I do not own anything, and neither does Meatbun Attack
Edolas. Capital City.
In his throne room, Faust looked down at the glowing blue holographic map displayed before him, fist supporting his head.
"So...that world has just been found?" he asked, hearing the footsteps of his messenger.
"Yep! So it seems!" Coco chirped, hand gestured to the blinking green spot. "Zoom in please!" The attendants complied. The world that appeared was covered almost entirely by water. Faust could see numerous small continents, but nothing as grand as the red line ringing the world from pole to pole.
"And what of it's status on magic?" he inquired, looking towards the imp of a man that was his Chief of Staff.
"Currently unknown sire. We would need to utilize an Anima warp to determine whether or not it possesses magic power for us to take." He grinned. "By your word, we can have an Anima warp scheduled within the hour."
"Hmmm…" Faust growled, but nodded. Earthland had proven to be a fine and nearly infinite source for magic power. But they could only take miniscule amounts lest they be noticed, and risk provoking an interdimensional conflict.
There was never enough magic power, never enough. Why must his world, his dying world of Edolas, have so little magic while other worlds like Earthland were up to their ears in it? It was so unfair!
But life wasn't fair; that Faust knew well. His kingdom had endured rebellion after rebellion, but always he had crushed them. To secure the capital city, he had populated it entirely with loyal nobles, driving all others into the wilderness.
It wasn't fair. Fair was the place where they judged pigs. Fair wasn't a universe in which Earthland brimmed with magic while Edolas was starved of it. Nobody had any business telling him what was or wasn't fair. If Earthland was a have and Edolas a have-not, then his capital's residents were haves and those outside were have-nots.
Was this new world be a world of the Haves? Or dry and barren like the other worlds they have found before?
"Do it. Do an Anima warp into this new world to scan it's magic power." Faust stood up, gripping his staff. "Not too much as to warrant attention, only enough for us to get a reading." The bearded man looked at Byro and waved his hand.
"By your leave Sire." The imp bowed. "Coco. Come."
"Roger!" And the always-running girl raced away, flashing past Byro as the old man walked out of the throne room.
If this new world had magic power, their plans for dominating the Exceeds would be accelerated from months to mere weeks. Maybe days. Those arrogant felines who called themselves Gods would be put in their place, and his dream of infinite magic for the world will be fulfilled. He would go down in history as a God-King; who had cast down the false gods who ruled above and granted his land a chance of life. He would make this world an eden.
Or he would die trying.
Unnamed World. Hand Island.
Coby stared out from the window at the sea surrounding the island. The sea was calm, reflecting his easy mood.
Things were going well. The Navy Tower was fully repaired, thanks in part to the help of the town's citizens. That had been a surprise, considering how Commodore Bilic had all but enslaved them for so many years. Coby sighed and smiled. That was then, and now the good commodore was now enjoying the hospitality of what had until recently been the prison section of his own base. There he would reside until they set off for Navy HQ.
It's all thanks to Luffy… Coby thought.
It had started when he and Helmeppo had come to investigate the former commodore, following reports of abusive conduct. It hadn't taken them long to discover that the food laid on for the civilian workers at the base was inadequate, both in quality and quantity. Far worse had been Bilic's own behaviour. Not only had he cruelly punished workers merely for talking back, but he had tested out his new cannon - which for some reason he had named Josephine - by firing it at Hand Island. The final charge list would keep the Judicial department busy for weeks, assuming they actually bothered with the formalities. If there was one thing the Navy hated more than pirates, it was one of their own who had fallen from grace.
Coby had known something was wrong the moment he had arrived on the island. The islanders had regarded him with disgust, even though he was supposed to be their protector, one of the good guys. But now that the officer who had enslaved them was clapped in irons, their looks of fear and hatred had turned to respect and gratitude.
Likewise, they held a new and deep respect for the Straw Hat Pirates. It was they who had infiltrated the base and destroyed his weapons, allowing Coby to move in and arrest the commodore. With any luck the garrison would never find out about the fast one he had pulled with that wax figure of Admiral Kizaru. He wouldn't have had the authority to arrest Bilic otherwise.
Since then, Coby and Helmeppo had been allowed to stay in a family's home close to the pier. They had taken it in turns to oversee work on the tower and the city, until the work had finally ended the day before. Now, at last, the time had come to return to Navy HQ for Bilic's Court Martial, where he would recieve just punishment for his crimes. A new commander would be assigned, hopefully one who would protect the town the way the Navy were supposed to.
Coby walked over to the single bed in the room, upon which sat his bag of clothes and necessities. Next to the bag is was captain coat, which he picked up and swung around around his shoulders, fastening the collar clips with the hooks he had sewn on himself; ensuring it would not fall off in a fight. He covered the hooks with his blue scarf, then picked up his bag and strode towards the door. He paused a moment, glancing one last time at the pleasant little room with its view of the sea.
With his smile still in place, Coby exited the room and headed for the stairs.
"Yo, Coby. You ready to leave?"
Inside the kitchen was Helmeppo, eating food the kind wife of the family had laid on for her two guests. Coby dropped his bag by the door, next to the lieutenant commander's own bag, and headed for the table.
"Yeah. I'm glad the repairs are over now," he replied, sitting in the empty seat. "Once we've placed Bilic in our ship's prison cell, we'll depart for HQ."
When Coby sat down, the wife, whose name was Janett, placed a plate of food in front of him. Coby thanked her politely before he started to eat the delicious fried food. Helmeppo was already done; he rarely wasted time when food was on offer, and unlike Coby he wasn't much given to deep thought.
"Are you sure we aren't supposed to leave more men in the base? It won't be too long before word gets around about Bilic."
"Yes, I'm sure." Coby answered with a nod, after swallowing his mouthful of food. "Captain Hina should be able to hold things together for at least a month from when she arrives. A lot of the villagers decided to stay on as Marines, so we're not that bad off for manpower. They also fixed a lot of Bilic's old weapons, so they've plenty of firepower. But not the cannon though, obviously."
Helmeppo flipped up his sun glasses, frowning at the confident look on his captain's face, then sighed with defeat.
"Alright, alright. I get it, you're right like usual."
Janette listened as she finished washing the dishes. Having the two marines under her roof for several days had given her opportunity to learn their natures. As such, she had not yet told them about the two freshly-packed lunch boxes she had hidden in the cupboard. If she had made them the offer, Coby would have turned her down out of a desire not to inconvenience her further. But being already packed, he could hardly refuse.
"I'm glad you're worrying for our town's safety, Helmeppo," she said. "But we've been able to stand against a few pirate raids even before the marine base was created. The craftsmen on this island are very handy in what they do so we'll be fine for a few weeks."
Helmeppo glance off to the side, a little embarrassed at having doubted their strength. Of course they should be able to handle themselves for a little while, but he couldn't shake the feeling that something was very, very wrong. It was a feeling that never presaged anything good.
He glanced over at his captain. Though Coby appeared to be relaxed, his shoulders were just a little tense. It was obvious that he was picking up on something too, yet he still acted like everything was fine. Perhaps it wasn't worth worrying about, and there was little point in upsetting the townsfolk when he had nothing useful to tell them. Besides, he had no wish to upset the kind, motherly woman who had treated them both so well.
Once Coby was finished, the two Marines stood up and made to leave, thanking Janette for letting them stay with her. Just as she had predicted, they tried to refuse the two bentos she had made for them. But it took only a few moments persuasion before they accepted, then picked up their bags and went on their way with smiling faces.
Coby had been hoping just to head over to the pier and leave quietly, but no such luck. Waiting for the two Marines was a mass of adoring locals, swarming around them with bright faces, gushing and twittering with gratitude and admiration. With bashful smiles, the pair managed to ease their way through the crowd.
Then he felt it.
Coby tensed as the low-grade foreboding that had bothered him since breakfast increased tenfold in the span of a second. His admirers didn't seem to notice, and Coby wondered for a moment if he was just imagining things. But his haki would not be denied, and Coby let his attention been drawn to the sky directly above him.
There it was, hovering overhead. A… something, as if the sky had cracked.
"Everyone!" he called out. "Please go back inside immediately!"
The villagers were taken aback, glancing at each other in confusion. Helmeppo heard the urgency in his captain's tone, and knew that he had sensed something. His senses hadn't been as off as he'd thought.
"You heard him! Get inside!" he bellowed, in the sort of tone he normally reserved for young ratings panicking in a thunderstorm. But the villagers didn't obey. They didn't understand what was going on.
A thunderclap rang out across the village, as the crack in the sky became a raging storm. The villagers cried out in terror as the winds buffeted them, blowing so hard that a child was almost carried away. Coby looked up into the eye of the storm, and saw a strange light within it. For a moment he wondered what he was.
Then he remembered the people around him. They weren't like him and Helmeppo. They didn't know how to keep their footing in a storm, with a ship going twenty-to-a-dozen in fifty-foot waves. They hadn't learnt to block out the roar of the sea, the crack of the lightning, the howl of the wind. They were lost, maddened by terror, helpless before the maelstrom.
Coby grabbed the nearest man, and began shoving him towards the nearest house, yelling at the people to find shelter. They didn't need telling twice, fleeing towards the nearby buildings. Coby and Helmeppo remained, helping a few old men and women who'd been left behind. About two minutes passed, or so Coby reckoned, before everyone was out of danger. By then the rain was pouring, hammering on the roofs like gunfire, and soaking the two Marines to the skin.
When the last door was closed, Coby and Helmeppo ran for their ship. They could see it grinding and crashing against the pier, thrown back and forth by the roiling waters, yet held fast by the mooring ropes. They could hear the panicked cries of the crew, even as they fought to keep the ship under control.
Coby's mind was a storm unto itself. What was happening? Who or what was doing this? He glanced up at the sky again, just as they passed the rebuilt clock tower. The glow behind the dark clouds was brighter than before, and something inside Coby quailed at the sight.
What is that!?
The light flashed like a bolt of lightning, and to Coby it was as if the light was reaching for him. For a fraction of an instant, he knew that it was too fast to dodge.
And then it was over. The storm was gone, as suddenly as it had appeared. After a few minutes, the villagers began to emerge from their shelters, wondering what had happened.
It was only then that they noticed that Coby and Helmeppo had disappeared.
Edolas. Capital City.
"We're getting a reading Byro!" Coco chirped up as she ran around the Anima chamber.
"What does it say?" Byro asked, checking the instruments to ensure the magic of Anima was flowing correctly.
"It says...Zero! Zero magic power present!"
Byro gritted his teeth and sighed. "So, a barren world huh…"
"It is rather odd though!" Coco added. "It only says Zero ahead of the decimal!" Byro perked up.
"Come again?" he asked, moving slowly behind the hyperactive brunette to look at her machine. He inspected the readings; Zero Point Zero Zero Zero Six Six Six.
"0.000666% magic power?"
"Yeah!" Coco nodded. "And I'm getting unusual reads too! Nothing I've ever seen before!"
"Show me." Coco pressed some holographic keys and another screen appeared. Unlike magic power which was colored blue, this reading was gray and labeled 'unknown'.
"Unknown huh…" Byro put a hand around his cheek. Well, at least this wasn't a TOTAL loss.
"Chief Byro! What are we going to do? Won't His Highness be angry knowing that our plan won't move as fast!"
"Only if we got nothing out of this in return. I need to report this to his majesty." Byro turned away and began to walk out of the chamber.
"But Chief, we're getting life signs within the Anima! Non-Magic of course! What do you wanna do with them?" Byro looked back at Coco, the young girl eager for orders.
"Dump them off in Earthland," he replied tersely. "Who knows? Maybe they'll acquire magic there."
"Aye aye!" Coco saluted and got to work on the Anima. Byro strode away, the readings going around and around in his mind. It hadn't come from the life signs within the Anima, but from the world as a whole, meaning the whole world had a magic potential of less than one thousandth of a percent. But the other reading...
A hunt through the Grand Archives seemed in order. The imp smiled. This world was barren, but it might be a little interesting.
"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!" Helmeppo yelled, pressing his hat onto his head with one hand as the light spun them around. Purple lightning and blue pulses of...something cascaded all around them. "What the hell is thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiisss!"
Coby was yelling too, helpless before the maelstrom. He felt as if he was in a twister, or inside the center of a whirlpool.
"Meppo!" He reached out with his hand. "Take my hand!" Helmeppo saw him and reached out, grabbing his outstretched hand.
"I'm not gonna let you go!" Coby yelled, determined to save his best friend.
"What are we gonna dooooooo!" Helmeppo shouted, tears of terror flying from eyes. "I don't wanna dieeeeee!"
"Don't worry! We're not going to die!"
"How can you be so su-GYAAAAAAAAAH!" And then the swirling stopped. The marines were falling, nose-diving into a limitless, never-ending storm. "Why are we moving like thiiiiiiiis!"
Coby could barely think, let alone reply. Never, not even when he was with Luffy, had he encountered something like this. No Devil Fruit power, no natural phenomenon; nothing like it was known to exist.
And yet there they were.
Through the pulsing thunder, Coby could see...light. The light at the end of this bright blinding tunnel.
"Meppo! We're near the end!"
"Hang in there! We're gonna be out in right...about…" Coby stilled his beating heart, which wanted to burst out and join Helmeppo in screaming like a little girl, and watched as the tunnel got closer and closer..
They were through. There was nothing but white, shifting slowly into gray. It was cold, so very cold; colder than Coby had ever been, even in the worst of winters.
The gray was gone, and Coby could see clearly. There before him was a mass of green, bordered by an endless expanse of blue. He could see a shape just on the border between them, mostly grey but dotted with other colours too. As it drew closer and closer, the wind whipping at his face, Coby could make out small details; buildings, streets, as if he were looking at a map.
Then it hit him.
"We're faaaaaaalliiiing!" Helmeppo yelled as he cottoned on. Coby squeezed his eyes shut, fighting with every ounce of his willpower to force down his mind-bending terror. He had faced this before, so many times, while training with Garp. He could deal with this. He was a Marine! An officer! He could handle this!
"Meppo!" he yelled over the wind. Already his clothes were soaked with rain water as they fell. "On my mark!" Helmeppo looked at him. His face was a mask of terror, but Coby saw in his eyes that he had regained control. Two years of harsh training, mastering the style of the Six Powers, had prepared them about as well as anything could.
But Helmeppo had been the slower learner. Could he handle this? Coby shook the thought away. No time for doubt, not now. He stared down at the fast-rising ground, letting go of Helmeppo's hand as he concentrated, judging the distance. If he was out by more than a metre or so….
"Moonwalk!" Coby thrust down his feet, and felt the mystical energy burst out of him, slowing his fall. His whole body lurched, his head spinning, his stomach churning, as his body fluids tried to continue their descent. Coby gritted his teeth, forcing himself to repeat the Moonwalk again, and again, and again.
At last, he felt something under his feet. With what will he had left, Coby straightened up, shifting his leaden feet to balance himself. He opened his eyes, and waited a few moments while his vision cleared, the blood returning to his brain. His body ached all over, and his stomach was preparing to dump its contents. Inertia was not an enemy to be taken lightly.
"A little help here!" Coby looked down, and saw that he was standing on a tree branch, from which Helmeppo was also hanging. He looked almost as bad as Coby felt, but the marine managed to reach down and haul his friend up. Helmeppo wobbled, but Coby's fast hand caught him, holding him steady.
"Thanks…" Helmeppo groused. Coby turned to regard the town they had almost plunged into. He couldn't see much from where he was, except the vast cathedral that stood at the centre.
"Hand Island didn't have a Cathedral, did it?" Helmeppo asked. Coby was silent, staring hard at the town.
"No. It didn't." Coby hopped down, followed by Helmeppo. "You okay?"
"I feel like I just did a round with Garp, but I'm okay. You?"
"I'm all right." Coby looked out to the town. "Let's go into town and ask where we are. Maybe we can ask about that rip of light." He brushed himself down and started walking. Helmeppo readjusted his sunglasses, then followed.
"What gives with the rain? It's pouring!"
Lucy Heartfilia was worried.
To anyone with a halfway normal standard of beauty, Lucy was a pretty girl; she herself had always thought so. With her long blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and a figure made curvaceous by a healthy lifestyle and Mother Nature's good graces, she reckoned she was a match for any of the Fairy Tail guild's female members. Her face was well-proportioned, and in no way marred by the careworn look it was currently wearing.
As she walked along the empty street, bags of groceries in her arms, she couldn't stop thinking about her wounded comrades. Three of her guildmates, her friends, were lying immobile in hospital beds; the victims of a raid by wizards of the Phantom Lord Guild. Her other comrades had gone to avenge the assault, leaving her to hold down the fort. The responsibility gnawed at her, and she could feel the same tension all around her. Despite the sunny day, the streets of Magnolia were empty of people.
"I can't believe everyone left me behind," Lucy complained, to a non-existent audience. "But, Levy and the others need someone to take care of them, so I guess that's me."
She couldn't blame Master Makarov and the others for heading off to Oak Town. Levy and her teammates had been their friends far longer than they had been hers, and some things could not be taken on the cheek. But Lucy could not shake the feeling of trepidation that had haunted her ever since they had left. Where was all this going to lead? What did it take to actually win a feud between guilds? Would this battle put an end to it? Or would Phantom Lord, its overweening pride bruised, retaliate even harder? And for how long would the Council tolerate all this?
Lucy felt something land on her head. See looked up, and was surprised to see dark clouds overhead, the rain just starting to fall.
"Oh, no! A sunshower?" The rain was falling now, harder and harder with every passing moment. Lucy glanced around for somewhere to shelter.
Then she saw her.
"Drip, drip, drop" intoned a female voice. "Juvia will bring the rain."
Lucy saw her clearly; a blue-haired woman clad in a blue coat trimmed with white fur, a matching blue cossack hat on her head, a homemade cloth doll pinned to her chest. Her blue eyes had a dull, glazed look to them.
"Huh?" Lucy had her hands over her head. Who was this creepy girl? "What do you bring?" She asked, as the woman named Juvia walked past her. "Ummm...come again?"
"I had my fun," said the woman, pulling out an umbrella. "Goodbye. Drip, drip, drop."
"What was that about!?" Lucy yelled, bewildered.
"Non, non, non!" cut in a cheery voice from...everywhere. Lucy tensed, and Juvia stopped.
"Non, non, non."
Lucy's peripheral vision spotted the ground moving. She looked, and froze as the very earth seemed to twist into the shape of a human body. "Non, non, non, non, non, non, non."
And the person looked more like a twig, with a skinny body, a ghastly looking brown suit and tie. His green hair was spiked up, his right eye covered by a monocle that did nothing to improve his appearance.
"A Bonjour with Non in 3-3-7 rhyme to you, mademoiselle~" oiled the man. He stretched out his arm, as if offering to promenade with her.
"Another weirdo!?" Lucy stepped back. What the heck was going on?
"Now now Juvia, you can't shy away from the task at hand," sang the man as he swayed from side to side.
"Monsieur Sol." Juvia replied back from behind Lucy.
"My monocle whispers many things to me mon cherie," Sol had a hand around his eyeglass. "That this girl before us is our sible." Juvia turned towards Lucy, and the blonde could feel a chill down her spine. Juvia was looking straight into her.
"Is she now?"
"Huh?" Lucy was getting worried.
"Ahhh, pardonnez-moi~" Sol tilted on his side again oddly. "I never told you my name. I am Sol of the Element Four. Also known as Sol of the Earth. But you may call me, Monsieur Sol." The green haired man drawled as he bowed in exaggeration. "And this is Juvia of the Sea."
"Element Four…" Lucy gasped. "You're with Phantom!"
"Tres bien, correct!" Sol stood up normally. "We have been sent to collect you and bring you to ze Guild at once." The Celestial Spirit Mage dropped her groceries and went to her keys, glaring hard at the duo.
"You're the ones who attacked my friends, aren't you!" she yelled. But then her body felt heavy, her vision blurring and tinged with blue.
She was underwater!
"Non, non, non mademoiselle," oiled Sol, fingering his moustache as an orb of water imprisoned Lucy. "That was Monsieur Gajeel's work, not ours. Though you could say we were with him in spirit."
"Let me out of here now! Why are you doing this!" Lucy yelled from within the sphere, her sound dulled by the water.
"Don't waste your energy, my Water Lock Spell cannot be-"
"What's going on here!" came a cry from behind the pair, cutting Juvia off. Juvia and Sol turned to see who had interrupted. Lucy saw him, and her eyes widened
It was a man, dressed in what looked to Lucy like a naval uniform. His shirt was white, his pants navy blue, his neck encircled by a green scarf. He wore a white trenchcoat like a cloak, the sleeves hanging loose, its shoulders topped with gold epaulettes. His hair was pink with a bandana and glasses on top, a youthful, pleasant-looking face was set into a grim scowl.
"What are you doing with that girl?!" he demanded, in a voice accustomed to command.
"Oh? What are we doing?" Sol droned, looking mildly surprised. "Excusez-moi Monsieur, this here is just a Guild affair. A Job is all. If I were you, I would just turn around and walk away."
"This does not concern you," Juvia added coldly. "You are not our target and this is not your business."
Lucy's face was turning blue as she shook her head and tried to pound on the water prison.
'Run away! These two are S-Class Mages!' She thought as she felt herself running out of air.
"Not my business?!" retorted the youth contemptuously. "Two people on a deserted street, drowning a young girl in water?"
Juvia flicked her hand, and the orb caved in around Lucy's head. She gasped for air.
"Run!" she called out, the moment her voice returned. "They're mages!" She had no idea who he was, or why he would risk himself to help her. But it could only get him killed.
"There, she can breathe. Now can you be a good man and make like a tree and leave?" Sol asked, shooing him away. "Shoo, shoo."
"You let her breathe. Am I supposed to be impressed?" the youth sneered. "You're under arrest. Come quietly and I'll put in a good word for you both."
"Under arrest?" Lucy asked with a quirked eye. What was this man thinking? Most mages she knew cared nothing for the law, and those were basically good if rather unstable characters like her Fairy Tail friends. How would two Phantom Lord elites react?
Juvia tilted her head, regarding the youth with what looked like benign curiosity. Sol guffawed.
"Under arrest! Monsieur are you daft in ze head? Don't you know who we are?" Sol tilted to the side again. "We are-"
"A couple of thugs is what you are!" the boy snapped back, his lip curled in disgust. "You tried to drown a girl! Now come along quietly!" He stepped forward, pulling a pair of handcuffs from his belt. Sol smirked and snapped his fingers. In the blink of an eye, the earth swelled up around the unsuspecting boy, swallowing him up to his neck. Lucy gasped.
"Non non non! You really are a fool!" Sol drawled. "We are a few of ze most feared mages from ze Mage Guild Phantom Lord! You can't just 'arrest' us on a whim! Besides, zis is a job from our Master, ze Wizard Saint Jose Porla! His authority is far superior to ze likes of you, Monsieur Constable!" Pink hair stood silent, glaring at the man.
"So. You're both Devil Fruit users," he mused grimly. "Since you snapped your fingers and are merged with the ground, you're probably an Earth-style Logia." He turned towards Juvia. "And with that water orb, I'm guessing a Water Paramecia. No way a Water Logia would exist."
All three mages looked confused, Lucy most of all. What was he going on about?
"Logia? Paramecia? What are you talking about?" Sol snapped, pointing rather viciously at the youth. "Be grateful I left your head open to breathe!" Lucy couldn't help but notice that he was losing his cool. Had he sensed something?
"No. You should have encased me head to toe" the man growled. He seemed remarkably confident for a man encased up to his neck in dirt. Lucy gasped again as another man, white coat billowing landed right behind Sol and Juvia, a pair of curved kukri blades in his raised hands.
"Gaaaah!" Sol fell forward, blood spurting from where the newcomer had slashed him. Juvia turned, her body coiling like running water, a tendril of water lashing out at her attacker. The man jumped back, weapons raised.
"Coby!" he yelled, dropping into a combat stance. Lucy finally got a good look at him; he was blond, and somewhat less good-looking than his comrade, his eyes hidden behind a pair of sunglasses "She's no Paramecia! She's a Logia!"
Pink hair, otherwise known as Coby, broke out of his muddy prison as if it were mere sand, chunks of dirt flying everywhere. He turned his head, and saw a very angry Sol rising to his feet, hand outstretched. Lucy's heart clenched; knowing what was coming.
"Meppo!" Coby yelled. "Shave!" He disappeared, and then reappeared before the Earth mage. "Finger Gun!" He jabbed his index finger into Sol's chest, the impact sending Sol flying into the sky with a long, drawn-out scream.
"Sol!" Juvia yelled, her doll-like face twisted with rage. "You'll pay!"
Her arms had become water, stretching into long tendrils. She drew one back to strike at Coby, then realised too late that the blond youth was behind her.
"No. You are, a criminal" the blond hissed, slashing down with his kukris. Juvia cried out in pain, and Lucy could see blood spill.
"Juvia was hit...even though Juvia...was water?!" She gritted her teeth and turned. "Water Slicer!" Scythes of compressed water lanced out at the man, forcing him to dodge away. He twirled his kukris into a reverse grip, lashing out at each of the water scythes to flick them away. It was all Juvia could do to hold him back.
"No way!" she yelled. Lucy was as shocked as he was. Were these two men mages or something?! But from which guild? She couldn't see any guild symbol. Or were they freelancers?
"Hang in there miss!" called Coby, slamming his balled fist into the water orb.
"Stay out of Juvia's way!" snarled the water mage. Her previously dull eyes were bright with homicidal fury, and the rain seemed to be pounding harder, as if in sympathy. "Water Crane!" Her right hand morphed into water, lashing at Coby like a whip.
"Look out!" Lucy yelled, dreading what was coming. But Coby seemed to not care, only glancing towards Juvia with the same stoic expression, focusing intently on the incoming water whip. The whip lashed and cracked, but never seemed to connect. Quick as a flash, Coby closed the distance, thrusting his forefingers at her as he had done with Sol. But this time they met only water, as Juvia's body morphed to match the threat.
"Juvia won't let you-" she was cut off as the blond leapt at her, his foot catching her head. She rolled into a heap, her body returning to its tangible form.
"I really need to improve on my Armament Haki" Coby grumbled, rubbing the back of his head as he shook the water from his hand. The rain was subsiding and Lucy fell to the ground as the water sphere dissipated. She was drenched to the bone, but free.
"Oh pipe down!" retorted the blond named Meppo. "You have Observation Haki. Don't complain Captain." He whipped his blades out to the side, flicking away the blood. Juvia was trying to rise, her hat lost and two red gashes marring her back. She glared at the two interlopers in mingled fear and anger.
"You wanna tag her?" Coby asked.
"Will do." Meppo reached into his coat and got out another pair of handcuffs. "These Seastone Cuffs will shut her down." Coby looked up at Lucy, his stoic look suddenly becoming a scowl.
"Huh?" Lucy was worried. "Mister, what are you…" Then he was gone, just like before. She heard a yell behind her, and spun round to see Coby pinning Sol against a tree, a calloused hand clamped around his mouth. On the ground in front of him was a syringe.
"Trying to poison a girl while kidnapping her? Kill her if you can't her?" Coby snarled. "You guild mages are a despicable lot." He reared his arm back, his fingers outstretched and angled ninety degrees, as if he was grabbing a small ball. Sol struggled, eyes bulging in blind terror. But with his feet off the ground and his back against a tree, his powers were of no help.
"Penta-Finger Gun!" Coby's fingers struck Sol in the chest. Sol coughed, blood bubbling from his mouth and splattering over Coby's hand. Coby tossed him aside like a piece of rubbish, and turned towards Lucy, his face set in that grim mask.
Lucy was afraid. To do something like that to a guild mage, and to say that they were despicable? Was he a knight? A Council agent of some kind? Or did he have some kind of grudge against mages? She had heard of people like that.
Then he smiled, and the aura of fury and murder that had hung about him since his arrival vanished in the blink of an eye.
"Are you all right miss? He held out his hand.
"Uhh…" Lucy blinked, and then shivered. "It's cold...achoo!" She sneezed, and Coby draped his white coat around her shoulders.
"Here," he said, his manner warm and gentle. "It's wet, but it's better than nothing."
"Y-yeah. Thank you so much." Lucy stood up, the coat draped over her wet and heavy clothes. "You saved me from Phantom."
"You know them?" asked Coby, putting his hands in his pockets.
"Coby!" Meppo called. Coby perked up, and Lucy followed his gaze to see Helmeppo standing there, looking confused and angry. Where Juvia had been there was only a puddle dribbling into a nearby drainage grille. His handcuffs lay on the ground.
"She escaped, even though she's a Logia!" Meppo cried out.
"You said you used Seastone, Lieutenant." Coby growled, eyes narrowed.
"I did! See!" Meppo grabbed the cuffs and handed them to Coby.
"Seastone?" Lucy asked, looking around him. "What's that?"
"You don't know about Seastone?" asked Meppo. "That's every Devil Fruit user's ultimate weakness! Outside of water that is."
"Yet she's a Water Logia…" Coby mused. "Navy HQ will need to know of this. She escape to the sewers?"
"Yeah. I thought she was done after I cuffed her, but she just turned into water and went down the drain!" Helmeppo jabbed a finger at the grille.
"And leaving her friend behind." Coby looked back at the bleeding, dying Sol. Lucy gulped at the sight. Seeing a man bleed to death...
True, Sol had meant to kidnap her, to bring her to Phantom for whatever dire or perverted purpose they had in mind. He had even tried to inject her with something. But even then, these two had done something she had thought she would never see; put a man down in cold blood. What if he was just following orders? What if he had a family?
Then she thought of Levy, and her teammates. They had seemed pleased by what Gajeel had done, or at least Sol had.
"Excuse me...but...who are you two?" Lucy asked. She needed to find out who and what these two were. The blonde haired man took off his hat and bowed.
"Don't you recognize our insignia's miss? We're the Marines of the World Government Navy! I am Lieutenant Helmeppo of the One Hundred and Fifty-Third Flotilla, and my CO and best bud, Captain Coby!"
"What's your name miss?" asked Coby, as he used a kerchief in his pocket to wipe away the blood. That nice, gentle smile was still on his face.
Coby nodded at the shivering girl, folding his bloodied handkerchief and putting it in his pocket. He noticed how her eyes followed his bloodied hand; was this the first time she had seen blood? A killing?
Who was she? How could she be so sheltered? Coby had grown up amid the horror of the Grand Pirate Era, and like everyone he knew he had faced death many times before the age of seventeen. Yet she was obviously shaken by the sight of a little blood. What kind of place was this?
"It's nice to meet you, Lucy. I'm sorry that you had to experience that. Are you by chance from a noble family?"
Lucy flinched at his question and looked away, pulling the coat tighter around her. She had worked so hard to conceal her true identity, to prevent her guildmates, her neighbours, or anyone, from finding out who she really was. She had cut ties with her father, a man more interested in money than in her, and had chosen to walk her own path. Yet she had gone and blurted out her name in front of two complete strangers.
But these two hadn't seemed to recognise the name. Either that or they were very good at concealing their emotions.
"N-no, I'm not. Magnolia is just a r-really peaceful city."
Coby and Helmeppo looked at each other in bewilderment. Magnolia? Neither had heard of such a place, and they'd both memorised most of the Grand Line islands and cities.
"Is this perhaps an island without a magnetic field?" hazarded Coby awkwardly. "It would explain why the World Government never found this place."
Lucy blinked, even more confused than before.
"Magnetic field…? What are you talking about? This isn't an island."
Helmeppo scratched the back of his head and moved his gaze towards the blue, open sky. He noticed that the rain had stopped completely. Was it because of that Water Logia user? Most likely.
"But if this isn't an island, could it be a part of the walls of Grand Line or a an island-nation like Alabasta?" he mused. "It can't be Red Line, or there'd be Celestial Dragons around; but this could be somewhere in the New World the government missed."
The captain stood with closed eyes and crossed arms, nodding as he considered Helmeppo's words.
"That sounds right. We should contact another ship and have them pick us up. That is, if there's any close enough to hear our Transponder Snails."
"Yeah. I hope the crew's okay without us, and that Bilic got what's coming to him."
"Agreed on that one Lieutenant."
Lucy stood where she was, feeling thorough confused by their conversation. They spoke of Transponder Snails, a Red Line, a Grand Line, Navy HQ, Celestial Dragons, things that Lucy has never heard of. Yet they seemed to think they knew where they were. Just who were they?
"Ehm… Excuse me?" she called out softly, making the two males look at her curiously. The girl tilted her head to the side, looking back and forth between the two of them. "But what exactly are you talking about? Grand Line? Red Line? Celestial Dragons? I'm pretty good at geography, and II can tell you right now that none of those places exist here in Fiore, or even on this continent."
Coby smiled calmly. They were obviously on an isolated island somewhere along the Grand Line. How else could she not have heard about those things? Besides, the temperate climate of this place was very different from what Coby was used to. They had to be some way off the beaten track.
"You don't have to worry about it, Lucy." Coby said, waving a hand in front of him as if to dispel her confused thoughts. "I'm sure everything will turn out alright. Now, should we escort you to your destination?"
"N-no, there's no need to do that!" pleaded Lucy, flapping her hand frantically. "I'll be fine on my own. Besides, you've already helped me enough as it is."
"Nonsense!" Helmeppo said, crossing his arms over his chest with the same polite smile, though it seemed less kind than Coby's because the glasses hid his eyes. "It's our duty to protect citizens, miss. You were targeted by two very powerful enemies and since one of them got away, I have no doubt that more will come after you. That's why we'll escort you to protect you if necessary!"
Lucy looked at the two men in disbelief. Coby noticed the bag of groceries on the ground, both bag and bread soggy from the previous rain. When he crouched down to take up the bag, the paper fell apart, spilling the contents over the ground With a sheepish laugh, Coby starts picking up the apples. Lucy quickly followed his example, retrieving the fortunately plastic-packed fish. She noticed her dropped keys and picked them up as well.
"I guess your groceries got ruined" Coby commented lightly, while still picking up fruits and vegetables. As they finished, Lucy bowed slightly in gratitude, a smile on her face.
"Thank you again. And… I would like to take you up on that offer in escorting me Coby, Helmeppo. I mean, you're right, they might come after me again, right?"
The two Marines nodded, and Helmeppo gestured for her to lead the way. She did so, starting towards the hospital, the two Marines falling in on either side of her. Lucy had to resist a mischievous urge to slip her arms through theirs, then remembered she was still wearing Coby's coat.
"Do you want your jacket back, Coby?"
"No, that's all right," Coby shook his head, smiling. " You can keep it for now. It helps in keeping you warm, doesn't it?"
Lucy returned the smile. There was something quite nice about being escorted by two handsome men, even a pair as odd as those two. If not for them, she would have been a Phantom Lord prisoner by now.
But for all that, Lucy couldn't help glancing at Sol. He was still on the ground, coughing and rasping. She was more than a little surprised that he was still alive. When Helmeppo saw her line of sight, he stepped between her and Sol, blocking her view.
"Would you rather be dead than him?" Helmeppo interrupted, pushing Lucy forward. Lucy was still hesitant, trying to look back at Sol again but Helmeppo would not relent.
"N-no, but… Even so, he's dying!"
"Why do you want to save someone who just tried to kill you?" Helmeppo was incredulous. "The world is a little more dangerous than you think, miss! If someone tries to kill you, you have to kill them first! Nothing good will come of helping that man, trust me! Me and the Captain know their kind!"
Well, that wasn't entirely true. Helmeppo hadn't directly experienced it, but he had heard enough stories to know what helping pirates was a bad idea. Turn your back and in went the knife. All he could do now was get Lucy away before she saw too much.
"So, where are we going, Lucy?" Coby asked to steer away her thoughts from the man they were leaving to bleed out in the street.
"W-We should at least call for help. He is dying" Lucy pleaded.
"Remember what I said?" Helmeppor retorted with a sigh. "We should-"
"I know that Sol and the possibly the rest of Phantom Lord are scumbags to the core but… but no one deserves to die, right!" Lucy called out as she ran towards the bleeding, twitching heap that was Sol. She knelt down beside him and rolled him over, looking for his injuries. His suit was soaked with blood.
"Oh no! He's lost a lot of blood!" Lucy paled at the sight, but steeled herself. She had to try and save him, at least.
"Captain," Helmeppo sighed, "should we-"
"Helmeppo, use your Transponder Snail to get in contact with any Navy or medical facilities." Coby knelt down beside Lucy, removing Sol's shirt and applying pressure on the wound. "Lucy, push down for pressure. I'll apply first aid." He reached behind his back and drew out a bottle. He opened it, dropped five tablets into his open palm, then placed one in each of the holes in Sol's chest. The Phantom mage jolted and squirmed.
"It hurts, but your wound is closing," he said sternly, holding him in place as Lucy pushed down. "The capsules have a foam that expands when in contact with blood, and capable of stopping bleeding. It's only temporary, but enough to get you a hospital." He noticed Sol's eyes drift weakly towards him. "And you should be thanking her, not me."
Lucy looked back, eyes wide. World Government Navy? Well they were obviously soldiers, or was the proper term sailors? Either way they were military types, based on their attire and the way they spoke to each-other. But the World Government Navy? Something else she'd never heard of.
"Meppo, carry him. Miss Heartfilia, do you know where the nearest hospital is?" Coby asked briskly. Helmeppo pocketed his Transponder Snail after speaking into it and grumbled as he hoisted Sol over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. He heard Sol cry out from the sudden movement.
"Uhhh...I know the way. Follow me." Lucy abandoned her ruined groceries and led the way out of the alley.
Who on earthland were they?
AN Zaru: MERRY CHRISTMAS AND SURPRISE. So yeah, this is my reboot of CMM, in the form of the Magical Misadventures of Misplaced Marines, or M4! Major thanks to Meatbun Attack and Juubi-k in helping creating this and in MBA in co-writing this with me. I can handle solo writing, but I can't sustain it. Only by working with others can my muse be tickled and loved. That is something I have found out about myself, so here it is.
Now, things will be different than what I outlined in CMM's final author's note, though some things will remain the same. Plus I think it helped I am starting within canon rather than years before. Makes writing easier.
AN Meatbun Attack: I hope you liked the first chapter, we have all worked together on this one. :D It's a lot of fun to be a part of this story and I promise you, if you liked the first CMM, you won't be disappointed with this one. Just saying. :3
English to Japanese(for all you weaboos out there, though you may know them.):
Observation/Armament Haki=Kenbunshoku/Busoshoku Haki