Titania and The Hunter
Chapter 67: Friendly Faces x sǝɔɐɟ ʎʅpuǝᴉɹꓞ
Happy anniversary! I know I'm a few days late but don't be mad honey! I swear I didn't forget!
Lucy marveled at the sight of the new world she was seeing for the very first time. A new sky over new land filled with new places and populated by new people. It was magnificent-
For all of one second.
And then gravity had to be a bitch and make her fall through the sky.
"IIIIYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" The Fairy Mage cried out in pure terror as she tumbled through the sky at terminal velocity. The blonde beauty waved her arms around fruitlessly as she tried to flap her arms and stop her descent, "Stop! Fly! Grow wings! Become Happy! STOOOOOOOOPPPPPP!" She grabbed her keys and started fiddling with them, "LOKE! AQUARIUS! TAURUS! SAGITTARIUS! CANCER! VIRGO! GEMINI! SCORPIO! ARIES! PLUE! ANYONE!" She cried out but no one answered, "WHY ISN'T THIS WORKING?! OH! MAGIC! RIGHT!"
She remembered Mystogan's warning that when she came to this world she wouldn't be able to use magic. And if she wanted to then she had to eat this little black ball of medicine he said would allow her to use her magic here. She was a little suspicious and hadn't concealed her doubts about it, but now that she was hurtling towards the ground like a bug on a windshield she wasn't all that bent out of shape about it.
She reached into her pocket, panicked when she couldn't find it, found it, pulled it out and let go. After some quick sprawling through the air and catching it in her hands she gulped it down and let it do its work. After a moment she felt a slight shock to her system before she grabbed a key and held it down under her, "Open! Gate of the Ram! Aries!"
From a golden glow a beautiful young woman with deep pink hair and sheep-fur covering her chest and waist appeared in the air alongside her, "S-Sorry for - KYAH!" Aries stopped in the middle of her apology as she realized that she was falling and quickly clung to Lucy before they could get separated, "L-Lucy-San, what's happening?!"
"Aries! You need to make a cushion for us before we go splat!"
"O-Okay!" The Celestial Spirit nodded and held her hands out as she focused, "I'll do my best! HYYYAAAAAA!" A cloud of fluffy, springy pink clouds started to emerge from her hands and fly back up against the wind pressure to engulf them. Their vision slowly became filled with the fluffy layer of clouds that protected them before they finally hit the ground.
They bounced once and then again before settling down completely. The cloud of pink fur that shielded them jiggled and settled slowly before coming to a complete halt.
Lucy and Aries popped out and quickly started to catch their breath before they could suffocate. As the panic and tension of the situation started to fade, the adrenaline and excitement drained from Lucy's body and left her suddenly feeling exhausted, "Ohhhh~." She slumped into the cloud like it was a pillow and sighed with relief, "I wanna melt into this and disappear forever."
Aries pulled herself out and looked around at their new surroundings, "Lucy-San, where are we?"
"In some place called Edolas." Lucy forced herself to get out of the cloud, "Fairy Tail and Magnolia were nabbed by this place and I need to help save them before it's too late. So you should tell everyone that I'm going to be relying on their help a lot for the next few days."
"O-Of course! Good luck, Lucy-San!"
With that, Aries disappeared and left Lucy alone. The blonde Fairy looked out over her new surroundings and started making her way in the direction of civilization.
Even as she walked through the streets, she felt like she was drawing attention. There was clearly a different kind of fashion sense compared to what was normal in this world and what she was wearing, but she didn't think that was enough to warrant all the looks she was getting. She thought for a second that maybe they were mesmerized by her beauty, but then she noticed the hushed whispers and looks of panic on their face. Safe to say that little moment of vanity was quickly replaced by nervous dread.
"There she is! Just like the report said!"
"Freeze Fairy Tail!"
Lucy flinched in surprise and turned back to see some soldiers call out to her. How did they know what Fairy Tail was? She had her insignia on the back of her hand and open for others to see but the fact that they could tell what guild it was from was startling. Was her guild somewhere around here? When they were transported to another world did they come years earlier and live out another life? Or had they already caused enough trouble in the short period of time since she arrived to already become infamous? Every rational and fantastical idea her brain could imagine flickered through her mind until-
"Ah!" Lucy yelped as a guard suddenly grabbed her wrist and yanked her back, "Watch it buddy! Is this how you treat girls?!"
"You are a member of Fairy Tail, aren't you girl? Then you're coming in for questioning right now!"
"The Fairy Hunter is going to want some words with you!"
"W-Would you stop – hey!" Lucy struggled as she was grabbed and pulled before she frowned, "Okay, you guys need a serious lesson in how to properly treat a lady!" She reached down and grabbed a key before holding it out, "Open! Gate of the Golden Bull! Taurus!"
With a flash of light a giant cow man emerged from the air with a massive golden axe in his hands. As the soldiers and onlookers watched in shock, the Celestial Spirit reeled back and swung, "Mooooooooooo!" With one mighty swing he sent all the soldiers harassing Lucy up in the air and out of sight. As they rained down on the streets, Taurus smiled, "There you go, Lucy-San! I won't be letting any random guys get a feel of your moo-nificent body!"
"Yeah, thanks Taurus." Lucy monotoned before she turned and stared to run, "Can you keep them off my tail for a minute? I need to make some space between me and them!"
"Moo! You got it Lucy-San! Just put them sexy legs to work and I'll watch your back and butt!"
"You said it like that on purpose!" Lucy called back as she started to make tracks and escape from the sight of the guards. She wasn't sure why they wanted her, but it had to be because she was in Fairy Tail, and the fact there was someone here called the Fairy Hunter just unnerved her to an unprecedented degree. The last thing she wanted was to get caught and introduced to the boogeyman in this new world.
As Lucy ran through the streets, avoiding any sights of guards she came across and turning away before they could spot her, her heart started to beat rapidly in her chest. There was nowhere for her to go but if she didn't escape then she'd be-
Just as she was making a dash, a hand reached out and gently gripped her wrist. Her hand instinctively reached for her keys-
The voice was familiar, even if the tone and intonation was a little different. But when she felt like she could trust the voice she allowed herself to get pulled aside and hidden away from the public eye. After the group of soldiers passed by, Lucy looked at the mysterious Good Samaritan that helped her, "Who are you?"
"Come on Lulu, I might be hidden but you don't recognize your best friend's voice?" She pulled back her hood to reveal long, wiry pink hair and deep black bags under her eyes, "Remember me now?"
"S-Sherry? Is that you?"
"Of course it's me." She looked her over and titled her head, "You never call me by my regular name. Are you okay Lulu? You seem so much more nervous and…cheerfully dressed than usual."
Lucy's head was spinning, "I-I have no idea what's going on here."
"Come on. I'll take you back to the guild." She smiled and took Lucy's hand, "We can call Fairy Tail and they can pick you up."
"Wait so I'm over there right now? Seriously?"
"Indeed." Sherry answered, looking back at the panicking blonde girl as she tried to come to terms with the absurdity of her current situation, "You look a lot more freaked out and scared than you usually do, but it's definitely you."
"This can't be happening. This can't be happening. But it is happening! How is this happening?!" Lucy felt like she was losing her mind. She was in a whole new world and somehow she had found herself ending up in Lamia Scale of all place. Seeing some familiar faces around her.
Familiar but obviously different.
"Are you alright? Perhaps you need some water?"
Lucy's head turned in a jittery motion to look up at the speaker. She saw Lyon with a far meeker expression than what she was used to bundled up in several dozen layers of clothing. No sign of the stern-faced and usually taciturn man she had met before.
"To think there was another Lucy Ashley in another world. It brings to mind maybe there are versions of us in her world as well?"
The man who said that was the Barrier Mage they fought against on Galuna Island. However instead of the thick eyebrows that looked like they could cut edges, this version had brows so thin and minuscule it was equally as upsetting.
"Mmm! Yes! Indubitmably!"
The man beside him was the dog-faced man that worked with them that was surprisingly dim and slow. Except he was dressed like a professor and wearing glasses and…well, it was clear he was still just faking intelligence.
"Guys, please, I'm talking to Lulu." Sherry spoke up and asked them to quiet down. And her attire and demeanor were just as much of a stark contrast in comparison to the rest of them. Her fluffy pink hair was matted and filled with split-ends. Her vibrant and colorful clothing was switched out for a darker and more somber outfit. And the black eyeliner around her eyes gave her a darker air than the love-obsessed woman she knew back home, "Honestly, having to handle all your craziness leaves me in nothing but despair."
Lucy cowered with tears in her eyes, "I wanna go home. This can't be real. It just can't."
"Ha! I can hear her from here! Man, this stuff is wild. Hey actually this might relate to the guys we have on our side. Hey! You're me is - I mean the version of me that you know that isn't me but from your…um…I'm calling."
There was a moment of pause as the sound of someone urgently taking up the Lacrima came from the other side.
"Lucy?! You there?!"
Her heart nearly soared as she heard a familiar voice, "Natsu?!" She quickly scrambled over and joined Sherry on the call, "Natsu! I'm here!"
"Haha, you're okay! That's awesome! Guys, it's Lucy! She's here too!"
"Well that's good."
"Happy! Wendy! Carla!" Her eyes watered as she giggled, "I'm so glad you're okay."
"What happened to you?! Did you escape from the guild Lacrima? Did anyone else make it out too?"
"N-No, I only just got here. Horologieum appeared just as the guild got all funky and protected me from getting sucked in. And I got here after when Mystogan helped me teleport through."
"Is Mystogan there?"
"No, he stayed behind." Lucy sighed, "I'm glad all of you are together. So you found the Fairy Tail from this world, huh?"
"Yeah but nobody is the same! It's super weird! Like you're a super aggressive punk chick who puts me in wrestling moves and - GAH!"
"You didn't think I'd take that sitting down, did you Natsu!"
"Ooohhhh, look at him bend!"
Lucy sweated as she heard her counterpart attack Natsu enough that he screamed in fright. So, apparently in this world she was a rowdy girl who could even make Natsu cower under her heel. That…was actually pretty impressive. She focused up, "Well what's Natsu like over here?"
"Actually we haven't found Natsu-San's counterpart yet. But I see Gray-San and Juvia-San and Cana-San and Mira-San-"
"What about you Wendy? Do you have a counterpart in this world?"
"I-I do. And she's…s-somewhat different to me-"
"Lucy, you should see how big this Wendy's boobs are! They're huge!"
"Bouncing mommy milkers!"
"Don't look directly at them!"
"They'll suck you in!"
Ah, so when she wasn't around it looked like someone else had to be the target of Natsu and Happy's idiocy. Poor Wendy, but honestly she could do with the reprieve. Lucy leaned in as she heard her friend argue, "Where are you guys? I'm not sure where I am right now but I'll find you."
"Uh, I'm not sure where we are either."
"Sherry, where are you guys? We'll come to you."
The pink-haired girl came by her side, "We're going to be moving soon to escape the search teams. So if we let her leave now it would be by herself."
"Damn. Okay, jump first and then we'll try to make our way over to you. We'll think of something."
"Ha, when we meet up we'll recover everybody! Right Lucy!"
"Right! Heh, you know we're probably gonna need help. I should see if we can ask Jura-San for assistance."
"And if we find Erza I'm sure she'll recover the Lacrima in an instant!"
"Yeah." Lucy smiled and turned to the Lamia Scale members in time to see their faces. She was confused to see their shock and horror fill their expressions, "W-What is it?"
"Y-You know Erza?"
"Huh? Yeah, of course we do. She's a member of Fairy Tail."
"She is?! And you guys didn't say that before!"
"What's the big deal? She's a member here too, right?"
"We would never let that woman join our guild!"
The sheer venom and vitriol she heard in her voice sent shivers through Lucy's back. She looked at the Lamia members and saw their complicated expressions. She hesitated before asking…
"Who is Erza over here?"
"Hehe, so you're a reporter, huh?"
"Indeed I am."
"You one of those guys who just write fluffy articles about dumb bullshit?"
"Never would I sully myself with such mediocrity. I have my integrity as a man of the truth. I sniff out a story, no matter how dirty or controversial, and I see it to the end."
"Even if you get in trouble?"
"I might have gotten a death threat or a dozen in my time. Won't let that stop me."
"HAHA!" Gajeel slapped his knee and chortled across from his lean, more sharply dressed counterpart, "Now that's what I like to hear! Looks like any version of me is just a badass that refuses to play by the rules!"
"And it seems even from another world I'm a man with convictions who refuses to yield." The other Gajeel smirked, fixing his glasses up his nose as he held out his hand, "I'm happy I had the chance to meet you!"
"Likewise!" Fairy Gajeel accepted Edolas Gajeel's hand and they boldly shook on their friendship and camaraderie, "With you on our side there's nothing we won't be able to do!" With a cocky smirk he looked to the other side of the room, "Hey, you hear that Hunter! We've got my double's help! Isn't there something you should be saying? Maybe on your knees begging for our help?"
"No Erza. No Koyuki. No Fairy Tail. No familiarity. And two versions of the same asshole." The whiskered blond sighed as he looked out the window forlornly, "Yeah, I'm in hell. Mystogan must've screwed up the spell and killed us. Or we actually died when we fell. Or shit maybe I slipped in the ran and broke my skull open and none of this really happened. That's the only way I can explain two Gajeels existing at the same time."
"Is he alright?"
"Looks like this was too much badass for him to handle and his brain melted because of it. Damn shame. He will be missed." Fairy Gajeel brushed him aside with a monotone voice and unbothered expression. He turned to his counterpart with intrigue, "So why'd you reach out to help when your government looks like they want us dead real badly? Can't imagine that will go over very well with them."
"Because my instincts told me that this is the lead I was looking for." Edolas Gajeel smirked as his glasses twinkled with fascination, "I wanted a full exposure investigation and story - warts and all! And lo and behold I run across two visitors from another world!" He snickered, "If that isn't fortune smiling upon me that my path is right I don't know what is."
"Ugh, well I'm not magically going to solve this problem while moping in the corner." Naruto dragged his body over to join the two Gajeels before he fell back on a dilapidated stool, "So what story were you looking for?"
As if a switch had been flipped, Edolas Gajeel's expression smoothed away from the cheeky grin he plastered before into a focused, serious glower. He pulled out a notebook while his eyes started darting over the pages, "For as long as Edolas has existed there has been one resource and one issue that have intertwined each other deeply in our society; magic and its finite amount. Every leader we have followed has tried to figure out some way to rectify this problem. Trying to find the source of magic in our world. Lightening the load we place on the resource. We've have a myriad of ideas that we hoped would solve the underlying problem but none ever did. It became an undeniable fact that one day Edolas would run out of magic completely."
Naruto gulped and looked down at his hand. He focused his magic as it created an outline along his palm, "A world without magic…god I can't even imagine what our world would be like without it."
"Super boring." Fairy Gajeel answered bluntly. He looked at his counterpart, "Didn't you guys ever try to figure out if you could use magic internally?"
"Many experiments in ages past. Suffice to say they didn't work." Edolas Gajeel said with a grim stare. The Fairy Mages could only hazard a guess as to what had occurred to try and replicate their magic style that made it so hard to talk about. The journalist continued to tell them, "But then our king and ruler, Faust XIII, proposed a new idea decades ago. That even though our world was running low on magic, there was a possibility that we could take a surplus of magical power from other worlds."
"How did he know there were even other worlds to take power from?"
"Edolas researchers have been studying the possibilities of parallel worlds for a long time. The greatest proof of it was a kind of ripple they picked up through our source of magic decades ago that couldn't be explained any other way. Since then they have been testing and fine-tuning ways to access other worlds and try to take their magical surplus. There were many trials and errors until the final product was promised."
Edolas Gajeel nodded, "Project Anima. A promise to revitalize the magical source of Edolas for the foreseeable future." He flipped the page, "My sources say that the project started application around 7 years ago but no results ever came up that would benefit the situation. Instead new policies and laws were enacted so that the burden on our magic could be lightened. Use of magic outside of specified groups and locations were outlawed. Guilds as a whole were blacklisted and made illegal. Stores and shops that sold magic were shutdown to the point where they could only be obtained through the black market."
"Magic became illegal."
"Illegal? No, magic is still in plentiful use where it's needed. In the capital. In the army. With the king. All where it might be most beneficial. And everyone else is left with the essentials and the scraps." Edolas Gajeel shook his head, "Needless to say that choice didn't go over very well with the public." The journalist shook his head, "But then a miracle happened. A turn of fate. The first good news in ages. Anima had succeeded and drawn in magic from another world."
Fairy Gajeel clicked his teeth as Naruto's hand tightened into a fist.
"You can guess just how thrilled people were to find out a new supply of magic had arrived for them to use. From what I've heard there's enough magical power there for the whole world's supply to be revitalized for 10 years if it's used wisely. As you can imagine the population was filled with hope and expectation that the restrictions would be lightened and they could freely use magic again. Everything was good…"
The Fairy Mages looked between each other before turning back to their host, "So why are you looking at it like a story?"
"Because it's too perfect." Edolas Gajeel clarified, "The magic just now arrived after 7 years. There was no indication it would take that long so why is it only now working? And even though the kingdom is living it up and taking credit, they don't give any answers as to where this magic was procured or anything regarding it. It's all just too suspicious. And no journalist worth their salt would leave something as open as that unchecked. And clearly that was the right thing to do considering you two are here."
"We're taking that magic that. Because your king and his people kidnapped our friends and family - not to mention a whole town - to refill their supply."
Edolas Gajeel looked surprised for a moment before jotting that down, "So the giant Lacrima I've been hearing so much about is filled with people? And I assume they didn't offer themselves willing?" The looks of annoyance on the Fairies faces was the only answer he needed, "So a giant Lacrima filled with a mass of people kidnapped from their world. Okay, now I'm starting to see why they're being so cagey with the details. One word of this and the public will definitely be reeling."
"Would an uproar let us get our people back?"
The journalist scratched his hair with his pen before shaking his head, "Some people will have problems with the idea of using other humans as a resource but I can imagine a majority willing to make that sacrifice. And even if they didn't it would rely solely on the royals to make that call."
"Then it's the original plan after all." Naruto said as he stood up with hardened eyes, "We'll take back our people by force no matter who is in the way." He eyed his comrade's counterpart, "If that's a problem with you then I suggest you get out of our way."
"No problem here." Edolas Gajeel muttered while writing down in his notepad as quickly as he could, "Hard for me to feel uptight about losing our magical resource when it isn't really a resource I readily use on a daily basis." He capped his pen and looked between them, "And although it might go against my journalistic desire to stay neutral and uncommitted, I can't deny that I would like to help my doppelgänger rescue his comrades."
Fairy Gajeel smirked, "Oh yeah! I knew I was an awesome!"
"Well it takes one to know one."
"Don't I know it!"
"And like that I'm done." Naruto stated with a blank, hollow stare as he pulled up his hood and walked to the door, "I'm heading out."
"Where the hell are you going? Did you forget we were just in a fight with this world's army not too long ago?"
"I remember and I'll be careful. Unlike you I can be sneaky and subtle."
"If you are leaving don't stray too far." Edolas Gajeel warned, "I can get us transport to the capital where the Lacrima is supposed to be but it might take some time."
"Then until then I'm looking around. Later."
Naruto walked out and closed the door behind him. And leaving the two Gajeels alone.
"Can I just say you are one handsome bastard."
"Takes one to know one."
"Ohoho, cool~!" Natsu marveled as he twirled his new flaming sword around in wonder, "I like this! I might bring it back when we finally make our way home!"
"Put that away, moron!" Lucy quickly reprimanded the pink-haired Dragon Slayer, smacking his head as he retracted the blade and hid it away, "Is there something about it being illegal black market goods that doesn't quite click with you? Keep waving it around like a flag and it'll be our asses!"
"Yes ma'am." The Dragon Slayer meekly followed her order, still not used to dealing with a Lucy that was just as vicious as Erza was in the old days.
Wendy fiddled with the odd contraption they had bought for her in the shady store, "How - how do I use this? It's so…" She tapped it with her knuckle a few times but got no response in return, "Strange."
"I'll show you when we've got the time. Right now it's more important that we keep moving. We have an appointment to make and we'll be seriously screwed if we miss it." Lucy marched on ahead with a determined look on her face, "We're in Louen right now, and your Lucy and Sherry should be closer to Sycca which is still a ways away. So if we want to get there in time to save your guild then we can't miss our ride."
"R-Ride?" Natsu stilled and went clammy at the insinuation, "Y-You mean like transportation? L-Like in a vehicle? Like we'll be on wheels and traveling-"
"It's a car, spazz." Lucy bluntly interrupted before he could get any weirder, "It goes fast. What's wrong with you? Why are you all twitchy and weird about going in a car."
"Natsu has motion sickness." Happy answered, "He gets sick as a dog when he travels in anything that moves too fast. Or too slow. Or pretty much just moves in general."
"Usually I would cast a spell to help him through the travel but since I can't he'll take the full brunt of his motion sickness." Wendy looked up at her older friend pitifully as he sweated in terror.
"Pfft." Lucy let out a long, strained laugh as she started to double over. The Earthland visitors looked at her strangely as she dropped to her knees, clutched her belly, and wheezed out a hoarse laugh that almost sounded painful, "I-I can't breathe - I can't breathe." After a few more strangled notes her giggles came out a lot more clearly as she gasped for air and wiped the tears out of her eyes, "Oh this other world stuff is hilarious! Ohhhhhh, fucking me running that is funny."
"You'll see." The blonde Fairy said cryptically as she continued to make her way towards the edge of the city's limit. The Earthland Fairies followed her example, sticking close to the shade of buildings and out of the public eye so not to draw attention. It was quickly dawning on them that this was the normal method of operation for the Edolas members of Fairy Tail. And the fact they had to hide every day just to survive was upsetting.
But as they exited the city limits and headed out to the wilderness and wasteland around the city, they kept walking until it was well behind them. Happy panted as he walked along, "S-So tired. I'm not used to using my legs."
"Stop whining. Just suck it up and tough it out."
"Carla," Wendy chided her feline partner as she hugged her in her arms, "That's kind of a hypocritical thing to say when I'm carrying you like this."
"He's the same weight as me but chooses to trek on his little legs. He could just ask to be carried as well."
"That what you want buddy?" Natsu offered, "I can carry you on my shoulders if you're tired."
"N-No, I'll be okay." Happy denied the offer, "I-I can keep going. Without our magic we need to be as tough as possible so let's consider this training! For however long we walk, no matter the distance or weather-"
"Oh thank god!" Happy toppled over in the dirt and sighed, "Ah! I'm cramping!"
"Drop the scary when talking to me."
"Is there something out here?" Wendy looked around at the empty wasteland they were stood on, "I don't see anything that could help us."
"Give it a second. He's a lot of things and punctual is the most useful."
The Fairies of two worlds waited patiently in the wasteland for Lucy's contact to arrive. As they waited they caught sight of a pillow of dust and sand growing up from the horizon. At the front of the oncoming cloud was a blur of something resembling a vehicle speeding towards them. As the Earthland Fairies took a cautionary step back, Lucy boldly strode ahead to face the speeding object.
"W-What is that?"
"I that a car?"
"Lucy look out!"
The car at the front of the dust cloud suddenly turned and started to spiral along the wasteland. Lucy stood with her arms crossed and patiently watched the speeding vehicle turn around and around until it started bleeding off its speed. The car slowed to a complete stop as its side stopped just a few inches from Lucy's body. As the cloud of dust spread around them she scoffed, "Now if that wasn't you showing off I don't know what was."
"Were you playing chicken with my car? What if I hadn't stopped the moment in time?"
"Then you wouldn't be the best damn driver in Edolas, would you?"
"Heh, playing at my pride? See this is why I don't show up at the guild as much."
"Oh we both know you're just afraid I'll put you in a headlock again." Lucy waved off his concern before turning to the others, "Our ride's here! Come say hello!"
"Hey there, Lucy told me you guys need to get somewhere fast?" The pink-haired man in the vehicle pulled up his goggles and nodded to them, "I'll be your guy. Name's Natsu Dragion. People call me Natsu the Fireball."
The Natsu in the car looked over at their visitors and eyed them in surprise. He looked at Lucy and pointed at them, getting a nod of approval from the blonde, "Wow you weren't kidding. There really are different versions of us walking through the world. That's insane." He flipped his goggles back over his eyes and smirked, "Well we're not gonna get anywhere staying here. Get in."
"Whoa! A Natsu who drives! So cool!" Happy exclaimed gleefully, "And a free ride!"
Carla looked at the car oddly, "So this one can drive?"
"So weird. I guess our counterparts are different to us in a lot of ways." Wendy noted before she noticed that someone was lagging behind, "Natsu-San?"
"Yeah what's up?"
"O-Oh sorry, I meant our Natsu-San. Oh this is going to get confusing." Wendy apologized and muttered under her breath before looking back at the Dragon Slayer that hadn't moved from his spot, "Natsu-San, we have to go."
"W-Why a car? O-O-Of all things why a car?!"
"Natsu, calm down!"
"I don't wanna travel in a car!"
The pink-haired Fairy in the car watched his counterpart breakdown and panic. He sighed and shook his head, "Man I didn't think it was possible for me not to love cars. This is wild. Wonder what else is different."
Naruto stayed perched under the shadow of a balcony, watching from above as some soldiers did their rounds and talked about nothing. Unfortunately it seemed like these guys weren't very willing to talk about every military secret they came across in the open.
It had been a day since they arrived in Edolas and they were still waiting for Gajeel's contact to arrive with a vehicle. And the longer they didn't have it the more impatient and rowdy he got. It was so bad he couldn't stay in the room to sleep because he was too antsy to close his eyes for too long.
Well, that was partially true. Honestly the biggest reason he didn't stay in the room for long was because both the Gajeels were just indulging in a never-ending spiral of compliments and admiration for each other. Naruto didn't know if having sex with another version of yourself was gay or some elaborate form of masturbation, but he could make a safe bet that Gajeel was probably going to find out.
This was agony.
He knew there was no way he could have prepared or stopped Anima from taking the town, but now that he had to save everyone and he wasn't it just left him frustrated. The idea that it was just him and Gajeel against an entire army of enemies didn't even faze him. They were going to find their friends and get them back safely.
But until then his guild and friends were in danger. Everyone. Koyuki. Erza. They were all in danger.
So lost in his thoughts Naruto almost missed as another soldier arrived to converse with the pair he was shadowing, "Hey, time to come back."
"We can't. We're in the middle of doing our rounds."
"The Commander is stopping by to discuss our reports and the incident with those guys we fought yesterday. If you don't wanna show up it's your ass."
"I don't wanna die!"
In a rush of panic the soldiers ran and tried to reach their posts before their commander could arrive. Someone higher up in the military than the people here was coming? This might be his best chance to gather more intel on his friends and the people they would have to go through to rescue them.
Naruto kept his distance as he saw soldiers make their way through the streets to their base of operations. He stayed focused and tried to absorb everything that he could in the moment-
A shadow was cast over the entire town and Naruto was shocked to see some giant winged monster fly overhead. It was so huge that it encompassed a massive portion of the town and towered over every building around it.
Naruto stared at the unfamiliar monster and gulped, "That damn thing makes monsters back home look like babies. Did that commander come here on that thing? They got balls." He stared in the direction of the giant monster and took a deep breath, "Doesn't change anything."
He had to approach the base and learn as much as he could. Even if the commander was someone who could take and ride a beast like that it didn't matter. He'd find what he needed to help their cause.
Naruto leapt from building to building, following the marker of the giant monster sitting in town to reach his destination. Once he landed on a building near enough to his target he got a good look at all the soldiers gathering and moving supplies.
Weapons. Armor. All being loaded up into some vehicles for transport. Were they leaving? Didn't they come here to make some report to their commander? What was going on? He tried to get closer-
His eyes widened in shock when he saw a hair of long, familiar scarlet hair in a sea of metal and helmets.
There was no mistaking it! He knew that shade of color more than any other in his life! Only one person had that hair! His breath hitched and his heart beat suddenly jackhammered as he started moving. With some quick maneuvers he jumped down to ground level and made his way into the base.
Brazenly entering enemy territory was a bad idea, but he didn't give a single care to any of it. If anyone tried to fight him getting to her he'd put them down quicker than they could imagine. She must have found a way out and infiltrated their ranks to avoid suspicion. It didn't seem possible but he knew she never let something like that get in the way.
She'd be angry if he blew her cover, but he was worried for her and she must have felt the same.
He stayed in the shadows. Stayed out of their line of sight. Made his way through until there was nothing between him and her. With a great jump he leapt out into the light and called to her-
Her body language told him she heard him. He ran up to her, ignoring any attention he might have drawn to them as he approached, "You're okay! Thank god! I was so worried! H-How did you get out? What about Koyuki? Is anyone else with you? We have to-"
She turned to him and his words slowly died in his mouth only to be replaced with shock.
Her face and body were exactly the same as the woman he knew. She wore a special kind of bikini that he wouldn't have found surprising if she bought it or intimidated a store owner to hand it over to her when it caught her eye. But now that he was closer he noticed her long scarlet hair was wavy instead of the straight style she always kept it. In her hands was a beautiful spear he'd never seen in her collection before.
But most damning were the pair of deep brown eyes that stared at him. A matching pair he hadn't seen since their days in the Tower together years ago. And the fact that those eyes regarding him…didn't show a shred of compassion or love like he'd grown used to.
This…wasn't his Erza.
As realization and horror slowly started to wash over him, Erza spared him a look once over. She took note of his face, his body, and his clothing. Different from what he had worn during the video report the army had sent them yesterday. Apparently he had gotten comfortable in his stay here.
"Hmm," She hummed under her breath, "It wasn't a trick. That really is something."
Her hands blurred at blinding speeds, spinning the spear in her grip and immediately thrusting it at his head. Naruto had to quickly react, ducking back as the tip of the spear sailed just an inch away from his face. And as her hands tightened around the shaft of her spear, she dropped it down on him.
Naruto flipped away from the spear before it could cleave through him. He rolled on the ground and quickly picked himself up, crouched in a low position as he looked up at his redhead attacker. As his mind swirled and tried to comprehend the truth and his mistake, the Edolas Erza watched him as her soldiers came to her side.
"Commander! That's the man we fought yesterday!"
"No, leave him to me. Not many people can avoid a strike from my Eisenmeteor, let alone one of my flurry attacks. Something tells me he'll be too much for a normal soldier to handle." She lowered her hand and every soldier lowered their arms. The whiskered blond looked around in cold shock as the fact she was in charge of their enemies felt like an injection of ice in his veins, "That voice you called out to me in…was quite familiar." He looked back up at Erza's lookalike as she tilted her head, "Do you know me?"
Taking a deep breath but never averting his eyes from hers, Naruto narrowed his eyes and resolved himself. Accepting the mistake he made, he stood up and faced the source of his conflict, "I know her, but you're nothing like my Erza."
The Edolas redhead looked to the side and pointed her spear at his arm, "From the report we saw you had a Fairy Tail tattoo on your arm. There was quite a lot of talk at the palace about who you could be and what you were doing here. Now that I know you come from another world…what business do you have in ours?"
"What business?" Naruto seethed out each word through his teeth, "You abducted my guild, my friends, my town, and my family to fill your tank!"
Her eyes widened, "The guild in the Lacrima is the Fairy Tail of Earthland?" The shock on her face lasted a moment before she scoffed and shook her head, "How serendipitous. And I guess that means you're the lost Fairy that came here to play hero then? Pantherlily was right about his concerns." Confusion crossed her face again as she asked, "And how are you acquainted with me in your world?"
"Erza Scarlet is the noblest, proudest, and most loyal member of Fairy Tail."
That response caused a wave of reaction to spread through the crowd of soldiers. And even though she tried to hide it, he knew that face well enough to tell that news shocked her. She closed her eyes and composed herself again before nodding, "The shocks never stop coming. Well even though your version of me might have been a Fairy, it overjoys me to tell you that I am not." She whipped her spear aside and caused her hair to billow with the force of her swing, "I still need to introduce myself. I am Erza Knightwalker, Commander of the 2nd Division of the Royal Army. Erza the Fairy Hunter: as in she who hunts Fairies."
In a blinding rush she lunged forward and thrusted her spear at his chest. Naruto quickly dodged, leaping up and away from her thrust before leapfrogging off of an Edolas soldier to gain some distance. The soldiers panicked and quickly separated as the spear-wielding redhead nearly barreled through them to chase him. Staying light on his feet, Naruto started to jump back as Knightwalker started viciously swung her spear.
This version of Erza was just as adept with a spear as his was with a sword. The swings she made looked like they were only made quickly to overwhelm him but actually each swing was aimed precisely where it would do the most damage. Each attack she made was towards a vital area or weak-point that threatened to ruin him. His arteries. His joints. His groin. His neck. His eyes. She wasn't underestimating him.
Each swing of her spear cleaved through anything that was in her path. As he dodged and evaded her attacks they ended up cleaving through trees, stones, and even metal. They left the military base and continued into the streets of the town, causing the civilians to squeal and get out of their way in a frenzied panic. Yet the two warriors paid them no mind, only focused on each other as they fought.
Naruto's back slammed against the wall of a building and Erza took that chance to swing at his head. But before it could reach, Naruto's hand shot upon and grabbed the shaft of the spear just under the blade. Erza's eyes widened, noticing a line of something ethereal glowing around his hand. She tried to yank the spear back from his grasp but his grip was so tight and unyielding that she could barely pull even an inch away.
His other hand latched onto her shoulder and pulled her in. Erza looked up into his mismatched eyes as he growled, "My name is Naruto Uzumaki, and I'm Fairy Tail's Hunter: as in he who hunts those that endanger fairies."
Erza stared at him unflinchingly before closing her eyes and chuckling, "Heh. Very well." She opened her eyes and looked back up at him-
The spear in his hand suddenly changed form, becoming a weapon with a sharper design and a red spearhead. He looked at the weapon in his grasp in shock before it emanated a bright light that swallowed him whole.
A mighty explosion decimated the wall they fought against and caused the building to crumble. A cloud of dust and smoke spread out from the destruction their fight caused. The cloud shifted in one direction as a figure sailed out and quickly gained some distance from the explosion he'd been in the center of.
Naruto slid along the ground, catching his breath and coughing out the smoke and ash that filled his lungs. With a small gag he wiped the dust and grime that covered his body and looked up at the cloud of smoke, "Did her weapon just-"
The cloud burst apart violently as something sailed out of it towards him at blinding speeds. On reflex he gathered wind and used it to propel himself out of the way of the sudden rush. He landed on the side of a building and looked down at the trench her charge had created in her wake. With a quick flourish she spun her spear around and swiped it aside before looking up at him.
The whiskered Fairy looked down at the golden-tipped spear and it's new change in form, "Dammit, I knew it." He narrowed his eyes, "Your weapon changes forms, doesn't it?"
"That's right. The Ten Commandments is my weapon gifted by the Royal Army. Capable of instantaneously changing its form to one most suited for the task at hand." She smirked at him, "So does the other Erza have a weapon like this?"
"Something like that. Here, let me show you." He held his hand out and summoned his fire sword with a Requip. Erza's eyes widened as he reeled it back as it suddenly went ablaze before he swung it out, "Blazing Dragon Tail!"
A wave of flames flew towards Erza and enveloped her completely. With his enemy overwhelmed, Naruto leapt off the building's wall and prepared to escape-
The wave of flames he created were suddenly cleaved apart as if they were a physical object. And in the center was Erza, brandishing another new form of her spear that helped her cut through the immaterial substance. Her spear glowed and returned to the golden-headed form before as she blitzed forward, "Silfarion!"
She rushed forward and Naruto swung his flaming sword out to parry her thrust. Her spear crashed against his blade and shattered it, causing the pieces to fly out in every direction as Naruto was blown off his feet by the force of her rush. Erza slid to a stop and rushed back to attack him as he fell through the air
Naruto righted himself as he fell, gathering wind around his hands before releasing a barrage of flying punches, "Storm Fist!"
Erza rapidly zigged around to avoid the onslaught of attacks that rained down in a fearsome blitz. That gave him enough time to land safely and charge at her with Armor coating his arms. He prepared to land a powerful blow now that he finally had an opening on her…
He wavered and couldn't land the blow on her. Not even when it wasn't the one he loved.
His moment of hesitation gave Erza all the time she needed to avoid all the attacks and regain her proper footing on the broken, uneven pavement. She looked up and noticed his conflicted expression, coyly smiling as she raised her spear, "You're going to regret not landing that blow while you-"
"Iron Dragon's Roar!"
A massive vortex of spinning metal annihilated the street as Erza looked back and jumped away before she could get caught. The massive whirlwind of scrap metal blocked her line of sight for several seconds before it finally disappeared altogether.
Along with the whiskered Fairy and whoever had launched the attack.
She knocked her spear on the ground and clicked her tongue irritably, "Little rat got away."
"Was that Titania?!"
"No, it wasn't Erza! O-Or not our Erza-"
"That was Erza the Fairy Hunter! How did you find yourself facing a Commander of all people?!"
"Commander?! You mean she's our enemy?!"
"She's one of the strongest soldiers in the army!"
"How could you fight someone from the army?! Didn't you say to lay low-"
Naruto's loud outburst shut the Gajeel duo up soundly as they simply traveled in the speeding vehicle in a moment of silence. The whiskered S-Class Mage rubbed his face and groaned, "I fucked up. The moment I saw her I just called out to her. I hoped somehow it was her." His hands tightened into trembling fists in his lap, "I thought she was safe. And then I looked at her and knew…"
"Did you not attack her because she looked like her?"
Gajeel turned in his chair and snatched Naruto by his collar before yanking him up to look at him, "What the fuck is wrong with you?! You think you can hesitate and not fight them properly now of all times?! How are we going to rescue the guild if you're stopping yourself from hitting a version of her when she's our enemy?! We might meet more people in our guild like that who stand in our way! And we can't risk chances like that!"
Edolas Gajeel spared a look at them while he drove them through the town and into the wild, "Hey, I can't imagine it's easy trying to attack someone who looks like the person he loves."
"But it isn't her! It looks like her! The real her is in danger! And if you want to save her then man up!"
"It won't happen again." Naruto looked at Gajeel with a firm resolve, "Nothing will stop me from saving our guild again."
Gajeel scowled at him before nodding, "Hold you to that."
"I'm glad to hear you two will endeavor not to let something like that make you waver again. Because I don't think she'll be the only obstacle you'll face."
"What do you mean?"
"You upchuck on my seats I'm taking it out of your ass."
"We're moving so fast." Wendy marveled as she watched the scenery around them pass by so quickly it was impossible to recognize anything, "The vehicles in this world are so efficient! And there's no SE Plug to feed magic into!"
"Yes, because this world's magic supply is limited, they've had to be far more effective with how it's used. I doubt it's wrong to assume this world's technological advancements far outweigh our own."
"Necessity demands change." Lucy commented, looking back over the seat and seeing Fairy Natsu's paling expression, "Is he gonna be okay?"
"This is normal! No worries!" Happy responded, "Whee! Riding in a car like this is so much fun!"
"Heh, the little guy gets it." Edolas Natsu remarked as they started to slow down. The car came to a subtle stop before he pulled the break and lifted his goggles, "Okay, here we are. Welcome to Sycca."
The Fairies looked out the window and saw a city landscape by the side of the vehicle. Although it didn't look like it was in the best condition, it was still an expansive lay of land and foundation that was far larger than the last settlement they had seen.
"Lucy, where we going? I'm not driving in there am I?"
Lucy looked around before pointing to a formation of rocks sticking out from the ground, "Over there. That's where Sherry said we'd meet."
The car quickly sped over to its hiding place, much to the chagrin of Earthland Natsu who had only just started to settle his stomach. In the shadow of the rock the Fairy vehicle sat and wait for their party to arrive to join them. But as the minutes passed without any change their anticipation turned to anxiousness.
"Lucy," Edolas Natsu sounded wary as he warned his friend, "If they're not here then we can't just stick around waiting."
"Shut up! I know!" Lucy impatiently started bouncing her leg waiting for their friends to arrive. Her nervousness hit a breaking point before a hooded figure made their way around the rock and into the shadows along with them. Once they pulled down their hood and revealed the scraggly pink hair underneath, Lucy popped her head out and smiled with relief, "Sher-bear! Haha, you're late!"
"Lulu," Sherry called out to her friend, her expression dour and voice nervous, "I'm sorry we couldn't make it. We were on the way but while we were a transmission came on from the capital. From the king." She shook her head, "It's about the Lacrima they got from the other world."
Wendy shared a look with the cats in surprise before they pushed the door open and ran. Sherry watched them run by before looking back to the car. Lucy bit her lip and wrestled with the idea before slipping out the window and following them. Sherry quickly came to her side and covered her with part of her cloak so they wouldn't be immediately noticed.
"Dammit, they're taking too much of a risk. We need to get moving." Edolas Natsu said irritably as his fingers drummed on the wheel, "We can't wait any - h-hey!"
"C'mon!" Earthland Natsu pulled his counterpart out of the car as he thrashed and protested, "We gotta go!"
"N-Not out of the car! Don't take me out!"
"Hey how can you handle driving a vehicle? Do you take medicine or is your stomach strong or what?" He asked his counterpart before he noticed the quiet sniffling and trembling in his grasp, "Uh, you okay?"
"I-I can't handle not being in my car." Natsu the Fireball trembled and cowered as he looked up at his counterpart pleadingly, "Please let me go back in."
"We can't let Lucy know about this."
In the city, the usually full streets were empty with the sounds of faraway amazement. Wendy followed the path of the noice with Carla and Happy following closely behind her, Sherry and Lucy trailing after and the two Natsus picking up the tail. The young Dragon Slayer finally spotted a crowd of people gathering around a large projection Lacrima and making a ruckus as the image of a parade going through the streets.
Wendy's nose twitched and she picked up the scent of someone familiar, "I-I found her!" She told the others as she jogged over to the crowd of people in a hurry. With the density of the crowd the young girl struggled to slip in and make her way through but managed enough to tug on the arm of a cloaked person she found, "Lucy-San?"
A familiar blonde woman looked down and nearly shed a tear seeing her little friend, "Wendy! Happy! Carla!" She was about to bend down and hug them as tightly as she could before she noticed the woman hiding with Sherry under her cloak. When she was finally faced with the almost perfect mirror image of herself and Natsu carrying a frightened, whimpering clone of himself to join them, she found herself gaping in shock, "I…wow, it's all true."
"Lucy-San, what's happening? Is there something about the Lacrima-"
"There it is!"
All attention turned to the screen as the main show finally arrived. A escort of soldiers and guards. An outcry of cheers and joy. Fanfare so loud it was deafening.
All for a Lacrima crystal so large it dwarfed the people standing in front of it.
The Earthland Fairies went still at the image of the crystal being broadcast on the screen. All the while the people around them started to get antsy and excited, "I-Is that it?"
"It's so big!"
"No look, the edges have been cut! That's only part of it!"
"I heard the whole thing is as big as the castle!"
"Ha! We'll finally have magic again!"
The crowd cheered and went into an uproar around the hidden and frightened Fairies. As they heard a plethora of people cry out in joy that their friends would be used as just a resource, their eyes started to sting hearing their pleasure at the fact their friends would be killed. Lucy muttered, "This can't be happening."
("My people! My people please your attention!") An old, frail bearded man in a crown announced from in front of the Lacrima. He waved his staff around and garnered everyone's attention, ("I understand your excitement! I share it as well! The Anima has worked, and for the first time in years our future with magic looks to be secured! This is just a fraction of the Lacrima we obtained from that other world, and with it all we'll be able to supply ourselves with an abundance of magic for the next decade! This proves the Anima works! Our troubles are near their end! With this, we can take magic from other worlds and refuel our supply for generations!")
"B-But it's people. He know that, right?"
"I…I don't think he cares."
("The plans we have for our future! The magic we have expected to see! The spoils our world will bask in!") The king swung his staff aside and cracked the Lacrima, ("It will make this amount seem paltry and pathetic in comparison! I promise you my followers! I promise you my people! We shall all have magic to spare soon!")
Natsu dropped his doppelgänger as he seethed with anger and wanted nothing more than to step up and break the screen. It was only the faint sniffling from his friends and the wary look from Edolas Lucy that stopped him from making a move.
("But your majesty, what if people come to take this magic?!")
("I heard the Dark Guilds were still running around unsanctioned!")
("What if they come to take it for themselves!")
("Everyone! Please! There's no reason to fear!") From the king's side a man walked forward, among a few others who had their faces covered by hoods as to not draw too much attention from the king's announcement, ("Our army and our illustrious Commanders are guarding the Lacrima at all times. We will make sure none of our kingdom's enemies even approach our prize. And if they did…")
He pulled back his hood to reveal his face completely. A young man with matching blue eyes and small, faint scars across his face, nose, chin, and that crossed the whiskers over his cheeks.
("Then we'll stop them like we always have.")
("Thank you, Naruto-sama!")
("We can trust you!")
The Earthland Fairies stared up at the man on the screen and felt their blood freeze in response. Their throats went dry and horror gripped every inch of their bodies.
"T-That's him. It's his fault." Natsu looked down at his frightened counterpart only to see his own face twisted in spite and anger, "I-It's because of him…Master…and Lisanna…it's his fault."
Natsu looked up breathlessly at the image of his friend being met with a wave of cheers from the crowd. All while his counterpart and the Edolas Mages looked up at him with disdain. The visage of Naruto smiling and waving out to the crowd in front of a Lacrima made from their friends was a image he knew he'd never get out of his head.
"Naruto Namikaze is the guard of King Faust and his most trusted soldier. He works closely with the Commanders in coordinating their duties and assists in the attacks on the Dark Guild. In fact he is responsible for the execution of the Fairy Tail's leader, Makarov." Gajeel reported to the two Fairies, "If you want to get your people back, you'll undoubtedly face him along the way."
As Naruto reeled from the revelation, Gajeel scoffed, "And you bitched about my doppelgänger."
########Omake: The Great Crucible Pt.3########
("Dear god! Folks I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that even though it might be disgusting watching these two men scarf down food like oxygen, I just can't look away!")
"Yes! Yes you are alone!" Carla called out as she squeamishly turned away so not to watch the food battle any further.
"G-Go, Naruto-San!" In comparison, Wendy nervously cheered as she stood on her toes and watched with anticipation like the rest of the crowd.
Both men looked sick. They looked tired. They looked like they should have stopped stuffing ramen down their gullet ten bowls ago but refused to yield when they had the chance.
Naruto and his final competitor both had a stack of 50 bowls at their side. The fallen competitors had finished their recovery and had come back to observe the finale while the Fairy girls watched as well. Everyone was enraptured with the neck-and-neck battle.
The two men finally turned to the 51st bowl, dragging it in front of them and slowly partaking. Everyone watched with baited breath as they knew that this would be the bowl that decided the match. Naruto slowed down in his consumption as his opponent wolfed it down. It looked like the tie was faltering and the match was decided-
"GURGH!" Everyone but Naruto watched as the eating champion gagged and covered his mouth. His face grew sickly and pale as his eyes started to water. In a frantic run he jumped out of his chair, startling Lucy as he ran away to take care of business before everyone could see.
As one everyone turned to Naruto as he slowly slurped up the last of the noodles. He placed his chopsticks down, grabbed the bowl, and slowly lifted it by his mouth to slurp down the broth. After a few seconds…
He turned the bowl over and slammed it down.
("51! THAT'S 51! NARUTO UZUMAKI WINS WITH 51 BOWLS OF RAMEN! WE HAVE OUR WINNER!")
Everyone cheered as the whiskered Mage jumped from his chair and raised his fist in victory. The applause from the crowd continued to crescendo as he basked in his triumphant. He enjoyed his well-earned win…
For all of three seconds.
The crowd was shocked as he quickly jumped off the stage and flew over their head to run into the 8-Island restaurant. He dashed into the empty building and left everyone else in confusion.
Carla tilted her head, "What was that about?"
"Naruto's limit is actually around the 30-ish range of how many bowls he can eat. He pushed himself to secure this victory." Erza explained as she suddenly appeared by their side, "I'm sure he was holding it down as long as he could but that ramen is coming up and there's no one who can stop it."
Wendy looked up at the eccentric redhead, "Erza-San, I don't think you need to be wearing that bunny outfit anymore."
"Oh I like it." She said, unaware of the perverse and excited stares she was getting from the people around her, "I think I might go home like this."
"This is the last time we watch an eating competition."
"No buts Wendy!"
So let's see; Naruto jumped the gun and ended up crossing blows with Erza the enemy. The wayward Fairies and recovering and making their way closer to the sanctuary holding their prize. And in their way is a villainous visage of a friend that will stop them.
Man I love mirror world stuff. It's always fun to see how much different a version of a person can be.
Thank You and Bye