Having pulled himself from the floor, Natsu glared up at the invisible wall in front of him while Naruto and Makarov stood back and tried to plan their next move. A status report had popped up in the runes a few seconds after Natsu smacked into it, detailing the current fights that were occurring. There were already numerous battles everywhere and as each match drew to a close, the victor and loser were displayed amongst the symbols. Explosions throughout the city were easily heard from the guild, proof that there were indeed a large number of fights taking place.
This riled up Natsu immensely, his disgust at being left out of the competition being taken out on the magical barrier in the form of an onslaught of ineffective punches.
Letting him go at it, the old man sighed as the continuing casualty count rose. "This is a nightmare. How could Laxus make us fight against ourselves like this?"
While the man wasn't expecting an answer, Natsu turned from his relentless pounding against the barrier and sent the pair a grin. "Bah, don't worry! Laxus might be a tool, but he's still a guild member! There's no way he'd go and actually kill anyone. I bet it was just a way to motivate everyone!"
Turning back, his grin disappeared back into a scowl as he started thrashing the barrier again. "That's why I'm so pissed I can't go fight! I WANT IN!"
Staring contemplatively at the young mage, Makarov scratched his chin in thought. What Natsu did say had merit; Laxus was a guild member so maybe it was just a bluff after all. While extremely poor in taste, it would serve the purpose of having everyone fight at full strength.
Naruto however had his doubts. Living in a world where a friend killed a friend if given the incentive, the blond couldn't bring himself to believe that the petrifaction of the girls was just for show. He kept them to himself for the moment though as he didn't want to make the males panic. Looking down at the slightly less stressed man, Naruto forced a smile to his face. "You keep trying to figure out the runes. I wanna see if I can escape."
Hearing a positive grunt, Naruto ran up beside Natsu and watched the mage pound away on the wall. That clearly wasn't working, so maybe a high speed technique of some sort?
Forming the Ram seal, Naruto activated Shunshin (Body Flicker) and blurred toward the barrier.
It felt like he had run full pace into the edge of a stone table. With the breath completely knocked from him, Naruto hit the ground twitching as he desperately tried to fight the rising nausea from having his stomach squashed flat. Natsu was in stitches beside him, the teen nearly collapsing from laughing so hard, but Naruto couldn't afford the focus required to even think about that.
Tentatively sitting up, the blond took a few deeper breaths to clear his airways and looked up at the wretched thing. A few new symbols flashed up on the airborne screen before him and looking over at the Master, attempted to ask what it said. He couldn't manage much but thankfully Makarov understood. "It says that out of all of us, only forty-two remain. They may be friends, but they are extremely serious about this. I don't like this at all."
As in response to Makarov, a couple of explosions went off a few streets over; a pained cry reaching their ears as another mage fell victim to a colleague. Frowning, Makarov clicked his tongue agitatedly. "No, this is not right. I just wish this blasted barrier wasn't here!"
Turning to face the Master, Natsu laughed. "Didn't you hear what I said? It's all just a bluff! There's no way Laxus would do something like that!"
"Oh, there isn't is there?"
Stiffening up at the voice, the three males spun around to see Laxus standing there right in front of them. Something wasn't quite right about him though as he seemed slightly transparent with the occasional horizontal black line running down his form.
"A thought projection?"
Hearing the Master speak, Naruto raised an eyebrow as he studied the hazy form. That must have been the answer, but it wasn't anything on the same level as Ultear's while she explained it to him all that time ago. Naruto mentally made a note to go see the woman as soon as this mess was resolved. She must have been all healed up from the fight by now.
Watching the group, Laxus began walking forward. "So what are you two doing here anyway? I'd have thought you'd be out in the middle of this trying to find me."
Pointing at Natsu and Naruto, the tall blond then crossed his arms as he waited for an answer. Growling, Natsu raised a fist. "Well I would be if that damn barrier wasn't there! Let us out and I'll come find you right now!"
Breaking in, Makarov stared up at his tall grandson. "Laxus... what is the meaning of all this?"
Grinning widely, the man raised his hands and answered cryptically, "Your children... nah, you call them brats don't you. Your brats are out there currently fighting each other to the point of unconsciousness. I bet you just can't stand that! Since Natsu and Erza can't join in, it just doesn't seem that there is anyone left who could take down my Thunder God Tribe... except you."
Turning his piercing eyes toward Naruto, Laxus's gaze darkened. "Why are you here? You just waiting everything out like a coward?"
Squaring himself up, Naruto glared right back into the man's eyes. "No, I'm stuck in here like these two. If I could get free, I swear I'd have found you by now and laid waste to you. Already done it once, wouldn't be too hard to do again."
Anger clouded Laxus's face for a second before it was replaced with a cruel smirk. "You'd like to think that wouldn't you? If dearest old grandpa hadn't interrupted, you'd still be lying in hospital in a coma."
Raising a challenging eyebrow, Naruto looked down his nose at the projection. "Come challenge me for real then instead of bragging about it. I bet you feel so tough talking yourself up from behind some worthless projection. Or are you just too scared to come back up your words?"
Scowling, Laxus swiped the air bare millimetres from Naruto's nose. "I have better things to do than have a pissing contest with some fake mage! Make no mistake though, I will come for you!"
Spitting at the ground before Laxus's feet, Naruto turned his gaze off to the side. "Do your worst. Tenmetsu sa seru koto ga deki mae ni, watashi wa anata o korosuttebayo."
Swapping back to his native tongue for a second, Naruto completely caught Laxus off guard with the comment. Unable to come up with a suitable reply, he turned his seething gaze from the maddening blond and looked back down at Makarov. Taking a moment, the arrogant mage calmed himself before smirking again. "Please excuse that. You really must teach him some manners though. People could otherwise mistake him for a stray dog."
Naruto glared at the mage and mumbled something under his breath in his language again. Ignoring that, Laxus straightened up. "So where were we? Oh, that's right; I was saying that there is no one left capable of defeating my Tribe is there? So what do you say? Ready to surrender?"
Having remained mostly quiet until now, Happy decided to speak up in the guild's defence. "That's not true! Gray is still out there and he's as strong as Natsu!"
Natsu did not like the comment at all and objected loudly. "LIKE HELL HE IS!"
Waving a paw, Happy shushed him. "But he is. Saying he's not won't make him any weaker."
Laughing, Laxus shook his head. "That whelp? You'd be better off hoping that fool over there finds a way to break out!"
Again, Naruto just muttered something spiteful under his breath in his own language.
Ignoring the dangerous intent drifting from the teen, Makarov nodded in agreement with the small blue cat. "Indeed. Don't count us all out just yet! Gray may prove more than you can handle."
Unfortunately the board behind the group lit up in defiance to their hopes with the label: Gray vs. Bickslow. Bickslow – winner, Gray – loser.
Throwing his head back, Laxus laughed heartily at the result. "Ha! What did I tell you?"
While Natsu glared at the board angrily, Happy turned and spat out, "You must have cheated! There's no way Gray would lose!"
Smirking, Laxus ignored the cat and looked down at the Master. "So, I ask again. Who else is there that could defeat my Thunder Tribe?"
As Natsu tried to refute him, Makarov sighed and shook his head. "Natsu, leave it." Looking up at his grandson, the old man frowned. "You win Laxus. I surrender. Now let everyone go."
Grinning broadly, Laxus widened his eyes in greed. "Oh, that may have worked a year ago, but not now. What would everyone say about their dear old master giving up? Surrendering at such a critical time... you may as well just pass the title on to me. "
Eyes widening in realisation, Makarov took a step back. "That's what it was all about from the beginning wasn't it?"
Laxus's lips pulled back even further as he neared his goal. "You have just over two hours until those wrenches behind me turn to dust. Announce over the loud speakers that you pass the title from you to me and everyone will be spared."
"Evergreen is the one who can unfreeze Erza and everyone?" Looking over, the males present saw Naruto's eyes shadowed beneath his fringe. Looking up through the strands, he glared at Laxus. "Well?"
Sneering, Laxus nodded. "She is, but I don't know how that will help you."
Flashing his hands up into a cross, Naruto focused and pushed his chakra to the limit. "Tajuu Kage Bunshin no Jutsu (Mass Shadow Clone Technique)!"
Seconds later a deafening boom sounded out, the noise accompanied by a thick cloud that blanketed the area. The rapid sound of footsteps instantly reached everyones ears and by the time the cloud had cleared, each person present widened their eyes in shock as a literal stampede of Naruto's were vanishing out the door. Turning back to the original, Laxus was met with a dangerous gaze. "I will find her and I will defeat her. Then, I'm coming for you."
Snorting, Laxus reeled in his surprise and scoffed at the claim. "I wish you the best of luck then because you will sorely need it."
Chuckling, the man then vanished into thin air without leaving a trace of his presence.
Turning to face the angry teen, Makarov raised an eyebrow as the last of the clones disappeared. "What you said about Evergreen... she will be ok after you are done with her?"
Though he growled severely, Naruto nodded. "Yeah, nothing lasting. Just enough to make her return the statues back to normal."
"Oh." Turning to look back at the door, Makarov quirked an eyebrow. "So how come your clones can leave but you can't?"
Looking away slightly, Naruto shrugged. "Because they're clones, they don't have everything I have. I guess whatever it was that stopped me isn't in them."
Having watched them all run through the door, Natsu turned back to Naruto and frowned. "So how long till all of you's get Evergreen?"
"A few scouts are out looking for her now." A memory flashed in Naruto's eyes and he looked up at the board. "Found her. Give it another five minutes."
"Eh?" Turning to look at the symbols, Natsu, Happy and Makarov all stared up in surprise as maybe six minutes later, Evergreen's name appeared on the board as defeated. Turning a betrayed gaze back over to Naruto, Natsu jumped forward and caught a fistful of the blonde's shirt in his hands. "Why do you get to be involved in this huh? That's totally not fair! I WANT IN!"
Chuckling, Naruto shook his head. "Hey, blame Laxus for you not being allowed out! It's not my fault you're in here."
Hearing a crack in the rock figured behind them, the group turned their eyes over to watch as a few small fissures formed over the girls before the stone exploded upward in a rainbow of colours. Grinning as the girls dazedly looked around, the trio of men started running forward to meet the newly resurrected women. "Erza!"
Looking over to see who called her, the red-head didn't have a chance to answer when she was blindsided by a small brunette girl who instantly buried her head into the taller girl's chest and started balling her eyes out. Blinking confusedly down at Millianna, Erza rubbed her head as she then looked around for some clue as to what was going on.
Having completely forgotten about those three, Naruto looked off to the side and saw Wally and Shou standing there, the latter having his hand covering his heart in relief. Jogging over to them, Naruto raised a hand. "Yo! Are you guys ok? Where have you been?"
Chuckling nervously, Shou scratched his cheek. "To tell you the truth, after everything went to hell we went and hid in the bathrooms. We had no idea what was going on or what to do, so we thought being out of the way was best." Casting another relieved gaze over towards Erza, Shou continued. "After seeing Erza frozen solid, we panicked really badly. I feel like everything is ok now that they are all back to normal."
Nodding, Naruto grinned and looked over at the still dazed girl. "Yeah, everything should be better now."
Tipping his hat, Wally cleared his throat. "Well, we owe you a great deal Naruto. We overheard your dandy promise to release the girls and as such, you saved us a very dear friend. We are in your debt, get it?"
Chuckling, Naruto scratched his head. "Awww, it was nothing. You'd have to be heartless to not do something so don't mention it."
Nodding thankfully, the square man then looked over at the door. "That was quite the impressive magic talent you displayed earlier too. I have never seen so many clones produced before, get it?"
Smirking crookedly, Naruto shrugged. "Yeah, just a skill of mine. Anyway, come and check Erza over. I don't know if she knows what happened while frozen so she might need some filling in."
Leading the way, Naruto then let the two men overtake them him as they aimed for their old friend. Letting them have their moment, Naruto wandered over to the rest of the group as they were filled in by Makarov. Just before he got there though, Naruto had to catch himself as an onslaught of memories assaulted his brain painfully. Resisting the urge to hold his head, Naruto closed his eyes for a moment as he waited for everything to settle. It seemed like Laxus had gone genocidal on his clones. He was pissed.
Amidst the scenes of carnage though was Naruko's memory, the girl swearing up a storm at the nerve of Evergreen. Sweating slightly, Naruto thankfully buried the memories and tried not to think of what could have happened is his female counterpart been in the dash for Ever. Returning from the memories, Naruto walked up and tried to catch up on what had been said.
"...Battle of Fairy Tail? Why'd he pull a dumb stunt like that?"
Glancing over at Cana, Makarov shrugged and Naruto pursed his lips as he tried to work out what she'd said. "It doesn't matter. It's over now so that's all that counts. With you all free, there's nothing for Laxus to threaten us with."
Glancing worriedly over at the door, Mirajane twiddled her fingers as they heard another distant boom. "But what about everyone that got hurt while looking for Laxus?"
Clenching a fist angrily, the green haired beauty Bisca growled and glared at the door. "Yeah! Laxus better be looking forward to an extremely harsh punishment after this!"
Clenching his teeth, Makarov looked off to the side. "It seems like the punishment after his first attack on Naruto here was too light. I'll make sure to really drill home he does not do this sort of thing! He has really gone way too far this time."
Glancing down at the old man, Naruto couldn't help but think that he mightn't have done all that much in the first place. He wasn't about to question it though so held his tongue.
"Hold on one second old man." The group glanced over at Natsu as he held a hand out. "There isn't anything wrong with the idea of trying to find the strongest mage is there?" Hearing a contemplative hum from the girls, Natsu continued. "All I'm saying is don't be too hard on him, that's all."
Grinning widely at everyone as they stared at him, Natsu then ruined the mature air about him and smashed a fist into his palm. "So now that that's sorted, let's start Battle of Fairy Tail part two in here! Come at me, all of you!"
Heedless of the multiple cries of 'Stop!', Natsu ran over to Lucy and began boxing the air right in front of her. "I mean, come on, we haven't even done anything yet!"
Doing her best to ignore the undeniably powerful attacks bare inches from her face, Lucy just turned away. "Please, we just woke up from being cast solid in stone. Give us a chance to recover would you?"
Tapping his chin worriedly, Happy looked over from behind Natsu and raised his paw. "Should you really be challenging girls like that?"
Sneering indignantly, Naruto raised his hands questioningly. "Bah, what the hell should that matter? Guys or girls, they should all be able to fight!"
Looking a bit shocked, Happy watched as Natsu then proceeded to chase Lucy around the guild as he challenged her to a fight. "H-Harsh..."
All of a sudden, a table suddenly flew over from behind the bar, crashing loudly as it landed on several other tables before rolling to a stop. After restarting their hearts after the fright, the group looked over to see a spiky black mane poking up from over the bench top.
"G-Gajeel? What are you doing back there? I thought you'd be out in the middle of all this!"
Hearing Mirajane call his name, the dark mage raised his head as he chewed on a few bolts he had stolen from the table just thrown. "And don't eat the tableware!"
Ignoring the last comment, Gajeel swallowed licked his lips. Standing, he tucked his hands into his pockets and wandered over. "Out fighting that lot? Not worth my time."
Gazing up at him hopefully, Makarov ventured to ask, "So are you gonna try and fight Laxus?"
Smirking at the name, Gajeel looked back at the door and cracked his knuckles. "Normally I couldn't give two damns but I got a bone to pick with Sparky. I'll have this sorted in ten minutes."
Walking confidently to the door, the mage went to step through but stopped flat against the barrier as it denied him passage. Unable to believe his eyes, Makarov gasped and shouted, "Not you too?"
Punching the wall, Gajeel stepped back and stared up. "What the hell is this? Who wants their ass kicked?"
Running up to him, Natsu started looking him over in surprise. "What, you're over eighty? Holy cow, I'd have never guessed!"
Bristling, the mage pushed Natsu away. "Of course I'm not you retard!"
Growling, Natsu made to attack but paused when he heard a weird noise coming from the doorway. The rest of the group turned to look up at the barrier across the door as thousands of angry red symbols flashed across its surface. The lettering began to break away from the surface and fly across the room, latching onto one another and eventually forming a giant, floating red skull.
"Can you hear me old man?"
Frowning, Makarov glared up at the thing as Laxus's voice drifted from it.
"Everyone else in the guild too. It seems we've lost one of our rules thanks to a certain blond menace here, and I'm not talking about the girl." Unable to hear the indignant yelp from Lucy, the voice continued. "To keep everything fun, I've gone and instigated a new one! I have activated Hall of Thunder."
Gasping in disbelief, Makarov repeated his grandson. "Hall of Thunder?"
Heedless of the shock, Laxus persisted. "You all have just over an hour and a half. Still think you can beat us? Or will you retire, Master?"
Growling as Laxus laughingly mocked his title, Makarov could do nothing but glare up at the head. As it began to glow, the voice of Laxus hummed in afterthought. "Oh and Naruto, I hope you can do better than that. Otherwise your death will be swift and painful."
Chuckling again, the head suddenly exploded into the thousands of symbols that comprised the enormous skull before fading with the laughter. As everyone began mumbling amongst themselves, Makarov abruptly burst out, "Damn it Laxus, what the hell are you thinking? Are you that desperate for the title that you're willing to drag innocent lives into this?"
Suddenly the old man lost his breath and tumbled to his knees. Painfully grasping his heart, the man winced before falling flat on his face.
Dashing over to his side, Bisca rolled him into the recovery position. "He needs his medicine, stat!
As Mirajane ran off to grab his medicine, Naruto stared down at the usually indomitable old man as he lay twitching on the floor. He felt like he should say something or try help or… or anything, but there was nothing. Seeing him lying there looking so old and frail seemed to pull at the teen's heart and he found himself desperately hoping it was just a small panic attack.
Heels clicked crisply down the stairs as Mirajane returned with a small bottle of tiny green pills in her hands. Her main worry surprisingly wasn't Makarov though as she pointed to the roof. "Everyone, get outside and look up!"
Leaving Makarov in the barmaids capable hands, the group dashed up the stairs and out onto the balcony. Reaching the railing, everyone shielded their eyes for a moment as they adjusted to the sunlight. Once the glare faded though, a number of them gasped at what they saw.
A gigantic ring of small balls encircled the entire town, their numbers looking like they were well past five hundred. Each one was a perfect replica of the last with the main body of it being a clear crystal with a single jagged lightning bolt rotating in the center of it. A metal brace was strapped around its horizontal axis, large spikes sticking out from them menacingly. These in turn were rotating with the energy inside as they held the balls together.
While most everyone knew what was going on, Naruto noticed Natsu looking just as clueless as he was feeling so raised a questioning hand. "Uh, can someone explain what's happening for those of us who don't know what's going on?"
Having been around the guild longest, Cana spoke up with a fair amount of confidence. "It looks like those things are Thunder Lacrima. If that's the case, each one of those crystals can hold an enormous amount of electrical energy. So the Hall of Thunder is most probably exactly what it sounds like…"
Gasping, Lucy looked up at the tall girl before casting her gaze back out over the town. "Don't tell me he's targeted Magnolia itself?"
Pointing at one of the orbs, Lucy frowned in thought. "So what would actually happen if one of those things discharged?"
Shaking her head gravely, Cana sighed. "It would unleash a massive bolt of lightning. Add them all together and the entire town could be swallowed up by an uncountable number of lightning strikes."
"Like hell I'm gonna just stand here and let that happen. Requip: Sniper Rifle." Pulling another one of those guns from the air, Naruto stepped back as Bisca lined up one of the orbs with the scope. Taking her time, she gently squeezed the trigger until a bang went off and an impossibly fast bullet of green magic hurtled towards the ball.
Maybe a second or two later, the ball exploded in a brilliant flash of light as it disintegrated. Smirking, Bisca raised the rifle and reloaded. "One down, way too many to count left to go. Anyone else who wants to help ca – AHHHHH!"
Shrieking in surprise as a jolt of energy coursed through her body, the girl then lit up with a bright light as the main body of the shock hit her. Screeching as her muscles contracted excruciatingly, Bisca quickly lost all the air in her lungs and was left silently screaming as the last of the electricity left her form. Now having nothing to contract her muscles, the girl slumped to the floor, burnt and unconscious. Smoke drifted from her form as the unpleasant smell of charred hair filled the air and when she finally let out a ragged cough, everyone awoke from their stupor and rushed to her side.
"Bisca? Bisca! Wake up! Please wake up!"
Levy knelt beside the mage, desperately slapping her cheek in an attempt to wake her. She remained unresponsive though and Juvia knelt beside Levy to help recover her.
Looking up at the sky, Lucy tearfully covered her chest as she gazed at the spot the Lacrima once sat. "Did… did that thing do that?"
Sighing, Cana crossed her arms as she watched the mages work on Bisca. "No doubt. That must have been Living Link. Any damage caused to the object instantly gets transferred back to the attacker."
Shaking her head in disbelief, Lucy pointed a panicking finger up at the balls. "And that is aimed at the town?"
Growling, Cana turned and started running for the door. "We need to stop Laxus NOW. Get moving!"
Watching as most of the girls dispersed, Natsu screamed angrily and tried to jump off the roof. Slamming into the barrier again the enraged teen began beating at the wall mercilessly. Watching him vent, Naruto clenched his fists in frustration. He felt every bit as trapped as Natsu, but unlike him he couldn't even touch the confounded thing to unleash some anger on!
Dipping into his mind, Naruto searched until he found the fox lying within its cage looking out in amusement. "Can't you do anything to break past this? Or any ideas or something?"
Chuckling, the massive beast eyes up its captor. "You expect me to help you? You're not about to die, so why should I bother?"
Growling, Naruto shook his head in frustration. "But could you? Even if you wanted to?"
Smiling, the beast's eyes twinkled. "Oh, without a doubt. However, that would involve me filling the area with so much chakra that it simply exploded and anything with me would die… like that pretty little human you have taken a liking to."
Looking away, Naruto didn't meet the fox's eyes as it snickered. It was right, there was no way Naruto would go and do something like that. Leaving without a further word, Naruto blinked as he came back.
"…could do something about it!"
Having missed out on the first part of Levy's sentence, Naruto stared blankly at her as Natsu crowed happily. "Can you really do that? That would be awesome!"
Nodding, the girl grinned and looked up at Naruto. "Can you take Bisca to the sick bay? I'll get started on these runes now!"
Having guessed that the girl may be able to unravel the runes, Naruto nodded and walked over before gently picking up the injured mage.
"I'll leave her to you." Calling the other two men, Levy dashed from the balcony and disappeared into the guild.
Nodding, Naruto followed their path but at a slower pace for his cargo. Now to find the ward.
It took five minutes but Naruto eventually put Bisca down to rest. Makarov had been transferred in and was resting comfortably in the bed beside her. Making sure they were both breathing easily, Naruto gave them one more check over before turning from the room and running downstairs.
Reaching the main guild hall, Naruto found Levy crouched over a number of books with Gajeel watching on, the man looking thoroughly lost. Natsu was standing at the doorway again repeatedly head butting the barrier while muttering obscenities under his breath. It was more or less what he had expected to find.
Reaching the two that were actually doing something productive, Naruto crouched down and looked at the page in front of Levy as it was covered rapidly in her scripts. She was muttering something about Guile grammar and some other things that probably involved runes that Naruto had never heard before. Leaning over to Gajeel, Naruto whispered, "Do you know what she's doing?"
It was a false hope. "Do I look like I know what she's doing? The brat's a freaking genius. I can't understand a thing she says."
"Oh-ho! Lucy won!"
Looking over at Natsu, Gajeel and Naruto found him standing back and looking up proudly at the scoreboard. Blinking as he remembered the cheerleader, Gajeel shook his head when he saw who she defeated. "Wait, you're telling me that little girly girl actually managed to beat Bickslow? How?"
Grinning, Natsu just crossed his arms confidently. "Lucy is strong!"
Naruto also wasn't too sure about that. From what he'd seen, she was the show girl who didn't really take part in much fighting. "You sure you're sure? She has always come across as pretty weak if you ask me."
Still smiling, Natsu shook his head. "Nah, she is pretty tough, she just doesn't like to fight."
Gajeel grunted as he stared up at the board. "She picked the wrong guild to join then. This place does nothing but fight."
Jumping to the defence of his teammate, Natsu raised a fist. "What was that? Lucy totally belongs here!"
Instead of backing off, Gajeel matched Natsu in ferocity as he explained himself. "Grow a brain and realise I didn't mean it like that! Honestly, I can see why Gray can't stand you."
As they began to deteriorate into a fight, Levy suddenly jumped up excitedly, a piece of paper clasped between her fingers triumphantly. "THIS IS IT!"
Quite surprised by her outburst, Naruto had rocked back onto his backside and now sat with his feet out and hands behind to support him. Blinking up from his seat, he gazed at her owlishly. "What is it?"
Running to the barrier, Levy began running her pen across the runes as a pattern began to shape itself. "If I go through the text mapping the characters with the corresponding frequency into the Guile grammar, and then convert that into rogue…."
With one final tap of the pen, the impenetrable wall of unspeakable frustration suddenly lit up green. "You guys… are you ready to take part in the battle of Fairy Tail?"
Nearly wetting himself in excitement, Natsu danced around the other two men as they nodded enthusiastically. "Let's get the show started! Laxus! Watch your back 'cause we are coming for you!"
Grinning, Levy swiped her pen across the green symbols and they instantly disappeared into nothingness. "Good! Now make sure you all split up to cover more ground."
Vanishing out the door, Natsu screamed something that sounded agreeable as he disappeared into the streets. Gajeel grinned and shot out next, the thickly set mage taking off in the opposite direction. Lastly, Naruto began to move but was stopped when Levy called out to him. "Make sure you beat Laxus for us. If Natsu fails I don't think there's anyone else who could."
Smiling reassuringly, Naruto gave her the patented good-guy pose. "Like you even needed to ask. I'll have this wrapped up in no time."
He then disappeared in a swirl of leaves, leaving Levy to stand and look out the door worriedly.
Dashing down the streets, Naruto frowned as he headed for the spot his clones battled Laxus. It had been up the side of a mountain where he had defeated Evergreen and Laxus hadn't been too far behind that. Hopefully that meant it was his base of operations and that he'd still be there.
Flashing out of the village, Naruto sprinted toward the cliff face. Dashing up it, Naruto hopped from one rock to another as he rapidly scaled the precarious area. Landing solidly on an outcrop, Naruto growled as he stood up. He'd been trying to feel for the man but so far there hadn't been any sign of the lightning mage. By this stage Naruto strongly doubted he was here anymore and kicked a rock as he looked around.
Cursing himself in his haste, Naruto hadn't put much thought into things when he left the guild and as such hadn't even considered using Senjutsu (Sage Techniques) to find him. Punching a boulder, Naruto felt his stomach flutter as he looked up.
There were still the tell-tale signs of Laxus's presence, but nothing of the mage himself. Cursing again, Naruto spun around as his stomach gave another heave. Holding it, the blond looked down in concern. The stress was really getting to him for some reason this time. It really wasn't the place to be letting the feelings get the best of him though so the blond did his best to bury the butterflies.
Crouching, Naruto prepared to enter Senjutsu when suddenly his stomach gave a mighty heave and dropped him to his knees. Groaning as he felt something begin to be forcefully dragged from him, Naruto screwed up his face as he tried to reel back in whatever it was. The strength of the pull was too much however and Naruto cracked open an eye a fraction to see what was happening.
What met his eye caused him to snap both open in growing horror and disbelief. Thick, vile red chakra was bubbling out from his stomach, the viscous mass slowly creeping its way up and over his form. Panic started to set in and with fearful swipes of his growing claws, tried to push the thick shroud from his torso.
Heedless of any attempt to remove it, the chakra continued to cover his body and Naruto let out a distressed howl that echoed off the mountains for miles around.
'WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING TO ME?'
Diving into his subconsciousness, Naruto dashed into the lair of the Kyuubi and skidded to a stop before it. "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?"
Sparkling red eyes danced in delight as the monstrous fox leant down to look closely at its panicking jailer. "Me? Oh stupid child, what makes you think I am doing anything?"
Naruto pointed condemningly at the masses of vile chakra pouring out from the cage, rivers of it disappearing into the surrounding room. "Oh I dunno, maybe all your chakra just flowing into me is a bit of a hint? WHAT DO YOU THINK?"
Thoroughly enjoying the torment Naruto was suffering, the fox crossed its front legs and rested its mammoth head on them, an insufferable grin etched into its face. "I think you are as brain-dead as I have always claimed. I have been trying to free myself of you since the day I was thrown into this cage. I haven't succeeded up until now, so why would that have changed? Whatever this is, is external to my influence. Surely that must relieve you somewhat to know that I have no part in this interesting development."
Clutching his head, Naruto tried to block out the dark laughter that rumbled though the room. "Come on Naruto, think! It's not Kyuubi, so what could it be? There's gotta be an explanation!"
Looking up at the smug fox one last time, Naruto shook his head and pulled himself from the room, the dark laughter once again filling the sewer and chasing him all the way out.
Shaking his head as he came back, Naruto stared down at his fingers as his nails sharpened and thickened. Finally stopping as the transformation completed, Naruto's super acute hearing picked up the piercing shriek of a woman in the distance.
Looking up, Naruto made out a veritable pillar of thick, black energy reaching up into the sky. Realising that had to be the source of the problem, Naruto crouched before exploding off the rock face and rocketing across the sky towards the black magic.
Reaching the other side of the town in record time, Naruto landed heavily on the ground, a wide crater holing out around him as he landed. Hearing several booms off in the distance, Naruto followed his ears and dashed after the sound.
Drawing near, Naruto's eyes began to widen as he looked up at the airborne combatants. One was Freed and the other was… Mirajane?
Shaking his head, Naruto had another look in case he miss took the person. But again, what he saw left him in no doubt that it was the girl, just… different.
Her outfit had changed drastically, the once maroon dress now replaced by a skin tight, bright purple latex piece that just barely covered her modesty. The front of it was cut all the way down to just above her pelvis with ample amounts of cleavage and stomach open for all to see. Her forearms had been replaced by scaly, amphibious like limbs that ended in a massive clawed hand. Purple leggings rose high up her legs, the material so fitting it almost looked glued on. Multiple cracks covered her exposed skin, giving her flawless features the illusion that they had begun to chip away.
Her usually long hair was now standing up wildly into the air, defying gravity blatantly by only leaving a single lock hanging down over her clearly enraged face. Her now elf like ears stood out clearly, the long tips twitching occasionally as the wind blew around her. Rising back from her shoulders were a set of black, bat like wings that was complimented by a thick black, segmented tail that thrashed around agitatedly from her lower back.
Unable to deny what he was seeing, Naruto pushed chakra into his feet and flew up to meet her. Before he could get close though, the girl vanished in a blur Naruto would have been hard pressed to follow her movements if he currently wasn't covered in the Kyuubi's chakra. Dashing in, she reared back a clawed fist and in a shocking display of strength, lashed out and nailed Freed square in the middle of his chest. A shockwave exploded out from the point of impact and the man was blasted back violently, blood shooting from his mouth as internal damage was dealt. Seeing her ready to kick off after him, Naruto flooded chakra into his limbs and vanished from sight to reappear right in front of an astonished Mirajane.
"N-N-Naruto! W-What happened to you?"
Grimacing as he looked down at his thick bubbling coat, the blond could feel his abnormally sharp teeth pressing against his lips. Glancing back up at Mirajane, he frowned. "I could ask the same thing. What the hell is that?"
His gravelly voice sounded strange to his ears but did the job. Pulling her lips into a thin line, Mirajane made a sweeping motion over her own body. "This is my magic, Satan Soul. Mind telling me what that is then?"
She pointed at the vile chakra bubbling around him and Naruto growled. Forcing himself to remain clear headed, Naruto took a breath and nodded. "This… this is a little curse I was stuck with from birth. I house a demon fox in my body."
Surprisingly, the girl didn't recoil in shock but rather widened her eyes in surprise and furrowed her eyebrows. "Y-You mean, you have demonic powers too? Why didn't you tell us?"
Looking away, Naruto frowned and almost unnoticeably shook his head. "I'll tell you later. For now though, I really need to talk with you."
Glancing over his shoulder, Mirajane growled. "Make it quick then. Freed could be back at any moment."
Nodding, Naruto cut the story down. "I was looking for Laxus and suddenly the seal that suppresses the fox started leaking chakra. I have no idea how it happened and neither does it. When I saw that massive pillar of black magic though I thought that had to be the reason."
Hearing a crumble behind them, the two looked over as Freed tried to make his escape. Hissing angrily, Mirajane made to push past Naruto but the teen lashed out and gripped her arm in a vicelike hold. "Where are you going? Don't you know what I could do?"
Snatching her arm away, the barmaid pointed at him. "Is whatever it is getting worse?"
"Uh…" Looking down at himself, Naruto realised whatever it was had seemed to stabilise. "No? I don't think so."
Pointing down at the city, Mirajane then frowned. "So get down there and clobber Laxus. You got that strength? Then damn well use it."
Growling as the girl seemed to knock his cares away, Naruto snarled a response. "What the hell are you thinking? This thing could be unleashed on your town if it's not held captive! If that happened, I could kill Laxus and destroy the entire city!"
Raising an eyebrow, Mirajane floated back slowly. "You have enough of a mind to not rampage and kill me now. You can easily tell me of the dangers so that means you should be safe enough to destroy that punk who tried to ruin our guild!"
Nearly screaming in frustration, Naruto made to object again when Mirajane cut him off with a confident glare. "You think you're the only one fighting those urges? I am housing SATAN'S SOUL RIGHT NOW! If I can keep my mind while like this, then you can too!"
Face softening at the revelation, Naruto narrowed an eye as he studied the woman. "You seriously believe this evil could help us right now?"
Mira scoffed at his question mockingly. "What the hell do you think? My magic is based on evil! Now quit bitching to me like a pussy; go find Laxus and punch that faggot a new ass hole!" Her cold blue eyes then flashed angrily as she turned. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a dead man who thinks he can touch my brother to find."
Growling wildly, the girl flapped her wings once and shot away in pursuit of her target.
Watching the girl he thought he knew disappear, Naruto couldn't help but look down at his hands questioningly. Did she honestly believe this curse could be used for good? Last time he had used it, he badly injured Sakura and from that day onward, vowed to use only his own strength to defeat his enemies. To be given such an outlook from someone in the exact same position as him (and with a sane mind he might add) really had the blond thinking.
Closing his clawed hands slowly, Naruto took a breath and looked out over the town. It looked like it was time to try and find Laxus. Letting himself fall forward, Naruto charged his feet with chakra but cut the output when a worried voice below him called his name.
Looking down, he saw Cana and Elfman staring up at him in shock, the taller mage carrying an unconscious Juvia in his arms. Grasping her own arm uncertainly, Cana bit her lip as his eyes rested on her. "Is that you?"
Looking out at the town, Naruto sighed. He'd regret it if he didn't at least check on them.
Dropping down, the blond landed gently before them. Raising an arm in greeting, Naruto attempted a smile. "Hey, you guys ok?"
Shivering from the intent that was washing off Naruto, Cana steeled herself and frowned. "A-Are you ok? What is that… stuff around you?"
Frowning, Naruto shook his head. "Not yet. I'll tell you all later once this has been dealt with. Are you hurt?"
Shaking her head, Elfman answered this time. "No, we are mostly ok. Juvia tackled one of those Lacrima in the sky and knocked herself out, but she should be alright."
Despite them brushing away their injuries, Naruto couldn't help but notice the large number of freely bleeding scratches and grazes covering their bodies. Cana and Elfman didn't look too stable either, both being a little wobbly on their legs. Still, if they said they were ok then they were ok. Fairy Tail mages were bred tough.
Tentatively reaching out, Cana tried to touch Naruto but flinched as the bubbling red mass around him burnt her fingers. Frowning worriedly, she checked her hand and then looked back up at the blond. "So are you ok? Within that burning stuff?"
Nodding, Naruto smiled resignedly. "Yeah, I have a pretty good healing factor while like this."
Pursing her lips, Cana then nibbled her lower one worriedly. "Well, if you say so…."
Grinning, Naruto winked at her and jumped into the air. "Yeah, I do. Anyway, I gotta go find Laxus now."
Beginning to rise, Naruto paused as Elfman called out, "Wait, have you seen where my sister went?"
Suddenly a thunderous explosion filled the air, an enormous black ball cutting the blue sky from sight as it rapidly grew in size. Moments later, a vile shockwave washed over them and then in turn the village as whatever it was unleashed its power.
Hearing the cries of the mages, Naruto fought the violent winds and shot in to catch them as they were thrown head over heels. Rushing as best he could, Naruto got them down to a sheltered area behind a rock. Though he hurried, when he checked them over he found their skin red and angry after having touched his own. Still, he stood tall and protected their beaten bodies with his own as he deflected any uprooted rocks away from them.
After what seemed like an eternity, the winds subsided and the black faded to reveal the world. Stepping back from the trio, Naruto frowned down at them as they gingerly held their newest injuries. "Are you ok?"
Wincing, Elfman managed a pained smile and a thumbs up. "Nothing lasting. Thank you for catching us too, such a feat was incredibly manly."
Chuckling and then wincing from the pain it brought, Cana opened a tearful eye and smirked up at Elfman. "Well we know he's alright if he can sprout 'manly' quotes like that."
Rolling his eyes, Naruto nodded. "Yeah, I suppose so. I guess that answers your question too."
Pulling himself painfully to his feet, Elfman then helped Cana up. "Yeah, it's hard to miss when Mira goes all out like that."
Looking over at where she was currently running rampant, the blond narrowed his eyes slightly as he studied the dots. "She seemed way angrier than usual while I spoke with her too. What did Freed do?"
Sighing and rubbing his head, Elfman looked down slightly. "It's not just Freed's fault. That is a side effect of her magic and she gets… agitated while in that form."
"You're telling me." Taking his eyes off the battle, Naruto looked over to the town center. "I gotta go now. Take care of yourselves."
"Yeah, you take care too."
Nodding, Naruto didn't answer and took to the sky before shooting out to the town in a red streak.
Soaring over the rooftops, Naruto's eyes flicked around as he tried to spot any sign of Laxus. What he did see were masses of people pointing up in shock, but none that seemed distracted by something bad happening. That must have meant Laxus was still in hiding so Naruto dipped in closer to hopefully see things better.
Whipping his head from side to side, the blond growled angrily as more and more streets were searched and found empty. There were only so many places a mage as powerful as Laxus could hide though so he was going to turn up soon one way or another.
Hearing a boom off to his left, Naruto pulled to a stop and looked over to see a great dust cloud billowing out from the church. "That must be it."
Turning, the blond kicked off and shot over to land solidly at the entrance to the massive building. Running inside, the first thing he saw was Erza and Natsu standing there, looking on in shock as a familiar stack of clothing faced off against Laxus. Raising his eyebrows in surprise, Naruto blinked. "Mystogan? When did you get here?"
He wasn't paying much attention however as he was far too focused on trying to cover his unclothed face. Unfortunately for him, Natsu and Erza had both seen it and Erza in particular was shocked to her core by what she saw. "Jellal… you are alive?"
Natsu was a bit more confused than anything, wondering why this guy had the face of one of his enemies. "You… weren't you at the Tower of Heaven?"
Turning his head down the blue haired man sighed resignedly. "Of everyone Erza, I wanted you to see my face the least."
Gasping slightly, the female mage twitched like she had been slapped.
"I'm not Jellal. I know him, but I'm not him."
Falling silent, the mage stared down the two newcomers. Curiosity more than anything was in Natsu's eyes, but Erza was currently filled to bursting with emotions. Pain, confusion, hurt, betrayal and hope filled her eyes as they and hundreds of other feelings rushed across her face. Unable to meet her gaze, Mystogan closed his eyes painfully and turned. "I'm sorry, I'll leave the rest to you."
He then exploded into a misty cloud and the remains of his form drifted away in the wind. Not just ready to see him disappear yet, Natsu held a hand out angrily and cried out at him to wait a moment. His shout went unanswered as all remains of Mystogan disappeared and the teen dropped his arm defeatedly. "I have absolute no idea what is happening right now…."
Shaking his head resolutely, the usual fire in his eyes returned and Natsu turned his glare to Laxus. "I'll think about that later. For now though, I have come to fight you!"
Turning to his companion, Naruto held an arm out. "Erza! You sit this out! I got it covered."
Getting no response, Natsu frowned and called her name again. "Erza!"
Bursting out laughing, Laxus suddenly thrust an electrically coated arm in Erza's direction. "Wipe that ridiculous look off your face, girl!"
A sudden burst of movement collided with the lightning bolt and grounded it into the floor. An explosion of stone and dust erupted and blanketed the area as Laxus and Natsu took a step back in surprise.
When the cloud cleared, each were shocked to see Naruto standing before Erza with an arm outstretched. The most striking feature of him though was the fact he was hidden within a writhing mass of red, the almost liquid like substance coiling around his frame angrily. Sharp red eyes glared at Laxus for a moment before turning to Natsu. "Can you take distract that nuisance for a moment?"
Shaking away his surprise, Natsu grinned and crouched. "I'll have him beat in five minutes!"
Charging away in an explosion of fire, Natsu met Laxus head on and a shockwave of fire and electricity blew away from their point of contact. Ignoring the fight, Naruto focused as hard as he could and desperately began to pull the shroud of red chakra away from his hands. Bit by bit, his willpower overcame the coating of red and within a few seconds his hands were free of the burning substance.
Taking his chance, the blond snatched Erza up and carried her out of the church. Running a safe distance away, he dropped the girl just as his focus on the red coat wavered and the chakra ran back over his hands.
The girl was still staring off into the distance in shock and Naruto grumbled angrily as he looked down at his hands. Seeing a stick, Naruto grabbed it and poked Erza's face. "Oi, wake up. Now's not the time to be out of it."
Hearing a thunderous rumble emanate from the church, Naruto scowled and poked the girl harder. "Damn it, come back!"
A sudden flash of movement lashed out and Naruto easily caught the incoming attack. Letting go of her wrist before any damage was done, Naruto growled as Erza stared up at him in surprise. "N-Naruto? When did you get here? And what has happened to you?"
Frowning, Naruto poked a thumb over his shoulder at the church. "Long enough ago to see you freak out when you saw Mystogan. Was that really the time and place to have a mental breakdown?"
Looking away shamefully, Erza insecurely rubbed her arm. "N-No, but it was just such a shock seeing J… Mystogan."
Rolling his eyes, Naruto snorted. "Clearly. You nearly got electrified by Laxus in your comatose. I only just managed to stop it."
Widening her eyes in surprise, the mage then looked down. "Oh. Sorry."
Remembering to try stay calm, Naruto took a breath and fought back the angry feelings. "It wasn't your fault. I can see how it'd be a shock." Turning his gaze over to the church as more booms echoed out, Naruto frowned. Erza however, finally managed to have a good look at the thick coat over Naruto's form and frowned as she realised that this was where the high levels of killing intent were coming from. "So what is this thing over you? It feels… evil."
Looking over his shoulder at the mage, Naruto rolled his eyes. "Really can't be bothered telling you right now. Just wait until this mess is over and I'll tell everyone who wants to know." Standing, Naruto cracked his knuckles as he turned back to the church. "Anyway, Natsu is trying to hold back Laxus but I'd say he's nearly done. I'm surprised he's lasting this long against that pain in the ass as it is."
Blinking, Erza raised an eyebrow. "Wait, what are you going to do?"
Looking down at the girl, Naruto smirked and thumped his fist into his palm. "To take over from Natsu and destroy Laxus. You stay here and catch him."
Erza blinked again. "Eh?"
His grin darkening, Naruto began jogging to the church. "You'll know what I mean."
Running inside, Naruto was greeted with the sight of Laxus gripping one of Natsu's arms tightly as he repeatedly stomped the mages face into the floor. Any sign of struggle had since passed and the pool of blood growing under the mage was rather disturbing.
Eyes blazing, Naruto disappeared in a red flash. Slamming into Laxus with the force of a train, Naruto sent the mage rocketing into a tall pillar. A massive boom filled the room as Laxus was buried into the stone but Naruto paid that no attention. Kicking Natsu over, he breathed a sigh of relief as the mage let out a few sickly sounding coughs. Blood may have gone everywhere but it was mostly superficial from the looks of it. "Oi, you ok?"
Opening one eye, Natsu gazed up at Naruto and chuckled. "Y-Yeah, just give me a few more minutes and I'll finish him."
Giving the teen a flat look, Naruto crouched down. "Oh no you're not. Erza's outside and she needs you. Now go."
Reaching out to grab him, Naruto then had to jump back with his hands up to shield himself from the firestorm that exploded out from the young teen. It dimmed rapidly though and once the light faded, Naruto looked in to see Natsu pushing himself up to his feet, eyes alight in defiance. "Oh yes I am. This is MY fight! YOU go help Erza, Laxus is mine to deal with. Now get out of my way!"
Not quite expecting the vehement denial of his help, Naruto frowned slightly as Natsu looked over at the destroyed column. It was a bit of an eye opener too as Naruto had honestly expected to have to deal with everything as he did back home. Like with his promise to bring Sasuke back and having to deal with the Pein invasion…
Growling, Natsu charged past Naruto while the blond teen watched on detachedly. When was it that he had come to expect to have to deal with everything himself?
The pink haired mage slammed into Laxus as the man pulled himself from the rubble, sending both of them flying towards the back of the building with a loud smack. The blonds' eyes easily followed the pair as they suddenly split up and began attacking one another with various magic spells. Watching as they shot around, it was then that it really dawned upon the ninja that this was more of a family dispute than anything.
Had someone tried to step in between him and Sasuke while fighting, he imagined his reaction would have been much the same.
Hearing a boom and then the sounds of destroyed timber and stone hitting the floor, Naruto looked up to see that Laxus and Natsu had blown though the ceiling and were now continuing their dance outside.
Shaking his head, the blond turned and ran back outside and over to Erza. Seeing her raise her eyebrows in question, Naruto huffed softly to himself as he reached her before explaining. "Natsu wants this one to himself."
Smirking in understanding, Erza looked up as Natsu and Laxus continued their fight above the town. "I thought as much. He can be very passionate when it comes to some subjects. I would have been surprised if you had managed to get him away from this fight."
Grunting, Naruto conceded the point and looked up at the halo of orbs still surrounding the city. Hundreds still remained, each just waiting for the timer to finish so they could unload their charge into the innocent city beneath them. Ignoring a particularly loud roar from the fight just a few blocks over, Naruto pointed up at the balls and looked at Erza. "So what are we gonna do about those things?"
Chuckling, Erza looked over at Naruto humorously. "You haven't worked that out? We're going to destroy them all."
The blond blinked and then frowned questioningly. "But one was enough to knock out Bisca-san in one hit?"
Reaching out to pat Naruto's head, Erza quickly retracted her hand as it was burnt. Looking at her fingers, she regarded Naruto suspiciously. "Are you sure you are ok?"
Naruto sighed and nodded. "Yup."
Shrugging, Erza's grin returned and began glowing a bright gold. "I suppose I should have expected that. As for your previous question, it doesn't matter how many are hit, so long as we hit them all at the same time."
The bright light receded and revealed Erza standing confidently before the blond in all her chrome glory of The Knight. "Come now then, we don't want to waste time."
She then began running from the church, heading towards the centre of the town and prime position to hit as many Lightning Lacrima as possible. Wrinkling his nose, Naruto began following the woman. "This is gonna hurt like a bitch."
Being two of the fastest members of Fairy Tail, Naruto and Erza both made it to the center of the town with a minute or so. Skidding to a stop, Erza spun around and looked straight up as she held her hands to the heavens. Unprepared for the abrupt finish to their run though, Naruto found himself just barely dodging Erza and landing in an ungraceful crouch beside her. Wrinkling his nose in irritation, Naruto pulled himself to his feet. "So what now?"
Ignoring the edge to his voice, Erza held her arms steady. "Just watch."
Moments later, a circle of power exploded from the woman and bursts of light appeared above her as she called a vast number of her swords into existence. More and more glistened into existence as sweat began rolling down the mages head from the drain to her magic stores. "One hundred and ninety-eight… one hundred and ninety-nine… still not enough…"
Watching on in mild interest, Naruto noted that the tip of each sword was pointed up at the halo above, all just waiting to be deployed into the target. Grunting in effort as she pulled yet another sword into existence, Erza glanced over at Naruto and frowned as she saw him just watching. "Well don't just stand there, help me?"
Realising he'd been staring, Naruto nodded hurriedly and crossed his fingers. "Kage Bunshin –"
"Hello? Can everyone here me?"
Pausing in surprise, Naruto looked around as a voice suddenly called out from nowhere. "Who said that?"
Equally surprised but having more of an idea as to what was going on, Erza looked around for the person. "Warren?"
Either unable to hear the questions or just flat out ignoring them, the voice continued. "Please, everyone look up at the sky! Quit any remaining fights and gather yourselves, we have to destroy those balls above the town."
Looking around suspiciously, Naruto lowered himself and readied himself to be attacked. Seeing the defensive behaviour, Erza quickly enlightened him before the blond did anything drastic. "Naruto! Do not worry, this is one of Warren's magic abilities, Telepathy. He uses it to communicate over long distances."
Still looking around cautiously, Naruto narrowed his eyes. "I don't like it. It's creepy."
Rolling her eyes, Erza looked back up and cupped her ear as she attempted to amplify the voice. "Be that as it may, it is still a highly useful technique. So just grin and bear it for the moment."
Ignoring the grumbling teen, Erza turned her attention back to the voice as it floated though their heads again. "Those are actually apart of one of Laxus's more powerful attacks and it is currently targeted at the city. We need to all hit them at the same time and take them out before his attack can activate."
Nodding, Erza raised her voice. "Quite right. Though how did you know that, Warren?"
"That voice… Erza? You all ok now?"
Eyes widening in surprise, the woman cracked a smile. "Gray! So that's how Warren knew."
Suddenly, an onslaught of male voices filled the air as they all frantically asked if the rest of the girls were safe. Cringing as the crowd of voices assaulted her ears, Erza looked over to see Naruto slap his hand to his ears in an effort to block the voices out. He was muttering darkly to himself and the red shroud around him was beginning to lash about violently. Cautious of the strange development, she called out and did her best to calm the group. "Yes, yes, we are all ok now. You can all calm down."
Hearing a collective release of breaths, Erza allowed herself a small smile of success as Warren continued. "Now that we know everyone is safe, everyone who can hear this needs to dust themselves down and attack the sky –"
"Warren you bastard, don't think I've forgotten about our fight just yet!"
There was a pause after the interruption before Warren began frantically explaining his side of the story. "Max! Look, I'm really sorry about that before but I was just so worried about the girls and everything that I wasn't really thinking all that straight if you know what I mean."
Yet another voice then decided to but in and make its displeasure known. "Laki? Can you hear me? Cause let this be a warning I'm coming to kick your ass once this is done!"
More began filling the air as mages with severely hurt egos began trading threats and promises through Warren. Unfortunately, all who were connected could hear the fighting and it eventually turned into just one massively loud white noise as aggressive exchanges rapidly increased in volume.
Frowning as her head began to pound, Erza then hissed as something hot licked her exposed back. Turning around, she muffled a gasp as she saw the red aura covering Naruto whipping around angrily as his agitation grew. His hands were clamped over his ears and he was muttering something to himself repetitively. The killing intent was seemingly receding, but Erza had a feeling it was only a lull until it exploded. Shouting out, the mage did her best to reach Warren. "Warren! Can you hear me? Cut off all contact from Naruto this instant!"
The attempt to reach him however failed as her voice was only lost amongst the hundreds of others.
Then all of a sudden, a pressure suddenly seemed to bear down on her as it tried to push her into the ground. Hearing a number of cries in her mind, Erza realised everyone else was experiencing the same thing. A voice then ripped through her head and she smashed her eyes shut as it echoed around her skull painfully.
Her ears began ringing in pain despite the fact it was all mentally based, the voices all drowning out under the violent shout. A few moments later, the mage tentatively opened her eyes and looked around. Nothing seemed wrong thankfully so she pushed herself back up. Turning, her eyes then widened as she saw Naruto sitting on the ground in relief, a wide smile stretched across his face and his eyes closed in bliss. "Thank you! Now that you have all clamped your noisy holes, just attack the damn balls above us and cut me off from this mind link thing. It's too freaking weird being able to hear everyone's thoughts."
An unexpected snicker left Erza as she covered her mouth with her hand. What a strange lad he was. A soft muttering hesitantly began again, several voices complaining about their sore ears. Still, it was enough to silence the fighting and within time, the voice of Gray broke though. "Well… I guess you know what we gotta do."
Smirking at the efficiency of Naruto's shout, Erza called out to the guild. "Here's the plan. Everyone focus towards the south. Naruto and myself have the north covered. We haven't much time left so make it snappy!"
Hearing a number of subdued replies, Erza frowned. "What was that?"
The voices seemed to jump at the dangerous edge the powerful mages tone had. Nodding satisfactorily, Erza looked up. "Good, we attack in thirty seconds."
Cutting her link with the group, the red-head turned and called out to a still resting Naruto. "So will you be helping me?"
Ears twitching at her voice, Naruto nodded and pulled himself to his feet. "Yeah, I got this. Kage Bunshin no Jutsu."
A loud pop went off and the two were suddenly surrounded by well over a hundred and fifty clones. Holding their arms out, a large gust of wind suddenly swept through the area as all of them began lifting off the ground.
"Oh, and Naruto?" A hundred pairs of red eyes turned to face Erza. "Don't get in the way of my swords."
Nodding compliantly, they began shooting up towards the balls as Erza flung her arms out. "Go, my blades!"
Jets of light suddenly burst forth from the grips as the hundreds of swords and axes leapt forward. Quickly bypassing the swarm of Naruto's, the multitude of blades were accompanied by hundreds of other attacks all over the city as the mage's of Fairy Tail all joined in on the assault.
Brilliant streaks of ice, water, flames and other undefined elements shot high into the sky, all aimed with one sole purpose. Moments later, the town of Magnolia was bathed in the most beautiful of rainbow lights as the exploding Lightning Lacrima mixed in with the attacks that destroyed them. Fragments of airborne crystals refracted the light over the city, illuminating it with wondrous shades of blues, greens, reds, yellows and purples.
The Naruto's that slammed into the Lacrima proved to be the icing on the cake as violently churning Rasengan's each clone held brought forth the deepest shade of red imaginable. As the clones exploded, the puffs of smoke retained the colour only to disperse over the city as the Lacrima blew up. The coating slowly drifted from there down into the streets where it dispersed into the air amidst the awe inspired gasps of the civilians.
Watching as the sky shimmered with colours, Erza placed a hand on her hip while her clothing changed back from The Knight to her usual garb. Naruto landed heavily beside her, his sharp teeth visible as his wide smile pulled his lips back. Glancing over at the woman, Naruto chuckled. "Not a bad effect there."
Nodding pleasantly, Erza sighed happily. "Indeed. Though I am more relieved than anything that the town is now safe."
A jump of sharp electricity then jumped between their bodies as the Living Link began to activate. Grunting, Naruto clenched and readied himself.
The world then lit up as lightning flooded his system, bolts of electricity visible everywhere as tiny charges fired off within his eyeballs. His lungs squeezed tight as they tried to force a loud scream from his mouth, only for his frozen throat to constrict his airways and reduce his pain to a pathetic whimper.
Erza didn't seem to have that same problem as the girl bellowed loudly, her voice joining the rest of the screams across the town as the guild members were electrified.
It seemed that Naruto and Erza had it the worst of everyone as their torment continued on even after the last of the screams petered out. Finally though, they were given relief as the electric shock cut off with a sudden abruptness. Muscles relaxing immediately, both teens toppled forward to land face down, each out cold before they hit the ground.
Groaning, Naruto slowly pulled his eyes open and blurrily stared out at the mound of red before him. Raising a stiff arm, he gently wiped at his eyes and looked again. This time, he could tell it was more than just a strange heap in the road, but was actually someone's head. Erza's to be exact.
Pulling himself upright, the blond winced as one last shock of energy coursed though his body before dissipating into the atmosphere. Looking to the sky, Naruto noted the sun had hardly moved, so he must have only been out for five minutes top. Shuffling over to Erza, Naruto reached out and grabbed her shoulder. "Oi, wake up. We still gotta see if Laxus has been taken care of."
Moaning softly, Erza's eyes fluttered as her consciousness slowly came back. Naruto snickered as her eyes rolled about in her head for a bit before they focused in on the teen above her. "…Naruto?"
Leaning back, the addressed boy nodded. "So you finally woke up hey?"
Struggling to pull herself up, Erza gave up after a moment and dropped back down. "How long was I out for?"
Naruto shrugged and looked up as a crash was heard from the far side of the town. "Not sure, about ten minutes? I only just woke up."
Another loud bang reached the two and Erza sighed unhappily as she looked toward the noise. "Typical Natsu, not allowing me a moments rest."
Rolling to her knees, Erza tried to pull herself up but winced as her muscles spasmed painfully. Chuckling, Naruto grabbed the paralysed mage and slung one of her arms over his shoulders and lifted her up. He could tell she didn't like it much but could understand the situation. "Don't worry, it's only until you can walk."
Nodding resignedly, Erza's eyebrows then peaked as she realised something. "Wait a second, where did that burning cloud go?"
Looking over himself, Naruto couldn't help but cheer a little when he realised it had indeed gone. "Hell yeah, this is awesome! Come on, let's get to Natsu already and watch him kick Laxus around the streets."
"But Naruto, you didn't tell me where that cloud went? Oi!"
Headless of Erza's indignant cry, Naruto began dragging her down the lane and towards the fighting.
Seeing the church finally come into view, Naruto whistled as another explosion rocked the building. "Wow, they're really taking it to each other in there."
Gently pulling her arm from Naruto's grip, Erza tried again to stand on her own feet and found to her satisfaction they were capable of supporting her weight again. As she steadied herself from another ground shaking explosion, a flash of blue and orange caught her eye as it ran in from another street. "Levy?"
Seeing the frantic pace she held, Naruto frowned and began running forward. "Something's wrong."
Ignoring the mages cry, Naruto picked up the pace and rapidly approached the church as Levy began screaming.
"Laxus, stop it!"
As she shouted it though, an ominous light began streaming out through the doors and windows of the church. Natsu's angry voice reached Naruto's earn not much later, his tone filled with panic. "Levy! Get away from here!"
Seeing the light's intensity growing, Naruto struggled to reach her as Natsu cried out again.
Ignoring the fire mage, Levy clenched her eyes shut and screamed at Laxus again. "Please… your grandfather is at deaths door! So stop this now!"
Hearing this, Naruto slowed a bit. Makarov, about to die?
Instead of a shocked silence however, a malicious laugh began echoing from the church. "Well that suits me just great! Looks like my chances of being Master just went up again! How lucky is that?"
Something snapped within Naruto and in a blaze of red the teen made a mad dash for the door as Laxus laughed again before screaming, "Fairy Law!"
Unfortunately, even with the burst of speed the light was growing far too rapidly. Making a split second decision, Naruto reached the small girl and only just managed to snatch her up before the attack hit her. Dashing away, Naruto covered her body with his own as the monstrous amount of power filled the air and washed over them.
Cringing as he expected whatever it was to dissolve his skin, Naruto dropped to his knees and did his best to shield the girl from the brunt of the damage. As the light enveloped them however, Naruto was surprised to find it wasn't a deadly, bone breaking blow at all. It was more soft and comforting than anything, and opening an eye the blond tried to see if there was any other part to the attack.
Despite his caution though, nothing more came and eventually the light faded leaving Naruto looking around in surprise. Slowly stretching out, the blond stood up and looked over to the strangely quiet church. The only detail of any interest was Freed creeping up to the entrance of the building, holding his side in pain and generally looking really worse for wear. It seemed Mirajane had taken quite the beat down to him.
Ignoring that for now, Naruto turned back to Levy and was confronted by the girl's fearful eyes looking up into his own. Hesitant hands reached out to touch him, but were retracted quickly as Naruto sighed. Swallowing, the girl looked up into the deep red eyes and tried to find a voice to question him with. "N-Naruto? What has ha-happened to you?"
Shaking his head, Naruto pulled the dark energy from his system back into the seal. This was not what he wanted to deal with right now.
As the latent intent whittled away to nothing, Levy unconsciously relaxed. Standing as he confirmed her ease, Naruto placed a hand on her head and pushed on a small smile. "Nothing permanent. I'm still me!"
Chewing on her lower lip, Levy nervously watched as Naruto stood up tall. "Well… just be careful then ok? That felt so… wrong."
Naruto couldn't help but warm even more towards the girl as she openly expressed her concern for him. Smiling more naturally, Naruto gave her thumbs up and winked. "When am I ever not? I'm awesome, nothing can hurt me!"
Managing a small grin, Levy nodded. "Y-Yeah!"
Turning, Naruto's eyebrows furrowed as he started jogging to the church. "I gotta go find out what's happening now. You stay somewhere safe!"
Not waiting to hear if she replied or not, Naruto picked up the pace and dashed over to the church as Freed collapsed against a pillar. Skidding to a stop, Naruto glanced in to see Natsu kneeling on the floor, Gajeel by his side. It seemed the iron man had joined in while he and Erza had been off destroying the Lacrima.
Laxus was then before them both, completely shirtless and gazing at his hands in utter confusion. Freed apparently had a good idea why and coughed a few times before forcing himself to talk. "Laxus… everyone in the town is safe. The guild, the civilians, everyone. Not a single person has been harmed."
Growling in disbelief, Laxus swiped the air before him as he began walking towards the man. "Impossible! My Fairy Law was perfect!"
Shaking his head, Freed clarified. "No, not that. It's your heart, Laxus. The spell was perfect, but you can't fool your magic. Deep down you still consider everyone here your ally, so the magic didn't affect them."
Stunned into silence, Laxus just gaped incredulously as the words sunk in. Naruto meanwhile just stared at Freed. He might have been a part of Laxus's group, but he seemed to want to maintain some form of order. Those were some wise words and coming from him, Naruto was hopeful it might change Laxus's outlook.
"No… everyone who opposes me is my enemy. They are all my enemies!"
It seemed like he still needed convincing though so Freed continued. "No they are not. That last spell just proved it."
Laxus began shaking as he lowered his head and Naruto relaxed a bit. Freed smiled warmly and began to shuffle towards the mage, hand outstretched. "That's right, it's ok. Come, let's go see your grandad."
A bolt of energy suddenly jumped from Laxus to a nearby rock with a loud crack and Naruto frowned.
"I don't give a damn about that fossil. To hell with him!" The mage's body began bulking up in size again as he began drawing on the dwindling amount of power in his reserves. "I'm not his grandson! I'm my own person!"
Flexing his muscles, an excess of electrical energy exploded from the blond mages form and filled the room. Windows and rubble were shattered and blown away respectively as hundreds of bright bolts filled the air. Freed struggled to hold his ground against the power and Naruto resisted the urge to rub his arms as all his hairs stood on end.
The massive man suddenly crouched and made to attack when a dark and very angry voice from behind him caused him to stop. "Yeah, we get that Laxus. Quit thinking you're so special."
Eyes white with fury, Laxus turned to see Natsu on his feet, glaring fearlessly up at him. "You think you get extra help 'cause you're the old man's grandkid?"
Flames began licking Natsu's clothes before a full blown firestorm exploded out from him. "Just shut up about him! Get over the blood relation dumbass, 'cause we all couldn't give two damns who you're related to!"
Fire and electricity filled the room as both super powers began fighting against each other for dominance. Shielding his face, Naruto took several steps back to get away from the dangerous light show. Voices shouted at one another from within the room but the blazing roar of flames and lightning was now so loud it drowned them all out.
Suddenly, Naruto found himself diving to the floor as a fireball shot just over his head as the two mages began fighting again. The roof was next to give way as both males exploded through it and raced into the sky, savage blows colliding with their opponent as they spiralled upwards.
Rolling to his feet, Naruto looked up as Gajeel, Levy and Freed joined him, each with their heads upturned to watch the impressive fight. While the three mages had their mouths hung open as they struggled to follow the rapid movements, Naruto was standing back a bit and had taken to throwing small punches and swipes through the air as he saw opportunities for Natsu to land blows.
The midair collisions lasted for a few moments longer before one final thunderous punch from Laxus sent Natsu spinning uncontrollably into one of the few undamaged sides of the church. Chunks of rock were sent flying everywhere, civilians crying out in panic as the massive things hurtled towards the ground.
"Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"
The people were saved though when a large cloud filled the area, fading to reveal a large number of orange clad blonds supporting the human sized blocks.
Another boom sounded out just after the first as Laxus suddenly rammed Natsu again, the teen crying out in pain as his chest was squashed. Looking down at their full hands as Natsu continued to shout, the multiple Naruto's all looked at each other and grinned.
"Why don't you just die? Seriously, give up, you don't stand a chance!"
Throwing Natsu over the roof, Laxus began stalking him, taking his time as he followed the wheezing boy. "You'll never beat m – OUCH!"
Slapping a hand to his head, Laxus suddenly looked down as his head throbbed from the surprise impact. Another blow landed heavily in the middle of his back and the mage was forced to his knees from the power. Growling, Laxus looked around to try and find the assailant. "Where are you coward? Show yourself!"
Hearing an annoying laugh behind him, Laxus turned to see the air above him filled with Naruto's, each holding an arm full of rubble. "Ha! You suck at dodge-rock!"
Seething in fury, Laxus opened a palm and faced it towards them. "That's not even a game you retard!"
Just as he was about to attack, Natsu suddenly smashed into his ribs and blew the mage head over heels into the distance. Glaring up at Naruto, Natsu shook an angry fist at the blond. "Oi, this was my fight! I already told you that! If I could fly I'd come up there and kick your ass too!"
Eyes thinning, Naruto sighed to himself. 'Did you seriously forget you were flying like thirty seconds ago?'
A clone next to him saved him the effort of a reply though as it just grinned and shouted back, "We're back up! You just keep doing your thing!"
Satisfied with the answer, Natsu smirked and smacked a fist into his palm. "Right, I can handle that. Time to teach a certain mage a lesson."
He didn't get much of an opportunity to fulfil his threat though as a massive fist-shaped ball of lightning smashed into the teen and promptly dropped him to his knees. "Don't make promises you can't keep brat."
Striding into view came Laxus again, a vicious snarl on his face as he looked down his nose at the boy. Unexpectedly, lightning boosted reflexes suddenly kicked in and he snatched a flying rock from the air and returned the projectile at double the speed to its owner. A clone abruptly disappeared and rubble rained down to the pavement as the rocks suddenly found nothing holding them up. Pointing a dangerous finger at the group of blonds above him, Laxus shivered in anger and spat at them. "Just keep throwing those rocks. Nothing will be able to protect you from me once I'm done with this gnat."
Hearing a thump, the enraged male growled as he saw Natsu pushing himself upright again. "Hey, I'M your opponent, not him!"
Snickering, Laxus nodded slowly as lightning began flaring to life around him again. "Alright, here, catch this. It'll burn you so bad even the ashes will disintegrate!"
Raising his arms into the air, Laxus began forming a massive spear out of pure energy. Large thunderclaps filled the air as more power drained into the attack and Naruto suddenly found himself very close to wanting to jump in.
Sparks flew all about a few more moments before the attack was hurled at Natsu, Laxus screaming its name in effort. "Lightning Dragon's Heavenward Halberd!"
The massive spear shot towards Natsu who despite his bravado, just barely had the energy to stand at the moment. His eyes widened in panic as the gold light bore down on him, desperately willing his body to move and yet finding himself staying quite stationary. Just moments before it smashed into him though, the current diverted and slammed into the iron club that was once Gajeel's arm.
Blinking in surprise, Naruto had to silently congratulate the iron mage on his quick thinking. His other fist buried into the earth acted as a powerful grounding rod which rapidly dispersed the power behind the attack, though Naruto could only wonder how his heart was handling such a powerful blow.
Natsu seemed to realise just how badly damaged Gajeel was after taking the blow for him and didn't let the sacrifice go to waste. Flames exploded to life around him and with a rage filled cry, charged the severely weakened Laxus. Weighing up another rock, Naruto hurled one in and distracted the blond male just enough for Natsu to nail him solidly on the jaw with a blazing fist.
Attack after burning attack followed as Natsu rushed the mage, not giving Laxus even an inch of room to catch his breath as the dragon slayer steadily burnt the man's skin to black.
In one final blow, Natsu began spinning his arms around rapidly, great lengths of ropey fire twisting out from his hands and lashing out to smash into Laxus like molten whips. As each blow connected, the cables exploded and further injured the mage as he screamed in pain. The explosions rapidly drew closer together until in one final boom, fire and smoke detonated and a charred body was thrown violently from the centre of the cloud to land heavily on the roof and slide to a stop.
During all this, Naruto just floated above the group and watched on, engrossed by the extremely back and forth fight. When Laxus finally lay still, the blond gave a little cheer and high-fived one of his clones. Dropping all their rocks, the clones dispelled themselves as Natsu let out a final victory roar before collapsing into an unconscious mess.
Hearing Levy give a little cheer from below as well, Naruto grinned and began lowering himself down to collect the unmoving bodies.
A/N – most importantly, I will start with the translation of what Naruto said in Japanese up there. It means "I'd kill you before you could blink."
So, I believe an apology is in order. It's been how many months I've been gone? Anyway, the reason for this is there comes a time in every writers life when he realises something is wrong. That something was this last chapter and honestly, I would kick myself for the level of writing in it if a bunch of lovely reviewers hadn't done it for me.
These people picked up that I clearly did something wrong and that this chapter was lacking greatly. Thankfully, this is fanfiction so I was able to go back and fix all the errors that were pointed out to me. The majority of these are found in the middle and end of the chapter. What I needed was a break to clear my mind after that and surprisingly, it seemed like I needed a great deal of time to get myself back into the groove.
So now, I say I am extremely sorry for the wait, but I would much have reviewers angry at me for being tardy, rather than reviewers being angry because my writing turned to crap and they leave.
So with that, I ask that you go over it again and report back to let me know if you enjoyed it more than the previous chapter. After this there will be a little filler and then I'll be sending Naruto off on a mini arc of his own. So stay tuned and hopefully this will be the last of the massive mistakes I make.
Time for the omake and I can't remember who told me this, but it's a scenario involving Gray (third person), Naruto, Juvia and a gay joke.
"Hey… Juvia, can I speak with you for a moment?"
"Hmmm?" Turning, the pretty blue haired girl was greeted with the unusually sombre face of Naruto.
Trying to smile, Naruto scratched his head awkwardly. "So, how are you? You know, after being frozen in rock and all that."
Smiling gently, Juvia was touched that he was that concerned for her health. "Juvia feels fine. A little stiff and sore perhaps, but nothing lasting."
Chuckling, Naruto nodded. "Good, good! Uh, look I have something I really gotta talk with you about if that's alright?"
Rather curious at the topic able to change the usually bright blonds' outlook so much, Juvia nodded. "Yes? We can speak now."
Sighing, Naruto dropped his hand. "Ok. Well, what I gotta say is gonna sound really weird, but remember I'm doing you a favour here."
Furrowing her eyebrows, Juvia nodded worriedly. Struggling to find a starting point, Naruto just gave up and looked the girl square in the eyes. "Well, I dunno how else to say it so I'll just say it. Gray hit on me. I think he likes boys."
As Juvia's eyes widened immensely, Naruto nodded sympathetically while internally he laughed uproariously. 'What did I tell you Gray? I'd do it!'
Putting an understanding hand on the quivering girl's shoulders, Naruto smiled grimly and helped her through it. "Look, sometimes these things happen. Don't take it too hard though, I'm sure there's someone else out there! I'm trying to help you ahead of time here so you don't waste effort, ya know?"
Her wide eyes remained unfocused and Naruto began to frown a little. Shaking her gently, he called her name. "Juvia? You still all there?"
Maybe this time he had overdone it a bit. Her wide eyes began to show a bit of life though and Naruto unconsciously took a step back as a powerful killer intent washed over him. 'What the hell…?'
Sharp blue eyes snapped into focus and locked with his own as the world around the two faded into black. Taking another step back in confusion, Naruto looked around worriedly. 'What? This wasn't meant to happen at all!'
Feeling the dangerous rise before him, Naruto gasped as Juvia apparently grew several feet, the girl now towering over him. Wide eyes met his and a dark voice growled out from the demonic young lady. "Rival in love. RIVAL IN LOVE!"
Sweating bullets, Naruto turned and bolted as the girl continued to scream abuse at him.
If she wants Gray that badly then who was Naruto to deny her that?
Not bad aye? I thought it was a pretty awesome idea =D