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Bass - Wings are great aren't they?
He had flow up away from Kuzo and the others and once again was balancing himself on a current of air. He glanced down at the city below him and swooped around, trying to find something that could point him in the right direction for this treasure everyone wanted. He knew that if he could find it and bring it back then he could get them to get off of this island and they wouldn't have to get into fights anymore or such. It would keep less people from being killed as well since once the treasure would get off of the island then no one would stick around and harm the townsfolk anymore. It was a win win since his own crew would get the treasure as well! After a bit of flying, and many terrified screams he flew up higher and higher and sighed. He wasn't getting anywhere with causing people to become frightened of him. Hell, if he flew on down and landed now a mob would probably form around him! It was always like that, and it was like here as well.
He did have to wonder though… was there a place that would properly accept him? Heh, he was starting to see it more as a dream than a reality at this point, but he couldn't let that get him down! Kuzo and the others wanted this treasure found… now the question was that if this island was known for having a treasure then there had to be crews left behind. He only knew a bit about pirate crews, but either they left maps to find their treasure again or they would lay behind clues for someone else to find it. Now that he did get to thinking about it he had to wonder just how much of a treasure there was. Would he be able to carry it back to the ship? coins weren't heavy, yes, but in mass they could weigh a lot. Especially if they were in some sort of chest. In that case he could find one of the others and bring them to the treasure, and the only problem with that was the fact that he would only be able to bring one person… and the climb up and down could be treacherous.
He flew up higher and gazed off into the distance. He could see that there really weren't many things around that were screaming there is a clue or treasure here, so maybe he had to try somewhere else? If no one in the city had found it yet then it had to be farther off. He looked about and saw the forests, problem was that forests weren't really that navigable. You could easily get lost and things looked the same such as trees and shrubs. It needed to be in a location where you could count how many steps to take or for it to have a key landmark. Hm… where could that be?
The answer hit him when his eyes laid on a rather large mountain. Hm… he didn't see any other mountains here. If the treasure was in there then you could count how many caves to pass or you could find a set of markings that would lead the way to the treasure. He grinned and used another current to fly on over, his wings beating slowly as he gazed upon the sheer size of the mountain. Yeah, this was going to take some time, but he had an advantage. Instead of having to walk the paths and find good grips to get up the mountain he could just fly over every single obstacle!
He approached at a leisurely pace and finally stopped on a side of the peak, looking about slowly and began to glide around the mountain, every now and then flapping his wings to adjust his height. As he rose higher and higher he noticed nothing really hitting his eyes. He saw caves, a few trees and shrubs that managed to somehow grow on the mountainside, and… that was it. Of course he didn't expect to see any signs screaming that the treasure was there.
He ended up flying to a higher cave and flapped his wings a bit and landed on solid ground. It was rather cold up and he couldn't help but shiver. Better to start up top and see if the treasure was there than to go into a cave and come out surrounded by other pirates, right? Though as he did land his face moved into that of a grimace. He had to be careful as he stepped down because of what he saw. Snails. A boat load of snails... or that's what it seemed like to him. He ended up having to fly back up, shivering as a snail started to crawl up his foot and he had to swing his leg around wildly to get it off. He shook his head and sighed, "Has to be something." He muttered to himself.
Wilhelm Crew - Recon Squad with Kuzo and Avril
A group of four loosely dressed individuals stolled down the streets of Regal Town. On the left was a heavy individual of some age, with dark hair and tan skin. On the right, a rugged looking man with a short stubble and rough facial features. In the middle was Grave "Dead Eye" Markus, walking beside "The Rodent." Under their clothes, each one was hiding an arsenal of weapons.
"Damn Pirates are everywhere," Rodney said with a sneer. "Sooner we can get out of here the better. No sense risking our lives for some broad." Graves heard what Rodney said, but didn't listen. They were the words of a coward.
"Rodney, you complain that no one respects you, but you sure don't give us a lot to respect," chimed the older man on the left.
"If you guys keep talking you're liable to get us found out. Can it. We're almost there anyway," demanded the rugged man on the right.
"You know what, when the s**t hits the fan, we'll see who survives the longest." Rodney was caught up on the point, and it wasn't helping anything.
"I guess we will," said Markus.
"Excuse me, miss?" asked Rodney, with a wide grin across his face. "Do you recognize the woman in this picture? Shishsishishi!" Rodeney was holding out a bounty notice for Avril.
Avril glanced over in the direction of the man speaking. Her eyes fell on the poster in his hand, causing the woman to muster a look of surprise. She honestly was not expecting that to have made its way to a rundown place such as this. Adjusting the brim of her hat over her eyes for a moment, Avril quickly glanced away from the poster.
"Well... Um... I think I may have seen someone who resembles that... I mean..." the woman stammered for a moment. She glanced over towards Kuzo and quickly stepped closer to him. "Hey, Ku... Have you seen a person like that one?" she asked, dubbing the man with an odd nickname already.
Kuzo's eyes darted between the wanted poster, and Avril. He looked back and forth between the two before finally smiling at Avril. "Morgan and Leon have a higher one." He commented.
Rodney's face scrunched with displeasure, wrinkiling around his sharp nose. "I don't think she gets it, Rodney," said the Rugged Man.
Markus stared at the group in front of them. The comment seemed to point at the fact that they were probably pirates.
"I don't got time for this!" yelled Rodney. Tossing aside his disguise, Rodney proved his nickname by transforming into what seemed to be a large rat man wearing a Marine's uniform. The men on either side followed suit and produced a large sword for the rugged man, and a rifle for the elder.
"If you come with us, it will be much easier," said the old man. "Wilhelm doesn't like resistance."
Avril hesitated for a moment. While she had just met this group of pirates, the captain of them already seemed to think of her as a crew member. Sure, she had no intention of ACTUALLY joining them, but if it they were anything like the others she had dealt with so far since arriving on Duke Island, chances were she could easily convince them to help her out with this situation...
"Well... maybe not that angry one with the scythe, but..."
Adjusting the brim of her hat back to it's normal spot, Avril gave the revealed Marines a soft smile. "Hmm... I think I should probably decline that offer... My pops always told me that I shouldn't go runnin' 'bout with strangers..." She paused, glancing at the one who had turned into a rat and giggled. "And ya look 'bout as strange as they come, yeah?"
Rodney's eyes bolted open in response. "WHAT DID YOU CALL ME!?" The rugged man glanced over to notice that Markus had yet to draw his weapon.
"What are you doing? Get out your guns."
Markus nodded before reaching back to pull his rifle off his back, and his pistol from it's holster. Pointing both out in front of him at the poor girl they had been sent to hunt, Graves remembered the execution just a week before.
Baring his teeth, Rodney scowled at Avril. "The bounty never said we had to bring you back alive you know."
"Well... Ya know, it never said you had to bring me back at all..." Avril said quietly. "Look... There's plenty of other bounties here, right? Why not focus on somethin' a bit... higher? You could always come back for me later... or not at all. Ya know, whatever works!"
"Clearly you don't know Wilhelm," said the old man.
"I think it's time I killed you guys," said Markus dryly.
'What?" Said the group of Marines together, as Graves swung his Rifle to the right, and his pitol to the left, firing them similtaneously into the skulls of the men on either side of him.
"Markus, what are y-" Before he could finish, Graves drove his bayonet into Rodney's Body and pinned him to the ground, careful not to hit any vitals.
"You're gonna run away now, and tell Wilhelm what happened. Now get out of my sight you filthy rat." Markus let up, and pulled the blade from out of Rodney. The Rat quickly grabbed at the wound, trying to keep from bleeding.
"You bastard!" Rodney scrambled up as quickly as he could and started to run. He turned back for just a moment to say, "Wilhelm won't kill you, I won't let him have the satisfaction! You're mine, Graves!"
Markus turned to the crew after briushing himself off a bit. "You guys are pirates, right?"
Kuzo quietly nodded to Markus, a bit confused on the situation. He assumed they were all Marines tracking down pirates along the island, and for some reason they had a particular interest in Avril. He was prepared to help fight them off since she was now apart of his crew, but this Marines seemed to do it for them. He silently wondered why.
"Well... In all honesty, they are pirates," Avril replied. "I'm sort of just hitchin' a ride for the time bein'..."
"My name is Graves Markus. But you can call me Deadeye." Markus procured his Marine hat from amongst his belongings. "I'm guessing that your crew could use a Marksman." He then threw the hat high into the air. Swiftly swinging his pistol towards the sky, he fired several rounds. When the hat landed, there was a pattern of holes crossing out the Marine symbol stitched into it. Markus looked at Avril. "Sorry for the trouble. We kinda had you trapped like a girl surrounded by Marines."
"No problem... Though I am curious 'bout the sudden change of heart," Avril replied. "Ratty-Patty didn't seem to wanna take another answer besides yes."
"We were under strict orders to locate you. We weren't bounty hunters after all. The actual values don't affect us." Graves looked at Kuzo intently. "I suppose this means I'm the one with the lowest bounty."
"If we accept you," Kuzo responded, crossing his arms and matching the intent look of Graves. "Someone who kills their friends isn't exactly on the top of my list."
"I wouldn't call them friends. If you'd seen what I've seen them do to innocent people, I think you might agree that they had it coming." Markus put his guns away, but was careful not to remove his disguise. He was still wearing a Marine uniform under it after all. "Let's just say that Wilhelm is the type who does anything and everything to get the job done, regardless of regulations and ethics."
Kuzo nodded as Markus explained this 'Wilhelm' guy. He definitely knew there were Marines out there that fit that bill. But he still wasn't convinced about this guy just yet. "Why do you want to become a pirate?" He asked.
Markus thought it was a fair question. "I think maybe we should go somewhere more private first. These bodies and my gunshots are likely to draw some attention."
Kuzo quietly nodded again, agreeing with the man on this point. He turned and proceeded to walk away from the scene of the incident. As he did this, he thought about what Avril could have done to make the Marines so mad that they'd pursue despite others having higher bounties. He walked, and then turned his face around and commented to the Marine behind him. "Tristan D. Kuzo's the name, by the way."
Wright D. Morgan- Regal Town, Duke Island
Morgan was sure he was supposed to be doing something. The murmurs of something eventful filled the air with loud noises, frequent conversations and the tossing of names back and forth. But everything was muffled and Morgan drowned everything out. It was nothing more than background noise, happening all subconsciously as if Morgan had suddenly developed tunnel vision, with his eyes on the prize. There was a lingering, almost nagging thought, pulling at him in the back of his head. It was like something was compelling Morgan to actually pay attention to the events around him. And perhaps he should of. He was part of Kuzo’s “crew” if by nothing more than convenient association and there was an obligation to aid Kuzo and his allies in their escapades. However, Morgan had successfully put himself in such a daze that he couldn’t remember what happened in the past week of his life.
His memories flooded by such a thick fog that the only light that pierced through it was the flaming red of hair of the woman in front of him. From what Morgan could tell, she was older than he was, perhaps by more than only a few years. Now normally, the Burning King did not have a thing for older women, but Morgan was more than willing to make an exception. After all, her hair matched the flames that he lived to fill the world with. A match made in the skies above may be an overstatement, but Morgan had a small thing for drama. He would admit that much.
Continuing to block out anything related to Kuzo and his addiction to forcing random strangers to join his crew (which Morgan was beginning to get worried about space), Morgan looked at the woman and threw a wink her way: “Well, hello th- What the…hell?”
Morgan’s eyes were suddenly distracted, mentally pushing the beauty before him aside as he suddenly approached the wall. Undoubtedly the people around him were more confused than Morgan, but he could ignore them easily enough. He was used to be considered a little more than eccentric. “A snail…? Why is there one here?” Morgan yanked the snail off the wall and proceeded to analyze it. He knew snails were used for a number of tasks, though he failed to understand how everything worked no matter how much he studied the supposed science behind it. For some reason, Morgan felt as if he was being watched. He looked around, noticing more snails in the area after picking out the first one. They were hung around the area. Some on buildings. Others on trees. He imagined they were everywhere. Someone placed them there. But why? And to serve what purpose? Asking questions like that wouldn’t help him really. Morgan was clever, not smart, and even then that gave him more credit than he deserved.
“Welcome ladies and gentlemen! Pirates and Marines! To Duke Island! Home of the first Pirate Games!!” The snail suddenly barked at Morgan, taking the normally fairly composed pirate aback. The voice was clearly that of relatively young woman, having a sense of elegance and serenity to it, while also conveying strength and authority. It didn’t take long for Morgan to hear the announcement echo in the wind. The message must have been spread throughout the island so every soul could hear it. “If you are here, listening to this announcement, you are now part of the greatest collection of pirates and marines this side of the Red Line. You heard the rumors of the vast treasure of the fallen Pirate King. You heard that is here on this very island. Allow me to tell you that message is true. I, Kasumi Kobushi, President and CEO of the Kobushi Corporation, have placed the treasure at the top of Royal Peak myself,” she continued. Morgan could practically see every person on the island eyes widen. “Now that every single one of you know where it is, the game can now begin. Everyone wants a piece of the treasure. It is a race to the finish. The obstacles are your rivals. Your adventure will be recorded and shown to every single living person on this planet. This is an opportunity of a lifetime to make your name immortal. Good luck.”
Wright D. Morgan and Avril Meads- Regal Town, Duke Island
So the lady hides treasure on an island, gets every greedy pirate to come to the island and then announces where she hides. The Grand Line is crazier than I thought. And a helluva a good time too, Morgan thought to himself. All Morgan had to reason with himself was what he would do with the treasure. And how he was going to get there...
And then a hand brushed across his face, causing the young pirate to quietly gulp (he was never used to women making the 'first move' on him and he needed to regain his composure). Morgan had to consider Avril's offer for only a second. "I thought you would never ask," he quietly said.
Avril gave Morgan a quick wink and a giggle, before leading him away from Kuzo and the rest of his crew. The woman decided to keep her act of seduction... or lying for the lack of a better word, giving her hips a bit of an exaggerated swaying motion as she walked. She had only hoped that Morgan would follow behind her as she had planned.
"So now I need to figure out how to actually get the treasure... I can probably deal with some of these pirates myself... despite the fact I had those other two from earlier do the fightin' for me... Come to think of it, I sort of asked this guy to come along without knowin' just what he can actually do if brought into a fight..."
Avril glanced over her shoulder, smiling warmly at the man. "This place is sort of scary now... What with all these pirates in an uproar 'bout that treasure... Do ya think that ya could maybe keep me safe...?" she asked, giving the man a slightly nervous glance.
"I guess you never heard of me, have you?" Morgan said with a raised eyebrow and a small laugh. "I am the 'Burning King.' You are more than safe," he continued, trying to reassure Avril. Though she was an innocent as she seemed, she may have not heard of his reputation. Then again, he'll just prove it when he needs to. Morgan was confident enough that most of the pirates on Duke Island were weaker than he was. And if any fight did escalate to a point where he couldn't win...Morgan chose to not think about that. He'll improvise. He was good enough at that. "Though a woman like yourself has been traveling alone for a while I'm guessin'. How have you fended of all these Marines and the like on your own?"
"Well, the truth of the matter is..." Avril began. She seemed somewhat hesitant to give the details. However, realizing that if she had any hope of actually obtaining her treasure, the woman figured that she should overlook that fact for the time being. "I guess ya could say I'm one of those weapony-buildiner-types... Explosives, flashybombs, and all that sort of stuff... I pretty much use the stuff I make to fight against the Marines and sometimes pirates... or at least manage to get away..."
"I do like the sound of explosions," Morgan admitted with a smirk. "Ya know, a crafty and beautiful girl like yourself doesn't seem like you need a lug like me." Morgan was perhaps selling himself short, but the reality was he could see a number of similarities between Avril and himself. She seemed to be loner like himself. She seemed to fight like he did. Or at least have the same way of thinking in those kind of situations. Hell, she kind of talked like he did too. Morgan felt as if he looked at a mirror. Only she was a she. And probably better looking than him. "Anyway, I suppose I should say thanks for bringing me along. Ya'll got a plan?"
"Not exactly," Avril answered honestly. A somewhat mischievous looking smirk replaced the smile she had been wearing previously, followed by a small giggle as well. "The only plan I have formin' in my head is to get to the top of the mountain alive, which is one reason why I asked ya along with me. No offense, but your captain and the big guy with that scythe didn't exactly strike me as people I could count on to do that... And that one guy with the gun who was with the Marines that came after me... Well, let's just say I don't really trust someone who came after me with intent to arrest... even if he did chase off the rest of his group."
"That guy isn't exactly my captain. Even if he wants to be," Morgan retorted. "He wants me in the crew and who could blame him? But the only reason I am bothering to follow him around is because he agreed to give me his ship if I beat 'em in a fight." Avril gave him a shot of confidence in that he could beat Kuzo in a fight. He didn't know much of his abilities, but so far the only guy that Morgan feared was Kiba and that was only because of that revolver and those new bullets he recently added. Morgan will take it. "You can trust me though. Hell, I might even surprise ya. So I guess we should just head straight at that rock and see what happens? How does that sound?"
"Sounds like a better plan than nothin'," Avril replied with a nod and smile.
Truth be told, she was a bit surprised by part of Morgan's information. From what she had figured she knew about pirates, it seemed like that unwavering loyalty to the captain was supposed to be a must... Which of course led to the question of just what sort was Kuzo supposed to be?
"Alrighty then. Let's a go then!" Morgan began to sprint ahead towards Royal Peak. "Better keep up! I want the treasure as much ya do!"
"Lead on, Peppers~" the woman replied, giving Morgan another smile and giggle.
Avril watched for a moment as Morgan dashed ahead before she began to follow behind him. This was turning out to work better than she had thought it would. In fact, Avril was quite pleased with the fact that she had managed to pick one of the more reasonable and level-headed members of that group to come along with her towards the treasure. The woman only hoped that this good fortune would continue for the rest of her time at Duke Island.
Tristan D. Kuzo and an island of pirates - Duke Island
With a simple announcement from the transponder snails, the island was in an uproar. If it was thought that the pirates, with their screaming, shouting, drinking, and fighting, were rowdy before, now they were on an entirely different level. Orders were being shouted around. Pirates in groups and as individuals began making their way up the multiple paths up the mountain, which had a forest start at its base until most of the way up, and at the very top was covered with a sheet of white snow. Brawls broke out on the streets as the different pirate groups tried to minimize the competition as much as they could. It was a free-for-all, with no rules, and only one victor.
Kuzo had personally never heard of this 'Kasumi Kobushi', who had announced herself on the transponder snails, but it appeared as if many other pirates have.
"Did the snail say Kobushi?!" A pirate closeby shouted, asking one of his fellow crewmates as they began to run up the island. "Isn't that the Shichibukai?!"
"Yeah, she's the Warlord! I'm sure of it!" His fellow pirate retorted, as they quickly sprinted out of town and onward to the Royal Peak.
Conversations and shouting like this broke out all across town, confirming for Kuzo the identity of the woman who had made the announcement. Yet he still didn't know much about her besides a name and a title, and in all honesty, it didn't matter as much to him. What did matter is that all the action and excitement was going to happen on the Royal Peak. That was where he'd go too.
He turned around to try and address his crew, but found that both Morgan and Avril had departed while he was listening to the announcement. He didn't really know where Bass and Lotte were, and he lost track of Vance and Skellen a while back. All that he saw presently were the ex-Marine Graves and Leon. Interesting company he was paired with, but given the current situation, he assumed all of his crew would he would most likely pick up along the way on the mountain, or on the very top with the treasure.
"A race to the top, eh?" Kuzo commented, a smile returning to his face. He stopped in his tracks, and addressed both Leon and Markus. "Change of plans. We'll talk about this later. We're going to get that treasure!" He exclaimed, and proceeded toward the hillside on the path to the large mountain. Many other pirates took similar paths, and quite a few of them attempted to shoot or slice their fellow scallywags every chance they could. Kuzo adjusted his bone size, hollowing and thinning up in Lightning Mode, and dashed forward in a rapid motion, shooting passed many, much to their surprise. Kuzo had no idea what he would encounter on the top of the mountain. Maybe there really was a treasure. Heck, maybe it was One Piece. But it wasn't the idea of what exactly that treasure was that drew him toward the mountain. Instead, it was the fact that he didn't know what it was. It was the unknowing, the adventure of it. There wasn't much else he could ask for.
Having heard the announcement loud and clear, the Tensens quickly broke off their scuffle with the Akahige Pirates and took a path up the mountain. Along the way, Mina was specifically ordering Warp and Ronaldo to cut down everyone they saw along the path, which Warp was happy to oblige, and which Ronaldo did reluctantly. Shin Koku, first mate of the Akahiges, directed his own crewmates up the mountain as well, expected that his Captain, wherever he may be, was probably along the way as well.
The Okama Pirates had already made quite a bit of distance up the mountain, having started earlier due to Elric the Okama Hero, the Captain, having gathered some information from the "Gun Saint" of the Akahiges back in the diner. Though his information was on a whim, it was surprisingly accurate, making way for the Okamas to be closer to the top than most of the many other pirate crews.
Even from the shore, the Fishman Pirates led by Captain Jishi Jeremoh, the "Plague of the Ocean" and his crew had heard the announcement and furiously dashed along their own path on the other side of the mountain toward the top. They appeared in a group of four fishmen: The Captain, whose head resembled that of a squid-like creature; a skinnier, more human-like fishman with like brown hair and a young complexion; a shorter, faster fishman with an elongated head, and black leather clad around his wrists, pants, and head (as a sort of bandanna), with a pair of large, dark goggles, and an enormous, monstrous fishman with green scales, a bulky body and large teeth. Each one seemed ready to kill anyone who got in their way. A younger group of pirates who were along their path paid them one unsavory look (in their opinion), and that was it.
"What are you looking at, boy?" The skinnier fishman with the light brown hair sneered at one of the younger pirates, who was caught staring at the larger fishman monster. At the realization that he was caught staring, he quickly turned away and hoped that they could move along without any problems. The Fishmen didn't have the same plan in mind. The other fishman with black goggles quickly stopped the younger pirate from leaving by grabbing his shirt, and before his other friends could run off, the fishman monster stepped in their way. "Where do you think you're going? Ain't ya gonna answer my friend here?" The fishman in the black goggles asked to the clearly frightened pirate.
"Uh...uhm...sorry! Please! D-d-don't hurt me!" He cried.
"Don't hurt me, he says!" The black goggled fishman mimicked. The other fishmen laughed. "What, do you think we look funny to you?"
"That's it isn't it? You think we're ugly!" The black, goggled fishman said, lifting the young pirate up by his shirt. Despite his relatively limber size, the fishman had remarkable strength.
"No! Please don't hurt me!" He said, crying in fear. The other pirates too were on the verge of tears, pleading for their lives. The young pirate closed his eyes, the tears streaming down his face as the black goggled fishman lifted his other hand.
"Enough Maruko. Shen. Oogwei." Captain Jeremoh commented ahead of his three subordinates. He looked back at them disapprovingly, and as the younger pirate the fishman known as Maruko held up opened his eyes, he thought he was safe. He looked at the Captain, as did the three fishmen. However, instead of getting a reprieve of pain from their Captain, he got something worse.
"We have no time to deal with a couple of humans," He declared, the hate for the word being clear in his voice. He turned around and proceeded back toward the Royal Peak. "Just kill them already." He commanded. At that, the three fishmen grinned, and the human pirates shrieked in horror. The first of many yells of agony that would escape the mouths of the pirates who encountered the Fishman Pirates.
Bass: Stupid Pirates!
Bass had still been looking about wildly, trying to find a place to land that wasn't covered with snails when he heard a booming voice that echoes around the mountain. He couldn't cover his ears all that well, so the message got to him loud and clear, perhaps a bit too loudly in fact. As the voice died down he couldn't help but groan in pain as a ringing echoed in his ear drums. The ringing slowly began to die down, and as it did he had to mull over what the voice had just said. Treasure... at the top of the mountain!? So... he was right? Well, that was good! Though... he knew how humans acted around treasure. He personally never had touched treasure before, but back in the forests he would hide from humans who would start fights over small pieces of coins. If that was any indicator, it meant that every single human would be running to the peak...
Bass thought on that for a moment. If they were all coming here... well, they were pirates. They would probably try to kill each other to get up here. That also meant... that meant Vance and Kuzo! They could be killed! Bass found himself flapping a bit faster now as anxiety built up in his head. He couldn't just let them be killed, right? Vance was the closest thing to a friend he had after all! He bit his lower lip as he tried to figure out what to do. He could fly down, grab people off of the mountainside and fling them down to the ground... but he couldn't be fast enough then! Especially if his friends were surrounded by rough pirates!
He flapped slowly in pace as the wheels turned in his mind. He could... he could try an avalanche perhaps? He had seen them sometimes near the mountains back on the island and they could be very wide spread. He knew most started with a certain rock pushed or there could be strong winds one day that would start a massive chain of falling rocks. He could flap hard enough to try and cause a rock slide that way, but at the same time... he could kill someone. He sighed and shook his head. Better them then someone he knew, right? He didn't want to do it... hopefully he wouldn't have to, but if he was forced to then he didn't have much choice in the matter. Okay... it was like... it was like that one time he had to fight off that jungle cat! The feline had tried to eat him and he had flown up and threw it down on some rocks. Yeah, it was like that. Survival of the fittest. His crewmates were his friends now, right? That meant he had to work to help protect them, sort of like how he would help other bats with surviving in the caves. He took a deep breath and then let it out. He had to cause some damage then. Anything to keep his friends alive.
"Hey, Oka-crew. Keep up now!" Elric the Okama Hero yelled at his nakama who followed him up the dense forest along the upwards slope of the mountain. They had made quite a bit of progress up the Royal Peak, though the slopes were slowly getting to some of their stamina. That is, besides the Captain, who seemed to almost have an abundant amount.
"Dardeneilles! Ojey!" He shouted to his two crewmates below him on the slope, both of which were Okamas. Dardeneilles had bright green eyes, brown hair, large yellow earrings and tons of unnecessary make-up. He also sported a large cannon in his hands. Ojey had bright pink glasses, flowing red hair, and a bit of fuzz along his chin and cheeks from a beard he desperately tries to hide.
"Oh, all this dense, thick forest is scraping my nails!" Ojey whined, slowing down even more, as he desperately felt the need for a break.
"Oka-Stow it, Ojey!" Elric jeered, ushering his team onward. Dardeneilles breathed heavily and looked up at the clouds, trying to catch his breath. As he looked up higher into the clouds, and then at the Royal Peak above, he caught sight of something that appeared to be flying only a bit higher than they were walking.
"Hey, Elric!" Dardeneilles shouted. Elric turned to his crewmate. "What is it, 'Neilles?"
"Ain't that some awefully big monster flyin'?" He asked, pointing to the large, bat-like creature he spotted close to them in the air. "Pretty funny lookin' thing, huh?"
"Oooh, it's scary!" Ojey shrieked, placing his hands to his face and shaking his head. "Is he an animal of the island?"
"Could be someone's pet," Dardeneilles commented. Elric, after examining the thing more closely, decided to play it safe.
"Hmm, I don't Oka-like it. 'Neilles! Shoot him outta the sky. Make him...Oka-gone!" He grinned, and Dardeneilles, stepping forward, lifted up his large gun over his shoulder, locked onto his target, and fired the rocker launching bazooka at Bass.
Possessing not only flight, but also echolocation skills, Bass could easily hear the projectile coming at him from a mile away. It WAS rather noisy that way, so he did the only thing he could do. Back when he had been little the only thing that had saved him from predators such as eagles and owls that populated the forest was a sort of twirling manuever. If you mastered it, then you were fine. If your buddy couldn't master it... well, that was a different story. As the bazooka came screaming right at him Bass twirled in mid air, moving just so that the bazooka barely missed him by half an inch.
The bat gasped and panted, then looked down as his ears twitched. Yeah... pirates. No doubt coming for the treasure. He flew up higher and began to perform complex aerial maneuvers. He couldn't fall from this height, the liklihood of him splattering against the ground hit his mind. Hm... the caves! That was it! Bass flew toward the mountainside once more and he sent out a few small sound waves until finally his ears detected an opening. He flew on in and pressed himself against a wall, gasping frantically as his heart beat in his chest.
He had to wait it out, it's what he did back at his island. Humans were always so impatient and they gave up after a few minutes. He would wait here, check to see if it was clear, then head back out again. For the moment he twiddled his thumb hooks, but then he heard a LOT of noise outside. It was too far away to tell exactly what it was, but as it got closer he recognized it. Shouting. Lots of shouting... and screams too.
He shuddered and turned his head to take a quick peek out of the cave entrance. He quickly ducked back in and felt his heartbeat skyrocket. Hundred of pirates... heading here... oh sh*t. What to do!? Wait... that rock idea! He could start a rock slide! On the one hand, he was reserved about it... on the other he was just shot at and he knew eventually one pirate would land a lucky hit. He took in another deep breath and waited for a second before he would fly off.
"Aww, he dodged it! Not Oka-cool, 'Neilles!" Elric commented, chomping his sharp teeth together as he proceeded up toward the top. "Look at that thing go!" He yelled, seeing Bass's flight pattern away from the pirates and toward a nearby cave.
"He's in that cave, Captain. Oh, it looks scary!" Ojey whined. "I don't wanna go in there!"
"Then we'll just have to keep the freak in!" Elric screamed back. He grabbed Dardeneilles by the shirt. "'Neilles...I'm oka-counting on you. Keep him away from us! If he gets out, you're oka-dead, boy!"
Dardeneilles, the usually cool customer, found himself sweating bullets. His captain's violent temper and low tolerance for failure certainly didn't help. He stiffed up, nodded his head in understanding, and pointed his enormous launcher toward the entrance of the cave. Meanwhile, Elric and Ojey continued up the mountain. Dardeneilles fired another shot right at the entrance of the cave, aiming for the top of it to try and cave in the bat creature if he wouldn't be able to hit him.
Once more Bass' ears swiveled and his eyes widened in fear. Something was flying right for his cave! It seemed to be similar to the last thing that had been thrown at him, and he didn't have time to fly out really. He had to head deeper into the cave as a loud explosion rocked the area. He gripped at his ears and ended up crashing to the ground. His eardrums ringed painfully and he was close to tears with just that noise alone. He felt the ground rumble and the light disappeared from outside as the entrace collapsed. He had to wait a bit for the ringing to die down. He could hear, but as he sent out a screech to map out the cave he gritted his teeth as pain hit his ears. He would have to be careful.
He got onto his feet and flapped his wings a bit and took off further into the cave. He knew from personal experience that there could be more than one entrance to a cave. He hadn't heard the echoes he had sent out further down from the cave, so that meant there had to be an opening. He paused in mid flight and tsked a bit. The floor opened up here into a sort of crevice, which meant this could lead to other caves. Interesting...
He flew on down into the darkness, sending out soft echoes every so often and he eventually found another tunnel to steer down. He came out into the light on another face of the mountain and he sighed in relief. At least he wasn't being attacked anymore.
However, on the other side of the mountain, Bass would find multiple other pirates already traveling up the mountainside in hopes of acquiring. Upon seeing the bat-like creature pop up from one of the caves, many began unloading their pistols at the creature, thinking it was some sort of flesh-eating monster native to the island.
Bass let out a alarmed cry and quickly flapped his wings to try and rise up as high as he could. Although his wings worked fast the bullets were faster and Bass gritted his teeth as a few shots went right through his thin wings.
"Screw this!" He cried out in pain as he flew off and spied a piece of the forest below. He dived down and quickly roosted, shivering a bit from the pain. "Stupid pirates." He muttered to himself as he shifted his wings just a bit to ease up from the pain. A bit of blood dribbled from the holes so he slowly opened his wings and set about licking his wounds to stem the flow and cause a bit of numbness to envelop the area.
Well, as long as he was down here then he wouldn't be bothered, that was a good call. Now... the questions was what to do?
Tristan D. Kuzo, Graves "Deadeye" Markus, and Elric the Okama Hero
"I suppose this means our little conversation will have to wait." All this excitment was very sudden for Graves, considering the drastic change of occupation he had just faced. "The brief on our mission didn't say anything about a Shichibukai being here."
Markus barely managed to keep Kuzo in view with his speed, dashing through the various pirates making their way toward the top of the mountain. he found it rather difficult to run in his disguise, and desided that at this point it might be okay to drop it as they were moving farther away from inhabitted teritory. Markus threw the costume behind him, revealing his white vest with the Kanji for Justice sewn into the back. It was an ideal he still believed in, even if he could no longer support the Marines.
As Graves made his way up, he began to take down anyone he could along the way. A well placed shot near his opponent's feet was generally enough to shake them up enough to send them tumbling down.
Kuzo meanwhile in his 'Lightning Mode' was scurrying passed most of the pirates without bothering to fight them, though he would make the occassional push or palm if they managed to get close enough. His current body did allow him to jump quite far and run pretty fast, but he purposefully didn't use its full capabilities, instead deciding in his mind to slow down just enough so that Graves was following close enough so that he could watch him. He silently viewed his interaction with other pirates, a bit surprised at the way he chose to deal with them. Upon a second reflection, it may appear that the man was not the heartless killer he was first believed. Beyond that, Kuzo knew it was hard not to miss, but it was even harder to barely miss, which is what Graves was doing on a few of the other pirates.
With a satisfied smile, Kuzo looked forward and continued up the heavily forested area of the Royal Peak. Off to another side of the mountain at a higher point, he could see a large fire break out, covering a good portion of that part. Immediately, he had the feeling it was the Burning King who had caused it. "Looks like Morgan's making progress as well," He stated to Graves, pointing his finger to another point on the mountain at the rising smoke. "We'd better pick up the pace if we want to catch up with him up top!"
With that, Kuzo stopped in place, reaching over to Graves, and grabbing him with his hand. He then clenched the fist which he was grasping Markus, and instantly, his arm up to his shoulder all the way down to his hand grew three times as large as the rest of his body. "I'll meet you up top!" Kuzo declared to Graves and, with a large exertion of his strength, and the additional strength of his larger, bulkier arm, he threw Markus further up into the Royal Peak.
Markus flew through the air, wind rushing past his face violently as he fell towards a higher point on the mountain. Markus noticed what appeared to be a pair of women walking directly where he was heading, and began to panic, trying to think of some way to warn them in time. Feeling helpless, and not knowinjg what else to do, Graves did something he hadn't done in a long time. He screamed. "LOOK OOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT!!!"
"...I'm just saying, Ojey," Elric the Okama Captain continued, lecturing his crewmate on the importance of keeping vigilant and watching their surroundings. "Pirates are oka-crazy, man. They'll try and pull anything to kill ya. You have to keep your eyes open, and watching everything, or you'll end up oka-dead. And even then, only the strong are gonna make it." He turned around to his crewmate Ojey, and grinned, placing his hands on his hips and posing for emphasis.
"How do you think I kept alive all this time? I'm not just oka-good, I'm the oka-greatest!" He exclaimed. Ojey applauded as the captain finished, and the two suddenly perked up when they heard something that appeared to be screaming.
"Mmm?~" Ojey said, putting a palm to his ear to try and catch the sound better. "You hear that Elric?"
"Eh?" Elric turned his ear to try and listen, and a second later, the form of Graves suddenly smashed into the Okama Captain's back, propelling him forward at a massive force, and crashing him into a line of trees. Broken branches and wood was littered everwhere, and Ojey was standing there, mouth gaping and speechless at the sight before him. "C-c-captain?!"
Markus' ears were ringing and head was pounding after the sudden impact. Bringing himself up to his knees and massaging his ears, he looked around trying to figure out where the lady he hit had gone. "Where..." Looking down, he realized that he was, in fact, on top of her. "Oh god! My apologies, miss!" Graves promptly jumped off the individual. "I hope I didn't hurt you too bad. Uh, are you o-okay?" He scratched his head nervously, a little uncertain how to handle such a situation. It was, after all, the most bizarre thing he had ever done.
Elric groaned and leaned up after Graves jumped off of him. He promptly pushed off loose pieces of rock and wood that was on top of him and angrily fluttered them off. It wasn't until he was standing, looking down at the man who had crashed into him that he realized exactly what had happened. A quick scan over his features made Elric put the entire scene together in his head.
"Crashin' into me outta nowhere," Elric stated, his anger building up. He gritted his sharp teeth and clenched his fists. His long sharp nails glimmered in the reflection of the sun. "Ruining my dress. And with the Marines too? You're oka-dead, man. Oka-dead."
Wright D. Morgan and Avril Meads- Duke Island
"Do ya think that was a little bit over the top...?" Avril asked, glancing over towards the mix of burning and burned down trees as she and Morgan made their way up the mountain. "I mean... it did work and got rid of those two annoyin' tunaheads, but... I don't think destroyin' the town was meant to be part of a deal for this grand treasure hunt, ya know?"
"Honestly, I didn't mean to do all that," Morgan said with a sigh. "It's a nasty ol' habit of mine. My old Captain Harper used to poke jokes at me for breaking crap all the time." He tried to shrug it off as best he could. Sadly, he did have a tendency to blow up stuff, especially after eating the Mera Mera no Mi. He vividly remembered Harper chiding Morgan after he blew up a bar by setting all the top shelf drinks aflame with a stray match. Needless to say, the bar didn't last long. "Look at it this way, we got this whole mountain to ouselves. It's like a honeymoon," Morgan threw a wink at Avril.
"I don't even remember the weddin'... Much less the first date," Avril replied back with a smile, before walking a bit further ahead of Morgan. He was getting just a smidge ahead of himself, considering she had only known him for maybe a total of a half hour. She paused glancing back over her shoulder at Morgan curiously. "You used to be in another crew before the one you're in now...? What happened to make you decide to leave it?"
"I didn't have much choice. I got...kicked off the ship," Morgan said with a brief pause before he told a half truth. He was kicked off in a matter of speaking, but Avril was hardly worth telling the whole story. He only told a handful of people his story. He took a lot for him to consider opening up. Avril was a stranger, even if she was he admired in a way. She certainly had charm. Still, Morgan wanted to change the subject: "And I don't expect you to remember the weddin'. Ya'll were terribly drunk."
"Is that it...? Well, ya do know how that stuff goes straight to my head," Avril replied, giggling lightly at the man's comment. She was starting to find herself liking Morgan a little bit. While Avril was not completely thrilled with his whole pirate gig, he was at least proving to be pleasant company... and easy enough to help her get things done she needed to. "Well, then can ya answer me one other question? Why... this crew? Judging from the two I met with ya with, they don't seem to be... well, that stellar of a crew."
"I am not really a part of the crew," Morgan reminded her. "They broke me out of prison. So I guess I am obligated to travel with them till I can steal their ship from right under their noses. But ya got a point, for the most part at least. They aren't stellar. But..." Morgan paused for a second, looking up at the bright blue sky before smiling. "They got potential."
"I see..." Avril replied. She smirked at Morgan's reasoning, before she continued. "I'm not a pirate, so I can't say that understand how all that buchaneerin' works... But wouldn't this sort of be the perfect chance for ya to go yo-ho-ho-in' and stealin that ship now...?"
Morgan's smile turned into an awkward frown before nodding in agreement. "Yeah, it may be a good time to roll down the mountain and yoink their precious ship. But, I want the treasure too. And I couldn't leave a beautiful woman like yourself all alone, ya know?"
"Works for me~" Avril said with a small, song-like tone in her voice.
"I'm telling ya, they were right around here! Blasted through me and Oogwei like we were flies!" Shen continued to say to two other pirates behind him, both of which were fishmen like him. However, they each looked like a much different species than he was. The smaller one of the three had on black goggles and leather clothes clad across portions of his body. His face and shape of his head was that more of a traditional fish rather than a humanoid head. He was Maruko, first mate of the Fishmen pirates.
"I didn't expect you to lose to humans, Shen," Maruko teased in his slightly higher pitched voice. "You're a fishman, damn it! Start actin' like it!"
"You don't understand, Maruko, these guys were tough. One had this crazy hammer thing, and another had..." He stopped midsentence, crossing the narrow of trees in front of him to see Avril and Morgan chatting with each other on their path up the Royal Peak. "T-there they are!" Shen stammered out, pointing a finger at the two. Maruko looked at them with a tilt of his head. From behind the other two fishmen, a third came, with tentacles coming out of his head and no apparent mouth to speak from, through words still seemed to be uttered by him.
"So you're the filthy humans that took out Oogwei," Captain Jeremoh declared from behind. "I can't say I'm all that impressed, but then again you humans all looked like garbage to me anyway."
"Heh, ya'll look like the same to me too, sushi face," Morgan directed at the leader of the Fishmen. "Then again, seeing me as garbage is clearly proof that ya got fish-for-brains." Morgan was normally relatively accepting of others, but it was clearly a trend with these Fishmen Pirates that they saw themselves as the superior race. Fishmen themselves were quite powerful, possessing abilities that outclassed your everyday human. Was that enough reason to justify such an attiude? Morgan was intent on proving him wrong. He conjured a small aura of fire around him. "Ya'll wanna experience what I did your friend. Then come at me. I always wanted to try live fish off right off the grill."
"Do ya think makin' them mad is a good idea...?" Avril asked to Morgan quietly. She offered the man a small smile before looking back at the Fishmen Pirates. One of the members of their crew from earlier had returned, along with two new members and one she could only assume to be their captain. "It's not that I doubt the ability you have in your fire, but... we are kinda outmatched in the numbers department."
"Oh ye of little faith," Morgan said in a snobbish voice. "We both know the one guy is a complete joke. It's basically two on two. I say we can take 'em." Morgan tried to reassure Avril. She did have a point, but if Morgan went all out he was pretty confident they would be fine. The only pressing concern was the Captain. If Stray was right, he had a higher bounty than Morgan. He had to do something to deserve that. Just a matter of what.
Shen was visibly shaken by Morgan's comments. It seemed he at least truly believed Morgan could back up what he said. He knew his captain and Maruko were strong, but he was completely outmatched here. Still, he would probably be punished if he decided to run now, so instead he stood in his place trying his best not to appear frightened.
Maruko and Jishi however didn't need to do so. As Maruko looked at the two, he managed to recognize Morgan's face from a wanted poster he saw. "Oi! That's that burning man, isn't it? He probably caused the fire around here!"
"T-that's what I told you earlier when I got you!" Shen exclaimed to his first mate.
"Hmm? Oh. I guess I wasn't really paying attention," He turned to face his Captain. "I can probably handle them both if you want to move along, Captain." Maruko stated to Jishi. He simply shook his head, however.
"No, we finish this quickly and painlessly and move on. I don't want to be slowed down anymore!" He remarked, bringing out a whip which he carried around rolled up on his torso. The Captain began to smack around the whip over his head, striking it in the air a few times to get a feel for it. Once he had gotten used to the flow of it, he swiped across the forest in a sideways motion, the whip combining with the physical strength of the Captain and ripping through large, heavy trees as they were toothpicks on its way to Morgan and Avril.
Maruko meanwhile leaped up into the air, before appearing to inhaled a large breath. However, as he exhaled the breath, what came out instead was water, apparently some which he had be storing in his body from the sea. He targeted the water at both Morgan and Avril, as he was unsure whether Avril too was a Devil Fruit user, to coincide with the Captain attack with his whip, effectively nullifying their abilities for that moment.
Avril's eyes widened as the Fishmen resumed their attacks upon Morgan and herself. She honestly had not expected a sudden shower of all things to be one of the tactics used by the Fishmen. The oncoming whip did little to aid in her sudden fear... especially since it was ripping through what few trees had not been burned down or lit up by the fire-weilding pirate. With little options on actually stopping the whip at the moment, Avril did what only option she could think of... Without warning, the woman quickly dove into Morgan tackling him to the ground before the whip would have probably cut through the duo much like it had the trees.
"This isn't exactly how I planned the scuffles goin'..." Avril said quietly, glancing down at Morgan. "Are ya okay...?"
"Never better," Morgan said with a wink. "However, perhaps we can leave the cuddling till later. Imma a little peckish and could use some more fish in my diet." Morgan gingerly picked himself off the ground and faced the two fishmen pirates. However, as Morgan readied himself a splash of water pelted him in the face, drenching him and his clothes. A shiver went through his spine. "I don't feel so good," he said weakly before losing his balance, barely supporting himself in the air. He shook his head and faced them again. "Alrighty, let's go." Morgan snapped his fingers. Yet nothing was happening. He did it again, this time only getting a small spark. "That ain't good." He kept snapping with little more than a small fickle coming out of his hands. Panic soon crept upon his face. "So, uh, babe. Please tell me you still got that lil' hammer of yours," he quietly mumbled over to Avril.
Avril nodded back in response to Morgan as she climbed back up to her feet as well. Things were not looking too good at the moment, especially when Avril realized that a Devil Fruit user being soaked was... probably not the best thing for them. Now she had to figure out how to keep them both alive.
"I do have a few tricks left I can probably think of, but..." the woman began, glancing up in the direction of the Fishmen pirates. "I don't think I can handle both of these guys at the same time... Think ya can keep Cap'n Sushi busy for a bit, Pepper-kun?"
Morgan nodded back to her, "I can certainly give it a shot." Morgan practically tore off his soaked jacket and shirt. "Don't try to stare too long at me." The drenched clothing sank to the ground with a squishy plop. He had hoped that with the wet clothes gone that his powers would wake up and some strength would return to him. He didn't enjoy feeling vulnerable, but the best chance either one had of surviving was Avril's plan. If she could take out the one pirate quick enough, they could double team the Captain. All he had to do was waste time.
"Good... let's just hope I can actually pull this off..." Avril thought with a sigh as she turned to face Maruko. She gripped her hammer tightly in one hand, reaching into her pocket with the other. Pulling out two small, balls. One of them being the last of the flashbombs that she had not used on Skellen during her previous encounter with the doctor. "Don't ya think that was a bit unfair? I didn't even get the chance to get my umbrella before ya made it rain..."
"Yah think this is some kinda joke, girl-human?" Maruko said, propped up on top of a nearby tree, one of the few his Captain didn't destroy with the powerful swing of his whip. He leaned off of it a bit, holding on with only a single hand as he examined the opponent he had in front of him, including the odd pair of balls in her hand. "You have no clue who you're messin' with," He continued, and decided then to jump off of the tree, diving head first toward Avril before she had a chance to use her weapons. "Drive Dive!"
Jishi didn't wait to allow Morgan and Avril to regroup, nor give them any break. He began to twirl his whip again, striking it a few times in the area to get the motion going, before once more striking in a sweeping side motion at the pair. Once more, the whip strike seemed to extend past its size, sweeping and cutting through the remaining standing trees. It was positioned a few feet lower than before, making it more difficult to duck this attack.
Morgan gulped, knowing the risk of the move he was about to do. He read the move of the two pirates and quickly realizing that they had no chance to muster a defense, Morgan evolved into a risktaker. He kicked Avril aside and took the brunt of Jishi's whip attack. He felt his skin be sliced open. I was hoping my powers would come back. Old habits die hard. Morgan fell down to one knee and he held his side watching the blood dripped down to the ground.
Avril was taken by surprise from the sudden kick from Morgan. It sent her off to the side, causing Maruko's attack to just miss. Maruko instead came crashing to the ground, and making a large dent and hole into the dirt where Avril previously stood. Despite his compact size, he still had the formidable strength of a fishman. While Avril was glad the Fishman's attack had missed her, she was not exactly too thrilled with Morgan's decision to intervene, much less the fact of how he had gotten himself a rather nasty looking wound from it as well.
"What are ya doin', tryin' to get yourself killed?" Avril questioned as she slowly picked herself off the ground. Her tone was a bit more sharp than it had been previously, though a look of concern was in her eyes at the same time as she glanced to Morgan's wound. "I told ya to let me handle this guy, just keep whip-boy busy, yeah?"
"You're very welcome," he snapped with a sharp wince afterwards. After attempting to roll his eyes and once again yelping from the gash at his side, Morgan picked himself up. He would be lying if he said it didn't hurt. He wondered if the wound go away like his bullet wound did after his powers were restored. Sadly, there wasn't any time to find out. Limping and then charging, Morgan tackled the Captain, causing him to lose grasp of the whip. Morgan landed two quick jabs to his gut before finishing with a right hook. He loomed over the Captain, planting a foot firmly on his chest.
Jishi was surprised by the sudden tackle from the fireman. He didn't expect such a direct approach from a Logia user, but he suspected when his usual tactics were out, he would go for the direct approach. From beneath Morgan, he quickly moved both of his feet up, and with the might of a fishman, kicked off toward the human in the hopes of pushing him off and to the distance. Not checking to see if the kick off had the desired effect, Jishi then reached for his whip next to the ground, and attempted a vertical blow aimed directly for Morgan's head.
Morgan rolled to the side, clenching at his wound while fumbled on the ground. The kick had launched a fair deal back, probably because Fishmen were simply stronger than the average human. Luckily enough, Morgan avoided another shot of the whip. Whatever it was made of, it hurt. A lot. Morgan looked down at his gash from the first crack of the demonic weapon. It was still bleeding a fair deal, but he felt more of his strength returning. A few more minutes and the water will probably be all dried up. I could at least chuck a fireball or two. He propelled himself to his feet and faced the Captain. "I gotta admit. You are a tough cookie. What did ya do to get yer bounty? I know it's higher than mine."
Jishi twirled around his whip in front of him a few times, amused at his opponents rolling and diving to avoid his obviously deadly weapon. He enjoyed altercations like this, because he had to work a little bit to get the kill, and because he placed his opponents in the position that the only way the way they could fight back is to run away and avoid what's bound to come their way. As he struck the whip a few more times in the air, he decided to answer his question.
"Probably the same thing I'll do to Duke Island when I get my treasure that I did to the previous island I was at: destroy every, single human I find." He struck his whip a few more times in the air to get the momentum going, then struck it multiple times toward Morgan in cross marks. Each time it made contact with the ground on its way down, it cut deep through the earth with ease.
Morgan yelped at the whip strikes as he did his best to dance around each strike with somewhat nimble footwork. Normally he would use his fruit to amplify his movements a bit, getting boosts of speed from the fire. But all things considered, Morgan was limited. As he leapt away and slid a bit to generate more distance. Morgan snuck a quick snap of his fingers. A larger spark than earlier emitted from his hands. Just a bit longer. Hopefully Avril is doing a bit better than me.
Avril turned to face Maruko once more. While she had been lucky to have avoided his previous attack because of Morgan's interference, that did not mean that she was out of the woods just yet. Taking hold of her hammer, the woman took aim and pulled a familiar lever, sending the head of the hammer shooting forward much like it had before. It sped in the direction of Maruko, Avril not taking her eyes of the Fishman as the head of the hammer traveled towards its target.
Maruko, who had just exited his hole he created, prepared to engage the hammer which sped toward him. He made a sidestep, using his small form and agility to try and dodge the chained hammer. He had only barely moved out of the way to avoid being hit. He then grinned at Avril, and sped forward along the side of the chain to try and crash his body into hers. "Drive Tackle!"
Avril widened her eyes as the Fishman sped his way along the chain. The woman was honestly not expecting Maruko to be so fast. Before the she could respond with a counter of her own, the Fishman's body crashed right into Avril. She groaned in pain as she dropped the hammer to the ground falling back and holding her stomach.
"D-Damn... That hurt a lot more than I thought it would..." she wheezed, trying to catch her breath as she slowly staggered back up to her feet.
"Woman-human is so fragile. Just like every human," Maruko concluded, stepping toward Avril as she rose back to her feet. He didn't intend to let up on her, no matter who or what she was. It was even worse simply because she was a human. He looked at her with eyes of scorn and hate. He brought out his sharp claws, then proceeded to move in for another round. He swiped at her. "Drive nails!"
Avril watched as the Fishman began to dash towards her once more. Unlike his previous attack, Maruko's charging this time looked much easier to read. Still, Avril did not want to be on the receiving end of those rather nasty looking claws. Readying one of the balls she still kept a grip on, the woman quickly rolled out of the way the claws managing to just barely graze the girl's left shoulder as she did so. Avril winced, but kept on with her plan.
"Flash Star!" the woma cried out, tossing the ball onto the ground by Maruko.
The ball exploded upon impact, causing a bright flash of light to envelope the Fishman. With any luck, it would blind him just long enough for Avril to regain some ground. The woman quickly took off running towards the hammer she had dropped from a result of Maruko's earlier assault.
Maruko couldn't cover his eyes in time before the flash detonated. Fortunately, his goggles he was wearing prevented him from getting the full blow of the flash, so he was able to recover from the side effects quick enough to see Avril moving toward her hammer. Still feeling a bit disoriented, Maruko charged after Avril after a few moments of confusion, before finally attempting to tackle her again to the ground. "Drive Tackle!"
Avril dared to not look behind her as she sped for her hammer. The woman was sure that her flash bomb would have bought her a bit more time to properly deal with the Fishman pirate. Unfortunately, the woman's hopes were proved wrong when she heard a familiar attack name being called out. The woman mentally cursed her luck, realizing that she only had one chance to hopefully knock Maruko out of his attack. With more or less a blind leap of faith, the woman dove for her hammer, skidding across the ground as she managed to grasp it in her palms.
"I think ya need to back off!" Avril shouted as she rolled onto her back, before taking aim and firing the at the Fishman once more.
Maruko was right on top of her, only seconds away from delivering a likely devastating finishing blow. However, as Avril turned and fired her hammer extension at the Fishman, he was positioned so that his head was directly in front of the path of the hammer. As it fired, Maruko was struck right at the bottom of his jaw, a damaging and painful blow that caused the smaller fishman to flip over and fall to the ground.
Tristan D. Kuzo - Royal Peak, Duke Island
Kuzo raced forward, bursting past trees and bushes at his top speed. In each of his currently enlarged hands, he gripped Vance and Bass. He did his best to have them avoid getting hit by stray branches or leaves but rising their bodies whenever he got the chance, but often, he would simply end up having to apologize each time their crashed into something. However, they were making great progress. In his current form due to his Devil Fruit ability, Kuzo had successfully maneuvered around most pirates without having to engage them. At this rate, he suspected they could be up the mountain and at the treasure before anyone else!
They were now approaching close to the white area of the Royal Peak, where snow covered the tip and where likely the treasure was going to be located. Kuzo smiled, pleased with their progress. He made occasional glances left and right at all of the other pirates that they blew past, trying to see if he could identify any of them as part of his crew. For the moment, he didn’t spot any of them. However, at the title of his head to the right, he could see Markus fighting with two other pirates. He was at the tip of the path where the snowy terrain converged with the forested one. As he continued forward, his eyes remained focused on him, wondering what he should do. He wasn’t technically with them yet, but Kuzo had a good feeling about him. He couldn’t really explain it, even to himself, but he believed that he ran into the man for a reason.
Not observing the road, Kuzo stopped suddenly when he heard a thud as Vance or Bass (or maybe both) collided with another branch while Kuzo was looking away. He stopped moving now, looking at the two of them and releasing his grip on them slightly as he smiled at them. “I’m going to go help him out,” Kuzo declared, pointing to Markus below them. “You guys go on ahead to the treasure. I’m counting on you!” He exclaimed. With that, his grip once more tightened on them, and the gave them one last boost forward, tossing the pair into the snowy region at the top of the Royal Peak. Not seeing the path they took, Kuzo turned around and proceeded to the battleground where Markus fought the Okama pirates.
Deadeye vs The Okama Pirates Pt 1
"Oka...? What? I'm not sure I follow you." Graves looked at the strange individual in front of him, who was poised and ready for battle. "If it's a fight you want, you should know," Markus picked up his guns off the ground after losing them in the impact, "I'm not afraid to shoot a woman."
"Woman? Eh?!" Elric angrily glared at Graves through his mask. He gestured to his body below him. "Just what part of me looks like just a woman, Marine? You're Oka-crazy, man." Elric brought his long fingernails up to his midsection, and scratch two ends of the fingernails together, then turned to his fellow crewmate. "Can you believe this guy, Ojey? Woman! We're Okama because we're more than just women!"
"It's absolutely insulting, Elric. Oh, it makes me so darn angry!~" Ojey said, pouting with his hands on his hips.
Elric nodded in agreement. "I think we should do something about it, then." He continued, grinning to show off his long, sharp teeth. "Show him why he doesn't oka-mess with the Okamas."
"I wholeheartedly agree, Elric!" Ojey exclaimed, taking a few steps forward to position himself in front of Markus. "Let me handle him!" He said as he lifted his hands up, connecting his fingers and thumbs in a circle and pointing it at Markus. As Ojey did this, Elric quickly covered his nose with his fingers. "Smeru smeru beam!" Ojey shouted At his command, a green colored energy shot out from beteween his circular opening in his fingers, targeting Markus in his sights. It would be noticed that everything in that beam suddenly withered, being filled with a pungent, disgusting smell.
Deadeye narrowly avoided the beam, not expecting something so bizarre. Then again, it wasn't the only bizarre thing about this situation. "I don't care what kind of woman you are, ol' cama or otherwise!" He lifted his pistol and lined the sights up at Ojey with ease. "I'll blow you away just the same!" With a delicate squeeze, Markus pulled the trigger, firing his gun at Ojey with deadly precision.
Ojey's eyes widened at the quick release and trigger of the man's gun. He sidestepped only just in time to avoid a direct hit. Instead, the bullet targeted his shoulder, piercing right through and exiting the other side. Instantly the Okama pirate cried out from the pain. He clutched his shoulder and fell to one knee.
"Ouch!~" Ojey exclaimed. He examined his injury, then his hand, seeing that the injury began to cause blood to flow. Angrily, Ojey stood up and prepped his arms in the same way before. Ahain he cried out "Smeru smeru beam", causing the green energy to shoot out toward Markus.
Markus readily side stepped the attack this time. However, he began to notice that something didn't smell right. Quickly covering his face with his left elbow, he found it hard to breath. "What is that!?" he muffled through his sleeve. He readied his rifle in place of his pistol. "What are you doing?"
Ojey began a high pitched giggle, covering one of his hands to his mouth as he did so. For the moment, he either seemed to ignore the graze on his shoulder, or didn’t bother with it, as his fingers brought to his mouth had been covered red by blood in the same color as his lipstick. “That is my Devil Fruit power!” He exclaimed, bringing his fingers from his mouth and positioning them again in the small circle pointed toward Markus. “A while ago, I ate the Smeru Smeru no Mi Fruit, the Smell-Smell Fruit! Now, whenever I position my fingers and target anything within them, my power will be released on them!” Ojey giggled like a little schoolgirl again.
“Great fighters lose against me because they don’t realize how distracting that power can be, especially when…” Just then, out of nowhere, Elric approached Markus from behind. “Oka-Slice!” His sharp, long fingernails glimmered in the sunlight, and without warning, he attempted to bring them down upon the back of the Marine, trying to slash up his insignia on his bad while also targeting his back. One would find that Elric was quite adept with his fingernails, as they somehow struck with the same ferocity as if they were sharp, powerful swords.
Markus barely noticed the Okama behind him, but it wasn't enough to avoid the attack. He stumbled forward, bleeding from the gash on his back. He's right. As long as this stench is here I'll never be able to focus on the fight. He swung around, and fired his rifle at Elric. Then he smelled something else. Another strong scent cutting through the odor emitted by the Devil Fruit user. That's it!
Elric moved with surprising agility, darting to the side to avoid the shot by Markus. He kept his toothy grin on his face as he went in again for another hit. "Duo Oka-Slice!" He shouted again, this time moving in with both of his arms raised ready to be brought down on the ex-Marine. Ojey meanwhile maneuvered around, keeping Markus in his sights, so that he could launch his stink ray on him if moves too far away from the captain, probably distracting him enough to give him the opening he needed. As he fired the ray again, Elric coordinated to strike right after.
"I don't have time for this..." Markus, still covering his nose, couldn't dodge both attacks. Uncertain about the true nature of Ojey's abilities, decided that the better option was Elric's attack. Jumping out of the path of the beam, Graves took a nasty cut to his right thigh. Almost immediately, he took off running into the forest. scrambling through the trees, looking for some quick refuge, he spotted a downed tree. He hurdled over it, and quickly sat against it. A quick observation of the situation provided him with what he needed. A puddle. He dug around in a small pouch of his, desperate to get rid of the horrible stench.
After a few moments, he rose from his hiding place, holding his rifle on his shoulder, and his pistol at his side. "My grandma always told me not to fight a woman. Never paid her much mind though. I've faced bullies of all kinds. You could not forgive a simple accident.
"I judge thee... " Markus turned around quickly, revealing a black mixture smeared above his upper lip, like a mustache. "Guilty!"
Though she had a moment of indignance at being so unceremoniously pulled along, Lotte soon grew grateful for the force of Skellen's hand dragging her along by the arm. While it wasn't as if Lotte couldn't run further than her delicate appearance suggested she could, dodging around brawling pirates and hurrying from town to the top of a mountain? It wasn't long before her lungs were burning, and she wriggled at her wrist, trying to get Skellen's attention. "Wait- just wait a seco--AH!" Tumbling forward as she stumbled over herself, she crumpled to her feet behind him in a flurry of white fabric and long blonde hair.
Skellen & Lotte vs. The Tensens | Duke Island Mountainside
"Ouch ouch-" She mumbled, looking down at the hand she'd used to stop her fall- slightly scraped and turning an angry red from the impact. But more than that, she took a deep breath to refill her lungs, before looking up at Skellen with a pout, "Why are we in such a hurry?! I'm sure the others are already there, and it's not like we can make a difference if we're the first ones there!" Giving a little huff, she pushed her hair away from her eyes with her fingertips, careful not to brush against the scraped parts. Yet despite her complaints, she got to her feet a few seconds later- her breathing evened out and seemingly perfectly fine.
"Okay, now we can go." She pulled at his hand, with a face that expectantly told him to go first. ('Mush, Skellen, mush.')
Skellen sighed, impatiently tapping his foot as he waited for Lotte to catch her breath and far to aware that with every moment that they waited the red-bearded pirate frm before and God-knows-who else were hot on their heels - not to mention whatever commotion Morgan was involved with further up.
When Lotte finally got up and proceded to tug at his hand and look at him as though he had to go first he wasn't sure whether to celebrate or to toss her from the top of the mountain later on.
"Alright, let's go then" he said to lot, proceded to sprint upwards again tugging Lotte along behind him and still talking as he did so "it looks like pretty much everyone on the island has deduced Royal Peak is the place to go, it's probably going to get crazy soon - especially since Morgan is already burning things to the ground up there. Try not to fall or anything and keep your wits about you because with my luck we've got half an hour at best before everything goes absolutley nuts." Other than that, Skellen didn't feel the need to say much unless he felt the need to make a sarcastic jibe or give an instruction.
Soon enough other pirates heading up the mountain came into view, it appeared they were all second-raters - weak pirate crews or the lackeys of more fearsom captains.
"Keep your head down Lotte, we're going straight through these guys."
She listened only half-heartedly, busy looking around them at the sights flying past. Lotte was quickly coming to learn that she could mostly ignore most of what Skellen was saying- it was all so.... technical and logical and it just didn't make any sense to her. It seemed less like he was talking to her than just thinking aloud, as far as she was concerned.
As such, his warning to keep her head down fell on deaf ears as she looked up and over his shoulder in curiousity at the sight before them-- pirates, all of them heading up the mountain. "I thought you said we weren't going to run into anybody?" She asked with an almost accusing tone, though didn't seem particularly upset about it- it was more teasing in nature as she peered around, wondering if they really had overtaken John. As her ears finally caught up with her brain, she turned her head sharply back towards Skellen, long blonde hair whipping about as she blinked at him in confusion. ".... Wait, we're going through them? Are you going to fight them then??"
Skellen laughed manically
"Fight them? Not exactly, they have noticed us yet and you may not have noticed but I tend to be pretty good with some pretty nasty poisons. If all goes well we won't have to do any fighting." Grinning wickedly, Skellen withdrew a knife from within his satchel - it had been soaked thouroughly in a nasty toxin - the poison soaking into the microscopic grooves in the specialised weapon.
"Watch out, I don't want to accidentally cut you."
Still pulling Lotte along behind him, Skellen upped his speed printing straight through the mass of pirates and delivering single gashes to any that he deemed to close. He didn't bother stopping to check his handy work, he simply kept running forward slashing at anyone in his way. He ducked under arms lunging for him and leapt over kicks - still attached to Lotte by the arm his hand tight on her wrist. He wasn't going to let her fall out of his grasp and get trampled - after all he'd grown oddly fond of the idiotic girl.
It was only when there ceased to be any pirates in front of him that Skellen allowed himself to look back and he found himself quite satisfied by the sight that graced his eyes. The majority of the pirates they had run through were twitching on the ground, howling in agony whilst those that he hadn't cut attempted to treat there fallen commrades.
Nearly bumping into him when he looked back, she gave him a quizzical look before throwing a glance over her shoulder as well-- the sight quite a surprise for her seeing as she'd not seen Skellen in a real confrontation with this many pirates before. The only one she'd seen him go toe-to-toe with was Leon, and the drastic difference in their mental capacities had always been the explanation for how equal their conflicts seemed to be.
"It's not a lethal toxin" Skellen explained to Lotte as they ran "It's based on the venom of some spiders. It isn't going to kill any human any time soon but it will leave them incapacitated, in agony, writhing on the ground and feeling quite ill. I'm an amazing doctor am I not?" Skellen laughed, realsiing as he did so that Lotte quite possibly wouldn't get the joke - a thought that only made him laugh more.
She looked back at him as he began to explain, keeping up with his pace with more ease now than she had before the break she'd imposed upon him. "Are you sure you're a doctor?" She asked-- she was dim, but she was usually good on picking up anything that would brighten her spirits, and so she let out a laugh as well, tugging playfully at his grip on her wrist, "I don't think I've seen you do a doctor's job even once since I met you- unless you count putting Leon to sleep. Maybe I really shouldn't call you Mister Doctor after all!"
"I got the bullet out of Morgan's shoulder and patched him up too, don't forget that!" Skellen pointed out, still in a fit of laughter. He wasn't entirely sure why he was so amused, but there was something hilarious - he just couldn't pin point it. Either way, he was enjoying Lotte's company in the unfortunate situation they were in.
"Plus, if we aren't careful I'll be tending to our wounds too" his tone here was a bit more serious, but he soo found himself laughing like a mad man again.
Hopefully we get some smooth sailing for a while...
"For the last time, I don't care! I want the treasure!" Young Mina Tensen said emphatically, her loud stride crushing any fallen leaves and kicking any pebbles that scattered the ground. A small dust cloud picked up in her wake, as her two crewmates prodded along.
"Sis. You don't get it do you? There are dangerous pirates around here. Like "The Burning King" and "Akahige." You know. Real pirates." The younger of the two men, carrying a long rifle appeared to talk to down the Captain. This was a rather common occurance between Ronaldo and Mina Tensen. It wasn't going to end well.
"Don't talk to your Captain like that!" Warp Tensen cut in, standing in front of his son, waving his scimatar wildly. "Treat her with respect!"
"She's my sister, too. And your daughter. I'm looking out for her," Ronaldo protested, quietly before sighing and shaking his head, appearing to give up.
Mina turned to face the close to bickering men. "These real pirates clearly never met me. "No matter who they are, they will lose! To me! The Great Mina Tensen! Oh-hohohohoho!" She erupted in a vain attempt at manacial laughter, only to have her voice pop into something borderline cute. Warp begin to praise his daughter as she laughed, bowing down in her magnificance as Ronaldo brought his palm to his forehead, muttering vulgar murmurs to himself. "And we will begin with you!" Mina ordered as she pointed to the chuckling Skellen. However she paused and cocked her head to the side. "Who are you...?"
Skellen paused, dropping Lotte's arm at the sudden noise - apparently he hadn't heard the approach of the other group over his own laughter. Skellen turned slowly, a hand sliding into his pocket just in case and at the sight before him his jaw near nearly hit the ground. It was the three pirates that they had run into before, before the Akahige pirates had interupted. The whiny brat, the delusional old man and the gunman who actually seemed to have half a brain. Skellen raised an eyebrow at the confused looking girl.
"My name's Skellen" he said to the Tensen's, a smirk spreading across his face "you haven't forgotten me have you prissy pirate? We only met a few hours ago - you know before the akahige's - real pirates - interrupted you in your pointless atempts at appearing dangerous."
Skellen wasn't entirely sure what to do, if the Tensen's did attack he'd have to keep an eye out for Lotte as well and the pris did have a devil's fruit - in saying that though they did not seem to be a particularly dangerous group to Skellen based upon the seeming stupidity of two of them and the discension in their ranks caused by the gunman with a brain.
Their ridiculous personaltiies make it hard to judge how hard it will be to keep Lotte safe... I think it is a safe bet that they'll target me primarily though.
"So, are you here to finish what you started? Or are you going to go back to your boat and have a tea party like a good little girl?"
Though released from Skellen's grip, she made no movements to hide away- only staring over at the little girl and what seemed like her two lackeys. How fascinating-- when she was that girl's age, she would hardly have ever even dreamed of leaving her home, let alone go searching for treausre and defeating pirates like Skellen. But as Skellen's mouth began to run with taunts, she glanced over at him with an exasperated look- she didn't bother to remind him that she didn't ever get wounds that really needed tending to- instead she glanced back to Mina Tensen, curiously waiting for the situation to play out.
Mina fumed, steam practically pouring out of her ears as her face flushed in a bright red. "Ronaldo!! Shoot him!"
"But he's an actual pi-"
"I said shoot him! Now!"
Ronaldo sighed as he took the gun from around his shoulder and quickly lined up a shot. In less than a mere second, a bullet whizzed by Skellen's face, leaving him with only a slight cut on his cheek, marking the bullet's trajectory. "That was a warning shot," Ronaldo said. Mina appeared to be more angry in the background, but Ronaldo completely ignored her inaudible yapping. "I heard about you, Skellen," Ronaldo continued as he reloaded his weapon. "And unlike my sister here, I know when to choose my battles. But if you threaten her, I will not hesistate to put a bullet right between your eyes." Ronaldo brought up the gun to his eyes and took aim for another shot. His eyes looked like a hawk's observing Skellen and Lotte's every move.
"A fan?" Skellen said, grinning maniacally "well if you know me, you probably know that you probably want to avoid being cut up by me." Skellen's eyes narrowed, quickly scanning over the area around him. To his left there was the edge of the cliff, to the right a thick grouping of trees before a sharp ascent that would be almost impossible to climb.
I guess using them for cover wouldn't last long, the trees are acked tight but that patch of forest is shallow. So I'm going to have to try something a little bit riskier...
"Hey Lotte, wanna see something awesome?"
In a single fluid motion Skellen had simultaneously thrown three dud razors (what he sometimes called the blades without posion) and ran forward, dropping into a tuck-and-roll skidding to his feet behind the Tenesen pirates. Withdrawing a knife from his satchel - this time a weapon that was most definitely poisonous - he brought it downwards, intending to drive it into Ronaldo's shoulder by his neck.
Having whipped about to see Ronaldo's bullet graze Skellen's face, she had been warily listening to the incessant stream of taunts when Skellen suddenly jumped forward- while she remained standing where she was, unconcerned that she was technically also apart of the battle. Lotte's eyes followed his nimble movements as best they could, but to no avail- by the time she'd caught up with what was happening, Skellen's knife was already sinking through the air. But rather than staring at the knife, Lotte's gaze snapped towards the young girl and the older man, brow furrowing in realization that it was technically 3 versus 1-- a very unfair arrangement as far as she was concerned...
The Tensen pirates all nimbly the dodged the razors. Ronaldo sidestepped the one, Warp ducked under his while Mina hit the dirt for hers, overreacting just a tad. As Skellen dove towards Ronaldo, intending to end the fight in mere moments. Warp intervened, shoulder bashing the preying Skellen, sending him tumbling into the dirt. "No one dares attack MY daughter and gets away with it!" Warp declared. He pulled out his scimitar, it's large blade looming over the bruised Skellen.
Ronaldo, visibly disgruntled that he didn't read Skellen's strategy, prepared his rifle for another shot. "My father has a tendency to go a little beserk when anyone threatens our...captain. If you value whatever life you have, I'd say you should take your friend there and head home." Ronaldo took aim for Skellen's head. "Last chance."
"Just kill him!" Mina barked.
"Can it," Ronaldo shouted back.
"Dear God you're all related." Skellen sighed, laughing at this sudden recognition "Seriously Ronaldo, your captain is your little sister? How did that happen?" Skellen acted as though he were merely carrying on a conversation, not lying on the ground with a gun pointed at his head - he had no intention of sitting there and getting put to death when Ronaldo caved into his sister's incessent whining.
"Old man, realistically speaking you should be the captain here since your their father but in saying that if you want to last much longer on the Grand Line Ronaldo here should be running the show since he seems to have a brain. You missy," he directed his gaze to the fuming Mina Tensen "are too much of an idiotic whiny priss to lead a ship, and if you keep giving orders to kill people then I hope you're also prepared to die. You had a lot of innocents killed on that street back in the town, you're as bad as marines."
The instant Skellen had finished speaking he rolled slightly to the side, forcing Ronaldo to correct his aim - but he was too slow to do so. Skellen pressed his hands hard to the ground and just as the muzzle of the musket found its mark once more his leg shot up into Ronaldo's hand and pointing the gun upwards. Skellen the quickly righted himself, elbowing the gunman in the gut as he got to his feet and through a handful of razors at Mina and Garp - each one of them dowsed in a neaurotoxin that would gradually shut down their bodies once in their bloodstream.
Skellen now stood close, but nowhere near as close to the Tensen's and between them and Lotte.
[i}If I can take out Ronaldo I know exactly how to deal with the other two - the problem is that I have to watch out for the others as well as his gun as I do so... In my next attack I'll faint towards them but aim for Ronaldo - that will let me put them in between me and his bullets and hopefully result in him no longer being a problem.[/i]
Ronaldo's gun fired as Skellen kicked it up and the sharp elbow caused the sniper to take a few steps to recover and find his composure. The loud shot caused the edgy Mina to duck down, the flurry of razors just missing their marks. Warp's fatherly instincts kicked in and he went to comfort his daughter, causing those razors to also concidentially miss. Luck was not on Skellen's side. Murmurs were exchanged between the two before the two stared down their sole opponent. Ronaldo appeared to be winded. "Now," Mina ordered. Warp picked up his daughter and heaved her in the direction of Skellen. Mina went feet first, appearing to want to kick Skellen straight in the face, but Warp's aim was off catapulting the small girl into a nearby tree. However, the tree snapped, it's base shattering into hundreds of pieces as if a cannonball struck it.
Mina emerged from the wreckage without as much as a scratch. "I ate the Kilo-Kilo Fruit," she proudly stated. "I can change my weight to whatever I want! Oh-hohohohohoho." She once again roared with laughter before suddenly ceasing to speak. "I am going to crush until you agree to help me claim the treasure that I want!"
Lotte had since laced her fingers together, twiddling her thumbs in apprehension as shots and hits were exchanged- head turning left and right as she watched the battle like a stage performance... But at Mina's comment she tilted her head, piping up "... I thought you were trying to kill Skellen, not get him to help you." She pointed out, tapping her chin with the tip of her index finger in thought.
"I-I-I--" Mina puttered, unable to really muster an answer.
Ronald coughing as he caught his breath from Skellen's elbow. "Yeah, she's indecisive."
"Yes, thank you for pointing that out Lotte. It means the world to me that you're trying to get me killed, really it does." Skellen winked at Lotte, might as well enjoy himself a little, turning to look back at Mina he just shook his head
"You didn't have to tell me that, I know from our meeting earlier. You shouldn't brag about relying on Devil's Fruit anyway, it's a great way to make sure you die faster."
I think they expect me to go for her...
"I wasn't trying to get you killed, I was just making sure whether I should be worried or not." She replied candidly, running a hand through her hair. Still, Mina's devil fruit didn't seem like a very good power- being able to make herself change weight. She'd seen plenty of devil fruits on board their own ship already to make Mina's a rather unimpressive sounding one. (Who would WANT to get fat???)
Skellen withdrew a dagger from his satchel
"The best part about being me, is that if I cut you with something - even a tiny scratch - it could mean you'll die. This, little girl" Skellen continued, speaking directly to Mina so as to hide his true intent "will send you into convultions the moment the toxin it is coated with gets into your blood. It probably won't kill you, but the pain will be so incapacitating and exrutiating that you'll wish you were dead. You'll be unable to move bar the uncrontrollable writhing, so I'll get to very slowly cut out your organs to use later." Skellen moved forward, as though he was going to run for Mina, but at the last second spun on his foot lunging for Ronaldo and engaging him with a flurry of rapid slashes, kicks and punches.
Lotte gathered up her skirts as Skellen went on about his knives despite having told Mina not to brag about her powers either. Tucking the fabric under her knees, she squatted and picked up a stick, drawing in the dirt as she waited for the battle to wrap up.
Mina gasped at Skellen's threat and watching almost nervously (somewhat believing Ronaldo to be the fixer of all situations) as Ronaldo was confronted by Skellen's brutal attack. Ronaldo was hardly an accomplished close range fighter and the barrage of attacks overwhelmed in. He focused on the dagger, dodging those attacks successfully thought a solid kick nailed him in the gut, almost in the same spot as he was struck before. Ronaldo, taken aback, fell to the ground, wheezing as the wind escaped from his lungs. But as Ronaldo collasped to recollect himself, Warp dove into the fray. Brandishing his large blade, he sought to cleave Skellen in half. He swung wildly, lacking any sense of discipline in his stance or style. It was as if a father was blindly protecting his family with fury, rather than composure. Mina's face glowed as her father proudly swarmed Skellen with a barrage of scimitar attacks. But also, that was the cue for a given plan.
Mina jumped high in the air, changing her weight to something lighter than air. For a moment, she was smaller than an ant in the blue sky. But, then her weight changed. She became heavier than steel and she was pulled in by gravity. As she came crashing down to the earth, she aimed directly for Skellen. This time she wasn't intent on missing.
Skellen flashed a grin at the injured Ronaldo before being forced backwards by the wild swing being delivered by the enraged Warp. It was apparent that he lacked the discipline of the truly great swordsman, but that didn't mean Skellen could afford to let his guard down - if his plan was going to work he couldn't afford to be bogged down doging wild swings.
Stepping back Skellen tripped on a looser patch of soil, falling to one knee and barely lifting the blade of his knife in time to prevent his head from being sliced in half by the larger of the two weapons. Skellen struggled against Warp, but was disadvantaged a lot by the leverage the older pirate had against him.
I really cannot afford to be stu-where's the priss? Skellen shifted his gaze up slightly, catching sight of an object falling rapidly falling from the sky - falling straight towards him.
"Oh... there she is." A mere fraction of a second before he'd have been completely crushed Skellen through himself to the side abandoning his knife in the process and being sent sprawling across the ground before he eventually rolled to a halt, climbing to his feet to see a decently sized crater where he'd been kneeling only a moment ago.
"That could have been unpleasant, now where were we?"
Skellen took a few deep breaths, getting his bearings and regaining his composure before launching his next attack. Skellen ran directly towards the regrouped Tensen pirates, taking note that Warp was inadvertantly blocking Ronaldo's shots with his positioning. Upon reaching the group Skellen swivelled past Warp's sword, using the blunter inner edge as a boost he simultaneously forced a loss of balance in the swordsman whilst leaping over his head allowing him to throw another flurry of toxic razors towars Ronaldo before he landed behind the gunman, not hesitating to see if his projectiles hit their target but immediately launching himself into hand-to-hand combat against the gunman.
You don't like fighting close up so much do you...
Ronaldo jumped out of the way of the razors only to be flanked by the clever Skellen. Skellen's skill on the field suprised Ronaldo greatly. Sure, Warp was unrefined, but he was strong. Mina was predictable but headstrong. Ronaldo had to show his strengths now. For he was adaptable. Ronaldo plowed the butt of his gun into Skellen's stomach, spun around and struck him again in the head. "I may favor long range, but I can hold my own well enough. You need to be up close to use those razors effectively," Ronaldo spaced himself, keeping Skellen away with his rifle aimed at his head, before smirking and suddenly popping a shot into Skellen's shoulder, knocking the doctor to the ground from the impact. "If Mina is intent on keeping you alive, I simply need to make you incapable of doing much of anything. Tossing around these little daggers," Ronaldo said with such lack of emotion as he knocked away any loose daggers with his foot. "These seem to be your weapon of choice. Well, with that shoulder you won't be throwing them around so easily anymore." He placed the muzzle of his rifle in Skellen's face. "Any last words?"
"Oh- Yes!" Lotte interjected suddenly, raising her hand and the stick that had been tracing lines in the dirt at Ronaldo's prompt for last words. She got to her feet, shuffling over a bit closer at the opportunity to say something, "Yes I have some last words- or a last question really- that is, why are we fighting?" Tilting her head she folded her arms in thought, "I've been wondering for awhile now- but first you wanted to kill Skellen- why I'm not really sure- but then you wanted him to help you find the treasure... but Skellen and I aren't even looking for the treasure, we're just looking for our friends. And so we're not possibly fighting over who gets the treasure, right? And then if you point your gun at him like that, then you seem like you want to kill him again, but I don't understand why you'd do that either- since you seem like very nice pirates that don't go around killing people just for fun. So I don't get it: Why are we fighting again?"
Ronaldo blinked and gestured with his head to Lotte: "Who is she exactly? Your answer won't count for the whole last words thing."
"Lotte?" Skellen laughed at the sudden question "she's everyone's favourite tag-along. She ended up on a ship through a fortunate - well for her - turn of events and we ended up becoming somewhat fond of her."
"That makes me sound like your pet!" She pouted, "I'm-...." A moment of hesitation as she realized that what Skellen said was in all technicality the only way to describe it- and it wasn't so bad, now that she'd gone over it in her mind. "... I'm tagging along!"
Skellen then sat back, getting comfortable - appearing as though he was chosing his last words carefully. The pain in his shoulder was intense, and the bullet lodged in the wound was making it next to impossible to move his right arm properly.
He thinks I'm a close range specialist... that will prove a useful oversight once I'm done with him. They won't expect me to attack from a distance. But still, I have to deal with him first and having that gun so close to my head is making it rather difficult.
Skellen's eyes shifted down slightly to his satchel, a large syringe partially full of a transparent liquid catching his eye.
That will certainly do the trick... and I kinda like this guy so not having to kill him is quite the bonus.
Skellen looked up at Ronaldo, staring past the gun pointed at his head as though it wasn't even there and without taking his eyes off the gunman began speaking, his voice a strange combination of cold and calculated and adrenalin-fueled.
"Lotte, want to see something else awesome?"
"As long as it's cooler than what you've shown me so far?" She teased a little, stepping forward for a closer look-
Skellen shot his good arm forward, pushing the barrel of the gun aside before rolling onto it - pulling the weapon from Ronaldo's hands, shouting in pain as his shoulder hit the ground the hard metal musket underneath it doing nothing to alleviate the pain.
"Here's some words for you Ronaldo, nighty night". The Taipan swept the legs of the gunman from out below him, tripping him and reached into his satchel, lungign at the downed Tensen the syringe now in his hand. Landing over Ronaldo, Skellen jabbed the syringe containing a smaller dose of Leon's sedative into his opponents leg pushing the plunger down and injecting him with the fluid. Rolling off of Ronaldo, and wincing in pain as his shoulder hit the ground once more Skellen lay there panting for a while before slowly staggering to his feet.
"Ronaldo was late for his nap time" Skellen smirked "Two to go."
"Ronaldo!" Mina yelled as her brother collasped to the ground in a matter of seconds. The sniper seemed content as he slept on the floor, silently snoring as he escaped into dreamland. "Warp! Cannonbal!" Mina ordered as she leapt into the air. Her father caught her again and launched his daughter straight at Skellen with more speed than ever before. In midair, she altered her weight once again, going as heavy as she could. Flying through the air and aiming for Skellen's center, Mina hoped to crush every bone in Skellen's body.
The succesful dodge was luck more than anything, Skellen had been expecting Mina to run her mouth some more not launch into an immediate attack and it was merely by chance that he'd staggered to the side in a shot of pain - the captain of the Tensen pirate's flying straight past him brushing him and knocking him to the side with her velocity. Wincing as he hit the ground, dirt getting into the wound and causing a painful sting, Skellen hurriedly pushed himself to his feet again. He needed to tire the Tensens out and keep them together, which would prove difficult if Warp just kept throwing Mina around.
"I guess I'll just have to work it out as I go..."
Time to show them I don't have any problems with long range... Reaching back into the satchel, Skellen withdrew two razors and lauched them at Warp. They appeared to be heading directly for the man, but Skellen you they were actually slightly to either side of him, so if he dodged left or right he'd get hit. If he ducked he'd just be more vulnerable.
Let's see how this goes...
Warp eyes perked wide open as the razors flew at him. Warp ducked out of instinct as he prepared his blade for a major onslaught of attacks. Mina meanwhile leapt into the air after shifting her weight back to something far lower, hoping to grab enough air time to blitz Skellen and end the fight with a not so careful surprise attack.
Skellen darted forward towards the crouching Warp intending to kick his head, temporarily forgetting to consider the speed at which Mina could come at him by changing her weight in mid air. Just as Skellen was about to connect his foot with Warp's face he remembered Mina, turning slightly to see her as she crashed into his right side and back with a loud crash and a crunching noise.
The attack had been a glancing blow, throwing Skellen to the side with the ground he had been standing on taking the majority of the impact. A large crater was no taking the place Skellen had jsut occupied, the ground in terrible shape and Skellen feeling as though he wasn't doing much better. An enormous pain was running through the Taipan's right side and he found himself gasping and coughing, a trickle of blood rolling down his chin. In agony, Skellen forced himself back to his feet, his head aching and dizziness making him sway slightly on top of the great pain in his ribs
A Snapped rib or two, punctured lung, potential concussion and a bullet wound in my left shoulder. I can't really afford to take much more, I'm not intangible like Morgan nor bulky like Kuzo or Leon - I rely on evasion, precision and agility rather than powering through hits I take and hammering on people as hard as I can.
Skellen staggered over to Lotte as Mina climbed from the hole she had made, taking a rope from his bag and handing it to the girl.
"Hold this for a while, it's the only one I've got so don't lose it." The Taipan then flashed one of his devilish grins and drawing more razors - these coated with a toxin that would gradually shut down the brain - ran towards the two Tensens ready to put his plan into action.
Though unsure as to why she was holding on to the rope, Lotte nodded and clutched it to herself securely- feeling quite sorry for how beat up Skellen was in comparison to herself who remained surprisingly untouched. In fact, if she weren't a little concerned for the doctor, she might've just left earlier on seeing as the other pirates seemed wholly unconcerned with her- but perhaps she could use that to her advantage, as she watched Skellen dive back into action.
Ah. There was something she could do though, wasn't there? She inched over towards the soundly sleeping Ronaldo, moving as inconspicuously as she could manage (not difficult seeing as she'd been mostly left to do her own thing the entirety of the battle) and tugged the man's rifle from his slackened grip. She hadn't the slightest idea how to fire a gun- but she could always render it unusable lest someone else get any bright ideas-- and so began to drag it over towards the cliffside, intending to throw it over.
"Ronaldo's gun!" Mina yelled. She knew deep down how much Ronaldo valued the rifle. In fact, other than protecting his sister, the rifle was one of the few things he valued on the whole pirating venture she forced her family to endure. Ronaldo took great pride in the rifle and she believed his skill with it was second to none. Mina did her signature leap, aiming within inches of Lotte hoping to snatch the rifle before she tossed aside.
Letting out a yelp of surprise, Lotte tumbled over her feet, splaying onto the dirt as Mina came flying by-- the force of it all being considerably more than Lotte had imagined it would be. The gun in her grasp clattered away, rolling dangerously close to the edge of the cliff but not quite making it over the side.
Meanwhile, Warp braced himself for Skellen's charge. Lacking the sharp mind of his son and fighting on fumes to protect his daughter from the ill fate Ronaldo just faced. He drew his scimitar and was ready to bring down the blade, hoping to slice the doctor into two. A head on approach just seemed to work better in this case. He knew he was stronger than Skellen and if the doctor was going to run into his arms, why not let him?
Skellen slid to a halt just out of reach of the older pirate's scimitar, smirking at Warp and gesturing at him to come right for him
"That the best you can do old man?" Warp flying into an onslaught of hacks and slashes, Skellen quickly but subtly moved back further and further, always jsut out of reach of the Tensen's weapon. Skellen moved further and further back, until he was battling Warp practically on top of Mina and Lotte.
"You're nearly done for" Skellen laughed at Warp, who was still clueless as to what was going on.
"Ouch ouch--" Lotte whined as she pushed herself up off the ground-- but she quickly whirled around, hearing the sound of Skellen's voice just beside her and Warp's sword flying left and right. But where was Mina? .... As she looked around, her eyes fell first on the rope that Skellen had asked her to hold onto, and she dived for it instead of the gun, scrambling to her feet despite her torn up knee, "Skellen!"
Mina dove for the gun when she saw the opening, the dust in the air causing her to almost slip off the cliff. She exhaled loudly, a major sigh of relief really as she saved the prized gun. Mina stumbled to her feet and attempted to aim the gun at Skellen as her father almost the pinned the deadly doctor to a very figurative wall. Trying to steady her aim, Mina fired a renegade shot, missing terribly and knocking herself back down the ground. This distracted the elderly pirate as he yelped for a moment, halting his attack for a mere moment letting his guard down.
Seizing the moment, Skellen yelled for Lotte
"Chuck me an end of the rope and run round to this side!"
"What?!" She replied, flustered and surprised that he wasn't just taking the whole rope off of her-- actually getting her involved!! But though she questioned his instructions, she followed them without hesitation, tossing him the other end of the rope and running around towards where he directed without really processing what he was trying to accomplish.
Skellen once again flashed a maniacal grin as he ran forward, catching the the rope and running to where only moments ago Lotte had been standing.
"Pull tight now, we don't want them getting loose. Don't loosen how hard your pulling and do another couple of laps around them before stopping next to me again. Don't worry, they won't get loose so long as we keep pulling tight."
"Can't you just run by yourself??" Lotte whined, catching on to his plan and instantly processing the alternative in which she wouldn't actually have to actively participate.
"Just do it, you're weaker so can't hold them still as well." Skellen groaned, pulling tighter on the rope "Seriously, now!"
Sticking out her tongue, she did as she was told, keeping the rope tight in her hands, feeling quite foolish as she ran and ducked around the two.
Once Skellen had recieved the rope from Lotte, he proceeded to tie a tight knot in it, having to move clsoer to the Tensens as he did so - grinning his manic grin at them and making it apparent it was over for them. Skellen looked at Mina, narrowing his eyes accentuating his sharp gaze and snake-like look Skellen said to her in a low, deadly voice
"Do you know what happens now?"
"What happens now?" Lotte asked curiously, tilting her head despite the fact that the question had not been addressed towards her.
"...what happens now?" Mina asked, gulping as her father was attempt to power himself through the tight knotted rope.
Skellen's smile grew
"This" and with that, the Taipan dropped pushing up on the ground with one hand and using it as an extra push to his kick - sending the bound pirates off the edge of the cliff.
"Now... just give me a minute and I'll be ready to keep going" Skellen said, giving Lotte a thumbs-up.
As she felt the rope in her hand begin to struggle against the weight of the Tensens falling, Lotte let go without hesitation, holding her hands up as her bit of rope whipped past her and down the cliffside. Welp, that was that. She brushed her hands off before looking down at her own knees at Skellen's prompting to give him a second-- no doubt for a breather. He'd taken quite a beating himself, really. She, on the other hand, checked her scraped knee-- pleased to find that the cuts themselves had already disappeared. All she wanted now was a wet cloth to wipe off the smeared blood and dirt....
But of course, such things were nowhere to be found as they made their way up the mountain- thankfully unhindered this time. She was more careful this time- but still attempting to catch up with the others, swift. Had there been one stroke of good luck that day, it was that the blazing fires made it rather easy to find which direction they were supposed to be headed towards-- and making good time, Lotte and Skellen would soon reach the top of the peak.....
❝ the merry-go-round of life
"The Crew"- Summit of Duke Island
Bass followed along all the while as he thought about what they could experience up there. "S-So Morgan... how long have you been a pirate?" He asked. "Is it like this a lot?"
Morgan plowed through the last ridge reaching the summit. He gently letting Avril off his back and stretched out his back and every muscle that had been occuppied for the past hour or so carrying the injured girl. Bones snapped back into his place and he felt his face twist in pain from his wounds. He did his best to hide it from Avril, trying to not incite any guilt in her. Though, would she actually care? Morgan had a pit in his stomach that she would bolt the second the treasure was claimed. It was a small pit, but the silver was enough to pull at him. The summit was relatively level, the steep hills and rocks replaced by a pristine field of snow and a majestic view of the rest of the island. It was breathtaking, almost literally because of the thin air. A cold sweep of air swiped through the ragtag group of treasure hunters, but Morgan conjured up a handful of flames for the team to gather around. "Lesson #2, you are gonna stop the s-s-stuttering. Takes away any authority ya got in yer voice. It makes y'all look weak," Morgan said with a spit and a scoff. "Anyway, I'd been a pirate for....what like 6? Maybe 7 years. A while, really. And this is a little more land lubbering than normal. Not that I mind. I can't really swim anymore." Morgan's memories of being a rookie flashed before him. He lost count how many times he was knocked off the ship in his early days as a member of the Falcon Pirates and had to convince his fellow crewmates he deserved to be allowed back on the ship. Nostalgia had a way of making you miss even the worst of times.
Avril stood close to the fire Morgan had made. The sudden change in the temperature from leaving the heat he seemed to put off from his body to the cold that was the mountain air was a bit surprising, so she was quite thankful for the man to give the group a small heat source of sorts. The woman listened as Morgan lectured Bass, telling the bat that he needed to stop his stuttering when speaking. Avril offered Bass a warm smile.
"I dunno if he has to fully stop doin' it... I think it's kinda cute," she said with a small giggle.
Bass tilted his head at Avril's comment, then he looked at Morgan, "Okay... I can do that." He paused for a bit, "I mean... I guess I'm not really used to talking. To tell you the truth... when I got on the ship that's the only time I ever really talked to well... others. I really can't speak to the others back at the caves and anytime I did try to talk to anyone else they would run away screaming. It didn't take me long to figure out why that was." He frowned at that, "So, I guess... I just don't know how to speak. I try my best, I really do." He said with a fierce nod.
Vance quickly trudged over and raised his hands to hold them close to the flame offered by Morgan, though his long-sleeved jacket seemed to keep the worst of the cold out. He looked up at Bass at his comment regarding himself, but didn't seem to have anything to say to add to the conversation for a few moments before smiling lightly. "For a guy who hasn't spoken to alot of people, you've done pretty well for yourself so far, if you ask me."
"Fair point y'all. Just...just try to work on it alright? I think it will go a long way to ya getting all comfortable with this...human thingie ya going through," Morgan began. Noticing everyone huddling around, he pumped a bit more into the fire. "Anyway, I guess we better hunt down the treasure. It's probably in a chest, assuming that Kasumi lady is old-fashioned. I think we are the only ones here, so we can spilt up a bit and search the summit. Stay within earshot though, in case we get any visitors." Morgan closed his hands and extinguished the flames and called for a break before wandering around the summit, scanning the area quickly before any treasure, buried or otherwise.
Avril began to poke around the area, trying to keep her eyes peeled for anything that might resemble a treasure chest of sorts. But for the most part the only thing she spotted were trees, rocks, snow, and more rocks. Glancing over her shoulder, she noticed Morgan.
"Pepper-kun... I don't exactly remember all of what our host said earlier," the woman began. "Do ya remember if she happened to give any clues or hints about the treasure's location? Besides the fact that it's up here."
Bass meekly nodded and likewise began to look about. He took in a deep breath and let out a loud screech that bounced around on the mountainside. His ears wiggled a bit and he frowned, "I don't sense any large objects up here. Do you think it's buried?" He asked out loud. "I would normally try to fly... but the air is strange up here. It's like... it's so small. I wouldn't be able to fly for long. What does treasure usually look like Morgan?"
"It probably has somethin' to do with the air pressure... We are a good ways up, Batsy-chan," Avril told Bass with a smile. "As for treasure... it's usually kept in a big box of sorts... Lots of pirates like to bury it underground, but there are a few that decide to hide it in other weird spots. It would usually have shiny lookin' dithers and dathers in it, like this." To emphasis her point, Avril reached into her pocket and pulled out a single, gold coin for the bat to see.
Morgan smiled and nodded. "Avril hit the mark. It's most likely in a box of sorts. Probably big too." Morgan looked around, getting increasingly frustrated as no one seemed to find much of anything. "The lady only said it was up here...but that was about it." Then a lightbulb flashed in his head. "Wait a minute...underground? Avril, would it be obvious where it would be buired if it was underground?"
"Hmmm... Well, there's a chance I guess, like if it has one of those red 'X' markin's or somethin' like that," Avril replied. She was sort of curious as to just why he asked her about such a thing. After all, she had told him before she was not a pirate. Still, the woman decided to elaborate a bit on the matter. "In the event they decided not to be so cliche with that sorta hidin', I guess there's always the chance to look for somethin' that seems out of place... Like maybe an area with too many rocks or maybe a place where there isn't as much snow as the surroundin' area."
Vance looked up from digging through a clump of snow off to the side on the summit, calling out to the others. "That's what I was thinking. I didn't hear the announcement... thingie, since I was already on my way up here, but it sounds like she likes making a big show out of everything. Only makes sense to make the hiding spot equally showy."
Pausing for a moment, he looked over at Morgan. "Hey, uhm, Morgan? Do you think there's a chance you could, like... expel heat without fire? If we can melt at least a little bit off the top of the snow, we should be able to see something out of place. Or maybe just, like... a big bonfire in the middle of the summit?"
Bass frowned, "Maybe it's under the rock then? She said on top of the mountain... or maybe it's not here now? Do you think someone got up here before us and took the treasure with them?" He asked.
"Nah. Nobody got here before us. I made sure of that lil fact," Morgan said confidently. Looking around, nodding at most of what everyone was saying. "But I got a feelin' that this Kasumi chick wouldn't make it too showy. After all, people are supposed to be watchin' so they are all probably enjoying us pirates lookin' all stupid and whatnot." Morgan burned up a little brighter. "Well, if they want a show I'll give them one. Just stand back a bit. And maybe duck. Yeah, I'd duck." With a bold declaration, Morgan let off a small controlled expolsion at the center of the summit, sending all forms of rock and ice flying in every direction, leaving only a small pool of water in its wake, where snow used to be. In fact, the summit seemed a whole lot greener after Morgan's expolsion. And strangely warmer...probably because much of the surrounding grass was on fire. "There...snow melted."
"I think ya went a little overboard with that one, Pepper-kun," Avril sighed as she looked around at Morgan's work. "Let's just hope that ya didn't blow up the treasure when ya did that one..."
Bass quivered on the ground and peeked up slowly, "A-Are you done yet Morgan?" He asked warily. "I really don't want to be made into mush."
Skellen hobbled along the path with Lotte in his wake, neither speaking much. He'd done a quick shabby job of tending to the wound in his left shoulder - removing the bullet and bandaging up the wound and he'd done his best to move his ribs back into the correct spot and bandage them up tightly. The agonizing cold was stabbing at his wounds, bringing even further pain to the doctor, but he didn't complain. Complaining wouldn't help the situation any, and he had no intention of looking weak to anybody - still he couldn't help but wince occasionally if a particularly chilling gust of wind wracked his body.
"We must be nearly at the peak now, it's freezing." Skellen said as the pair climbed the mountain. Without thinking, Skellen removed his thick coat and passed it over to Lotte
"One of us might as well be not shivering and I can fight better without that on anyway"
"Oooh, what a gentleman!" She teased, the first words she'd cracked since they'd started their ascent towards the colder parts of the mountain. Though she jested with him, she happily took the jacket, wrapping it around herself with a satisfied expression.
It was then that it happened - an explosion and a rush of heat hit the two, the sudden warmth soon subsiding to the freezing cold once more.
"Alright, that was probably Morgan but stay behind me just in case." Skellen drew a razor blade from his satchel, taking note of the gradually dwindling supply - he only had about three toxic ones left in the bag and not many more than that hidden in his coat
"Oh yeah, and if you need anything there's a bunch of razors hidden in that coat, but don't cut yourself on them if you go for them or you'll be the one who ends up dead."
Lotte crinkled her nose at that- looking as though she'd had second thoughts on whether she really wanted this coat or not....
With Lotte accounted for Skellen crept into the clearing, relaxing when he saw the group standing there was Morgan, Vance, Bass and...
You have to be kidding me
"YOU!!!" Skellen screamed, once again launching a sharp projectile at Avril's head.
Bass' ears flicked about as he heard some footsteps amid the wind and turned to see some familiar faces. The Bat smiled and raised a wing, "Hey there Skellen!" He called out. At least they weren't other guys here to kill them. Maybe they knew where the treasure was? Though... that didn't seem to be WHY they were here though. In just a few seconds Bass could hear Skellen reaching to grab something and as it was thrown out his ears could tell that the object was small, and sharp, and moving fast! It was heading right to Avril and his ears could see that it would probably make contact with her head. He pulled his wings in and kicked off with his feet, grunting as he did his best to hit into Avril and get her down... or he could be a total klutz and miss. Without his wings guiding that tended to happen.
Avril glanced over at the sudden shout just in time to see Bass diving at her. The bat managed to plow right into the woman, sending her falling to the ground in surprise. Avril let out a small moan as she tried to regain her senses as she shifted a bit under the weight of Bass, glancing up at the bat in confusion.
"W-whoa!" Vance called out as Bass knocked into Avril at the same time as Skellen had thrown what looked like a knife at the girl. "S-Skellen, I know what your deal with her is, but you can't just throw knives at peoples' heads!"
"Batsy-chan...? What was that for?" Avril questioned, not seeming to be annoyed or mad that she had been tackled to the ground by the bat, but still smiling at him like she had the entire time she had known him.
Bass held her down, "Didn't you see that... thing coming!? Skellen threw it!" He looked back. "Morgan... why was Skellen trying to kill us?"
"It seems our lil friend Skellen got some history with Avril here. Now don't ya?" Morgan directed at the grounded Avril. He grunted as he moved closer to Bass and Avril, slightly disappointed he couldn't continue blowing up things looking for the treasure.
Avril managed to get into a position which allowed her to get a better view of her assailant. She looked thoughtful for a moment, before shaking her head slowly. "I've never seen the guy before. Is he a friend of yours?"
Bass frowned and rose as well, this time spreading his wings a bit to get a bit of cover for Avril behind him, "Yeah... but why would he attack you then?" He looked back at Skellen and had enough tact to at least whisper this time, "Just stay behind me. At least with my wings he won't be able to get to ya."
Avril gave a small shrug, giving the bat an innocent smile. "Mistaken identity, maybe?"
Vance glanced from Skellen to Avril, looking rather confused. "... There you go again, saying you don't remember him, like you did with me." He looked back over to the two newcomers, a light smile touching his lips at the sight of an intact Lotte. At least Skellen had managed to find her and keep her safe.
Without the slightest interest in getting involved, Lotte pulled up the collar of Skellen's jacket around the lower part of her face, letting her blue eyes blink over the rim as she waited for them all to stop fighting as usual, staring between Skellen and the bat and the stranger girl.
"Well, while you two keep on yappin' and theorizin' about why an already psycho doctor is throwin' around little needles, Imma go speak with him," Morgan said, slightly frustrated at the whole thing. Skellen did seem a bit trigger happy in the limited time he spoke with the man, as evidenced by his desire to tranquilze Leon to cease the growling man's violent tendenicies. Morgan would never admit it, but was inclined to agree with Skellen. Though Morgan's variation would involve beating Leon over the head with a plank of wood. Regardless, Skellen was also fairly intelligent and wasn't one to mistaken identities, at least Morgan would assume as much. At least Bass was stepping up and protected Avril. He was so caught up in clearing the summit of everything to even notice Skellen's sneak attack. Maybe the little bat had some potential after all.
Morgan eventually reached Skellen and looked back at Bass covering Avril, while Vance appeared to just be watching on the sidelines. "So why did ya throw one of those knives at my...erm, friend over there? Seems kind of rude don't ya think?"
With Morgan stepping up to talk to Skellen, Vance trudged over through the severely lessened snow to crouch down besides Bass still on top of Avril, giving the girl a furrow-browed look, as if trying to solve some sort of puzzle. "... Why do you keep claiming you don't know either of us? I mean, it's not like we'd keep the treasure from you, as far as I'm concerned, you were a part of finding it with us, so it's only fair you get a share as well."
"Rude? Says the guy with a tendency to burn everything in sight down to cinders" Skellen retorded, a scowl on his face his gaze still locked dead onto the confused looking Avril "and there is no way in hell I'm mistaking her for someone else. You want example of rude? Skipping out on a debt you owe someone, that's rude! Getting someone else tangled into your mess and then expecting them to save you, that is rude! I threw the last person to be rude to me off a cliff and I'm looking forward to giving her the same treatment!"
Skellen looked Morgan up and down, noticing that he along with Bass and Avril were pretty beaten up themselves.
"You guys look like crap, want me to patch you up after I'm done killing her?"
"Alright, fair point there," he conceded to Skellen about his tendency to blow up things. "But to be honest, it's not really my fault that things explode so easily." Morgan tried to match his line of sight with Skellen's as he appeared to direct much of his anger at Avril. "And what are ya talkin' about, skipping out on some debt? She doesn't seem to recongize ya and I don't know the girl to lie...I mean she seems pretty honest to me," Morgan gestured to her. "I'm willin' to hear ya out, but if you threaten her you are going to be one to be the one that needs patchin' up," he finished staring down Skellen. "And I really don't want to have to mess ya up. I've wrecked enough faces to last me a good while."
"Logia or not, threatening me is a terrible idea, but to save my crewmate the humiliation of losing to someone who doesn't even have a devil's fruit, I'll take the time to explain. That charming lady over there stowed away on a pirate ship to get here and managed to attract the attention of a guard on the ship. She then ran into me, with the guard chasing her, and claimed I sent her there so I ended up having to - to use your language - 'mess him up', saving her life in process. She agreed to pay me back, tried to seduce me and get me drunk and when that didn't work she blinded me with flash bombs and ran off. When I later saw her with Vance - whom she also managed to get into trouble - she sidled off in the confusion. That by the way, triggered a series of events that lead to me having to go three aganst one, well apart from Lotte helping me tie them up, with the Tensen pirates. So I don't know about you Matchstick, but I think I have pretty good reason to want to toss her off the cliff like I did two of the Tensen's." Skellen completely disregarded Morgan's attempts to stare him down, continuing to direct his furious, snakelike gaze towards Avril.
"Uh, I'd like to add," Vance spoke up, raising a hand into the air to try and catch their attention. "That I was actually the one getting Avril in trouble and she helped me out."
"Do you really think you can even hurt me?" Morgan questioned with a chuckle as he ran his fingers through his hair and laughed at Skellen a bit. Sure, the Fishmen got him but they used water guns and whatnot on him. "Anyhow, she hasn't done any of that to me, so either I am very pretty and you aren't or you are lyin'. Can't say I know which one I want to believe. But I am inclined to believe the pretty lady over ya. No offense."
Avril remained quiet, watching the interaction between Skellen and Morgan for a moment. She then glanced up at Vance, a small frown gracing her features as she sniffled. "But... I really have no idea who this guy is supposed to be. He's startin' to scare me a bit too. What if he's some stalker or somethin' that's tryin' to find the right moment to take advantage of me?"
"Oh, uhm... uh... I'm... sure Skellen... erh." Vance coughed a little, glancing over at Skellen, clearly not entirely convinced that the good doctor wouldn't do what Avril was insinuating.
Bass still kept his wings up as he looked back at Avril with a soft smile, "Hey no worries. We're not going to let him get to you." He glanced back at Skellen, "Maybe it really isn't her Skellen? She doesn't seem like someone who would do that. There are many humans out there and to be frank... to me a lot of you really look the same." He couldn't help but shrug, "Maybe you mistook her for someone else?"
Skellen raised an eyebrow at Morgan
"I am fairly confident that I could yes b - WHAT THE HELL, AVRIL? You tried to seduce me, not the other way around. I'm not some kind of sicko, just a psycho." Skellen turned around to Morgan again and exasperated said, "Are you sure that you'd miss her that much?"
Skellen face-palmed at Bass.
Well conning you wouldn't really work if she seemed like a con artist would it?
"I just used her name guys, if I didn't know her how would I know her name? Do any of you people think? Vance knows her too, I know her name and if she appeared to be a con-artist she'd be a terrible con-artist wouldn't she? I just hope that idiot Kuzo hasn't adopted her into the crew on a whim either. At least Leon is honest."
"I think he already did..." Morgan chimed in.
"... Wouldn't really surprise me." Vance added, clearing his throat lightly.
"Um... you know her name because Morgan mentioned it earlier." Bass pointed out. "He said her name in front of you... so yeah." His ear twitched a bit as he still kept Avril safely behind him.
"I sincerely hope you're joking"
Though Lotte had her reservations about the situation as a whole, she wasn't sure she cared enough to voice her opinions. But she confidently took a few steps forward, planting herself in the middle of Morgan, Bass, Vance, and Skellen's argument. Lotte raised her hand, but only subtly for not wanting to extend her arm too far from the warmth of her new found jacket.
"Hello, hello! Excuse me!" She chimed, putting on an expectant smile, "While I don't really care who knows who and who did what, I do care that it's cold outside! So how about this: Mr. Doctor is a nice man even though he looks like a bad man and sometimes does bad things-- and the Missus over there is a nice lady even if she maybe does or does not do bad things! See, this way everybody wins!"
Lotte looked over her shoulder at Skellen, "So are we done? Is this all we came up here for? Can we go back???"
"Oh, right, the treasure!" Vance remembered as he stood up again, seemingly having completely forgotten about Avril's odd lie. "Lotte, the sooner we find the treasure, the sooner we can get out of here, which I'm -very- inclined to do as quickly as possible." He sent her a smile before walking a little away from the group, he went to work brushing aside some of the few patches of snow that had survived, trying to find some kind of mark for where the treasure might be hidden.
"That is why we came up here from the start after all... I guess some people just have to make a special entrance, even if it distracts from the mission," Avril chimed in, slowly climbing up to her feet. She patted Bass on his back, whispering a small word of thanks to the bat as she walked past him. "Now, then... Since Pepper-kun helped melt a lot of the snow, it should be pretty easy to go 'bout findin' the treasure."
"Whatever, but quite frankly you owe me and I'll throw you overboard if you don't pay me back somehow. So, does anyone actually have a clue what we're looking for?"
Bass blushed a bit at the compliment, though he didn't understand why. He nodded his head and glanced about as well. "Avril said before there might be a x painted somewhere right? Then should we look for that?" He tilted his head a bit, "Could we form a line and walk over the mountain top that way we don't check the same places twice?"
Vance continued searching off in his little area, brushing aside patches of snow. Aside from being relatively flat, the peak had a few rocky outcroppings, and as Vance stood up to get a better look of the area, he blinked somewhat, noticing that the one side of one of the outcroppings had what had once been a large, snow-covered bush standing in front of it. However, after Morgan's little show-boating, the bush was a little... less of a bush and more of a couple of twigs now.
That's when he noticed it. Behind the bush, tucked away under the outcropped rock sat a very large, wooden chest. It was a bit singed from the flames, but it was clear that it was made out of quality wood. Vance's eyes widened as he hurried over to the bush, breaking off most of the burned twigs, tossing them aside.
"Guys! Guys...! Look, I... I think I found it!" He ducked down and reached in, grabbing the chest as he heaved, pulling it back out of the outcropping and into the open. Once it was a little ways away from the burned bush and the rocks, he stood up and wiped his brow, smiling brightly down at the chest. "This has got to be it! I wonder what's inside..."
"Nice job, Vance!" Morgan ran over to the chest and looked at Vance with a grand smile. "Now, allow me to take a crack at opening this here big guy." Morgan gently shoved Vance out of the way and examined the chest. It had a golden padlock, making Morgan think he needed a key to open it. Well, crap. Hope nobody minds if I am a lil' forceful. With a fickle of flames, Morgan fired a bullet of flame from his fingers as a loud thump hit the stony ground as the golden padlock crashed to the floor. "There we go," Morgan said as he lifted the top half up, opening the chest with overflowing pride. Finally, it was Morgan's first victory in a while as a real pirate.
With the chest busted wide open, Morgan looked down into the depth of the chest with a puzzled expression. His eyes were wide open, his mouth twisted in confusion, and his muscles visibly tense. Was it excitement? Why was everything tight? Why did he feel the way he did as he peered into the massive chest? He burned through everything to get here. He risked his life. This was to be an accomplishment. He expected to jumping up and down and swimming in gold. He half expected to have his name engraved in legend. Who needed the One Piece if you found this chest? He could almost retire. Or more likely, start anew. Revive the name of the Falcon Pirates and sail under that banner again.
He reached into the chest and turned around to his face his friends and unofficial crewmates. In his hand was a single piece of paper:
“Thank you for playing. But your treasure is on another island.” Morgan read aloud.
Top of the Royal Peak – The Real Kings!
“So we end up comin’ all this way, and it turns out to be a dead end?” A voice suddenly piped up behind the group gathered around the large treasure chest . It was that of a woman, with medium length blonde hair and bright blue eyes. She strode through the snow to the right side of the group. Vance and Skellen would have recognized her as Katherine Matthews, one of the Akahige pirates that they had run into down in Regal Town.
“Grrah! Maybe the note is made of some high quality material?! Like…gold paper or something!” Said another voice, belonging to a balding man with a mechanical-looking left arm, belong to Baron Dallas, another pirate belonging to the Akahiges. He stormed through the snow, his boots sinking deep due to his larger weight, causing him to shiver with each step.
“Gold paper, Baron? Really?” Katherine shot back at her comrade. Her shook her head and crossed her arms. Her eyes then began to dart to the gathered pirates before them. One of her hands wandered to the sword clasped along her belt.
“I seriously doubt it’s anything like that,” Came another response directly behind the group of pirates around the treasure. This came from a man with dark hair and beard, a matching dark apparel, and a disconsolate tone. Avril Meads would have recognized him as Santiago Dominique, the ‘Gun Saint’, the man she had met back in the bar at the Regal Town below. “This entire debacle started with Kasumi Kobushi. It’s like Kasumi who’s behind this. She likes to play her games I hear,” His eyes scanned the other pirates in front of him, and he sighed deeply. “Ah, but I probably shouldn’t have said any of that in front of them.”
“Quit your yappin’ and stay sharp,” Said another man with a partially shaved head, a cigarette in his mouth, a camouflage-style jacket on and a towel over his shoulder. His hands were in his pockets as he casually approached beside Baron Dallas. This was Shin Koku, the first mate. He looked across the relatively desolate snowy plains of the top of the mountain and sighed to himself. “It’s damn cold up here…”
“Aww, but Shin, I’m just sayin’,” Baron continued to whine. “We couldn’t have made it all the way passed all the other guys for nothin’, could we? I mean, was this all pointless then?”
“Not pointless!” Came a final voice approaching directly in front of the group of pirates beside the treasure. It was a man, relatively tall with a red and black overcoat, over a red-brown shirt, and black pants. He had relatively short, red hair which traveled from the top of his head across his face to form a large, red beard. He had a large grin on his face as he spoke to the rest of his crew. “Far from pointless! It wasn’t the treasure itself that we strove to acquire. It was the competition that we encountered and beat that made this worthwhile!” Rackham D. John, known as “Akahige”, or Redbeard and Captain of the Akahige pirates, turned from the group and looked out at the mountainside below. “They’ll write the story of what happened here one day, and they’ll talk about how we took down everyone in our path, how we were unmatched! They’ll say in the end that only one crew was standing out of the dozens, and it was the Akahiges! They’ll say that we didn’t just conquer the Royal Peak, or Duke Island, or all the other pirates crews that showed up. They’ll say we conquered the King Pirates!”
Akahige turned around and smiled brightly at his crewmates one by one. “And next time, when it really is One Piece, they’ll all know how that story will go. Besides, I’m sure we all had a blast getting up! Katherine, you got to test your sword skills against some pirates no doubt?”
“Well, yeah I guess I did,” Katherine responded to her captain. Akahige nodded as he smile brightly.
“And Baron, you took down a bunch of pirates too no doubt, right?”
“Hell yeah I did, Captain!” Baron shouted back happily.
“And Santiago, I’m sure you got the chance to fire off a few shots and prove you’re the best shot on all of Duke Island!” Santiago nodded silently, a small smile coming to his melancholy expression.
“And Shin! I know you had a blast getting all the way up here too, am I right?”
“No,” Shin replied coldly and indifferently. “It’s cold, my feet hurt, and I can’t feel my face.”
Akahige instantly burst out into a roar of laughter. “HAHAHAHAHAHA! Always the wise cracker!”
“Well, none of that really matters in the end, does it? I mean, we didn’t beat everyone…yet.” He said, ushering with his head to the group of pirates that they were now surrounding.
“Ah, you’re right there,” Akahige responded. He gazed at the colorful cast of individuals making up the pirates that inhabited the top of the Royal Peak with them. His eyes set on Lotte. “So I’m guessing these are your friends then, eh, Lotte? As you can see, this time I brought mine as well. I wish you would have taken my offer and left while you had the chance,” He took a few steps forward, cracking his neck from side to side. The other Akahige pirates slowly began to close the distance as well.
“Now…we’ll see who are the real Kings of Duke Island!”
Bass - A bit of clarity
Bass truly didn't know what was going on. He knew that the treasure wasn't here, so he was a bit sad about that. He really wanted to know what a treasure looked like to be frank, but at the same time another group came up to the summit and began to talk about how the fighting and proving themselves was the real test… or something like that and how they had to keep fighting? He was a bit confused with the quick jargon but he tilted his head as this other group began to approach.
"So… we're fighting to entertain a woman who isn't here and attempting to please her in any possible way because she promised us treasure but really had no treasure meaning that many innocent men and women just died so that she could have fun when there was no treasure really to give out?" He flapped his wings a bit, "So the reason we're fighting is really for no reason at all but to try and impress a woman who doesn't even know us but is probably trying to have us kill each other so that we might not be a threat to her later on? At least that's how I'm seeing it. So… we're kind of like chess pieces?" He turned to Morgan, "It is called chess right? I've only heard the term a few times, but it's kind of like that right? Like… we're one team but we're killing each other and she's the other team and just letting all of her pieces remain alive… at least I think that's how it is."
He shrugged and looked back, "But I don't really see the reason to die here if I'm being forced to amuse someone I don't even know or will probably even meet. Anyways I'll head down. It's getting cold now." The bat hummed as he went to the side, his intellectual moment now over as he had to find his footing on the way down the rocks.
Bridges L. Skellen
Skellen raised his eyebrows at the appearance of the akahige pirates, eyeing them all off and analysing them. To the Taipan, they all appeared to be pretty tough - especially Akahige himself whom he had seen in action earlier, tossing aside brutish men that Skellen himself could not hope to overpower like flies.
I'm not entirely sure that we can win here, our best option is to hold them off until we find an opening to flee. I doubt that even Morgan will be untouchable against these guys and unlike them all of us capable of fighting back are injured. Lotte has my coat, no longer counting the blade I already threw at Avril I only have two poisoned razors on my person. I guess the most intelligent thing to do right now would be to wait and see how things play out, then use our first opportunity to get the hell out of here.
Skellen grinned over at Lotte
"I hope you remember what I said about what's in the coat, can you look after m supplies for me?" without waiting for a response Skellen handed the girl the bag of medicinal supplies he had stuffed in his satchel.
"Well, this will be interesting."