Detective Inspector Erza Scarlet brushed away a few loose strands of her distinctive red hair. She held her breath and slowly looked around the corner. Nothing. She exhaled softly and continued to creep through the empty docks. It was 2.21am, August 31st, 1888. The only sources of illumination were from faraway street lamps and intermittent flashes of moonlight, struggling to penetrate the gloomy London sky. Erza considered striking a match, to alleviate even for a few seconds the suffocating darkness, but she resisted the temptation, knowing that it could be the difference between success and failure in the operation. Hopefully her prey would be the first one to break.

Erza was currently on the tail of a notorious firebug, an arsonist that went by the alias of 'Salamander'. In recent months, the Salamander had crippled blocks of London's industrial districts with his pyromania, seemingly attacking random targets. As was the norm in the Metropolitan Police Service, the impossibly difficult case was eventually pawned off to her. She'd dearly like to believe that it was by compliment of her police work and deductive ability, but the truth was far more sinister. The fact was that—


Erza snapped to attention, crouching low as barrels tumbled to the floor somewhere ahead of her. The sound of angry cursing floated through the night air, providing a homing beacon for Erza to move towards.

"Bloody barrels! Stupid slob dock workers…never clean up their mess…disgrace to society…"

Erza continued her slow creep through the winding maze of shipping paraphernalia, one hand firmly gripped around her trusty metal baton. She slowly, carefully, came to a stop, approximately 10 metres away from the muttering man, only able to make out the rough outline of him and their surroundings. He still hadn't noticed her presence, preoccupied with something else. She resisted the urge to tackle him from behind and make the arrest, this had to be done properly, no loose ends, no loopholes.

"…That should do it."

The man shuffled back, his hand diving into his pocket. Erza's heartbeat quickened, this was it. After a few seconds of fumbling, he breathed a sigh of relief.

"Thought I'd left it at home!"

With a scratch, the clearance flickered in an orange glow, the Salamander had lit a match. Erza jumped from her hiding place.

"Stop right there! I'm placing you under arrest for arson, mass arson, trespassing, and conspiracy to— Bora of Prominence!"

Erza broke off from her spiel as the man spun around in shock, revealing his distinctive tattooed face. His eyes were momentarily wide with fear, only retracting slightly as they swept over Erza, a coolness settling back in.

"Ahh, the intrepid female detective I've been reading so much about in the newspaper, what an honour." Bora sneered sarcastically. "I'll get straight to business…rumour has it you're unbribable."

"Rumours can be misleading." Erza replied unfathomably.

"Really? Well, I can certainly make it worth your while. Not that I need to tell you that, you already know who I am." Bora purred smoothly.

"Yes. You're Bora of Prominence, nobleman, businessman, and prime investor in the new port that will be built out of London. When I was deducing a motive for the fires there was obviously a financial reason for these attacks due to the targeting of the industrial districts. All the victims had one common link, their opposition to building the new docks. After the fires they had to refocus their interests on recovering their own money, leaving you with one final target, eliminating the old docks. I did think that maybe an investor was paying off the Salamander to do his dirty work, but to think that you would be directly responsible…"

A light smile played at Bora's lips as he soaked in Erza's accusation. "I just love getting my hands dirty."

"And it has been your undoing." Erza finished. "Incidentally, I'll be charging you with attempted bribery of a policeman as well."

Bora's expression twitched slightly in annoyance, but he remained calm.

"Get down on the ground and put your hands behind your back." Erza ordered, reaching for the handcuffs on her belt.

"I…don't think so." Bora mused, taking a step back.

"Oh? I assure you whether it is a fight or a footrace, I will come out on top." Erza threatened, taking a step forward.

"So I've heard." Bora took another step back. "Your reputation precedes you."

"You'll have to excuse me then, I'm afraid I don't understand what your intention is." Erza replied cautiously, fingers trailing away from the handcuffs and back around the baton.

Bora chuckled and raised his hand, the flickering flame clinging to what remained of the match stick.

"I think you're going to have your hands full with something else!"

With that, Bora tossed the match into the wood at his feet and sprinted in the opposite direction. Erza snorted, running over to stamp out the embers and take chase, before the flames exploded in size instantly, roaring to life. An unmistakeable stench filled the air.

"Oil." Erza muttered, understanding now what Bora had been fiddling with. Erza spun around furiously, trying to find something to kill the rapidly expanding blaze. She tore open barrel after barrel, finding nothing but more oil.

'Wait! I'm at the docks!' Erza swore to herself as she emptied one of the barrels away from the fire and rushed over to the water's edge to fill it up, all the while enduring the fading patter of Bora's escape. As the water rushed in, Erza's fingers began to slip, her muscles strained against the growing weight of the barrel. Erza could feel the heat on the back of her neck, she was running out of time. Her calves groaned as she lifted the barrel out of the water, full to the brim. As she turned and started to slowly stagger back towards the fire, she saw things were about to go from bad to worse. The oil she had poured out of the barrel was slowly oozing along the ground towards the fire.


Erza awkwardly tottered over as fast as she could, lifted the barrel with all her might, and emptied it onto the fire, just before it gained more fuel. Erza dropped the barrel and stamped out the last few remaining embers, wiping the sweat off her brow. She allowed herself a second to draw in a deep breath, before sprinting off after Bora.

She couldn't see or hear him, but that was alright, she already knew where he was going. Erza visualised the blueprints of the docks she'd studied, there was only one exit in this direction. Erza furrowed her brow, zooming out on the map in her mind. Why was he heading north though? Taking the west exit would have led him to the brand new park, there was enough kindling there to create the mother of all distractions. The only think north was the river.

Erza's stomach sank as she thought back to how calm Bora had been throughout the entire confrontation. He must have something planned…it didn't matter, she had beat officers stationed on the perimeter, he wouldn't get away.

Erza finally burst out of the dockyards, her legs burning from the sudden strength and cardio workout. She could only swear loudly again as her fears were confirmed, the clearing had nothing to show but two slouching policeman, casually talking to each other. They jumped as Erza stormed over to them, her eyes burning.

"Where did he go?" Erza hissed through her teeth.

The policeman looked at each other nervously.

"Er, who?"

"Bora of Prominence! The man that just ran out of the yard! The yard you are supposed to be watching!"

"W-we didn't see anyone! Maybe he doubled back or something…" The panicked officer suggested.

"Maybe he did…"

They both breathed a sigh of relief as Erza closed her eyes, shoulders slumping in defeat.


Erza lunged forward, grabbing both of them by the necks of their coats, and hoisted them up into the air. Gold coins spilled out of their pockets and onto the ground, the awkward clinking drowning out any protest they had before it began.

"Pretty wealthy for a couple of beat officers, aren't we? Do you always carry around a month's salary on patrol?"

"W-well it's just that—"

"Shut up! You have three seconds before I smear you across the pavement. Where did he go?"

"THAT WAY!" They yelled out simultaneously, pointing north.

Erza immediately dropped them and took off again, shaking her head in disbelief. Not disbelief that they'd been bribed so easily, but disbelief that the Salamander was still heading north, right into the Thames. She bolted down the winding alleyway, jumping over crates that had been clearly pushed into her path, fearing what she'd see when she got to the other side. She could not let this guy leave London, she could not let this guy leave her jurisdiction.

A cool breeze washed over her as the alleyway opened up to the gigantic river that ran through the city. She skidded to a stop at the edge, eyes quickly scanning the vast mass of water running in front of her. Sure enough, the outline of a boat slowly gliding across the river was visible against the churning mass of darkness. As Erza's eyes adjusted, she made out two silhouettes, a large man rowing the boat, and a lean, familiar, robed figure lying back, resting.

Erza let out a sigh, taking a few steps back away from the water. Any reasonable officer would give up such a hazardous chase. Any reasonable officer would find a telegraph and send a message to headquarters. Any reasonable officer would—


The blood in Erza's veins turned to ice, the debilitating drop in temperature sent shockwaves through every corner of her body. She floundered underwater, frozen tendrils ensnaring her limbs, threatening to drag her down into the depths. No reasonable policeman, let alone a detective inspector, would find themselves swimming across the Thames at 2.30am, but Erza Scarlet was not reasonable. That is to say, she wasn't allowed to be reasonable. Any failed case could be her last, the Chief Inspector had made it abundantly clear to her his opinion on females in the police force.

On cue, the Chief Inspector's arrogant, taunting, face, swam in Erza's vision.

"Typical weakness from the inferior gender. Not fit for police work. I can finally transfer you the hell out of my division."

Erza's body jerked into motion. She kicked furiously, breaking the cold shackles that bound her. Erza smashed through the surface of the river, sucked in a deep lungful of air, and began ploughing through the water after the boat.


She didn't know how long she'd been swimming for, neither the boat nor the opposite river bank seemed to be getting any closer. Completely alone with her thoughts and fears, Erza drove forward. Legs burning. Shoulders burning. Lungs burning. Erza was by no means out of shape, in fact she was one of the most physically fit officers in the MPS. It was one of those unreasonable measures that she lived by, she would not give her superiors any chance to dismiss her on any grounds. Whether it was fitness, paper work, patrols, public relations, or investigations, Erza strove to perform above and beyond what was expected of the average officer.

Having said that, she was at her limit. She'd felt her energy dip a while ago, what she was moving on now was willpower, borrowed time. Erza gasped, and consequently spat a mouthful of water out. Unsure if it was a hallucination, the blurred outline of her target jumped out of his boat and started running.


Erza's body reacted instantly, kicking harder than before. The searing pain numbing into the background as any thoughts of failure, redundancy, or humiliation, were skewered by her renewed, steely, resolve.

'I will catch the Salamander! I will successfully complete this case! I will continue to work as a detective!'

Erza's shivering hands rose out of the water and clamped onto the jetty. In one swift motion she heaved herself completely out of the water, landed on her toes, and sprinted forward, just catching sight of the fleeing robes of the Salamander disappearing into the suburbs.

"Stop right the—"

Bora's large accomplice attempted to block her path, arms stretched wide. Erza didn't break stride, jumping and striking him across the face with her elbow. Before his body had hit the ground she was racing up the embankment, four steps at a time.

She didn't know whether it was the cold or the exhaustion, but she couldn't feel her feet on the cobblestone pavement. She couldn't feel anything. Her hands fumbled with the rope around her neck, pulling out the regulation whistle from under her drenched uniform. She was close enough, she could whistle for nearby officers, reinforcements. She would catch the Salamander, close the case… Erza's lips hovered around the mouth of the whistle for a few seconds, before tucking it back under her uniform and continuing on.

She couldn't do it. She couldn't lower herself to asking for help. She would prove to everyone that she was the best. Erza was broken from her inner turmoil as the running shadow of her target became more defined against the yellow glow at the end of the alleyway. Erza ducked her head, putting everything she had into catching up as fast as possible. The light rushed forward to meet her, she could smell beer and smoke and—


Erza was on her back, staring up at the night sky. She felt a trickle of blood run out of her nose and across her cheek. A plank of wood was dropped onto the ground next to her head, the sound barely registering against the high pitched buzzing echoing around her skull. The Salamander moved into view, stepping over her with a pleased, albeit panting, smirk. His mouth moved but no sound came out. Whatever he'd said had clearly been rhetorical, as he threw his head back and laughed.

Erza began to struggle to her feet, but Bora stomped down on her stomach, pinning her to the ground. Erza felt the oxygen rush out of her body, she struggled to breathe and the world began to fade to black.

"Not yet."

Erza could hear again as Bora lifted his leg, appearing back into vision as the pressure was released, only to then stamp down even harder. Erza couldn't hold it in anymore and gasped in pain, hands scratching at Bora's ankles, trying to push his foot up. Bora thrashed his leg away from her clawing hands and stomped down on her stomach again and again.

"Filthy. Peasant. Scu—"

Erza rolled to the side, dodging Bora's foot as it came slamming down on to the pavement. Bora hissed in pain as the sickening crunch of his ankle sounded around the clearing.

Erza's body acted on instinct, muscle memory, as she flipped out of the roll and into a defensive stance, fists raised in front of her face. She was vaguely aware of her surroundings now, details filtering in out of the corners of her eyes. Drunks and prostitutes watched on in interest, their evening of debauchery topped off with the beat down of a policeman. Erza sensed them jeering, hissing, but didn't take her eyes off Bora for a second. He too was eyeing her wearily, gingerly shifting his weight onto his other ankle. Suddenly his eyes flickered to the closest exit, then to his ankle, and then back to Erza, the gears turning in his head as he considered his options. Erza sucked in the oxygen as best she could in these precious seconds, although her body was rejecting it violently.

Bora's eyes suddenly hardened, gifting Erza a fraction of a second in warning. He lunged, fist clumsily swinging towards her head. Erza ducked in and under the loose punch, delivering a deep left jab to Bora's stomach, and then following up with an almighty right hook to the side of the face as he stumbled back. The second blow floored Bora, he wobbled, tripped, but ultimately kept his feet as he scrambled to recover.

Bora's wavering figure doubled and tripled, a creeping black haze spreading out from the corners of Erza's vision. 'How is he doing that?' Erza wondered dreamily, her slipping mind in direct contrast to the fighting figure she was outwardly portraying.

Bora's nerve finally failed, she had discovered his plans despite his misdirection, she had caught up with his escape despite the head start, and she was winning the fight despite him landing the first hit. Bora took one last look at the detective, his face contorted in a mixture of fury and disgust, and limped away as fast as he could. Erza went to chase after him, but suddenly the ground was rushing up to meet her and she found herself on the pavement again, watching Bora disappear. Her legs had finally given up. Erza punched the cobblestones in frustration, voices echoing around her head.

Not good enough

Not good enough

Not good enough

Erza shifted uncomfortably, something hard was pressing against her chest. Her fingers snaked around the offending metal lump.

'The whistle!'

Erza ripped the whistle out from under her uniform, summoned every ounce of life she had left, and blew into it.

The screech of the whistle reverberated through the night air, its shrill echo pounding against Erza's ears. After a few seconds the sound faded and Erza spat the whistle out, completely out of breath. She couldn't see where Bora was. She couldn't see anything. The world was swimming. Hands were grabbing at her, pulling her hair, tugging at her uniform. Cackling faces materialised in and out of view, the strong stench of liquor dominating her senses.

Erza mumbled in distress, attempting to bat the tearing hands away from her, and then…there was nothing.


Erza opened her eyes. She was sitting on the ground, propped up against a wall. 'How long have I been out?'

She groaned as her head started to throb, Bora had swung that plank of wood as hard as he could.


Erza looked around wildly, only to do a double take as she found his unconscious body sitting right next to her.

"H-how? Who?" Erza couldn't believe her eyes.

"Tch. You're awake".

Erza snapped to face the voice, a new man emerging out of the darkness. Long black hair spiked out in all directions, his scowling face punctuated with metal piercings. His aura was terrifying, but Erza breathed a sigh of relief when her eyes travelled down his body, he was in a police uniform.

"Was about to wake you." The man grunted, holding up the wooden bucket he was carrying, a small splash of water escaping over the rim.

Erza swallowed slowly, not sure where to begin, her mind still catching up to the situation. "Did…you…catch…this…man?"


Erza raised an eyebrow, waiting for additional information, but after a few seconds it became apparent that none was forthcoming.

"How…did you…catch him? Were you…nearby?"

The policeman blinked slowly. "Watched your fight. When you blew the whistle I walked over and clubbed him. He didn't get very far."

Erza frowned in confusion. "What do you mean…you watched my fight? Why didn't you help?"

The man shrugged. "You were doing fine on your own."

Erza massaged the bridge of her nose in frustration, her mind finally clearing.

"Name and rank?"

A shadow momentarily passed over the man's face, Erza's hawkish brown eyes didn't miss his jaw clench ever so slightly.

"Gajeel Redfox, Constable."

Erza nodded, "I'm Detective Inspector Erza—"

"I know who you are." Gajeel cut across coldly.

Erza held his gaze calmly. 'They're all the same. They don't even see me as an equal, let alone their superior officer.'

Erza struggled to her feet, leaning heavily on the wall for support.

"Constable Redfox, detain this man in the nearest holding cells, I'll send through the paperwork later today. I'm going back to headquarters."

Erza would usually take great pride, and a little self-satisfaction, in marching her captive to his cell. But right now, 'I just need some sleep.'

Gajeel inclined his head in acknowledgement. He picked Bora up and threw him over his shoulder, carrying him with all the grace of a sack of potatoes.

"One more thing!" Erza barked.

Gajeel turned slowly to face her.

"…Where am I?"

For the first time, Gajeel cracked a smile. Erza wasn't sure it was an improvement to his usual expression, he resembled a hyena, grinning in front of his prey.

"Gihihihi. Welcome to Whitechapel. Come back any time."

Erza turned on her heel and paced away, looking for a cart back to Scotland Yard.

'Like hell I'd ever come back to this dump!'

Thanks for reading guys, I hope you enjoyed it. Feedback is appreciated :) See you next time!