Chapter 47: Oracion Seis
Last time on Ultimate Fairy...
Suddenly, a faint blackish-purple aura shined off of his body.
This omen did not go unnoticed by the Omnitrix bearer. "Natsu? Hey! Are you alright?!" Ben shouted in concern.
The tone of Natsu's voice caused Ben to flinch. It wasn't loud or brash as it usually was but rather it was firm and dripping with venom. The pyro mage stood up with his back still turned to the shape-shifter.
"It's all your fault." Natsu clenched his fists tightly as the throbbing veins in his arms and neck area became noticeable. "It wouldn't have happened... had you not come along."
Ben's eyes widened in apprehension as a disturbing possibility entered his mind. 'No. Please... don't tell me he's been-'
He was unable to finish his thought as Natsu finally turned around to face Ben with an absolute fierce expression. His teeth were bared, revealing his sharper than average canines. The shrunken pupils in his bloodshot eyes were burning with primal rage, and the veins on his temple and neck throbbed madly
Ben reeled back. Even he couldn't help but feel unsettled from the unadulterated fury Natsu was emitting.
"I'll make you pay..." Natsu snarled viciously.
With that, the Fire Dragon Slayer had succumbed to the effects of Nirvana... and his target was none other than Fairy Tail's otherworldly hero.
The scarlet maiden known as Titania was running through the forest. Her destination was the pillar of black and white light shooting into the sky; more specifically, the man that was at the center of the light: Jellal. The man had done horrible things to her and her comrades, and Erza was determined to stop him by herself.
Erza contemplated if it was the right choice to rush off without Ben and the others. She was unable to stop him last time, forcing Ben and Natsu to finish him off. She knew she'd stand a better chance of stopping him with help, but a stubborn part of her wanted to handle this situation on her own. Jellal was her problem and she needed to face him head-on!
Nevertheless, she did feel guilty for not at least thanking Ben for saving her life earlier.
'Ben… maybe if he was here with me… we could stop him together?' Erza paused and shook her head to stop those musings. Now was not the time to be thinking about such things!
'Jellal…he's come back.' Images of Jellal's cruelty flooded her mind. 'I don't know how that's possible. Ben destroyed him in the tower, so why is he here of all places?'
As Erza continued to run, she glanced down and ruminated further. Images of the young Jellal from her past made her heart cringe for some reason. Her head was warring against the two versions of Jellal that she knew: the evil one that hurt her tremendously, and the good one from all those years ago.
Erza narrowed her eyes in confusion. 'I wish I knew what I was supposed to be feeling right now.'
Her thoughts then shifted to the otherworldly hero. His cool, calm, and noble self. She had seen how brave and heroic he was for herself and also via his memories in his mind. His childish excitement around smoothies was adorable. The occasional quips he would make while fighting could get a little tiring, but she'd be lying if it didn't make her inwardly smile.
Titania knew in her heart how she felt about the shapeshifting hero. Their date was enough evidence to convince her. Yet conflicting feelings regarding the blue-haired boy from her past were resurfacing, and she wasn't sure what to think at the moment.
She then remembered the evil acts Jellal had committed against Simon and finally Ben. The life vanishing from Simon's eyes… and the repeated horrors Ben was forced to endure by the Entrapment Spell.
The evil smug expression of the Entrapment's avatar of Jellal came to mind. "You know, Erza, if you keep making that expression…it'll ruin that perfect face of yours."
All of it made Erza clench her fists with renewed determination. 'I WILL stop Jellal. I won't let him hurt those close to me ever again!'
She continued to press on, fully intending to stop her former childhood friend.
Meanwhile, the group that comprised of Gray, Lucy, Happy, Carla, Hibiki and Sherry were making steady progress towards the beam of light. It was currently the only focal point that anyone in the Worth Woodsea could see for miles; however, despite their progress, it didn't seem to get any closer for the group.
It didn't help that some members were lagging behind due to exhaustion; namely Gray, Sherry, and Hibiki. The latter was bringing up the rear with an unconscious Wendy still on his back.
"Hey, fancy boy, you keeping up back there or what?" Gray breathed. "Might wanna pick it up a little."
Hibiki panted heavily. Despite his look, physicality wasn't one of his strong points. "Easy for you to say! You try carrying a little girl on your back for two miles…" he labored. "Let's see you keep up…"
"If you drop Wendy back there, you'll never hear the end of it from me!" Carla shouted back.
Hibiki sighed outwardly. It felt like everyone was getting on his case as of late. Had it been much earlier, he wouldn't have anything to complain about. However, these recent events have been starting to itch his skull. He'd be lying if he said he felt like he was feeling abused this way.
But, as much as he would have liked to do something about it, his priorities were keeping his emotions in check. What mattered most was not getting tempted by darkness. For now, it was just best to keep moving forward.
"Gngh!" Sherry suddenly stammered.
"Hey, you alright?" Gray asked, concerned.
Sherry managed to get herself together, but she was almost as exhausted as Hibiki, if not more so. "Y-yes, I think I'm fine."
Gray looked down at her shoes, which were fancy heels. They weren't high heels, but to wear something like that on a mission that involves this much running? He was glad he was far from a fashion freak.
'Seriously, how do people run around in those?' Gray wondered.
"You guys were running all over the place. Are you sure you're not tired?" Happy worried.
"This may be an unfortunate time, but I should warn you about something." Carla spoke up. "While Wendy's magic does heal your physical injuries, it doesn't mean anything to your stamina."
'So, it's works like Clockwork's power in that way, huh?' Gray thought absentmindedly.
He could have said it aloud, but the earlier episode with Lyon returned to his mind. Enough was already said. The last thing they needed was to provoke a touchy subject that involved Ben's life; especially when more important matters were to be tended to.
"We'll be just fine. You guys rested enough, right?" Gray finally responded, directing towards Lucy.
"Yeah, don't worry. We're all recharged and raring to go!" Lucy shouted. She then turned forward with a worried look. "Still, you sure Erza is this way?"
"If what we know is true, and if she and this Jellal have a history, then it's most likely she's heading in the same direction we are." Hibiki noted, before slowing down to maneuver around a tree root that stuck out of the ground. "It's probably the most reasonable assumption we have to go by."
"Let's hope you're right." Lucy frowned.
The Celestial Spirit mage found herself looking down at the ground, her expression falling. 'Erza...'
The events of the Tower of Heaven lingered in her mind. She knew about Erza's past as a slave, and how much Jellal had meant to her back then. Whether it was as a friend or more, she was unsure. Although, if she had to guess, it was most likely the former.
Then, the time inside Ben's mind came to the forefront of her mind. Lucy knew how Erza felt about Ben and could only imagine how conflicted the scarlet knight must feel, and figured she was likely planning to settle the score against Jellal for good.
'If that's the case… I worry if she could be targeted by Nirvana…?' Lucy pondered fearfully.
Lucy's eyes widened when he heard Happy calling out to her. "Huh? What's up, Happy?"
The feline's face showed genuine worry directed towards her. "You sure you feel alright? You looked like you were spacing out just now."
Lucy couldn't deny it. She'd be lying if she said she wasn't worried about the situation they were in. "...I was just worried...about Erza and Nirvana's power. You really think she'll be alright?"
"We'll know once we find her. We'll see what's up then." Gray replied.
"Yeah." Lucy's thoughts then shifted to another member of their team: a certain rowdy pyro. He hadn't been heard from in a while and she was beginning to grow concerned for him too. "I'm worried about Natsu. I just hope nothing bad happened to him."
Happy smiled reassuringly at Lucy. "Don't worry, Lucy. Natsu's got the heart of a Dragon Slayer inside of him! Besides, Ben will find him and Lyon in no time!"
Lucy nodded in agreement, but still frowned. "Yeah... I'm sure Ben will find them. It's just... with everything going on with Nirvana... I'm hoping Natsu's okay."
"What? You think Nirvana would affect Natsu? I wouldn't worry about that." Happy dismissed quickly. "But even if it did... he'd still be the same Natsu." He imagined Natsu with the word "EVIL" stamped on his forehead, stomping around and challenging people to brawls.
Yeah... not much different from normal Natsu.
"If you mean being a fire-breathing, reckless dunce, then yes. For once I would agree." Carla sniped.
"Knowing Flame-brain, he's probably fine." Gray commented.
He furrowed his brows and inwardly noted, 'I hope… at least.'
Lucy's attitude did brighten a bit. "Yeah, I'm sure you guys are right."
'Besides, Ben is there too. Natsu wouldn't ever harm a friend.' She thought, feeling reassured.
In an area of forest near a cliffside, fire consumed the treetops as clouds of smoke billowed into the sky. In the midst of the blaze, however, was a small clearing where Ben and Natsu were currently standing. The aftermath of Racer's bomb could still be felt in more ways than just the raging forest fire surrounding the duo.
Ben took a couple of steps back, unsettled by the hateful glare Natsu was shooting at him.
"Natsu…" Ben raised up his hand and spoke in a placating manner, "you need to calm down. You've been-"
Without warning, Natsu jumped forward with a loud battle cry. Igniting his hands in flames, he pulled back his right arm – aiming a punch directly at Ben. Acting on instinct, Ben swiftly activated the Omnitrix and selected a transformation without looking. He could only hope whatever form he had randomly chose was able to withstand the coming attack.
There was a brief emerald flash before Natsu's flaming punch made contact and an explosion engulfed the clearing. Nearby flames and smoke clouds were pushed back from the shockwave as dirt and debris was scattered. Moments later, the smoke cleared to reveal a ten-foot-wide crater. At the center was Natsu with his right fists embedded in the ground.
Natsu glanced around the crater; his eyes already readjusted after the flash of Ben's transformation and his full-powered Iron Fist. He didn't see Ben anywhere, nor did he smell him anymore. However, his nose did catch whiff of an unusual scent that he couldn't identify.
'Did I win already? Nah… that would've been too easy. Wait… what the heck is-' Natsu paused as he noticed something unusual around his right fist: green goo. He then noticed more of the green substance in puddles around the crater.
"Wait…" Natsu's eyes widened in recognition. "I've seen this stuff before!"
A grey disk-shaped device suddenly hovered into view. The globs of green around the crater levitated off the ground and converged in the air beneath the floating disk and took the shape of amoeba-shaped humanoid.
"Are you crazy!?" The being accused with a crackling static-sounding voice.
Natsu narrowed his eyes, snarling. "I remember this guy…" Recalling when Ben used this form on the island of demons to survive a fall. It was a fall that Natsu had caused in the first place, but that was beside the point. "… from the Big-Tuna Island."
"Galuna Island. And are you insane?! If I didn't change into Goop, you could've killed me!" Goop crackled.
"Yeah… that's the point." Natsu stated bluntly.
Goop's eyes widened in shock from the pyro mage's malicious statement. "Natsu…"
There was zero doubt in Ben's mind now: Natsu had been taken over by Nirvana. If the blackish-purple aura that briefly covered his body moments earlier wasn't enough proof, then the Dragon Slayer stating his intent to kill the Omnitrix bearer certainly was.
Natsu wrapped his arms in flames and resumed his attack. He attacked with a series of flaming jabs, crosses, and leg swipes at Goop; however, the Polymorph was easily able to mold and bend his body to completely avoid the hits.
Seeing that he couldn't land a blow, the pyro mage opted for a different approach. "Fire Dragon ROAR!" He reared back his head and unleashed a blazing torrent upon his opponent.
With the two in close quarters, Goop was unable to dodge the flames. While the heat itself didn't hurt the Polymorph, the sheer force behind the attack did rip his gooey body apart. However, his artificial gravity projector quickly recollected Goop's scattered body above the blaze.
'I have to help him! But first, I need to restrain him.' The Polymorph decided.
Goop shot toward Natsu as a green mass and before the pyro wizard could react, an array of slimy tentacles ensnared him and pinned his arms and legs together. Natsu tried to resist but was surprised to discover how strong the gooey restraints were.
"GRAHH!" Natsu struggled. "Lemme go!"
"Natsu, listen to me." Goop's voice seemingly emanated from across his slimy body. "You've been effected by-"
"I don't care what you have to say!" The fire wizard cut off. "I'll burn you to a crisp!"
"That won't work. My body is heat-resistant. Please, just calm down and listen."
Natsu, however, would not listen. Ben was an enemy that needed to be destroyed. He grounded his teeth in frustration, continuing to fight against the slime entrapping him. The Fire Dragon Slayer naturally was too stubborn to admit defeat. Dragons would not go down without a fight!
"You…won't… BEAT ME!" With a loud cry, Natsu suddenly ignited a firestorm from his body.
The sudden explosion ripped Goop's body apart and scattered it across the clearing again. Goop's anti-gravity projector bounced off the ground a few times and came to a stop. As it levitated back in the air to regather Goop's body, Natsu was quick to pounce on the disk and hold firmly in both hands.
"Not so fast!"
"Natsu, let go!" Goop crackled.
"I get it now. Everywhere you go this thing follows… I'm guessing you can't move without it, huh?" Natsu grinned savagely, increasing the heat in his hands. "Be a shame if somebody broke it. Heh-heh-heh!"
Ben knew even if Goop's anti-gravity projector was broken, the Omnitrix could generate a new one within moments; nevertheless, he didn't want it to reach that point. He then noticed a piece of his body near Natsu (and thanks to his projector's range), he levitated the piece and splashed it onto Natsu's face.
The Dragon Slayer was taken aback from the sudden attack and stumbled backwards, subsequently releasing his hold on the disk. Goop's disk swiftly flew around the clearing and recollected his body.
Goop reached up and hit the Omnitrix dial on his projector. In the wake of the emerald flash stood a six-foot-tall creature with yellowish-brown skin, a bat-like faceless head, and green eyeballs scattered across its arms, chest, and back.
"Eye Guy!" Ben announced.
Natsu grunted sharply as he held his face. Even though Goop's goo disappeared when Ben transformed, the painhe had felt still lingering. Ben had made sure that Goop's goo wasn't acidic enough to harm Natsu badly, but it'd definitely was enough to sting.
Held up his hands and discharged two cyan-colored rays from the eyes on his palms. The moment the rays struck Natsu, everything below his head was suddenly encased in a thick chunk of ice.
Eye Guy carefully ambled toward the Dragon Slayer, keeping his guard up. "Natsu, please chill out for a second and listen to me?"
Natsu reopened his pink, irritated eyes and growled like a caged animal.
"You're not seeing straight." That quip was unintentional. "Nirvana has infected you!"
Natsu scoffed. "I can see just fine." He narrowed his gaze at the Opticoid. "It's 'cause I listened to you he's gone. I won't make that mistake again!"
Eye Guy blinked in confusion at Natsu's statement.
"Natsu... who are you talking about? Who's gone?" Eye Guy asked seriously.
Natsu, however, ignored Ben's question as he deeply inhaled, causing the surrounding fire in nearby trees to be pulled into his mouth. With the extra boost, Natsu easily broke free from his icy restraints.
Engulfing his body in flames, Natsu glared at the Opticoid. "You didn't seriously think that was gonna hold me, did yah?!"
Wasting no time, Natsu blasted himself forward like a rocket. Eye Guy leaned back to narrowly dodge a right hook. Natsu reacted quickly and flipped his body upside down in midair to turn back to Eye Guy.
"Fire Dragon ROAR!"
With his 360-degree vision, Eye Guy saw the incoming flaming torrent behind him and jumped to the side managing to avoid the attack as it ripped apart the spot he was previously standing.
Natsu used a nearby tree as springboard and shot back to his foe, intending to land a flaming axe-kick. Eye Guy, however, literally saw it coming and brought up his forearms to block it. He then fired multiple green energy beams from his arms, blasting Natsu out of the air in a heaping smoke cloud.
The Dragon Slayer quickly rebounded and flipped before touching the ground. His feet ignited to propel himself at Ben yet again, with his elbow jutting forward.
"Fire Dragon Flame Elbow!"
He aimed himself at the main chest eye but Eye Guy leaped over Natsu at the last second, causing Natsu to slide to a halt. The Opticoid landed behind him, facing away.
"Stop running and fight me!" Natsu' impulses caused him to shake in his rage.
Before even thinking, his body swelled in flames as he shot towards the eye-alien yet again. With Eye Guy facing away in addition with his current speed, in Natsu's mind there was no way Ben was going to catch him.
Or... so he thought.
In his green-tinted 360-degrees field of vision, Eye Guy saw the oncoming visage of Natsu. His enhanced reflexes allowed him to crouch down at the last second. With Natsu directly overhead, his shoulder eyes fired energy beams that struck his gut, sending him skywards with a limp spin. Eye Guy looked on as he watched the pink-haired wizard crash into a nearby log in a smoking heap, breaking it in two with bark splattering around.
'He's not going to stay down. At this rate, he'll just keep going until the Omnitrix times out...or he keels over first.' Eye Guy summarized.
The teen hero hoped that it wasn't the latter. Memories of Kevin absorbing the Ultimatrix's energy to stop Aggregor and, consequently, going on a crazed rampage resurfaced in his mind. At the time he had believed he needed to put his personal feelings aside and make the most logical and practical choice a Plumber could make: put Kevin down.
After all, there's only one way to deal with mad dog – which was essentially what Kevin was at that time. However, he was thankful that Gwen had not given up hope and had managed to find a way to save Kevin - even if it meant enlisting the energy-vampire Michael Morningstar's help.
Honestly, Ben's not sure how he would have lived without himself if he had gone through with killing his best friend. He figured it was just one of the challenges someone in his position would have to live with.
Now, the intuition he had felt back then was beginning to resurface.
What if Nirvana was irreversible? What if the effects were long-lasting to where Natsu would be hellbent on taking out the rest of the Allied Forces after him? As much as Ben didn't want to think about these possibilities, they were still possible, nonetheless.
If Natsu wasn't stopped here, then there was no telling what might happen.
'Natsu, why you think so badly of me that -!'
Before Ben finished his thoughts, charred bark scattered in the air. He looked on and watched Natsu stand back up, visibly staggered. Coupled by that with the earlier fight against Racer, his body was still taking recoil. But even so, he refused to fall.
"Natsu, stand down! Don't make me do something that I'll regret!" Eye Guy insisted.
The flames around Natsu's visage flared. "It's too late for that, don't yah think?! How can you possibly be sorry when all you've been doing is stomping over our guild and everything we stand for!" He careened his head back and puffed his cheeks, an action Ben immediately recognized.
"Fire Dragon Roar!"
A torrent of fire blasted across the ground, heading directly towards Eye Guy. Eye Guy extended his large chest-eye at the incoming flames. The lens was prodded out by veiny flesh as the sclera sharpened to allow a green energy beam to fire back. The ray was strong enough to bisect the fiery torrent and split past Eye Guy into the trees behind him.
Once Natsu's roar dissipated, he let out a snarl. He was more frustrated than ever. No. Frustrated couldn't even describe what he felt. It was pure fury. He wanted to make Ben pay! He needed to get around that damned vision of his. That's when he noticed smoke coming from the small patches of fire still smoldering in the woods over behind Ben.
He had an idea. "Let's see how you handle this!" Natsu whipped his arms, igniting them in flames that extended outwards. "Fire Dragon Wing Attack!"
The flaming whips violently lashed into the tree limbs surrounding the area. The force behind his attack was enough to not only set them ablaze but also snapped off several dozen, causing them to rain down around Eye Guy.
Eye Guy quickly reacted by expelling energy beams from all of his eyes upward to destroy the limbs that were falling directly above him. The burning bark vaporized on the spot, but the ones that weren't directly above still fell around him.
With the tree branches on the ground ablaze, Eye Guy realized that he was surrounded. Not just by the burning tree limbs, but also by smoke. The charred embers mixed with the rising smokescreen to show how quickly the wood was burning.
As he looked around, the Opticoid realized he was essentially blind from all sides. 'Where did he go...?'
An eerie silence fell across the area. Nothing but the sounds of burning wood crinkling every second and the wailing of flames. Eye Guy's eyes squinted through the smoke. The longer he kept them open, the more easily irritated his eyes became.
He made sure to not make a sound if possible. He knew Natsu had intense Dragon Slayer hearing.
The teen hero's thoughts kicked into high gear. 'Wait! He can-!'
Suddenly, his head was forced into the dirt. His entire body was struck by a powerful blow that seemingly came out of nowhere. Not only that, but it burned badly! It took Eye Guy a moment for him to register the pain before he attempted to stand. But a flaming heel swiftly spun around and kicked him onto his back.
"GRRAH!" He bit his lip to refrain from letting out a grunt of pain. 'Crap! I landed on some of my eyes!'
"Don't think that I'm weak, Ben!" Eye Guy shakily stood up and lifted his head. He was unable to see his opponent due to the smoke clouding his vision. "I can take on anyone if I put my back into it! Especially you!"
The fire-wizard pulled his right fist back and punched Eye Guy across the face, making him stagger away. He followed up with a kick to the side and several punches across the Opticoid's head – making sure his hits were hard and fast.
All Ben could do was try to defend himself since he was essentially blind. He felt the blows striking him and tried to predict where they'd fall next.
'He's attacking from the front, so...!' He opened his chest-eye once more, catching Natsu by surprise.
He fired an energy ray, only for Natsu to duck under at the last second and retaliate with a flaming fist.
"Fire Dragon Iron Fist!"
Putting his back into it, Natsu delivered a powerful blow into Eye Guy's chest – sending him flying through the smoke and crashing into several trees clustered together. A pained grunt was heard in the thickest parts of the smoke.
Natsu breathed out embers as he glared forward. He didn't look fazed in the slightest after his series of attacks. He then spread his heels and engulfed both his fists in flames as he eagerly charged in Ben's direction.
A brief flash of emerald originated inside the smoke cloud concealing the area Ben was in. Natsu growled, realizing Ben had transformed again. No matter! He'd fight whatever form Ben transformed into. He wasn't afraid.
"You can't hide from me! Dragons never let their prey get awa~?!" Before he could finish his anger-fueled irate, his head started getting lighter all of a sudden...along with the rest of his body. He suddenly became weightless as his body floated off the ground.
"H-Hey! What the heck is...hmph!" True to form, the Dragon Slayer was feeling instantaneous nausea. His grim disposition was immediately overshadowed by color draining from his eyes and his cheeks puffing.
With him seemingly defying gravity, he was so lost in his nausea to watch the smoke shift away, revealing Gravattack walking out with his right hand outstretched at Natsu to manipulate his gravity. He walked up until he was in a suitable position just out of Natsu's range.
"Sorry, Natsu. I know you're not a fan of moving unwillingly, so..." He brought his arm back before reaching back out. "I'm gonna put yah in a little spin!"
Gravity manipulated Natsu to where he froze in midair for a brief second before he suddenly lobbed over Gravattack in a large circle.
"Hey! That's not...faaaaaaaairrr~!" Natsu's cries turned to exaggerated wails as he strained to keep his contents from spewing all over the place. Around he went as he was unable to make heads nor tails of which way was up. Everything spun around him so fast that he could have sworn that he must have been in some bad dream, or a nightmare.
Gravattack kept the gravity in a loop to ensure that it would be enough to keep Natsu at bay. Judging from the way the color was draining from his face, it was safe to say that it was working. 'It's a good thing that I remembered his motion sickness.' His eyes narrowed. 'It's the only way I currently know how to stop him without actually hurting him.'
Now that Natsu was momentarily predisposed, he needed to get to the bottom of this and fast! The Omnitrix would time-out eventually and the moment Natsu recovered, he'd immediately attack Ben again and he'd be defenseless.
'If I'm going to get to the bottom of this, I'll have to dig deeper...or should I say, look deeper.' An idea gradually spawned in Ben's mind. If convincing Natsu to submit wasn't enough, he would have to use mind games – another weakness to the more straightforward Dragon Slayer. 'Guess it's worth a shot. Let's hope this works...'
Once enough momentum was carried out, Natsu's limp body suddenly did somersaults at several times a second, before slamming on his stomach on the ground below. With the dust clearing, Gravattack saw him looking pale and dizzy. He hastily used his gravity to manipulate the earth the around Natsu. Layers of thick rock floated off the crust and gradually engulfed Natsu, leaving him in a dense ball of rock stationed in the middle of the terrain.
"Alright, that should restrain him temporarily. Now, for stage two." Slapping the Omnitrix dial, another green flash engulfed the area as Ben transformed into another alien.
"Pesky Dust!" He exclaimed in a high-pitched, feminine voice.
The prestigious Nemuina gently hovered over the ground with green pixie dust streaming off his wings. He flew over to Natsu's rocky prison and came to a stop in front of it.
"Alright, Natsu...let's see how this Nir~vana makes you tick, shall we? Prrrrrr~!" He reached his hand out, spreading green pixie dust that went into the porous cracks within the rock.
Inside the rocky prison, Natsu was still dazed, but he was conscious enough to know that his stomach wasn't churning anymore. His palm felt earth, meaning that he had reached ground zero at long last.
"Uuuuugh...is the ride over...?" He looked around, registering that he was surrounded in pitch-black. "Hey...where did the sun go? Wasn't I...?"
Suddenly, a green gas filled the darkness, immediately hitting Natsu's sensitive nostrils. His eyes rolled to the back of his head as he slumped back down. Meanwhile, Ben's expression fell to stone as his mind transcended into the Dragon Slayer's mind.
Darkness. That was all Ben could see around him. Wherever he turned, the view was nothing but a void that was eerily silent. He half-expected Natsu to have some kind of memory play out; perhaps something loud or maybe something reminiscent of Lisanna like the last time - not a desolate void.
Pesky Dust couldn't help but slightly shiver. "Prrrr...what's going on here...?" He looked around once more. "Is this really Natsu's head right now...Prrr?"
To say he was a little more than unnerved would be an understatement. He knew Natsu was in a dark place right now, so maybe this was Nirvana's doing?
Pesky Dust shook his head to get his head straight. 'Prrr...this is no time for spacing out. Where is Natsu?'
It was faint, but Ben picked up on something that echoed in the void. 'That voice...Natsu?'
"I thought...never... you again!"
There was no mistaking it. It was Natsu's voice. Ben was sure of that!
"From...prrrr...up ahead!" He fluttered deeper into the darkness, now seeing a faint light.
He didn't stop until he reached it, engulfing the dark surroundings with something more surprising. What he saw, made his eyes widen. 'What the-?!'
When the light faded, he was in a grassy field within a mountainous terrain. However, much of the scenery was overshadowed by a large, ridged red-scaled dragon that looked down at a bewildered Natsu.
Ben stood there, staring at the memory. 'Is this...Natsu's memories?' He gave the dragon an incredulous look. 'And that dragon… that must be Igneel!'
Igneel scoffed. "Don't come near me. You are not allowed to approach the one and only Igneel."
"What are you talking about? And why'd you abandon me seven years ago?!" The illusion of Natsu demanded.
"Isn't it obvious, boy?"
"...No... not really..." Natsu answered dumbly.
Ben didn't know why, but he somehow expected such an answer from the Dragon Slayer. Nevertheless, he chose to not interfere.
"You never were known for your thinking abilities. Then allow me to explain the reasoning behind my leaving."
A strong silence fell across the area as Pesky Dust watched Natsu await the answer. A passive wind breezed through the dreamscape, but as chilling as it was, Pesky Dust didn't feel it.
"You. Are. Weak."
It was those words alone that made Pesky Dust flutter a few feet back. It was spoken so bluntly, so coldly in fact; that it was enough to make him feel pitying the Dragon Slayer that he turned to. He saw Natsu's eyes shrunk as any means of hope faded from his expression.
"You are weak. You are nothing more than a weakling and a disappointment. That is why I abandoned you. You are simply not worth my time...just like now."
The Nemunia narrowed his eyes in concentration. 'This can't be real… I… I don't believe Igneel would say those things to Natsu.' Suddenly, a possible explanation came to mind. 'Wait… the others mentioned that the Entrapment Spell did try to attack them… to crush their spirits with twisted illusions. Maybe this was what Natsu saw back then?'
Before he could ponder on the matter further, the mindscape suddenly went blank. Pesky Dust jerked in shock with a long purr before a new setting settled into place...or rather, a familiar one.
Once it came into view, immediately what Ben saw was the moment after he had socked Natsu across the face. The Dragon Slayer was recoiling while the alliance members were all corralled and staring in utter disbelief at his actions. Suffice to say he made a scene that he was seeing for himself.
'Wait a minute...this is from earlier!' He trailed off from his thoughts as he watched the memory play out
"I don't know why I thought you would behave any different with a mission this important...I must be insane. I should have known better. Your history speaks for itself." Ben's figment paused before resuming. "You think you can do anything and everything by yourself, even when the reality of the situation is screaming otherwise in your face! And it's not just this mission, it's every mission. Ever since I met you, you approach every enemy the same way; reckless abandonment of any sort of real strategy and this baseless belief that you can beat them without anyone's help if you hit them hard enough. Everyone from Lyon to Phantom Lord, to Laxus, to even Vilgax and Aggregor!"
Pesky Dust watched as Natsu flinched at how suddenly he was being berated, not to mention that it was in front of everyone. It was uncomfortable for Ben to watch the scene play out from this viewpoint; however, as harsh as it may sound, he didn't regret his actions. He needed to do something to get through to Natsu.
He watched as his past figment continued. "Every mission we've been on starts and ends the same way. You're reckless, irresponsible, and you never consider the consequences of your actions. Our last job together was proof enough when you fell asleep on our night watch. Not even ten minutes after we woke up, we were attacked by the Olga Worm...and all you had to say for yourself was, 'No harm, no foul'?'
"I said I was sorry and that I wouldn't do that again." Natsu lamely defended himself. "But what does that have to do with anything?"
"The point is that you keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again! You don't take anything seriously enough and just think everything will work out your way."
"I do take things serio-"
"NO! No, you don't!" Ben's tone was as sharp as he remembered it. "Everything is just one big game to you. Every battle has you using the same strategy. Headfirst, brain last. You don't pause to think about any of your actions, except on the rarest of occasions. Solar eclipses happen more often than that."
Natsu squirmed at the truth-bombs being thrown his way. He was seeing how everyone was looking aghast to what he was laying down right in front of them. Even Lucy and Gray were startled; and as much as Ben didn't want to admit it, the way he rebuffed Gray back then was on stalwart emotion alone.
The scenario suddenly cut away, leaving Pesky Dust to watch the scene unfold of him saying something to surmise everything possible that the Dragon Slayer had been told.
"I don't know why your father left you, Natsu...but I know why your friends are going to leave you. It's because you'll get them all killed with that reckless attitude of yours. Why do you think Elfman lost Lisanna? Because he acted like you."
The look on Natsu's face as his heart was torn to pieces was all the indication to know that something was said that left an impression. He was frozen stiff, and all Pesky Dust did was flutter there with a furrowed brow. He didn't know why but seeing that now that he was cooled down made him feel something. Something...remorseful.
But before anything could fully register, he watched the scene shift to a whole new panel. It was of him interrogating Erigor; mainly the scenes of him injuring the defeated wizard. This scene made Pesky Dust turn away with a growing sense of regret.
He'd admit that that whole ordeal was primarily fueled by his own ire against the assassin for hurting Erza. True, in the end he did get the information out of Erigor the Allied Forces had needed; nevertheless, there were better options available.
In another white flash, the scene warped to reveal an open field with scorch marks, chunks of ice, and a large crater nearby. Natsu and Lyon both looked worse for wear as they were covered in bruises and their clothing ripped and torn in various places.
The Dragon Slayer and Ice-Make mage both turned back in shock to see Racer shakily climb out of the crater and return to his feet. Suddenly. He ripped off his tattered shirt and jacket to reveal a cylindrical device strapped to his chest.
"NONE OF YOU ARE GONNA SURVIVE!" He yelled out. "In the name of the mighty Oracion Seis, I'M TAKING YOU TO THE BIG CLOUD IN THE SKY!"
In the center of the device was a circular light display that appeared to be counting down.
"A bomb?!" Lyon's eyes widened.
"Are you serious?! You're gonna just throw your life away like that?!" Natsu exclaimed angrily.
Pesky Dust eye's widened in surprise. "Seriously? Prr… he'd really go that far?"
"If I take you idiots out with me, then that's fine by me!" Racer rushed forward with a maniacal grin on his face.
"We'll see about that!" Natsu attempted to activate his fire magic but was shocked when he could only produce a few sparks. "Oh crap! I'm too low on power!"
"HA-HA-HA!" Racer madly cackled.
'I can try and eat the explosion, but I dunno if my body can take the backlash from another blast right now...' Natsu's voice echoed out across the area. Pesky Dust surmised they were Natsu's train of thought during this scene. 'Then there's Lyon. How can I protect... wait –'
Before Natsu could react, Lyon rushed forward and wrapped his arms around a stunned Racer. The ice mage pointed his right hand out and, using the last of his magical power, created a giant spring that thrust himself and Racer forward over the side of a cliff.
Pesky Dust and past-Natsu's eyes both widened in shock. "Lyon…" Both uttered in unison.
A few seconds later, a blinding flash and explosion enveloped the area and echoed throughout the forest. Nearby trees at the base of the cliff were blown apart by the shockwave and burst into flames.
Natsu ran to the edge and looked down in horror.
"Lyon... w-what did you do..." He stammered. "Lyon... hey, Lyon! Are you okay down there? Answer me!"
Only the sounds of the crackling fire and a few trees falling.
Natsu trembled as he could only look at the devastation.
"Prrr... no... it can't be." Now he understood why he couldn't pick up Lyon or Racer's scent anymore past the cliffside earlier. They had both died in the explosion.
Pesky Dust was left in shock as the memory faded away. Black, empty space bordered around him as he floated there with an expression that read remorse. What Ben saw, what he was feeling...everything that he was seeing and what Natsu was saying beforehand. Now everything was clear.
The reason for why Natsu was acting the way he was, and why he was expressing his loathing towards Ben. It took a minute for Ben to completely register everything that he saw for the full impact to sink in.
Natsu's reason for falling to Nirvana...it was because of him.
He pushed his one-track mind off the grid that it solemnly wanted to stay on. Ben had learned from his past mistakes and experiences that he needed to be fully aware of the consequences of his actions and think before acting. Natsu, however, wasn't wired like that.
They had very different experiences, and Ben's was more expansive while Natsu's was limited to the solemn traction of his father that he refused to let go of.
So many emotions were washing over Ben as the revelation of his emotional outburst from earlier kicked in. Thinking about it, he could have just read Erigor's mind using Pesky Dust and just gotten it over with. Interrogating Erigor in the manner he did wasn't necessary; especially for someone who claimed to be a hero.
No, it wasn't just that.
It was debatable if the things he had even said to Natsu needed to be said… at least in that setting in front of everyone. Honestly, if he were in Natsu's position, he probably would feel just as much scorn.
The reality of the situation was a painful truth. As much as Ben hated to admit it, he knew he was to blame for Natsu's state right now.
"Some hero I am..." He spatted pitifully.
The sounds of grunting snapped Pesky Dust out of his own despondent musings. He looked ahead to see a figure with faint purplish light shining off of it. Curious, the Nemunia flew toward the figure and as he got closer immediately recognized them.
The Fire Dragon Slayer was on his hands and knees with his head lowered, a blackish-purple aura cascading off his body. The girlish sound of Pesky Dust's exclamation inadvertently caused the pyro's ears to twitch. He lifted his head to identify the source of the disturbance.
The moment he spotted Pesky Dust, he bared his teeth and growled savagely. The aura surrounding his body brightening in conjunction. "YOU!?"
Pesky Dust came to a sudden halt as Natsu's furious glare shot through him. "N-Natsu… prrr… I'm here to help you,"
"GET OUT OF MY HEAD!" The dark aura surrounding Natsu flared up and reached out with purple tree-like roots, reaching out in every direction.
Pesky Dust wasn't quick enough to dodge as a tendril snaked around his ankles. Before he could counter, his body entrapped by the purple root-like tendrils. The Nemunia couldn't suppress a painful cry as it shockingly burned into his skin.
'Nirvana… even Pesky Dust can't break its control,' Pesky Dust thought, distressed. He looked forward and, through the gaps of the roots, could see Natsu approaching him with a deadly expression. 'I'm sorry, Natsu… I'll have to find another way to save you. I hope…'
Before letting things progress any further, Pesky Dust immediately severed the connection between him and Natsu.
Meanwhile, on the outside, Pesky Dust floated motionless with a blank look. A trail of green mist wafting between him and a sphere of rocky debris. Suddenly, the green mist dissipated out of existence. Pesky Dust blinked and shook his head a few times, returning to reality. He reached up and tapped the Omnitrix dial, transforming back to human.
"Ugh," Ben rubbed his aching head. "That… didn't go as planned." He held his hand over the Omnitrix once more, preparing to transform.
He contemplated on potentially using Swampfire to put Natsu back to sleep with his sleeping gas. He inwardly held out hope that Natsu would return to normal by the Allied Forces destroying Nirvana later; however, he couldn't help but ponder on the possibility that this change could be permanent. In that case, Ben would be forced to make a tough decision.
Natsu finally broke free from the rocky prison, scattering debris – Ben narrowly dodging a piece.
He looked up to see Natsu glaring daggers at him.
"You were in my head! Yah couldn't fight me man-to-man… so you thought you'd use mind games, huh!?" Natsu accused angrily.
"Natsu, give it a rest!" Ben shouted. "I'm trying to help you!"
"You're too late!" Natsu snapped. "Lyon's gone! And it's all your fault!"
Ben's visage became heavier. "Yeah, maybe you're right." He softly replied. "My actions are the reason that Nirvana took hold of you. I'm sorry, Natsu."
"I don't want your apology. I want vengeance!" The possessed Dragon Slayer exclaimed. "Lyon may have been an icy prick, but he didn't deserve to die."
"Natsu… I don't want to fight you."
"Well, that's too bad. 'Cause this'll be over really quick." Natsu coolly stated, igniting his fists once more.
"But…" Ben activated the Omnitrix, "… I can't let you run wild either."
"Lyon… this is for you." Natsu affirmed to himself.
"What in the world is going on here!?" A familiar voice shouted out.
Ben and Natsu stopped as their eyes widened. That voice… it couldn't be. The otherworldly hero and Dragon Slayer both turned to the side and, to their shocked disbelief, Lyon was standing at the rim of the clearing.
His shirtless body was covered in scrapes, bruises, and a few burns. Strangely enough, there was some mud on his body as well. He looked worse for wear, but he was still very much alive. Behind him the ice mage was pulling an unconscious Racer by the back of his shirt – who looked even worse off than Lyon. However, Ben could see that the speed demon was still alive.
"Honestly… I'm knocked out for what… not even half-an-hour… and you resort to killing each other?" Lyon mocked.
"L-Lyon…" Natsu stammered, his eyes locked onto the ice wizard. He took in a deep breath through his nostrils, and, to his astonishment, he could smell Lyon. This wasn't an illusion… it was real. "… y-you're alive?"
"Of course I am! Did you really think I would allow myself to be finished off like that?" Lyon haughtily replied. "Obviously you don't know me very well."
His eyes softened up while tears began to stream down his cheeks. Natsu didn't even care about Lyon's snarky response. A swell of emotions was swirling inside of him, the most dominant being relief and thankfulness. It was as if a great weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
Natsu suddenly felt a sharp pain inside of him and grunted. A faint blackish-purple aura cascaded off his body – not going unnoticed by Ben and Lyon. Feeling the intense ire and stress from earlier instantly leaving his body, Natsu suddenly passed out and collapsed to the ground.
Ben immediately rushed over to his comrade and knelt to check his pulse. He let out a sigh of relief upon finding out that Natsu was still alive. 'Good, he's still kicking. Hopefully Nirvana's influence has been broken…' He turned to see Lyon ambling toward him while dragging Racer behind him.
He stood up as Lyon approached, the Lamia Scale wizard shooting Ben a steely look. "What happened here?" He paused and directed his gaze to the pillar of light shooting into the sky in the distance. "And what in the world is that?"
"I swear, what is with these things?!" Hibiki asked in annoyance, the group having been attacked by more rock golems.
Lucy had to admit that she was as well as she wondered how Hex had so many of these things. From what she remembered when they all left Ben's mind from the enchantment the man could barely do anything of this scale.
"Do you think the others are ok?" Lucy asked as they were blindsided by the creatures that popped out the ground, separating her and Hibiki from Gray and Sherry.
"I'm more concerned for Wendy." Hibiki said as the others were capable mages and the moment the ambush started, he had Carla fly Wendy out, the cat immediately agreeing to his request.
Lucy agreed with that decision as the girl used some magic to heal both Jellal and Gray earlier. Despite her Dragon Slayer status, she was guessing that Wendy wasn't up for a full-fledged battle given her age and overall timid demeanor.
"Lucy!" Gray called ahead of them while waving at her.
Hibiki looked and saw Gray but something was amiss. His eyes widened before he punched Gray in the face.
"Hibiki, what's the matter with you!?" Lucy asked in shock, wondering if he had been affected by Nirvana as such an attack was something that Natsu would do.
"I established a link with you all earlier and my telepathy doesn't recognize his brainwaves, whoever this is isn't Gray." Hibiki said, holding his hand as his punch had really hurt.
"Impressive, that little troll clearly wasn't the brains of the operation." A feminine voice said as they all saw Angel of the Oracion Seis. "Hello Lucy darling, how does it feel to gaze upon an angel?"
"I'm pretty sure that I'd rather be blind, lady!" Lucy retorted as she was very unimpressed with what she saw.
"What a shame. Did my pets keep you entertained?" Angel asked coyly.
"Your pets?" Lucy asked as Gray began to mist up and, in that mist, they heard "Piri-Piri" before they saw two blue doll-like creatures.
"I'm Gimi and I'm Mini" the dolls said, introducing themselves. Gimi had a slightly more boyish voice while Mini was more feminine.
"They are the Gemini twins." Angel revealed their golden key.
Lucy was expecting this development, remembering how Ben had pointed out her weaknesses which she had to admit were also hers. She seemed more capable than Angel was at least so that was something she had over her opponent, but what made her slightly worried was that she had to face a gold key who apparently had a transformation ability. She momentarily contemplated the effects of Nirvana but pushed them aside as she doubted, they'd be affected given their personalities.
"Your gate keys would be a welcome addition to my collection, so hand them over." Angel said as she saw the number of gold keys Lucy had. Added to her own she'd have over half the Zodiac.
"Not a chance! Open, Gate of the Archer: Sagittarius!" Lucy yelled out as she summoned her archer.
"Greetings my lady!" Sagittarius said as he saluted in the opposite direction of Lucy.
Angel merely smirked as her twin spirits transformed into Lucy.
"Sagittarius, attack them!" Gemini-Lucy said to him.
Lucy was shocked when her spirit followed through with the order 'What!? But Sagittarius is my spirit!' she thought, asking herself how this was possible.
"Gemini is a spirit who is able to obtain all of the knowledge of whoever they strike and their abilities, meaning that your contracts are theirs as well." Angel said to her with a grin as she effectively shut Lucy's ability down and had access to her own weapons.
Lucy acted quickly and summoned her most powerful spirit. "Open, Gate of the Water Bearer: Aquarius!" With a bell ring, the violent blue-haired mermaid appeared holding a vase.
"Take her down Aquarius, even if you have to take me with her!" Lucy commanded, knowing that the spirit had a knack for hitting her summoner as well with her attacks.
"That was my plan!" Aquarius said, not even intending on hiding her intention to hit Lucy as well.
Lucy sighed but was slightly glad as she could handle Aquarius' attacks, but she knew that Angel had no experience with such a ridiculous idea.
"Open, Gate of the Scorpion: Scorpio!" Angel then summoned her second spirit.
'She summoned another golden key spirit?' Lucy thought in slight shock, now questioning her abilities. 'I need to do better; my team won't give up so neither will I!' she thought as Natsu and Gray fought others with their magic and came out on top despite the odds, so she'd do the same.
What happened next really surprised her as her strongest, angriest, and clearly most temperamental spirit gained hearts in her eyes and fawned over the new scorpion-based spirit that just arrived. After Scorpio introduced himself Aquarius threatened Lucy not to embarrass her or the consequences would be dire.
Angel was pleased as while she lost the usage of her own spirit, she'd taken down Lucy's strongest. She still had her silver keys and Gemini, so she still had the advantage.
Lucy watched in horror as both spirits left and she was blindsided with a kick to the stomach from Angel.
"This is almost sad. How you survived without your spirits is a complete and total mystery to me." Angel said, still having the same amount of confidence in herself.
Lucy definitely felt that kick and had to admit it was a hard one, sure to leave a bruise. 'I need to think about how I'm going to beat her without my strongest spirit!'
Despite being attacked by her own spirit, Aquarius was worth all the hassle given the fact that she could reshape the landscape with her attacks. 'Wait' she paused in realization, grabbing a certain key "Open, Gate of the Lion: Leo!" she said as she summoned her friend.
'Leo!' Hibiki thought in surprise, not having seen it in a long time. 'Karen' he thought to himself as he considered his former guildmate.
While she died in a tragic way, he didn't blame Leo or Loke as he was now known by; Karen had been rather cruel with her spirits. Her eventual fate was her own fault.
"Hey, gorgeous." Loke appeared with his normal confident grin.
"Listen Loke, we gotta take her down for the sake of the guild! No... for the sake of the world!" Lucy said as she remembered how high the stakes were, Ben's words from before sticking to her.
Angel merely smirked at this development. "Open, Gate of the Ram: Aries!" she said as she summoned a spirit which caused Lucy, Hibiki, and Loke to freeze in shock but for different reasons.
'She has another Zodiac Celestial Spirit!' Lucy thought as each Zodiac spirit was special and from what she saw from Gemini it put her on edge.
'That Key...' Loke and Hibiki both thought.
The key previously belonged to Karen and hadn't been recovered upon her death. 'She's the one.' they both realized, picking up on how this woman got that key.
"How did you get Karen's key!?" Lucy said in surprise.
"Easy. I'm the one who put her six feet under." Angel said as she recited the details of Karen's death, making Loke swell in hate and guilt while Hibiki felt enraged. She continued talking, describing how she had killed other celestial wizards and claimed Lucy would be next.
"Let me correct you on something." Loke said while fixing his cuffs. "I don't give a damn about who you are but today you're gonna pay for what you did to Karen!" he said in an even more confident tone, but it lacked much of the flirtatious nature it usually carried. "And those keys you have will be going to Lucy." Lucy was the best Celestial Spirit mage he had met, and he knew that those spirits would find a friend in her.
Lucy saw an ominous dark glow appear around Hibiki. 'Is he being affected by Nirvana!?' She thought in a slight panic as while his magic was not offensive, he had knowledge of them and with his magic, the others would be at a greater disadvantage as he could tell the enemy their weaknesses.
Loke saw the dark glow form around Hibiki. He acted fast and dashed over to his old friend, knowing it'd be bad if that glow corrupted him. "Hibiki, I got this. Trust me, don't let whatever this is control you. Justice will finally be carried out for Karen." he said confidently.
Hibiki calmed down and relaxed, feeling like an idiot. 'I need to calm down or Nirvana will just take control over me, I'd play right into the enemy's hands then!' he thought, trying to distract his mind from the information dump he got from learning about Karen's fate.
"You think this barely qualified mage can defeat me? What makes her so special, cause all I can see is nothing but pathetic." Angel said, still confident in her victory.
Lucy gripped Loke's key as she knew that this spirit was his close friend. She wasn't going to make them fight each other after so long apart, she raised her spirit's key only for him to stop her.
"Lucy, you don't need to protect me. I got this." Loki said while giving her a reassuring smile.
Angel weighed her odds and didn't have any confidence in Aries given that she wasn't much of a combat-oriented spirit.
Lucy kept her eyes on Angel and was surprised when she saw her take out a second silver key.
"Open, Gate of the Chisel: Caelum." Angel said as she summoned a metal sphere.
'She can summon two spirits at once!?' Lucy thought in shock as that was an impressive advancement in celestial spirit magic. She didn't know anything about this spirit but noticed when Angel ordered Aries to stop Loke, shifting Caelum into a form which featured a gun barrel which set off her internal alarms.
"Loke, look ou-" she was interrupted when Loke and Aries were shot through their stomachs, sending them back through the Celestial gates to the Celestial Spirit Realm.
She felt sick when she heard them call out to each other as they vanished and became enraged when she heard Angel's amused laughter, making her tremble in rage.
"Oh, what's with that look?" Angel asked teasingly as she summoned Gemini again who transformed into Lucy.
Lucy took a long deep breath as she calmed down, having to remind herself about Nirvana. She listened to Angel talk about how celestial spirits were just sacrifices for battle since they didn't die. "You're despicable! They may not die but they still feel pain like other living beings!" she said, unable to believe that someone could just disrespect life like that.
That moment was when everything changed for Gemini-Lucy as she held onto Caelum, wielding it like a club as she moved to attack Lucy… she heard the summoner's thoughts and felt her emotions, noting how strong and pure they were about their kind. The rush of information made the transformed spirit tear up. "She loves us, even willing to give up her life for us." she said, shocked by the devotion and love Lucy had. "We envy her spirits." She looked at the blonde Celestial mage with longing.
Both Lucy and Angel were surprised by that proclamation.
"Begone!" Angel said, finally losing her cool as this was a major sign of disrespect in her eyes. "You will both suffer for that!" Clutching the key to the twins, she was brought out of her thoughts as she saw Hibiki approach Lucy and grab her. She smiled, feeling that her victory was assured as Nirvana had apparently gotten to Hibiki.
Lucy was slightly scared when she felt Hibiki touch her but then felt his magic pour into her. When he grabbed her head, her mind exploded with pain and she screamed.
"I'm teaching you hyperlink magic. It's a one-and-done deal when you use it." Hibiki said, knowing that she could handle it after that display of both spirit and magic. Lucy had his utmost respect and faith.
"What is this? Caelum, attack them." Angel didn't like the glow that was around Lucy, seeing what seemed like stars appear before her and around Lucy. 'I need to move!' she thought before freezing in panic at a new development.
"If you're gonna hit her with something, do it now." Gray said upon arriving with Sherry.
Angel tried reaching for her keys only to find them missing. She saw a tree that had somehow stolen her keyring and subsequently tossed it to Sherry who smiled at her cockily.
Lucy felt her mind fill with knowledge and she instantly knew what to do. "Oh stars far and wide that embody the heavens, by thy radiance reveal thy form to me I implore you. Oh Tetrabiblos, oh ruler of the stars, let your unrestrained rage flow with the 88 heavenly bodies." She said before her eyes suddenly opened "Urano Metria."
She heard Angel scream before she passed out.
Angel struggled to remain conscious as the attack was incredibly powerful, but her vision slowly returned, and her mind drifted back to her days as a slave building the R-System. "My prayer... to fade into the sky... like an angel..." she said before blacking out.
"Hold on, so what you're telling me is that Nirvana alters the personality of those it affects?" Jura asked, no longer in combat with the Oracion Seis member Hoteye.
"Precisely right. Within its area of effect that black light will forcibly change anyone on the edge of good or evil to the opposite side." Hoteye replied.
Jura listened to this information as he was curious as to how Hoteye's personality had changed so suddenly. Hoteye was doing all of this for his long-lost brother and it made him think about what Ben did in his earlier interrogation. 'Do the ends justify the means?' he thought to himself as Ben's actions could be considered necessary given what was at stake, despite how others might condemn them. He was brought out of his thoughts when Hoteye said something about him looking like a potato that he and his brother had made in the past.
It was early evening as the sun began its descent to the horizon. Racer was unconscious and had been tied up with many vines via Swampfire. After Ben gave Lyon a quick rundown of what had happened, Lyon was stunned to hear that Nirvana was active… and the negative effect it had on Natsu. He was surprised that the Dragon Slayer even cared so much for him given how much they had been at odds throughout the mission until recently.
"Can I ask how you're not dead? Natsu has a great nose and fooling it is no joke." Ben asked. It was odd that Natsu wouldn't be able to find Lyon and assume him to be dead.
"It was closer than I cared to admit. Even after putting some distance between me and the bomb, I used just about all of my remaining magic to keep the blast at bay. It took me a while to recover after I woke up in a mud pit." Lyon's jacket still sported many dark brown spots on it.
'Mud must've been blocking his scent, making him blend in with the landscape.' Ben thought. It was a simple hunting trick that usually fooled animals.
"So, who controls Nirvana?" Lyon asked him, wondering how their mission had changed.
"I… don't know. I turned back as the others made their way to it to look for you two." Ben replied. It would always be one of his weak points, that whenever people were in trouble, he'd be there even during terrible times like this.
Lyon normally would have yelled at him but considering the day they'd had and all that has happened between them since Galuna Island, he decided to say nothing on the matter. "We should go, whatever is happening with Nirvana needs to be stopped. It doesn't matter who has it."
Ben nodded in agreement.
Natsu groaned and started to wake up. Ben and Lyon approached the Dragon Slayer, both on guard in case Nirvana's effects were still present. To their relief, Natsu was acting normally and rubbed his head.
"Ben? Lyon? W-what happened?" He asked in confusion.
"You… don't remember?" Ben inquired, cocking a brow.
"I remember fighting the speed-guy over there with Ice Stripper 2.0 here," Natsu pointed to Lyon, who narrowed his gaze at the nickname. "But… after that, it's all kinda fuzzy."
"Is that really all you remember, Salamander?" Lyon questioned, folding his arms over his chest. "Try harder." He needed Natsu to focus.
"Well… I think I had some dream," He paused to recollect his thoughts. "Both of you were in it. I thought Lyon had died and… I was fighting Ben…? I saw you Lyon, and it went dark again. And then I woke up…" he said, trying to recall his 'dream.'
Natsu trailed off as an uneasy feeling crept in. The straight expressions Ben and Lyon were giving him didn't ease his fears either. The Dragon Slayer's eyes widened when the stunning realization hit. "It… it was real…?" he asked in complete shock.
"Unfortunately," Lyon responded honestly.
Natsu turned to Ben with a remorseful look. "I… I attacked you?" he asked, feeling like he knew the answer and it made him feel worse given what had happened before.
"Yeah… but it wasn't your fault." Ben replied quickly. "Nirvana has the power to turn good to evil and vice versa. The stress and grief you felt when you thought Lyon died… made you a target." he said, trying to help Natsu as he himself had been under certain influences before. Big Chill taking control and Sublimino hypnotizing him were two such examples.
"GRAGH!" Natsu fell to a knee and punched the ground in frustration. "I can't believe this! I-I… I'm so sorry! I'm so weak! I should've –"
Natsu was cut off by a loud and painful slap to the face, courtesy of Ben. Lyon gaped in surprise.
"H-hey!" Natsu barked. "What's the big idea!?"
"That's enough!" Ben yelled. "Look, I know you're upset about what happened… but we can't dwell on that right now." He was very serious about not wanting to deal with Natsu in that state again, and desired to avoid another fight so soon.
"Look…" Ben sighed, sliding his hand down his face. "We can talk about this after the mission, but you need to calm down. You see that over there?" He pointed in the distance to the pillar of black-and-white light with spiraling black tendrils around it. "That's Nirvana! It's been activated. And it doesn't stop there."
Ben clenched his fists in anger, Natsu seeing that the shapeshifter was trying to reign his emotions in. "Jellal is back."
Natsu's eyes widened in shock. Lyon was confused, however. "Who's Jellal?"
"Later," Ben said as an explanation would be long and complicated, a luxury they couldn't afford now.
"No way… if Jellal's back," Natsu stood back up in angered determination. "We have to stop him! We can't let him get to Erza or-"
"I KNOW!" Ben shouted. "Don't yah think I know that? Believe me, I want to rush off and take down that creep as much as you do. But we have a mission! People's lives are at stake. Now listen, if Jellal and the Oracion Seis are working together, then we can't go in half-cocked." He didn't need to remind Natsu how powerful Jellal and the remaining members of the Oracion Seis were.
He turned to look at Lyon as well. "I know you and I didn't get off on the right foot… you don't trust me. I get it. I said some things I shouldn't have. But these guys are even more dangerous than before. We have to put that behind us for now and work together."
Lyon was silent for a moment and kept his cold gaze on the Omnitrix bearer. The tension was so palpable that it could be cut with a butter knife. "You're right. I don't trust you. However, for the sake of the mission and my guild's honor, I'll put my suspicions aside… for now. Besides, I'm not foolhardy enough to believe we can beat the Oracion Seis while we're at each other's throats."
"Natsu, how about it-?"
He turned back to see the Dragon Slayer standing at the rim of the clearing, inhaling tendrils of the wildfire burning the trees from earlier. Once he had finished consuming the fire, Natsu looked back with a confident grin. "You don't have to convince me. I'm in!"
Ben smiled and nodded.
He turned in the direction of Nirvana with Lyon and Natsu following his gaze. Ben noticed that the darkness in the light had disappeared. He had no idea what that meant, but they certainly weren't going to get any answers here.
"Then let's go save the day. It's Hero Time!" Ben said while raising the Omnitrix.
"Jellal" Erza said in disdain as she glared at her former childhood friend, now seeing him as her enemy before her.
'She survived, why didn't I sense her approaching?' Cobra asked himself, wondering how she escaped his notice.
"Erza." Jellal said in a rather simple and neutral tone.
"How are you here?" Erza asked, wanting to know how he survived the Tower of Heaven.
"I can't answer that?" Jellal replied, making her clench her fist and thinking he was once again playing mind games. "Who is that?" he asked her.
'No, it can't be.' Erza thought to herself, an uncomfortable feeling roiling deep in her gut.
"I have no memory, yet I remember that name." Jellal said while clutching his head. "I don't know who I am or where I came from!" he said in slight pain. "Can you tell me?" he asked her as if she had all the answers. "Do you know, can you at least tell me who Erza is?" he asked as if the question needed to be answered and not knowing was unbearable. "Please, if you know then you have to tell me!" he said to her.
'You're kidding me! His memory has been wiped clean.' Cobra thought in shock, not understanding how he missed that of all things.
"You don't remember." Erza said, gritting her teeth as tears streamed her face. "You were my friend! You betrayed me and so many others, you tried to kill me and worst of all you tried to kill Ben, even making him suffer through the worst kinds of pain!" she yelled upon remembering how Ben had to see Julie die once again. Her blood boiled in anger due to him not having to remember any of the pain he caused anyone before she began to approach him.
"No, stay back!" Jellal said before blasting her with his magic. When the dust settled, she stood there, seemingly unfazed by his attack.
"Then come to me you coward! If you want to know who Erza is... I am her!" Erza shouted her name. "And you are Jellal."
"You said we were friends?" Jellal asked her in surprise.
"Yes." Erza said, her voice still heated but much calmer compared to before. "You became deranged, desecrated the dead, hurt my friends, destroyed the magic council, killed Simon and… hurt the man I love." she said as Ben was who she loved, she knew that deep in her heart.
Jellal's eyes widened and teared up upon hearing about the horrors he committed and the pain he caused her.
"If you try to even forget the pain you have inflicted on those I love and all I stand to protect, I'll take my sword and engrave it on your heart!" Erza said in pure rage. "Now come to me and face your atonement!" She wanted to end this, and him if she had to.
"I did that to my comrades." Jellal said while clutching his face. "What have I done!? Please tell me it's not true!" He was unable to comprehend what he had done. "Please tell me how I can make amends!" he requested once again, hoping she had the answers to his many questions.
'Is this really… Jellal?' Erza asked herself, wondering how Jellal could become this.
"If you've lost your memory, that would explain why I couldn't hear your thoughts." Cobra made his presence known with that statement. "But now I have a whole slew of questions for you to answer," he said as his snake coiled around him.
'Damn it, how did I not sense him?' Erza thought, berating herself for not thinking about her surroundings.
"I'd like to know how you found Nirvana even more than I wanna know how you broke its seal." Cobra asked him, wondering how an amnesiac found this place when he couldn't.
"While I was unconscious, I heard a voice. 'I must have Nirvana' it would say, it was strange but when I woke up, I knew where to find it." Jellal said to them in total honesty. "Somehow I could sense how dangerous and powerful it was, so I broke the seal to destroy it." he admitted, shocking them.
"How do you intend to destroy something like Nirvana?" Erza asked as she did not doubt that he could but wondered how as the wrong choice could possibly kill the others in the surrounding area.
"I rigged this monstrosity with a self-destruction circle, it's only a matter of time before Nirvana crushes itself." Jellal said as behind him many red circuit-like designs appeared in the light.
Cobra ran to the magic circle. "I've never seen a magic circle like this before, it's too complex." He was unable to stop or break it. "If I can't find a way to stop this then we'll lose everything! Tell me how to disarm it!" he said angrily, still unable to hear Jellal's thoughts.
Both Cobra and Erza were surprised when he clutched his chest in pain.
"Erza... whenever I hear that name a calmness washes over me." Jellal said as Erza glared him. "Cheerfulness, kindness, fierce unwavering loyalty, I have no doubt that you'll continue to despise me. I'd feel the same and if I'm truly your friend I can't rob you of that freedom." he said as they saw the self-destruction lines appear on his chest. "I'm sorry I made you suffer. I'll do what I can to make it right by you and by….Ben." he said as if he had to search for the name.
"You didn't." Cobra said, looking at Jellal in shock as he fell back.
"Be free Erza from your hatred, escape your past. I will take your pain and your sadness so they can't shackle you. Please look to the future with Ben, I feel... no I know he will bring your future more and more brightness." Jellal smiled at her.
"I can't believe he's gonna go through with this and sacrifice himself." Cobra stated in disbelief.
"Farewell Erza, and from the bottom of my heart I wish to atone for what I did to you and Ben." Jellal said as he drifted back into the magical light of Nirvana.
Erza didn't know what to say upon seeing Jellal about to die, upon hearing his confession he didn't want him to die like this. She'd rather have him face proper justice but deep down she finally saw the old friend she'd thought she lost years ago. "Jellal!" she said, calling out to her friend again.
A/N: Shout out to Insane Dominator for his contributions to this chapter! Greatly appreciate it.
As said in the previous author's note, following the completion of the Oracion Seis arc, "Ultimate Fairy" will be continued by pyrohelixdrago. This is on account of my busy work schedule and the fact I am not confident in my abilities to continue this story to the point I envisioned it going. There's so much to write and I simply don't have the time to write it all without giving up my other hobbies.
I decided I wanted to finish posting the rest of the Oracion Seis arc on my end though, simply because I hate that it ends abruptly. I know if I was a reader, I'd be annoyed by that. So, I'll upload the rest of the arc here and let pyrohelixdrago to continue pushing the story further on his end. Note, that the arc will be updated faster on his side - so please show him support!
Thank all of you so much for the love, support, and criticism over the years! Until next time, Ultimate out!