Under the midday sun, the sea adjoining Mercury was a poodle of shimmering silver, unbelievably placid for a shore in the New World. From her daunting height, Durga could barely see significant wrinkles on the water surface on the water for miles and miles away; the horizon was also clean and calm, with no cloud in the horizon. The little wind she was experiencing could barely be called a breeze, though it still uplifted a sweet fragrance of mirth.
Sitting on a spur of rock plunging down the sea, Durga could help but think of peaceful all of that was. And the little dots coming close from far away would put an end of all this peace. She could see from the banner that the Maw Pirates ship was approaching, bringing to this corner of paradise their version of fire and brimstone.
The Iron Legion had studied the modus operandi of this band of mavericks, even fought with them in a few instances of underworld warmongering. They hopped from place to place and razed everything on their path with the same ferocity of a horde of locusts, though not for money or any kind of personal glory, but war and violence purely for its own sake.
“Mother” Mary, their commander, was especially known for her fanatical reverence for strength and brutality: she personally recruited the few who were brave and strong enough to fight back and encouraged brutal infighting among her subordinates to weed out the weaker members. A follower of social Darwinism through and through, for whom only the mighty had the right to exist and war was a righteous purge.
Durga stood up, shaking the cliff only by her sheer weight. The Iron Legion and her father hold a not dissimilar philosophy regarding a need for strife as a catalyst for evolution and a loathe for inefficiency, even if their view of “strength” and “valor” bore a greater scope than those of Mary. For all her bravado and bloodlust though, Mary was but one among the many zealots sailing in the Blue Sea who longed to turn the world on fire; few of those carried enough strength, intelligence and imagination to actually lit the fuse.
Durga was there to test if Mary was among those people.
Taking a leap, she welcomed the embrace of the sea with open arms. She found the slap of the ocean’s surface on her face reinvigorating, and the freshness of the depths pleasantly refreshing. Her gills were already in motion, extracting oxygen from water and pumping it in her lungs in an akin manner to fishes, but more efficiently. The modification she was graced from by her father ensured she had the same bond with the sea as Fishmen, and she could survive the abysses with the same if not greater ease. To make sure she didn’t damage the island too much, Durga swum a bit.
The Maw Pirates' ship shadow loomed quite far from, though still much larger from her perspective than a mere dot. Durga could probably get right below the vessel and smashing into flotsam without being noticed, but that was not the purpose of her visit: since even the strongest pirates were at their most vulnerable at direct blows at the hull, she had to give her opponent more of a chance of not losing her ship. More mercy than Mary would probably show to her and anybody, but Durga was striking first and by surprise, so some sportsmanship was due.
Clouds of sand surged as Durga’s plunged on the seafloor searching for a solid base. Tightening her muscles to an extreme amount, she coiled her first close to her hips, charging for a classic move of Fishman Karate: a straight, deadly punch.
As the name pointed out, her punch lodged straight like a spear, exploding with tremendous force. Following a rumble, the water around her punch coalesced in utter massive lance, greater in size than a battleship, whom Durga hurled against the Maw’s Pirate’s ship. Due to the breakneck speed it was launched with, the spear made an extremely noisy hiss as it traveled, foam rippling on its surface; a whirlpool took place around the gigantic warrior, as the surface was flowing back to its natural, calmer state.
Durga didn’t give the ocean a chance, and she punched many, many times more in the span of seconds, each time throwing a colossal spear and each time causing a tremendous hiss. The whirlpool around had grown larger, turning in a hole gaping above the sea floor, from which one could see Durga smiling as she was bombarding the Maw Pirates with more projectiles one could probably count at a give glance, the kind of assault which would be more than enough to demolish whole fleets and perhaps entire coastal cities.
The Mother of The Maw had been a veteran of the seas for quite a few years however it didn't take a captain to know that the ocean doesn't begin to foam and bubble just because. The odd sensation caught the attention of the Mother, as she immediately used her sixth sense to survey the ocean, her senses reached to the very floor of the abyss where she noticed the woman forming the assault. Next Mary placed a single foot on the hull of her ship, allowing a black armor to extend from her foot and coat the entire ship in the spiritual armor forged of her will.
As her haki was protecting the ship from the oceans assault, Mary then launched herself skyward while outreaching a single hand, within the outreached hand The Curse that the devil had bestowed upon her granted her the ability to forge a Lance of pure lightning within it. Next, the bolt was tainted black as she coated it with her Busushoku haki to ensure that it would indeed reach her intended target. A single flick of Mary's wrist then sent the lance, downward, into the very Abyss that her prey believed themselves to be safe, at an incredible pace.
Recognizing the futility of assaulting a ship without captain, Durga halted her assault on the vessel. Her eyes registered Mary ascending upward, and the latter’s arm falling down launching the bolt; the projectile was approaching fast, very fast, Durga eyes would have shimmered for the crackles if they weren't pitch black.
But she did not back down. Jumping from out from the whirlpool to reach similar, she faced the crackling projectly head-on, stretching her hand. From on her massive, dark gauntlets, a bare blade jutted out, quadrangular in shape like a the swords used by ninja. Its sleek design, pure sleek silver, was brushed in a dark layer of Busoshoku.
As if it passing through a lightning rod, the darkened electricity was drawn by the jutting blade. Haki was matched by Haki; the stream of electricity disappeared, gobbled inside Durga’s gauntlet. Once completed the absorption, the Legionnaire’s skin turned redder, exuding a light shroud of steam from its pores. The satisfied grin she gave to Mary showed that she didn’t accuse any damage whatsoever from the bolt; if anything, she had managed to process its energetic potential and made it her own.
Time for payback, then. Having come face to face with Mother of the Maw, Durga opened her mouth wide, showing a crimson flare: the flash of a laser, which fired a beam of light of equal if not greater speed than the thunderbolt from before. Together with the blast, she infused her arms with the power of Hasshoken, making her them flutter in the process. By slamming her arms onto another soon afterwards, she birthed a ring of vibrations, booming through the air and swelling up to tremendous size.
The sea below shaked and trembled; as a result the Maw Pirate’s vessel skidded far away from both combatants, dragged by the makeshifts wavest. Alongside the shockwaves, molecules of air and vapor stormed toward Mary’s direction, darkened by Durga’s Haki, causing two gales of black wind travelling against the shorter woman with the force of hurricanes. A technique of such was born applying the principles of two martial arts into one one blow: Fishman Karate to blast the very atmosphere away and Hasshoken to add the shattering force of vibrations. Mary would face a slab of wind thick wind, which opposed a natural resistivity against electricity, while enduring a powerful shockwave at the same time.
Mary's survival instincts notified her of the change in the wind, while the crimson gleam of the laser beam caught the attention of her eye. A simple maneuver to the side as would allow the laser to bypass directly beside her and fly into the backdrop of their battle. Within the next instant she was able to address the oncoming shockwave as the massive shockwave made its way towards her position, as such, she took the proper precautions. Firstly her entire body became encased in the black spiritual armor that was becoming ever more popular within the confines of the new world. The Haki Armor allowed her body to withstand the assault of the vicious winds with very few effects. The haki also ensured that Mary would be able to plot an appropriate counter-attack, while she was enduring the assault of Durga.
Mary then landed on the helm of her ship, now being tossed and thrashed about by the ocean before clasping her hands togeather and pointing her fingers directly towards the still airborne threat, A massive spear forged of lightning was that launched directly from Mary's hands towards Durgas chest, with blinding speed.
Another parried attack, and another lightning bolt. Durga was not afraid, she could gulp blasts of electricity of that caliber like snacks. She embraced the second scorch of lighting just like the first one, welcoming it with the tips of two blades jutting from her forearms. As the bolt was swallowed in her own body, crackles and fizzles appeared all around the warrior. Her figure was again marred with red; a thudding boom resounded from her body, indicating that the assimilation process was completed.
Still airborne, the gigantic warrior flipped her way to vessel, pushed far from the coast. Her figure was a wheel of blue and dark, casting a massive shadow on the Maw Pirates’ ship. Despite her daunting frame, however, Durga was showing extreme speed and balance; her foot connected on the ship’s helm without causing a single click, only the slight lowering of the vessel indicated than object weighing over a hundred of tons had landed a moment before. She kept equilibrium at the tip of her toes, and nothing indicated she could not keep this poise for hours. Still, it was the form of a ballerina, not a fighter, so Durga slammed her other foot, making a tremendous thud that shook the ship and reverberated through the depths of the abyss.
“Greetings, Mary. I am Durga of the Iron Legion. My masters have given me the task to test your mettle, to see if you are worthy of an alliance with us”. Durga gave a martial salute to her much smaller guest, as a warrior to another: head and torso slightly bent, arms left hanging parallel to the torso, legs straight and well balanced. From that position, she rose suddenly, spreading both of her arms. An intermittent glowing appeared on her eyes, similar to glyphs written on her sclera: a stronger flash responded in the middle of her chest, a sign that her STREAM technology was activating.
The Iron Legion had mastered a way to convert most of the physical objects into data and vice-versa, allowing for manipulation and transformation of matter still impossible without devil fruit. Durga was used utilizing her device to collapse her form in a more manageable for size for human interaction. Now she was utilizing it to summon a weapon. Strings of codes, apparently more complex than binary, weird numbers formed threads of light brushing Durga’s arm, liting it like fireflies. A process happening so fast one would skip it just by blinking his eyes.
The instrument appearing on Durga’s arm was an enormous baton, matching her height. Its base structure was near identical to a tonfa- a stick protruding from Durga, its handle gripped from above- apparently build from a single slab of metal. Its bludgeoning tip, in particular, were two disproportionally large metallic spheres, more like the end of maces. There was little to be impressed by such weapon from the outside, an ordinary martial arts tool made of more durable material. And yet, if one looked closely, it could see… waves from the weapons. Not blemishes, nor joints, but wrinkles, moving her so subtly as if tonfa was a snake in the beginnings of its molt.
Durga rose her weapon above her head and slammed it against Mary, orthogonal to the vessel. Due to Hasshoken, waves of energy burst from the tip of the sphere, which was jittering so much it looked blurred even being strengthened by the blackness of Haki. A gaping wound spilled from the falling weapon, tearing the terse air asunder. Below the sea, the motion made the sea caved in, it opened a trail long tens, if not hundreds of miles in which the ship fell squarely. That was before the tonfa had collided: what would happen to the Maw ship if it somehow did?
Fortunately for the ship such a question would not be answered on this day. As the baton made its descent downward towards its target, Mary, in the blink of an eye drew her fang of Apollyon A fine silver Katana, forged of the finest steel on the planet. If Durga's weapons continued upon its chosen course, than Mary's sword would slice through it as if it where made of butter the lightning from her devil fruit coursing through it allowing its cutting capacity to raise to supernatural levels, causing each half of her staff to fall into the ocean on either side of her ship, while she made eye contact with the opponent.
"And just who informed you that I would be interested in an alliance with you?" Mary cocked her brow as she spoke, refusing for a second to remove her eyes from Durga.
Durga stared at Mary, smiling with equal confidence. Especially as, by doing that, she would distract the Pirate from the real danger incoming. An easy prediction from the clash of her baton and Mary would be a sliced, broken weapon. Yet, when Apollyon sunk its fang, it bit... nothing. Only air. The main body of the baton had morphed its structure, turning in an elastic slab of metal, or better yet, in a sort of a living being, contorting in a way it would not meet the sword's thread; then finally, springing against its plate with full force.
The booming sound of two great forces colliding rung for just a second. Then it happened something even more incredible. The ripples at the end of the tonfa's waved with ever greater speed and velocity, making the impacting ball dripping in the process. Rather than a piece of solid, Durga's weapon was acting like it was made of metallic gelatine. It engulfed Apollyon, the arm wielding it.
"It because of tools like this". Durga answered her opponent. "With our technology, we can craft weapons made of biometal that can morph and bend at our command. It can be yours if you manage to earn it". Tremors returned, stronger than ever. "By surviving".
Durga infused more Haki and Hasshoken, a copious amount of it. It made the sea around the shored vessel rumble for miles, tsunamis raising and spreading across the blue, washing islands far away. All around the Maw's ship, there was nothing but a plane of wet sand and jutting, underground rocks, for an area perhaps equating that of a village if not a city. The air was crackling, creaking with tremendous powers, every molecule vibrating with such explosive force the very act of breathing felt arduous, impossible. And Mary was right at the epicenter of it, with no point to evade an explosion that would turn even the stronger vessel into nothing but flotsam and jetsam.
"So this, this is what it feels like to have to survive, this is a true battle!"
Even in the face of what would appear to be imminent death, with her right arm immobilized and being bound at the epicenter of what would appear to be imminent death Mary smiled. In the middle of the Choas, the ocean raging and the sand and rocks obscuring her from view, Mary used the pinnacle of her devil fruit to supercharge her atom down to a subatomic level. To the naked and untrained eye Mary's body was simply vibrating at a staggering level, however, closer examination would reveal that that biometal that had previously encased her arm phased through it as it began to fall towards the ocean. Marys being would remain in this state for the duration of the destruction as she then allowed her self to stand upon her ship once more, drained from the use of such a technique.
He next words would be directed towards Durga.
"Now then, if you'll excuse me."
A strange event was occurring before Durga’s very own eyes, Mary’s frame jittering and shimmering, somehow countering the massive waves of her Hasshoken. Durga had a moment of perplexity, since nothing in her rather long dossier about the Maw Pirates ever indicated Mary had learned about the shattering style. A flicker in her sensor, punctuating a steep spike in electricity coming from the Maw’s Queen, revealed the truth: Mary was using the electricity to supercharge her body and make her own body vibrated with equal and opposite strength to her Hasshoken.
By hearing her breath- imperceptibly weary, as much the proud pirate was trying to hide- Durga realized Mary was far from accustomed to such defensive method. Still, the basic outline was rather solid: with specific training in Hasshoken and some nanomachines, the efficiency of such methods could be improved hundredfold. The move was very limited at its current usage, so much so- either by lack of foresight, skill, or even care- Durga had already found a critical shortcoming.
Mary and Mary only was bypassing the Hasshoken. The rest of the ship was not.
Logs creaked, their junctures swollen; the mast fluttered like a tissue of paper in a storm. Pop after pop, wooden splinters came out of every crevice of the deck. Pop after pop, clouds of dust billowed, the essence of the ship squeezed from its wooden frame. After a big pop, a massive rupture coming from the tip of the tonfa, the mast snapped asunder, and so did the rest of the ship, laying on the seafloor, shrouded by the surging clouds from the shattered bulwark and the tattered gunwale. Everything in the hull was left plain to see, especially the terrified faces of the crew, desperately trying to get back in their position.
“Where do you think you are going, Mary?” Durga asked her comparatively diminutive opponent. “Your vessel will turn in a pile of mush and debris… right now”. With a wimpier sound, the two half of the broken ship unraveled, leaving driftwood rolling on the seafloor.
“And water will soon come after us”. A massive flush came forward: the ocean pushed back by the earthquake was rapidly reclaiming its ground.
“There is little time, but you have met our expectations. I can provide you with this weapon and many more, as well as safety for you and your men”. The titanic warrior asked, offering her palm to Mary so that she could stand over it. “Just follow me, if you wish”.