Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, RWBY, Fairy Tail, Bakugan, Harley Quinn, Teen Titans, or Devil May Cry. They are the property of their respective owners/creators/license holders! This is a fan-made work that I created for fun. It is not to be taken as an attempt to cheat the up owners. I do not stand to gain money or further my career as a result of this story. Please support the official release.

Chapter Seven

"You know, there's better ways to say hello," Trish speaks, staring into shadows of the corridor. She had been searching through the monks' quarters when someone blasted a hole in the wall.

A small girl in her late teens steps daintily over the debris and into the hallway. "Sorry. It looks like I got carried away in all the excitement," she gives a predatory smile whose menace is undone by her own appearance.

Looking more like a bratty teenager than a menacing villain, she is dressed in grungy clothes and her dark hair is up in pig tails.

Trish rolls her eyes. "What do you want, Claudia?"

Claudia looks aghast at the callous tone. "Can't a girl just come check up on her big sister?" she sniffles with some fake tears to boot.

"it's a real family reunion," Trish snarks, her eyes roving the halls behind Claudia.

"Don't worry. Daddy's not here," Claudia smirks when she catches Trish on the lookout. "You made us so sad when you ran off without saying anything," Claudia pouts. "We miss you. I miss you," she adds as an after thought, her voice vulnerable and fragile.

"You mean he misses his puppet," Trish snaps and feels a twinge of guilt when Claudia's expression makes her look like a kicked puppy. "How did you know to find me here?"

Claudia clasps her hands in front of her chest and idly twiddles her thumbs. "Father's always watching," she answers matter-of-factly. "Ever since you made it to Mermaid Heel."

Trish's breath hitches and her eyes go wide with horror.

"You mean you didn't know?" Claudia's face scrunches up in confusion. "Daddy's been patient with your rebellious phase but he says enough is enough. Let's go," Claudia urges with a sharp clap of her hands.

A surly expression takes over Trish's features. "Rebellious phase? Is that what he told you?"

Claudia gapes at Trish like she's stupid. "Well, duh! Why else would you hang out with a bunch of humans?"

"You sound just like him," Trish shakes her head with disappointment. "You think humans are so inferior."

"Because they are!" Claudia snaps. "A human being could never measure up to a demon."

"Sparda didn't think so."

"Sparda was weak and a traitor," Claudia growls with a manic glint in her eyes.

Trish stares sadly at her sister. "I should have taken you with me," she laments. "I don't even recognize you anymore."

Claudia glowers at Trish as hot tears stream down her face. "I'm glad you left me. You would have made weak just like you."

Trish goes stone-faced and clenches her jaw, her hands creeping to her holsters. "Then you shouldn't have any problems dragging me back."

In the blink of an eye, Claudia closes the distance and stabs furiously with her twin knives. Trish is taken aback but still twists out of the way. A stabbing pain shoots through Trish's skull when Claudia slams her knives together, emitting a high-pitched noise.

Trish crumples to her knees and clutches at her bleeding ears. Claudia stalks closer, immobilizing Trish with a constant barrage of sound in her face. Trish screams and releases a blast of lightning from her body that launches Claudia away. She pulls herself to her feet and uses her hand to wipe away the blood leaking from her eyes and ears.

Undeterred, Claudia charges Trish even as bullets rip through her flesh. Trish backpedals and raises Sparda in a defensive stance.

Claudia ducks under the blade and stabs Trish in the gut, lifting her on the blades like a kebab. Trish snarls and runs a huge amount of electricity coursing through her own body, zapping Claudia.

She howls in pain and stumbles back as the acrid scent of burnt flesh fills the air. Trish goes for a slash with Sparda and Claudia retreats to what seems to be a safe distance. That illusion is shattered when Trish presses a button on the bony handle, making her sword extend like a spear and gore Claudia.

Claudia's form flickers, the skin on her arms and face turning dark and scaly before reverting to tanned flesh. Claudia slaps her hands on Sparda's blade and Trish is forced to let go when bone-jarring vibrations flow through her sword.

Claudia strikes out with concussive blasts that crack like thunder. Trish throws up a magic circle and launches a blast of amplified lightning that strikes Claudia head on, moments before she too is struck.

"You've gotten faster," Trish sniffs, whipping out Luce and Ombra.

"And you've gotten weaker. The Trish I remember would have struck me down already. Getting sentimental?" She taunts.

Trish's chest swells up with bravado and she lets out a derisive snort. "Hardly. I'm just prioritizing and right now, you're not my priority." Deep down, Trish knows her words ring true. Damn it! How am I supposed to win without going all out?

Claudia starts crying crocodile tears. "Why are you always so mean?" Claudia sheds her sad expression and puts her hands in front of her mouth like she's playing an invisible trumpet.

"What the hell?" Trish charges her guns with lightning in preparation. Her eyes narrow and her gut screams at her to get out of the way. Trusting her gut instinct, Trish subtly inches closer to one of the monk's rooms.

"Sound Devil's Rage!" Claudia bellows, loosing a stream of concentrated feedback down the hall. Trish dives through an open door and narrowly escapes getting blown away.

"That's new," Trish pants, wiping away the blood leaking from her nose and trying to blink away the stars in her eyes. Trish works overtime pumping her guns with electricity to the point of overwhelming the metal with power.

She steps out into the hall and finds herself being buffeted with waves of sound. Trish braces herself and endures the barrage, electing to return fire rather than protect herself. Some of her shots make it through, lighting Claudia up with yellow lightning.

This gives Trish enough of a reprieve to take proper aim and unleash the rest of the lightning in the shape of a concentrated beam.

Claudia gets lit up with electricity, her mouth opening in a silent scream. The electricity fizzles out on its own, leaving Claudia with smoke wafting off her form and her clothes a scorched mess.

Claudia shrieks with fury and throws a temper tantrum, launching sound waves indiscriminately around them. Trish takes cover when a blast narrowly avoids taking her head off. The barrage kicks up a cloud of dust and debris that makes its way into the room where Trish is hiding. When the dust clears up a bit, she takes a peek outside to find Claudia gone and big hole in the floor.

Trish chances going back into the hallway to retrieve her sword while her eyes dart madly about trying to find Claudia.

Where'd she go? Claudia's never been one to run away.

She receives her answer when a winged creature erupts from the hole in the floor and grabs Trish by the throat in an iron grip. The two sisters come face-to-face and race through the air down the hall.

Claudia's shed her human guise and her face is now pale and scaly. Her eyes blaze red and saliva drips from her jagged fangs. Unable to escape, Trish's hand surges with electricity and pierces through Claudia's gut. Claudia releases an inhuman wail and the two sisters tumble out of the air, crashing through a wall. The two separate upon hitting the ground and land a short distance apart.

Trish dusts herself off, a quick look around revealing the two siblings are now standing in a large atrium. The setting sun blazes through the skylight and shines a light on the extensive amount of dried blood covering the room.

"Why must you keep resisting?" Claudia wails with genuine tears dripping down her bloodied face.

Trish stomps down her swelling guilt and tries to focus on the fight at hand. "I could ask you the same thing. We shouldn't be fighting. I don't want to fight you."

"Then you make this easy for me," Claudia roars, streaking forward with a slash of her talons that is soundly blocked by Sparda. Trish gazes sadly at Claudia even as she's forced to dodge and block more strikes.

"Stop. Playing. Defense. Coward!" Claudia shrieks, punctuating her words with increasingly vicious strikes.

"I'm sorry," Trish says, slamming a lightning-infused fist into Claudia's gut. "But I have a mission to complete. Just stay out of this."

Claudia holds tight to Trish's arm and springs up to sink her teeth into Trish's throat. Teeth sink into flesh and would have ripped into Trish's trachea if she hadn't charged her body with electricity at the last moment.

Claudia spits out the hunk of flesh trapped in her teeth.

"Just come back," Claudia pleads, reverting to her softer and more human appearance. "I just want things to be how they used to be."

"You know I can't do that. The things he would do to us; things he would have us do to others. I can't do it anymore."

A series of booms has the temple shaking down to its foundation. Claudia frowns at her sister. "It's those friends of yours, isn't it? That's why you won't come back."

"It's more than-"

"It doesn't matter," Claudia interrupts. "Those explosions you heard? That was my allies taking out your friends. Now you can come back and we can be together again."

Trish shakes her head sadly at Claudia's desperate delusion. Before Claudia can react, Trish fires one last charged shot from her pistols. This time her aim is not Claudia but the ceiling above. The electric blast punches a hole in the stone bringing rubble cascading down on Claudia. With one last shock to Claudia's nervous system, Trish walks away, leaving her stunned sister buried under rubble.

"One day, I hope you'll understand," Trish offers, forcing herself not to look back.

A scream of absolute fury sounds from under the rubble and the debris explodes in a mass of purple and yellow light.

"Give me a break," Trish huffs, staring up at the giant knight-like being looming over her. A menacing growl sounds from its throat and Claudia calls down from her perch on its shoulder.

"You won't fight me? Fine. Then you can contend with my friend: Sparkus Linehalt!"

"Your wish is my command, Lady Claudia. What do you desire of me?"

Claudia jabs a finger at Trish. "Beat her within an inch of her life! Ability Activate: Galvanizer!"

Trish books it when she sees the mass of electricity hurtling her way but is too slow and gets hit. Trish screams herself hoarse as the lightning does its work scorching and burning her skin away. When it's over, Trish is left a charred, blood-slicked mess.

"Welcome back to the fold, Trish," Claudia hums happily. "I'm never going back, no matter what," Trish murmurs.

"Mmm, aren't we feisty?" a sultry voice purrs. "You'll do just fine."

Trish flinches when a purple light comes rocketing at her face and stops just inches away.

"A Bakugan?" Trish mutters feeling baffled. "I thought Lucy only had the two."

"She does. I'm the cavalry, darling. And it looks like I'm just in time. You don't look so hot."

"Bite me," Trish snaps.

The Bakugan opens up and a chiseled and feminine face peeks out. "We can talk dirty later," she croons. "Right now, I believe we have a fight to win."

Trish regards the Bakugan with scrutiny and suspicion before heaving a tired sigh. "Beggars can't be choosers," Trish breathes and pulls herself into an unsteady standing position, swaying on her feet. "Bakugan Brawl! Rise, Sparkus Nevan!" Trish watches with wide eyes as thhe Bakugan gives rise to a colossal woman.

Her skin is a mottled green and her hair a flaming orange with a witch's hat perched crookedly on her head. Her tight corset is a matching purple and leaves little to the imagination with a floor-length skirt that hangs from her hips.

"Hey, cutie," Nevan flirts, unslinging a purple guitar from her back. "You want me to play you a love song?"

"Don't just gawk at her, Linehalt! Attack! Ability Activate: Jumping Volt!"

Linehalt hurls a lightning bolt that Nevan dodges with ease. Trish cries out a warning when the bolt bounces off a wall at Nevan's exposed back. "Oh, please," she scoffs. "Dracula Swarm!" A swarm of sparking bats with gleaming red eyes converge behind Nevan and form a fluttering shield that blocks the bolt. "Don't just stand there, sweetheart. Use my Ability Cards," Nevan chides like she's speaking to a clueless child.

Trish glares down at her Baku-Meter. "How does this thing work?" She mumbles, grazing a button on the side. Trish quirks an eyebrow when she sees a card project from the face of the device. "Ability Activate: Power Chord!"

Nevan gets heavy handed with her guitar and the instrument wails with power. Through the skylight, Trish sees storm clouds appear and converge as the air electrifies, making Trish's hair stand on end. The static and the smell of ozone are Claudia's only warnings for the bolt of lightning that tears through the ceiling and surges into Linehalt.

Trish looks away and wishes to hell that she could tune out Claudia's agonized screams, her wails cutting into Trish at her core.

"I-It's going to take m-more th-than that to keep us d-down," Claudia stutters, her whole body twitching madly from the electricity surging through her system. "A-Ability A-Activate: Grimm Reflection!"

A massive ornate mirror materializes between the two Bakugan, projecting the static reflections of Trish and Nevan. The image devolves into static, returning to a clear image after a few moments. Their eyes widen when the mirror shows Linehalt standing menacingly over their shoulders.

Nevan turns to face him but is met with a stream of electricity directly to the face.

Trish swears and grabs Sparda off the floor. She switches it to its scythe form and sends it on a round trip for Linehalt's face.

He roars with pain, pawing at the scythe and grasps nothing but air. Trish notes with tired satisfaction that Sparda left a deep gouge in Linehalt's mask.

"Aim for the crack!" Trish orders. "Ability Activate: Jam Session!" Nevan strums madly on her guitar, playing a killer guitar solo that summons a wave of angry bats. With Nevan's prompting, the bats swarm around the crack and detonate.

Linehalt looses a high-pitched shriek and clutches his face while Claudia shrieks at him to fight back. "Double Ability Activate: Thor's Blessing plus Live Wire," Claudia murmurs. Linehalt tears his hand away from his face and glares murderously at Trish and Nevan.

Trish breaks into a cold sweat when she feels the incredible power building up within the enraged Bakugan, his power rising higher and higher with no signs of stopping. "It's over," he rumbles, calling down lightning from the raging storm clouds and wielding it like a whip. He lashes out and lassoes Nevan, trapping her arms against her sides.

"Ability Activate: Thunder Dome."

Linehalt grunts and becomes the epicenter of a concussive blast.

Writhing in agony, Nevan is helpless to defend against the pressure wave that brings down the atrium from the ceiling downward.

"Nevan!"

"I'm on it!" She calls back lunging for Trish as the floor collapses.

"I hope the others are okay," Lucy murmurs. After splitting up, Lucy and her Bakugan had taken the path straight ahead. Lucy hates it. With every step it feels like there's some unseen lurker watching them, waiting for an opportune moment to strike.

The passage follows a downward slope, growing darker until Harpus and Drago are her only sources of light.

"I can't speak for their magical ability," Drago says, "but I can see in them a strength not often seen."

"Drago's right," Harpus says. "You can't spend all your time second-guessing your decisions. A leader that doesn't trust their own intuition is no leader at all."

"Leader?" Lucy snorts. "Who said anything about me being a leader?" Lucy laughs at the absurdity of it. Her chuckles die down when she sees she is the only one laughing. "You guys are serious?"

"For someone who's seen so much, you are willfully blind," Drago chides.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Lucy growls.

"What Drago is trying to say is that you still refuse to see your limitless potential."

"Limitless?"

"There are depths of power that we've still yet to achieve together. As long as we stick together, With time we could possess unimaginable power," Drago reveals.

"It's like Helios said, Drago has the potential to surpass his previous limits but he can't do it on his own," Harpus adds.

"I became as strong as I was because I had Dan as a partner. If you are my chosen partner, then that can only mean Code Eve believes you can take me as far, if not further than I came with Dan."

Lucy stiffens at the mention of the omnipotent being that created the Bakugan. Within her being is the DNA and destiny of every Bakugan that has ever been or will be.

"I could really use her help now," Lucy mutters.

The two Bakugan share a look and heave a sad sigh. "Her help would be invaluable," Drago agrees. "But no one knows where she hid herself away, only that she vowed to return for the final battle. It is there she shall bestow all her power to the victor."

"No pressure," Lucy huffs, her chest clenching with a familiar ache. So much responsibility. I can't do this. It's too much, Lucy trembles in terror, collapsing to her knees.

"Lucy!" Her Bakugan cry out as Lucy's breath comes out in sharp, rapid gasps. Her vision starts to swim as her hyperventilating expels precious oxygen from her lungs. I don't know what I'm doing. I can't even lead a team, let alone save the world!

Harpus returns to her human form and cups Lucy's face in her hands. "Look at me!" She urges until Lucy meets her eyes. "You're not alone in this, okay? I promise. You need to stop hyperventilating, your lips are starting to turn blue."

Lucy nods her understanding but is unable to get her breathing under control. Her head grows murky and Harpus' voice grows distant like she's speaking from the other end of a long tunnel.

Panic rises in her chest the longer she is deprived of air. The fear of death shows itself and Lucy sees her life flash before her eyes. Strangely enough, it isn't her memories of Fairy Tail that take the spotlight. Instead, a single memory pushes its way to the forefront.

She's with her mother in the hospital and crying at her bedside. Her mom pats her on the head and gifts her Aquarius' key. Lucy remembers holding the key tightly to herself like a teddy bear.

Lucy hears what can only be a choir of angels coming for her, belting out a soft and soothing melody. Her eyes flutter closed and Lucy smiles at the sense of peace washing over her as if she is no longer gasping for air.

Lucy's eyes stay closed and she basks in the feeling of something soft brushing her head. After a couple of minutes, color starts to return to her face and her breathing is lulled into a soft and consistent rhythm.

"Lucy?" Harpus asks, her voice dripping with worry.

Lucy cracks her eyes open. "Harpus? What happened?"

"She should be fine," Lyra assures the group startling Lucy into opening her eyes. "Remember what I said, Aquarius," Lyra says and dissolves into motes of light.

"What was Lyra doing here? Why am I on the ground?" Lucy gasps, shutting her eyes back closed and massaging her aching temples.

"You had a panic attack. I summoned Lyra and had her calm you down with a song."

"I thought spirits couldn't summon one another," she groans.

Harpus shakes her head. "No, we can. It just isn't done often."

"How did you know to calm her with music?" Drago asks.

Harpus looks a bit bashful and her cheeks are tinged with pink. "I was a nervous kid. My adoptive mother, Skyress, would always sing me a lullaby to quell my panic attacks."

"Thank you both." Lucy croaks. "I can always count on you two."

"Buy me dinner and we'll call it even," Harpus offers.

Lucy smiles back at Harpus. "Sure thing."

"I wish I could have done more," Drago laments.

"You stayed by my side. You didn't leave me. What more could I expect?" Lucy questions.

"You'll always have us, Lucy. As long as we stick together we can face anything that is thrown at us," Drago assures.

"Besides," Harpus says, "There's still the matter of the other Brawlers that will join us. Kushina didn't hesitate to vow her assistance when we told her the truth and neither will the others once we find them."

Lucy nods tiredly and takes a few minutes to rest before getting up.

Harpus goes to steady Lucy. "Are you sure you're good to go?"

Lucy nods. "I'm fine. We've got villagers to find and bad guys to thrash."

"That's the spirit!"

Harpus stays in her human form and hovers over Lucy like a worried mother hen.

Further down the slope, the back of Lucy's neck starts to prickle and an involuntary shiver wracks her body like she'd been stranded in the Arctic in nothing but her underwear. "Do you guys feel that?"

"Yeah," Harpus shudders. "It's kind of hard to miss."

"It feels like someone is pouring ice water on my back," Drago says. "Whoever's behind this is itching for a fight."

"At least we know we're on the right track," Lucy remarks.

The group continues their descent, the overwhelming feeling of malice growing stronger and more oppressive as they go.

The aura of malice is almost suffocating when they make it to the end of the tunnel and step foot on a large, raised dais. The stench of rot and decay asserts itself, made worse by mixing with the stench of smoke from the torches surrounding them. Something hard crunches underfoot and Lucy grimaces at the sight of a crushed animal bone.

"This place gives me the creeps," Lucy shivers, staring out at the rows of stone coffins stowed in cubbies surrounding the raised dais.

"This must be the catacombs," Drago murmurs.

"I've heard of humans entombing their dead but I never imagined it smelled this bad," Harpus groans.

Lucy looks to Harpus with intrigue. "You mean Bakugan don't bury their dead? What do you do when a Bakugan dies, then?"

"We disperse into energy and return to New Vestroia to nourish the land for future generations," she explains.

Lucy feels a twinge of pity at their explanation and is reminded of Drago's lost love. If that's what happened to Wavern I can only imagine how traumatizing that must have been. Lucy pales at the thought of what it would have been like to see her own mother disappear before her eyes; to not even be left with a body.

"Something wrong, Lucy? You look pale," Harpus remarks, peering at Lucy with a worried eye.

"I just don't like dead things is all," Lucy lies.

"Then I have bad news for you," a woman warns, the echoing quality to her voice giving Lucy the creeps. With a snap, the rest of the catacombs is bathed in torch light, exposing just how large it is. Even with the torch light, Lucy is unable to see where the catacombs end.

But she is able to see the cloaked woman crouched among a pile of fresh and bloody bodies arranged in a circle.

"The villagers," Lucy breathes, staring with anger and sorrow at the frightened and pleading expressions on their faces. Bile rises in her throat when she sees some of them are only children.

"You're going to pay for this," Drago bristles with fury.

"You can try, Drago, but we both know your power is a far cry from what it used to be," she yawns. "I must say, I am quite the fan. It's a pleasure to meet you."

"A pleasure? Is this some kind of joke to you, you sick freak?" Harpus shouts.

"I've never been much for jokes," she shrugs. "That's always been more of the Clown's area of expertise. I care more about getting the job done."

"And what, killing the villagers was a job?" Lucy snarls.

"Oh, calm down," she waves them off. "They're just demons. It's not like they're humans or even Bakugan. They're beasts."

"Who are you and how do you know about me? How do you know about the Bakugan?" Drago demands.

Lucy can tell by the tone of the woman's voice that she is rolling her eyes under her hood. "Honestly, how do you think?" She asks, producing a Bakugan from within her cloak. "Allow me to formally introduce myself. I am Muta and I've been looking for you for a very long time. I'm so glad to see we got your attention."

Lucy trembles with barely contained rage. "So, this was all just to get my attention?" Hot tears run down Lucy's face. "You're a monster!"

"Perhaps. Be that as it may, we need you to die. So long as the Brawlers are alive, the fate of our ancient clash is still up in the air."

"And what do you mean by we?" Harpus glares.

"We are the God Hand and after a thousand years, Code Eve will finally be ours."

Lucy narrows her eyes and takes a cautious step forward. "And why do you want Code Eve so bad? What's your end game?"

Muta plucks at the threads of her cloak, barely paying Lucy any mind. "The same thing we've always wanted. We will return God to Earthland. Then the world will be as it should be."

"It sounds to me like you're just another cult. Who is your God that you would put so much faith in him?" Drago probes.

Muta shuffles forward with an uneven gait. "It doesn't matter. You won't live long enough to see his return."

Without warning, Muta surges forward and grabs Lucy by the roots of her hair and tosses her off the dais.

Lucy's hard landing is made worse from the slipping and sliding through the gore of the dead villagers. Her eyes widen when she sees Muta's fist on a direct course for her skull.

Harpus comes to the rescue and kicks Muta in the temple, throwing off her aim so her fist craters the ground next to Lucy's head.

Lucy's eyes go wide at how close her head came to being smashed like a grape. She scrambles to her feet and backpedals but Muta is relentless, giving Lucy no quarter for rest or retreat.

Harpus maintains her distance and hammers Muta with water spells. Her efforts prove wholly ineffective with Muta shrugging them off and continuing to thrash Lucy like it's nothing.

"Don't be shy, get over here," Muta jeers, taking a break from pummeling Lucy to extend her hand in Harpus' direction. "Silent Snake!"

Lucy watches through her eye that isn't swollen as Muta's hand glows and a tendril of purple energy shoots out, ensnaring Harpus and dragging her over.

"Rush her," Lucy barks and the two girls attack Muta in tandem. Any hopes Lucy had of overwhelming her with numbers are promptly dashed when Muta fends off the both of them with no visible strain on her part.

Muta smiles contently and weaves through their attacks like she's playing a game. Lucy's and Harpus' frustration grows at being made fools as they accrue new injuries from Muta.

Muta takes a few casual steps backward and tilts her head sadly. "I must say, I'm rather disappointed. I was expecting so much more from the both of you," she sighs. "I wonder if my allies are having as lousy a time."

"What are you… on about?" Lucy pants, wincing when the movement of her mouth breaks open the scab on her split lip.

"It's simple. While I'm here destroying you, my allies are busy killing your friends. You really shouldn't have split up the group," Muta chides.

Lucy sees red and rushes Muta with reckless abandon, disregarding Harpus' panicked shouts.

She sidesteps Lucy's clumsy attack and twists her arm behind her back. Muta then casually tweaks the appendage upwards as if trying to determine how far the arm can bend before it breaks.

"A word of advice: if you're going to charge your enemy, be sure you have the power to actually do some damage." Another wrench of Lucy's arm draws out an agonized screech.

The pain dominates her senses, blurring her vision and commanding her thoughts.

Suddenly, Lucy's pain comes to a rest and she hears Muta yelp. "A word of advice: Don't count me out of a fight; ever!" Drago seethes.

Staggered over, Muta has her hand gently cupped over her eye and jerks into an upright position. The sudden movement is enough to make Muta's hood fall back.

She is much younger than Lucy expects, her youthful face belonging to a woman in her mid-teens at most. Her otherwise pretty features are marred by the ragged bandages wound tight around one side of her face and covered in a dark, illegible script.

Muta cringes and her muscles grow taut. Her jaw goes slack and her pupil dilates until it has obscured the yellow iris completely.

"Yes," Muta drones to the air.

Instead of pushing the attack, Lucy hesitates, filled with a growing sense of unease at Muta's vacant expression.

"As you wish," she says flatly, ripping the bandages from her face like wrapping paper on a birthday present.

The bandages fall away to reveal a gruesome sight. Half of Muta's face is a bubbling mass of darkness with razor sharp teeth and a half crown of spikes on her head. The shadow half looses an ear-piercing screech while Muta's human face remains slack jawed and catatonic.

"What the hell is that thing?" Harpus yells.

There's no time to dwell on it as Muta renews her attack. Her manner of attacking has changed drastically; her movements more jerky and primitive while she tries to shred them to ribbons with her claws.

Her attacks are no longer meant to draw out their pain and instead focus on causing as much damage and spilling as much blood as possible.

Lucy makes the mistake of trying to block a wild slash with her arm and gets mauled, Muta's claws ripping through flesh and painting the ground with blood.

"Lucy!" Harpus and Drago cry out. Drago tries hitting her in her human eye and gets plucked from the air. She lifts the Bakugan to her mouth, intent on devouring him when a razor thin stream of pressurized water pierces through Muta's arm like a bullet.

Muta is unbothered even as a viscous, black liquid leaks from her wound. She tosses Drago aside, devotes her attention to Harpus and charges. She is undeterred even as Harpus shoots her repeatedly and fills her with more wounds.

Lucy grabs for Muta with her good arm and nearly gets her arm ripped out of its socket from her momentum.

Muta slashes wildly at Harpus with no discernible pattern to her attacks, running on pure instinct. Harpus does an admirable job keeping up but still receives a bad gash on her belly and leg. With an anguished yell, water erupts from Harpus' body and hits Muta with a shockwave that gives her some breathing room.

Muta seems poised to charge when she freezes mid-step. After a moment, she straightens up and speaks in her normal voice, muttering to herself. "Rest," she whispers. "I'll take it from here," Muta croons scooping up her bandages and reapplying them.

"You never stood a chance," she tells them and points her fingers at Lucy and Harpus. "Silent Supreme." They are helpless to resist when the inky blood on the ground congeals together and covers them in a hardening cocoon.

Lucy struggles weakly against her binds to no avail.

Is this how I die? she wonders. So much for saving the world. Sorry Marucho, Harpus, Drago.

Muta looks down on her prisoners with an uncaring gaze. "Take solace. Your friends will be joining you shortly once my compatriots-" Muta's speech is interrupted with a shriek of anguish and claws at her burning face when the room is bathed in a multi-colored light.

"I don't believe it," Harpus breathes.

Lucy can only nod in agreement, being at a complete loss for words when she sees her Gate Keys breaking free of the key ring and transforming into three Bakugan.

Taurus. Sagittarius. Gemini. Lucy watches them transform into a Subterra, Sparkus, and Darkus Bakugan right before darting off in separate directions. Her eyes widen when she traces their trails. That will take them to- Lucy bursts into laughter, giggling through her fear and pain.

"What's so funny? You think having Bakugan is enough to save your friends?" Muta asks.

"I think you don't give my friends enough credit," Lucy counters. "They won't go down so easy and neither will I," she declares and struggles against her bonds with renewed vigor. She bolsters her efforts when she feels her bonds crack and shift before shattering with one last push.

"Drago!"

"I'm on it," he calls back, flying into Lucy's hand.

"Gate Card set! Rise, Haos Dragonoid!"

Drago rises with a mighty roar, glaring down at Muta with absolute hatred. "You'll find I'm not such an easy target, now."

"Ability Activate: Aurora Cannon!" Drago glows like the Northern Lights and blasts Muta with a multi-colored beam of light.

"Silent Shield!" She conjures a purple barrier that intercepts his attack and diverts it up through the ceiling.

"What?" Lucy sputters.

Muta lowers her shield and gives Lucy a flat look. "I'm not like my comrades. I'm not so weak as to let my Bakugan do all the heavy lifting. But by all means, do continue."

"With pleasure! Gate Card open! Character Card!" Drago is engulfed in a golden glow as his power is doubled. "Double Ability Activate: Boosted Dragon plus Regulus Impact!"

A magic circle forms in front of Drago's mouth. A mass of energy shaped like a dragon's head erupts from the magic circle, spearheading a swollen beam of energy.

The resulting explosion swallows Muta and blows a gaping hole in the side of the temple.

"Did we get her?" Lucy coughs, trying to peer into the massive dust cloud.

"Silent Soul," Muta says in little more than a whisper, the glow of her energy cocoon permeating the cloud.

"Silent Shell," Muta calls and a loud bang goes off like the sound of a shotgun firing. Dozens of magic projectiles covering a wide area comes rushing at them, leaving little room to escape.

"Ability Activate: Shade Cocoon."

The buck shot detonates on contact with the barrier but fail to pierce through. The shockwave shakes more rubble from the ceiling, a boulder half the size of Lucy missing her head by a hair.

"We need to wrap this up now. At this rate the whole temple will come down on us!" Harpus shouts.

"Then we'll finish it with this," Lucy vows. "Ability Activate: Aurora Cannon!"

Muta shows no visible concern at Drago's charging attack. "This again?" She rolls her eyes. "It's your funeral."

"No," Lucy smirks. "Just yours. Drago, take us down!"

Drago tilts his head down and obliterates the ground below them, plunging everyone into a free fall. Drago is quick to catch Lucy and Harpus on his back.

Lucy releases a sigh of relief when she doesn't spot Muta anywhere. "It's finally over," she pants. "Drago, bring us up." Drago alters his flight path and starts their ascent back to the surface. She feels a twinge of guilt at the sight of a dead villager caught on a jagged outcropping. I'm sorry I couldn't give you a proper burial.

"We're not done!" Muta shrieks, her statement punctuated by a throaty howl that instills Lucy and her friends with dread.

Lucy peeks over her shoulder and spots Muta rising fast atop the shoulders of a winged humanoid.

Her eyes widen with disbelief when they catch up in a matter of seconds and tackle Drago out of the air. It pins him against the wall of the cavern shaft and drags him down and across the jagged surface.

"Ability Activate: Shooting Star!" Drago is surrounding by motes of brilliant yellow light and is filled with a new surge of strength. Using that surge, he flares his wings to break the Bakugan's grip on him and turn the tables. He spears the enemy Bakugan with his horn, driving him closer to the caves below.

"Divine Detonation!" The enemy Bakugan releases a powerful pulse of energy that blasts Drago and leaves him spiraling for a moment.

"My patience is at an end girl! Just die already."

Lucy stares defiantly at Muta. "Never."

"You could barely take me alone with your pet lizard. How do you expect to survive the power of my Bakugan, Haos Deliora?"

Lucy's jaw drops and her eyes widen with recognition at the name. "Deliora? But we killed him. I saw Natsu destroy him the last time we were here."

"You destroyed the body. That's all. Making a new one is easy. The challenge is retrieving its life force."

"The villagers," Lucy scowls. "You killed them to resurrect Deliora."

Muta's condescending smirk is confirmation enough. "And now, I will show you his might. Ability Activate: Demolition Demon!" Deliora is covered in a fiery purple aura and charges through the air with surprising speed for a beast of his frame.

Lucy holds on tight and braces for impact. Drago crumples like a crash test dummy and is sent into an uncontrolled tailspin. Drago corrects himself and surges out of the way before he can be flattened by Deliora. With a roar, Drago gets in close and switches to hit-and-run tactics.

The battle becomes a contest of wills with the close quarters preventing either Bakugan from using their more destructive abilities.

Deliora holds the clear advantage in size and strength, dealing heavy blows when he manages to get his hands on the faster Drago.

Drago flaunts his smaller stature and weaves through Deliora's lunges and grabs. Pouring on the speed, Drago darts behind Deliora and repeatedly slashes him in the back with his horn and claws.

It's still not enough. We need to hit harder but Deliora has the edge in ranged combat. Lucy bites her lip, casting about for a miracle solution to save their skins. She has a hard time thinking straight, concentrating on maintaining her grip with her good arm amidst the chaos. By some small miracle, the appendage hasn't been ripped from the socket.

Harpus holds Lucy close, squeezing the hand of her maimed arm in solidarity and comfort. The gesture lights a spark in Lucy's mind and a promising, yet dangerous plan begins to form.

"Harpus, you need to go in and help!"

Harpus looks at Lucy like she's crazy. "I can't even stand with my leg jacked up like this. How do you expect me to fight?"

"I don't need you to stand up, I need you to fly."

A look of realization dawns on Harpus' face. "That's insane. You'd have to throw me and you only have one good hand."

A weary smile plays on Lucy's lips. "Then don't let me fall." Before Harpus can protest, Lucy releases her grip on Drago's neck spike and plummets, quickly picking up speed.

Harpus swears furiously and loud enough for Lucy to overhear her amidst the mayhem. Twisting and turning in the air, Lucy catches a glimpse of the caverns and estimates they're maybe five hundred feet from the ground and closing fast.

Harpus returns to ball form and shoots into Lucy's hand. "Here goes nothing. Bakugan Brawl. Rise, Aquos Harpus!"

Lucy hurls Harpus and watches her grow into her true form.

She goes into a steep dive and soars under Lucy. The landing is rough but Lucy manages to get a stable grip.

Lucy's Baku-Meter glows with a watery light, projecting a card that Lucy doesn't recognize. After a couple of seconds, the shine of the card finally dies down enough for Lucy to read the text.

"Ability Activate: Aquarius Array!" Spheres of water shoot from Harpus' body like bullets, spreading in all directions. Lucy shivers through her torn coat when the air suddenly grows cold enough to see her breath in front of her face. Lucy hears a loud click akin to a key opening a giant gate. It acts as a signal, as in that same moment, each of the spheres shoot an icy ray that leaves a trail of mist in its wake. The area of effect is widespread with all of them sharing the same target.

Deliora pushes Drago away and is forced to take evasive action. His size that had been so advantageous proves a liability and make it difficult for him to squeeze between beams. The beams freeze over whatever they touch, with many missing the target and covering the walls with patches of ice.

The beams that do hit Deliora hit dead on. In the end, Deliora is forced to contend with having almost half his body frozen solid.

"Boosted Dragon!" Drago roars, consuming Deliora in a flash of light.

The aftermath clears with Muta and Deliora both having seen better days. Muta is cradling her arm and glaring daggers at the heroes. Aside from the numerous gashes and bruising, Deliora is missing one of his horns and his left arm hangs limply at his side.

"Two Bakugan at once? You are too dangerous to be allowed to live," she growls. "Double Ability Activate: Spotlight plus Fusion Ability Focal Lens!"

Deliora projects a bright light from from the mouth on his torso that has Lucy and her friends covering their eyes. The light grows from irritating to agonizing as it grows in intensity, burning them all with concentrated light.

"Ability Activate: Water Ward."

Harpus spews a heavy stream of water that forms a wall to block Deliora's attack.

"I'm ending this now! Triple Ability Activate: Magnum Force plus Heavenly Judgement plus Fusion Ability Focal Lens!"

Lucy pales at the sight of the massive amount of energy swelling within Deliora.

"Triple Ability Activate," Lucy gasps. "Aquos Slicer plus Aurora Cannon plus Boosted Dragon!" Harpus and Drago combine their power and launch their attacks just in time to combat Deliora's.

The two attacks fight for dominance with neither gaining ground at first. It's not long until Deliora's attack starts gaining ground and pushing back the opposing force.

"You can do it!" Lucy urges, pouring every drop of magic she has to spare into her Bakugan's assault.

They're neck and neck with neither attack holding the advantage for more than a couple of seconds. The energy generated by the clashing forces grows increasingly stable until they reach a breaking point.

Lucy can only brace herself when the power reaches critical mass and explodes with immeasurable power.

"GO! GO!" Lucy urges Drago, prompting him to dive down farther and farther trying to escape the blast. Drago skirts the floor of the caves with his wings when the shockwave finally catches up and sends them crashing into unconsciousness.

And that does it for Chapter Seven of A Brawler's Spirit. This took longer than expected as when I finished Trish's part of the story the chapter felt very short and unsatisfying. So, I had to basically write another chapter and combine them into what I hope was a satisfying whole.

We finally have the name for the enemy organization the Brawlers will be facing and we even got to see some of the members.

Like Arturo, Herculoid, Nevermore. and Raven's opponent (whose name will be revealed at a later date. It never came up in a way that flowed well into the story) Claudia and Muta are both OC's of mine.

You might be wondering why I made Claudia Trish's sister and the reason for that is very simple. I wanted to give all of the Brawlers personal stakes in the conflict with the God Hand.

I also thought it would be a good way to explore a more vulnerable side of Trish that we never get to see in the games.

I also thought it would be fun to explore a more serious side of Harley like we got to see in her chapter. My hope is to present these characters in a rounded way that doesn't feel like I'm focusing only on their more prominent personality traits.

I'm also sure you might be wondering why I created a new Bakugan element. There's a couple of reasons for that. !. Battle Planet got away with it so why not me? 2. None of the already existing Bakugan attributes really fit with Trish's power set. The closest I'd be able to get is to give her a Haos Bakugan but Lucy already has that covered.

A little behind the scenes tidbit: I was going to make Claudia's Bakugan based off of Alastor from the first Devil May Cry. He was going to look like a giant humanoid bat. But I realized the picture I built up in my head looked very similar to Linehalt so I figured I might as well just use Linehalt.

Anyway, the next chapter hasn't been started yet at the time of writing this. I will tell you that it should be the end of the Return to Galuna arc. After that will be a couple one off chapters. After all, Lucy still owes Harpus dinner so you can look forward to a bit of fluff between them. I'll also be bringing in everyone's favorite swordswoman, Kagura and we'll get to see her and Lucy interact. I'm looking forward to writing that.

I'm rambling so I'm going to wrap things up. If you liked what you read, please subscribe and leave a review with your thoughts on the chapter itself. Constructive criticism is welcomed. Hell, even if you didn't like the chapter, leave a review telling me why you didn't like it for future reference.

I don't know when Chapter Eight will be up but hopefully it won't take more than a couple of weeks.

See you all next time!