Chapter 3: Galuna Island
Ben remained in the main hall for a while longer, continuing to mull over everything that happened today. Eventually, he thought he might finally be able to get some sleep.
"I guess I should head off to bed too." He muttered.
The teen hero was about to stand up and head off to the back section until he noticed something moving inside the guild hall. It was dark, but not so dark that he couldn't make things out. He looked up, to see Happy, floating close to the ceiling using his wings, clearly trying to be inconspicuous. He saw the blue feline fly to the upper floor of the guild hall, which immediately raised a flag in Ben's mind.
A few moments later, he saw Happy flying away from the second floor and towards an open window, carrying a piece of paper in his paws. Ben waited for the flying cat to exit through the window before standing up, his suspicions raised immensely. He had no doubt in his mind that what Happy just flew off with was one of the S-Class quests Mirajane told him about earlier.
"This can't be good..." Ben stated.
Meanwhile, Lucy was currently walking through Magnolia on her way down the stone-paved path back to her apartment as she thought to herself excitedly.
'Wow! Mystogan and Laxus! That is so cool. I can't believe how many famous wizards there are in Fairy Tail!' She grinned slyly. "And I think I'm starting to figure out how everybody's ranked within the guild."
As she entered her apartment building, which appeared not much different from your average house, she continued to talk out loud to herself.
"Gotta start workin' my way to the top!" she proclaimed.
With that, Lucy turned the doorknob to her apartment and opened the door. However, what she found inside was unlike anything she expected. There, on her bed, was both Natsu and Happy, the fire-breather having abandoned his vest and was doing sit-ups and the blue feline lifting a large dumbbell, or at least for his size anyway.
"Welcome home!" Natsu greeted, doing sit-ups.
"Sup?" Happy resumed lifting his dumbbell.
"AAAAAAAAHHHH!" Lucy rushed over to Natsu and Happy and kicked them both out of her bed, much to their discomfort and pain. "YOU GUYS STINK!"
As Natsu and Happy got up off the floor, Lucy angrily pointed out the window. "Why don't you jerks work out at your own house?!"
Natsu grinned happily. "Now, Lucy, if we wanna work together like a team-" He pulled out a pink dumbbell, "-we gotta train like one!"
"We thought you'd like the pink dumbbell." Happy added.
"I DON'T CARE WHAT COLOR IT IS, I'M NOT LIFTING WEIGHTS WITH YOU!" Lucy yelled angrily.
Ignoring Lucy's angry outburst, Natsu and Happy then get on the floor, and began doing pushups.
"We gotta kick it up a notch if we wanna beat Laxus and Erza. And Ben too!" Natsu claimed.
"Aye, sir." Happy agreed.
"I just want a little peace and quiet, now GET OUT!" Lucy demanded.
Natsu and Happy then begin doing pushups at a faster rate, both of them now whispering as they talk, and picking up greater speed with their pushups by the second.
"Don't worry, we'll train quietly, Lucy!" Natsu whispered.
"Why does this kinda stuff always happen to me...?!" Lucy cried comically.
Natsu then ceased his pushups with Happy following his example. For a brief moment, everything was silent, until the fire wizard spoke, "I've made a decision..."
Lucy turned back to Natsu, a puzzled look on her face with Natsu turning up to look at her, wearing his usual confident grin.
"Our team is ready for the big time: S-Class!" he declared zealously.
With that, Happy hopped up onto Lucy's desk and held up a piece of paper that had a large, red circle stamped on it with a large "S" in the middle and the word "Class" next to it. The circle had a stylized pair of both angelic and demonic wings on it.
"Yeah! Check it out!" Happy said.
Upon seeing the flier for what was undoubtedly an S-Class quest, Lucy's eyes nearly bulged out of her head as she took an unconscious step back.
"HOW DID YOU GET THAT?!" Lucy cried, mortified. "I THOUGHT WE WEREN'T ALLOWED TO GO ON THE SECOND FLOOR!"
"Well, I just flew up to the top, and took it!"
"YOU LITTLE CAT BURGLAR!" she yelled.
A cheeky grin spread across Happy's face from Lucy's reaction. Natsu put his vest back on and approached the two.
"Since this is our first S-Class quest, we decided to go with the smallest reward we found on the board." He grinned happily and gave a thumbs-up. "But seven million is still a lot of Jewel!"
Lucy turned to Natsu and stated, "But we're not ready for it! If the Master knew we had this job request, he'd be furious!"
"Yeah, but I think he'll end up being proud of us if we actually pull it off." he retorted nonchalantly.
Lucy simply sighed in irritation as she sat down at her desk and crossed her legs, her palm resting on her cheek.
"You know," said Lucy, "this may be the dumbest thing you've ever done, Natsu. If you wanna rise up the ranks, you should try following the guild's rules."
"Geez, we're never gonna make S-Class with that kinda attitude." Natsu grumbled.
"You can handle this on your own. I'm staying right here." asserted Lucy.
Happy held up the flier and mentioned, "But the job is saving a tropical island!"
This caught Lucy's attention as she looked at the paper curiously. "Really?"
Natsu leaned on the desk as he and Happy both stare at the blond wizard silently for a moment, until their expressions both grow intentionally darker. They spoke in the typical "ghostly" voice, thoroughly creeping Lucy out.
"It's the cursed island of Galuna...!" Natsu and Happy said simultaneously.
"No way! Definitely not going now!" Lucy freaked out.
"I'll give you half the fish I catch, Lucy...!" Happy goaded.
"WHAT KINDA INCENTIVE IS THAT SUPPOSED TO BE?!" the blonde yelled.
Lucy then calms herself and folds her arms, having had enough of her two friends' antics. "Hmph..."
Seeing that their attempts to convince her were of no use, the Dragon Slayer and feline finally decided to leave. However, instead of opening the door to do so, they opened the window by Lucy's bed.
"Fine." relented Natsu. "We're outta here."
"Aye," Happy chimed.
"That's the best idea you've had all day." Lucy commented. She opened her eyes and saw the method in which Natsu and Happy were leaving. Happy sprouted his wings and flew out with Natsu grabbing onto the blue cat's tail as the two floated to the ground.
"Hold on...!" Lucy pointed angrily to the door. "For crying out loud, would you use the door?!"
Lucy then turned around, huffed, and placed her hands on her hips, seemingly exhausted simply by those two having been in her apartment. However, she then glanced to her right and noticed something. The S-Class flier was still lying on the floor!
"Oh no! They left the job request here!" Lucy placed her hands on her head in panic. "Now everybody's gonna think I'm the one who stole it! What'll I do?!"
Just then, Lucy's eyes widened when she looked at the flier again. She then picked it up and examined it more thoroughly; growing even more surprised once she'd done so. "Is this for real? On top of the giant reward, you also get a Gate Key?!"
On the flier right below the listed reward of seven million, there was the silhouette drawing of a key, which read "Gold" next to it. Lucy hummed in thought for a second before smiling slyly.
Natsu and Happy, the former of whom wearing what appeared to be a brown sleeping bag strapped over his arms, were walking over the bridge directly in front of Lucy's apartment building; though it looked like they were moving at a slower pace than they normally would have. They were simply biding their time, until...
"Wait up, you guys! I've decided to come along!" Lucy called out.
There she was, rushing to catch up with her two friends, and now wearing a sleeveless, orange, zip-up tank top with a white trim and white straps, as well as a blue jean skirt. She was carrying the S-Class flier, leading Natsu and Happy to grin, seeing now that their plan had worked.
And with that, Lucy, Natsu, and Happy were off, walking through Magnolia with their spirits high in anticipation of this S-Class quest. Lucy may have objected at first, but with the promise of a Gold Gate Key, her objections practically vanished.
"So, it looks like we're off to Hargeon then!" Lucy said happily.
"Yep!" Natsu grinned. "Man, I'm so excited! This is gonna be awesome! Right, Happy?"
"Aye, sir!" Happy replied.
Lucy's eyes then widened slightly as a thought crossed her mind. She turned to Happy with a somewhat concerned expression. "So you're sure nobody saw you make off with this request?" she asked hesitantly.
Happy smiled and responded, "Positive!"
"Relax, Lucy!" Natsu assured. "Who would've seen him take it? It's not like people hang out at the guild overnight."
Lucy stopped walking as Natsu and Happy continued, staring at the two incredulously. "Seriously...? Did you idiots already forget that Ben is staying at the guild, and that Master Makarov is staying there too?"
Natsu and Happy stopped dead in their tracks. The two then turned to each other with blank, wide-eyed expressions, clearly having forgotten all about Ben.
"I'd say that's pretty obvious." An eerie voice said.
The Fairy Tail trio nearly jumped out of their skin when they heard this new voice. They swung to their left and looked up, to see an individual, cloaked in blue, sitting on a rooftop looking down at them. They'd seen that blue and black figure before. It was during Natsu's fight with Ben. It was the icy, vapor-breathing alien known as Big Chill!
"BEN?!" the trio shouted.
Without saying a word, Big Chill unfolded his wings, shoved himself off the roof, and floated gently to the ground. He then looked down at the three wizards before him as he was a good foot-or-so taller than them. Needless to say, the trio was still nervous, especially now that Ben was standing directly in front of them.
Natsu and Happy pulled themselves together well enough, but Lucy was still visibly shaking. She'd seen what Ben did to Natsu earlier, and she did not want to be on the receiving end of any one of his transformations.
"Ben...! Wh-what are you doing here?" Lucy asked nervously.
"I could ask you the same question." Big Chill retorted.
Lucy flinched for a second upon hearing Big Chill's response. His insect-like appearance wasn't exactly what she'd consider to be welcoming, especially at this time of night. His naturally eerie voice didn't do anything for her growing anxiety either.
"Well... Y-you see, we were just-" Lucy stammered.
"I saw Happy flying off with the S-Class job." Big Chill cut in. "Don't try to hide it."
Lucy turned to Happy angrily. "WHY DIDN'T YOU SCOUT THE GUILD HALL FIRST?!"
Big Chill simply sighed with a cold mist coming from his teeth as he crossed his arms. "What happened to, 'No amount of money is worth risking your life over'?"
Lucy shifted her gaze away timidly. "Well, you see, I..."
Natsu then stepped forward, his fists clenched and his face and overall features full of determination. "But it's not just about the money, man! We gotta do somethin' to prove ourselves! If we pull this thing off, then Gramps is sure to make us S-Class!"
The Necrofriggian stared at Natsu for a moment with narrowed eyes. He hadn't known the Dragon Slayer for more than a day, but he already had a decent gauge of him. Natsu was the kind of person to break the rules, but only if he thought everything would work out in the end, and that nobody would get hurt. He cared about other people too much for that. However, based on what he's learned about his newly-acquired pyromaniac of a friend, and what Mirajane told him earlier about these S-Class quests, he was most likely in over his head.
Big Chill then reached up and tapped the Omnitrix dial on his chest, turning back to Ben in a flash of green. He then held out his hand to Lucy, who was still holding onto the job request.
"Lemme see it." He demanded.
"But why...?" Happy asked.
"Because I wanna know how far in over your heads you guys are." He answered.
Lucy, who was beginning to sweat from apprehension, looked at Natsu, who looked back at her with a serious expression, and nodded, signaling her to hand the flier to Ben. Lucy did what her teammate suggested and timidly handed over the paper. She was still incredibly nervous that he'd turn into one of his aliens and do what he did to Natsu earlier in the day.
As Ben took the paper from Lucy, the first thing he saw was "Help us," in big, bold letters at the top of it. Directly below that, there was a picture of what appeared to be an island with a few mountaintops. Below that, was the job description itself. Ben began to read, and was surprised by what he saw.
The job was a request for any wizard to come and lift the curse of a place called Galuna Island. There was a village on the island, and the people who resided in it had been afflicted by this curse for three whole years.
That was the trigger for Ben. After eight years of his hero career, he'd developed certain instincts, and now, they were starting to kick in. He couldn't find it in himself to ignore anyone who needed help, and these people had been suffering from this curse for a long time; longer than anyone should have to, that's for sure. Mirajane had informed him of how perilous these S-Class quests could be, and he still believed Natsu, Happy, and Lucy had no idea what they were getting into, but even so, he made a decision in that moment.
Ben closed his eyes and sighed. "Alright..."
The trio of wizards simply looked at each other confused and looked back to Ben.
"'Alright'?" Natsu repeated, bewildered.
"What's 'alright'?" Happy questioned.
Lucy started trembling and squeaked, "Are you gonna try to take us back to the guild?"
"No..." he opened his eyes, "I'm going with you."
For a moment, the only sound that could be heard was the chirping of crickets. Natsu, Lucy and Happy stared at Ben with blank expressions while his own serious look lessened into one of confusion. He thought they'd be relieved that he wasn't going to take them back. After all, he easily could. He retained this puzzled mien for a moment longer, until the trio's jaws dropped almost completely of their heads.
"WHAT?!" the trio shouted, shocked.
Ben jumped slightly from their reactions. He wasn't expecting them to freak out like that. Lucy was the first to recover from her shock.
"But why?" Lucy inquired, confused. "You're not even in a guild! Is that even allowed?"
Ben turned to her and countered, "Well, you guys aren't S-Class wizards and you're taking an S-Class quest. So the rules are already out the window, aren't they?"
"I guess that's true." She admitted.
"And besides, I wanna help these people." The teen hero added. "I can't ignore people who need help. I'm not built like that; it's not who I am."
The three wizards looked at Ben with wide eyes. He looked at that job request, and immediately changed his attitude. However, what surprised them more was that it didn't seem like he even glanced at the reward, which was written in pretty big print at the bottom. Was he really only interested in this because he wanted to help the people of the island? That was what they wanted as well, but they still took note of what they'd receive in return.
"So you're not interested in the reward?" Happy asked.
Ben blinked. "Reward?"
The jaws of the wizarding team dropped yet again when they heard Ben say that. He really did only read the job description!
"Yeah, the reward! At the bottom! You really didn't see it?! It's huge!" Lucy yelled.
Ben lifted up the flier again and looked at the bottom. It read "7,000,000 Jewel." The Omnitrix bearer had obviously never heard of such a thing, but he quickly surmised that it was the currency of this world or at least the country of Fiore anyway.
He also noticed that underneath the reward was the drawing of a key that said "Gold" next to it. He could only assume that meant in addition to seven million Jewel, the responding wizard would also receive a Golden Gate Key, like the ones Lucy has. That must be why she agreed to go along with the job.
"Well it's not like the money's gonna do me any good. Sooner or later, I'm gonna be heading back to my own universe, so I won't need it." Ben responded. "And I don't use magic, so I don't need the Zodiac key either."
Natsu cocked a brow and folded his arms. "So, what, you just wanna help the islanders?"
The jacket-clad teen simply shrugged and nodded. "Yeah, pretty much. I mean, it'd be nice to get paid for doing what I do back home, but that doesn't really matter. Helping people who need it...that's what's important."
Yet again, the three Fairy Tail members were somewhat surprised by Ben's answer. He mentioned before that he helped people in his own universe, kind of like they did here, but they were still a little taken aback. He knew just as well as they did that S-Class quests were no walk in the park, but he accepted without giving it so much as a second thought, and for nothing more than to help the people of Galuna Island.
Natsu quickly adorned his face with a wide, confident grin, walked over to Ben, and placed his hand on the Omnitrix bearer's left shoulder. "That's what I'm talkin' about! Welcome to the team!"
The next morning, in the Fairy Tail guild hall, Master Makarov sat down in his usual spot on top of the bar counter and was just about to start relaxing and enjoying his drink, when Mirajane came running down the stairs with an extremely worried look on her face.
"Master!" She folded her hands over her chest. "I don't know what's happened, but one of the S-Class quests is missing!"
For a moment, Makarov retained his calm and relaxed demeanor as he took a sip of his drink. However, he soon spat it out and spun around to face Mira in shock. "WHAT?!" he cried.
It was relatively quiet around the guild at this time of day, so just about everyone had heard what Mira just said, and all of them were surprised, to say the least.
"Say what? One of the jobs from the second floor is missin'?" Wakaba said in disbelief.
"But the jobs up there are S-Class quests. Anyone know who took off with it?" Macao asked.
Just as surprised as the others, a young girl spoke up as well. She was slim and of average height, with bowl-cut, lavender hair, with her fringe covering part of her forehead. She wore a dark red bow on the top of her head. In addition, she wore a whitish-blue coat with light blue lines on the arms and chest, which reached down below her waist, and had another red bow positioned below her turned over collar. She also sported tight-fitting, dark pants that were tucked into a pair of light-colored boots with dark soles. To top it all off, she wore a pair of simple glasses with oval lenses. This was Laki Olietta.
"Well, it's either someone really strong or really stupid." Laki commented.
Just then, the guild heard an all-too-familiar voice speak up from the upper floor of the guild hall. "I know... A little blue cat flew up here and ripped it off the board."
Mirajane quickly turned to see Laxus on the second floor. He was sitting at a table with his feet propped up, his arms folded, and his eyes closed as he smirked to himself.
"It was Happy?" Mira gasped.
With Laxus's single remark, the entire guild began to mutter amongst themselves, some louder than others.
"He must've stolen it for Natsu and Lucy!" Wakaba realized.
"That's crazy! What're they thinking?!" Macao exclaimed.
There was a pair of other wizards amongst the crowd who were also upset with this recent development.
One of them was a young man of average height. He had mildly long black hair that covered the right part of his face. His attire mirrored that of a fictional cowboy, save for the hat. His outfit consisted of a long, brown coat resembling a poncho with tasseled edges, together with a shirt and torn pants with strips similar to the ones on his coat hanging from their edges. He also had a studded belt with a skull-shaped buckle.
This was Alzack Connell. He was currently sitting at a table with a distasteful look on his face.
The individual leaning against a pillar nearby him was a young woman with long, straight green hair that reached down to her upper back. She had a set of long bangs framing her face, and wore red lipstick. Her attire was similar to that of a fictional cowgirl, with a tan, Western-style hat. Around her neck was a white scarf with large, yellow polka-dots. She also wore a plain blue, strapless, one-piece dress with white edges.
This was Bisca Mulan, and she too wore a distasteful mien.
"They've got some nerve, taking on an S-Class quest." Alzack commented.
"I dunno if I'd call it nerve, but it's definitely dumb." Bisca remarked.
Laxus smirked. "And it wasn't just him who wandered outta here last night. Our guild's esteemed guest strolled right on after him."
Everyone's eyes nearly bulged out of their heads with that bit of information. No wonder they hadn't seen him around this morning.
"Ben went with them too?!" Makarov yelled, wide-eyed.
"Are you serious?!" Macao slapped his forehead. "Is that kid crazy?! He has no idea what kind of dangers an S-Class mission could have in store!"
"He doesn't even know anything about taking on regular jobs!" Laki mentioned.
"And he's going with Natsu and Lucy." Bisca inputted plainly.
"Who knows how many things could go wrong with that match-up." Alzack added.
"Takin' an S-Class quest without permission is a serious breach of the rules." Laxus smirked as he glanced down at Makarov. "Hey, Gramps! Stunt like that'll get yah kicked out of the guild, am I right?"
Makarov was simply standing on the bar counter with his arms folded, head lowered, and eyes closed, contemplating the situation as Laxus spoke.
"Not that it matters. It's not like those four losers are gonna make it back alive from an S-Class quest. One of 'em ain't even a member to begin with." Laxus said nonchalantly.
Laxus's attention was drawn by Mirajane, who had climbed the stairs, and was staring angrily at the blond man with her hands placed firmly on her hips. "Which is all the more reason you should've stopped them!"
"Oh, lighten up." He dismissed. "All I saw was a blue cat flyin' off with a piece of paper in its paws tryin' to act all sneaky, and a curious kid runnin' after it. I had no idea it was Happy, and I figured there wasn't any trouble little Benjamin could get into wandering around the town at night." He looked at Mirajane. "Besides, Natsu's not cleared for S-Class. I never dreamed he'd break the rules."
That was a lie, and everyone present knew it. Natsu was always finding new ways to aggravate everyone in the guild. This was just the latest and most severe way yet.
It was bad enough that the arrogant S-Class wizard let Happy fly off with the job in the first place, knowing full-well where he was going, but to let a guest of the guild go along with him was even worse. All of them could very well die on that mission, and not stopping them from going despite knowing the danger, was inexcusable, which Mirajane let him know by giving him a dark, menacing glare that would make even Ben pause.
However, Laxus didn't seem fazed by Mirajane's growing anger with him, and simply chuckled. "You haven't given me that look in a while..."
"This isn't good..." Makarov looked up at Mira. "Well, which job was it?"
Mirajane turned away from Laxus, but was still glaring at him in her peripheral vision as she went on to answer Makarov's question, with Laxus giving her a snide smirk as she did so. "For lifting the curse on...Galuna Island..."
Makarov eyes widened from shock. "WHAT?!"
"Galuna Island?!" Macao and Wakaba shouted.
"Are they insane?!" Laki cried, alarmed.
"They're even dumber than we thought!" Alzack and Bisca remarked, just stunned as the others.
Everyone in the guild had begun to panic upon that revelation. None of the S-Class quests were particularly pleasant, but the Galuna Island job had been left untouched for a very good reason, with that reason being that no one who ever set out on that mission had ever returned from it.
Makarov hopped down from his seat on the bar counter and look up at Laxus, who simply sat there as he had been, practically carefree. "Laxus! Go and fetch them at once!"
"Yeah, right." Laxus replied, giving a dismissive wave. "I got better things to do, Gramps. And besides, everybody in Fairy Tail is supposed to be able to take care of themselves, right?"
"I don't care how you feel about Natsu!" Makarov shouted, losing his patience. "None of them realize what they're getting themselves into, especially Ben! The fact is, you're the only one strong enough to bring them back by force!"
Just then, Gray, who had remained silent this whole time, stood up from his seat behind Master Makarov, and turned to him, drawing the elderly wizard's attention. "Sorry, Master...but I'm afraid I gotta disagree with you."
Meanwhile, Natsu, Lucy, Ben, and Happy had made it to the picturesque port town of Hargeon. As they walked through the town, Lucy had an unusually nostalgic smile on her face.
"Wow, this brings back memories." Lucy commented. "It seems like only yesterday when we met here for the first time, Natsu."
That was fairly accurate. Along the way to Hargeon, Lucy had told Ben that she was the most recent addition to Fairy Tail, having only joined the guild less than two weeks prior.
She then told him the story of how she came to meet Natsu and Happy. A criminal named Bora was impersonating Natsu under the guise of the latter's epithet, "Salamander." This man was running a slave smuggling operation between Fiore and a country known as Bosco, and had tricked Lucy into boarding his yacht that was bound for said country. She would've fallen victim to this illegal activity had Natsu and Happy, whom she'd met earlier that same day, not intervened.
Eventually, Natsu was revealed to be the real Salamander to both her and Bora, and the Dragon Slayer defeated the imposter, but not without destroying a large portion of the town in the process. Needless to say, most of the story had shocked Ben, but the last part was no surprise at all.
"It practically was yesterday." Natsu retorted. "You don't have to get all mushy."
"Yeah, you sound like an old lady." Happy snickered.
Happy's comment earned him an angry glare from Lucy, though it did little to temper his internal laughter. It didn't take long for Lucy to resume her chipper attitude, however.
"Well, let's go find a boat that'll take us to Galuna." Lucy said.
Natsu instantly grew a panicked expression when he heard Lucy mention a boat. "ARE YOU CRAZY?! Forget the boat! Why can't we all just swim for it?!"
Ben was puzzled by Natsu's reaction for a moment, but he quickly remembered that the Dragon Slayer had crippling motion sickness. Naturally, a boat would trigger it just as easily as the train from yesterday.
Lucy sighed, exasperated. "And you think I'm the one who's crazy?"
"We can't swim there because none of us know where it is, Natsu." Ben stated. "And we'd all drown before we got anywhere near it anyway."
"Ben's right, Natsu." Lucy agreed. "Like it or not, we need someone to take us to the island, and a boat's the only way to do that."
Natsu simply sighed in defeat and followed Lucy and Ben as they made their way to the docks. It would appear that finding someone who was willing to take them to the island was easier said than done. All of the sailors and fishermen they had asked about it had instantly turned them down the moment they mentioned Galuna, with one man claiming it was bad luck to even mention the cursed island.
Lucy, Ben, and Happy were beginning to lose hope while Natsu's grin was growing ever-so-slightly wider in satisfaction with each encounter, something which Ben noticed, but said nothing about. It appeared Natsu actually did want to swim to the island, as crazy as it sounded.
Eventually, the group came upon a sailor with black hair, who wore a blue cap on his head, and a pale green cloak with a white t-shirt underneath as well as dark pants. He had slightly darkish-colored skin, and a moustache that descended around his mouth and chin. He was sitting in his boat when the team had asked him to take them to Galuna.
"Don't know why you'd wanna go there, but no sailor worthh his salt's gonna take ya to Galuna. Not even pirates'll go near that place."
The group had been asking sailors and fishermen all over Hargeon for half the day and was more than a little frustrated, save for Natsu and Happy, who simply folded his arms with a grin on his face.
"Are you serious...?" Lucy inquired, defeated.
"You gotta be kidding me." the Omnitrix wielder sighed.
"It looks like we're gonna be swimmin' after all!" Natsu grinned.
"Sure does!" Happy chimed.
Lucy spun around to Natsu and Happy angrily. "WE'RE NOT SWIMMING, NATSU!"
Just then, both Natsu and Lucy felt someone place their hands on their right and left shoulders respectively. "I found you...!" a voice said.
Upon hearing the familiar voice, Natsu, Lucy, and Ben all jumped and spun around in shock. Behind them with a triumphant smirk on his face was none other than Gray!
"It's Gray!" Lucy said, stunned.
"What're you doin' here?!" Natsu demanded, surprised and frustrated.
Gray turned to Natsu, annoyed. "Gramps found out about your harebrained scheme and sent me to bring yah back."
Natsu's eyes widen in shock, his jaw dropped. "Why?! We're not in danger yet!"
"If yah come back now, yah might avoid being kicked out of the guild. Maybe." Gray responded.
Upon hearing that, Lucy placed her hands on her face as she adorned an apprehensive mien. That was definitely not what she was expecting, nor was it something she wanted to hear.
"Kicked out?!" she shrieked.
Hearing Gray mention that Natsu and Lucy might get kicked out of the guild made Ben feel guilty. He figured they'd get in trouble for attempting to complete an S-Class quest without proper qualification, but he didn't think the punishment would be that severe. Makarov had told him that Fairy Tail was like a big, close-knit family. Getting cast out would essentially be like getting disowned.
"I dunno, guys. If this is gonna get you kicked out of the guild, maybe you should go back." suggested Ben.
Natsu's expression became determined as he got in Gray's face. Though they all heard what Ben said, none of them seemed to notice that he never mentioned what he would do in that statement.
Natsu gritted his teeth and said, "I don't care! I'm goin' on this S-Class quest!"
Gray narrowed his eyes in annoyance. "Man, you're way out of your league here. Just come home." It was then that Gray's face turned grave as a thought came to his mind, which he didn't hesitate to share with the group. "When Erza finds out about this, she's gonna be so angry..."
While the threat of being kicked out of Fairy Tail might not have frightened Natsu, the thought of an angry Erza most certainly did; so much so that the Dragon Slayer, Lucy, and Happy as well began to sweat in apprehension.
"Uh-oh..." the trio said.
Ben was still confused as to why everyone in the guild seemed so afraid of Erza. On the way to Hargeon, Ben had asked Lucy and Happy about it while Natsu chucked his breakfast out of the train again. Only Happy was willing to tell him about her, strangely enough. He told him that Erza, as an S-Class wizard, was incredibly strong, but unlike the other S-Class wizards she would actually get into fights with the other members on occasion, like she did with Natsu a few days before Ben's arrival in this world.
He noted her magic as being pretty, saying that it makes her enemies "bleed, a lot," but never specified exactly what it was. He then concluded by explaining that she would almost always have to hold back during a fight with another member as she could very easily hurt them, or damage other people's property by accident.
With Happy's explanation, Ben was once again impressed by Erza. That meant that she could not only defeat just about every individual member in the guild, but she could hold back while doing it. Ben could definitely relate to her in that regard. Many of his transformations were incredibly strong and could severely hurt or even kill someone if he didn't restrain their abilities.
However, in Ben's mind, that still didn't quite answer the question of why they were all so afraid of her. Sure, she was powerful, but that didn't mean anything to Ben. She seemed very pleasant during the short time they spoke.
Ben was snapped out of his musing when Happy flew over behind Gray's shoulder. "Please, Gray, you gotta save me! I told them this was a bad idea but they forced me to come along!"
"YOU ARE SUCH A LIAR!" Lucy yelled furiously.
Natsu's determination was strengthening by the second as he glared at Gray, ignoring both Happy and Lucy. "I've gotta prove my power to Gramps!" He clenched his fists. "So, like it or not, I'm doin' this!"
Gray placed his hands on his hips, getting into Natsu's face. "Master ordered me to bring you home! I'll drag you back to Fairy Tail if I have to!"
With that, an icy mist began to form around Gray's hand, and a second later, a cluster of ice spikes grew around his hand; much to Ben's surprise. Since he'd arrived at Fairy Tail, he'd never seen Gray's magic before, nor had he heard what it was, surprisingly. He hadn't expected it to be ice-oriented.
"Don't make me hurt you, buddy!" Gray threatened.
Natsu quickly ignited his left fist in flames as he continued to glare at Gray. "I'D LIKE TO SEE YOU TRY!" he challenged.
When the two wizards broke out their magic, the sailor on the boat looked surprised as he spoke to himself quietly. "Magic...?" Before any kind of fight could break out between the fire and ice wielders, the sailor stood up in his boat and spoke up, catching everyone's attention. "Excuse me, but are you wizards? Have you come to lift the curse on the island?"
Natsu, now distracted from his would-be fight with Gray, grinned confidently and put away his flames as he turned to the sailor. Lucy, however, was not quite as chipper as she was earlier, her confidence now wavering from the threat of being expelled from Fairy Tail.
"Yeah!" Natsu replied.
"Well, maybe..." Lucy said nervously.
"Not gonna happen!" Gray uttered through gritted teeth.
The sailor simply stared at the wizards and superhero for a moment with a somewhat shocked look in his eyes, but it didn't seem to be disbelief. After a moment, the man composed himself slightly before gesturing to his boat. "Get in."
"What?" the Celestial Spirit wizard said, surprised.
"Seriously?!" Natsu added.
The group was surprised the sailor had changed his mind so quickly upon learning they were there to save the island. However, Gray was not so much surprised as he was still angry with Natsu. "No way!" he exclaimed.
Gray moved in to grab Natsu, but the Dragon Slayer simply grinned devilishly and delivered a powerful backwards kick to Gray's stomach, effectively knocking the wind out of him, and rendering him unable to move or speak. Natsu lifted the ice wizard up over his right shoulder, and turned to the sailor with a smirk on his face.
"There we go. Ready when you are, sir." Natsu proclaimed.
"Couldn't you have just left him here?" Ben implied, cocking a brow in confusion.
"Yeah, I'm not sure if bringing him with us is such a good idea." Lucy inputted.
Natsu turned to the Celestial Spirit mage and superhero, and countered, "We can't let him go back and tell the guild." He then began to tremble and sweat as his mien quickly became one of trepidation. "'Cause the next person they'll send is Erza!"
Under the threat of Erza coming for them, Lucy and Happy's demeanors practically mirrored Natsu's. Without another word, the Celestial Wizard and flying cat both piled into the boat with Natsu hopping in after tossing Gray in. Ben followed, but was still left with the question of what exactly Erza was capable of.
The first hour or so of the boat ride was mostly spent in silence with the captain of their vessel refusing to speak until they were closer to their destination. The sun had gone down, and the cool night air had begun to kick in. Gray was now fully recovered from Natsu's kick, but the latter had tied him up so he couldn't use his magic, which the ice wizard was less than pleased about. Natsu was currently leaning over the side of the boat from motion sickness. Lucy seemed to be growing more and more nervous as the trip progressed and Happy simply looked, well, happy.
As the moments of silence drifted by, Ben was thinking to himself about one thing, or person, in particular: Erza. At this point, he was extremely curious to know what it was she could do, especially with the earlier mentions of her and how afraid the others were of her coming after them. He knew what everyone else's abilities were on this supposed "strongest team in Fairy Tail," except for hers. He then turned to Happy, who was sitting roughly right next to him, on the front end of the boat. He made sure to keep his voice down though, so as not to disturb the captain.
Happy turned to the teen hero. "Huh?"
"You mentioned Erza's magic before..."
The blue feline tilted his head in confusion. "What about it?"
"Well, you never told me what it was. I'm kinda curious is all." Ben said.
"Oh! That's easy. Erza uses a type of magic called Re-Quip." He explained. "She can use it to pull all sorts of weapons out of her own pocket dimension, like swords and axes and stuff!"
Ben eyes widened slightly. 'Guess that explains the whole "bleeding" thing he said earlier...'
He shook off his musings and continued, "So, that's why everyone's afraid of her? Because she can summon swords? I mean, Lucy can summon a giant cow-man with a battle axe and no one bats an eye at that."
Happy shook his head and clarified, "Nuh-uh. Lots of wizards can use Re-Quip Magic to change weapons, but Erza's biggest strength is that she can change her armor too! It's a unique ability that only she possesses. It's called 'The Knight'."
Ben was definitely surprised by this new information. He wondered why she was always decked out in armor, and now he understood. However, there was one question that Happy's explanation brought to the surface of Ben's mind.
"Is there anything special about these different armors?" he wondered. "I mean, they can't all just be for show."
"Yup!" the blue cat replied. "She has a bunch of different kinds of armor, and most of them give her special powers and control over different magics!"
Ben mused for a moment after hearing that. That sounded almost exactly like what he could do. Though, he was curious how many different armors she actually had. He decided against asking Happy though. He highly doubted the blue feline would have an answer. He'd have to ask her himself sometime.
After that, several more minutes went by in silence, and in that time, the sky had grown noticeably darker, which only made Lucy even more unsettled. "Okay, now I'm starting to get scared..." she said shakily.
"Well look on the bright side, at least you're not tied up!" Gray retorted. He then turned his attention to the captain of their little voyage, still angered and irritated by the fact that he was now tied up, but still equally angry about his friends' insistence on breaking the guild's rules. "This is your fault too, buddy! Why'd you decide to let us on?!"
The sailor, who had remained silent the entire trip and had been focusing on a small, glowing orb at the back of the boat, turned to Gray with a neutral expression. "The name is Bobo, and if you must now, I used to be a citizen of Galuna Island."
"Used to be...?" Ben questioned.
Bobo didn't respond to Ben for a moment, much to the shape-shifter's confusion. Bobo's expression grew darker as he turned to face the sea. "But I had to flee... I just couldn't take it anymore." He turned to the group. "I should warn you. Tragedy befalls anyone who sets foot on the island. There's no avoiding it. That is, unless you're able to lift the curse."
After a second of pause, Bobo shifted his cloak and exposed his left arm; however, it was unlike anything they had expected. It appeared to be covered in a bizarre, dark purple exoskeleton. Whatever it was, it clearly wasn't human.
"...This vile demon's curse." Bobo concluded.
"Woah, your arm..." Gray gasped.
"What happened to it?" Lucy asked, shocked.
"Is that...the curse...?" Ben queried.
Again, without replying, the cursed sailor took a look ahead of the boat, and saw an island coming into view. "We're almost there. That's Galuna Island..."
For a second, the wizards and superhero gawked at the island in curiosity and minor apprehension, until Lucy broke the silence by asking the question that was on everybody's mind.
"That's weird. Why's the mountaintop glowing like that?" she observed.
Sure enough, Lucy was right. The mountain on the island had a golden, yet ominous glow shining from it. Simply looking at it made Ben's skin crawl a bit, as though something unnatural were on the island. Then again, living there had given poor Bobo the arm of some kind of humanoid insect, so there was undoubtedly something sinister there.
It was then that Ben had a question, and turned around back to Bobo. However, when he did so, the cursed man had suddenly vanished!
"What the...?!" he shouted in alarm.
Everyone turned to see what the commotion was about, only to be just as shocked as Ben by their guide's disappearance.
"Where'd he go?!" Lucy said fearfully.
"Did he fall out?" Gray wondered, equally confused as the others.
"It's like he disappeared into thin air!" Happy remarked.
As Natsu gurgled from motion sickness, unaware of the current situation, Lucy began to hear something as she looked over the edge of the boat, but couldn't place her finger on what it was. "What's that sound?" she voiced.
Ben heard it too and quickly realized it was coming from behind them. He spun around to see what it was, but was instantly shocked by what he saw; a massive tidal wave was heading straight for them!
Everyone turned to Ben, but their eyes widened in shock and fear upon seeing the massive wave. Even Natsu, who was still visibly sick, looked startled by the incoming wave.
"AAAAAHHH! TSUNAMIII!" cried Lucy.
"Now don't panic! Just hold on!" Gray yelled.
The group grew more fearful by the second as the wave began to come down on them, forming a whirlpool beneath all the while.
"Happy! Ben! Can't you grab onto the boat and fly?!" Lucy asked in the midst of her panic.
"I'M NOT STRONG ENOUGH!" Happy replied.
Without a word, Ben swiftly activated the Omnitrix and selected an alien icon. He didn't know what he picked, but there was no time to stop and scroll through his playlist. He slammed down the core, and in a flash of green light, he was replaced with a familiar blue-furred, four-armed primate.
Spidermonkey took a quick look at himself and groaned in irritation. The wizards all turned to him with still-panicked faces.
"WHY'D YOU TURN INTO THAT THING?!" Lucy shrieked.
Spidermonkey made monkey sounds before responding, "I DIDN'T HAVE TIME TO CHOOSE!"
A second later, the tidal wave crashed down on their small, wooden boat, and sent everyone on it down into the whirlpool below.
Ben's eyes began to slowly flicker open at the sound of birds chirping. As he opened them, he had to shield his eyes from the sunlight. Once his eyes had adjusted, he wearily looked around, still in somewhat of a daze. He was now lying on a beach somewhere, and was back in his human form. If it had turned daytime, then the Omnitrix must've timed out while he was unconscious.
Ben slowly sat up straight, and took a better look at his surroundings. After looking around for a few moments, his eyes went wide when he noticed that no one was with him; not Natsu, Lucy, Gray, or Happy. This was definitely worrisome.
"Wait..." he looked around the beach. "Where is everyone?"
Ben sat there for a moment, observing his surroundings. It was then that he remembered what happened to him and his friends.
'That's right.' He thought. 'We got hit by that tsunami.'
Another moment later, Ben began to pick himself up off the sand and brush himself off. He didn't know where he was, but he figured if he ended up here, then his friends would likely be somewhere nearby. Or at least that's what he hoped.
"I gotta find them." Ben said, concerned. "I just hope they're alright..."
With that, Ben activated the Omnitrix. He scrolled through the playlist for a minute, trying to decide which alien to use. It was then that he found the perfect one. He tapped the faceplate of the watch, and slammed down the core once it popped out.
In a flash of emerald, Ben was replaced small, humanoid creatures with white skin. It wore a green and black jumpsuit, with the black parts converging around the chest area to form an hourglass-esque symbol. It bore the Omnitrix dial on its forehead, and had three green fins sprouting from its head. It also had two white, whisker-like growths sprouting from its cheeks. It had three silver nodes on its black belt, and two similar nodes on either arm.
"Alrighty! I'd say this calls for a little divide and conquer!" Ditto noted excitedly.
Ditto's form was enveloped in a flash of green, though not nearly as bright as the ones the Omnitrix gives off. With this green light, another Ditto split off from the original. The new Ditto repeated this process, as did the third, and soon, there were fifteen Dittos standing around their creator, yammering on about random subjects.
Ditto Prime placed his hands on his hips in a serious manner. "Alright, boys! You know what to do! Now fan out and find 'em!"
"YEAH!" the Dittos agreed determinedly.
There she was; Lucy, lying unconscious on a beach. Her eyes began to flutter open slowly at the sound of a voice. It wasn't any voice she recognized; not Natsu's, Gray's, Happy's, or Ben's. Not only that, but it sounded like there were multiple voices speaking, but they all sounded the same. They all sounded high-pitched as well...
"Oh, man. I knew we shouldn't have taken that left turn at Albuquerque..."
'Albu...wha...?' Lucy thought, still dazed.
"No kidding. It's been ages and we haven't found any of 'em yet."
"It's only been like thirty minutes, dude. Would you quit complaining already?"
'Who...is that...?' Lucy wondered, trying her best to fully wake up.
"Wait a minute, guys... Look over there! Is that...?"
"Whoa! I think it is! I think it's Lucy!"
"We totally just found her by accident!"
"Woohoo! Score one for the little guys!"
With all the chatter going on around her, Lucy was essentially forced into wakefulness. She finally opened her eyes, and upon doing so, found several bizarre, yet identical faces staring down at her.
One of the Ditto clones smiled widely. "Morning, sleepy-GAH...!"
Before the Ditto clone could even finish his greeting, Lucy sprang up from the sand, knocking him back with a punch to the face purely out of reflex.
"WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?!" Lucy demanded loudly. "I'LL HAVE YOU KNOW I'M A MEMBER OF FAIRY TAIL AND-"
"Geez! We know, we know!" one of the Dittos responded.
"Calm down, Lucy! It's just us! I mean me! I mean, it's Ben, so just chill out!" Ditto Prime stammered, hoping his blonde friend would refrain from hitting any more of...well, him.
"Ben...?" Lucy inquired blankly.
The Ditto clone Lucy punched finally began to sit back up, rubbing its aching face. "Yes, Ben!"
"But what are you? And why are there so many of you...?"
Ditto Prime placed his hands on his hips. "Cloning. Pretty nifty, if I do say so myself."
"I do say so myself," commented Ditto 4
"Me too," added Ditto 2
"Me three!" Ditto 5 stated.
Lucy simply blinked, still slightly confused by the situation. "So you're telling me that tiny little guy can make copies of himself? How is that even possible?"
"Are we all gonna ignore the fact the she just SUCKER PUNCHED ME?!" Ditto 3 demanded irately.
Lucy sweat dropped. "Oh... Sorry about that..."
Having had enough of his clones cutting in, Ditto Prime tapped the Omnitrix dial on his head; thus, turning back into Ben, and causing all of the other Dittos to disappear in small, green flashes.
Ben offered Lucy and hand. "You okay?"
"Yeah, I think so..." Lucy accepted Ben's hand and used it to pull herself off the ground.
"Well that's good to hear." Ben sighed in relief. "Do you know where the others are?"
"I don't know..." Lucy replied. She then took a look around. After a few moments had passed, Lucy looked over Ben's shoulder, and saw something. "Wait..."
Ben followed Lucy's gaze to the beach behind him, and noticed exactly what she was looking at. It appeared to be three figures; two of them lying on the ground unconscious, and the other, smaller one, with its rear end and its furry, blue tail sticking out of the sand. He immediately recognized the trio as Natsu, Gray, and Happy. The wreckage of the boat they had been traveling in could be seen strewn about the beach.
"What a mess..." Lucy muttered as she and Ben approached their friends, who had already begun waking up themselves.
After several minutes, Natsu and Gray were fully awake, and the latter had helped Happy get his head out of the sand, and proceeded to pick up his backpack and sleeping bag. Ben simply sighed in relief. He hated it when people got hurt on his watch, and finding out that everyone was okay lifted a lot of guilt from his shoulders.
"Looks like we made it, you guys!" Natsu noted; an excited grin on his face.
"We're lucky that wave washed us ashore," Lucy added.
"Well I don't know if I would call it lucky." Gray commented sourly.
"I can't help but wonder what happened to the guy who brought us here..." Lucy stated, worried for the sailor.
"Yeah. Right after he told us about the curse, he vanished..." Ben continued, also concerned.
"Forget about that stuff for now and let's go exploring!" Natsu yelled, flailing his arms in the air excitedly.
"Aye!" Happy chirped.
Lucy could only sweat drop at her two friends' attitudes. "We've been here like thirty seconds, and you guys have already forgotten about the mission?"
"Are they for real...?" Ben deadpanned.
After a moment, Lucy proceeded to pull out the job request that brought them here in the first place. Natsu and Happy regained their composure and began to focus on the task at hand once again.
"Apparently there's only one village on the entire island. The village chief is the one who originally put in the request. So I guess we need to try and find him."
"Not so fast..." Everyone turned to see Gray, staring at them with a serious expression.
"You're not still thinkin' of taking them back to the guild, are you?" asked an incredulous Ben, "Because if you are, you're gonna have to find a new boat."
"You're right..." Gray said, "I'm comin' with you."
That was a surprise for everyone, especially for Natsu, Happy, and Lucy. First Ben had agreed to tag along, and now Gray?
"There's no way I'm gonna let the two of you clowns make S-Class before I do." Gray stated plainly. "And if you were kicked out, the guild would be pretty boring. Gramps'll be upset, but if we pull this off, he won't stay mad at us for long."
"What about me?" Ben asked.
Gray shrugged. "He thinks you have no idea how to handle this world, but seein' how you took down flame-brain over there, and the fact that you got dozens of other aliens in that fancy wristwatch of yours, I think you can handle a cursed island."
The Ice-Make wizard grinned confidently. "Let's go."
Natsu and Lucy smiled while Happy jumped in excitement. "Yeah!" shouted the former two, while their blue, feline companion yelled, "Aye!"
"Well then," Ben grinned, "what are we waiting for?!"
A/N: Well, I hope you enjoyed Ch.3 Revised!
As I said, Chapters 4-6 Revised will be added at a later date. I will inform you when they're ready.
Next chapter: Galuna Island, Part II
Please leave any comments or critique in the review box. Until then…