Rise of the Thirteen Cataclysms
Natsu and his guild-mates touched down at the familial black Iron Gate that represented the core of Nightshade Palace's outer defenses.
After placing his palm on the lacrima scanner, the massive gates creaked open revealing the redesigned Castle.
The rebuilt Nightshade Palace featured a massive facade, with the main part of the castle being flanked by two wings, further elongating the facade in its whole. The main section possessed a huge entrance topped by a pyramid-shaped roof and by a high, decorative part above it, with its arched top ending in a circular window.
Sitting above the arch was another pyramid-shaped roof, which has a long pole protruding upwards from it, and at the tip was black banner with a red heart and spider-web crack background imprinted on it, Shattered Heart's mighty emblem.
The rest of the main part's facade is covered in a multitude of elongated windows, with some of them, protruding outwards, being also present on the lower part of the pitched, tiled roof.
Flanking this central section are two massive, round towers, which seem to have rather small lower sections and get larger near their center, where they also gain intricate decorations adorning all of their upper parts, reaching up to the pointed tiled roofs.
However, the entire palace was coated in black and red paint, staying true to its medieval and gothic theme. The purpose of the rebuilding was to accommodate for the massive recruitment of new Shattered Hearts members.
"Wow. This is quite a headquarters." complimented Logan.
"Yep, the master wants nothing but the best." answered Mikayla with a grin.
"Speaking of which, what is he like?" asked Logan.
"You're about to see for yourself." answered Natsu, before opening the twin redwood doors that led to the interior of the castle.
The six mages were blasted with heat as they entered the castle, while the redwood doors slowly creaked shut.
The interior was redesigned too, the floors were painted in a white and black chessboard pattern and the walls were painted in red stripes, there were statues of knights and weaponry along the hallways, and the walls had a multitude of paintings and trophies attached to them.
The ceiling was a now a massive dome with ornate designs of bloody battles and unyielding warriors, almost like it was telling a story. The chandeliers were still present however, illuminating the entire palace in an ethereal light.
"This way." said Natsu, before heading to the hallway at the farthest left.
At the end of the hallway were twin metal doors, grand in design with their ebony door handles. The Dragon Slayer quickly pulled the doors open revealing the palace's conference room, and the eight people present.
An expansive, elliptical conference table, which consisted of fine marble, stood in the center of the room. The eight people present were seated in some of the fourteen lavishly designed armchairs, with soft cushiony leather and golden frames.
"Ah, Excellent. Welcome back everyone, I take it that your mission was a success, seeing the extra man accompanying you. Take your seats, so we can begin the meeting." said Damian, who was sitting at one of the ends of the table.
In the aftermath of their defeat at the Hargeon prison, Lucy carried Erza to the local doctor to get their injuries looked at and wrapped up. Afterwards, they checked in at a relatively nice hotel to rest up before heading to Magnolia.
The two girls sat in stunned silence in their shared room, replaying the events that transpired at the prison in their minds.
"I can't believe it. One hit. He defeated me in one hit! How is it possible for him to possess such strength?!" thought Erza in disbelief.
The female S-Class mage had never been so helpless in a battle before! If it wasn't for her opponent's need to be somewhere else, she would have died today.
Erza clenched her fists as tight as possible, until her nails dug into her skin and she drew blood. It was absolutely frustrating, why was she so weak?
Lucy on the other hand, was trying as hard as possible to not break into tears. She had not only been absolutely embarrassed in that battle, but she had lost a Celestial Spirit in combat.
She wasn't even sure that was possible, normally spirits returned to their realms before sustaining fatal damage.
But if it wasn't for Taurus's noble sacrifice, she wouldn't be here right now.
"Taurus…" thought Lucy in sadness.
The blonde squeezed the pillow she was holding even harder, but the tears were starting to flow.
Lucy vividly remembered all the memories she had with the fallen spirit. Taurus was an absolute pervert, the moment she began developing breasts, he wouldn't stop going gaga around her.
However, he had always defended her when she needed him, and now he was gone thanks to her incompetence.
"DAMN IT!" roared Erza, startling the crest-fallen Lucy.
The swords-woman threw a punch at the bed she was sitting on, splitting the piece of furniture in half.
Lucy shook in fear and a comical sweat drop appeared, "Even when she's injured, she has monstrous rage power." thought the blonde.
"I won't allow this to go on. I will train as hard as possible, even in the depths of hell, to exact my revenge!" growled Erza, a red aura emanating from her.
"Scary…" thought Lucy fearfully.
Erza sat back down, finally calm, before turning to Lucy.
"We really got our butts handed to us today, didn't we?" asked Erza, mournfully.
"Yeah." answered Lucy, despondent.
"I'm sorry for what happened to Taurus. He has my eternal thanks for saving my life." said Erza with a slight smile.
"He was always brave." said Lucy, returning the smile but breaking into tears again.
Erza nodded, before pulling Lucy in for a hug. The blonde was at first taken aback, but she soon relaxed and began releasing her pent up emotions, returning Erza's warm embrace.
"It's all my fault, if I wasn't so weak, Taurus wouldn't have had to die!" cried Lucy, tears flowing.
"It's alright. It wasn't your fault, for Taurus to sacrifice himself to save you, he must have really loved you enough to believe that your life was worth risking his…" began Erza.
Lucy sniffled, but continued to listen to the older female.
"Let's make a promise. From here on out we will become stronger, mentally and physically, so no one will have to die protecting us." said Erza.
Lucy pulled herself from Erza's chest and nodded. Her face was a mess of tears, but she tried her best to manage a small smile.
"I need to pull myself together. Taurus wouldn't want me to sulk forever, he would want me to move on and live life to the fullest." thought Lucy.
"Thank you, Erza." said Lucy, feeling better.
"No problem. Tomorrow we will head for Magnolia, so you can join Fairy Tail." said Erza, with a smile.
"Alright." said Lucy, returning the smile.
The blonde slid over to the other side of the damaged bed, and tucked herself in for the night. The scarlet-haired S-Class mage did the same and turned off the lamp-light before turning in.
Erza's earlier rage punching of the bed had smashed its center, causing the piece of furniture to cave in and the girls to be snuggled together.
But it didn't matter, and nor did they care, because a lasting friendship had been forged that night. One created by rage and sadness, defeat and loss, and a mutual understanding.
"After seven long years, I have finally assembled a team of thirteen of the most formidable mages in all of Fiore! Now, I can finally say that Phase One of my plan is complete." said Damian with a smirk.
"Phase One?" thought Logan, oblivious to the different steps of Damian's final plan.
"Oh yes, I forgot. Logan, you are new, so you probably don't know what I mean by Phase One." said Damian.
"No, I do not." answered Logan.
"All Phase one was, was to gather all of you and now that's complete. Phase two is to annihilate any guilds, legal or illegal, who will stand in the way of our plans, most likely the Balam Alliance and legal guilds with wizard saints. Phase three is destroy the Magic Council and Monarchy, and then assume the throne." said Damian.
Logan nodded in understanding.
"Now that that's out of the way, it is time for the numbers ceremony." said Damian.
"Yes!" said Drake in excitement.
"Before I do that however, Natsu, I will need you to disband your team, Dragon King's Pride." said Damian.
The Chaos Dragon Slayer raised an eyebrow from the other end of the table, wondering why.
"I need you to disband because I'm going to have all thirteen of you work as a team. If you still had your personal legion, you'd probably neglect the others. But don't worry, all of them are still your subordinates, use them as you see fit." said Damian.
Natsu nodded his head in agreement, even though he was a little unhappy to see his team go, the master's reasoning made sense. Besides instead of 4, he had 12 people to obey him, outside of the grunts.
"Good, from now on, you will be known as the Thirteen Cataclysms." said Damian.
None of the thirteen members objected, it was actually a pretty cool team name.
"Alright then, the first order of business is finished. Now for the numbers ceremony." said Damian.
Immediately after Damian had announced the beginning of the numbers ceremony, two Shattered Hearts foot soldiers brought in a large lacrima orb that was embedded on a pedestal.
"Very good, place that on the center of the table." said Damian.
"What is that, master?" asked Arya.
"This is a Blood Injection MPF reader." answered Damian.
"MPF reader?" asked Mikayla.
"MPF reader stands for Magic Power Finder." answered Damian.
"Why is it a blood injection MPF, rather than a regular one?" asked one of the mages present.
"A normal MPF reader can be fooled by a mage who doesn't input all of their latent magical energy into the machine, or uses a technique that is not of their own power." began Damian.
"Also, the MPF reader can only withstand a certain amount of force, so if the person's magical power is massive, the force would destroy the machine." continued Damian.
"However, with the blood infusion type, all you need to do is insert a little blood and the machine will be able to calculate the maximum amount of magical power that your body can release at any given point." finished Damian.
"How can the machine figure this out by scanning our blood?" asked Natsu, intrigued.
"A mage's magical energy fuses with their red blood cells, and this special kind of MPF reader has special sensors that can detect the quality of magical energy in the bloodstream." answered Damian.
"Now, your rankings within the Thirteen Cataclysms will be based on the numbers that the MPF reader determines. Before you say that these numbers do not factor in speed, agility, strength, etc. let me tell you that it does." began Damian.
"Meaning that if you have a much lower number than another, you most likely will not be able to defeat said person, however, if your numbers are very close, then it boils down to skill and experience." continued Damian.
"Are there any questions?" asked Damian.
None of the Thirteen Cataclysms raised their hand, all of their questions had been answered by Damian's thorough explanation.
"Good, then let's begin." said Damian.
The Blood Injection MPF ejected strips of plastic and a tiny needle out of several ports on the pedestal.
The members of the Thirteen Cataclysms each picked up a strip and created a small incision on their pointer fingers, before dripping a tiny bit of blood on the strips.
Afterwards, they all carefully input their blood samples into the ports on the MPF reader and waited for the results.
After a couple of minutes, the MPF reader began to glow, showing the completion of its calculations, before startling the Thirteen Cataclysms by speaking.
"Calculations completed. Now processing results." said the MPF reader.
"Freaky." said Drake.
"Begin whenever ready, MPF." said Damian.
"Affirmative. Before proceeding with results, a quick comparison with known values. A normal human: 15. A Rune Knight: 50. A Captain of a Rune Knight Unit: 350. Average Range for S-Class Mages: 3000+. Average Range for Wizard Saints: 7000+." said the MPF reader.
"Rank Tertiodecima (13), with an MPF score of 4216, Avery Sage." said the MPF reader.
"Damn it. I'm the weakest?" thought Avery, ticked off.
Avery, 16 years old, is about 5ft 4in with a slender build and long dark blue hair. She is peach skinned and is wearing a blue schoolgirl uniform with white sneakers. She utilizes lightning magic.
"Rank Duodecima (12), with an MPF score of 4220, April Sage." said the MPF reader.
"At least I'm not last." huffed April.
April, Avery's older twin sister, looked almost identical to her sister. The only difference is her lighter colored blue hair and white schoolgirl uniform and blue sneakers. She utilizes water magic.
"Rank Undecimo (11), with an MPF score of 4515, Keith Summer." said the MPF reader.
"Eleven?!" thought Keith in absolute disbelief.
Keith, 32 years old, is 5ft 10in with a lean build and short, spiky brown hair. He is dark tan skinned and is wearing a brown short-sleeve jacket with a furry collar, red pants, and black boots. He utilizes Magma magic.
"Rank Decimo (10), with an MPF score of 4572, Logan Yeager." said the MPF reader.
"This is quite a big world, the majority of these people are stronger than I." thought Logan.
Logan, 45 years old, is 5ft 9in with a bulky build, black hair and sideburns. He is pale skinned and is still wearing his orange prison jumpsuit. He utilizes summoning magic.
"Rank Nonus (9), with an MPF score of 5608, Jordan Steele." said the MPF reader.
"That's quite a jump. I guess I'm in no danger of losing my rank." thought Jordan.
Jordan, 28 years old, is 6ft 3in with a lean build and blonde hair. He is peach skinned and is wearing a purely white martial arts gi and black shoes. He utilizes the magic of creating metal chains.
"Rank Octava (8), with an MPF score of 5632, Dalia Chase." said the MPF reader.
"Not bad." thought Dalia.
Dalia, 26 years old, is 5ft 6in with a voluptuous figure and long, curly light grayish-brown hair. She is very pale skinned and is wearing a partially unzipped leather jacket, short purple skirt, and brown boots. She utilizes acid magic.
"Rank Septimus (7), with an MPF score of 5794, Xavier Schroeder." said MPF reader.
"Middle of the pack, alright." thought Xavier.
Xavier, 18 years old, is 6ft even with a lean build and messy orange hair that reaches his shoulders. He is peach skinned and is wearing a black business suit with a white dress shirt and black neck tie. He utilizes radiation magic.
"Rank Sextus (6), with an MPF score of 5812, Allen Walker." said the MPF reader.
"So I'm the strongest outside of the former Dragon King's Pride members, interesting." thought Allen.
Allen Walker, 35 years old, is 6ft 2in with a muscular build and long, spiky dark red hair that reaches his lower back. He is dark skinned and is wearing a black tank-top, blue pants, and black boots. He utilizes magnetism and force magic.
"Rank Quinta (5), with an MPF score of 8820, Mikayla Nylock." said the MPF reader.
The entire room went silent upon the revelation of Mikayla's MPF level, with the exception of the former Dragon King's Pride members who already knew what to expect.
"Her strength level is over 3000 greater than that of Allen?!" thought all of the members ranked 7 and below.
"No surprise." thought Lucas, uninterested.
"As expected." thought Arya, not surprised.
"There's a reason why us five are the top dogs. Now all of them know it." thought Mikayla, with a smirk.
"Heh, not bad." thought Drake with a chuckle.
"There's that much of a gap?" thought Natsu, unimpressed. He knew Arya and the others were stronger than ranks 6-13, but he didn't think it would be that great.
"Rank Quarto (4), with an MPF score of 8836, Lucas Silverknight." said the MPF reader.
"These former Pride members are monsters, they've surpassed the requirement for Wizard Saints by leaps and bounds!" thought Allen in shock.
"Pretty good." thought Lucas.
"Come on, come on. Please, let me be number two!" thought Drake.
"Rank Tertio (3), with an MPF score of 8898, Drake Adamancion." said the MPF reader.
"GODDAMN IT!" yelled Drake as loud as he could, startling most of the other members.
"Hahaha." chuckled Arya, joyful at besting Drake.
"Rank Secunda (2), with an MPF score of 8902, Arya Solaris." said the MPF reader.
"Bullshit. I've been had." growled Drake, much to Arya's amusement.
"It's alright Drake, in the end the better mage won." mocked Arya.
"Why you…" growled Drake.
"Let us continue please." said Damian with slight annoyance.
Then the entire table went silent, everyone wondering how much stronger Natsu was than Arya.
"Rank Primo (1), with an MPF score of 14450, Natsu Dralogia." said the MPF reader.
Most of the people at the table had their eyes bulging, their mouths hanging open…. or both.
"Over 14,000? That's nearly my level! What in the hell kind of training did he do behind my back to get so strong?" thought Damian.
"Even after pushing my body above and beyond, you still exceed me greatly, Natsu." thought Arya, with a hint of disappointment in herself, but more so in admiration and respect for the Dragon Slayer.
"He's nearly TWICE as strong as me?! Have I been slacking off or something?" thought Drake in embarrassment.
"Wow! Awesome, you are truly something Natsu." thought Mikayla, in a fangirl moment.
"Absolutely astounding." thought Lucas.
"Hmph, I guess this shows who's the strongest, once and for all." thought Natsu with a smirk.
"Conclusion of Rankings. Distributing Number Tattoos." said the MPF reader.
Instantly thirteen bolts of energy shot out of the machine and hit all of the Thirteen Cataclysms. Amazingly the beam didn't hurt or jolt them at all, and after two seconds it stopped.
"Alright everyone, check your Shattered Hearts tattoos and tell me what you find." said Damian with a smile.
The Thirteen Cataclysms checked their tattoos and were amazed to find a black number imprinted on the tattoo, signifying their rank.
"Oh boy, it's getting late. This concludes our meeting for today, you are free to go to your rooms and get a good night's sleep. Tomorrow morning at 9:00 sharp I will brief you all on the next mission for the beginning of Phase Two." said Damian.
The guild master got up from his lavish armchair and walked towards the exit, before stopping abruptly.
"You have all shown exceptional talent, and for that you have been rewarded with the highest positions in this guild. Serve me well as the Thirteen Cataclysms, especially you Natsu, as its leader. Do not fail." said Damian with a completely serious expression, one of the few times he did so.
The Shattered Hearts officers nodded before saying, "Sir!" in unison.
And with that the Shattered Hearts Guild Master took his leave from the conference room.
Author's Note: And that's Chapter 9. Now I will try to answer the many questions that this chapter may leave you.
1) Why the hell would you disband Dragon King's Pride?! It was created in Chapter 7 with a lot of thought and then we never heard of it during the seven year gap and now it's gone, why, why, why?!
The main reason is because of all these new characters I added. Remember I'm only human, it's hard to write story arcs with Natsu leading up to 12 people on missions and giving them their deserved spotlight, while being on two separate teams! I tried to include these new members in the setup for Dragon King's Pride, but that group was made for those four members, and them only! Now some of you might say, why didn't I just not create these characters, but I created them to even out the numbers for when Shattered Hearts has to fight two or more enemy guilds at once, despite how powerful they are, it's too much of a stretch to have Natsu solo 50 S-Class mages at once (I'm exaggerating a bit, but you get the point) it would make the story get stale as Natsu is just an almighty god who is waiting to smite you. Natsu is OP, but he is not invincible, there are still others out there who are stronger than him, he's just actually part of the upper tier, not like Mashima's Natsu who get's insane plot armor and nakama power ups to defeat all powerful enemies and then gets comically one-shotted by Erza, Laxus, Gildarts, etc.
2) Are MPF power levels here to stay? Will they at least be used for others outside of Shattered Hearts?
No, and no. I am a hardcore DBZ fan (which is why I even bothered to put power levels here in the first place), but this MPF reader thing was just to show how strong the Thirteen Cataclysms are in comparison to themselves and where they are in my story's power scaling (also to give Natsu more hype! :) ). Besides that, battles will be won by willpower, strategy, and magical prowess. Also, this was to establish a firm power scaling structure, one that Mashima's Fairy Tail lacks, so that characters don't get random power ups for no reason or beat enemies that they have no business defeating or one-shotting (I'm talking to you Erza and your cheap-ass Nakagami armor!).
3) Why wont you just tell us how powerful Damian is already?!
Because, I like being a troll. Mwahahahaha!
That's all folks, Have a great weekend!