a smile, Natsu took the bottle and examined the contents. "Do they really work?"
"Of course! Everyone who has ever been sea sick always felt fine after taking them." Chopper soon frowned as he brought a hoofed hand up to his chin in thought. "Since your case of motion sickness is so severe, the effect of the pills would most likely last four to five hours at most with each dosage."
"I'll be free of motion sickness for hours?" Natsu was shocked by the duration of the medicine's effects.
The reindeer nodded. "It does take a little while before it starts to work… maybe five minutes or so? So you should take them before you board our ship."
"Wow, that's awesome! You're an amazing doctor!"
"Aye, aye! The greatest doctor!" Happy added.
Wendy's magic only lasted for about ten minutes at most but the effect was instantaneous. The delay didn't really matter though; if the medicine cured his motion sickness then he wasn't going to complain.
The reindeer seemed to glow with pleasure from Natsu's and Happy's praises however Chopper oddly insulted them in return. "What the hell are you talking about, you assholes? Bastards! Shut up!"
The Dragon Slayer quirked an eyebrow while Happy giggled at the pirate's weird behavior.
Once Chopper settled down, Natsu placed the bottle of pills into the side pocket of his backpack for easy accessibility. "Is your captain back on the ship?" Natsu inquired, looking around the beach and scanning the forest for any sign of said captain.
"No. He and Zoro are still on the island."
The fire mage grinned. "Perfect."
"What's perfect?" his feline companion asked, curiously.
Natsu raised a fist before him and looked down at his two shorter friends. "I'm going to challenge Captain Luffy to a fight."
Both animals gasped. "But didn't you promise Erza…?" Happy started to say but was interrupted.
"No, I didn't promise her – I only agreed not to get into any unnecessary fights and this fight is not unnecessary; it's a must!" Natsu sneered at the forest in anticipation. "Luffy's strong right? And I like strong guys. Especially guys who fight to protect their friends."
Happy smiled, understanding Natsu's motive. Chopper however, still seemed appalled by the idea.
"I want to see if I can trust him," the Dragon Slayer continued.
Chopper looked wildly confused. Happy took the opportunity to elaborate. "Natsu wants to see how strong your captain is so he would know if he can trust Luffy if we ever end up in a pinch!"
The reindeer's eyes widened with a knowing nod. "Oh! I see now!"
"Great!" Natsu crouched down so he was at an even level with the two animals. "Now, there's something I need you two to do…"
Natsu wasn't sure how long he, Happy and Chopper waited at the beach for the captain. The sun was setting by the time the trio finished building a huge sand castle just for fun.
Shortly after putting the finishing touches on their sand building, Natsu heard a strange noise coming from the forest's direction. It was an odd rumbling sound. Sometimes there were low, drawn-out moans.
"What is that?" Natsu asked, dusting the sand off his hands and clothes.
He noticed Chopper's ears twitch at the noises, listening intently atop the sand castle alongside Happy. "I know that sound!" the doctor cried out happily. "It's Luffy's hungry stomach!"
Natsu clenched a fist before him in anticipation. "Your captain, eh? Finally! Get into position, guys!"
"Aye, aye!" both animals quietly whispered. Amusingly, Chopper mimicked Happy's raised paw gesture. The pair soundly shuffled around, stifling their laughter to prepare for their rehearsed act.
The Dragon Slayer stood waiting before the gate of the sand castle, arms crossed and eyes narrowed to look intimidating.
The first thing Natsu noticed about the approaching captain of the pirate ship was the desperation in his voice as he cried for meat. Then the mage saw the red vest and blue shorts breaking through the trees of the thinning forest.
With sharp eyes, Natsu observed the one named Luffy. The pirate captain was unexpectedly young – appearing just as old as Natsu. Scrawny too, with lanky arms and legs . Short dark hair was covered by a familiar straw hat. There was a noticeable scar beneath the boy's left eye.
Following behind the captain was a man – probably the one named Zoro that Chopper and Usopp had often mentioned was their swordsman. After all, the man did carry three sheathed swords by his waist. Taller than the pirate boy, the young man was physically muscular beneath the white shirt. Uncommonly, the swordsman's hair was green in colour. Natsu wrinkled his nose at the repulsive stench of steel and sweat coming from him.
The two pirates slowed in their – in Luffy's case: dragging – steps when they saw Natsu on the beach.
"Hey, are you Captain Luffy?" Natsu demanded, pointing a finger at the skinny pirate.
Luffy slightly tilted his head, studying the mage. "Yeah, that's me – Whoa!" His eyes suddenly widened at something behind the Dragon Slayer. "Nice sand castle! Did you make that? Oh hey! Chopper! What are you doing up there? That looks fun!"
Natsu stumbled at the captain's lack of acknowledgment to the situation at hand.
"L-Luffy! Help me!" Chopper cried out, playing his part.
"Help you?" Luffy pursed his lips and raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah! These guys… they've taken over our ship!"
"What?" the man named Zoro exclaim. His eyes narrowed dangerously on Natsu, his hands shifting to grasp the hilts of two of his swords. "It was Usopp who shot those flares then?"
"Yes! E-Everyone's been captured!"
The swordsman silently swore under his breath when he saw Gray's ice bridge connecting the shore to their ship. "Luffy," he spoke his captain's name, a hint of urgency in his tone.
The pirate captain, now focused on Natsu, simply nodded with a short grunt.
Zoro, with two swords drawn, made a dash for the ice bridge – which made Natsu mentally curse.
"H-Hey! Wait!" the Dragon Slayer hollered at the green-haired pirate, fearing his plan ruined and ultimately sending the wrong intention from Fairy Tail. Erza would definitely kill him.
"Zoro! Wait!" Chopper screamed out in a nervous panic. "Happy – uh, I mean this evil cat will kill me if you leave! Right?"
Happy let out what was supposed to be a maniacal laugh. "That's right! Don't move!" The Exceed had his claws extended right near the reindeer's face.
"Cool! A talking blue cat!" Luffy suddenly cried out with sparkling eyes, making Natsu falter slightly. "Look, Zoro! A talking cat!"
The swordsman skid to a stop, nearly slipping on the ice, and glared back at Happy. "Yeah… and it has Chopper as a hostage, Luffy," Zoro lowly growled, cautiously making his way back on the sand.
Natsu stepped forward and dabbed a thumb towards the doctor being held by Happy. "If you want to save your friend, you, Captain Luffy, must fight me first," he challenged with a vicious sneer, showing his fangs for added effect.
The captain straightened, his face turning into an angry scowl. "Who are you?" Luffy demanded, fists clenched at his sides. "What do you want?"
"I am Natsu Dragneel and what I only want is to fight you."
"Did you hurt any of my friends?"
Luffy's scowl deepened, his eyes eerily glowing red with the light of the setting sun.
Still sneering, Natsu evenly met the pirate's gaze.
Again without even a glance at his first mate, Luffy said, "Zoro, leave this to me."
The swordsman sheathed his weapons and stepped back without a moment of hesitation. "All right."
Luffy flexed his fingers, cracking the bones of each joint before shifting into a fighting position. Natsu did the same after stepping away from the sand castle.
"Show me what you got," Natsu challenged.
The battle began instantly with Luffy throwing his right arm backwards that, if Natsu's eyes weren't deceiving him, seemed to stretch far beyond the normal human length. "Gomu Gomu no…" the captain began to say before shouting out, "Pistol!"
Intrigued by the pirate's strange ability, Natsu barely dodged the rapidly incoming fist that flew straight for his face. He felt the captain's solid knuckles brush by his right cheek followed by the rushing wind. His eyes followed the stretching fist behind him before it suddenly retracted back to Luffy, becoming a normal arm again. "Wow… that's so cool," Natsu quietly commented in awe. So this was the power of a Devil Fruit in battle.
Anxious to see what more Luffy could do, Natsu taunted, "That's it?"
Luffy may have noticed the Dragon Slayer's look of wonderment because the pirate suddenly grinned. "Oh, you want to have some fun," he stated more than asked.
The Dragon Slayer smirked. "You betcha."
"Then get ready for this!" Luffy flung both arms back now, stretching them once more beyond normal human lengths. "Gomu Gomu no…"
Natsu fell into a defensive stance, ready to dodge or if needed, block, the next attack.
The captain stepped forward and hollered out, "Bazooka!"
Two open palms were flying fast in Natsu's direction. The mage twisted away, feeling the gust of wind caused by the incredible speed of Luffy's attack rush by him. Even when Natsu was ready for it, it was still a very close call.
The Dragon Slayer took the advantage of Luffy's miss. He sprang forward before the pirate's arms could retract.
It was his turn to show the pirate his moves. Propelled by his flames, he was right beside Luffy in an instant. "Fire Dragon's Claw!" he roared, lashing out with a flaming kick aimed at his opponent's stomach.
However, the Dragon Slayer only grazed the pirate's belly for the captain amazingly dodged backwards with a startled yelp.
There was a worried cry of "Luffy!" coming from Chopper.
"Ow! Hot! Hot!" Luffy cried out as he stumbled back, patting at the small burn on his stomach. He then glowered at the Dragon Slayer, staring intently at the flames that still shrouded Natsu's feet. "A Devil Fruit?"
"No. It's magic," Natsu simply told him, vanquishing his flames as he fell into a defensive stance.
Luffy's eyes widened. "Oh. Like Usopp's magic tricks?"
The Dragon Slayer angrily snorted, blowing out smoke from his nostrils. "It's not a trick, dumbass! It's real magic!"
"Eh?" The pirate captain tilted his head to the side and covered his singed stomach. "Your magic trick does feel real… That's pretty cool!"
Off to the side, Natsu heard the swordsman sigh. "Luffy, whatever trick it is, it's best you avoid getting hit by it," Zoro advised.
"It's not a trick!" Natsu roared at the two idiot pirates, igniting his body aflame. "It's magic!"
"How interesting." Luffy straightened his hat, his eyes glinting with newfound excitement. "Magic, huh?"
"That's right. I'm a mage from Fairy Tail, pirate. So get ready 'cuz things are gonna heat up!" He launched at the captain headfirst, his body still engulfed in orange fire. "Fire Dragon's Sword Horn!" Natsu's flames only licked the bottom of the captain's sandals as the Dragon Slayer flew below the leaping pirate.
Forced to twist around, Natsu dug his heels into the sand to slow his momentum. At that moment, Luffy, still in the air, had spun around and clapped his two sandaled feet together to form a point with his toes. "Gomu Gomu no Spear!" His legs stretched just like his arms, aiming straight for Natsu.
The Dragon Slayer blasted to the side before the captain's feet struck the sandy ground, tossing the sand upwards and making a crater.
When Luffy landed, he already had his right arm stretched far behind him.
Recognizing the attack, Natsu stood ready and pulled back his own fist that was swallowed in hot flames.
"Gomu Gomu no…"
Both pirate and mage took one step to throw their fists forward.
Their fists collided with a powerful impact, sending a shockwave around them that blew away the sand.
To Natsu, it felt like his knuckles slammed into a solid steel wall. If his fist wasn't protected with magical flames that forced Luffy to pull back quickly, Natsu was certain every bone in his hand would be broken if Luffy followed through with his punch.
Both fighters drew their hands back in pain.
"Hot! Hot! Hot!" Luffy waved his smoking, burned hand in the air.
"Augh! Ow!" Meanwhile, Natsu cradled his sore, broken knuckles.
The Dragon Slayer was too distracted by the pain that he barely heard Happy screech his name.
"Wha –" He was cut short when he turned around only to see a fast-moving metal fist aimed right for his face. The pain he felt was brief because everything went black after all.
A/N: I'm really amazed at the attention this story has received since I've posted it! Thank you, everyone! Really, I was shocked at the number of favs and alerts over the past few weeks! It's nice to see so many people interested.
I hope I didn't disappoint with this chapter. As you can tell, Brook from One Piece isn't included which implies that for the One Piece arcs, it takes place after Enies Lobby and before Thriller Bark. For Fairy Tail, after the Edolas arc and before the S-Trials. I wanted to include Brook but in order to do so Zoro would still be badly injured and having a severely injured Zoro would weaken the pirates by a tad, don't you think?
Edit: I'm sure you all noticed that Brook is now among the crew so the One Piece arc takes place after Thriller Bark!
Anyway, once again, please tell me what you think of the story so far. I hope the dialogue between characters aren't too boring - I am trying to avoid pointless banter. But if you think some parts were unnecessary, do let me know.
Thanks for reading!