Hello! I'm back! I don't own Fairy Tail, but Aether and Marionette are mine. Much love, and I hope you like!

It had been a little more than a year since their arrival, and training seemed to have hit its peak.

Aether's teacher was strict one minute, and mellow the next as he sang songs and smoked pipes every meal, activity as unpredictable as the breeze on any day. Her powers themselves allowed her to control sounds, how they traveled through the air, and their effect on her listeners. She could craft a song to put the men to sleep, or bring them to a rallying cry, and steal the voice of any annoying dweeb. In this same way, her practice relied on social visits with their guild, and her relationships were no longer as caustic as they once were. However, Marionette was a different story.

Marionette's elemental magic was water, and as such, she was taught in the woods with Windell and his small team. Spartan had never forgiven her, and he showed his dislike in every combat practice. Windell, on the other hand, was a man devoid of emotion. He was strict in form and depended on the more traditional training associated with magic. While Spartan trained the body, Windell trained the mind, and both shaped how her magic progressed into an art. Her speed and strength were reflected in her grace as she moved, while her mind showed in her control of the ever-changing element.

While Aether was always in the guild or working with her teacher, Marionette was in the wilderness with but a few members. Aether became the center of attention, a tavern's musician whose music reached all ears, while Marionette was the animal who returned for intermittent amounts of time. As their knowledge of this new world grew, their connection diminished….

('o')

"Hellllooo Chain Game!" Master Vincent's voice echoed through the hall, his presence and enthusiasm succeeding in riling up his biker phenoms. "It's that time of year again, for the Grand Magic Games! I know many of you might be wondering why this is important, as we have never placed before – BUT – our new age arrivals have settled in nicely, don't you think?" The members hooted and hollered, some patting Aether's back as they laughed, or looked to Marionette perched on one of the broken columns in the throne room. "Well, what do you say we put em to the test? See if they get us placement in the finals, hmmm? Now, of course, we can't expect this immediately, but we have some gifts for you dearies!" Dr. Jekyll's sudden appearance on stage rattled Marionette, especially after noticing the two boxes in his hands. "Don't be shy, bring em up!"

With that command, hands grabbed the girls, ushering them upfront not too nicely. Couple of trips and falls through the small crowd had them at the feet of the stage, before being lifted up by a few of the taller attendees.

"Now, my little doves, I have two gifts for you!" Upon receiving the box, they made eye contact. It had been a while since they were so close, but their eyes shared the same feelings of apprehension at the well-crafted boxes. "Go on!"

Opening the boxes, their hearts stopped as one. Skin turned pale, as eyes dilated in fear and heads went light. "What a look, I think they like it, boys! Now, we had to reward em for getting stronger, and now that they are gonna be representing Chain Game, gotta make sure their up to the task no?" The crowds laughed, but the girls couldn't think. Aether was frozen, unable to fully digest what the box, but Marionette knew and she bolted. However, the master's chains restrained her, and they were taken back to the basement from whence they came so many months ago.

For within the boxes were two, beautifully crafted items for each. The first seemed a necklace. There was a dove as if in mid-flight, whose wings were restrained by the chains used to wrap around the throat. Its design was delicate, but it meant so much more for the master. It was a beautiful collar for his new pets, disguised as a choker. Alongside it was the promise of the guild's future rise in power. A lacrima for each, one dragon and one god, both of which would become Chain Game's weapons in the future games.

('^')

(2 years after arrival, and their first GMG – about 17 years old)

"Stupid job. Stupid guild. Stupid games getting us more jobs, and stupid names…." Marionette was annoyed, to say the least. It had been 2 months since the games, and while Aether and Marionette were not fully awakened, their guild still placed fifth in the finals surprisingly. More jobs were coming in asking for the two beauties of Chain Game, or rather the Dragoness or the Muse(if you cant guess that Marionette received the dragon slayer lacrima, and Aether the god slayer lacrima, shame on you), and more greed followed as few breaks were allowed to ensure maximum efficiency when earning rewards for the guild. Their sudden boosts in lost magic allowed them to pass most of their guildmates in power, thus forcing them to fight each other in the hopes of actually seeing improvement.

As of right now, Marionette was actually on her way 'home' from a rather difficult job taking place in the mountains, and it would take at least a day to walk back to Crocus and hit the rail. Her clothes were ragged, the black heeled boots scuffed and leather jacket shredded, leaving ripped jeans and a teal tank top to cover what it could.

There wasn't much to think about really. The walk was nice as the woods seemed to calm her inner dragon, its anger at their constant subjugation since its 'birth' finally quieted to a content rumbling. A brook to her left laughed as it tripped and fell down the hillside, its pleasant presence acting as a balm on her tired mind. These past few weeks had actually been the first times she had been allowed on solo jobs (whether an increase in the guild's faith or the collar's power radius was the cause, she knew not) but she was finally able to explore this new world without the stifling presence of her rabid guildmates. However, her guild was running her haggard with their job requests, and each job she returned more scuffed than the last. But this time she would take a long way home. Take her time to relax and explore, some time to herself.

That is until a small buzz hit her ear. It was a sound too far off in the distance to make out, but definitely unnatural as far as Marionette was concerned. I could have sworn I cleared the mountain of those weird apes – did I miss one? There wasn't much to go on, but she knew what direction the sound came from and walked in that direction. The next sound was more of a grunt, but as she started to pick up speed, a scream had her running at full tilt. THAT was no Vulcan.

The various yells became clearer, and the scent of blood hung in the air, but what angered her was the scene she came upon. Broken branches indicated a chase, while burns and sliced trees laid in the groups wake described their intent. Definitely not Vulcan. Meters away there seemed to be a clearing, but she stayed hidden to see the situation first.

Men were laughing as their attached two boys, one of which was unconscious and being defended by the other. The men showed wear and tear like the boys had put up a good fight, but she could sense their depleted energy stores and knew they were in bad shape.

Marionette crept from the tree line, emerging behind the offenders, her presence only noticed by the boy as he looked on in confusion at the new arrival.

Her smile sought to calm him, but a whiff told them more about each other than before any introduction could…. Dragonslayer… This helped to reassure the boy, his stance slightly relaxing as the female's aura sought to calm, while the knowledge struck Marionette and her beast hard. Young dragonslayers… These guys are so going down.

The cracking of knuckles alerted the laughing bandits to her presence, but spinning around they were greeted by a haggard girl. "Hey girlie, whatcha doin out in this neck of the woods?"

"Oh you know, just fuckin around. Hey kid?" The boy's eyes shot to hers, body tensing again in case of a new assault, "Need a hand?" Without waiting for an answer, Marionette shot forward. Of the three men, she went left first for the weapons expert. A swift punch to the neck had him chocking on the ground, while the kick the head had him out for the count. Two more to go… From the smell, the one on the left was like smoke, while the right was like rain. Interesting, fire and water combo. The fire mage sought to strike first, but Marionette ducked under the blast before moving to dodge the water whip aimed for her neck. "Ohhh I like that, think I can do it?" Marionette quickly copied the magic, her whip quickly flicked the extinguish the fire mages hands and pull him close for a headbutt, immediately regretting the action even if the man was now out of the equation. "Damn, talk about a hard head." Looking at the water mage, she simply held up her arm and allowed the whip to wrap. "Really, is that all you know how to do? Embarrassing." And to the man's astonishment, she brought her arm to her mouth, slurping up the whip-like spaghetti. "Ugh, how old is that water, man?" "What the hell?!" And with a swift sweep of the legs and stomp of the ground, the bandits were goners.

Turning to the kid, she finally took the time to assess the situation. He had a cut running down his right eye no doubt from the water mage's whip, and by his height, he couldn't be much younger than her actually, just no puberty yet. His blond hair was matted, clothes ripped and stained, and yet he stood, even if he was swaying slightly. As she moved to approach, he answered with a threatening growl, crouching over his companion. Oh brother…