|Role-Play Name: Out of the Loop|
Date Started: June 22, 2018
Blue Sky Thinking Edit
It was a still, snow infested night in Asha. This time of year the island was normally blanketed by a soft trundle of snow, and tonight was of no exception. Small flakes fell from the murky clouds above, guided in direction by a steady breeze. Warmth was what the kingdom's inhabitants currently sought... and what better warmth was there on the island than the love of a woman with enormous knockers?
The brothel known as The Fat Angel was filled with the sweet moans of its many prostitutes. They were given their own stalls to pleasure their guests, concealed by a curtain for the sake of privacy. However, one such guest was in the midst of being pleasured out in the open, being treated by none other than the Sin of Lust herself.
In the foyer to the brothel itself, Rat Catcher Bon sat back into the softness of a dark red couch. His lofty white hair had been gelled back, his face kept concealed by way of a gas mask fitted around his skull. Matter of fact, every ounce of his flesh was kept covered up behind a sleeve or garb of some kind; his trench coat was sashed and kept tight around his knees, with a black jumpsuit worn beneath.
Bon eyed Katya silently through the goggles on his mask.
Katya didn't usually tend to the guests themselves, they were the Madame of this establishment after all. They paired their girls and boys with patrons, watched to make sure nothing got out of hand, and basically just moved around the place looking pretty. Being pretty was definitely one of the many things they did well. It helped immensely when one was a prostitute who ran the largest network of brothels in all the seas.
But when someone offered such a large sum for their services, who were they to decline? Katya was very wealthy, but they had expenses. Running so many establishments wasn't cheap. Which was why they were standing before the man clad in all those layers of clothing at the moment. They tried to maintain a completely androgynous appearance at all times, while wearing clothes that revealed enough to arouse but not enough to discern what was between their legs. Mystery was sexy, you know?
But the man wanted a busty woman, and busty woman he shall have. The flowing robe Katya wore filled out around her chest as breasts grew, expanding to a size that looked like it would give anyone back problems just by looking at them. Her curves became more prominent and her face became all the more effeminate, with full lips and delicate eyes. Her hair stayed the same, falling in a wild red mane around her shoulders. With her transformation complete, Katya gave the man a sharp toothed smile before taking a few steps forward in a sultry gait.
"Darling, why so many layers? This can't be all that fun for you if you can't feel anything." She was standing over him, a finger trailing along the gas mask curiously "Or do you get turned on by the undressing? If that's the case where should I start?" She tapped the side of the mask lightly "Here?" Her finger trailed down the mask and the man's neck to his chest, right above his heart "Here?" It trailed further down, down, down until her hand was caressing a thigh "Ah! Maybe here~?" She took to her knees and looked up at him with golden eyes that glittered seductively "Would you like that?"
There was no other way around it. Katya was just downright mesmerizing. She was a woman sought out by countless across the face of Asha and even still Bon was... unmoved.
To say Katya's charm did not work on him was far from the truth. Moreover, her charm simply couldn't work. Not anymore. Not with how he had become.
The tender warmth of love and romance... oh how he wished he could just rewind time an experience it all again, even if only for an instant. But those days were long gone.
Even while he considered Katya to be highly attractive, Bon couldn't get himself to feel aroused. No matter what he, Katya, nor his own wife did could ever change that.
Through a muffled voice, Bon spoke out from behind his mask. "P-Please, I did not come here to sleep with anyone. I-I ask that you kindly s-step away from me..." He was uneasy feeling her hands on him.
Katya chuckled, a high and musical sound. Also completely fabricated, along with almost everything else about the woman. Chosen and practiced as to make her all the more attractive to her patrons. She with drew her hands slightly, rising once more before situating herself on the couch next to Bon "If you didn't come here to sleep with someone then why did you come here?"
She took one of Bon's hands in her own and began to trace designs on his palms "If you haven't come seeking pleasure, then maybe you've come seeking a listening ear?" She chuckled again "Maybe not because you haven't been talking all that much. Or...perhaps you're just too tense. I'll help you relax." With quick hands, the redhead divested the man of his glove and looked down at his hand...
Her pause was almost imperceptible. She looked from the sallow limb back up to the masked face, smile still bright as ever. She was used to dealing with people who had scars or deformities, she was practiced hand at making them feel as normal as possible. The first step was making him feel at peace. Her fingers danced across his palm, the powers of her Devil Fruit attempting to coax his body to release calming hormones. But his body didn't respond. She tried to send a spike of pleasure to him. Again nothing. Pain. The same result. Katya was immediately on edge. There were only two things that would stop her ability from taking effect...
She leaned in close, her smile and eyes taking on a dangerous edge and the grip on the man's arm becoming almost bruising "What exactly are you? There are only two ways to resist the powers of my Devil Fruit: Haki and the dead. And I do not sense any use of Haki from you."
Bon slowly brought the slots of his goggles to match the level of Katya's own eyes. Indeed, for every Devil Fruit ability, there was another one somewhere out there on the seas capable of counteracting it. Ironically enough, Katya had come face to face with one whose own powers rejected hers.
In consuming the Kare Kare no Mi, Bon had not only become a Rotting Human, but his life had changed forever. Immediately upon ingestion of the Devil Fruit, his skin began to decay, until nothing was left of his flesh than a pile of dry and lifeless scraps. He was more akin to a zombie now, the way his body lacked the physical necessities most humans ordinarily required to be met. He had lived this way for the past 5 years, living each and every day in regret of what he had become.
Bon hesitated as Katya drew closer to him, albeit not as much as he thought he would. Normally, he'd have pulled away based on instinct alone, but now more than ever he just wanted someone to be able to accept him for what he was. This was a woman who had been prepared to mate with him; certainly she deserved to know what he truly was?
A long drawn out silence ensued as Bon sat upright. "P-Promise me y-you won't be afraid," his muffled voice rang out, and leaving his ungloved hand in Katya's own, he attended to his mask with the other.
Unstrapping it one strap at a time, Bon slowly slid the gas mask off of his visage, and the resulting image was downright horrifying. Not even a mother could love such a face; the way his eyes appeared to be bulging out from his sockets and pointing off into different directions, the way his upper lip was folded and pulled up over his nose so that the gums of his cracked teeth could be seen. This was perhaps why he struggled to speak and stuttered so very much. His ears were twisted, his face scarred and severely bruised. He was missing an entire eyebrow and his nose was slanted at a 90 degree angle, in the form of an "L".
Gazing into Kaya's eyes, he blinked, awaiting her horrification and obvious rejection. It was only a matter of time. "I a-am rotted to the b-bone. Anything I t-touch, I can make w-wither away. L-Like… me." His hand remained in her own. Was he going to rot her hand away?!
It was sad to say, but Katya was used to mentally unstable clients "I knew I should've gone to a different house today..." She sighed internally. Tip-toeing around someone wasn't something she was used to having to do with clients. Mostly because her powers never failed her, and if they did she was always able to use them on herself to toss out the rabble. If this man used his fruit on her, though...
'Fake it till you make it' was always a good game plan "How unfortunate for you." Katya moved a hand up to gently run a finger over Bon's nose "To gain such a power but to have all the pleasures of life taken from you as payment. I'm so sorry." She was trying to telegraph compassion with her voice and posture, but really she just wanted to get out of this situation and away from him. Who wouldn't? He looks like a damn crypt keeper.
She caressed the underside of his wrist with the hand he still held, hopefully he could still feel in general, or else any tactile pacification methods wouldn't work at all "I can't imagine the pain you must go through...Did you come here seeking to feel alive again?" Her head tilted to the side and her eyebrow raised "I'll tell you now that, in my experience at least, that leads to just making your situation feel worse than it already is..."
God she really hoped this worked. It would be hell finding someone who could return her flesh to a state of life if she even survived whatever this man decided to do if he snapped. Though attacking her would bring down the might of the kingdom on him, as she was a member of the Seven Deadly Sins, he had enough money to buy her time and that alone told her he held some power at least "Ya slishkom krasiv chtoby byt' trupom, chert poberi!" She thought to herself with a mental pout.
The door to the brothel suddenly slammed open as Tabart, cuddled in white and purples robes, hurriedly rushed into the establishment. His face was covered by his turban that acted as both a head piece and scarf, protecting both the top of his head and everything below his eyes as if crossing the desert amidst a sandstorm.
He rushed towards the bar, throwing down his hand immediately. “C-Can I get some hot chocolate or somethin’ please!!” he shivered. “I’m freezing out here!”
Tabart's sudden arrival into the brothel marked the end of Bon's showing. Though he had far from succumbed to Katya's charm, without his mask, he couldn't help but feel as though he had been caught with his pants down. "I-It's not what it looks l-like!"
In a hurry, Bon strapped the gas mask back to his face, standing up from the couch and dusting the rear of his coat with his hands.
And there they were. Face to face again, for the second time in two weeks. Only, the last time they had met, Tabart covered in bruised and not nearly as popular. Now the Giant Slayer was something of a celebrity; his name alone probably exceeded even that of the Seven Sins within their own home of Asha!
"O-Oh, it's y-you...!" Bon had indeed invited Tabart to the brothel, but he had done so through his underworld alias of "Saturn". To Tabart, the man before him was at current nothing more than a member of the Xros Pirates whom he had encountered in battle not long ago.
“What the hell? It’s you!!” Tabart announced, pulling a handful of seeds from his pocket as he leaped backwards from the counter that he had just arrived onto. There was no hesitation between his leap and the actual act of him crushing the seeds in his hands, letting pieces of them fall towards the floor of the brothel before sprouting back up again, manifesting into a garden of man-eating Venus-fly traps that surged towards Bon with the intent to devour him whole. Tabart provided him no opportunity to offer his condolences, to attack, to do whatever he was going to do. He had vowed upon Bedina that they would all remain his enemy.
Bon didn't know whether to be flattered or upset. The fact that Tabart managed to remember him when so few did made him feel somehow appreciated. What he didn't appreciate, however, were the many venus flytraps seeking to gnaw at his rotted flesh. The last thing he wanted at this moment was to fight!
"N-No, y-you've got it all wrong!" Fortunately for Bon, his powers were perhaps the perfect counter to Tabart's own. Plants were among the foremost forms of life that he could rot away, and he did exactly that.
"R-Rot!" Through a troubled and frantic voice, Bon brought his hands up before his face. The sequence of his movements appeared to be directed at protecting himself rather than inflicting any harm toward the actual plants; he seemed hesitant, afraid even, of the possibility of being struck by them.
As the plants came into contact with his arms, they immediately shriveled up, turning brown and rigid and withering away into lifeless heaps of dead crops. They fell to the floor in tattered pieces, floundering about like dead grass in the face of a forest fire.
Seeing the plants die, Bon sighed in relief. Was he doubting his own ability? Had he anticipated otherwise? Did he not believe in his power to rot away the plants when he had done the very same thing oh so many times in the past?
"Y-You've got it all wrong!" Bon cried out again, his voice shaky and sporadic, as if to keep Tabart from retaliating further. "I… I did not call you here to f-f-fight! I am he who is known as Saturn in the U-Underworld! I have a business proposal for you, G-Giant Slayer! Please, don't try and hurt me any further!"
Katya sighed dramatically at the exchange between the two men. She couldn't just get a normal customer with deep pockets and vanilla tastes. Nothing came easy to the beautiful it would seem. She stood and motioned to a maid at the bar, the buxom wench coming over quickly while eyeing Tabart and Bon with fear "Alicia, clear out the Angel. We're closing early tonight. Get the girls to safety and if anyone gives you trouble, remind them who I am and what my people are capable of." With a nod the girl scurried away and Katya turned to the two idiots that were probably about to complicate her life.
"Gentlemen, if you could please not destroy my brothel that would be amazing." She glared at the patch of floor where the plants had grown, inspecting it to see if there was any damage. She hated having to sink money into places for repairs, so she made sure that people understood fully the consequences of causing disruptions in her places of business. Her glare flicked to Tabart, losing none of it's intensity "I would appreciate it very much if you didn't try to fight in my brothel. You may get hurt, and I don't mean by mask-face there."
She moved behind the bar and grabbed a mug, pouring some liquid from a hot kettle into it before scooping a few spoons of a brown powder into it. She mixed the concoction until a distinct chocolaty aroma filled the room. She filled another mug and brought both over to a table, setting up three chairs "You wanted hot chocolate, correct? Velvet Red Insta-Cocoa is picking up popularity. Have you tried it before?" She held a mug out to Tabart before motioning to the chairs at the table "You two can it and talk or I can forcibly remove you from my building. Your choice." She took a seat herself and sipped from the second mug. She hadn't brought one for Bon because, well, he was dead. Or at least close to it. They didn't need refreshments.
Tabart sighed, graciously taking both a seat and the hot chocolate that Katya was offering him. “Thanks, and sorry about the bar,” he genuinely apologized, “But this man isn’t someone you should easily trust. He’s a member of the Xros Pirates, a high-ranking one at that! The fact that he called me here is fucking insane considering just two weeks ago he was trying to kill me, which begs the question….” Tabart turned to face Bon directly. “What do you want me for if you’re not here to kill me? What are you exactly working at?” Suddenly, Tabart’s eyes lit up in anger, forcing him up from his seat. “Don’t tell me you’re that one who helped Judas kidnap my fucking child!! Where is he!?”
Bon let out a sigh of relief once Tabart had settled down, then quickly shot up his hands in protest at being the suspected kidnapper of his child. "N-No, I had nothing to do with t-that, I swear!"
As for what he, as Saturn, had requested Tabart's services for... that would have to wait until the others had joined them.
An hour or so later, the majority of the mercenaries, brokers, and whomever else Bon could contact from the Underworld, sat around in a circle, facing one another over couches and sofas. These were guests of fair significance, many of whom carried apparent notoriety.
Seated along one of the couches with one leg drawn out over the top of the other was the man feared as the greatest bounty hunter in all of South Blue: Sperius Vesper, more commonly known as Vesper the Scavenger. His side swept bangs fell over one of his eyes, and he had come shrouded in the attire of a shinobi. He was an ordinarily sized human, comparable in size to Bon, yet possessing a degree of musculature upon his being. A mask extending from his chest covered the lower half of his face.
Vesper was a man who had made an enemy out of most, if not all other bounty hunters. Even those present here would be apparent of his infamy; he was known for stealing kills, or rather, "scavenging" targets that did not exactly belong to him. His style was such: he flyed around the seas interrupting ongoing fights often, killing both participants and claiming the bounties on both of their heads. He could feel the glares of each and every mercenary present upon him --he recognized a few of them as victims of his own work, resulting in a smug grin along his impeccable jawline.
Among these gathered associates sat on a sofa all to himself was someone no one had expected to attend, at least, not in person. He stood out among the crowd, dressed in bright colors and jewelry that caught the eye and kept it, displaying a smile as well trained and kept as Katya's own. "Hello, my wonderful associates. It's a pleasure to be here. I hope you don't mind, but I brought gifts." He said as he gestured to a selection of expensive products he's brought. Coin knew the rules of business, let everyone think they are your favorite, and keep the money flowing.
Behind Coin's cheerful demeanor, his mind paced. 'A brothel of all places? Important meetings shouldn't happen in whore houses. Whores pillow talk, and everyone expects places like this.' his eyes flickered to Katya, who he was sure would remember every word spoken here. 'I'd much prefer a busy club. No one pays attention in a club, and the music drowns out the talking. This better be good for me to have come out here in person.'
The next person to enter the borthel was none of than the captain of the Tai Pirates who had recently grown desperate in her attempts to keep the infamous pirate crew amongst the top of the food chain in spite of the fact that their former captain had abanonded his post to return home. In her desperation Rhiannon had accepted a great deal of money in exchange for a as of yet unnamed favor the only information she was given was that she was to meet at the brothel and wait for further instructions.
As she made her way through the brothel she took a careful note of each individual present inside, assessing the situation thoroughly taken in details that would seem irrelevant to one who wasnt an archer. Smell, clothing, pitch and tone of voice, all details where absorbed and stored in her memory should she be forced to take action against one of them. The desperate captain made her way towards a seat and the corner of the room and sat whilst she awaited further instructions.
They did not hear the next person walk in the door didn't even creak. He continued forwards, his footsteps not even startling the dust on the floor, each carefully placed and entirely silent. The man was dressed entirely in white desert robes that flowed behind him, emitting no sound as they fluttered. He continued into the room, speaking to no one as he made his way to a corner of the room and stood there, his hidden eyes locked on Bon. It was indeed him, one of the kings of the underworld, Arch Thief Prometheus. He was known to be the leader and sponsor of all the thieves in the underworld. To have hired him for a job, it must have been a necessity.
Bon had offered up that much money not for Katya's services exclusively, but to "rent" the brothel in some capacity for this meeting. The woman couldn't say this was the first time something along these lines had happened, but usually it wasn't such a large gathering. She was impressed and annoyed all at the same time. She got antsy with all these people around so she got up and busied herself with refreshments. All these bounty hunters in a room, she'll be damned if she didn't make at least a little bit of a profit from it.
There were way too many leers and catcalls in her direction as she went about her business, too many sneaking hands sliding up her skirt or landing on her backside. Usually she wouldn't mind the attention, in fact she would bask in it and stoke her ego, but she wasn't in the mood at the moment. Her soft curves faded somewhat, her chest flattening and her hips narrowing. The robed billowed around the new, more masculine form. Katya, having served anyone who wanted drinks, sat in a cushioned red chair that was really mostly pillows, a bored look settling on his face as he surveyed the room to make sure no one was breaking anything.
"It sure is crowdy here today," A voice arose from near Katya, along with a calm scribbling. "Wouldn't you say?" It pertained to a man fit in a suit, though, his signature hat and coat not present. Though he wrote in a small notebook, his eyes wandered around the entire settlement.
Certainly interesting people made themselves present, some of which had no relations to each other. That was what a normal person would think. But, the detective known as Wilhelm Conrad continued to survey the place.
No one of those he had known or met... Personally, that is.
Alone on one of the couches sat a man who could be mistaken for a corpse himself. A muscular, lanky body with almost unnaturally pale skin, he was practically naked. Something made more apparent by the chilly weather outside. The man known in the underworld as the Undertaker sat silent with a detached stare, hidden behind his metal mask. He wondered just how many of the people here he would end up burying by the end of this.
There was a whole cast of menacing figures all patched up into one single room. They had only one thing in common; being from the Underground, their reputations were obscure, hidden even, as were their true identities. This is why a brothel was the best place for them to meet. Here they perfectly blended in with the rest of the random people who came seeking worldly pleasure.
Bon coughed into his hand. "O-Okay. T-That seems to be e-everyone." He took a look around at the circle of pirates and hunters alike. "A-As I'm sure most of you are here seeking my p-promise of 500,000,000 in return for your services, I'll c-cut right to the chase over w-what it is I'd like you all to do for me.
"As you may all k-know by n-now, we are in the m-middle of a war. A war between the Y-Yonko." Bon hesitated for a moment. "A-All of them." He surveyed the room a second time. The reflection of Sperius Vesper glimmered within the slots of his goggles. "T-There is a certain m-man after me. T-The very man who started this entire w-war by earning my c-captain's wrath: the Public Enemy!
"H-He has tried to claim my l-life in times past, and as I am away from my crew's t-territory, I-I am almost certain he will somehow attempt to strike again. I... cannot share with you all why it is t-that he's after me. But I trust the hefty payment s-shall be enough to silence your curiosity over the m-matter. In a-any case, I wish to pay a visit to my home island of Permis, which is about a s-single days's trip here f-from Asha."
Bon grew silent once more. He bowed his head ever so slightly. "A m-man wishes to s-see his child and wife every now and then, n-no matter what s-sort of reputation that he may have." He rose his head, looking in the direction of the Giant Slayer. "Isn't that r-right, Tabart?
"A-All I wish for is to s-see them again. To s-see my family. But I can't travel w-without people by my s-side to p-protect me." He looked around the rest of the room.
Katya listened to what Bon had to say in silence, blinking several times in confusion as he gave his spiel about wanting to see his wife and child. There was one thing that was giving him pause, though, so the redhead spoke up once the other was done "Let me get this straight. You've gathered some of the most dangerous bounty hunters in the world in one place to offer them payment to escort you to your home? You are aware that you are not only an Underworld Broker, but a part of one of the Yonko's crews? And that the Government would probably rewards someone handsomely for handing you over? What's to stop one of these....."nice" gentleman from slapping some seastone cuffs on you and dragging you to the nearest marine base? They aren't exactly the most trustworthy of people, as I'm sure you know" Katya looked around the room before adding "All offense intended."
Not called, not properly noticed, not bothered. Conrad scribbled away at his notebook, eyes never leaving it, though, his ears were surely fixated upon the words leaving Bon's mouth. Not only that, but, their tone. The bounty hunters there were many and that made Conrad wonder if they would hurt people outside of wanted pirates. Even so, Conrad had done this many times, it was almost as he had no will on paying attention to the conversation at hand, therefore, one could say he was not even there.
After all, he had no intention of relaying what he was listening to. "Green Hairs..." Conrad muttered, face stern as his pen went against the paper. "The man who started this war..." Conrad tapped his pen against his chin, "Months ago, the Public Enemy was said to have allied with Legs, effectively putting himself in the care of an Emperor." Scribble.
Looking at his notebook from different angles, Conrad hummed, "This man, however, said that Green Hairs has tried to kill him numerous times... before..." Should one even look over his notebook, the only possible one being Katya, they would see a miniature drawing of a masked man and a man with green mane.
"Then," Conrad continued to think, not paying attention to Katya's own words, "Did Green Hairs seek shelter under a Yonko, because he was chased for having attacked Bon...?" Scribble, Conrad narrowed his eyes, the two figures he drew were high-fiving each other. "Bon is a part of a Yonko Crew... are they truly weakened to the point that they can't send someone... or do they not care for each other?" Conrad rubbed his chin and took a sip of his sudden drink.
Prometheus stood, listening to the unfolding events. While the money was great the prospect of capturing an ally to a Yonko and the man who started the war would be excellent. He'd sell Veno to the Marines for more than the reward for the job. "I'm still getting paid and maybe we'll get to beat the snot out of green haired punk. I feel like this is quite the deal honestly, we're even getting paid more than this stuttering fella is worth."
Coin turned to Katya and smiled "Oh don't be like that Mr Zamolodchikova. A lot of us are very trustworthy. We can't afford to lie. Our little underworld is built on trust, after-all. You betray one client, and nobody wants to work with you anymore." He said with a shrug in a sing song voice before turning back to Bon. "Normally, I'd just give you some bodyguards, and a good smuggling boat, but I like you, this seems exciting and it's been awhile since I smuggled anything personally, so I think you have yourself a deal."
Behind his smile facade his mind still paced. 'Really? That's it? With the people you had gathered here I was half expecting to say you planned to overthrow Shiguma. Seems I came all the way here for nothing. Well, a friend in the Xros would be valuable, so I'll go along with it for now...'
Rhiannon listened as the man spoke his peace, carefully listening to every word in an attempt to spot any possible deceptions. When she believed him to be speaking the truth she allowed her self to hear his offer with an open mind and to be honest his offer truly didn't seem complicated. Escort him to his home, avoid the green haired freak, and get paid, tada. As she listened to him speak she brought herself to her feet and began to stretch before she resumed making eye contact with the man.
The Tai Pirates needed resources if they had any hope of regaining their status within the world, and while it wasn't what she'd hope, Rhiannon would never turn down such a large sum of money which lead her to speak her next words with an annoyed resolve, "I'll do it, in exchange for the sum promised, I will go with this merry band of ...."people" so that you may once again see your beloved."
“Did you seriously just describe us as People sarcastically? I don’t even know why you’re here, you basically got handed your renown just by becoming the captain. At least these so-called people around you have bounties and fame of their own. In fact, we people would rather you stay behind and not get in our way. We’d hate to have to protect you just in case someone actually attacks,” Tabart snarked to Rhiannon following her comment, before clearing his throat with a cough to address Bon.
“Now for you, you’re a piece of shit. I’m someone you’re at war with, and you ask me to come back and help? I don’t really know if that’s stupid or just that desperate. Either way, it’s pathetic.” There was a slight pause. “However, it’s not your family’s fault that you turned out as you did. So, if it means that I can reunite a man with his family, then I guess I’ll help along, but only if your ass gives me my money, and I want it up front. Right now matter of fact. Frankly, I doubt you even have that much money to pay all of us. But, if you do that, I’ll get you home safely. That’s a promise.”
Merikh sat through his employer's stuttered spiel, stone-faced and unmoving. He wasn't overly interested in Bon's story about killing some man's wife and child, or whatever it was, nor did he care for what these other men had to say on the matter. He was only here for the job, and he would go through with it no matter how many children he was being asked to bury. Yoshi! I'm sure I can kill more kids than any of these guys.
No, instead his mind lied elsewhere. He was thinking about fluffy kittens, only occasionally tuning back in to make sure he wasn't missing anything. When he tuned in this time though, he noticed that no one was talking. Getting nervous that they might be waiting for him to speak up, he looked up and gave a guttural grunt. Oh no, something was stuck in my throat. I hope no one noticed.
Amidst the talk and tension of the ragtag group, the sound of shattering glass broke the air as a wooden barrel busted open a window that was conveniently placed directly next to the room's entrance. The person responsible was none other than Fluer Frida, a woman infamous for her strength and ties to one of the Four Horsemen. With barrel still in hand, she climbed through the busted window, glass shards crunching under her boots. Although her expression was seemingly calm at first, as she turned and locked eyes with Benjamin Tabart, who sat in the corner with his mercenaries, she was filled with rage. In a fit of anger she threw the barrel once more through yet another window, shattering that one as well, before she stomped over to where Tabart sat.
"Ya left me in the boat so you could go to a whorehouse, eh?! How dumb do ya think I am?!" Frida shook her hands angrily in the air, apparently ignoring the presence of other people in the room as she chewed Tabart out.
Tabart jumped up from his seat, raising his hands defensively. “N-No no! You have it all wrong!” He lowered one arm, pointing directly at Bon. “This guy is a Xros Pirate, but he’s being hunted. He’s promised me 500,000,000 Belli if I watch his back while he goes home! He said the trip is only a day, and he wants to visit his family. That’s it! I don’t even know why he wanted to have a meeting in a Brothel. Probably because it’s the last place anyone thought someone like him would go, specially since he was sitting at the bar just moping to himself.”
Tabart’s voice got soft as he reached for Frida’s hands. “Look, Frida, I promise. I haven’t even looked at any other women in here. You’re the only woman I’m worried about.”
Frida's eyes narrowed as if she was examining Tabart's face for any signature of a lie, yet apparently she found none as she grabbed Tabart's hands and pulled him slightly closer so that she could whisper in his ear. "God, you really are a dumbass..." she whispered before pulling away. Her expression was joking, but there were hints of worry in her face. Tabart got himself into trouble so often, one of these times, Frida feared that he'd run out of luck.
"Then who are these..." Frida spoke slyly.
"U-Up f-front?!" Bon stuttered with his wording when Tabart demanded he pay at least a portion of the payment up front. Well, he was always stuttering, but this time more than ever. His eyes nearly became visible under his goggles when Tabart somehow increased the payment to 500,000,000, as much as that former Shichibukai Salazar was now worth. Did Tabart honestly expect him to pay them an entire Salazar's worth each?!
The zombie eyed Frida with confusion, not knowing what to make of the scene. But he felt it was his duty to sort out their affairs and take ownership for Tabart's being there. "I-It's really b-because of me that he's here!" Bon insisted, hoping Frida would concur with the truth, "a-and I'm afraid I c-can't pay you upfront Tabart because I d-don't carry so much money on me at o-once. Sail with m-me to Permis, and I p-promise I'll p-pay you as s-soon as we arrive."
Anger, raw and powerful, was rolling off Katya in waves at the exchange between the apparent couple. She didn't care that the meeting had been disrupted, but this bitch had broken not one but two windows! She was going to pay...The arm of the chair Katya was lounging in cracked under his grip and he needed to take a deep breath "Oi! Grape-head! Since she's with you, you're going to be paying for my window and my floor! And trust me, I will hunt you to the ends of the earth for that money." Katya ground his teeth a bit before turning to Conrad "Get me everything you know on them, will you? Just so I know who I'll have to track if they try to give me the slip."
Bon was cowering beneath his mask. The same woman who had been all over him moments ago was now a man! Greater confusion filled Bon's mind; he could've sworn that he'd have read on the newspaper once before entailing Tabart's high profile relationship with the pirate known as Ashley. They were like a celebrity couple, a powerful pair of lovebirds that the sea looked towards as an example! Heck, Bon only wished he and his own wife could share even half the amount of romantic feelings for one another that Tabart and Ashley probably did. So then, was this her?
Bon eyed Frida. He wanted to make some conversation, to burst out of his comfort zone and for once spark life into himself again! "Y-You must b-be Ashley, c-correct?" Bon sat upright in his seat proudly. It had taken so much from him to muster enough courage to speak for himself. What a day!
Coin flashed an even larger smile, reached into his jacket, and pulled out a wad of beri. "Now, now, we are all friends here. I'd hate for something like this to ruin the evening, so I'll pay if that's okay. This should cover all the damages." he gestured the money towards Katya. He turned towards Tabart and Frida, and winked. He was curious, and wanted to hear more about the famous Giant Slayer, and what better way to go about it then befriending him?
"Sure, ma'an." Conrad closed his eyes in a smile and silently got out of his chair, asking for a quick drink at the balcony. His intentions lingered not one bit at Frida, whilst he waited for his drink and put his notebook into his pocket. If anything, Conrad was just another security guard of Katya's, "Nice, back from Dressrosa to do this." He didn't want to leave Fabian too alone.
He honestly prefferred to focus on Bon's story, within a sip of his drink, Conrad was already close to the entrance. "Hey!" He greeted the security guard, whose eyes widened at his presence, "You have their names, correct?" Conrad whispered, not even pointing towards both Tabart and Frida. A short glance at Coin was given, the guard nodded, "Good!" As he waited, Conrad fished his notebook out once again, digging out any entries he could have had about the three of them.
Katya took the money Coin offered idly. He looked at it, inspecting it as though they may be forgeries. He counted out the amount and determined that it would indeed be enough to cover the damages, maybe even enough for a little something something once they had been done. The money disappeared into the folds of Katya's robes and he turned a sickly sweet smile to Coin, his eyes flicking to Tabart for a moment "Thanks for the money, but he still has to pay. It's more about the principle than the damages, see. You break it, you have do what it takes to fix it."
The only that kept Frida from knocking the zombie's head off with one swift kick was sheer pity. He clearly didn't know what he was talking about, and it also appeared to take him a great deal of strength just to speak... so for now, he was safe.
"As an alternative, you could be happy that you got reimbursement in the first place, because God knows you could eat shit if you thought I would pay for that. Besides, the architecture of those windows was so outdated, completely 1530's-style..." Frida spoke, barely eyeing Katya, as though he didn't matter to her in the slightest.
Katya blinked in confusion, the chuckled "I'm sorry, I think you're under the impression that I was talking to or about you at any point. I just addressed blondie here and I was talking to your boyfriend a moment ago. When I want to talk to you or hear your worthless opinions on architecture, I'll say 'hey peasant girl with the fashion sense of a blind spinster'." Katya examined his nails for a moment, toying with the length and shape, trying to decide which style he wanted when he next painted them.
"Greedy aren't we..." Coin said quietly. He wasn't going to ask for his money back, he knew there was no point, but he made a mental note to open some rival brothels in the area. "Will this work?" he took out another wad of cash, and gestured it to Tabart and Frida. This was just an even better opportunity to get on their good side.
Tabart sat their idly, his mind flushed with so many different thoughts as Frida argued with Katya, as Katya threatened him, as Bon told him that he didn’t have the money, and then he mentioned her. Tabart heard nothing else, not even Coin’s kind gesture. “Hey! I told ya, the newspaper lied about me! I never had sexual relations with that woman, not once! They lied! This here is my fiancé, Frida. The only woman I’ll ever be with,” he defended.
“Anyway,” he begun, finally focusing his attention to everyone around them, “I’ll deal with the window when I get my money from him, that’s a promise. Or hell, I’ll fix the window for you; whatever will help you regardless. That sound okay?”
“And you,” Tabart said, turning to face Coin. “Thanks, but it’s no need for it. I appreciate the kindness though.” He exhaled deeply.
“Now, can we move on from this entire mess? Yes? Great!”
And move on they did.
The Pantheon of the Pentagon Edit
The waters of the Boffola Pentagon were incredulous; the tides varied it seemed greatly by the second and shifted every instant. There were no consistent patterns to this part of the sea either; and so, knowing this, Sperius Vesper had insisted that the dark masters accompany him aboard his own ship and under the prowess of his own navigational expertise, lest they lose themselves in such dismay.
The ship of Vesper was one of familiar origin, specifically to Tabart. Its blood red hull, its emasculate size and stature. It was all very nostalgic for the Giant Slayer, as it was the very same ship that birthed his renown in the first place; yes, this was the exact same ship that he had sailed upon to Elbaf with the aspirations to smuggle tons of Nerb Rum.
Aboard the ship, the famed bounty hunter stood firm, eyes beaming over the seas like that of a hawk. Before his own renown, he was but a humble shinobi with a vast multitude of skills under his sash, among which was Tenmon: a ninja's way of using the forecast to his own advantage.
"We're drawing ever closer upon Permis," Vesper announced nonchalantly. Though as calm a demeanor as he possessed, there was no slighting his feat in navigating the dark masters through the Boffola Pentagon and at that in such a short period of time. A day's trip had been amassed in only a few hours, though much of this was accredited to the big red ship they used for transportation.
Vesper's eyes narrowed. "There's a disturbance in the sea." The shinobi did not dare take his eyes off the sea to glance back at the cowering figure of Bon, who admittedly was not having the most pleasant experience traveling through such a staggering mess of a sea the pentagon was. "Judging based on the ripples of the water in the four o'clock direction and the taste of this breeze… I can thereby deduce that there is most certainly another ship sailing beyond us. But beyond that…"
Vesper leaned off the main deck, gazing down at the waters below. "There's a Sea King a ways beneath our ship. Seems Hades' seastone imbued rudder wasn't enough to fend it off." He turned now, alerting not only Bon as the leader of this bunch of underground hounds, but the rest of them at large. "If my suspicions hold true… then this is no ordinary Sea King at all. Hades is a ship fit for the largest of giants. The sheer amount of seastone that composes its rudder is staggering; for that alone to not buy us even a sliver of time leads me to believe that we ought to be on guard. Yes, even if it is 'just' a seaking."
A Sea King that would dare challenge the might of a ship as large as Hades; a Sea King who was intelligent enough to nullify the trickery of a seastone coated rudder. Most sea dwellers who sailed these seas made light of Sea Kings. Vesper was certain that even the dark masters would surely underestimate the cause for any concern. But Vesper, who could predict the slightest alteration in the weather like the back of his hand, had a bad feeling about this.
"What is your decree, Bon-san?" Why Vesper even looked back for Bon's acknowledgement was beyond him. The zombie was laying on his back, having fallen over from the impact of the ship climbing over a large wave. He was rolling around, trying desperately to stand back up to his feet.
Vesper merely tightened his face. "Might I suggest we pull up to this other ship? If we are to engage them as an enemy, then it would be in our best interest to strike first. If not for battle, then at the very least it will allow us to identify them by face."
Hades, while large, was a ship of great speed and sailing capability. Vesper was confident that they could easily get the one up on the other ship, meaning they held a definitive advantage. Still, the sails of the other ship were recognizable to the brim: a dark black jolly roger with a skull like pattern boasting an infamous mustache.
It was the Titan Pirates!
Merikh, the other zombie aboard the ship, was fairing a great deal better than their employer at the moment. He sat crosslegged in the middle of the ship, holding his enormous bladed weapon over his shoulder, unaffected by the stormy seas, even as he slid around the deck while remaining sedentary. Beneath his stony gaze, he was deep in thought. With a ship this large, just how many children are we going to have to kill to hit our quota? This may be more difficult of a job than had thought. Hell, how many kittens could I fit on here if this was mine?
Upon hearing Vesper's words, he was brought back to the present. Standing up, he successfully slid on his feet to the side of the ship that would allow him to see the other ship that the ninja had mentioned. Bumping into the guard rail, Merikh looked out, making slight note of the approaching vessel, before turning his eyes down towards the water. He always tried to not underestimate an opponent, so he was prepared for this sea beast to put up a fierce fight, but he simply couldn't view any animal as anything more than an adorable critter. He was hoping to catch a glimpse of the cutie.
Rhiannon was no stranger to the ever shifting ties of the seas, thus her body moved with the waves. When the massive ship known as bobbed, she weaved. The terbulent waters where just another day for the woman, after all, She was a captain, and what captain would allow the sea to make them ill. Thus her keen eyes began to scan the area as the words of the envoy quickly brought the woman to high alert.
While she wasn't usually scared of sea kings, she certainly wasn't fond of them in the least as such she allowed her Haki to probe the depths in an attempt to locate this beast, or atleast give her a general idea as to where it was located. What was revealed to her was the aura of a massive beast swimming and circling directly below. Whilst her mind was focused on the sea king, the shinobis words would bring another potental threat to her mind, that of a massive ship approaching the merry band. Instinctively her hand reached back and rested upon Nifhel, as she awaited any sort of confrontation on the part of either the ship or the sea king below.
Tabart had been listening deeply to the conversation between Bon and Vesper; he disagreed. “Hey, zombie-guy,” Tabart called out, approaching the two men, “Don’t approach as a hostile. Let me explain ourselves; I didn’t come here to fight the Titan Pirates. I came to defend you from Veno. I’m sure they’ll let us pass if I just do all the talking, and Bon hides. They’ll have no reason to stop us then.”
Vesper looked at Tabart impatiently. Arms crossed, he fiddled with his fingers against the bulk of his bicep. The Giant Slayer wanted to be civil? Vesper didn't know how to be civil. Life for him had never been that way; he was a hitman, a notorious bounty hunter who scavenged on prey and looted corpses as he saw fit. Where was the chance for a civil route long ago when his precious Iga Dojo was decimated without question?
"Y-You want to t-talk n-now?" Bon pondered, recalling Tabart's entrance into the Asha brothel in which he had staged an attack from the moment their eyes had met. "W-Well alright. If y-you think I'll b-be getting in the w-way, then I'll e-excuse m-myself." The zombie stood up to his feet and dismissed himself, stowing himself away into the inner regions of the ship, much to Vesper's dismay. The shinobi did not at all seem too thrilled at the prospect of having strangers lurking on his ship; he most preferred them to be out in the open where he could keep an eye on them.
"Very well, Tabart-san. I will honor your request. But realize that we're forfeiting the element of surprise. If anything goes wrong, you are to blame." Hades' sails came down, showcasing little intent to fight on part of the crew aboard. The Titan Pirates' ship remained everstill, even as Hades began to reel up along it.
But through the movement, Vesper noticed something bizarre up ahead. "Hold on a moment," Vesper thought aloud, "is it possible that I… miscalculated?" He looked on in disbelief, through a telescope in his hand at the island of Premis, which was lush and full of life. The leaves on each tree were healthy and of various colors; the grass appeared just as lively, as did the ensuing breeze of heat that welcomed Hades closer to the island still.
It was summertime on that island ahead, based on what Vesper could concur from what he saw. Only, it was supposed to be winter. "It is said that Asha and Premis were once both the same island. To this day they share the same season no matter the time of year. When we met inside of that brothel on Asha… it was snowing. So how is it that it's summertime on Premis?"
Preposterous! Vesper was a navigator of incredible magnitude. It was an insult against his pride to even consider the idea that perhaps he had somehow sailed to the wrong island. No, that was impossible! But the scenery that lay ahead was all too clear; Vesper even went the extent of wiping his eyes as if at the mercy of some form of illusion. No matter how many times he blinked, the reality before him did not change. It was summertime on Premis even while Asha was caught in the middle of a snowstorm.
Vesper glanced back at the rest of the dark masters, his expression sullied by uncertainty. "We're reeling in toward that other ship, boys. Brace yourselves."
The Titan pirates? Just great, running into a Yonko crew. Luckily, Tabart seemed to be on good enough terms to negotiate safe passage. What really bothered him was the Sea King and that the navigator seemed lost. Coin wasn’t fond of problems he couldn’t solve by throwing money at. This was an annoying situation, three major problems at once. This couldn’t be a coincidence. Coin looked for a place far from the edge where he wouldn’t get too much attention. It had been ages since Coin did anything adventurous himself. It was refreshing. Then came the cry to brace. Coin looked from side to side for something to hold on to and saw nothing. Using Tekkai, he hardened his body in the hopes of not getting flung off the boat.
As Hades drifted ever closer to the opposing ship, suspicions were at an all time high. Just who might be aboard; was it Montblanc Burling, the missing pirate the fifth division had been searching aimlessly for over the course of the past several months? Was it Count Mortas, the man who apparently sucked the blood of his victims? Or was it perhaps Raptor D. Baron, the Yonko himself aboard that vessel?!
Hades reeled up beside the ship. There was a singular figure aboard the ship, standing by its lonesome. Its back turned, there was a black gown worn over its shoulders with the crest of the Raptor Family emblem etched along the cape: a jagged three pronged footprint.
Peeking out from the same door he was meant to hide behind, Bon's heart dropped at the sight of the emblem. There was no mistaking it now; that was the emblem that haunted him even in his dreams! "B-B-Buh..!" The zombie stuttured with his words, fingers fumbling over the knob of the door. "B-B-Baron!! It's Raptor D. Baron!"
The figure aboard the ship turned at once. And it was at the point in time that whatever illusion the dark masters had painted within their minds began to wear off; for the figure aboard the ship was not nearly impressive enough to be that of a Yonko. The figure was of average height at best, standing a ways beneath the threshold of six feet; the figure was lanky, lacking any muscle at all, even, and eyes bigger than the two ships combined wobbled in its sockets.
This was most certainly not a Yonko. This was but a child, no more than 18 years in age, if even that. This was a boy draped in a black cape under which he wore a jeans jacket and black trouser pants, fitted tightly to the thigh. Messy black hair fell over the top of his head, likely in an attempt to mask the anxious expression that so frequently found its place over his face. The boy nervously eyed the other ship, a rifle tucked between his hands, which were trembling, noticeably so. "Uh… h-hello…"
Bon breathed a sigh of relief. Thank Shiguma that Baron was not aboard that ship.
Vesper recognized that pirate for who he was. Though not a Yonko by any means, he had gained fair notoriety as a super rookie, falling just short of the renown of the Four Horsemen. With a bounty of 184,000,000, the boy known as the "Hatchling" was high on his own personal "most wanted" list, though more so for his lineage than anything else.
"Raptor D. Malvin, vice-captain of the Titan Pirates' 4th Division, if I recall," Vesper stated aloud, his eyes running up and down the less than impressive figure of the lad aboard the other vessel like a hawk, "what are you doing here?"
“Malvin..” Tabart repeated to himself quietly, pronouncing the name under his breath so that he could when the time came. He stepped forward, putting his arm in front of Vesper. “Excuse my friend, he’s just a little cautious, vice-captain-sama. But, I must say, it’s finally a pleasure to meet you.” Tabart bowed. “I’m Benjamin Tabart. I fought alongside your fifth division against Shiguma on Bedina. Foxpack and I….” there was a pause between his words. “We were well acquainted, I must admit.”
“But that’s enough about me. What are you doing around here? Are you headed to Asha?”
Malvin recognized Tabart instantly. I mean, at this point… who wouldn't? The dude was a celebrity! Malvin looked up to a guy like Tabart --very much so. It wasn't every day that he happened along someone of his renown, either. And to top it all off… he was showing him the utmost respect!
"Oh, Tabart! I must tell you brother, I'm a real fan of your shit!!" The boy became much more relaxed. So these weren't enemies after all. "Yeah man, I heard all about your time on Bedina. Kettle-sama speaks very fondly of you, actually. Says if it wasn't for you, he'd never have even thought about joining our crew."
A sudden sway in the waters below returned the Hatchling back into the harsh reality that surrounded them at times present. "Yo, listen: you guys really shouldn't be here right now! I don't know if you're on your way to Permis, but even that isn't a very good idea. The island's under a hefty plague; border security is immense, and they're just not letting anyone in right now."
Bon showed himself fully from behind the door, stepping onto the scene where he could be entirely visible. "A p-p-plague?" His rotten heart was racing between his chest. His beloved Juliet was at the mercy of such a storm?!
"Yeah, a plague. At least, that's what they're calling it. Over half the island's population has been infected. No one knows what's causing it or how it's contracted, but I think it's best to stay clear of that." Malvin itched his chin. "Come to think of it, though, I was there for awhile not too long back. And well, nothing's happened to me." He smiled, flexing his bicep, which had no muscle to show, certainly not through the sleeve of his jacket. "But I'm a member of the Raptor Family! No silly plague is ever gonna do in a guy like me!!"
Under sudden sway. This time bigger. Malvin's ship moved back and forth, and the boy had to grab on to a nearby railing to keep himself balanced. "Wait, shit! Like I was saying earlier, you guys really shouldn't be here right now! Trust me, I'm a professional so I can say that!"
Vesper rose up a brow. "A professional?"
"Aye! Don't you know? The Titan Pirates' Fourth Division is made up of Monster Hunters! Long before my family members were ever considered pirates, they were notorious Monster Hunters who took contracts to silence incredible beasts; beasts the likes of which you have never seen! Matter of fact, I'm on contract as we speak!"
The entire ocean began to quake and ripple. This time, even Hades, despite its gruesome size and immense stature, was being thrown asunder. Malvin's ship nearly became submerged under water when a large wall of water splashed against it; the boy's rifle slipped from his hands and he hit the deck, hard.
"Get outta here! Leave this to me!" Malvin shouted as a gash opened across the top of his head. The quaking became even more prominent, and a pillar of water shot up suddenly. Something was coming… and it seemed angry.
A deep bellow resounded over the horizon. From the waters emerged an enormous serpent with red scales shielding its body; the size of its skull alone was comparable to the entirety of Hades, a ship deemed suitable for even the largest of giants.
Bon fell back on his rump. "R-R-R-R-R-Run!!!!"
At the sight of the truly enormous Sea King lifting back its head, Vesper gritted his teeth. "Men, brace for impact!"
Merikh's eyes sparkled at the sight of the Brobdingnagian Sea King that had emerged from the depths. It was simply too adorable. He wanted to take it home with him, and name it Mr. Fish, but knew that outcome would be rather difficult to accomplish. So instead, he would have to settle for playing with the little guy; a suitable word to describe his intended actions, as he doubted that anyone here could even deal a mortal wound to the beast.
As Hades rocked from the waves it created, Merikh jumped up, performing a surprisingly graceful backflip, before landing further away from the edge he was standing on. Looking up at the frisky sea creature, he smiled inwardly. It's play time.
"You've got to be kidding me." Prometheus spoke, finally taking action. He stepped forwards, staring the beast down as he drew a throwing knife from his pouch, It shimmered as it was coated in black. He let out a breath feeling the wind as he aimed at the beast's eye, daggers and throwing knives were his specialty after all. As he held the knife he activated his devil fruit power removing the dullness from the blade. The very air around it began to fracture as it moved with his breathing. The blade of the knife was now absolutely sharp, clear of impurities and ready to pierce all in its path. He gripped the handle tightly before tossing it with all his might as it soared towards the beast's eye, cutting through the very air as it did.
The winds that whipped up as a result of the Sea King tucking in its head were greater than that of the throwing knife soaring through the skies. Still, it was an impressive feat; a normal blade would have been dispelled by the air pressure alone, but this particular knife --cleansed through the basis of Prometheus' powers-- managed to go well beyond that.
The knife thrashed against the Sea King's left nostril, yet failed to draw any blood. The scales and hide that made up this beast was remarkably tough; staring it in the eyes in and of itself was fighting a losing battle, but the dark masters could hardly let up yet, lest they be rendered food for the beast.
The Sea King's head came crackling down on the other ship, grinding it into several thousands of pieces instantaneously. Thankfully Malvin had managed to jump away in time, and rolled about after sprawling onto Hades' main deck.
The super rookie was on his feet in a matter of seconds, not even wasting a single ounce of breath over his lost ship. "There it is!" the Hatchling declared, "they call her the Pantheon of the Boffola Pentagon! She, alongside Zunisha, is one of very few beasts to be rated SSS by the World Government!
"If only my brothers were here! Darn it, I've tried calling big bro Circus so many times, but the call just won't go through!" Malvin's eyes grew weary with a subtle string of tears. "My brothers… they embarked for Permis days before I did. They were the ones assigned to take on this monster and yet… I haven't heard from them in days!"
"Hoy, if you're going to step foot onto my ship, then don't you dare underestimate him!" Vesper scolded immediately. He wasn't at all thrilled with Malvin's decree; so what if his brothers apparently lost their lives to this monster? There was nothing Hades couldn't conquer with all the artillery power it possessed! "There's no such creature in this world that Hades alone can't conquer!"
Vesper turned towards the rest of the dark masters, a crackling grin plastered across his face. "A shinobi always has a trick up his sleeve." In Vesper's case, there was a remote strapped around his forearm with various dials; clicking away at it with his fingertips, he orchestrated a mode change within the ship, a transformation which defied logic itself.
Gears grinded and shifted into place, until the ship changed drastically in appearance and became something of a floating tank. A number of cannons flung out in different directions, which all began to point in the direction of the pantheon with another click of Vesper's remote.
"Hades will provide all the cover we need… let's go crazy!!" And with that, Vesper took off, his skin replaced with feathers, wings bursting out from his back. He became a blur, transforming into his full zoan form and racing off toward the Sea King.
As Hades completed its transformation, Rhiannon perched herself upon the rail as she drew Nifhel into her grasp. Three arrows were seemingly notched within the blink of an eye before they were imbued with Busoshoku Haki. The expert marksmen then launched the three arrows simultaneously at the beast. The arrows traveled flawlessly throughout the sky, seemingly twisting and turning to the will of the huntress before they made there way to the crown of the serpent, seeking to end it then and there.
Coin measured the size of the sea monster. Yep. He couldn't really deal with this without using Rokuogan. Coin was much better at dealing with people then giant monsters. For the time being, he decided to stay back and watch the others. He wanted to use his devil fruit as little as possible, as he didn't want to give any hints to his other identity, besides the others seemed to have it covered.
Frida clasped her hands to her breasts as the ships rocked to and fro and a giant serpent-like beast sprouted from the waters like a terrible tree. She reached out to Tabart, who she was standing next to, and clasped his arm to provide stability for herself. Instinctively, she sprouted her rabbit legs, which began tapping wildly out of nervousness.
Tabart nodded. “Yeah, this seems like it’s going to be an issue. If we want to get him home, we’re gonna hafta defeat this thing,” he concocted aloud, yet obviously rhetorically. “But how? It’s huge.” He cupped his chin. “Oh, I know,” he mumbled. He turned his face towards Frida’s, their eyes locked for only a moment before the duo sprung into action.
She let go of his arm and buckled her knees. The ship withstood the force of her massive hind legs as she backflipped tens, if not almost hundreds, of feet into the air. Meanwhile, Tabart had slid backwards, planting his palms on the surface of the ship and injecting into the wood several seeds. “Mosa-Mosa no Mi, Trampoila!” Tabart enthusiastically yelled, clapping his hands together, the sound of his palms spurring the seeds into growth. They formulated into a dense system of trampoline-like plants, so elastic in properties that a simple step was enough to send anyone on it several feet into the air.
Frida’s frame came crashing down onto the surface of the trampoila, the sheer potential energy stored from her descent made visible as the trampoila nearly ripped from her landing. Tabart touched the surface of the plant, forcing his Busoshoku Haki into it as means of reinforcement. Yet, it was only a single moment before Frida was successfully launched into the air, surging above the sea with such speed that the kinetic energy morphed into a purple cloak of aura.
Frida ripped through the air with little resistance, ignoring the laws of physics as she traveled at dizzying speeds as a mass of purple energy. Within seconds, Frida had shifted her hands into paws that were promptly set ablaze due to the immense friction of the wind against her skin. Her body soared downwards towards the beast, and the ships below her seemed to grow larger as a result of her rapid descent.
Now little more than a mass of purple flames, Frida was now less than a yard away before the shadowy flames she had become shouted, "Bun-Bun-Mosa: Hot Hands!" Frida was on a dead-on path towards the beast, and it appeared that nothing predictable could possibly transpire from this series of events.
Veno Bomb after Veno Bomb was fired from Hades' many barrels, granting the primordial Sea King with a very minor margin of error, if at that. It twisted and turned its body to the best of its ability, but to no avail; because it was so large, there was simply no dodging all of them.
The Sea King's scales were a decent measure of defense against the detonations, but even they began to wither away when the sheer number increased several fold. This opened up an opportunity for the others to slip in and strike.
First and most upfront was Vesper, who swooped in overhead and distracted the Sea King further by being something of a pest. The apparent and so called Pantheon flailed its head in anger, unable to catch the crimson bird in its maw. And that was when out of seemingly nowhere, Frida landed a heavy blow unto the Sea King.
The beast cried aloud, Frida's paws delving straight through its massive nostrils. And while the damage had surely been dealt, the rabbit-ningen would find that her limbs, as a result, had been effectively glued down by the snot inside. And seeing the Sea King take in a breath, Sperius' eyes widened. But the famed Bounty Hunter made no attempt at concerning himself with the girl's potential downfall. No, knowing they had gravely angered the beast, he opted rather, to retreat.
With another powerful cry, the Sea King emanated a powerful sneeze, sending Frida --now trapped inside a glob of snot-- in the direction entirely opposite to the ship. She would continue to fly through the air, immobile as a result of the way the snot had imprisoned her, and be carried tens if not hundreds of meters away and onto Permis itself.
“Frida!!” Tabart screamed desperately. His eyes snapped into a malicious glare. “I wasn’t going to fight you, but it seems I have no choice now.” He looked up towards the Sea King. “You’re going to pay for hurting my fucking wife.”
There was no hesitation between his declaration and his next action. He dug his hands into his pockets, pulling seeds from within, and slammed them into the deck of the ship. He clapped his hands afterwards, causing the seeds to grow and expand into what seemed to be a forest of massive vines, that grew from the deck of Hades. Like sentient tendrils, they grew, tearing through the atmosphere towards the Sea King like torpedoes, wrapping around every inch of the beast that it could.
The beast groaned and shrieked. It tugged but a single time, pulling the Hades an inch closer towards it. The waves erupted from its desperation to free itself from Tabart’s grasp. It wriggled and squirmed violently. Yet, Tabart had no mercy. The fact that was moving, somehow pissed him off even more.
“Wasn’t enough huh?” Tabart inquired rhetorically, pulling another batch of seeds from his pocket, his fleet planted firmly on the rocking ship. Slamming the seeds onto the surface of the vines, they immediately erupted into a torrent of flames that surged upwards the vines towards the Sea King, using the vines as a mode of transportation to encapsulate the beast in an aura of flames And so it did, and as the demon of the seas howled in pain as its snotty flesh caught fire, Tabart stood on the surface of Hades bearing a smile befitting a man who believed he had succeeded in his vengeance.
Tabart's smile did not last for long. For the pain and agony the Giant Slayer had infused within the beast caused it to lash out with even greater anger. And as the primordial and supposed Pantheon appeared to finally be done in, all aboard Hades knew that it would most certainly go down swinging. And swing it did.
With strength befitting ten giants, the Sea King thrusted back its head, yanking the entirety of the vessel into the air. How Tabart's vines managed to remain intact was likely another one of the Giant Slayer's profound miracles, but the Sea King managed to heave all of Hades over its head and towards Permis.
The Dark Masters, each likely clinging to parts and pieces of Hades, could only do so much to remain aboard. The wind pressure proved far too formidable, and as they flew over Permis, they all scattered to different locations. In the distance, the Sea King with glistening red scales fell into the waters, the agony of defeat coursing its every scale.
Out of the Loop Edit
An arduous bellow is heard resounding in the middle of the town known as Arkala. Famed for its rich and diverse marketplace, Arkala was easily the most populated of Permis' towns, and yet --in fear of the plague-- not a soul was seen in sight. That is, save for two rather well anointed pirates: the bellower and his respective tamer.
"C-Circus-sama! P-Please settle down! This town can't fathom your sorrow any longer!" Came the nettle of the long nosed, beaty eyed Barney Kettle, who had departed from Coachella in search of the greater good. He dared not lay his hands upon his superior commander, though this was more so out of the fear of being scorched more than it was out of respect or anything else.
For there was a powerful surge of heat emanating from the tall and well built weeping man, that whipped up around the rest of Arkala and caused some nearby buildings made of whole brick to start melting. This man, known, feared, and respected across the New World by the name of Raptor D. Circus, was --alongside his twin brother-- none other than the co-commander of the Titan Pirates' Fourth Division and a prolific Monster Hunter, at that.
Long, silver hair fell down his backside and was tied up into an elongated bun, eyes red as the heat emanating from around him. He was shirtless, and yet fur the same color as his mane crept up around the bulk of his figure, tucking away into the sash and shitabaki he wore beneath.
Rather ironically, the wave of heat caused several documents and papers to flutter away, one such being Circus' respective bounty, alongside a few others. There was a wanted poster for many big name pirates, including Reach, Montblanc Burling, Veno, and Circus' own. Only Circus' could be read in time by Kettle before it --alongside the others-- withered away into smokes of fume. A tease as it were, in the short glimpse Kettle caught of the others, he deduced that each bounty was seemingly larger than Circus' own of 1,080,000,000.
"Wahh!!! Just a few days after losing Foxpack, I lose my own brother to that damn Pantheon!!" Circus burrowed his face into his hands. "Do you see now, Kettle?! This world isn't big enough for us both; monsters like that should never have existed in the first place!!"
As Circus' sorrow shambled, the heat was rather miraculously exchanged with a cold winter's breeze. As if by the command of the Raptor itself, the ground was frozen solid, and the many buildings that had been melting into puddles of liquid were suddenly encased in blocks of whole ice.
"Cone!! Come back to me, Cone!!" Circus weeped further, chanting the name of his lost twin.
"C-Circus-sama! Please, a guy like you shouldn't be saying such nasty things! Besides, I thought you and Cone-sama were always fighting for superiority over your division? N-Now that he's gone, aren't you happy to be fully in charge?" Kettle quickly caught his hat as it flew off the top of his head, and it was that moment that he crept up into the sky and saw something of a spectacle headed their way. The infamous slaver narrowed his eyes. Was that… a person?!
As the robed and near mummified figure of the Arch Thief fell further from the sky, Kettle casted up his hand and, summoning a gravitational force by way of his Devil Fruit power, safely lowered him to the ground beside them. Though he had been airborne until mere moments ago, Prometheus would have undoubtedly have heard every word bellowed by Circus.
Kettle slipped suddenly on the ice and fell back onto his rump. He eyed Prometheus suspiciously, as Circus began to settle down, only just a little bit. "Hoy, hoy, where the heck are you coming from?"
It had not been a great day for Prometheus. First he'd been hired to protect some broker for a pretty measly price, a waste of time but he'd at least get some money for it. Next they'd been attacked by a gigantic red scaled sea king and flung through the sky. Now here he was before two big shot pirates. Kettle was popping up in papers right and left, when Kettle was on the black market the two had work together a couple times.Circus on the other hand was a monster of the New World, his bounty in the billions.
"Thanks for the save there." Prometheus spoke nodding to kettle. "I suppose you don't recognize me but I'd say where about even now. It's me Prometheus." As he recalled the conversation he'd overheard from the sky he turned to Circus. "My associates and I just took down some red scaled sea king, it took down our ship but we killed it. I happened to overhear your conversation and I believe it was the same one that took your brother." He brushed off his clothes with his hands, getting the various splinters of wood and a couple pieces of scale off. "I haven't seen you in quite some time Kettle. Hows life been?"
Kettle took a hard look at Prometheus. Not that it would help, since he was pretty covered up and all, but at the very least, the thief's words helped stir up his memory some. And then, something in Kettle's mind snapped. "Oh! Yeah, yeah, I remember you! You were the guy I sold that fishman to way back in the day, right?"
This conversation appeared to pique Circus' interest. For the weeping man silenced his weeping and rose up his head from his hands. A fishman was sold?
Kettle snapped his fingers around, trying to recall the name of fishman. "What was his name again? Shit, I heard he managed to escape and become a pirate who made quite a name for himself under the Public Enemy! What was his name now…"
"It wouldn't happen to be Worden Luhr, would it?" The suddenly calm Circus professed.
"Oh right!" Kettle's eyes lit up. "That was him, right? Luhr! The great white! Y'know, I saw him not too long ago on Bedina, actually. I was about to grab him and fly off in one instance, but I guess seeing me brought him to remember some horrible memories and well, he swam away into the water on his own."
Kettle shook his head. "But, I'm not really doing any work like that anymore. You see, my heart's not quite the same as before."
"Nevermind all that," Circus interrupted once more, "what was it you said to me before? You and your 'associates' managed to defeat that Sea King? Preposterous!" The Monster Hunter within Circus was quite riled up. "The Pantheon is a triple S rated Monster on par with Zunisha! I know that because I've fought both with my own two-" Realizing he had said more than he should have in his fit of anger, Circus suddenly paused once, before continuing.
"Listen, don't get your panties in a bunch! My brother would never be eaten by a creature capable of defeat by your hands. That red scaled Sea King you took on with all your might… that was merely one of the Pantheon's many children!"
Circus lunged forward, grabbing Prometheus by his collar. He shouted into the thief's face, the large sum of coins tied to his own sash dangling around audibly. "I killed about five of those damn red scales with just my fucking fart! The Pantheon itself has black scales; did you hear me? It has black scales!"
Kettle merely ducked his head, observing the ground as his superior yelled rather unnecessarily. What could he do other than that? Circus had an issue with anyone who talked back to him, which was a huge reason why him and Cone were always butting heads so often.
The large sum of coins continued to dangle about within Circus' sash, tucked away beside his Den Den Mushi. For a thief of Prometheus --no, Lupin's caliber, the distraction Circus' fit of anger molded was far too good an opportunity to let slip by.
"Oh yes Luhr, quite the feisty one. He escaped after a while. Never was entertaining though so I didn't really have a point in getting him back." Prometheus shrugged. "Nice to know he's still his same old self." He grinned under his mask and as he was about to bring up another point with Kettle he was cut off by the screams of Circus. It was interesting to hear his tale to say the least and the information was helpful. Prometheus just wished it was at a lower decibel.
"Listen I was just attempting to be helpful there's not need to.." The last part of his attempt to calm Circus down was drowned out by another scream and a hands grasping his collar. Daring to touch him was the last straw, though a fight right now was hardly of his concern it was virtually meaningless to his goal. However the sound of jangling money was appealing. "Might as well rob him if he's going to get handsy with me." His left arm quickly snaked into the man's sash gripping the bag and another hard objects as it pulled them stealthy out and into Prometheus' own large robes. At the same time his other hand made contact with Circus' arm. "Please let go of me." He spoke, the words and physical contact to draw his senses away from the theft. Circus would feel his hands completely lose their grip as Prometheus slipped from them.
As his feet touched the dirt he hopped back, away from Circus. "Please try not to place your hands on me again." He glared at Circus. "Thank you for the information though. Pantheon is the black scaled one."
Circus had no idea that he had been robbed. Even Kettle didn't take any notice of it. Circus himself was more focused on how easily Prometheus had managed to slip away from his grasp, almost as if something about his own hand had gone missing.
Just as Circus was ready to retaliate further, the squabble of a walking fish and his equally cloaked companion captured his immediate attention. "Come on, Damon! I think I heard someone talking about Luhr coming from this way."
As the two cloaked individuals made their entrance unto the ring of ice, Prometheus vanished without bringing much attention to himself. One of the cloaked men came closer and, upon gaining his balance over the ice, brought down his hood with both fins. It was Apu of the four horsemen!
"Apu?!" Kettle said in surprise. He slid towards the fishman and welcomed him with a embrace. "What're you doing here?"
"Kettle-sama! Fancy seeing you here!" Apu returned the formal greeting with a joyous smile. "I came here with the rest of the horsemen at Tabart's request. Seems there is some Xros Pirate activity around these parts. Any luck locating Burling-sama?"
"Oh, I see! No, unfortunately I have yet to find any such trail on him." Kettle frowned. "This is second island I've been to now since leaving Coachella."
Circus eyed Apu with an irritated expression. "Out of the kitchen are we, Fishboy?"
Apu in turn fixed his gaze upon the larger Circus. He refrained from saying much of anything. Why bother? It was no secret to the ranks of the Titan Pirates that there existed a great deal of conflict between the fourth and fifth divisions of the crew.
The Fourth Division was full of Monster Hunters who brought home tons of meat from the beasts they slaughtered for the Fifth Division to cook up. Beyond that, it was the Fifth Division's immediate duty to fill the stomach's of the rest of the crew; the Fourth Division had such notorious Monster Hunters within it that most of the cooking the Fifth Division did revolved around feeding them.
In short, the 4th were the hunters, the 5th the gatherers. Circus didn't see Apu as much more than his cook who he often bossed around. Recalling how great a pastry chef Foxpack had been, tears returned to Circus' eyes. "Oh, who will bake such scrumptious cupcakes now that Foxpack has bit the dust?!" He plunged his face back into his hands, his sorrow causing him to disregard the Haki of a fellow comrade he felt on the other half of Permis.
"Damon, right?" Kettle said, looking toward the other cloaked man. The two had met on Coachella briefly before Kettle had set off to search for Burling.
Having walked alongside Apu, Damon nodded and nodded each time his friend finished a sentence, acknowledging all of it. The Titan Pirates were certainly story-tellers, just like Foxpack- Damon's lips curved down, his entire focus being thrown into not crying. His mind let it go with each passing second and arriving to find Barney Kettle of all people, alongside a behemoth, helped it even more.
Yet, Damon's mind completely forgot the sorrow once Circus directed words at Apu, "Woah." His eyes widened, was this man another close friend of Apu's? Sweet! That would be another friend for him. What had been strange though, was neither of them exchanging further words. Clutching his cloak, Damon swiftly removed it, revealing that he was on his human form, and was about to make another comment.
Foxpack. Damon's eyes went teary once again, his mouth twisting into waves.
However, Kettle's greeting flew and slapped that out of his face, "Oh, you are the Pinochio Titan, granted you don't seem to lie. Wassup!" He waved a hand around and smiled, this should do it for then, grieving wouldn't do much.
Pinocchio?! Kettle became a little self conscious, tapping his elongated nose with his index finger. Wait a second… just what was he feeling so bad about, anyway?! He had fucked plenty of bad bitches with just his nose alone! "Good to see you too, Damon! It's nice to have you guys around here for backup in case things get a little out of hand like on Bedina. If the Xros Pirates are around, we could definitely use your help."
Circus' eyes ran up and down Damon's figure. "Ah. So you're the rookie everyone's talking about, hm? I heard you defeated that big ol' cat Mengis all by yourself. That's quite impressive, actually." Circus' observant eye became fluff with admiration. "Hey, do you cook by any chance? With Foxpack gone, we need someone to take his place as vice captain of the Fifth Division. Since you defeated Mengis, I'd say you're definitely stronger than he ever was, even at his best."
Apu and Kettle, as both members of the Fifth Division, looked at each other in disarray. Not that they had any issues with becoming subordinates to Damon; on the contrary, they weren't all that fond of Circus making so light of Foxpack's death all of a sudden. It almost seemed… disrespectful to consider a replacement for him so soon.
"I hope to hold true to that," Damon arched an eyebrow up, "Do I need to paint the ground najeem-colored again?" Both he and Tabart, actually. He took to glancing around, eyes flashing red for but a second, no arrogance detected for that moment.
Feeling Circus' stare upon his being, Damon took to look at him too, "Um, yeah, but, then again there is also Soen, Brobart, and Fishbro right here." He counted on his fingers, smile growing as their faces flashed by his mind. "Again that story?" Damon cowered, it reached even this place... if it reached this place, then... "Damn guys, I didn't beat Tigger!" Just who wrote these newspapers? Mengis was getting the bad side of this.
Damon scratched the back of his head with a nervous sigh, "You're Circus-san, right? Right." His eyes widened at the subsequent question, "Yeah... I do with my abilities, it comes in handy- Um, even so-" His hand tightened into a fist, shaking as its veins popped out. Replacement. He was sure if he even said anything, this man would jump at him and his spine would get to go back to heaven.
No, that was not it... The other two around him were clearly bothered by these words, Apu had been way before. His feelings were last on the line, Damon couldn't let this go on, "I don't think Foxpack is replaceable!! Ever, look around for new people, not replacements, C-Circus-san!" He flashed a wide smile and a thumbs-up. "Now, where is everyone?! Whoop whopp, everyone hiding as if we are playing some death-matched-hide-and-seek?"
"Whoop… whopp?" Damon was suddenly being a nuisance. Circus' hand flailed back instinctively, and he was forced to catch it with his other hand so as to diminish his sudden urge to swatt the boy like a fly. "Whoop… whopp," Circus repeated, yet again.
"I see, well whatever. So long as you know how to bake cupcakes, I couldn't care what position you take. As for why this town is so deserted..." For a moment, Circus' tongue flickered around outside his mouth. The word 'deserted' had made him think even more about savoring cupcakes as dessert. But he fought through his salivation to proceed. "From what I hear, there is some fear of a looming 'plague'. Citizens all across the island have kept themselves locked behind closed doors as a result. I myself am not too sure just what it is. All I do know is that in the week I've been here battling the Pantheon, I haven't so much as coughed nor sneezed."
"Right." Kettle nodded. "As much as I'd like to stick around, I have to get back to searching, you guys. I think I'm going to try my luck on the other half of the island." The long nosed man turned to Circus. "Hoy, Circus-sama, if it's not too much to ask, do you think you could find a single climate for the island and stick with it? It'll be hard to fly around with all the sudden changes in the wind."
Circus waved his hand dismissively. "Yeah, yeah, alright. Just get going already."
Kettle took off with another nod, flying up high into the skies.
With that, Circus turned his attention almost exclusively to Damon, directing his index finger around as he spoke. "Tell you what, Damon. I've taken a very sudden liking to you. So I'll let you choose whatever climate you want, and I'll revert this whole island to exactly that right before your eyes. You see, after eating the Kish Kish no Mi, I became a Climate Ningen. From the temperature of this here land all the way to its immediate environment, I control it all.
"Before I got here, this island was covered in snow. And while I like snow and all, the Pantheon likes it even more. As a Monster Hunter, it's important to know what climate a beast thrives in. Altering that climate and forcing the beast to adapt renders it very uncomfortable which, believe me, is very advantageous."
"RUNBITCHRUN." Some voice yelled within Damon's mind, it sounded oddly like his own, he poked a finger into his ear, it made his fist untighten. "Oh, I do," He pointed at Circus with his wax finger, finally he would get to show off his cooking skills. Mariel hadn't let in Ishitani, Apu didn't let him, even the woman who was Tabart's wife, Ashley, he remembered, didn't let him.
He really needed to cook sometime soon. Maybe when Soren would be back, they still hadn't caught up, but, Damon would distract himself with Circus. Apu was still oddly quiet, he offered a glance at the fish and turned to Circus.
"Plague..." Damon cupped his chin, lips arching down, hadn't something similar befallen Asha at some point? He really didn't know these things worked, there was nothing to compare it to, that wasn't good. Where were Soren to explain these complicated matters?
"Affecting the whole island..." He uttered, looking at the flying Kettle, "Damn, dude has the whole package, pinochio's nose, the neverlands' flight-" Damon's head whipped around, attention yet again drawn to Circus.
Climate? How that even worked? "Oh," Damon's mouth and eyes went spherical, he too liked snow, that was a good excuse, but, his mind had other ideas, "L-Like Elsa?! Damn, nice! Make it rain fire-" An image of an exploding Soren came to him, "-Wait, no, no!" Damon waved his palms, "MAKE IT RAIN VEGETABLES!" He shot a thumbs-up. "People will get cured in no time," He nodded.
Rain vegetables? VEGETABLES?!
The urge to slap Damon was now tremendous. But someway… somehow… Circus found it within himself to suppress that urge. He was an idiot on par with that weird Katashi guy. Circus decided that he was no longer going to leave it up to Damon to choose the climate.
"Alright y'know what, nevermind, kid. It's gonna stay nice and hot." A warm wisp of air escaped the man's legs, and the ice around him began to melt. But that wasn't all; due to the sudden change in temperature, a deep fog formed all around the town.
And when the fog finally dissipated, well, Circus was gone.
Damon stared at Circus throughout the whole ordeal, his own body maintaining its stillness, "Sure." He shrugged at the proposition, fists hidden with his crossed arms and boiling like he had some fire power, though they were quickly uncovered. Damon shielded his mouth, coughing with the sudden mist, and approached Apu.
Arms waved around, Damon looked to all sides. Upon deeming that Circus was truly gone, Damon released a long breath, "GRAAAAAAAH!" Veins suddenly appeared throughout his frame, his teeth grinded against one another, no reason to contain it all then.
Turning to Apu, Damon couldn't contain his yelling, "FUCKING HELL MAN!! HOW DO YOU PUT UP WITH THIS GUY?!" He pointed at nowhere in particular, stomping repeatedly against the ice. "Speaking about Foxpack as if he were his pet! As if you he were justa' cook!!" Damon clutched his own fists, head bouncing up and down while steam left his head.
He didn't care if they were just words, his anger had been tested for quite some time now, "AAAAAAAAH!" Damon kicked the ice, creating cracks in a small part of it. Though, as he did so, his eyes went red again, scanning if Circus was still in the vicinity. His mind read the entirety of the island, finding a multitude of auras.
Eviction Notice Edit
The fear of a plague had reached as far as Bellmare, Permis' premier port town. The city covered in trees bordered along the two sides of the island, neighboring the outskirts leading up to the Panther Jungle. Even in lieu of the plague, this jungle was a place very few dared tread into, due to the vast array of creatures that made their homes there. But beyond the epidemic and beastilia, there was also a rumor that one such ghost made its home within the jungle. Whether this was true or simply a myth, well, no one really knew for sure.
For the most part, the streets comprising Bellmare were as bare as an infant's bum, which was odd, given the nature of the city's purpose. Normally there were many ships coming in and out from here, as well as coastguards who armed the island's borders. But over the last several weeks, no one had bothered to come in, nor go out. Fearers of the plague of course had attempted to leave, but the Pantheon was awaiting them overseas, meaning they had such little choice in the way of what to do.
In Bellmare's town square, there was a single metallic cage assembled into the form of a cube. With prison bars set all around, the form of a human-sized chicken could be seen inside. Wings clutching the bars, the Chicken Man was doing his very best to rattle the metal and make as much noise as possible; in the past few days, he accomplished exactly this in the hopes of being set free.
Bizarre rings were strapped around the Chicken Man's neck, wrists and ankles, emanating a power opposite to any sea stone. The man was akin to Bellmare's prime exhibition; normally people paid good money to see him inside that cage, but ever since the plague came about and all those people fled, well, they left the Chicken Man behind and forgot to free him!
"Hoy!!! Come on, wake up lad!! Lemme outta here!!" The Chicken Man cucked, banging his beak against the bars that contained him. He eyed the figure of an unconscious man with deadly pale skin, who had fallen from the sky and landed on his backside a few meters away. Chicken Man didn't expect him to be alive, but it was the closest he had come to human interaction in whole days.
As grave a phenomenon as the Chicken Man was, there was a nearby landmark that exceeded even him. For there was an entire ship hanging upside down and being balanced by its mast against a thin light pole! The ship remained perfectly still at that, without giving up a trace of crookedness nor allowing any indication that it might collapse.
The Undertaker of the underworld appeared to be broken. Having been sent flying due to the fishy's playful attitude, he landed pretty rough. He had crashed back first into a light post, with his spine snapping as he folded around the post, before getting flung to the ground with the momentum, smashing his head into the ground before he rolled onto his back. Here he laid, the dead body of Merikh the Undertaker. Though, to be fair, he had been dead for many years now.
A cloaked figure was one of the only people to be walking through the town, almost as if it was unaware of the problems plaguing the town. His steps echoed along empty streets, the thud of each one belying the weight they carried. A large figure, easily seven feet tall. It walked along without stopping, without an apparent destination in sight. It merely wandered, whether lost or looking no one could tell.
The figure kept moving through town until it came across an unusual sight. A man, broken in half by some force lay dead on the ground, while another, a chicken of some variety was locked in a cage. Then there was a ship, resting upon its mast, yet strangely not falling over. The figure paused for a moment as it took in the scene before speeding up, checking first the dead man, seeing his body broken and beaten by the force of the impact. Unfortunately, nothing could be done for him.
But the chicken, calling out for help. That could be saved.
The cloaked figure quickly moved over towards the caged Chicken man. In a deep voice, the cloaked man assured the Chicken Man by exclaiming, "Don't worry Mr. Chicken Man, I will free you. Free Range Chickens are the Best Chickens."
He drew his hand back, allowing his cloak to slide down his arm as he raised it up and behind him. A flash of light could be seen as he slashed his hand down on the cage. Metal shrieked upon metal as his hand flew across the bars. However by the time his hand cleared the bars, they stood firm, several claw marks etched down them. These bars were clearly stronger than normal steel.
The cloaked man stared the Chicken straight in the eye for a moment before simply station, "Duck."
The cloaked man twisted, dragging his leg across the ground, the stone street furrowing underneath him. A bladed leg could be seen protruding from the cloak as the made it full circle and the man drew his leg of bladed steel off the ground and towards the cage.
This time durable metal bars groaned and shrieked as they gave way, the entire top of the metal cage leaping free from the bars as they were all cut in a single strike only to fall to the ground a short distance away.
The cloaked man's face could be seen clearly now, the force of his strike having lifted his hood off his head.
"Supa Slicer," Katashi quietly said as his leg settled back down. "Be free Mr. Chicken Man."
Free at last; the air never tasted so grand!! The Chicken Man leaped up and out from his cage and rushed towards Katashi, bowing his head in sheer gratitude. "Oh, my savior! Thank you, thank you so much!!" His beak fiddling about Katashi's shoes, he wasted little time in kissing his feet several times over. "You have no idea just how afraid I was! Oh goodness, how might I ever repay you?"
Then suddenly, the Chicken Man backed away and eyed Katashi very suspiciously. "Wait, hold on a second!" Just in case, the Chicken Man started spitting repeatedly, as if it would enable him to unkiss Katashi's shoes. "You're not affected by the plague, are you?!" Trusting anyone, savior or not, was really hard at a time like this. "Pull up your shirt! I want to see with my own eyes that you don't have those red marks all over your stomach!"
"Hold it right there." A voice spoke before Katashi had a chance to act on it, footsteps were heard approaching them as a long blonde hair girl calmly approached them. She was wearing a purple style outfit with a marine coat overcoat. "Katashi I am Marine Captain Tiger D. Kara and you are under arrest, come along quietly." She demanded as she glared at him with eyes as sharp as daggers. Kara was a recent transfer to the G-6 base and not long after arriving her latest mission was standing before her
"No, I don't want to, and see, no plague," Katashi said as he lifted his shirt to show abs free of plague, ignoring the Marine for the moment. "You marines act all high and mighty and arrest people like you think it's your job or something."
He then thought for a moment before asking the chicken man and the Marine. "Have either of you two seen a man about this tall, purple hair, dressed like he's from a desert and makes really good broccoli wandering about?" He held his hand at about 6 inches shorter than Tabart's height as he asked his question. "He's missing and maybe on this island somewhere." It would be obvious to both of the other people in the plaza that his body was tensed slightly. He may not feel threatened by the marine, but he wasn't dumb enough to ignore her completely.y.
Meanwhile, atop a nearby roof, a man of large build sat watching the trio of beings converse. He had his hand cuffed around his mouth, while the other held a lighter against a cigar as though he were in the middle of lighting it, but his emerald gaze was locked onto the man covered in the silhouette cloak.
"Now boy," the man hissed, flicking the lighter's fork but instead of getting the flame he hoped for he received nothing but sparks. "my momma' always told me," he paused trying to flick the lighter once again but he failed once more, "you can't always get what you want, it's about what you neeeeeed." The final word of the sentence rolled off his tongue as a soft tune.
He leaped from the building and landed a bit of a distance away from Katashi, yet at the same time his own seven foot five figure stood over Katashi at his distance. He wore a Marine coat which hung over his shoulders, only a justification of who'd he been sided with. Cigar Rette, a G-6 native, had been accompanying Kara in her arrest.
For the time being, while he may have seemed to be interested in the current situation, his mind was moreso bent on lighting the cigar resting in his mouth. So, once again, he flicked at the fork once more and finally he got the flame he hoped for. "But luckily for yo ass, Katashi." Rette inhaled on the cigar and his body thinned up a bit, giving the man an extra two inches as he held the smoke in. "The only "Bouncin'" you gone be doin', is inside of base's cell."
Rette exhaled the smoke and a thick cloud covered the area between the two, yet the four individuals standing there could see perfectly. "And you take that how you wanna'."
Chicken Man's eyes widened at the revelation of Katashi's origins. So he was a pirate?! Pirates, plagued or not, weren't saviours the last time he checked. Maybe he planned to turn him into a nice ol' bucket of fried wings?!
"I-I swear! I have nothing to do with him! Please just... just leave me outta this!" The Chicken Man covered his face with his wings and attempted to run away and out of the way of the what he assumed was a fight moments away from breaking out.
"What are you doing Rette? You know what this man is capable of. You should have stayed out of this while you were safe." Kara said to Rettes dramatic entrance while still keeping her eye on her enemy.
"Run Sir Chicken Man, they shall not hurt you," Katashi said as he turned to face the marines. There were two of now. He knew marines were tricky, but they were multiplying like rabbits.
Marines multiply like rabbits... Fluer is also a rabbit. Fluer might be a marine... questions for later. He thought to himself as he pondered the situation.
"I don't think you are going to leave if I say I take that as you saying you're going to leave right? I don't have time for you." Katashi said as he threw his cloak off, revealing his exquisitely muscular body. He'd rather not fight the pair, but the odds of not one but two marines letting him leave quietly was low.
He settled down on bended knees as he brought his hands up as a guard. He was ready for a fight.
Rette lifted a brow at Kara while taking another puff from his cigar. His emerald gaze went past Katashi and locked onto Kara, who at this current moment of time, had been speaking recklessly.
"You know what, Zara?" Rette dropped to his rear, crossed his legs and continued to smoke from his cigar. "Do ya thang, I'll sit right here and watch you single-handedly arrest this man. He beats you, then so be it, imma' let his ass leave since you wanna be cocky and shit." The man was as serious as a heart attack.
"And when he beatin' yo ass, bitch don't call my name." He ended, releasing another one of his large clouds of smoke and his eyes showed signs of insomnia.
Kara began to grow frustrated with Rette's attitude combined with his senseless act of ignoring his duties as a marine and letting her deal with it all alone, that just kept growing the more he talked until she became so furious that that a large vain pop onto her head symbolizing her anger. She tried to channel her anger so as not to lose her cool and flip out on a fellow marine and was trying too hard she was struggling so much that she began trembling. "errrghhhh." She focused her eyes back on Katashi. "Now come along quietly!" She shouted, her tone was more furious then normal, almost as if she was letting out her anger on the man before her. She raised her arm out and waved her hand up as electrical sparks emanating from her hand.
The waving of her hand was the activation of her power, as Katashi had his guard up, focusing soul on the people in front of him, the metal bars beneath Katashi's feet that had cut off leaped off the ground in order to attach itself onto his arms, bending itself to wrap itself around his arms and then force them to cling to each other on the others arms in an attempt to restrain him.
While a few of the metal bars were becoming his special set of handcuffs the remaining bars that had been cut off attracted to Kara and hovered above her. A total of three remained hovering above her, waiting for their next use. With her other arm she roughly pitched her arm forward, launching the remaining bars at him at the speed of a cannonball in an attempt to strike him down before he has a chance to resist.
Katashi moved at the same time Kara did, crouching lower as he brought his right arm back beneath him. His fingers hardened and sharpened as they touched the ground. He ripped his hand upwards, the claws of steel furrowing the ground as waves of sharpened air leapt from his hand, carving trenches through the city street as they raced through the street to tear the Marine asunder.
This left his hands apart as Kara's restraints clamped upon his wrists. Katashi could feel a great force trying to pull his wrists together, to bind him against his will for his arrest. Magnets were powerful, and Katashi had no idea how they worked. His hands slowly were pulled together, as if a giant was pushing them together.
But if there was one thing Katashi had in spades, it was strength. Pure, unadulterated, strength. His muscles bulged slightly as he pushed against the restraints. Despite the massive force pulling against them, his arms slowly pushed themselves farther apart as Katashi stood back up to his full height.
A thousand blades could be seen forming from him, every surface of his body becoming blade and steel. The metal bars shattered as they rammed into him, breaking into a dozen pieces as they bounced off his body, a walking behemoth of bulging blades. Many thought Katashi was known as Bouncing for his personality or the way he bounced from place to place as he moved around the battlefield. But the real reason he was known as Bouncing Katashi was the way that everything bounced off his body even as the Marines poured more fire into him. He was a Fullybody Bladed Human, eater of the Supa Supa no Mi.
Katashi's arms turned black as they twisted into blades, the shackles shrieking and groaning as they were warped around his arms before with a snap, they were cut in twain. They remained upon his wrists for the moment, but they were no longer long enough to bind him.
Katashi then gave a wordless bellow as he charged forward, bladed arm forward to run the woman through in a single strike.
"SUPA BONING KNIFE!"
Kara reeled her right arm across her left side and clenched her hand into a fist. Once the slicing airwave vastly approached her, she released her arm into a backhand swing and released a shock wave from her hand straight before she struck the airwave. This use of Eight-Impact Fist clashed with the slicing slash attack. "Ugrrrrr" Although it was a great struggle to endure the attack that it managed to drag her back several feet before she was eventually able to cancel the attack by bashing it away.
"Where did that attack come from?" She thought to herself after recovering. She placed her focus back at Katashi just as he busted free from his restraints. She was shocked by the incredible ounce of strength this man possesses. "Ugh! His brute force is incredible." He charged at her with blades all around his body. "Those are blades on his arm." She thought to herself before realizing how close he had gotten. She leapt back to gain a few more seconds of distance, just before the bladed arm came mere inches from her, his arm stopped. Using her magnetic force from her hand that was quickly held out to preventing his metal arm from reaching. She moved her arm from facing Katashi's arm to facing his body. "Repel" She thrust her hand forward causing the magnetic force to push again Katashi's metal body resulting in him getting repelled away with incredible force that he was shot away like a bullet. "So your Devil Fruit is the ability to turn your body into metal blades, not a good match up with my magnetic charm." She grind.
Katashi had no idea what caused him to be shot backwards. He didn't think the small woman had the power to repel him like that. He hadn't felt a hit bounce off of his body either. He hit the pavement hard, skidding for a few moments before he pushed himself off the ground, bouncing off the ground to reorient himself.
He used the momentum of the shot to his own advantage, however. He twisted in mid-air as he flew backwards, air collapsing along his bladed leg as he rotated. He kicked out, blades of force once again leaping away from his body. However, this one was far larger than the minor ones made by his fingers. A blade of sharpened air, similar to the Marine technique of Ranyaku, shot out to slice the Marine in two. It easily dwarfed her at twice her size. The momentum of her shooting him away plus his own immense strength combined to make a flying slash of great power.
But he wasn't done yet either. As his feet hit the ground nearly two hundred feet on the other side of the square, he slid across the ground, sparks flying as metal sliced across stone. He wound up near an edge of one of the buildings, a decorative log marking the corner of the structure.
He grabbed the log, pulling it off with the last of his rearwards momentum.
"If metal won't work, I hit you with NOT METAL!" He yelled as his muscles bulged further. His poor shirt, already stretched due to his size, was ripped asunder as his pectorals became more than it could contain. Various stones fell across the edge of the street as they were ripped off with the log Katashi was grabbing, a few bouncing off his steel body without effect.
Katashi raised the log over his head as he raised his arm to throw it. Then he stepped forward with such strength that the street cracked beneath him. The log roared towards Kara as a brown blur, propelled by Katashi's brute power and a lifetime of extreme physical training. He aimed it dead center on the woman, aiming to pierce it through her chest with a single impact.
Then he paused, watching to see how she'd react to this.
Kara kept track of both attacks with the assistance of her Observation Haki, relying on its ability to detect incoming attacks before they happen to watch over them despite their speeds in order to find the best possible scenario.
She raised her arms out and clapped her fists together releasing an explosive wall of shockwaves with the Eight Impact Fist, a much stronger wave compared to the last with the combination of both limbs put together in order to cancel out his slash attack like before. She was able to hold off before it was able to push her back and dispersed it.
Without giving herself time to recuperate, she braced herself for the next challenge. "This one's too fast!" She said just as the log was only feet away. "Eight Impact Fist!" She quickly reeled one arm back. "Dragon Buster!" She called thrusting her fist as it collided into the speeding log. The force of the impact sent shockwaves across the land and resulted in a large burst that sent Kara flying back while at the same time destroying the log. "Ugh!" The arm she used was severally damaged mainly the spot on the hand where it impacted the log. She struggled to get up and glared at Katashi. "Huhuh. This guy is a fool, but there's nothing foolish about his power." She looked at him with an unwavering glare. "He's a real monster."
Katashi watched the woman take his attack and then fail to counterattack afterwards. He wasn't sure why she didn't, so he decided to take advantage of it anyways.
Katashi swung his hands across the sky, again and again, pointing them at the woman. To many, this would do nothing, but to Katashi his bladed fingers allowed his hands to reach much further.
A hail of sharp slashes struck the area in front of him, many of them cutting into things indiscriminately. However, the majority of them flew true, aiming to cut the smaller woman into ribbons with dozens if blades of air.
As soon as he launched his attack Kara, lifted her arm forward with her hand out, almost like she was attempting to grab something in the air. With her powers, she magnetically Katashi up a few inches off the ground. "Attract." She caused his metallic body to become reeled in by her magnetic attraction with an incredible force very similar to her Repel that she used earlier, having him get flung into his own hail of slash he used to attack in order to dispose of them before they could reach her while also having him take the damage.
He continued to get pulled in as he came flying directly at her. She reeled back her other hand, bracing herself to attack. As he was coming in, showing no signs of slowing down or stopping, almost about to crash right into her, she threw her punch into him releasing Eight-Impact Fist shockwaves from her fist. The shockwaves would be colliding with the ringing of steel made from Katashi's body, amplifying the attack greatly.
The slashes dinged off of Katashi's body without doing much damage, the lack of Haki infused into them meaning they couldn't bypass the durability of his body. A series of plings could be heard from the impacts.
Katashi didn't even try to block the attack about to his midsection. He trusted his body to allow him to weather any storm. This wasn't the sniper from before that could shoot through his armour and Haki. This was just some Marine captain.
Instead, he started to clap his hands together on Kara from both sides, using the fact his arms were longer than the woman's to his advantage. His fingers were steel claws, jagged and wicked sharp. He aimed to pierce her sides with his claws, killing her in a single strike. She could step into Katashi, betting it all on that one strike taking him down before his arms wrapped around her and sliced her in two. Or she could back off, losing her attack in favour of saving her own skin. So she had a choice to make, and only an instant to make it. After all, this Titan wasn't backing down.
What resulted from Katashi's attack, however, was not at all what he would have expected. Perhaps he had secured victory over the Marine Captain in that moment; or perhaps Kara instead had unveiled something of her own from up her sleeve. Whatever may have occurred, only one thing was known for certain: that darn Rette truly didn't intend on intervening.
Shattered pieces of glass scattered across the ground. A clear, milky white substance spilled all over, drenching Katashi and Kara both. This had been Katashi's doing; for what stood before him and the marine was a man even larger than him, holding a now broken glass bottle of sake in one hand.
"Aray ray ray… what's all this commotion about?" The man was large and bulky, very much so. An untamed beard sat around the edge of his hard face, hair slicked back and cuffed around his nape. A feathered haul was stuffed along his shoulders, sprouting from an open waist jacket made of spotted pink fur. His offhand was imbued with Haki, and as he reached up to lick the sake off his elbow, he dispelled the blackness all at once.
"That was quite the impressive attack you made there. But if there's anything this island hates most, it's definitely marines and pirates making a war zone out of their senseless bickering." He shook off the arm, which had been trembling as a result of its head-on collision with Katashi.
From behind his safety, Chicken Man's eyes lit up. "Gulan the Jungle Beast! You've come to save the day, I knew you would!" He would have squawked out from there and kissed Gulan's feet, but he still had an uneasy feeling about all of this.
Dismissing Chicken Man's praise with a single glance, Gulan's eyes crept up further, settling upon Rette. "And you, I can tell from your spirit that you didn't intend on helping your own comrade. How rude." He shook his head, looking between pirate and marine. "Look, I'm sure the two of you have your differences in mind. But at the very least, could I ask that you take your fight off of this island? There are far more pressing matters at hand."
Gulan kneeled down, gathering the broken shards of the sake bottle into the palms of his hand; they were truly large enough to compile every shard like a dustpan. He didn't intend on threatening them either. The so-called 'Jungle Beast' had made it quite evident that should they opt to continue… he would be joining their little scuffle against his own will.
After the sudden arrival of the strange man, Kara reeled back her arm. "And just who might you be?" She asked, wanting to know more about this unknown man than just his name. "Some kind of protector of this island?"
Rette could sense the approachment of another individual, but intentionally he hesitated. The man reached where he “wanted” to be and finally spoke out to the trio, he had words directed at nearly all three of the individuals, but those for Rette and Kara seemed to be a bit more… direct.
“Ya’ sure is right.” he responded, inhaling on his cigar but holding the smoke in. She wanted ta’ be arrogant, those ain’t tha’ type of comrades I can work well with. But I guess it is rude, ya’.” Rette stood to his feet, the first time he’d done so in this entire battle.
Once more, he inhaled on the cigar and rubbed along the side of it. The man truly was in love with the substance rolled inside of it. He snapped his fingers a total of four times “Gulan, Gulan the Jungle Beast. Mulan, Mu-lan. I don’t know where I heard tha’ name before, or if I’ve ever heard it. But,” he finally released the smoke from his mouth, but it had been far less than what one would have thought to come from his two large inhalings. “What exactly, is more pressin’?”
Katashi just looked up at the new person, staring for a moment before stating with a shrug. "I have better things to do than fight anyways." His bladed body gradually turned back to flesh, it's sharpened edges no longer needed. Katashi turned fully towards the larger man before mentioning "Take good care of chicken man, he safe now. Also have you seen a small purple man who makes good broccoli? Trying to find him. And possibly marine rabbit woman. Not sure yet there." He then paused for a moment before saying to Rette, "Assume plague more important issue."
Merikh’s ears perked up for a moment. Don't I know a small purple man, and possibly a Marine rabbit woman? he pondered to himself. Oh yeah, on the boat meant to carry dead babies. There was a rabbit woman who punched a hole in Mr Fishy… wait did that actually happen?
Unsure about the continuity, the dead man rose, sitting straight up from his prone position despite his shattered spine. Grabbing hold of Lady Maria, he made his way over to the group of people, dragging her as he walked. He wasn't sure about the quality of his broccoli, but the purple man he saw certainly was small.
Upper body unsteady, flopping from side to side around the pivot of his broken back, he ignored the Marines and the jungle man, instead only focusing on the muscled man as he approached. Daunted from his previous attempt at talking, he instead reached his soul out to Katashi, communicating directly with the man. He showed him images of the two that Merikh saw on the ship with him, adding an air of questioning, asking if they were who he was looking for. He then also threw in a quick request for any milk, if available, at the end.
Katashi was confused for a moment when a voice randomly started speaking in his head. At first, he thought he was randomly thinking about things, and he remembered that lecture again.
"Well random voice in head, those the people I am looking for. I just don't know where they are. Probably should ask people who live here where to get milk. They know, probably. Unless there is no milk, but I can't help that either." Katashi said to himself as he scratched his head. "Now I miss Sir Foxy-Vice-Commander..."
At this point, he heard the shuffling before turning to look at the man walking for him. The corpse from before was walking. The dead corpse... The dead person was walking... The undead apocalypse was here.
Katashi moved, sprinting away in terror from the zombie as fast as he could while shouting, "EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF, IT'S A GHOOOOOOOOOOOOST!"
Protector of this land? No, that was General Konomi's duty. And on that note, Gulan had a sudden urge to dismiss himself from the situation. Reaching at Kara's feet as he collected the remainder of the shards of the broken glass into his enormous hands, Gulan addressed the marine's curiosity. "Consider me nothing more than a friend from the forest that makes up this island's other half. Permis is my home; and so long as father remains, I too shall never venture any farther past it."
As much as the jungle man would have liked to stick around and chat, father was having a guest over and so he needed to head back with a complimentary drink in hand. And not just any old amount would do, at least from what father had said; father's guest was a courageous marine who liked to drink until the next year.
"Pardon me, but I must get going." Gulan stepped away, then turned back to address the group and the zombie man one last time. "Please, take good care of yourselves. And be considerate of the land you're on; father considers it holy." Cupping his hands together, the large jungle man stomped off, until the jingle of the shards dancing around in his grasp faded into the distance.
Watching the large tower of man-meat running in fear, Merikh could only think that his reaction was fair enough. He basically was a ghost, tied down to his dead corpse. At least he now knew that they both knew the same tiny purple man. Good idea, Man-Meat. Splitting up would be a good idea. We could cover more ground that way, he thought to himself. The only thing that dampened his spirits was the lack of milk, but the meat-castle had given him a good idea. One of these homes might have some milk in it.
Merikh gave some thought as to where he should begin his search for his fellow hired baby killers. Since Man-Meat had run off to his front, he figured that area would be covered. Turning around, he noticed that the jungle man was departing as well. Bowing in acknowledgment to the Marines, spine flopping as he did so, he then made his way past them. First, search for milk. Then, search for people I know.
A Tide to Ride Edit
The tides surrounding Permis had grown ever fierce, even more so than in the hours the Dark Masters had traversed them. A few ships scarcely comparable to Hades in size were out at sea now, battling the impossible currents that raged war against them. One of these ships was in fact a proud marine vessel, larger than most docked at any marine base; precisely so, it was not the sort of ship any ordinary marine sailed. No, this ship had been brought out especially to house the criminal locked aboard it.
"Arrrrgh, why won't those damn fools pick up, eh??" The man revered within the Navy as "Kumogani" barked, holding his transponder snail out in the cusp of his palm. "I didn't leave that chimney of a man Rette in charge to be so fuckin' irresponsible!!" In his fit of clear, unrestrained anger, the Marine Vice Admiral tossed the Den Den Mushi overboard.
Watching as the snail sunk deep into the trenches of the murky waters below, Rear Admiral Carter Pine gathered himself from along the railing and appeared beside his superior on the deck. He shifted his feet once, standing firm as he began to address him. "Batavia-sama, might I remind you that Margaret-chan is also present on Permis? Had you instead opted to reach out to her, I'm almost certain she would have returned your call by now."
"Well, erghh-" Batavia glanced over to Pine. Perhaps his tongue had been caught up into a bunch, for the Vice Admiral struggled to speak and uttered very little. Either that or, well, he was too embarrassed to admit that he hadn't considered doing that. "I'm gonna go check up on somethin' inside. You keep watch out here, Swine."
With that, Batavia retired from the main deck and into the inner confines of the ship, leaving Pine outside with Captain Grape, who --with the exit of the Vice Admiral-- was now free to complain to his heart's content.
"Goddamit! This doesn't make any sense. I was supposed to get a promotion after all that I did on Bedina!" The Captain projected his voice toward the present Pine, his hands tending to a wet mop. "I'm a friggin' Captain now, for crying out loud! I shouldn't have to be scrubbing the deck! How disgraceful!"
Grape plunged the mop back into the water bucket, rejuvenating its life for another go at the spottless deck. "This floor is already so clean as it is… that idiot Kumogani, making me sweep it for no reason! He doesn't even have any idea what he's ever doing!"
Per usual, Pine remained calm in the face of adversity. He waited to address the Marine Captain until he had effectively deduced the whole of the matter. When he spoke, Grape had nearly forgotten that he had even said anything to begin with.
"I understand your frustration, Grape-san. But believe me when I say that we've all been there." Pine gazed towards the skies above, rekindling memories from the times he served under Mengis. "In my case, I often times found myself with a fishing rod between my hands. You see, Mengis-sama was quite fond of fish; just know that you're fortunate for not having to catch the kind of fish that roam these waters on a daily basis."
That all felt like ages ago, now. Back when Pine was serving under Mengis, the G-6 marine base they all now called home wasn't even in the picture yet. Matter of fact, it was Pine and Mengis who laid siege to the island known as Ishitani, which now housed their beloved G-6.
"And don't speak ill of Batavia-sama, either. He is far more capable than you know."
Grape had a hard time believing that. The Batavia he knew hardly even remembered his name, always addressing him as "Vape" or "Snape". Just what was so special about a guy like that, anyway? "Oh yeah? I bet…"
Silence ensued. More thinking, then speaking. "You spent much of the past couple years stationed on Bedina, so I don't expect you to know of Batavia-sama's renown," Pine continued, "so allow me to put this into perspective for you: you see, Batavia-sama is unlike most marines of his upstanding. Rather than appointing his subordinates to do his work for him, Batavia-sama registers a very hands-on approach.
"He has disbanded more pirate crews by his lonesome than most marines have in groups, or so it is said. He doesn't believe in relying on others all that much; quite on the contrary, Batavia-sama prefers to sort matters out by himself and only himself. And from what I hear, he was a candidate to fill one of those vacant Admiral positions, though because he can't ever handle his business without making a huge mess out of it, the World Government ultimately decided otherwise." Pine studied Grape's expression as the Captain attempted to keep his jaw from crackling open of its own accord. "Have you seen Batavia-sama fight before, Grape-san? By the end of the battle --no matter who he's facing-- his clothes are always torn up. Some say he enjoys getting hurt, while others theorize that he simply loves a good fight and has a tendency to overestimate his opponents. Whatever the case…"
Pine suddenly blitzed past Grape in the blink of an eye, a shimmering flash blinding the tender Captain. "Batavia-sama is a man deserving of his position. Now if you'll excuse me for a moment, I do believe it is time to feed our prisoner."
Leaving Grape to mop the rest of the floor by himself as he reflected over the words he had spoken, Pine wandered into the ship's supply room and grabbed a stack of hay from atop a nearby shelf. Dragging the stack against the floor, the Rear Admiral carried along into a deeper room, one at the very hull of the ship.
Pine opened the door to the room and immediately before him was the head of a giant, laying over one of her ears, her massive form roped and confined by the web of a spider. Picking up the hay over his head, he made to toss it toward the giant's mouth. "Hoy. Wakey, wakey, you oversized cow. It's time for your lunch."
A massive eye larger than Pine rolled open and stared at him. The eye tensed, as though straining to make out the sight of him. "I take my name in pride. If you aren't going to bring me anything worth eating, I won't stay. I'm a gourmet you know." Despite the giant's bold retorts, she was in fact, starving to death. She had barely eaten since her capture. In better times, she had been known to accomplish such feats of strength as breaking the webs of one the four yonkou, Daddy L. Legs herself, but now lacked the strength to break the webs that bound her. The giant known as Lord MuuMuu stared down at Pine. Without warning, the colossal giant began to shake violently, thrashing ineffectively at her restraints. She roared angrily, a promise of vengeance and bloodshed in her voice before it fell into an almost faint whine of anguish, the once proud giant brought low, haunted by memories of her past trauma at the hands of the marines.
Pine was forced to drop the hay and hold onto the arch of the door as Lord MuuMuu flailed about in another fruitless attempt to pry herself free. The whole ship shook, and the Rear Admiral angrily kicked at the giant's head.
"What did I say about doing that?! Do it again and I swear, I'll put far more needles in that haystack than the last time!"
Unfortunately for Pine, he couldn't take credit for the giant's capture. She had been transported across inumerable marine vessels over the last several months as the Navy pondered over just what to do with her. She was simply too darn big to fit inside of Impel Down and too important to the Yonko, Legs, to be slaughtered so openly. Lord MuuMuu had been a huge pain in the butt; perhaps she was more of a nuisance now as a prisoner than she had been even as a pirate!
As the giant shifted about, the audible groans of a man sharing her cellar reminded Pine of another prisoner being held aboard the ship. How could he have forgotten about the fresh new catch?
"Oh yeah, I forgot you were in here too," Pine said to no one in particular, speaking more so to the room than he was the man himself, seeing as how Lord MuuMuu's impeccable size covered him from view, "Now, now, Lord MuuMuu, play nice and be sure to share some of that hay with Gerhard. And make sure not to squash him, either. Batavia-sama is hoping to have someone else turn him into the Navy so he can cash out on his bounty of like, 230,000,000, or however much it is now."
Pine swung the door shut behind him, leaving the two pirates to fend to their stay of hay. "Anyway, toodles."
The many vibrations provoked by MuuMuu only served to increase the trajectory of the other prisoner, Blumenthal Gerhard, the Conquest who was imprisoned... again. Certain friends of his would joke that he ended up eating the Bad-Luck Fruit, not the Game Fruit, but, they were not there... though, this island was the hometown of one.
"Sorry, s'I growlin'? I was meanin' to say this isn't comfortable t'all, fuckin' soyface." Gerhard grumbled out, constantly dangling from the ceiling by his legs, their pants torn off due to how tight the seastone chains were. "Fuckin' punkshit." One of his knees were bent, its foot resting at Gerhard's other leg, making it seem as if he was about to dance with the chains.
These same chains extended over to his torso and kept his hands caged to his hips. "Can'ya also gimme' my mask back?" Gerhard offered a tired glance at MuuMuu, "Gal's been fartin' like no end- Wait, Punkshit." He muttered as the Rear Admiral moved out of the room, "Fuck y'too."
"Yo... so, sup'," Gerhard said again at MuuMuu, "Sorry for th' comment, uh, don't worry on sharin' anythin', you're big, you need it." Was she going to be rescued? Then again, he couldn't say that the Yonko would send a whole fleet just to come to Permis. Gerhard himself, after escaping from that man's grasp through unexpected help, heard of the plague attacking the island of Permis, he just couldn't waste the chance.
After she calmed down or at least stopped shaking, Muu went still for a while. She even ignored being kicked in the head. She didn't move at all until Gerhard spoke. Muu slowly rolled over to look at Gerhard. Somehow she managed to fling the hay over to him with this movement, before turning back the other way. After a few moments from the apparent kindness, she spoke. "Pick out the needles from it. You can probably use your teeth or something." It was hard to tell if she meant it as instructions or as orders due to her monotone voice.
"Wait, ah-" Gerhard's eyes widened and, with a single push, he moved his body to intercept the food thrown his way. His mouth went wide and latched onto it, teeth sinking as he munched, his body hunched over so that his head rose, "Ok, thanks." Gerhard gulped the food down and held the large needles on his teeth, trembling slightly as he maintained his position.
The place smelled too much, not that it truly bothered him, Gerhard just really preferred his mask over his face. "Y're from th' Black Widows, aye?" He spoke out at her, not too loud, "How lon' ago were ya' captured? I heard it 'as a fight," Not that he would even judge her for it, regardless if their situations were similar or not. Voice wavering slightly, Gerhard continued nevertheless, "Do, do ya' think anyone'll come for us?"
Muu didn't turn over or move. "Dumbass. I wanted you to remove the needles for ME... I didn't want to eat it anyway." A little life seemed to return to Muu, but quickly faded when he mentioned the fight with Solomon, and the Black Widows. How would she ever return? How could she look Legs in the eye after THIS? No. It'd be fine, she'd go back the Black Widows and pretend nothing had happened. She got captured, she got out. No big deal, right? She shivered. "I'll break out once my strength is back..." She rolled over to look at Gerhard again, focusing a giant eye on his figure. "What are needles anyway?" she asked.
A snicker found its way out of Gerhard's mouth, "Fool, that's why I got 'em," He smirked and showed the needles between his teeth, "They serve fa' sewin' and are sharp as fuck." Gerhard moved a bit, dangling from one side to the other, quickly building up a pace.
The chains of seastone rattled a bit, Gerhard rasped some saliva, trying to move the needles within his teeth, "I... Am a bit tired, but... Seastone only blocks fruit powers."
"You're one of them demon fruit users?" Muu asked. She mulled the thought over in her head for a little while. "Can you get me out? I'll make it worth your while." Her tremendous eye finally seemed to take him in. "I've never lost to anyone who hasn't eaten a fruit, so if you want me to break someone..." She let the words hang in the air.
Rattle and rattle, Gerhard went back and forth like a pendulum, his expression faced against MuuMuu, "Yah and yah." He tried saying out aloud, not sure if his movement compromised it. MuuMuu's eyes shifted around quite a bit, he noted, his eyes softened a bit at it, she was always stopping, even if for a second, before laying out her words. "The fact th' she jus' called me one of 'em just confirms that... she's not one."
Even if Gerhard didn't know how much time he had, his movements continued even further, seconds having passed. "Jus' wait," Only two needles were present in his mouth, one pressed between different parts of his mouth, and they had suddenly acquired a black pigment over their entire figures. "Ishitoryu, Improvised Version," He muttered and, as the pendulum movement had him going in MuuMuu's direction, opened his mouth.
"Disart," Gerhard mouthed, whilst the two needles flew in different paths, leaving two small rings behind their initial location and ripping through the air of the room like it was nothing. Much like he had said earlier, seastone truly weakened him and prevented his fruit powers from being used, however, his Haki, even if it wasn't truly at peak, was still there.
With Busoshoku, he strenghtened the needles and, with Kenbunshoku, he localized the perfect parts to fire them at. Disart was the best combination for Haki, Gerhard's style had been based on his medical skills, after all. One of the needles would hit the webbing closest to one of MuuMuu's arms, while the other aimed directly at one arm, after a single second, they had both landed. Much like acupunture, Gerhard used Disart along with the Caladbolg to deal focused attacks and incite devastating effects. However, with needles and on a giant as large as MuuMuu, the effect could be more controlled.
The needle hitting the web would do just what it was supposed to, induce an implosion originating from where it was hit, no matter how strong the silk was, Gerhard had used Haki to localize a vital point and make sure it erupted apart in a spiral. At that same time, the needle hitting MuuMuu's arm provoked a completely different reaction, it landed on a specific nerve, easy to find due to its size, a nerve that played a role in dealing out reflexive reactions.
Although they hadn't talked before today, mainly due to both sleeping most of the time, Gerhard knew that MuuMuu didn't have strength to do it by herself. Rip apart a lot of the silk, that was. It would sting, but then, MuuMuu's arm would instinctively slash off of where it was, since the other needle removed the webbings from there, and proceed to rip off more of the silk, freeing her body. Due to how large MuuMuu was, however, the strike wouldn't end just there and possibly strike against the chains that held Gerhard's legs, as well as the walls of the room. Which he didn't mind at all, even if water would start to pour and he started to fall towards the ground, he knew she wasn't a user.
Muu was utterly surprised when with new found power her arm ripped through not only the binding webs but tore through the steel wall as well. She flexed her fingers, checking everything still worked. She looked at Gerhard, wondering if he had some sort of ability to control people and that if she had some yet another deeper well of untapped strength to find somewhere inside herself. She refrained from asking these questions aloud. Using her newly freed arm, she liberated herself from the rest of the silk, and then proceeded to get as close to standing as she could in the space afforded to her without breaking the ceiling. "My stuff was taken. A hammer and a pair of shoes. You said you had a mask? Think they might be in the same place? I need to get them back before anything else."
"KYA-" Crash, Gerhard landed straight against the metal floor, "I mean, argh, wow," He cursed, chains much loose on his body. "Damned fallin' damage," If MuuMuu broke through the ones from the ceiling, it could have meant that not all of them had seastone. Clothes getting wet rapidly, Gerhard tried getting up, he nearly fell but took a proper step and sustained himself, the chains continued to slip off, since the main one was destroyed by MuuMuu.
The water was beginning to cover his shoes, it coming in a small waterfall from the side of the room. This woman sure got strength for someone starving. At the very least, his strength was beginning to come back to him, "The impact must've already alerted 'em."'
Gerhard replied at Muu's words, "Possibly, but, we 'ot to hurry, those guys'll be 'ere any second." His eyes flashed red, looking around the entire ship, "The one t'our right side! If ya' break through, ya' could get 'em with your hand," He pointed at the wall, "Dungeon." Touching the ground with both hands, Gerhard summoned forth his powers, although the one generated was big enough to cover only half the ship.
"Chaos," The floor beneath them had its upper layer trashing around, violently moving off itself, "New Order." Each issued through one hand, Gerhard sent his commands through the metal, which flew like liquid and shaped itself as a toboggan around the hole in the wall, making the water get led by it. "Hurry!" The hand for Order still on the metal, Gerhard dashed across the room and touched his Chaos one upon the door, it broke apart seconds later. He moved the hand leading the metal again and made it all shape around the door, making a path between the hole and it, so that the rest of the ship would get flooded.
Muu grappled the wall, sticking her fingers deep into the metal and pulling, straining with the effort, she ripped a tear in the wall that both she and Gerhard could fit through. She smirked as she saw her hammer. She had missed its familiar weight in her hand. Not to mention her shoes, precious gifts to her from Daddy L. Legs from when she first joined the Black Widow Pirates. “See your mask thing anywhere? I want to get something to eat as soon as possible, I’m not really at my best. Honestly, aren’t there rules against starving prisoners to death or something?”
Water gushed into the vessel at a steady rate. The hull and nether levels of the ship were almost instantly flooded; to the dismay the fleeing pirates, it was Batavia who first took notice of the flowing water.
"Batavia, I just don't know what to do..!" the voice of a woman spoke out from the Den Den Mushi in the Vice Admiral's hand. Of course, this one was a spare he had gotten from one of the other marines aboard his ship; he had tossed his own overboard not too long ago. "Emily's illness just isn't getting any better… those red marks that were on her stomach have started spreading over the rest of the body!"
Batavia let out a deep sigh. Through his dark specs, he observed the form the transponder snail had taken in response to the female on the other end of the line. He could see it even now, her charming face. Hair as red as any fountain of blood he'd ever seen, skin pale like a full moon. Unfortunately the snail failed to mimic the woman's impressive bust, but it was enough of a demonstration to paint a vivid image in the Vice Admiral's head.
"Listen Juliet, everything is going to be just fine. I'm on my way as we speak; it won't be more than a couple of hours, I promise." The sudden pitter patter around his ankles brought the disorientated marine --who was much to concentrated on the image of the Den Den Mushi-- back into reality. A pool of water had gathered around his feet; growing taller by the second, it quickly climbed up to his knees!
"I.. I'm just so scared. Outside of you, Emily is all that I have now, Batavia. I've already lost everything else..!"
"Juliet," Batavia sounded firmly, needing to raise his voice over the roar of the invading water a second time around, "Juliet! Something's wrong, I'll have to call you back later!" He hung up abruptly, veins bulging around his head as he looked on at the water in anger.
"HOY!! GRAPE, YOU DUMBASS!" Batavia's shouts filled the halls of the ship, booming off of every imaginable wall. "What did I say about practicing your Devil Fruit powers aboard the ship, huh?! You've gone and drilled a hope in my ship!"
With the ascending waters leaving the Vice Admiral with little time to think, Batavia could only act out of instinct --as was characteristic of the man; with a simple leap, Kumogani plowed through numeral levels of the ship en route to the main deck.
He arrived unto the scene of Grape sweeping the floors, much to his confusion. "Hold on, wait a second! What are you doing here, you idiot?"
Grape sighed. He thrusted the back end of his mop against his forehead. Great. Just great. Talking to this guy made him lose more brain cells every time. "What do you mean, man? I'm mopping the floor like you told me to."
"Then who put a hole in my ship?!"
"...With all due and respect, I believe that would be you, sir." The voice of Carter Pine returned from behind Batavia, his meager frame standing along the crevices of the gaping hole Batavia had created through his leap from the ship's hull.
"No, no, no! You both are idiots! Water was already-" Suddenly the ship began to flip, as if all its weight was being distributed to one end entirely. The ship's bow shot up into the sky, causing the marines aboard to hold onto whatever was nearest to them and hope that it would be enough to secure a grasp.
"W-What the hell's going on?!" Grape wondered aloud.
In the next moment, a strong current --at least, that's what it appeared to be-- lashed out and split the ship in two; casting two separate sides of the ship into different directions. Batavia immediately turned his attention toward the end drifting away from his own: the prisoners! They were inside of that hunk!
Gerhard didn't know that the water would have acted faster than he anticipated, but, he wouldn't complain much. Except for the fact he was nearly falling into the water then, holding to the mask he found alongside MuuMuu's items, his precious one. She would be close to the water already, then again, the ship was quite big.
"YES, HELLO!" Gerhard opened his arms wide at the Marines upon noticing their confusion, though his shouts were soon muffled, while he wrapped the mask around his face. A good scent at last. "GIANTESS! Tis' where we part," Sparing a glance at MuuMuu, Gerhard couldn't wait anymore, his hand moved forward in order to take a grip of the water, his dungeon was still there, after all.
However, a bright light interrupted him, appearing between both halves of the marine warship. Not a light, it was... an orange flame travelling over the water. It didn't travel straight, instead, it moved like a serpent, Gerhard's eyes widened when it approached the sinking ship he stood on.
Boom. The gunpowder that hadn't been soaked by the water sent everything flying high, creating steam due to the water and smoke due to the wood. Gerhard braced himself, barely protected by the piece of wood he stood over, his body quickly fell towards the water, however, and he closed his eyes.
Instead, a pair of hands gripped his thigh and his arm, gloved hands holding him in a bride position. "Ohoho! You thought no one woulda' come to save your ass!" A feminine voice mused, prompting Gerhard to open his eyes and stare at none other than Brandt Abigail, the person he partened with shortly before his trip to Permis.
They both stood over the deck of her personalized ship, its hull covered with iron, its size didn't compare to the warship. His eyes took in her long brown hair, half of a frinje framing her forehead, her blue tight suit. It was then that her golden eyes stared back at his orange ones.
"What's it with you starin' so much?!" She bawled, mouth twisted, his attention going back to reality, "My arm's cramping, get down Ger!" Couldn't she just lower him? Gerhard did as asked, and Abigail crossed her arms, buffing. "Chop, chop! We got no time, marines on tow!" Then again, the explosion from earlier could have slowed the Marines down.
Frankly, he was better back with MuuMuu, "Ey, sure, nice to see ya' too." Not like he didn't use Haki to feel her presence coming.
Gerhard rolled his eyes, creating another Dungeon. Shortly after, he made part of the wood erupt and wrap itself around Abigail's legs, loosely, at that signal she jumped over the deck and into the ocean. "Bring 'em hell."
"No need to ask!" Abigail gave him a thumbs up and outstretched her arms which glowed, touching the ocean, the wood didn't let her fully fall in. "HELLO, STRANGERS!" She beamed at the Marines, "I was stuck between fighting you and leaving- SO I CHOSE BOTH!" At that very moment, the water around that entire area had acquired another sort of layer to itself in the form of a color.
"It's lit," Abigail beamed again.
A weak red layer appeared, indeed. Bubbles erupted everywhere, steam hissed upward from other areas, a tremendous wave of heat travelled, trying to slow down all of the ships present. The wood of some would likely be set ablaze, creating even more of a hot atmosphere around, "Maybe that'll be 'nuff," Gerhard commented, trying to see if the Marines bypassed that.
While trying to steer the wheel of Abigail's ship, Gerhard commanded the wood to bring her back into the deck. Though, his mistake was not looking, "DON'T TREAT ME LIKE ONE OF YOUR FRENCH DEAD BODIES," Abigail's voice ringed into his ears, whilst she crashed into him.
Gerhard's eyes widened, "FUCKIN' HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELL," The wheel, if no Marine had managed to interrupt them, would spin violently, thus, sending the ship into the island of Permis.
"Who the hell is that?" Batavia scoffed, eyes squinting behind his shades. But Abigail's renown was known well to Pine; he knew it was best not to take a pirate like that lightly.
"Sir, with all due respect, they seem to be getting away." Pine eyed Batavia, awaiting orders.
Batavia's response was more physical and less verbal. Rash thinking wasn't his strong suit; he simply lifted up Grape by his collar with one arm and chucked the lad across the waters and toward the other broken half of the ship, where he was certain MuuMuu was still trapped inside of. "Go get that giant, Grape! No pirate gets away from me!!"
Grape's eyes widened. He was being hurled at great speeds and against his will. Looking ahead, he knew a guy like him would surely be splattered if making contact with the ship's wooden structure; and so he braced for impact, calling forth the powers of the devil which he had yet to properly tame. "Kiri Kiri no…"
Grape's head morphed into a drill, refining into a singular rotating point. Upon contact, he seeped a hole through the ship's structure and burrowed his way inside, safely. "Head Scratcher!!!"
Wooden shavings littered the boiling sea. The end result of Grape's attack was one perfectly round circular gnawed into one side of the ship.
"Sir, what would you like me to-" Pine started, only to be interrupted.
"For fuck's sake, stop being so proper all the time, Pine! You don't need to wait around for me to tell you what to do; just make yourself useful, that's all I ask!" The Vice Admiral rolled up his sleeve some, showing off the bulk of his arm. Aiming his palm out in the direction of Abigail's fleeing vessel, he shot out and attached a fluid web from his wrist unto it. The web spun around and hacked onto the ship's mast, and, propelling himself forward, the man known as Kumogani began to zipline his way across.
The boiling waters contacted the broken halves of the marine vessel in seconds, leaving Pine with no choice but to retreat himself. Sprouting wings made of light from his backside, the Rear Admiral took to the skies, watching as the hunk of wood he had been floating on earlier was scorched into smithereens.
But for Gerhard and Abigail, there was a big problem headed their way. There was a reason the marines who despised Batavia's destructful nature had come to refer to him by the name of "Bad Bedlam". And that was precisely because the lunatic didn't ever make even the slightest attempt to secure his premises.
Many missions had been practically aborted due to Batavia's involvement within them. Such as in the year of 1572, when Batavia alongside Mengis and Kaldor infiltrated Suri, an island within the Xros Pirates' territory. Batavia, disagreeing with Kaldor's plan of approach, handled matters in the only way he knew how: his own. This nearly cost all of them their lives, though luckily for him, Mengis received most of the blame and was demoted per usual.
Now in charge of G-6, Batavia saw all the more reason to do things his way. Those who dared question his authority were immediately oppressed, while Batavia himself was free to act of his own accord.
The Vice Admiral swung around the ship by tugging along the web attached to the mast. And as he aimed two feet to collide against Gerhard's back, the caw of a hawk snapped his webbing and caused him to fall hard into some barrels.
A large red and gold bird swirled around the ship and landed aboard the main deck, stomping its foot once and cawing again at the fallen marine. In the next second, feathers were swapped for flesh, and the figure of the infamous Scavenger, Sperius Vesper, stood before Abigail and Gerhard.
"Seems he's giving you some trouble," Vesper sounded off, letting his grand appearance be taken in by the pirates. He glanced back, eyeing Gerhard. "Greetings, Gerhard. You and I are meeting now for the first time... however, there is a purpose in my being here, and that is that I require your help with something else.
"You see, in lending you a hand here, I expect you to return the favor."
"Easy come, easy go I guess." Said Muu, as Gerhard's quick departure. "... Maybe I shouldn't have called him a dumbass..." She pondered to herself aloud. “I guess maybe that’s why I don’t have any friends.”
Muu was just pondering what to do next and where to get something to eat, when she noticed a small purple marine come flying into her half of the ship. An idea popped into her head, and she started narrating her actions. "This is Lord MuuMuu. She's had a tough time with this hole in the past. She's lining up for the shot, and she swings!" Muu swung her hammer with both arms, intending to knock Grape flying like a golf ball.
At that point, Abigail and Gerhard tangled with one another, the latter tried to get off and move towards the web created by Batavia, while the former pushed forth towards the wheel. Unsurprisingly, both went nowhere and only proceeded to lose their breaths.
"Even if I like it- what're ya' doing?!" Abigail barked, frowing at Gerhard as their bodies pressed, "I need to get us outta' here!! It's your fault it ain't happening!" The ship rocked against the water, trying to stead itself and not fall over.
It was Gerhard's time to frown, "My fault? The fuck you on?" Then again, it wasn't going to be easy to concentrate then, "He's pullin' th'ship, we can't get away pressed together like this." Of all the times for her temper to attack him.
"We would if you got out of the way!" Her eyes budged out of her skull when Batavia came to hit them, that amount of speed wouldn't just push her, but Gerhard as well. Trying to shield him with her back, Abigail bellowed, "Ger!!! Loo-"
Instead of pain, they both felt... nothing and only heard a loud crash of flesh against wood, their heads whipped at the same time to glance at it. Despite noticing a large bird, they didn't stop hugging one another and went back to facing each other.
"How are you so hard to deal with?"
"It's in the name, Gerh-"
"No, don't." Abigail waved and turned to face the newcomer, "Oh, I know this guy!" It was then that the stranger adressed Gerhard, solidifying whom this was. "Vesperius Esper," Abigail nodded, smiled quietly, and elbowed Gerhard.
Coughing, Gerhard quickly adressed Vesper with a frown, "Right- Hmmmm, t'may depend on this somethin' else. Nice to meet'cha though, Esper," His eyes went up and down the masked man's figure, shining red, a mask flashed into his mind, "...He's 'ere, in Permis." Gerhard mouthed, eyes trembling for a second and eyebrows rising.
Abigail narrowed her eyes and pouted, "Huh-" She moved a hand to a large bandage on her hip, pondering if it was too late to draw her weapon. No way in hell he would leave her out of it.
"I'll do't and gladly return ta' favor," Hand touching the ground, Gerhard summoned another new Dungeon, walking to stay by Vesper's side and standing in front of Abigail, who frowned. His fingers stretching out, he watched out for Batavia, preparing one command or another to deliver through his hand. "So, Esper, how we handlin' this?"
Steps, Abigail went up to both their side, "Don't count me out!" But, even then, Gerhard put part of his body in front of her. All of them eyed the rising Batavia.
As the figure of Kumogani rose up unto its feet, onlookers were hardly surprised to see that the man was virtually unphased by the hard fall. Any ordinary man would be complaining about a broken back --but as Gerhard had learned at the time of his capture, Batavia was anything but ordinary.
"Attacking a marine is a crime," Batavia soundly reminded, eyes behind his shades rounding over Vesper's form, "a mere bounty hunter should refrain from making a mistake like that. Don't you think?" Attempting to piece this debacle together further, Batavia addressed the pirates who were siding with Vesper. "And you lot, can you really trust a guy like that? He's turned his feathers on hundreds of pirates in the blink of an eye. The fortune he's amassed over the last several years by turning criminals in to the World Government is staggering; you may think of him as your ally now, but just have one good look at yourself. Do you think a bounty hunter like that would give up a chance to pick you off after the injuries you've already sustained? That's his specialty!"
Gerhard had been confined, starved and tortured under Batavia's authority. If there was ever a time the Doctor of Games was to avoid a physical altercation, that time was certainly now, even with Abigail by his side. For all they knew, this was a matter concerning three separate parties: marine, pirate, and bounty hunter.
"You speak as if you're afraid of losing! Where is your usual confidence?" On the surface, it would seem as though there were a snark grin hiding under Vesper's mask. But so plain was his facade; for what truly filled the man in this instance was the course fear of igniting Batavia's wrath further. A fight against Kumogani was something he himself would find wise to avoid; battling him even with superior numbers did little to convince Vesper of legitimate chances of victory.
"Woman, take after your man and see that he reaches Permis without another scratch unto his being. I need him in tiptop shape for the favor I need him to complete. I have far too many enemies there now as it is… I don't need a man like him after me, too." Vesper addressed Abigail without taking his sights off of Batavia, such an act would be akin to suicide.
Escape seemed to be the only reasonable route to take, but it was easier said than done. Abandoning ship and using it as a decoy seemed to be the best approach.
Trust, attack. "Marines, Bounty Hunters? Nah, they all just men, animals..." Gerhard muttered, rolling his eyes, "...Demons. I'm used t'all of 'em." Then, those same eyes shot straight into Batavia's shades, while Gerhard answered, "Trust? Ya' don't understand. I don't trust 'im, he's the one who's trustin' me. He's th' Player and that's his choice," He shrugged, whatever it was that this guy wanted. Gerhard only knew that person was there, so, if he had to do anything, it would be by his own volition.
Lose, indeed, losing and winning were two sides of the spectrum, Abigail smirked and stuck her tongue out at the conversation. The two were clearly barking to each other, while Gerhard beside her was on some tough vibe. "A Marine tryin' to lecture me about trust," She mused. Hah, trust, a snicker escaped her lips and her eyes hovered over Gerhard.
"Ya' have no need of questioning his confidence, Esper-kun," Abigail pointed straight to the Marine with her index, eyes flashing red for a second, "It hasn't wavered one bit-" Maybe Batavia's hadn't, however, by that next second, Abigail's eyes widened, "What?!" She briefly glanced at Vesper, "D'ya think you're in a position to order that?!" Gerhard nodded at that, scoffing at the Bounty Hunter. But, what was she gritting her teeth for? Anything worth it? Abigail knew that her mind went ablaze, just like her body often did.
She really had to work out that habit of hers, but, that could happen another time. Abigail looked at Gerhard, at Batavia, at Vesper, then, at the ship. He had mentioned a man, her eyes slanted for a second. They weren't being chased by just anyone, but, by that monster, she wanted to tell herself that Vesper's words were just that. Words. She was a person to take the action by herself... right?
A single sigh was all it took, at the very least.
Arms circled around Gerhard's figure, specifically his legs and arms, bridal style. Though she flinched at the contact, Abigail jumped into the air, while the former's eyes budged out of his skull. "What're y'doing?!" He yelled between muffles. "What 'bout yer' ship- WOAH WOAH," Sweat instantly came out of his skin and they flew. "TURN THE STOVE OOOOOOOOOO-"
"SHUUUUUUUUUU-" Abigail snarked, a stream of fire came off her legs and sent them rocketing out of the ship. Batavia had chased them off earlier through his webs, yet, with this amount of heat being left as trail, he would certainly find some mild difficult at getting to them right off the bat. "-UUUUUUUUUUUUUUSH!" Swiftly, they ripped across the seas, yelling once again.
As Gerhard was carried away --airborne-- by Abigail, Vesper himself prepared to take flight. Until a flash of light beamed overhead and obscured his vision almost entirely.
Carter Pine. They had forgotten all about him in wake of Batavia's menacing presence. Pine had been fluttering around in the skies via wings manifested from his logia fruit and had maintained a steady watch over both of Batavia and Grape's affairs, should he need to assist at any point. And assist he did.
More than light, speed was the element of Pine's logia. He blitzed toward the fleeing pirates as soon as they entered the skies, intending to inflict damage upon them by brushing against and beyond their bodies at top speed.
No time, they almost had no time. Playing with an opponent that had such a power would be the doom of many pirates. They were certain many fell prey to it, but, not only to it, also to Pine's extreme usage of its powers. Both Abigail's and Gerhard's eyes slanted as soon as the light filled the area around the ship.
Gerhard gritted the teeth behind his mask, finding himself in no position to be capable of properly reacting, even with his haki. His Dungeon had no need for a full terrain to be summoned, yet, at the speed they were flying, making one was out of question.
However, while the same applied to Abigail, in the notion that she was not capable of reacting properly, she still had her mind focused on getting out of there. In fact, it was this very focus that prompted her to increase the flames coming out of her being at a rather stead pace, making the fire stream triple in size. Even so, Pine was a light logia, such a thing wouldn't normally hurt or affect him. Normally.
What Abigail released from her body was not just pure flames. As a person who ate the Karo Karo no Mi and became a Furnace Ningen, Abigail could absorb and release just any amount of heat from her body. With her current tactic, she brought forth flames, all of which sent the both of them flying, but also heated up the air around them considerably. The air would distort, even if by small fractions, allowing for it to become something like a shroud that could possibly difract and reflect part of Pine's light. Such a thing would ensure that neither of them received the full blow and continued their path into the island, should not any interruption happen.
With a fair amount of his kick parried, Pine fluttered back, remaining afloat in the sky. He eyed the fleeing pirates from afar, and just as he was about to give chase, the resounding voice of his superior and commanding officer boomed down from underneath him.
"Let them go, Pine. They're just maggots either way! I'm heading to Permis myself shortly; I'll be sure to deal with them personally. I want you to invest the remainder of your efforts in pursuing that enlarged cow woman, because I somehow find myself doubting Grape's capability in bringing her back. She has ties to Legs; that in and of itself makes her far more valuable than those other pirates." With a drawn out pause, Batavia's covered pupils settled upon the crimson mercenary before him. "I can't sense a will to fight from you at all, Scavenger, which does me to good in a situation like this. You're no pirate, so I'll let you off with a little warning for now."
Recalling Juliet's urgent call from earlier before, Batavia knew that he was playing against time. He'd leave Lord MuuMuu to Grape and Pine; for now he needed to step foot onto Permis and tend to his own personal matters. Stepping slowly forward, Batavia inched past Vesper, stopping suddenly when the both of them were shoulder to shoulder. "But if I see you becoming a nuisance again later," Batavia whispered, eyes trailing ahead at Permis, "then I'll erase you personally."
With an emphatic jump likely empowered by whatever fruit he had consumed, the Vice Admiral plunged high up into the skies and shot out a web, swinging off in the direction of the island. Vesper let out a soft sigh, relieved at how things had somehow managed to work in his favor. So relieved was he that he did not at all see nor expect Pine's foot to contact the nape of his neck.
With a roar of light and black, haki infested electricity, Vesper found himself cascading through the many layers of the broken ship he was standing on only moments ago. And as he fell into the murky waters beneath, the hot, steamy bubbles coursing his every crimson hair, all he could think of was how Pine so openly seemed to challenge Batavia's orders as soon as he had left.
"So far as I'm concerned, any individual who raises his hand at a marine is immediately a criminal," Pine announced as he landed on his feet over a small piece of whatever was left of the ship following his attack. Rubble and debris floated over the heated sea Abigail had induced. Eyeing the shadows beneath the surface level, Pine rose up his hand, prepared to take countermeasures. "Begone, Scavenger. Perish from this world under the judgement of my divine light."
A torrent of light shot out from Pine's hand, taking the sea by storm. The dark world beneath was illuminated temporarily; from his place underneath, Vesper could see white and only white.
His marine coat hanging off his shoulders, fluttering lightly from the ensuing breeze brought upon by his earlier attack, Rear Admiral Carter Pine set his sights upon the other half of the ship that he had no intention of letting get away.
The Lonely LodgeEdit
The last the seas had seen of the dark masters, they had been cast away by the rage of the New World, thrown asunder and scattered across the severed island of Permis. The vast majority of the dark masters had enjoyed landing among towns and homes on Permis' urban half. But others were less fortunate, landing among the trees, leaves, and cries of colossal creatures of that comprised Permis' wildered fraction.
Two lads, bordering on the fine line between manhood and adolescence lay within the sands of the northern shore leading up to Permis' notorious jungle. Two super rookies, each famed with recent merit in the New World and yet bolstering meager stature when compared to most other pirates that operated about the same sea. One with long purple hair --a trademark between he and his various companions-- and the other far more fragile than even him, lacking the customary fur his people were proud to wear.
An undefined creature, some cross breed between a racoon and squirrel, furrowed on up toward Malvin's sleeping form. And with a lick to the boy's face it forced him awake, resulting in a reaction that was very unbecoming of his renown as a supposed "professional" monster hunter.
Malvin's eyes widened! The hatchling of the Raptor family shot up and back, acting on instinct alone. He eyed the creature --which even a little girl would have deemed rather cute in all honesty-- and fear the likes of which was normally attributed to confronting a Yonko at this stage of the Grand Line filled his heart.
"Ahhh!! No!! Get away from me!" Malvin covered his face with his hands, finding himself on the defensive. As he attempted to crawl away from the less-than-a-foot-tall furry creature, Malvin lost his footing in the sand and stumbled back, landing hard on top of the still slumbering Tabart.
As soon as Malvin fell onto Tabart’s frame, he was violently pulled from his dream. His eyes widened, and his lungs spewed every ounce of air outward into the air.
“Get the hell off of me!” Tabart managed, shoving Malvin off him instinctually. He coughed and gasped for air deeply, turning himself onto his knees and digging his palms into the sand. The last thing he had remembered was setting the sea monster ablaze, and then being launched. He took his time to collect his thoughts, but then…
“Frida?!” Tabart yelled expressively, gathering himself from his temporary temper of bedazzlement. He took to his feet and looked around. Eventually, his eyes fell upon Malvin, and he had quickly realized his mistake.
“Oh, it’s you….” He extended his hand towards him. “Sorry for pushing you. I didn’t realize who you were for a moment.”
Boy was Malvin happy to see Tabart awake and in the flesh! Malvin looked up to all of the four horsemen, but in particular, he was a huge fan of Tabart! He scurried behind the purple haired man and wrapped his arms around his leg to avoid further conflict with the furry little creature, which a studious monster hunter like himself recognized as a Jungle Bunny, a Type B creature denoted for having a "small friendly" personality. Nevertheless… it still scared Malvin out of his mind.
"T-Tabart-sama, p-p-please save me! D-Don't let that thing eat me! Please!!" For a supposed "professional" monster hunter, Malvin sure didn't seem to fit the protocol.
Tabart’s face contorted into expression of confusion. “Er…? Um…you do know that this thing is literally like half a foot, right? You could step on it and kill it…Not that you should, since it’s like…friendly, you know?”
Tabart wasn’t sure if he had ever been this surprised by anyone’s demeanor ever.
“You alright, bud?”
Realizing he might be letting his idol down by being such a pansy, Malvin quickly rose up to his feet and dusted away the small specs of sand that had stuck to his trousers. "O-Of course I am!" A miserable attempt at a laugh ensued as the young pirate tried to laugh away his fear.
With a hard look around, Malvin surveyed his surroundings. "The darn pantheon blasted us off this far? Where even are we?" But now was not the time for words. A swarm of crocodile-like creatures rose up in a timely manner from the sands all around them, looking every bit as hungry as they should have.
The Jungle Bunny snaked around and climbed up Malvin's leg, hiding itself away into his jeans jacket. "N-No! What are you doing?!" the boy exclaimed. But in that moment he realized he was far more afraid of the tens of Sandiles present than he was of the Jungle Bunny in his jacket. "Run!! Run for your life!!"
In a pathetic frenzy, the super rookie pirate with a bounty on his head large enough to feed an entire city ran off into the jungle nearby.
Tabart extended his arm out aimlessly.
"No! Don't do.."
It was too late. Malvin had ducked into the deep jungle, abandoning the safety and security of the open beaches around him. It was true that the crocodile-like creatures around them looked vicious, but Tabart was appreciative of the fact that he could see them. In the jungle, there was no telling what could emerge.
His eyes, emanating his annoyance, fell upon the sand-reptiles themselves. "Fuck you guys," Tabart announced, corresponding Malvin's mistake to their arrival, and took off behind Malvin into the deep jungle.
Just as Tabart had feared, the jungle awaiting them was not particularly kind. The cries of many beasts rang out, bellowing through the woods as if welcoming the two into forbidden territory. Malvin was much too occupied with the Jungle Bunny tunneling in his clothes to fully register much of anything; he was certainly caught by surprise when he ran face first into a large hunk of red metal.
With a soft thump, the Hatchling landed flat on his back. Beady eyes ran the course of the monstrous object before him. In that moment he realized that it was no mere object alone --it was Hades, the very ship Tabart and his friends had been sailing on!
"W-Wha?! How is this here?!" Confusion masked Malvin's paranoia and fear. The incredibly massive red ship, Hades, was laying flat on its side in the middle of the jungle, having knocked over countless trees and made for an enclosure among the woods. There appeared to be only one reasonable probability; and that was that Hades too --along with the rest of the Dark Masters-- had been sent flying by the Pantheon.
Tabart had finally caught up to Malvin. "Ey! Malvin, boy, you must...."
He stopped and he examined the ship. "Yeah, that bastard was a tough one ya know. Though, if it was one thing I made sure of it was that he wasn't going to do that to anyone else."
Tabart extended his hand towards Malvin with the intention of lifting him to his feet. "And just like Pantheon, anything else that gets in my way is going to get fucked up too. I won't let anything happen to you, bud."
Malvin looked upon his hero with teary eyes. He had always dreamed of this moment; dreamed of meeting Tabart. But never would he have ever imagined that his hero would take so much pride in ensuring his safety. He nearly fainted.
"T-Tabart-sama!" The boy accepted the Giant Slayer's hand, getting up onto his feet with the latter's assistance. "You're the best!"
And as if on cue… the world around them began to tumble.
Cries were heard all around. The shrieks of countless beasts. A diverse herd of creatures that were certainly not at all acquainted stormed onto the scene. They were all incredibly menacing looking, each so large and intimidating that they could've consumed both pirates in one fell swoop. And yet they ran past Tabart and Malvin both without even thinking to stop.
Malvin, of course, hid himself behind Tabart. The both of them could have easily been trampled if not for Hades keeping them sheltered. "W-Where are they all going?" Malvin said, glancing around and about. He recognized every last one of those beasts, registered their profiles in his mind. He may not have been much of a fighter, but his knowledge on beasts was second to none.
"They're all just… running away! Hey, I know those creatures, and most of them would prey on each other without a second thought! Matter of fact, I'm surprised they saw us with their own eyes and didn't stop to snack. What are they running away from all afraid like that?!"
An answer was approaching. Leaves ruffled with the wind as footsteps could be heard in the distance. The cause for concern, instilling beasts the size of scrapers with fear was no more than an ordinary sized creature dressed like a pirate.
"I-It's the Wildabeast!!" Malvin cried out. "We're doomed!!" The boy squeezed his cheeks with both hands, sandwiching his face as his eyes damn near jumped out of their sockets. "I always thought it was a myth, just some dumb story my brothers made up! But there's no other possibility; that right there is it! That's the Pirate Killer --the Wildabeast!"
There was an ancient story whispered among those who resided on Permis… of a lion who lived deep within the jungles of Panther Lily. A lion who met countless stray pirates and through battling them learned to imitate humans. Who, through countless victories over stranded pirates, had dressed himself as a pirate. And walking toward the duo now, the Wildabeast was dressed in none other than a captain's coat of his own to go along with a pirate's hat, trousers, and a characteristic rapier.
Tabart stared at the lion, his face refusing to betray his emotions: confusion. He glanced back at Malvin, who was cowering behind him—something that he had just decided to live with by this point—then back towards the lion, hoping to re-register the image before him. When it was the same as the image before, he concluded that it was real. The New World never seemed to run out of surprises.
“Sooo,” Tabart begun, placing his hand closer to the hilt of his blade. “You um...you want a treat or something?"
The Wildabeast erupted forward, leaving little to imagination with its speed. It appeared in front of Tabart with its blade raised above its head with such precision and force that it at the very least matched that of his last opponent; yet in that battle, Tabart had a reliable ally in Draco D. Damon to count on. This time, so it seemed, he was all alone.
Swiping quickly at the Horsemen, the Wildabeast sought blood.
Tabart’s eyes widened at the sight of the blade plummeting towards his body. He had expected the attack to happen; he saw it happen deep within his subconscious, for since his battle against the Xros Pirates, his Haki had been strengthened and enhanced as his spirit strengthened. Still, the speed of the Lion surprised him. It was fast…almost too fast.
Reflexively, he rolled to the side of the ground, narrowly avoiding the lion’s swipe as the edge of its blade caught strands of his purple hair. As he recovered from his somersault, he drew his sword desperately, his senses tuned into the Wildabeast entirely.
“Okay you stupid cat,” Tabart begun, exhaling the breath of air he sucked in preparation of his dodge, “I guess you wanted the or something then.”
There was no hesitation between the end of his sentence and his next movement. The moment his foot left the ground, his body flickered out of existence, reappearing to front his opponent. His blade moved with him, manifesting in motion horizontally toward the lion’s abdomen, with the intent to cleave the creature right in half.
The or something indeed. The Wildabeast was normally used to parrying the blades of the pirates it came across. But this time the swipe met its mark; Tabart drew blood against the fur of the Wildabeast's waist, forcing him to tread backward.
"..." With a soft step back, the Wildabeast created some distance, enough to feel its wound in peace. Bringing its hand to its face, it took a long look at the reddish liquid that dripped from its fingertips. "...You're skilled with a blade." The Wildabeast spoke words, further alluding to its adoption of human behavior. Words that any human capable of speech could easily comprehend.
Dashing towards Tabart, the Wildabeast infused its blade with lightning and had another go at him, this time swiping towards the Giant Slayer's shoulder. "I didn't expect that!"
Tabart’s pupils disappeared entirely, leaving his eyes a blob of white. “…..What the fuck, it can talk?!”
It was that surprise that momentarily distracted him. By the time the beast had slung its blade towards him, his own was still; it wouldn’t make it in time. He leapt backwards to buy him just a few milliseconds of time and raised his arm up defensively to meet the blade with his bandaged arm.
The blade struck it, a sickening crunch echoing throughout the jungle in the moment that it did, tearing apart the bandages and revealing a wooden prosthetic in its place. Then, the lightning came…
Tabart’s eyes widened in response. “Shit..”
There was no time, not at least for him to think of a valid strategy as his wooden arm sparked with a flame. Though, he thought that perhaps that was in his benefit, for the time being.
“Mosa Mosa no Mi: Hot Vineyard!”
His flaming arm erupted with vines of its own, shooting to encapsulate the lion in a vineyard of flaming plants.
The Wildabeast's ears twitched when Tabart expressed his surprise of its capability to speak. "Haven't you ever heard of a mink? And you dare call yourself a pirate!" Meeting Tabart's bandaged arm, the lion was shocked to see that it drew wood over blood.
Immediately after striking it did vines leap out from the arm, much too fast and fired off at too close a proximity for him to evade in time. The lion's blade was snatched by one vine, while another curled around its left wrist and ignited its precious pirate coat into flames.
"A fruit eater?!" The lion roared, striking the vine with an electrified paw and breaking loose of Tabart's trap. Discarding its coat and tossing it away into a heap beside Hades, the lion mink stood shirtless --poised to battle the fruit devouring pirate that dared invade his jungles. However, with no blade to count on, the beast rose up its arms in a defensive stance.
“A mink?” Tabart inquired rhetorically, taking the brief period to isolate the burning portion of his prosthetic from the region that had yet to be wreathed in fire. Using his other arm, he took his blackened blade and sliced the front half of the wood from itself, but within moments the wood had regrown anew.
“…..If you’re a mink, why the hell are you attacking me for!!” Tabart expressed. The only thing that he knew about minks were from interacting with a relative of his own Dressrosa: Aldelia, who was yet another sibling of his. She was cheerful, jovial…. pretty much everything that this lion wasn’t.
“Since you just came outta nowhere and attacked me, I thought that maybe you were some wild animal!? Talk to me, man! What do you want?” Tabart looked around. “You want some money? I can get you some money if that’s what the problem is.”
"The problem is your ship," the lion mink explained, pointing his finger in the direction of Hades, "how dare you just leave it there in the middle of the jungle. Do you have any idea how it's impacted the lives of all the creatures that live here?"
Malvin blinked his eyes in disbelief. He almost felt racist for not realizing that the Wildabeast was in fact just a mink; and that the myth whispered on Permis was just a load of bullshit. What an ignorant island! "Hey man, it's not like we played any part in it being here! What, you think we just willingly docked that thing here in the middle of the jungle?"
As if on cue, Hades began to tremble. Then it quaked, then it shivered, then it sat upright and buzzed. Gears shifted into place across its length and slowly but surely structures began to form. What was once one large, hulking ship was now a robot standing 40 feet tall.
Malvin's eyes widened. "W-What! C-C-Could it always do that?!"
Hades pointed its arm at Tabart; all in one motion, its hand morphed into a gatling gun. A round was fired.
“……!!” Tabart slammed his wooden appendage onto the ground around, moving the jungle into action. From beneath him, vines, wooden trees, fruits, pretty much anything that could emerge from the depths of the soil emerged before him, enshrouding him in a cocoon of organic material as the transformer bombarded him with gunfire.
Bullets resounded against the makeshift cocoon Tabart harvested, attempting to penetrate through the pirate's defenses. Malvin ran for cover of his own, tightly holding onto the Jungle Bunny in his clothes as fear riddled his every being.
The lion mink, after seeing Hades attack Tabart with his own eyes, no longer saw Tabart as his enemy. The ship was what he had an issue with all along. Coming to Tabart's aid, the mink unleashed a powerful kick fueled with electro at Hades' head, causing sparks to circuit through the robot's wiring and temporarily paralyze it.
Hades fell back, sparks zapping across its body. For reasons yet unknown, it seemed as though the ship had almost been programmed to attack Tabart on cue.
Turning his back to the crater Hades had made by falling down, the Wildabeast approached Tabart with an apologetic expression across its snout. "You have my apologies, pirate. I was under the impression that-"
Hades returned in the blink of an eye, foot slamming against the Wildabeast's head. Blood gushed out from the lion mink's nose and mouth as he was sent flying through countless trees, his figure torn and lost away into the woods.
Sparks of electro still zapping around its red metal body, Hades forced itself back unto its feet and stood tall, attempting to power its way past the paralysis to further combat Tabart. Within the screen composing Hades' eyes, the robot's intelligence narrowed in on Tabart.
ANALYZING TARGET... ANALYZING TARGET... ANALYZING TARGET...
Hades' systems were on the verge of malfunction. Or at least, it seemed, they had been severely disrupted as a result of the Wildabeast's electro infused attack.
“You…..Why?” Tabart murmured, his tone silent and stiff as the world spun around him.
“Why did you?”
As he stared at the Mink, the image of another, of Foxpack flashed before his eyes.
He clenched his fist, turning his attention towards the robot. “I couldn’t do anything then, but I can do something now.”
Slamming his palms onto the earth, Tabart channeled his essence into the jungle around him, igniting and infusing every aspect of plant life with his commands.
“Get ready! I’ma call this attack, Mosa Mosa no Mi: Fuck Hades!”
The first plants that moved into action were the vines that littered this deep jungle. With malicious intent, they shot from each direction to encapsulate the appendages of Hades in a deep intent to restrict its motion, hoping to use the speed at which they moved to counter the machines’ superior strength, and to take advantage of the sheer size of the robot.
Tabart grit his teeth, that being indicative of his next attack. From the hearth around Hades, flowering plants spawned, emitting seeds that exploded upon contact with the physical matter around it, igniting the area around Hades into a sheet of flames and shockwaves.
“Overheat you stupid fucking robot!”
ANALYZING TARGET... ANALYZING TARGET... TARGET ANALYZED.
Hades' systems clicked, thoroughly inspecting Tabart's worth. As the Giant Slayer slammed his palm to the ground and channeled the workings of his Devil Fruit into his immediate environment, Hades' systems went absolutely berserk.
WARNING! THREAT LEVEL INCREASED. DEVIL FRUIT AWAKENING DETECTED.
Hades had no chance at evading all those vines. Even if it weren't paralyzed from the Wildabeast's electro, evasion seemed highly improbable. In the heart of a jungle as large and lush as Panther Lily, it seemed as though Tabart were in his natural habitat. Here he had every advantage in the world!
A sizable blast resounded, seen beyond the scope of miles from over the top of the trees. A large and rigid crater, many feet deep, was left in the wake of the Tabart's awakened attack. At the bottom most trenches lay Hades, bickering endlessly as its systems malfunctioned further.
BENJAMIN TABART. CELESTIAL DRAGON. BENJAMIN TABART. CELESTIAL DRAGON.
The light from Hades' eyes faded, leaving the crater entirely dark.
"I-Is it over?!" Malvin said, looking up from behind a nearby bush. His eyes nearly jumped out from their sockets when he saw the size of the crater Tabart had made. He was even stronger than he thought! "W-Whoa! T-Tabart-sama, you did that?!" The Jungle Bunny leaped onto the top of Malvin's head for a view of its own, its expression mirroring Malvin's.
Tabart exhaled deeply, looking in the direction that the mink was launched.
“Malvin, we need to get him and get out of here! I don’t think that attack is good enough to take care of that robot.”
He treaded along the trail that the Wildabeast’s body left behind, tracking him to a broken pile of trees and debris that seemed to envelope him. With haste, Tabart dug through the pile of logs, and pulled the mink from his wooden coffin.
The Wildabeast was unresponsive by the time Tabart had dug him out. His body was limp, sore and bruised. He was out cold.
Following Tabart's lead, Malvin and the Jungle Bunny took in the sorry sight of the lion mink. "He... He isn't dead, is he?!"
The sound of gears twisting and turning back into place could be heard down the same path the two rookie pirates had come from. Tabart's suspicions held true.
The ground tumbled when all of a sudden, Hades rose up from the dirt inches in front of the two.
TARGET FOUND. TARGET FOUND. BENJAMIN TABART. CELESTIAL DRAGON.
Hades arms became blades, and the large robot swung down hard seeking to eliminate Tabart in one clean stroke. But what the blades met instead was the Haki clad forearm of a particular jungle dweller, who had known better than to let his alcohol be tattered this time around.
"Are you... a robot?" Gulan remarked, not entirely sure as to what Hades was. Gulan was large, yet only half the size of Hades. He held the robot in place with little resistance, showing even less desire to compete. Sparks resounded as both sides clashed; Hades leaped backward, attempting to identify the newcomer.
ANALYZING TARGET... ANALYZING TARGET... DATA NOT FOUND.
Feeling a jolting pain in his arm, Gulan calmly flicked his hand against his waist. He turned to Tabart, handing him a single bottle of Nerb Rum. "Can I trust you to hold this for me, friend? I'd like to give you a hand here, if I may."
Tabart nodded, taking the bottle of rum in his hand with haste. “Yes sir! Please just get rid of that big ass robot!”
With a crack of his neck in either direction, Gulan dashed forward. Hades could hardly keep up as the Jungle Man landed blow after blow upon its body; against the trees and rocks of the jungle was the ship brutally beaten, chased through the woods and loitered against the ground until at last it seemingly had enough.
Hades let out a loud beep, before unsuspectedly morphing back into its ship form. In this form it was somehow even larger; rockets fired from its rear, propelling the ship to drift hard against the ground --leaving a long trail in its wake-- and bursting out onto the waters exiting Permis.
"I guess that's that." Gulan turned to address Tabart at the sight of the latter tending to the Wildabeast and his rum all at once. "Hello, friend. I am Gulan, friend of the forest. The creatures residing here won't attack you so long as you are with me. Why do you not all come with me? I am confident that father will be pleased by your presence."
Taking the bottle of nerb rum back from Tabart, Gulan began to lead the group through the rest of Panther Lily.
Word of Advice Edit
West of Bellmare was Bag Town, Permis' most poverted region --second only to the jungle comprising one half of the severed island. Here civilians made a humble living by working reasonable jobs, hoping and praying that one day their businesses pick up and allow them to make enough of a name for themselves that they find themselves selling out in Arkala.
This was the hope the owner of Big Chompy's restaurant had clung to over the past several years, but to no avail. In place of respect he found scrutiny; in place of decency the man was met with complete and utter disregard. But never had he been so far disdained as when he served the Raid Pirates.
The Raid Pirates were a pirate crew who once served under the notorious Barney Kettle. Once dubbed the "Black Hand Pirates", their forces were comprised of those of whom did not take well to Kettle's alliance with the Titan Pirates. In short, they severed their ties with their former captain in favor of following Kettle's then right-hand man, Princeton Strathmore, who these days was known most widely by the name of "Big Foot".
"Hoy!! Don't this cup look half empty to ya?" Big Foot barked, raising up his mug of ale high over his head to allow the waiters around a decent look at it. He held a bizarrely large drumstick in his other hand, which compared to his impressive stature appeared to be undersized. The large man had his knees tucked in underneath the table he was seated at; matter of fact, the table was resting on his lap, its legs risen up and deprived of ever meeting the ground so long as he was seated. Thick red hair was twisted into locks and tied back behind his head in an otherwise neatly assorted bun, and a jagged scar ran through one of his eyes.
It took three waiters to carry over another large keg and refill Big Foot's mug. It was the last of their supply after having restocked just that morning; Big Foot alone had run them dry of most of their reserves, food and demand included. There was just no end to this man's hunger!
"Jeejeejee!~" Big Foot sang out, wasting little time in stirring his ale with the drumstick and chugging down a large sum of it. His subordinates, filling up the rest of the restaurant's seating, roared out in joy at the pleasure their beloved captain was experiencing. They were a cruel bunch; the Raid Pirates had made a name for themselves out of performing dark tasks no sane man would ever even think of. They were brutal pirates who showed no signs of remorse. Why they had made Permis their home a few months ago was anyone's guess, but more than that, the biggest wonder remained how they had managed to avoid being caught by Permis' authority during that lengthy duration of time.
Footsteps resounded at the front door. Two customers, draped in hoods, had come searching for some dinner of their own. The taller of the two surveyed the room, looking for a place to be seated --but there was not a single spare chair in sight. "I don't see any open chairs, do you, Damon?"
"Hell nah, Apu," The one adressed as Damon shrugged, "And this is the goddamn fifth we visit." He slanted his eyes, pulling his hood back to reveal his dark and white hair. The fourth previous restaurants didn't even bother to let both Apu and Damon work as cooks in order to get some food as reward.
He didn't know if this was the last, but, they had to try. "Shit looks like some mare entered her fertility and all these horsewieners came galloping," Damon mumbled once he saw a large group, akin to a pirate crew, resting over a part of the place. His teeth gritted once he observed the scene caused by the loudest man of the group, "And here we go..." Looking at Apu, he said, "Let's talk to some waitress or something."
Apu let out an honest chuckle at Damon's insightful humor. He always had something to say about everything! Letting down his hood, Apu slowly turned his head toward the infamous pirate who was barking at them from across the room.
"Sorry, but this place has been reserved for real pirates! So you flounders can go 'n piss yourselves somewhere else!" Not only did he insult them with his words, but Big Foot went the extent of chucking the bone of his freshly devoured drumstick at the duo.
Catching the sheepishly large bone with both hands, Apu tightened his hold over it in disgust. It snapped under his might as he asserted a well informed gaze at the one known as Big Foot. "So this is where you ran off to, is it?" Apu's fat lips curved into a grin. "I had no idea that you were Big Foot."
Damon frowned, "Haaaaaaaa?" Then, he fully pushed his hood off, eyes glaring towards the man that Apu addressed as Big Foot. "Who's this guy?" Grinding his teeth and slanting his eyes, Damon tilted his head slightly, "Who are ya' to say we haven't been in other places? Can you see the future or some shit?"
"He's a former accomplice of Kettle-sama," Apu informed, sneaking a single glance at Damon. "Kettle-sama once thought the world of this guy. But as soon as Kettle-sama began to change his ways, leaving his days as a slaver behind… that's when Strathmore saw an opportunity to make a name for himself. He went from being a pirate in Kettle-sama's crew to a sworn enemy of the Titan Pirates."
Strathmore's ears twitched at hearing Apu's voice. It sounded strangely familiar. Oh yes… how could he ever forget? The last time they had met, Apu was going on and on and on about how he was trying to find his sister Kresha. He just wouldn't shut up about it!
"Big Foot?" He scratched at his scalp, not caring that his hand was still slathered in the juice and grease of seasoned chicken. "Is that what they're callin' me, now? Well they should be callin' me Big Dick after I boned your good for nothing sister!"
The Raid Pirates roared with laughter. Plates trembled, chairs and tables quaked. It was as though the entire restaurant had gone under a tremor. Memories of Kresha filled Apu's mind. Memories of his goal… memories of his failure in finding her.
Something in Apu snapped. Was it anger? Rage? He didn't know what it was, but he didn't care. Suddenly all the spotted fishman could think of was making Strathmore pay. He rushed ahead, chucking the two halves of the bone he had split behind him in his mad sprint.
From underneath the table lifted around his lap, Strathmore lifted up a single one of his legs. He aimed his foot toward the charging fishman, and in the blink of an eye, the foot expanded several times in size until the heel of his shoe skidded against the floor and the tippy top of his toe scathed the ceiling. The enlarged foot collided against Apu; his fat fishman lips parted as air gushed out from them between them. With a grunt Apu was kicked back, sent flying out through the wall making up the Big Chompy's entrance.
More laughter ensued. "Bahaha! You've gotta be joking me!" one of Big Foot's subordinates spat, holding up his captain's bounty poster in one hand. "You rookie pirates get on the news once and all of a sudden think you're hot shit! A word of advice; there's pirates out here that have been at it way longer than you've even been alive! Our captain here's got a bounty of 582,000,000! And that's only because the World Government refuses to acknowledge half of the obscene shit he's done! If word of that were to break out… people would be sure to lose their faith in humanity!"
"Ap-" Damon tried, though, his friend was already going into the fight. Wasn't he supposed to be the impulsive one? "Goddamn, wait for me!!" Veins appeared throughout his frame, there it was.
He could already see what would transpire between their collision, be it through instinct or haki. Mouth wide, his teeth gritted, he crossed his arms, "Treinta Blume: Fishnet & Raid!" Damon spat out and uncrossed his arms, whilst five pairs of arms sprouted from the outside wall of the restaurant and took hold of one another, forming some kind of net that would catch Apu before he flew off in the distance.
At that same moment, the other twenty arms appeared from some pillars that stood close to the Raid Pirates. Four arms meshed with one another, becoming bulkier and longer, and formed five fists. "OBSCENE OR NOT, I DON'T GIVE A FUCK!" Petals flew around Damon's fist as he did a punching gesture, prompting all of the additional fists to soar through the air towards the crew. Regardless if they landed on their target or not, part of the building exploded offwards, pressure waves flying into the city.
A vicious beatdown ensued. No one present could have ever guessed that Damon would be able to spawn additional limbs around them. And so the many pirates present were defenseless as fists began to rain down upon them.
Screams replaced laughter as the restaurant quaked under the might of the oni-horseman. Tables and plates flew every which way and walls collapsed, forcing the brawl onto the streets of Bag Town. At least ten or so pirates were laying on the ground, downright defeated by the time the smoke from Damon's assault dispersed. But that left more than fifty still intact.
Caught by Damon's arms, Apu was brought safely to his feet. With some peace of mind, the fishman coddled the bruise on his face. "Sheesh, eating a Devil Fruit seems like a better idea every day," he said with widened eyes, eyeing the sorry mess that was made out of the Big Chompy.
Big Foot, his foot returned to its ordinary stature, marched out from behind a pile of debris. His remaining subordinates were quick to shield him by forming a crowd around him. "You think so much of yarselves for teamin' up with Yonko, don't ya? But in reality, it just shows how weak ya are!" Big Foot clenched his hands into tempered fists. "The strong don't needa hide behind the names of others! The strong venture for themselves and stand independent! Fuck the Yonko and fuck you peasants for riding their cocks!"
Fueled by their captain's countless insults, the Raid Pirates let out their battle cry once more. Only this time, they went the extent of fist bumping their captain --each and every last one of them. And seconds after coming into contact with his fist, each individual member began to increase in size.
"Yeah!!! Strathmore-sama's Ugo Ugo no Mi is the best power in the world!" one underling exclaimed proudly as he grew to the size of a giant. His comrades grew to his exact size, until they towered over Damon and Apu and covered the whole of Bag Town with their size and length.
There were fifty giants staring down at the two horsemen; Big Foot himself remained proportioned to his ordinary stature and stood back, observing his subordinates as they took center stage.
"IT'S A RAID!! IT'S A RAID!!!" Countless pirates sang out into the night filled sky, grinning sinisterly at their dwarfed prey. "Peasants like you won't ever even make it to a fight with our captain! You're already dead!!"
Countless feet were raised. There were hundreds of stomps coming down at Damon and Apu. "Uhh, Damon! Are you sure this isn't Elbaf?" Apu said, bracing himself for impact.
Eyeing the many unconscious men, Damon arched his eyebrows, that scenario seemed just like back then at Ishitani. That flash was interrupted once Apu stood back to his side, "Ya' think?" Damon snickered, right lip curving up while he looked at the pirates, "Though, being honest, it has given me a lot of things to work with."
"Hide? We're in plain sight, you moron!" Damon's lips curved down as he began to point his finger at Strathmore, "Where are you guys in this fight?! If anything, ya' haven't been opposing anyone properly!" Though, his questions were probably shuffled by the many roars that came after. Roars that came along with Damon's eyes widening.
Mouth as an o, Damon stepped back, "What the hell was in that restaurant's food?!" His pupils rapidly darted between each of the growing pirates. Seeing the smirking Strathmore, Damon's hands curled into fists, "It's his Devil Fruit!" His head whipped towards Apu, due to the latter's question, "Elbaf... No?? This is like Lilliput-" Tremors cut him off, many feet coming down like small meteorits upon the city.
Since the then-giants were all cramped together, not all of them could step over Damon nor Apu, allowing for a second of breathing. "GET SASQUATCH, I'LL DISTRACT THESE GUYS!" Damon roared over to Apu, kicking the ground with both legs and propelling himself through the air, while both his arms were held out, "JUST GO, GAAAAAH!" No second after, he had already collided against one of the many gigantic feet.
Teeth grit and veins popping all throughout his body, Damon propelled himself again and shot the air below him off, "If I touch the ground once, the tremors won't let me get up!!" Even so, he was much close to the ground, Geppo just wasn't enough. He didn't even have a lot of time, barely a few seconds, yet, his right leg was already surging backwards and got itself coated in Busohoku.
If nothing could keep him going upward for long, he just had to use the giant's attack againt him. His leg shot upward and his body spun vertically, "Hasenpeffer!!" Damon yelled, while his attack darted through the air and provoked a large boom behind his figure. The bridge of his foot would hit directly against the giant's sole, generating a shockwave that travelled through their leg and reached the rest of their body, something that would induce a reaction much like jumping. Indeed, Damon figured that should he use the giant's mass against themselves, they would be thrown over their companions and disrupt the barrage of their attacks, even if barely, given that due to his size, the giant wasn't thrown a large distance.
"Sasquatch?" Apu blinked in confusion. "You mean Strathmore, right?!"
With great initial resistance, the targeted giant was swept off of his feet and knocked backward. But fortunately for him, a number of his companions were around, and so all it took was an outstretched arm or two to prevent him from falling down and toppling countless buildings underneath him.
Damon's reckless behavior incited a look of annoyance on Big Foot's face. "You're underestimating the power of giants! Don't be an idiot. It took ya all that much work to barely move one, and even at that, we have the numbers to back each other up all day."
Big Foot lifted up his hand and pointed out his finger at Damon. His hand increased in size several times to help further his point with dramatic emphasis. "You guys suck, it's really that plain and simple! And what are you even fighting with me for anyway, food? Well you've gone and destroyed the restaurant already so now neither of us can eat!"
"Whatever the fuck yo!" Damon spat back at Apu, kicking with both legs to maintain himself in mid-air. Then, he grinned, maybe some part of him knew that to topple all of the giants with a single attack was too much, "You shut your trap, Little Foot!! You don't even know my plan, how can you say that when you proclaim you fight against Yonkos?!"
Indeed, by pushing back one giant, even if momentarily, Damon made part of the surrounding giants get busy for but a few moments. Moments which he used to further ascend through the air by repeatedly kicking the air with Geppo, one leg after the other. He did so with such force not only to further propel himself, but, to slightly produce shockwaves, should any giant try to reach him with a hand. "I'M GOING TO SHUT Y'ALL UP!!"
Eyes shining red, Damon scanned the many giants that stood upon the ground, prepared should they try and jump towards him. He crossed his arms, "Quinientos Blumes!!!" Visibly from Strathmore's view many limbs could be seen sprouting from the backside of the giants, mainly from close to their necks. Some limbs banded together to form even larger limbs, such as arms, "STRIKE!" The hands, positioning themselves, would strike at the neck of those giants in the hopes of severally weakening their current stand.
However, if Strathmore really looked into it, not all the giants close to him had limbs appearing, nor were other giants going to fall down. That was because a portion of Damon's limbs were directed to appear behind Strathmore and snatch him up by his back, so that he would be shot into the sky and be an easy prey for Apu. Plus, if he had to be honest, with how angry he was, there was no way all of those blows were properly coordinated to hit.
Many giants tried to reach up at Damon as he soared up above them, but the horsemen proved far too sleek and nimble to be caught so easily. Big Foot himself studied Damon's stance from below; Asura's harsh words stung him down right to the bone. Though Damon's words gravely insulted him, Big Foot put his hand over the right part of his chest rather than his left, where most men harbored their hearts.
The amount of limbs Damon would need to generate to do any meaningful damage to even a single giant was absurd; to think he would go so far as to try and create countless enormous limbs to span several giants was even more absurd. The young pirate was exerting himself tremendously' by scoping so large an attack --perhaps there was more to him than Big Foot initially believed.
Not all the giants were of the same strength, and so some of them were actually rendered unconscious by Damon's neck snapping maneuver. And as they began to fall back, Big Foot slowly contracted his hands toward one another, magically causing the giants to decrease to their ordinary humanoid size as they fell down on the ground.
Big Foot's eyes beamed red. He sensed arms sprouting behind him next; it was rather impressive that Damon could scope so far with his own Kenbunshoku and get off such a long range sneak attack. But something like that wasn't going to work so easily on Big Foot.
"You talk… big..." In the blink of an eye, Big Foot's legs increased dramatically in size until he looked the part of a man wearing stilts. With a subtle turn of his hip, he brought his boot to stomp down hard on the limbs being made behind him as he eyed Damon above with a proposition.
"The way yar yappin' that arrogant mind of yars is pissin' me off… why don't you come down here and we'll settle this between just the two of us, eh? No assistance, no reinforcements! Just two men sorting their own quarrel for themselves… unless yar a coward!"
"GAH!!" Damon gritted his teeth, eyes budging out of their sockets as the impact of Strathmore's attack was shared between his bodies. "If you want a fuckin' fight, don't make your crew fight for you!!" Bracing himself, Damon summoned another row of limbs, arms this time, one out of the other. They formed a ring around him and all got covered in Busoshoku Haki.
He really didn't know where he would be without Geppo, yet nevertheless, Damon side-kicked the are around him and spun violently towards Strathmore. "VEAL ROULAAADE!" Fire encased the ring and became a small tornado around him, produced by the friction of the arms over each other.
However, Damon didn't directly go towards Strathmore, instead, his flaming rotation hit the ground, provoking a small explosion of dust. A second later, the fire wheel continued on its path and quickly reached over to where Big Foot was, leaving a trail of smoke. However, upon a really close look, Strathmore would maybe notice that Damon wasn't within the wheel, rather, once the dust of the explosion cleared, a large hole could be seen upon the ground it initially landed.
At that same time, the ground below where Strathmore stood exploded, with Damon instantly bursting off and erupting towards him. His right palm aimed to hit Big Foot directly, covered in Haki, while a furious Damon yelled, "Saurbraten!!" A ring of air exploded offwards from the pressure of his push, destroying even the flaming aura of the wheel, should neither hit Strathmore.
Big Foot's eyes squinted at the sight of Damon cringing in pain above. Was it a result of exerting himself so immensely before or due to his foot stomping all those arms? It was an interesting gamble nonetheless.
The large man hardly braced himself when Damon came roaring down from the skies above, set ablaze by his own speed and power. If nothing else, Damon's courage mounted Big Foot's face to tighten with disgust, if even that --Strathmore stood his ground firm as Damon surged in front of him and unleashed a wicked assault.
With a calm breath, Strathmore at last prepared himself. Legs returning to size and feet spreading further apart, he gripped his long coat with both hands and parted it open, exposing his bare upper body that lay beneath. A long, jagged scar tainted one side of his torso. His chest expanded immensely in size, each individual pectoral ballooning to the size of a giant in time to meet Damon's blow.
Torrents of air gusted out in every direction as Damon's palm clasped on top of the ring of fire and the two forces clashed against Big Foot's chest, which went ripe with Haki in the transpiring seconds. Apu who was observing the fight from a fair distance was forced to throw up his arms in defense in order to combat the wind gauging at his eyes and spotted face.
Big Foot's feet skid back slightly in lue of the contact. Black sparks radiated from Damon's hand and his chest; with a plain look on his face, Big Foot bore into Damon's fierce expression as the mayhem came to an abrupt end. "Is that it?"
With a quick reflex, Big Foot doubled the size of his hand and cuffed it around the back of Damon's head. Thrusting down with immense force, he smashed Damon into the ground between his feet with a blackened grasp. "Kids like you shouldn't talk so big!!"
Black sparks radiated from Big Foot's hand as it stamped Damon further and further into the ground. Larger sheems of black rippled from all around the pirate ever still, looming over the battlefield like a plague. The giants comprising his own crew were rendered unconscious after contracting only a small whiff of their captain's aura. And this time, Big Foot didn't have the decency to lower their sizes; giants tumbled all around, withering Bag Town into a pile of rubble.
The ultra rare Haki seen in one in a million challenged Damon's worthiness as a pirate. And to rectify himself, it seemed only right that Damon summon his own Haoshoku to match Strathmore --lest he be done in here and now by a single blow.
"MMPH!" Damon grunted once Strathmore took a grip of his head and pressed it towards the ground, interrupting him of whatever response he would have given. Grinding his teeth yet again, Damon closed his black eyes, while his face began to go back and forth from meeting the ground. He tasted soil, dirt, worms.
Blood dripped into the ground, yet, white eyes opened instead in a single breathe. Sharp teeth surfaced, white skin gave place to deep blue, Damon's eyes glared ahead towards and a roar erupted. "RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" Erupted along with a wave of that very same Haki, a Haki he had discovered back during the fight with Mengis at Ishitani, when the marines went past the limit. It went unusued until then. "A KID LIKE ME NEEDS AN ADULT TEACHING THEM, HUH?!?" Two things that were constantly hidden under the visage of a normal human being, his proof of being a Leader and the heritage from his grandmother. Horns were visible on his forehead, complementing the frown that was his expression.
His left foot stepped forward, creating a crater under it as Damon tried to stop Strathmore's assault. That action by itself served as a response to Big Foot's Haoshoku, Damon's own flaring off in a pink aura, Haki radiated from Strathmore's hand and from Damon's foot. "YOU THINKING USING MY FACE TO PAINT THE PAVEMENT WILL BE ENOUGH?!" Their clash made the crater widen, sparks flying everywhere.
It may not have been a clash of Kings, but, neither stepped back. Without waiting for much more, Damon held his right fist out again, spikes, horns surfacing from it. "Armado Blume!!" Much like a gauntlet, they covered his forearm and fist, providing additional resilience and piercing power. He dug it towards Strathmore's figure for yet another clash.
Apu was simply amazed by what he was seeing out of Damon at the current moment. The spotted fishman had attempted many a time to break through and reach his nakama, but the giants that remained fended him off and utilized their massive size to keep him at bay. It was a one-on-one, just as Big Foot had wanted.
"D-Damon…?!" Apu remained speechless. He hadn't yet seen Damon take upon such a form.
A clash of kings, resounding in reshaping the immediate environment. Bag Town was already in ruins --what happened to it now was not an issue for either party, it seemed. Big Foot observed Damon's transformed state with a single brow raised. Was he supposed to care?
"Just look at ya, boy!" Big Foot side stepped, preparing to take on Damon as he wildly started charging at him again. "Yar so small and yet you can hardly control your own power!"
Perhaps Strathmore had a point. Much of Bag Town's destruction was Damon's doing; Big Foot was several times larger than Damon, and yet he had ensured to maintain control over himself and prevented his presence from destroying much of anything.
Big Foot, whose power centered around the premise of enlarging his limbs had caused less destruction than this small fry Horsemen. What Damon lacked, as per Big Foot's point, was proper control; it was clear that Damon cared little for his surroundings. He was like a madman bent and focused on a single thing: revenge.
And for what? Big Foot had done nothing to Damon directly. He had insulted Apu; he had insulted the Titan Pirates. But here was Damon, raging toward him with a temper the likes of which he had never seen.
Big Foot's brow furrowed. What he saw in Damon was a rookie pirate biting off far more than he could chew. What he saw was a rookie pirate who was far too arrogant for his own good; certainly far too arrogant to persist at this stage of the Grand Line.
"Yar temper is worse than the Public Enemy's, I'll tell ya that right now, kid!" Hand increasing in size and blitzing black with Busoshoku, Big Foot caught the transformed Damon in his hand like a baseball mit, locking his fingers around. Damon's horns and power clashed against the hard of his palm. "Yar not anythin' special! I've seen plenty of kids just like you across the New World; having King's Haki don't make you a king, son!"
Feeling incredible resistance emanating from Damon, Big Foot grabbed the wrist of his hand with his other to apply further support. Then, swinging his arm round and round, he launched Damon toward ten stacks of buildings like a rocket.
But having earned Big Foot's wrath, Damon didn't have the luxury of simply taking the hit. No, Big Foot was now on the run. He plowed after Damon as soon as he had released him. He was coming, ready to plow through anything coming in his way.
"SHUT THE HELL UUUUUUP!!" Damon tried yelling through his grinding teeth, "Stop talking about King!!" Another grunt, his white eyes shone over Big Foot's figure. "Why does everyone keep reminding me?! GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!" Mouth wide open, Damon's entire focus had indeed gone into Strathmore. After all, not only did Big Foot insult his fish-friend, he began talking about the incident of back then.
Though, wasn't it true? His temper always got the best of him, the environment got the worst out of it, though, it made him do one of the two things he could even properly do in this life... Fight. Yes, he would fight. Strathmore's hand had been budging, but that was before Damon felt his whole world spin and his body fly through several buildings.
Nothing special, That don't make you a King. "DON'T YOU THINK I KNOW?!" Damon double-kicked the air through Geppo, blasting off the remaining buildings with a shockwave, "NO ONE WANTS TO BE NEAR THE MONSTER!!" A red-head woman, Indiana, and Soren flashed by his mind. People from Asha came by as well. "I'll- PUMMEL, SMASH, ANNIHILATE, WHOEVER REVEALED MY SECRET AT ASHA! Defeat me... incapacitate me... but, DON'T DARE THINK YOU CAN KILL ME!"
Several kicks, Damon flew towards the sprinting Strathmore, redirecting his trajectory each time he kicked, like a blue whisper through the air. When he would get close to Strathmore, Damon would try passing by the man's legs, rotating as to enhance his movement and hit Big Foot with another haki-enhanced attack. All in the hopes of using Strathmore's own speed against him and send him flying, while Damon himself would fly in the opposite direction, not risking to fall prey to any of Big Foot's Devil Fruit techniques.
Damon was still far too hot headed. As he attempted to pass through Big Foot's big legs, something miraculous occurred.
"Dial: One!" Strathmore barked. And in that moment, within the blink of an eye… he vanished into thin air. Vanished from right in front of Damon's own eyes, gone as if he had never been occupying the same spot.
Damon's attacks never met their mark. Big Foot was gone and was nowhere to be seen. Had he run away? Had he really forfeited the fight after all the trash he had talked?
"GRAAAH!!" Damon suddenly barked, planting himself into the ground instead of spinning away like he planned. Glare, sniff. Vision, smell, those senses were the only enhanced ones when Damon was in his original form, but, that was not to say he only had those means to find wherever Strathmore went. Sniff, white pupils went red as Kenbunshoku, his specialty, made him sense whatever auras were around and quickly react to whichever he found that had Strathmore's signature.
It was almost as though Damon's senses had betrayed him the way everything and anything about Big Foot had suddenly disappeared. There was no longer any Haki signature coolerated to his presence, and along with that went his scent and any other audible devices that could have possibly given him away to the Oni. Strathmore was just… absent, gone from the world as if he had packed his bags and just… left.
Apu was just as confused as Damon, if not more. Damon was a specialist when it came to Kenbunshoku and definitely better than him; so if Damon was having a hard time figuring out what had become of his big footed opponent, then Apu was simply at a loss for words. Remaining a spectator, the fishman cupped his hands and yelled aloud, "Damon! He's gotta be around somewhere! Strathmore's not the type of guy to run away from a fight!"
The wind whistled. The few giants that remained grinned wildly, yet masked their purpose. In the next moment a single pebble moved on the ground, and in the blink of an eye, Big Foot returned to the battlefield from underneath Damon's feet. The man who could increase his size at will had revealed another mechanic behind his Devil Fruit prowess; just as he could enlarge himself, Big Foot could just as well shrink!
A Haki cladded punch connected hard with Damon's face and jaw. The way Damon's body flailed from the impact nearly caused Apu's heart to burst out from his spotted skin. A triumphant clap of hardened steel crackling against an unanticipated visage; a vicious roar bellowed over what was left of Bag Town.
"There's more to being a pirate than just thinking up a silly name and adhering to it! The way you little maggots from Paradise think so much of yourselves for being featured in the paper is just so gosh darn cute!"
Damon's body flew up from the resulting force; the winds that accompanied him as he ascended higher and higher up prevented him from recovering. Eyes open for a moment longer, the Oni felt a deserting sense of exhaustion overtake his limbs. The last sight he saw beneath him before losing consciousness was that of Strathmore's arm expanding to catch him before he got too far out of reach.
"Men turn to piracy in search of their dreams, not to escape banishment at the hands of some old excuse of a kingdom! Don't you dare call yourself a pirate when all you've done thus far is battle a few marines to warrant a bounty on yar head!" Palm enclosing around Damon's body, Strathmore reeled in his prey closer to himself, keeping the defeated Horsemen inches from his face.
"What is your purpose, maggot? Have you even given any thought to it? I have forced you asleep, so can you take a moment now and just dream?" Strathmore studied Damon's wounded body closely. And that was when he heard it; the sound of a drum radiating from the boy's chest, much like his own. Never had the same melody rang from any other individual across the seven seas. Not in any of the blues, not in Paradise, and not even the New World.
Strathmore put his ear against Damon's chest to have a better listen. He moved the boy back and winced with disappointment. "And here I thought a guy like you could better understand a guy like me. There is a dribble to the way your heart beats, Damon, and I suspect that is because like me you possess more than a single heart.
"But what am I to make of such a discovery when malice alone cannot contain thee? Yar a sorry excuse for a pirate, boy! Filth like you disgusts me; be gone!" Spinning his arm round and round, Strathmore heaved the sleeping Damon away into the skies like a baseball thrown out of a mit.
And so Damon flew, off like a rocket to the stars above. Off to dream of bigger and better things.
"DAMON!!!!!" Apu yelled, turning his head around and back, watching helplessly as his dear ally, comrade and friend was disposed of by a pirate few dared to challenge.
Strathmore simply shook his head. "Yar hanging with the wrong crowd, Apu. First Kettle and now a boy like that?" Shaking his head further, the captain of the Raid Pirates clicked his tongue repeatedly against the top of his mouth. "Tsk, tsk, tsk. Join me, my brother. Accompany me on my journey as I become… the King of Pirates!"
Strathmore's hand expanded in size as he welcomed Apu to his crew. But with a simple glare in his direction, Apu was on his way. "A guy like you will never make it that far, definitely not on your own! You mock the Yonko yet aspire to be just like them!" Sudden Burst activated, the fishman zipped past whatever giant remained in his way en route to pursuing Damon's drop.
Strathmore sighed. "Back to Kettle you go, eh? No matter how I try and help them, I suppose the weak will remain just as they are." Dusting his hands as they reverted to proportion, Big Foot turned around and began to walk off on his own. "You all, scatter before any further scene is made of this town. I've a meeting to attend in the meanwhile."
Retracting to a sheepishly smaller size, Big Foot vanished again from plain sight.
The Great Divide Edit
Few knew the streets of Arkala like Bon. The Permis native who had become a pirate in recent years had spent much of his early life here on this very island; even in spite of the glamorous lights and luxurious festivities that welcomed him in his hour of fame did Bon refuse to leave it behind.
In silence the man who boasted a very meager physique for a pirate plodded the streets, whereas on the contrary other members of his crew would have walked down that same aisle with their chests out and their heads raised high, glistening with confidence. But this man, Bon, had forgotten how that all felt. In humbler times, he too shimmered in the same charisma. But following an incident all but 5 years ago, his whole life had changed in the blink of an eye.
They haunted him still. Posters of the famed Nectar Ellis, put up on every corner of the island. A man renowned for his beauty to such an extent that at a flutter's notice could he sheer the heart of a lady from inside her bosom. A man of uncharacteristic and divine appearance that even men suppressed their urges whenever he appeared on movie screens across the world. He was the world's biggest movie star and yet he hadn't filmed in well over five years.
Five years. For five years those closest to Nectar Ellis had covered up his sudden disappearance. Where he had gone or what had happened to him was known to none, and yet due to his overarching fame and popularity, no report could ever be made. The disappearance of Nectar Ellis had been hidden, masked, and put off. Movies were made recycling older footage featuring the star and for five full years the industry continued to cash in by making a fool out of every individual member of their audience.
Nectar Ellis was gone. Gone from the entertainment film industry for good. The star who was born and raised in Permis and who --even in spite of all the fame he had amassed through his many globally and commercially successful films-- remained a resident of the island, would perhaps never see himself behind a camera again.
Perhaps Nectar Ellis was long since dead. Dead but clearly never forgotten. Dead but still incredibly prominent. Dead, but still very much capable of... plodding.
Plodding up the steps of a mansion he himself had designed with the aid of some of the world's greatest architects, the zombified Xros pirate allowed himself a single moment to simply take in his surroundings.
He had been banned from ever entering Permis. This was the first time he had been able to bypass the island's defenses; marines knew him by appearance and would openly engage him without warning. Bon was now suddenly thankful for the interference of the Sea Kings they encountered on their way here; if not for their intervention… well then there was a good chance he would have never made it even this far.
Memories came flooding back into him as Bon surveyed the rest of the property. Memories of better times, when he felt as though he had the whole world in the cusp of his palm. Beneath his mask was a chiseled smile, one with scraps of flesh tearing off of his lips as he looked on at the swimming pool he once relaxed inside of and the tennis court he had purchased simply for show. Oh, and the garage, capable of housing countless vehicles. Large enough to store a whole ship, even, but that too was just for show.
Money was like child's play back then. Whatever he didn't blow on himself or his family, Bon gave back to the community of Permis. That was why they had always loved him; it tore him apart inside to know what they thought of him now.
And that was when he saw her. Peering in through the backyard window, Bon froze in place. His goggles fogged up as he caught sight of a little girl, no more than five years old, playing with a doll inside of the kitchen.
"E-E-Em…" Outstretching his hand, Bon gently ran his fingertips over the glass as he gazed further into the house. His house. The house he, Nectar Ellis, had designed with his own mind.
"E-Emily," he coughed from underneath his mask, wanting nothing more than for his own daughter to notice him. Wanting nothing more than for her to see him, to see with her own eyes for the first time in her life the man who had played a crucial part in giving life to her.
"Emily..! Emily..!" He said louder, emotions running rampant. Losing control of himself for the moment, the zombie began to panic as soon as he realized that the glass in front of him had begun to rot away.
Like a cube of ice set before the sun, the glass window rotted away into dust beneath Bon's feet, leaving no barrier between father and daughter. Emily had seen him now. Even through the massive helmet fixed around her head, she saw Bon, and in seeing him, she reached out toward him and slowly began to plod in his direction.
Here was his chance. His chance to hold his daughter in his own arms; to touch her face with his own hand. But how could he risk rotting her away?
No sooner than when the window vanished did Juliet appear in the kitchen with her hands in front of her mouth. "EMILY!!!" she exclaimed, seeing Bon, "GET AWAY FROM HIM, EMILY!"
Bon froze yet again. Juliet was quick to snatch Emily away from him and retreat deeper into the home, exclaiming "that's the Rat Catcher! He's the origin of the disease, he's come to kill us all!"
"J-J-Juliet..!" Bon yelled back. He had to tell her who he was. In the scarce opportunities he had received before, she simply would not dare to reason with him. She had to know; Juliet had to know who he was. He was her beloved husband, the father to her child, the owner of this household, the movie star whose name and face were admired on movie screens across the world --he was Nectar Ellis!
"J-J-J-Juliet!!!" He yelled again, but the meager zombified excuse of a pirate found the world around him grow dark. Turning back, he realized that the shadow of Vice Admiral Batavia had nearly swallowed him whole.
"Juliet, run away into the basement with our child! I will dispose of this vermin no matter the cost!" His coat strung over his shoulders and fluttering behind him, the brave marine stood behind Bon, poised to destroy the bearer of the plague once and for all.
Seeing her run off, Nectar Ellis tried to give chase. He fell to his knees in his desperation, and a cold boot wrapped in webbing shoved him face first into the tile flooring. "J-J-Juliet!!" He exclaimed, suddenly realizing once more what he was. "J-Juliet! Juliet!"
"She's gone, maggot. Silence yourself." Bon was turned onto his backside by the webbed boot, made to face up at the man who had stolen away everything from him. "I'm impressed by how far you've made it this time, Ellis. I had no idea you were even coming to visit."
"B-B-Batavia..!!" Reaching quickly with his hand, Bon touched Batavia's foot with his hand. But rather than succeed in rotting away the limb, he only managed to rot away the webbing that was around it.
"I know all about how your ability works, Ellis. Don't forget that it was I who fed you that fruit." Webbing seeped from the inside sleeve of Batavia's trouser pants, quickly rewrapping his foot.
A kick sent Bon skidding across the floor. He hit the wall hard with his back; the wall began to decompose into smithereens. "S-S-So wh-what now…? A-Are you going to k-kill me?!"
"Oh, Ellis. Don't be silly." With a webbed hand, Batavia lifted up the small man by his skull and brought him closer for a final message. "I can't kill you: you're already dead."
Bon was sent flying away into the skies. Under his breath, Batavia muttered, "oh no, he got away. Looks like the plague lives on."
Burst after burst, Apu suddenly blitzed through the streets of Bellmare. On his backside lay an unconscious Draco D. Damon; arms dangling down over his shoulders, Apu secured Damon's wrists with his hands awaiting on his precious ability to recharge itself.
"Hang in there, Damon! We're almost there!"
There had been word of a doctor who had come to Bellmare to study the plague. Word on the street was that this doctor was not only housing those infected but was also personally treating them of his own will. With this in mind, Apu had traveled to Bellmare in the hopes that the Heretic would be so kind as to examine Damon's wounds.
Bursting through the front door of the gymnasium, Apu scanned the large room left and right. Hundreds of beds were arranged across the gym floor; patients dressed in blank white scrubs moved about these beds in agony. Seeing them suffer, Apu began to question whether or not this was a good idea-- what if he or Damon ended up contracting their disease?
"P-Please..! Is there anyone here who can help me? It's my friend… my friend is seriously wounded!"
A spectacled man was busy organizing numerous papers that he had been working on. Photos upon photos. Documents upon documents. They were piled upon each other in an orderly manner, but the sheer volume made it nearly impossible for the man to sift through all of them. This plague of his had kept his attention for several days.
Hearing the voice of the fishman, the spectacled man looked upwards towards the entrance of the gymnasium. Looking past the dozens of patients on the floor of the gymnasium, the man with long, black hair didn't even have to examine Damon closely and realized exactly what was going on. "...He's not the only one."
The man was Hazen Yosef, a Doctor now known to the world as the Heretic for his actions. But his details were unnecessary for now. He stood up quickly, and began to give out instructions. "Indra, prepare a makeshift bed immediately. We have work to do." The doctor walked calmly, but bristly towards Damon and Apu, and offered to take Damon out of Apu's hands while his assistant, named Indra, prepared the bed for the following medical procedures.
Indra scoffed as the thought of Yosef giving him orders, however, continued to do what the doctor had asked of him, shifting tables around in order to make them long enough for the man to be layed upon before he used the tablecloth on the table as a makeshift bedding. Next, Indra made his way over to Yosef and helped him place Damon down upon his masterpiece.
"Comfortable eh, eh?" Indra asked as if he was trying to get Damon to admit what a masterpiece the bed he had mad truly was. After assuring that Damon was stable upon the table and in no danger of falling off, Indra once more returned to Yosef's aid, and watched as he prepared for the procedure.
"Are you sure you know what you're doing Yosef?!"
Allowing Damon to be taken from him, Apu observed Yosef and Indra from a fair distance. Indra's questioning of the doctor, however, made Apu begin to doubt Yosef's ability. How could he be certain that Damon would recover soundly?
Guilt corroded Apu's chest. Big Foot had demanded a one-on-one battle, that much was certainly true. But if Apu had intervened and broken his moral code, then perhaps Damon wouldn't be in the state he was in now. Was he to blame for Damon's swift defeat?
"Sigh, you really know how to keep a man at the edge of his seat, Indra." Yosef grumbled. He pulled out a briefcase from next to him and opened it near Damon, who had been laid down on the bed now.
The first thing he had to take care of was the pain Damon was feeling. Taking out an injection filled with a green liquid from his briefcase, he injected it directly into the closest vein he could make out on Damon's right arm. Damon's twitches were stopping, but the intense pain kept him awake. The entirety of the injection had not been used, however.
Yosef then took the liquid out of the injection and placed it into a small drinking glass. He then placed his finger into the glass, and chanted, "Stack: Sedative Effect — Tenfold." Allowing Damon to sip the drink with the limited amount of consciousness he had, the others around Damon would observe the pain in Damon's body to be calming down, and Damon being laid fast asleep.
"There, that's the first step taken care of." Yosef worked methodically, and with surprising speed. Wearing a pair of sterile, disposable gloves, Yosef began to feel out the entirety of Damon's body with his hands. He had to get a feel for his anatomy to find what exactly needed to be realigned. From a cursory look, Yosef could tell the man was almost entirely crushed to death. There were very few people in the world who could perform a feat like that.
As he continued to press his hands against Damon's body, analyzing his muscular and skeletal structure, Yosef could instantly tell that Damon's anatomy did not align with a conventional human, especially as he prodded around his chest. "Two hearts...? Ah...I have read about this."
Moving down to his arms and legs, Yosef could get an understanding for Damon's muscular and skeletal structure. He was surprised. The nature of this body was far more attuned to durability than any human's he encountered. But at that point...just who could have done this to the patient? It didn't matter to Yosef. He now knew what he needed to do. "My patient is an Oni, which means the method of handling this particular patient is going to be...rough."
"Do not worry, Fishman. As long as he is a patient, I will heal him to the best of my ability." Yosef stated, but he looked at Indra. "Indra, I need you to take the Fishman away from the area for a moment. I'm going to have to use a rougher procedure to make sure he is able to naturally heal himself."
"Ah, the ole stabby stabby break fix technique. Follow me Fishman Yosef is gonna make this dude feel better!" Finishing his sentence Indra began to walk towards Apu before resting a gentle hand upon the arm of the fishman before he began to guide him out of the room and into the hallway, before Indra rested his back against the wall and faced Apu.
"The dude on the table looks really really reaaaaaalllllllly bad right now, so uh, what happened?"
Indra asked what to him was an innocent enough question as he waited for Apu to give him a response and details on what he hoped was a battle of epic proportions full of punches, kicks, and most importantly explosions!
Watching Yosef as he worked, Apu couldn't help but be amazed. He had seen his fair share of medics by now being a pirate himself, and never had he placed anyone around the same level of medical prowess as Hervy Ray or even Princeton Strathmore. But this man, the Heretic, might perhaps have been more talented than even them both!
"R-Right," Apu said, glancing between Indra and a black haired woman who was lain on a bed across the room as he was escorted out by the former. "He… He got into a little bit of an accident, is all. And… I'm afraid it might've been all my fault."
The last thing Apu wanted to do now was berate Damon for his loss. He was the farthest thing from a snitch; he wasn't about to sell out Damon for losing nor was he going to paint him in a picture that held him in a bad light. He had his as well as the reputation of the Horsemen to protect!
As soon as Apu and Indra were away from the area, Yosef was able to begin performing his medical procedures. Wearing a new set of gloves now. They were black, and curated with a very tough leather, and therefore a fair bit more durable than simple disposable ones. However, Yosef found himself puzzled on where to start with this patient, because his injuries were so widespread.
So he did what he knew best, and, opening his palm out entirely, he performed a palm strike directly towards the center of Damon's chest. A reverberation shook the ground beneath Damon, but his body did not move an inch. Instead, the strength of the blow seemed to cause Damon's body to vibrate from the inside. It was an advanced form of acupuncture that Yosef learned during his tenure as a Doctor, a method specifically for realigning the muscular and skeletal structures of people. However, being an Oni, Yosef had to apply considerably more force on Damon's body to be effective.
The sheer force that Yosef had applied caused the muscles on his arm to swell, breaking the sleeves of his shirt. Noticing the sheer amount of strength he had to apply, Yosef looked at Damon's body. Even now, that didn't finish the job. "What a ridiculous constitution...But that's not just because he's an Oni. This man has fought far more perilous battles than the normal Pirate...that's for sure."
Yosef began to perform the same procedure repeatedly. With every palm strike on a different part of Damon's body, the ground continued to shake violently, and Yosef's muscles continued to bulge with the strength he applied. However, after targeting every limb on his body with at least two palm strikes, it seemed that Yosef had completed the procedure.
What Yosef had just done would seem like violence to many, but it was an advanced form of acupuncture known as the "white hand." Realigning the body's disjointed bones and muscles with internal force, the patient would be able to heal their body with their natural recovery speed a lot easier. This was especially true with patients of races such as the Oni Tribe.
Taking off his gloves, Yosef breathed out loud. "The procedure is finished." With his shirt being in tatters from the strength he applied, Yosef began to walk to the change rooms. "Keep an eye on everything for a minute, Indra." As he did so, Yosef looked towards Apu. "Your friend will be fine. He's able to bounce back up well, from what I can surmise." He went into the changing room, leaving Indra alone with the patients for a short period of time.
Indra was the first to reenter the room upon hearing the doctors call, walking over to dead....not dead Damon as he now slumbered upon the table recovering from whatever Yosef had done to heal his injuries. Indra than gave a slight nod to Yosef as he propped himself upon a table that allowed him to oversee both Apu and Damon whilst the doctor left to do whatever duty that he felt was more pressing than saving an innocent life. Ah well, that didn't matter to Indra, he would supervise and assure that no funny business occurred in the meantime.
"Alright fish-boy, er, man make yourself comfortable whilst Yosef does the do. Unfortunately we are not a hotel so the comfort foods are fairly limited." Indra than made his way towards a counter and begin to fill himself a glass of water, before he walked over and handed it to Apu.
"There you go, you seem a little stressed, I guess id be worried too If my friend was left in the hands of a strange doctor and his handsome friend."
Apu sighed a breath of relief. "That's great load off my chest. How can I ever repay you?" Apu said, getting down on his knees and bowing before Yosef out of sheer gratitude alone. Apu was a man of great honor: he would never allow a favor to go unreturned, certainly not one of this caliber. Whether or not now was the time, he would surely repay Yosef for his help at any cost!
Accepting the cup of water from Indra, Apu commanded the liquid inside to move on its own. The water snaked upward in a spiral, slithering directly into the fishman's mouth. It was at that moment that his transponder snail began to ring. "I can't thank you guys enough for your help. But I'm afraid I've got to get going."
Taking out Kettle's vivre card, Apu studied it patiently. "Please, give my thanks to the doctor once more. I will find a way to return his favor if it's the last thing I do." Tapping his fist softly against the floor, Apu ran out from the gymnasium. Kettle's summon seemed urgent --Apu had a funny feeling in his stomach.
Yosef had come back following the small period of time. To his surprise, the fishman had already left the scene. Well, as it stood, now the patient was under his care. As he was recovering, however, Yosef had noticed something. For quite a long period of time, Yosef and Indra had not been wearing their protective equipment. In the urgency of this patient, they had forgot to put it on.
However, as he analyzed himself, Indra and the newly arrived patient, he found one thing oddly in common. "...We aren't affected." Yosef thought aloud, although he was partially speaking to Indra too. "While we are stuck here on Veno's orders, I thought I would attempt to solve the cause of this so-called plague...as my honor as a doctor won't let me live an unsettled case down."
Yosef tapped his temple with his right index finger as he sat on his desk, "This plague...it isn't contagious." Yosef said to Indra, with a somewhat grim tone. "That means...someone is intentionally spreading this disease around to these people...Is someone attempting to frame mass murder as a plague, I wonder?" Yosef continued to think, as he gazed across all the patients in his room. He had temporarily quelled their suffering, but it wouldn't last for very long. He had to find an end-all for this.
Around the area the tremors continued, though small, even after Yosef had been done with his examination and tending. Instead, they came from another source. Sparks flew for a second, between certain intervals and, maybe not too surprising, they erupted from Damon's unconscious figure. Dust hit against the gymnasium's walls and some of its doors flung open.
With the sheer power of his will, Damon, a man that was deemed unconscious and damaged by his fight with Strathmore, simply refused to stay down. Though, he, indeed, seemed unconscious, the aura burst off for a few seconds.
"Plague!?" Indra screamed in shock before he allowed himself to calm and listen to Yosef explain that it was not contagious quickly calming the boy. Indra than made his way over to Damon and began to perform his own investigation of the Oni's body, before attempting to draw a conclusion of his own.
"Yosef, I think this oni dude thing got his ass beat in a fight. If what you say is true then perhaps someone with a devil fruit is producing its effects as some sort of, whats the word, penance for missing a payment or something. OH, Yosef maybe he can help us!"
As Indra finished he thoughts he quickly made his way to the counter and poured himself another glass of water before this time returning the makeshift bed standing by Damon's head before he quickly poured the water directly on Damons face!
"HEY! Wake up, My partner and I have put together a theory and we need to your help to find out what's going on here!"
After speaking to the unconscious Damon, Indra returned to Yosef's side, standing ever so slightly behind him in case Damon wasn't a fan of water.
After a single step that Indra took, Damon's eyes snapped open, showing his white pupils while his mouth widened, "HAH?!" He gasped for breathing, releasing a final burst from his Haki, something which travelled and shook the facility. Looking at his hands and his body laid down, Damon only breathed, "Apu?! Little Foot?!" He glanced around again, only spotting beds and people atop them.
Shit, were he disturbing their slumber? Grinding his teeth, Damon tried sitting up on the bed, his Haki yet to come back to him fully. "Why do I always wake up being tended..." He mumbled.
Yosef observed his newest patient carefully. The shockwaves were startling, to say the least. Beads of sweat rolled down his head as they were continually produced. "Haoshoku Haki...huh." Yosef could only be remined of Veno in this situation. Oddly enough, though, the man before him seemed completely different.
"Sorry for startling you." Yosef spoke to the patient who had just woken up. "My name is Hazen Yosef. After your, what I assume, perilous fight, I am the doctor that nursed you back to health. That being said, try not to move too much. Your body is trying to heal itself slowly." Yosef spoke calmly, trying not to disrupt the patient.
"Your friend...Apu, was it? He seemed to take his leave. He got a message and left promptly, leaving you in my care. As for the patients around you, it's fine. Regardless of how much noise we make, they won't be able to say a thing. Their state is...a sorry one." Yosef grimaced as he spoke. The fact that he couldn't find a cure for these people sooner bothered him.
"Rest up, though. We have a long ride ahead of us." Yosef spoke, giving out a gentle smile in the process. ---
Elsewhere in Bellmare, the man known by the name of Prometheus was still attempting to piece together his surroundings, when all of a sudden, the Den Den Mushi he had stolen from that division commander of the Titan Pirates began to radiate in his pocket.
Puru puru puru.... puru puru puru…
Prometheus removed the Den Den Mushi from his pocket. "Hello?" He spoke in a very disinterested voice.
The transponder snail in the cusp of Prometheus' hand took on a most peculiar form. Long pink hair suddenly appeared on the snail, with a small stub of a goatee forming about its chin. The Den Den Mushi morphed to sport a double breasted trench coat, beneath which a pink dress shirt and black tie were also visible.
"Hoy, Circus-poo! Long time no talky talky, hm?" The snail grinned wide, mirroring the appearance of the entity on the other end. "In any case, I am happy to announce the agreement of our plan on part of the other priests. After our failure to seize Elbaf, it only seems right that we target Zou or Fishman Island next.
"I'll contact you again in the coming days, but gosh Circus, can you be anymore irresponsible?! Your subordinates have had nothing but awful things to say about you as of late. Get ahold of yourself, mate!"
Kacha! The Den Den Mushi switched off.
What Lies Beneath Edit
Hell. Hell lay miles beneath the soils of Permis; a dimension in which an unspoken bond had been conceived between pirate and marine.
Hell's existence was known to only a very select few, and yet what composed its surroundings was something of a factory. An underground mine, to be more precise; a long catwalk spiraled the rocky terrain while countless pieces of machinery and other means of equipment were scattered around and about. Pirates in bandanas and marines in uniform were pushing wheelbarrows left and right; within each of these were piles of human bodies, still breathing but hardly.
"Hoy! I've got a fresh new batch right here!" Daniels Ora announced routeinly into the underground cavern so that the rest of the workers could hear him. Dressed in a tank top to show off his musculature, the bandit turned pirate fashioned himself further in tattered and spotted trousers. A stench becoming of a true pirate lingered from him as he did his work, sweat from his curly black hair seeping into his bandana.
A marine in uniform retrieved the wheelbarrow from Ora, and with a nod was on his way, pushing it down a long hall and away into the dark. To any marine above ground, Daniels Ora was strictly a pirate known for three things: his membership within the Raid Pirates, his epithet of 'Silly Rabbit', and of course his sizeable bounty of 244,000,000. But here in Hell, Ora was but a companion of the marines, an ally, a coworker, a friend.
"...How strange." A thought had appeared in a man's head. But where was that man situation in this odd place called Hell. Well, that man was situated in a small pile of blackened dust that had been sitting in the corner of the factory area that Daniel Ora and the Marines made their rounds in. This pile of blackened dust was none other than the newest member of the Four Horsemen: Fukuoka Soren. Using the power of his Koru Koru no Mi, the Ninja managed to keep his eyes on the workers without a wince of doubt in the other people's minds that he was present. Of course, that was assuming nobody had been using Kenbunshoku Haki.
As Soren continued to observe his surroundings, and tried to pinpoint the "voice" that called him here in the first place, his expectations continued to be shattered. To begin with, Pirates and Marines cooperating only occurred when the said Marines were corrupt and looking for their own profit. But in this case...the Raid Pirates and Marines were cordially working together? "Why are the Raid Pirates allies with the Marines here..?" From the beginning of everything, Permis had been strange...this just continued to cement his belief.
Bravado. Such was the exemplification of the persona that composed Ora. As he worked, lifting up many more ailing men and women into another wheelbarrow, the pirate swung his head back and forth and swung his hips around. "Yeahh, bay bay!" He hummed the beat to his favorite song, bending to stack the bodies onto one another. He gave a light slap to one of the men who shivered and rolled off the pile as a result. "Hey, hey, what makes you think you deserve any special treatment? Get on there like the rest of 'em, hm!"
"Ora, settle down." A long sigh was emitted from the dark nearby. "Must you really make such a ruckus at this hour? You're disturbing the peace reserved for all of those whom are present." In liue of the voice appeared another member of the Raid Pirates: the first-mate of the infamous band whose various antics were downplayed for the sanity of the world at large. The man who adhered to the name of Quip, a bizarre epithet of "Dance Instructor", and a bounty of 405,000,000.
"What difference does it make so long as I get the job done, Quip?!" Ora grinned, "it sucks that we have to do all this shit to begin with. Can you really blame me for trying to lighten the mood?"
Quip sighed again. "I suppose I cannot. Evenstill-" Quip's senses flared. Someone or something was here with them, or so he felt. But before he could report his suspicions to his fellow comrade, the arrival of the man in charge of this very operation sold him short: for who other than Batavia could have behind this all?
"How goes it, you maggots?" Marching onto the scene, Batavia lit himself a cigar. The flame reflected against the guise of his dark spectacles.
"We have nearly completed transporting the previous batch of bodies back to the surface. Within the aforementioned, only 20 or so are still pending," Quip reported calmly.
"I see… and among those of the last batch, how many of them were marines?" Batavia took a long puff of his cigar.
A long silence ensued. Quip and Ora exchanged glances. Finally, Ora mustered enough courage to speak. "None, sir."
"None?" More silence. Batavia took another long drag of the cigar, letting the tobacco tinge his blood. Then in the next moment, his arm whipped out several yards and caught ahold of a marine.
The marine kicked his legs to and fro as he was pulled towards the Vice Admiral, and then shrieked out in horrifying pain as Batavia bit into his neck. In seconds the marine fell to the ground and, screaming still, lifted up his shirt: red marks began to form against his abdominals.
"Add him to the bunch. It'll be suspicious if none of my men end up contracting the illness," Batavia explained, kicking the marine towards Quip. Then, in that moment, he too was interrupted by his own senses. His brow narrowed behind his dark shades; he ripped the cigar from his mouth and blew out a large cloud.
His stomps echoing against the face of Hell, Batavia began to walk toward the black pile of dust sitting in the far corner of the cavern.
Soren looked upon the shocking scene before him. "...Why would a Marine...?" Soren's metaphorical eyes widened as he saw the scene play out before him. However, it was as he expected. These high-ranking Pirates in the New World wouldn't simply leave him unnoticed. It was a prerogative in the New World to keep your guard on at all times. The Vice Admiral began to approach him, and so, Soren slowly had to make his escape.
The stomps of the Vice Admiral gave him the necessary momentum to "leap" in this dust form without the act looking deliberate. The dust began spreading outwards, randomly floating in the sky towards the nearest exit. If Soren were to be caught in this place, it would be an insult to his name. Not to mention...these men weren't pushovers in the slightest. Combat with any one of them was dangerous, even more so because the others did not know where he was.
All that he had witnessed in Hell should have certified a single juxtaposition in Soren: that the Raid Pirates and Batavia were cold killers. They wouldn't hesitate to go easy on him, nor would they be so kind as to imprison him the way the Xros Pirates had on Bedian. Nay, these men would surely murder him as soon as they had managed to apprehend him.
Batavia's senses flared wider. It was a clever move on part of Soren to mask away his particle-like presence with the ensuing dust invoked by the Vice Admiral's boot, but there was simply no tricking a marine of his caliber. "A logia user. He's gone away into the northern tunnel." Batavia opted not to pursue Soren any farther; he would leave it up to Strathmore's underlings.
Quip squatted down and stamped his hands to the ground in a single motion. As an awakened user, the powers of his Yori Yori no Mi could twist and contort whatever he pleased. His powers whipped through the bedrock, blitzing past Soren from underneath him like an underground circuit. The walls of the tunnel he was traveling through began to twist and cave in on themselves, until his exit had been sealed.
"Whoever it was couldn't have gotten very far. I'll go now and-" But Quip was interrupted yet again as he spoke. It seemed Batavia had other plans for him.
"No. Leave the intruder to this one. It's more important to me that we add a marine to our last batch." Lifting the marine up by his white coat, Batavia handed him to Quip.
Quip looked in Ora's direction and nodded. With a grin, Ora activated the powers of his own fruit: the Usa Usa no Mi, Model: Jackrabbit, transforming himself into a rabbit-human hybrid. "Aye, leave it to me!"
With a single hop up, Ora dove into the ground and burrowed himself underneath. Digging his way through the ground quickly, he gave chase to Soren.
"Well, that went by quickly..." Soren sighed, as he shifted into a more aerodynamic form. Coagulating his particles together, he pushed forward to what Batavia described as the northern tunnel. However, he could feel the ground around him deforming and caving in on himself. "Another twister and turner...really?"
Soren pushed farther on, his senses were by no means inferior to the men present here. In fact, among his peers, he prided himself on possessing the most versatility in his Kenbunshoku. In these moments, Soren had adjusted his Kenbunshoku to sense through the particles that he made, creating a form of bodily sensing, as opposed to enhancing his eyesight — a form of Kenbunshoku: Kime enhanced by his Logia prowess.
He could feel the rabbit diving through the ground and giving chase. Every step that he felt resonated throughout the ground, pronouncing Soren's urgency to move forward at greater speed. He had hoped that what awaited him would be less danger, as opposed to more danger.
But with his luck...who knew?
Eventually Soren arrived before a dead end, created by Quip through forcing the floor, ceiling and coinciding walls to meet in the middle. His path of escape sealed off, the shinobi would then witness the ground immediately in front of him ripple once, then twice, and then suddenly out popped a rabbit-man with a sadistic grin plastered across his face.
"SURPRISE!!!" Ora exclaimed as he coated his right leg in Haki and twirled around in the air off of his leap, bringing his foot to swing at the floating smog of dust.
"I'm not surprised...sadly..." Soren thought to himself with grimace, as he viewed the intensity of this man's kick. As opposed to splitting apart his Logia form, Soren continued to coagulate, and nearing the moment that the kick would land, Soren instantly transformed into his human form and using the momentum of his previous flight, managed to jump slightly above Ora's kick. Coating his legs in Busoshoku Haki, he intended on stomping on Ora's shoulders, pushing him downwards and also using him as a foothold to push forward on his flight.
Even if that maneuver wasn't successful, he began to reform into his Logia form in order to accelerate himself past the rabbit once more. "Let's keep going, I can't afford to stop here!" Soren thought to himself, trying to accelerate with as much speed as possible.
His kick evaded by a timely leap, Ora glanced upward as his opponent materialized into a humanoid form and landed on his shoulders. Pushed down from the force of Soren's double jump, Ora recovered incredibly quick and utilized the momentum Soren himself had embedded into his figure to dig immediately into the ground. Soren would again sense the rabbit-ningen traveling, yet this time Ora's presence came from many places at once.
Rather than travel through the immediate ground alone, Ora was practically swimming through the soil in the walls beside Soren and in certain instances even directly above him. Predicting where he would pop up next would take a very experienced Kenbunshoku user to achieve; Ora burst through the wall on Soren's left side and with a blackened paw, aimed to grab the shinobi's neck and tackle him to the ground.
"What're you running away for?! Come on, play with me for a little while why don't you!!"
"What speed..." Soren thought to himself as he effortlessly traveled through the walls surrounding him. There was barely enough time to concretely register his presence through Haki, so Soren had to achieve another feat. Soren felt it, almost at the last second, the man's presence coming from the left side. As he burst through the wall, Soren, instead of attempting to directly evade the attack, performed another maneuver.
Soren's coal figure began to spiral rapidly, and Soren's coal figure was launched upward with the rotational momentum he gave himself. Subsequently, before the rabbit could make his next move, excessive volumes of coal flowed out of his body and began to surround the entirety of the cave that they were in. "Furnace Inferno!" Soren yelled at the top of his breath, before he continued to move forward and away from the rabbit-ningen.
Soon after he yelled, the coal particles began to collide together violently, creating numerous sparks before coalescing into a tremendous explosion that violently shook the cave. He broke down the majority of the areas that the rabbit-ningen could dive into with explosive force, forcing him to chase Soren by running directly behind him. Now that he was visible, Soren would have a much easier time locking onto him with Kenbunshoku Haki, and evading his assaults.
"No time...no time...!" Soren continued to panic within himself as he moved forward, trying to move at even greater speeds.
Ora downright panicked. His eyes lit up when he found himself surrounded by coal and nothing but it; and as the explosion sounded, he burrowed into the ground between his feet out of sheer desperation alone. But it seemed that Soren had already figured out his ability and planned ahead accordingly. The tunnels Ora had made too, were clogged with coal, leaving the rabbit-ningen with no choice but to take the blast head on.
"F-Fuck, fuck, fuck!" Ora screamed as the northern tunnel of Hell collapsed all around him. Flames and clouds of smog filled the space between the rocks, and for a very long time, there was simply no sign of Ora at all.
Whole minutes went by and Ora was nowhere to be seen. But then, all of a sudden, the tunnel around Soren shifted about once more, until the shinobi found himself in a box of bedrock. From all around him, every path had been shut off; there was nowhere to go but 10 feet in every direction.
The ground in the middle of the box rippled about, and by the second ripple Ora's bloodied figure rose up like a ghost from its coffin. "You bastard... did you really think that would be enough to get rid of me?!" The pirate seemed incredibly agitated by Soren's repeated attempts at escape and even more so by his last attack. "You ain't got nowhere to run now... it's just you and me!"
Surfacing completely into the box, Ora immediately lunged at Soren. With nowhere left to run, it seemed Soren had little choice but to fight. Fortunately for him, he had already drawn first blood.
Soren was surprised, at the very least, to see that his attack had such an effect on the Pirate. "Am I too used to enemies being way strong- Wait I need to focus!" Soren's absent-minded thoughts gathered together as he stared at the enemy in front of him. It seemed that, in charging ahead, he had discounted the idea that Soren was a logia. Perfect for Soren.
Without any effort, the lunge that Ora made had completely phased through Soren's intangible body of coal, before he reformed together. Soren drew his blade, the newly acquired Miren Mishaku, and immediately leaped onto the offensive. His eyes seemed to soften and movements became more precise, as, with the rabbit-ningen's back facing towards him, Soren instantly lifted his blade and intended to slash him from his shoulder to his waist, hoping to finish the battle in a single blow.
Ora's ears twitched, his elongated whiskers furrowed. More than physical ability, what his zoan transformation allowed of him were enhanced senses which, when pitted together with his Observational Haki, made for a lethal tandem. Soren was fast, Soren was slick. Just as any ninja should be. But no matter where he went, Ora's enormous ears could hear him; and no matter where he struck from, Ora's whiskers could detect him.
Ora's ears turned black, solidifying with Haki. With ears as large as his, it was akin to having an additional pair of limbs at his disposal; catching the blade of the sword between his ears, Ora roared out into the abyss, squatting his legs and leaning his body forward and letting Soren's momentum draw him forward onto his back.
Yanking the pirate overhead by his sword, Ora sought to smash Soren against a nearby wall of rock. His immediate intentions were to strip the ninja of his sword, or at the very least, make him seriously exert himself in order to pry it free from the grasp of his ears.
Soren was thrown overboard quickly. This would soon become a bigger issue if Soren did not resolve this situation immediately. Being killed here was in no way part of the plan, but the rabbit that fought him had gripped on his blade tightly. Suddenly, Soren's body felt a shaking sensation, as the sword itself quivered in Ora's large ears.
Soren grinned. Soren imbued his blade with Busoshoku Haki, as the black blade battled against the black ears. At the same time, while he was pinned down, Soren let loose a considerable amount of coal from in front of him, while it violently span in front of him until the coal exploded violently, breaking through the wall. Pulling on his sword with great force, he hoped to cut through the ears and tried to dash away from the rabbit-ningen once more.
Ora screamed as Soren drew blood once more. His blackened blade cut a gash in one of Ora's ears, forcing him to open up his grip, which in turn enabled the ninja to pry free his blade and yet again make a run for it. But the rabbit-ningen was much too sound a fighter to let a measly cut stop him; sure it would burn like hell later --along with the rest of his injuries-- but for now he had a man to stop.
"Quit runnin' away, you coward!! Is that how your 'daddy' raised you!?" Turning toward his fleeing opponent, Ora's whiskers shot out from his face, increasing in length and chasing after the fleeing shinobi. Trying to wrap his whiskers around Soren's foot, Ora aimed to trip his opponent and prevent him from getting away any farther.
"That's not funny!" Soren exclaimed, perceiving the whiskers just before they landed on his body and creating an empty space in that area by transforming into coal. Soren made a small amount of distance between the two combatants, and immediately began to perform another technique.
Coal expelled from his body in truly tremendous amounts. A seasoned combatant would damage Soren in this instant, but Soren had learned from his mistakes. He condensed the coal around his body, but it spiraled violently, creating constant, miniature explosions as it did so. The coal soon all collected together, causing Soren to be enveloped in the visage of a black dragon.
"Black Dragon!" Soren yelled, as he rushed towards Ora in the instance he found an opening, with his cyclical explosions intending on burning right through Ora violently and defeating him as swiftly as possible.
Father Forest Edit
The creatures of the forest made way for Gulan as he made his way through the jungles of Panther Lily. They quite literally parted into opposite directions, even going so far as to holding back vines, leaves, and even trees with their own hands so as to make his path that much easier, the way servants rolled down a rug for their precious sovereign ruler.
Seeing the various creatures --all of which were hailed as complete and downright monsters-- be humbled in such a manner brought much joy to the Jungle Bunny sitting atop Raptor D. Malvin's head. The little critter mocked every last one of them, sticking out its tongue and making all sorts of faces to irk them. But in the presence of Gulan, they could do no more than concede.
Where Gulan took his newfound companions was a place unknown to Permis' many inhabitants. It was a hidden oasis, a sanctum most precious to the creatures of the jungle that could only be found and entered upon being granted their permission. "Welcome to Keimu," Gulan announced as he and the others arrived inside of the clearing.
Taking a look around, the land was lush and ripe with trees and bushes bearing incredibly exotic looking fruit; here the sun cleverly shined and the waters sparkled in such a way that the clouds above could reflect against the stream. But as the others looked upon the paradise in awe, Gulan's eyes clenched with caution: for there was an intruder who had broken into Keimu!
"Who are you?" Gulan declared openly, stepping forward with an intent to challenge the latter without any further indication. "How is it that you found your way into here?"
This intruder was a man known well by Benjamin Tabart. With a long red coat hung over his shoulders, a scarf tied around his neck, and a long, carrot nose, it was difficult to confuse Barney Kettle with any other pirate!
Kettle, who had been on his knees beside a large, balding man sleeping on his back, quickly stood up so as to defend himself. But as soon as he saw Tabart, he became distracted and lost his words. "O-Oh! Tabart!? Is that you?"
Tabart’s eyes lit up with excitement. Since he had been wandering around this jungle, random, powerful things have jumped out at him trying to kill him. It was a breath of fresh air to see someone he actually knew, and an ally at that.
“Kettle!” Tabart cheerfully announced, taking a step forward to greet him, that serving as a mild suggestion for Gulan to step back. “It’s so good to see you. Everything I’ve met so far has been trying to kill me.” He paused and looked at Gulan. “Except this guy. He helped me out a lot back in that jungle. Without him, I wouldn’t have made it. But you…...what are you even doing here?”
What was Kettle doing here? "Oh me? Well, I went looking for my captain, of course! It's just as I told you when we last met before going our own separate ways in Bedina, my friend." Kettle bore a cheerful smile on his face. He was standing before the man who had changed his life for the greater good, of course. Memories of their times on Elbaf together as members of the Rum Dealers flooded his mind momentarily.
"And look! I found him. I found good ol' Captain Burling just laying around here in the middle of nowhere!"
The large man sleeping upon the ground… was the famed and highly notorious Fifth Division Captain of the Titan Pirates: Montblanc Burling himself. Hair balding around his crown to give rise to a chestnut, the former marine-turned-pirate had been missing now for months. His name had been taken during the Battle of Bedina in various different forms, from a silent prayer to a desperate cry for help. But here he had been all along, fast asleep in the middle of the Panther Lily jungle.
Gulan relaxed a bit knowing Kettle was an ally of Tabart's. But still, an intruder was an intruder; and at the very least, he wanted to know how he arrived here. "Excuse me, but how was it you found your way here? This place isn't-"
"Settle down, Gulan! I'm the one who let him in here." A primordial voice sang out from the nearby forestation. A painstaking bellow; a melody that haunted pirates, marines, and sea dwellers all the same.
Making his entrance upon the scene was a man of overwhelming charisma, so much so that he claimed women simply died out of sheer desire alone to bed him. Long luscious locks blacker than the deepest of tiles comprising even the Pantheon's hide fell down his backside; his ruffled beard did all but bear so much as a single strip of grey.
Aoshin, the Black Panther, emerged from behind the leaves of the Panther Lily jungle.
"Welcome to mah crib, boys! Make yourselves comfortable. It's not often I get visitors like this, so what say we have a good time, eh?" The highly dangerous and notorious pirate danced his way on over to Gulan, taking from his hands the bottle of Nerb Rum he had secured all this way to Keimu. "Give me that! Come on, lighten up Gulan, what's with you always being so tense?"
"Y-Yes… father," Gulan scruffed out with a sigh, sitting down on a tree stump.
“Oh…so this is Burling huh?” Tabart inquired softly. He stepped forward towards him. “Look at him…he’s just sleeping here, in the middle of this Jungle…whatever you call it.” He exhaled. “Does he know, Kettle?”
There was a fraught silence that sat in the air, as if there was this ambient confusion and awkwardness.
“…..Of course he doesn’t,” Tabart said, addressing this deep quiet. “If he knew, his drunk ass wouldn’t be sitting here napping. So, why don’t I do him a favor and let him know what he’s been missing out on.”
He curled his right hand along his hip and stepped forward, sending his fist onto the naked crown of his head. “Wake your big ass up!!”
"A-A-A-A-Ao…!" Kettle stuttered, falling onto his rump. His eyes bulged out wide from their sockets; he couldn't believe what he was seeing. The Black Panther of the Black Widow Pirates was standing right before them in the flesh! "Y-You're Aoshin..!"
Aoshin rose up a single brow. "Oh, so you know who I am? How flattering!" With a snark grin, Aoshin turned his attention toward Malvin, who had hidden himself behind Gulan. "What's the matter? You look like you've seen a ghost!"
"You… you've fought against my brother! You're an enemy of the Titan Pirates!" Malvin declared. The young boy seemed to be growing more confident by the minute.
"The Titan Pirates?" Aoshin blinked in confusion. "Can't say I've ever heard of them." His fingers fiddled around with the cork of the rum bottle, struggling to open it.
Malvin, to say the least, felt highly disrespected. How could this man who had warred with his Yonko of a brother act as if they didn't exist?! "You liar! My brother, Raptor D. Baron, the Yonko! I saw you battle him with my own eyes when I was little!"
"Raptor?" Aoshin whipsered to himself. There was only one Raptor Aoshin had ever known of. A real monstrosity of a man with a beard that would make Santa Claus jealous. "Do you mean Raptor D. Heart?"
"No! That's my father!" Malvin quickly retorted. "I'm talking about my brother: Baron!"
"Your… father?" Aoshin bit into the cork, trying desperately to pop open the Nerb Rum yet to no avail. "Listen, kid, I'm-" Aoshin caught his words. He glanced quickly toward Gulan then bit his tongue. "How about we talk about this somewhere else?"
Tabart's foot connected hard with Burling's head, yet amounted to… nothing. The drunken lard didn't even fathom so much as a hiccup from Tabart's kick. But, at the very least, the bubble of snot that had been forming from Burling's nostril popped outright.
"N-No Tabart! He's not to blame! Please, step away from him!" Kettle cried, reaching out with his hand to protect his captain from a distance. Should Tabart try anything more, then Kettle would have no choice but to muster up the powers of his Devil Fruit.
Tabart looked back at Kettle. He was somehow sad, furious, and a little embarrassed all at the same time. He understood that Burling couldn’t have prevented Foxpack’s death, especially since he hadn’t been there, but dammit it didn’t even seem like he cared. Though, now, Tabart realized being irrational wasn’t probably the way to go. Afterall, if this was the guy who they thought would have made a different on Bedina, then Tabart was certain he could have killed him at any moment. And, as much as he hated to admit it, Kettle’s devil fruit powers were annoying to deal with too. Plus, he was in the middle of nowhere, with some old guy, his son, and Malvin who was somehow not as brave, or heroic as he imagined.
He exhaled deeply, calming himself. “You’re right, Kettle. Sorry…” He glanced up towards Aoshin. “Though, who’s this guy?”
With the spotlight on him, Aoshin allowed a quick glance toward his so called son, Gulan. "Gulan, why don't you go out for a little walk? I'm detecting another pirate in the woods nearby. I have no idea what kind of person he is just yet, but it would probably be in everyone's best interest if he were kept in check."
Gulan, nodding, stood up to his feet. "Yes, father. I will see right to it." Offering nods to those he saw on his way out, the jungle man ran off into the deep jungle, leaving Aoshin with nothing more to hide.
"Have you been living under a rock or something, Tabart?! Or maybe you're too young to have seen all the headlines he made years ago… that guy over there is the former first-mate of the Black Widow Pirates, otherwise known as the right hand man to a Yonko!" Kettle explained eagerly. He couldn't help but admire and fear Aoshin's presence all at once.
"Former?" Aoshin sighed, brow sloping in disappointment. "So you're telling me I eventually end up losing my position in the crew? Goddammit, I just hope it's not to Vincent or Indiana. I can tolerate maybe giving it up to Isshin someday… maybe… but for the love of god, just don't let it be Vincent!" The disappointment in Aoshin's voice was eminent.
As the Black Panther expressed his sorrow, perhaps it became just a tad bit more noticeable to those present that a man who was supposed to be reaching his ninth decade in life had hair blacker than coal. Was he… dyeing it?
“T-The Black Widows!?!” Tabart exclaimed. “You telling me this is the guy that’s right below Soren’s mom? H-He’s that powerful?!” There was a hint of disbelief in Tabart’s tone, not of Aoshin’s power or of the words spoken to him, but that Aoshin was simply here. He recomposed himself.
“Ehm,” Tabart begun. “Well, I’m Benjamin Tabart, Aoshin-sir! Thanks you for hosting Malvin and I. Your son, Gulan I recall…he was of great help to me and Malvin in the jungle. Saved our lives. You raised one hell of a kid.”
Soren? Aoshin grew still at the mention of that name. A storm captured his mind. He was frozen for several seconds; those seconds turned to minutes.
Soren's… mother? Kusagi… what has become of you in this world? Aoshin's eyes grew teary. It wasn't often that the consumer of the Giro Giro no Mi could ever be forced to emit any substance against his will, but this was one of those few instances. Well, the only instance ever. Aoshin didn't tend to show any emotion unless he was in an entirely secluded region of a massive jungle on apart of an island no one ever bothered visiting. Crying a few tears here was allowed.
Wiping away the tears, Aoshin flexed his nostrils to shoot away the small strands of hair from his mustache that had managed to climb all the way up into them. "Thanks for all the flattery, kids, but let me get just one thing straight here." Aoshin rose up his index finger. In times of war, this alone was as formidable to him as any katana. "I'm not exactly from this time. Well, I mean, technically I am, since I've been around and all… but it's a bit more complex than that."
Tabart looked onward confusedly. “Um…” He hadn’t really known what he expected, but he could definitely say he didn’t expect the man to sit there and cry. But though, at this point, Tabart should’ve known to expect anything. It seems that everything was to finally be expected.
“I’m assuming you want us to ask what do you mean by that.”
"I mean, that's kinda the point. Why else would I stop so dramatically?" Aoshin sighed. He palmed his face as a collective disappointment in the future generation overtook his soul. He groaned out of frustration at a lack of charisma on part of Tabart, a groan entirely different than one the ladies were accustomed to hearing from him when he was piping them from the back.
"Anyway, since you're oh so interested to know, I'll try explaining this to you. But first, allow me to make a demonstration." Aoshin began to walk toward Tabart. He got closer and closer, until it seemed as though he would trample the young lad over. He got closer and closer, until his being phased right through Tabart's own body.
"Just in case you didn't see what just happened…" Aoshin unloaded a barrage of punches. Fists flew around in the sky, all simply slipping through Tabart's body and doing absolutely nothing to him. Then, to make his point even further known, Aoshin began thrusting his hips around. Even the slight bulge in his trousers failed to wank Tabart the way it would sizable busts.
"See? I can't touch you." Still holding the bottle of rum in his hand, Aoshin rose it up for further demonstration. "Nor can I open this. I mean, I guess it's pretty cool that I can even hold it, but that's about as much as I can do, really."
If Kettle was confused, Malvin was utterly lost. He opted not to say anything at all. Kettle on the other hand, was trying to piece things together. "Why are you able to touch the bottle and nothing else?!"
"I don't know, maybe this bottle is really old. Either that, or the real me has probably touched the component that constructed it. Let me see." Contacting the bottle, Aoshin gazed into its memories… and what he saw was himself, more than 30 years ago, with his hands stamped against a window as he made love to a woman within his private quarters of some ship. Looking further into the bottle's past, Aoshin discovered that the sank ten or so years later after he had been aboard it; five years after that it was rediscovered, and its parts were hauled into some sort of manufacturing company. The window he had once touched became the glass of this very bottle.
"Oh yeah! I did touch this thing before. Wow, what a coincidence!" Aoshin chuckled. "Listen, as I was trying to say before, I'm not from your time. Matter of fact, I'm not even who you think I am. I'm not truly the Aoshin of your time: I'm simply a memory manifested from his true power."
Tabart scratched the back of his head. He had so many questions. The first being why was Aoshin’s penis erect when there were nothing but guys around. Though, he figure he’d save that one for later. There were more pressing concerns at the moment anyway.
“So…is the you now dead or something?”
"To be honest, I'm not quite sure of that myself. As a memory of Aoshin, I'm confined to the space I was conceived in. And having been created 30 years ago… that means I've been stuck on this island ever since then," Aoshin explained. "Which brings me to another point: Gulan isn't actually my son. Biologically speaking, anyway. He washed up on the shore one day and I decided to take him in. Now mind you, since my real self never had any memory of Gulan, I was never able to physically interact with him. Which means, naturally, he's never been so much as hugged by the man he calls pops!" For whatever reason, Aoshin laughed at this. He laughed a good, guilt ridden laugh, to be more precise.
"The new memories I've made are entirely separate from the real Aoshin's. Everything I've experienced over the last 30 years is independent from him and unknown by the real Aoshin. If the damn fool came to collect me just once, he could extract all my memories into himself, but seeing as how it's been 30 years, I doubt he even has any interest in doing that anymore." Aoshin gave a hard look at those present. He hoped he wasn't being overly confusing when explaining his powers. "You guys getting what I mean? I don't know what he's calling us memories anymore, but as far as I can remember from my time, we were referred to as Codexes. So I'm the Codex of Permis and I was like the third or fourth ever made. But to be frank, I doubt there's really many of us out there. And here's why.
"Again, I really hate underestimating all you guys, but I have every reason to believe your generation is full of complete dumbasses. Devil Fruits have another level to them known as 'Awakening'. Within Aoshin's awakening, he has this super cool amazing power-up that he hardly ever uses. In tapping into that transformation, he automatically leaves behind a Codex: a live memory of himself, like he did with me 30 years ago. I was created during his battle with a Marine Captain by the name of 'Kurama'. But if he was just a Captain back then, judging by the strength he had at his age, I'm sure he's probably the Commander-in-Chief by now."
Memories of his battle with Kurama returned to him. Aoshin grinned.
Turning his arms black with Haki, Aoshin began to combat the predicament of a hold that he found himself within at the hands of the ashigaru, testing Kurama's spirit against his own. By now, another wave of ashigaru had made its way over to him, and Aoshin found himself in an even tighter fix: they lashed out at him from virtually every corner, tearing up his clothing with their relentless swipes. Holding his sword firmly with his groin, he made to fall back with his spine against the two original stormtroopers that were holding his arms in place, leaving him airborne in a lateral position with his sword pointing up at the sky.
Crunching his stomach, Aoshin brought his chin to his sword and bit off its sheath, spitting it out at the ground along with wallops of blood that had accumulated from being struck by the troopers. This exposed the initially snow-white blade of Hima Nobiji to the world, and if Kurama were especially paying attention to detail, then he would have noticed that it seemingly wobbled upon its introduction. This movement was brought entirely to an end within the next frame of time, however, as Haki poured from Aoshin's thighs, shooting up the length of the sword, turning it entirely black.
Still airborne, Aoshion twirled his feet round and round until the momentum channeled the rest of his body. At which point he became a rotating sphere much like Kurama had in the moment before launching his Rankyaku, creating a dual stem of offense and defense with which to combat the ashigaru, who prepared themselves to cope with the rankyaku beam as it hit home. Friction commenced thereafter, with fumes of fire crackling between the spinning copter of Aoshin's rotation and Kurama's rankyaku. Aoshin's sphere was seen turning black, implying he had bolstered a larger sum of Haki over his body to survive the attack, before it lost ground entirely.
"Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu-" his chant interrupted by the clatter of the countless trees that he sprang through, Aoshin spun and spun and spun until at last, he could spin no more. Left laying on his backside over a crater that formed beneath his body as a result of it coming into contact hard with the ground, Aoshin found himself surrounded by a smog of smoke. Oddly enough, his sword was still clenched tightly by his… dick, and the tip of the blade was still emasculated by Haki.
"Yep, definitely at least the Commander-in-Chief. I don't praise my opponents very often, but that bastard Kurama was one tough son of a bitch."
Tabart was familiar with awakenings, and with the explanation that Aoshin gave, he thought he at least had a good grasp of his powers. Now everything seemed to make sense.
“I understand now,” Tabart nodded. “Malvin, that’s why he has no idea who your brother is. He simply hasn’t encountered him.” He paused. “Wait, though this doesn’t explain just one thing I’ve been confused about the entire time. I mentioned the name Soren and you had some type of response to it. I don’t know if it was tears of joy, sadness, whatever really. But, regardless you reacted to it. Yet, Soren isn’t 30. He’s nowhere close, so there is no way that you could know about him unless the Black Widow can host a baby for like 6 years or something, which is impossible. So then, why did you cry?”
Aoshin paused. "Cry? No, no! You're mistaken little man. That's just a side effect from my Devil Fruit powers. When I overuse them or use them after a long period of time, then I get a little teary eyed, that's all." The Black Panther let out a soft chuckle. He hoped his lie would pass, but even so he had no intentions of sharing such a story with a complete stranger. Today's kids shouldn't trifle with such things --no, it had nothing to do with them… for the time being.
The leaves surrounding one part of the oasis parted suddenly, triggering a rough ruffle that garnered everyone's attention. With a glance in the corresponding direction, eyes shuffled to the figure of the spotted, golden armed fishman, Apu, who had discovered the place via following Kettle's vivre card.
"Oh, so this is where you've all been hiding is it?" Apu laughed. "I was just-" His eyes widened.
There, laying on the ground fast asleep was his captain.
At first, Apu was relieved. Burling had been missing for months; he and various other members of the Fifth Division had split up to search the lengths of the New World for him. Apu's travels had led him to Ishitani where he uncovered Draco D. Damon.
There, laying on the ground fast asleep… was his captain.
How different would have been the Battle of Bedina if not for Burling's disappearance? The fight against Bertram, the struggle against Reach… Foxpack's sacrifice. Apu's hands curled into fists.
There, laying on the ground fast asleep, was his captain!
Apu's hands glistened immediately with Haki. His eyes darted and his nostrils flared; thinking of Foxpack's passing on top of all that had ever happened… to lose Luhr, to lose Kresha and then to lose Foxpack to clumsiness! How dare Burling have been here all this time when they had been fighting savagely against impossible odds!
"You… BASTARD!!!" Apu roared. Something inside of him had just… snapped. Even Kettle's brief flutter of gravity could not prevent Apu from bursting forward and slamming his fist against the face of his captain.
"A-Apu!! No!!" Kettle cried.
Mounting onto his captain, Apu took a seat over the man's massive chest and hunched his back forward. Fist after fist collided with Burling's sleeping face as Apu unleashed a barrage of Haki coated attacks.
"WE PUT OUR LIVES ON THE LINE, GODDAMMIT! WE GAVE THAT BATTLE EVERYTHING WE HAD AND MORE!!" Fist after fist, fist after fist. "And for what?!! You were here all this time so drunk you can't even open your own eyes?!"
Apu's black hands turned red with blood --his own blood. Even as he were sleeping, Burling remained unharmed. There wasn't so much as a scratch on the drunken man.
"Foxpack died because of you!! How dare you just drink yourself into a coma when we needed you more than ever!! You piece of fucking shit!!"
Aoshin silently observed from a far off distance. Kettle threw his arms around Apu and tried desperately to snag him off of Burling, yet to no avail. With tears in his eyes, Apu kept on rocking his captain's face until at last he could no longer feel his hands. At which point he simply sat there on top of him, looking down with his eyes covered by his bandana.
Slouching, millions of thoughts puzzled the fishman. What was he upset with Burling for? How could he and the rest of the division have been so dependent on him? Perhaps if Apu himself hadn't been so weak… then maybe, just maybe they wouldn't have even needed Burling to be there in the first place.
Maybe if he was stronger he could have prevented Luhr from ever being taken as a slave. Maybe if he was just a little bit stronger, Kresha would have never been separated from his side. Maybe, just maybe, if he had been stronger, he could have defeated Bertram and helped Foxpack in his battle with Reach.
Maybe Damon would be awake and well. Never did Apu curse his own strength as much as he did now. Slouching into a slump over the top of his captain, the fishman further decorated his bloodied fists with his tears.
"I… I'm… I'm so… weak..."
Tabart sighed and reached into his pockets, pulling out a rather dark, thick cigarette-esque object and lit it. It smoked like one but was far more…smokey. The smell was noticeably strong and musky. He called it Mary Jane; a plant he discovered while traversing the streets of Nassau. It helped him calm down, thought in this situation he’s been involved in within the past few months, he was certain that not even it could relieve all his stress. At this point, smoking it was merely habit.
“Apu,” Tabart gently called out. He paused for a moment to collect his thoughts. But none came to him. What was he to say? It’s not true? You can get stronger? Apu didn’t want to hear any of that bullshit. Tabart knew because he didn’t want to hear that either. No, his only option was honesty.
“I did that same thing when I saw him laying there. I kicked him right in that big ass head, hurt my foot like hell too. But you and I both know that it’s not nearly his fault as much as it is ours. He wasn’t there. We were, and Foxpack died so that we could escape. It was his choice, Apu.”
Tabart took a puff of his blunt. “Now, don’t ask me what he saw in us. I haven’t a clue. But apparently, it was something that the World Government sees in us too, considering they even made up some title for us: four horsemen of apocalypse or something like that. So stop slouching over him and cryin. Fussing ain’t going to fix that fact that we’re weak. Only experience can do that.”
He gave Burling a pointed look. “What we need to be doing is trying to wake this guy up and ask him to train us or something, or even…” he looked at Aoshin, “this guy right here. We gotta pick ourselves up and go right back at the Xros Pirates with everything we got. The way we are now, there’s no way we’d stand a chance. Thus, our only option is to fix that. Once we do that, we’ll have that Reach’s head placed on an a stick and wave it next to our flag.”
Golden Retriever Edit
Hours had gone by since Bluementhal Gerhard and Brandt Abigail had arrived upon Permis. They had been given simple instructions to follow by Sperius Vesper, and yet the last they had known of the assassin, he had been drowned by Vice Admiral Batavia --perhaps to his death. A Devil Fruit user could only survive so long underwater before his breath betrayed him; but if there was anything Gerhard learned about Vesper in the short amount of time the two of them were acquainted, it was to never doubt the Scavanger's word.
Stationed along the shore of one secluded side of the Panther Lily jungle, Gerhard waited and waited and waited, watching as the vivre card Vesper had somehow managed to tuck away into his clothing went from being entirely damp to simply drenched; a few measly drips of water trickled from its length, and then as it dried further, it began to wiggle, even leap.
The sound of jets blared overhead. Hades, in its elaborate robotic form, slowly lowered itself onto the sand before Gerhard and Abigail; in its hands were two individuals, both equally out of breath yet for entirely different reasons: Vesper had nearly drowned to death and Bon had been sent flying so high up into the air that he never thought he'd ever live to experience the taste of oxygen ever again.
Set down onto his knees, Vesper slouched onto the ground and slammed his fist into the sand. His face smeared against the soft caramel grain, to say he was desperately fighting to live was an understatement. Had Hades been even a second late in retreating from Gulan, there was little doubt that Vesper would have died.
"F-Fu…" The assassin could hardly make out the words to express his dismay. He fisted the sand again, rolling onto his back. There was a ton of water in his system, preventing him from functioning properly. Even breathing was a challenge.
"Wow..." Abigail gaped briefly at the sight of Hades's appearance, "I- s'that a Robot? Holycrapping marvelous," She glanced towards her comrade, Gerhard, whom only nodded and took to approaching both of their figures. "W-Wait, Ger!!"
Turning around for a second, Gerhard only uttered, "This is a timed quest." All of his attention was back to the two men before him, eyes darting from one to the other, one was drenched, the other seemed normal. Gerhard went for Vesper, "Abigail," She was already by his side, he pointed to Bon, "Check 'im, his heartbeat, check whatever he got 'nd tell me."
"He's a friend. Please," Her eyes widened at his simple word, yet, she took no second to hurry over Bon's figure, bending her knees and laying her hands over his body. "Don't touch 'is hands," Gerhard said, she only nodded and checked over Bon's chest, while he touched the ground itself, a gust of wind signalling the arrival of a small Dungeon. "And ya..." Fingers outstretched, Gerhard put both his hands over Vesper's frame, "I need ya' to not kill me for this pain y'll be feelin'."
After checking Bon's body for a mere few seconds, Abigail looked at Gerhard with red eyes, "His breathing's uneven... I don't see anythin' obstructing the air passage." Without even waiting another response, she only continued in sheer realization, "He needs air!!" Gerhard's eyes met her own.
"I know what to do!" They stared at each other for another second, gazes meshing within one another, both nodded. "You needa' trust me more," Yet again, the power of her Karo Karo no Mi surfaced, Abigail rose her right arm whilst her left hand still held Bon's chest. Through it, she could ooze heat into the atmosphere itself, quickly transforming its nearby umidity into a small cloud of vapor, not only that, but her powers allowed her to control anything that she generated through the heat that she produced. However, Abigail couldn't just give suck in all of that and give it to Bon.
Expression still fierce, she did not stop, instead of giving up, Abigail absorbed most of the heat from the vapor mass and swiftly inhaled the cooled down air. This was quicker than just stopping to gather oyxgen every time. Cheeks inflated and left hand tugging off Bon's mask in a simple motion and, for a second, her eyes quivered at the sight of rotten skin, "What happened to you?" Abigail meant to say, though her expression didn't twist, rather, it softened. This person must have been so hurt. She hesitated no more, leaning down and pressing her mouth against Bon's, supplying as much oxygen as she could.
Gerhard himself had not been standing still, through his hands, he also used the powers of his own fruit, the Ichi Ichi no Mi. "Shhh," He tried saying to Vesper again. Indeed, through the power of Chaos, Gerhard made it where some of Vesper's organs contracted and moved in such a way that they would send the water upward, while with Order on his other hand, he made sure not to let these movements go out of control. Swiftly and soon, the water would quickly arise and pop from Vesper's mouth, which had been uncovered.
Bon was amazed. For a second he lay there simply enthralled, surprised by what was happening. This woman was eager to help him… even after seeing what he had truly looked like?
A man devoid of emotions for so long, Bon lost himself to the moment. During his days as a film star, he was known for his romantic scenes, particularly locking lips with beautiful women on camera. He was a profound kisser; and so when Abigail met his mouth, he in turn captured her lips, feeding off of them until enough oxygen fueled his conscience.
Sitting up, the zombified man covered his face with his mask, keeping his lips moist with Abigail's saliva and refusing to wipe away whatever small evidence existed of their moment --if it could even be labeled as such.
With haste he eyed Vesper's expanding figure, standing up to his own feet at the very same instance the assassin began to cough water out from his lungs. As Gerhard furthered his procedure over the assassin, Bon appeared at his side. "D-Don't be in such a h-h-hurry, Jack! H-H-He's dangerous. There's no telling what he'll do if he's able to stand up to his f-f-feet again. He's a man that can n-n-never be trusted!"
Vesper glared at Bon. It seemed these two were allied in some strong fashion; he would need to be careful on how he acted. One wrong move and it could spell disaster. Having Hades attack them out of surprise was a good trump card, but he couldn't act until he was fully healed.
Taking advantage of Vesper's recovering state, Bon burrowed his gloved hands through the assassin's garbs. And what he uncovered was a special ornament that glistened under the rays of the setting sun: a golden Den Den Mushi!
"I-I've got it!" Bon exclaimed proudly, holding the golden transponder snail high above his head in victory. It had been a delicately crafted plan all along… the true purpose behind his gathering of the Dark Masters and the true purpose behind his visit to Permis. The fact that Emily and Juliet resided here was simply a bonus and a well executed extension of his true intentions.
Vesper's eyes widened. He looked upon Bon in great disbelief. Noticing the assassin's grave expression, Bon stood up straight and offered an explanation. "Y-You seem confused, Vesper-san. S-S-So allow me to explain…" Considering Gerhard an uninformed ally, Bon decided to start his explanation from the very beginning, so as to leave no loopholes in their understanding.
"Y-You see, the Xros P-Pirates planned all of this ever since the T-Titan Pirates stepped foot on Bedina. In the aftermath of that war, Admiral Warren D. Ralph managed to escape with the F-Four Horsemen in tow. But what he didn't realize was how severely he had underestimated our capabilities.
"Trickshot is a s-sniper with a marvelous Kenbunshoku Haki. H-He can easily see what's happening on any island that's n-neighboring the one he's on at that point in time. From the very moment Admiral Ralph escaped, he was t-tracked. Tracked, but unfortunately never followed." Carefully cradling the golden transponder snail in his gloved hand, Bon tucked it away into a secure bag roped around his waist. He couldn't risk rotting it away --nay, this artifact was much too precious.
"It w-was Trickshot who kept a watchful eye on Admiral Ralph. And as a fight between he and Jackson of CP0 broke out…. T-Trickshot noticed a third party on the island.." Bon pointed down at Vesper. "Y-You!
"The 'Scavenger', isn't that what they call y-you? You've made a name out of stealing kills, looting goods and collecting bounties that don't belong to you. When you looted this golden Den Den Mushi from Admiral Ralph, Trickshot immediately c-c-contacted Shiguma-sama!" A former movie star who had suffered immense backlash over the past five years… he had since become a pirate. Though he longed for his old life back, at present Bon was a pirate. A pirate with a sizable bounty no less. For anyone to pity him was a sin of their own choosing.
"With this, I will certainly acquire S-Shiguma-sama's joy. He will h-help me turn everything around here on Permis, I just know he will." Bon walked out toward the sea. He noted a ripple in the distance: it was just as he had feared. "T-That is… should it survive the wrath of the Pantheon."
Yes, of course. Everything he had done up until now as a pirate was in the hopes of attaining Shiguma's gratitude. With a Yonko by his side, Batavia was nothing; he would return to Permis with Shiguma and expose all of Batavia's secrets and destroy the rumors of the plague all the same. There was a great risk in this, of course, but Bon had seen no other way. He would need to leave them all behind just this last time --all for the sake of being together with them at last, eternally.
"Wait for me, Emily… Juliet… for once Shiguma-sama has s-seen w-w-what I've brought for him…!"
More coughing ensued. Clearly, Vesper had heard enough. He forced himself upright, lowering his mask with his hand and exposing the beautiful visage that laid beneath en route to gasping for air. He was feeling better now… much better.
"Restrain him, J-Jack! You musn't allow him to s-stop me here. If this artifact ends up in the wrong hands… S-Shiguma-sama will be v-very displeased!" Bon began to run, escaping into the jungle.
Vesper, gritting his teeth, slid his mask back on and tried to get up to his feet. "That… bastard!" He coughed out the last of the excess water in his body. In his mind was a storm: he was caught between chasing his own ambition versus following through with the orders he had promptly been given by his superior. His superior may not have been a Yonko per say, but it was a man of damn near approximate standing… going against his orders was certainly something Vesper couldn't do easily.
Even though his gaze turned towards Bon once he was up and well, Gerhard's hands didn't leave their touch over Vesper. "O-Oh, B-Bonny!!" He cheered, eyes trembling at the use of nothing more than his birth name, Jack. Though, it wasn't a bad tremble, Bon and Gerhard knew each other from their time on the Xros Pirates really well. Then, he turned to Abigail, "T-Thank you..."
With a smile, smile that made the both of them only see each other in that area, Abigail tucked her hair, "Y'know it's not a problem-" Before she could say anything else, her eyes widened at the sight of a Golden Den Den Mushi atop Bon's palm. "W-What?!" Abigail instantly shot up from the ground, dashing over Gerhard's side.
Xros Pirates, he needed not to listen to the full thing explained afterwards. "Bonny, are ya'... are ya' serious?" Gerhard said, eyes set upon Bon's frame. Suddenly, these same eyes were watery within a heartbeat, "Ya... ya went so far..." One hand rose to cup his face, while the other remained atop Vesper, Abigail rose a hand in his direction, but stopped. It had been months since the Notch had drifted from the Xros, so, Gerhard hadn't kept a lot of contact with any of his former crewmates- No, friends.
This recollection almost, ALMOST, made him fail to notice Vesper straightening himself up, "Vesper," Gerhard whispered behind him, tears gone and fingers almost sinking into the man's shoulder, "Vesper..." The earth beneath them went still, the leaves whispering signs of danger and shuddering. "Now that I seen... my brother, Bonny, I can't just let'ja go after 'im, y'know?" Gerhard shrugged with his free arm, eyebrows arched upward, "Who knows what'd happen if ya' ran from here... maybe y'd trip or something." Furthermore, he couldn't leave Bon alone for long, he was fragile.
Abigail stepped closer to them, "Wasn't it you that had a favor asked?!" In fact, she stood in front of Vesper, shielding his vision from Bon's runaway figure. Her hand held a tight grip on her sheathed sword.
Vesper angrily watched Bon escape into the jungles from between Abigail's legs. He let out a hard sigh, realizing that there was nothing he could do to stop him at this point. He needed to prioritize the mission at hand; at that was to…
"Interesting ability," Vesper said, looking up at Abigail, then glancing interchangeably between her and Gerhard, "you and her both. You have my gratitude." He stood up to his feet slowly, hand feeling around his ribs. Fortunately Gerhard turned out to be a doctor; it seemed simply escaping from Batavia and surviving his encounter with the latter wasn't sufficient enough.
"Aye, that's right. There is most certainly something I need you to do for me. And don't worry: you have my word. For as long as he is on this island, I will not pursue Bon. But once he's managed to get out to sea… well that is a different matter entirely." Vesper coughed into his hand. "Allow me to cut to the chase, here. What I need from you is the heads of the Four Horsemen. They have increased in notoriety by an impressive number over the course of the last several months; and for now all you must know is that I am a Bounty Hunter, and as such make a living out of cashing in on large bounties. Each of those four rookies have bounties well up to 300,000,000… should you manage to capture even a single one of them --no, that won't do. I need all four of them in order to get any sort of credibility."
Vesper shook his head. "Listen, there's really no need to confuse yourself with the details. If you're a good man, you'll return the good I did you by helping me out here. I cannot leave Permis without those four rookies aboard my ship." As if on cue, Hades folded its metallic arms across its chest.
"Not too long ago, Hades managed to uncover Benjamin Tabart in these very woods and place a tracker on him. All it'll take now is a simple scan via Hades' advanced technology, and we'll have the location of our target in an instant.
"However, it's not so simple as it seems… in an earlier scan, I was able to pick up on several other individuals within his presence. Fortunately, another member of the horsemen is there with him. But the others there with them… will make things far, far more complicated."
Vesper eyed Gerhard. "Which is where you come in. My methods of assassination will only take us so far. I'll get you into their hideout safe and sound; but once inside… I'll leave one of the horsemen to you."
"You are welcome!" Abigail tried beaming at Vesper, waving her hand mindlessly, "You may not pursue Bonny or whoever," A swift glance was shared with Gerhard, "But I will! Ohohohoho!" Setting the ground she stomped over ablaze, Abigail hurried over into the distance, utilizing of her Haki to keep track of Bon. He was someone important, not for her, but still.
"I love tha' as-" Gerhard coughed, suddenly letting go of Vesper's shoulder, "Well then, ya' say shit about these Horsemen, shit about this mission... 'nd question my alignment even." Shoulders arching, Gerhard gave off a shrug, "But, it's a'right, it's a'right." Slow steps took him a fair distance from Vesper, knees bending as he lowered himself to touch the ground. "Go get th' scan, ya' just need t'tell me where they at," Gerhard's cheeks puffed, his teeth flashing behind his mask.
A simple gust of wind originated from his being, dissipating the Dungeon that was created previously to help operate Vesper. That one had only surrounded a small area, but, this one... it breezed through the entire forest, through rivers, through mountains, through cities and settlements. That, until it reached the sea in one part and until the scar, yes, the scar that was painted many years ago and separated the island into its two halves. Gerhard's new, "Dungeon," Circled around an entire half of Permis.
The Older I Get Edit
"Kaff! Kaff! Kaaahhkkk!!"
The exasperated coughs of the spotted fishman rang loud in the jungles of Panther Lily, blood from an untrained throat tainting surrounding leaves. In Apu's hand was a blunt, lit on both ends and bitten by him down its length; secured tightly in place by his jaw.
The foreign substance within was something he had never quite tried before. To be fair, he hadn't smoked much at all ever --the entire concept was something new to him. The way the ashes torched the inner wallings of his throat… the wretched taste in his mouth, the dryness of his tongue. But no, the more he complained, the more he smoked, and sooner than soon did he find himself falling in love with its magic.
It made him forget… among other things. When the chemical dissolved down his bloodstream and entered his mind, Apu felt an unscenting sense of relief. The world around him had slown down; the berries from the bushes tasted better, the mosses of the trees even somehow had begun to smell pleasing to him.
Drugs were bad. That was what Apu was taught growing up in the Fishman District, where more than a few made a living off of selling and even consuming Energy Steroids. But in his mind and perhaps even deeper down in his heart, Apu knew now that they were all… wrong.
How could drugs be bad? How could they possibly be bad when they made him forget the horrors of Luhr's capture? How could they possibly be bad when they allowed him to focus on something other than Kresha's disappearance? How could drugs possibly be anything short of divine pastries in the way they allowed Apu to forgive himself for Foxpack's death?
No, drugs were good. In fact, they were great.
"Kaaahhhkk!! Kaaaahhhkk!!!" Coughing up a storm, oddly enough, Apu was at ease. A fit of laughter followed every timely cough; and as the blunt met its end by way of the dust that fueled its every breath, Apu began rolling yet another.
"Now sit!" Malvin commanded, chest wide, hands at his hips. For he was a proud member of the Raptor Family after all! The family famed for bearing the greatest of monster hunters would shed its light on him as he trained his new companion: the Jungle Bunny now named 'Bubba' who stood less than a foot tall. Bubba sat down with little hesitation. And as Malvin jumped forward out of joy, Bubba was right there to meet him.
"...Right," Aoshin stated firmly, lips quivering from disgust. The Raptor he knew would have never celebrated over such a despicable feat. The warrior in him had surely begun to prepare itself a coffin.
Like the ghost he was, Aoshin floated on over towards Tabart with a single request in mind. "So umm, you wouldn't happen to have anymore of that ganja, would you?" Not that Aoshin could smoke anything the way he was; still, somehow he felt it didn't hurt to ask.
Tabart, who was seated on a log, looked up at Aoshin. "Yeah, of course i do. There isn't any plant that i can't make. That's the power of my Mosa Mosa no Mi," he clarified before touching the grass next to him, transforming and mutating it into a bundle of ganja for Aoshin.
"I dont know if you can even smoke this, but I thought maybe using the grass here would give you a higher chance of being able to. Since you know, its more probable that you touched it."
Tabart always showed to most that he had a good memory. It was how he managed to stay alive in the New World. How he was able to survive against that giant that tried to eat him, and how he and damon defeated Najeem. It was why he wasnt here, smoking some of his own ganja. It would dull his senses in a most crucial time.