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Lotte | Duke Island
With Skellen's coat still wrapped around her, Lotte stared on as the others reacted to the news of no treasure. It wasn't really as if she was interested in treasure, and so she stood where she was, waiting for everyone to finally decide to go down the mountain-- back to places where her toes weren't about to freeze off..... But her thoughts on warmer places was interrupted when she looked over her shoulder towards the sound of strange voices approaching- and brightened at the familiar sight of--
"John!" She chirped, nodding in answer to his first question. She was just about poised to introduce them all when the man in question began moving forward in a threatening manner-- an aura of aggression that even the most oblivious of oblivious, Lotte, could recognize as something that could not be ignored. Looking to Bass as he began to speak, she frowned and turned to look at John with the eyes of a betrayed puppy realizing that all it's treats had been taken away. "... We're fighting?? But... why?"
Lotte's distress only increased when Skellen shoved his bag into her hands, and she stepped forward in protest, grabbing onto his shirt and pulling him back as she spurred into action from her momentary stupefaction, "No it's -not- going to be interesting--!! Nobody's going to be fighting anybody!" She stamped her foot in indignation, crossing her arms and drawing herself up to her full height, which didn't even come close to tickling the end of Akahige's beard. "I sure do, Vance!" She announced with a childish pout, putting herself in between the impending conflict, "Everyone, this is John- he's my friend and he's a nice person! And if I recall correctly, I made friends in town, not enemies! And friends don't fight friends, especially when the treasure you were looking for wasn't even here to begin with!"
"I'm not going to fight you- or any of your friends!"
The Stray Pirates - Port Vassal, Duke Island -Down, but not out...right?
"Aiyeee! Watch it, Sena!" 'Broccoli' of the Stray Pirates yelled to his fellow crewmate as she placed a cold, wet rag on the side of his face, which was red and swollen to immense proportions due to the punch thrown by Kuzo earlier in the day. As the two of them walked toward the harbor, following the first mate Marcello 'Beauty' Ladorra and Captain Adams "Stray" Kondo in front of them, Sena tried to relieve some of the swelling, much to Broccoli's whining protest.
"Just hold still, dang it!" Sena urged Broccoli, who continued to squirm at every contact of the cloth upon his face. "If we don't lower the swelling, you'll be walking blind!"
"I'd rather be walking blind than burning off my face. You're burning off my face, Sena!"
"It's water, you dolt! Besides, we've all gotten injured in our fights. For example..." She explain. Sena suddenly paused in place, a satisfying smirk crossing her face as she flicked her nose and puffed in her chest. "I got knocked out cold!"
"WHY ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT IT LIKE IT'S AN ACCOMPLISHMENT!?" Broccoli spat right into her face.
"It is an accomplishment! It's my first time getting knocked out as a pirate!" Sena shot back, getting right back into her crewmate's face.
“Both of you, SHUT IT!” Captain Stray yelled to his two subordinates, to which they instantly shut up. Stray wore a livid expression on his face. He despise losing, he always has. But it’s even worse when it was against someone like the Burning King. Right that moment, he was already thinking about ways to get him back. “You’re making my head hurt, damn it!”
“Ah, sorry cap!” Sena chirped. “So what’s the plan, boss man?” She asked curiously. For the short time she had been with the Stray Pirates, she had learned to look up to Stray (rightly or wrongly) as the man with the plan. He was, as far as she was concerned, one of the more brilliant planners. And even though they probably won’t be able to get the treasure, she knew he had a contingency plan. At least she hoped.
“Well, while everyone else is killing each other, we’ll take advantage of the situation!” Stray commented, rubbing his hands together as he walked. “If I really wanted to, I could have gotten up to the treasure and taken it for myself anytime. But that’s not how we operate! We’re the Strays, we go against the grain, being two steps in front of our enemies. While they’re all busy killing each other, we’ll just wait here by the docks. Eventually, they’ll have to come down and head back to their ships with the treasure in tow. But they’ll all be weary from the battling, and they’ll be tired from carrying around that heavy treasure. And then..BOOM!” He waved his hands around to coordinate with his exclamation. “That’s when we strike.”
Sena smiled cheerfully. She knew it! She knew the Captain always had a plan. “That’s awesome, cap! Awesome plan!”
“Absolutely stunning, Captain, like my perfectly carved physique~” Beauty added.
“Yeah!” Broccoli shouted as well, one hand in the air while the other tenderly massaged his wound on his face. “You’re the greatest mind out there, Captain!”
“Keehee! Just wait, it gets better! Since we’re at the docks now, we mind as well make sure that they won’t escape, so we’ll disable all the ships in the area! Take out their masts, damage them! No matter who gets down, they’ll be trapped here! Oh, but we’ll definitely get that Morgan’s ship too, dang bastard! I’ll just have to find out which ship he came up on…keep yer eyes open, lads!”
The three behind the Captain nodded and proceeded to look around the harbor. Broccoli suddenly squinted his eyes as he examined something along the water. His eyes opened wide for a moment. “Uh…h-hey Captain, isn’t that a Marine ship over there…?” He stammered out, questioning the Captain.
Without looking into the direction Broccoli looked, Stray simply scoffed. “Your observation skills are pretty bad, Broccoli. I saw that same ship earlier in the day. It’s a pirate ship, just probably stolen or something! No need to panic!” Stray grinned mischievously at Broccoli, who continued to look on to the waters.
“Uh, no Captain. I saw that ship before. I m-m-meant…the one…the ones…in the d-d-d-d-d-“ Broccoli continued to stutter, leaving Kondo with no choice but to examine what exactly he was talking about. As he turned, Stray’s once confident expression was instantly burned off of his face. Before him in the distance, multiple Marine ships were in sight, and incoming toward Duke Island.
"S-sh*t," Kondo cursed. He quickly turned back around to his crew to issue them orders. "Quick! We don't have a lot of time before they reach the island! Get to the ship and-"
Stray cut himself off. A bright, yellow light flashed from the Marine ship in front. It started small, before increasing in size, and then suddenly traveling an astonishing speed. Stray thought it was a weapon or bullet of some sort. It certainly traveled fast enough to be. Before he could finish his next word, the light had reached the harbor, shooting in between a pair of ships before stopping abruptly just in front of the Stray pirates. The light began mixing together, forming into a larger shape. As Stray watched the process unfold, he realized the light began to take the form of a person. Light, medium-length blonde hair, and a piercing cold stare in her eyes. She had the overcoat of the Marines, with the word "justice" marked down across her back.
She moved her eyes toward Stray, gazing coldly at Kondo. Stray knew what he should do. He knew he should have his crew try to make a break for their ship. He knew the longer they stood there, the harder it would be to escape. But his shaking legs simply wouldn't move. He knew exactly who stood before him, by reputation alone. She was a Marine Vice-Admiral.
The woman averted her gaze from Captain Kondo at the sound of a transponder snail ring. The ring came from inside her coat pocket. She reached in, took it out, and held it in her hand, as a voice came in from the other side. "What are your orders, ma'am?" The voice asked. The Vice Admiral looked around the island, catching sight of the different ships parked at the harbor and around the island. She was most particularly interested in the flags and who they belonged to.
"Ships of high bounty pirates confirmed. Begin execution of the plan immediately," The Vice-Admiral ordered to the voice at the other end of the transponder snail. "Surround the island and assume positions for the destruction of all pirate ships."
"Yes ma'am!" Clank! The Vice-Admiral once again put away the snail, and resumed her gaze of the Stray Captain. She also took a few looks at the other three Stray Pirates present. As she looked them all over, her eyes suddenly glued to Sena.
"You..." The Vice Admiral spoke to Sena, who looked on in fear, clinging to the side of Broccoli's head. Broccoli seemed to ignore any pain he had there as he took was petrified in place.
"M-me?" Sena managed to say from between her trembling lips. The other Stray Pirates looked at her curiously, still shaking in their boots.
"You shouldn't be here. Your grandfather has been worried sick about you," She said to Sena. "To think that you'd be here of all place...go into town and hide until we've cleared up the pirates," She glared with her cold, frightening eyes right at Sena, causing a shiver to run down her spine. "Is that clear?"
"Y-y-y-y-y-y-" Before she could respond, the Vice Admiral proceeded to move forward, completely ignoring the rest of the pirates and observing the Royal Peak in the distance. She raised her hands to her torso, with the same, yellow light forming in between her hands, until it appeared to form into a ball of light. Soon, her entire body began to glow in the same light.
"Yata no Kagami."
Top of the Royal Peak
"Eh?" Baron Dallas watched as the girl approached unfazed toward the man, whom many would find rather intimidating. "That I did, lass! I'm a builder! Shipbuilder, mechanic. I make it all happen with the Redbeards! I would show you some of my stuff but...I gotta kill ya, sorry!"
"Sorry," Shin Koku began, looking over Vance protesting to his crewmates as they enclosed around them. "But you seem to be under the impression that we'll just let you go. If you didn't want to get involved, you should have taken your chance to leave back when I saw you in town. Now, you'll have to reap what you sow."
"Aww, Lotte," Akahige began, "don't make it any harder than it has to be. You can still always join with us! If not...I guess we'll have to pulverize all of you!" Akahige grinned, gazing at each one of them to see what response they would give. "So, what do ya sa-"
The yellow light whizzed past all of them like a blur. It stopped suddenly right at the top of the large open empty chest, and began to form until the figure of the Vice Admiral appeared from the light. She was standing right on the top of the chest, gazing coldly at the pirates below her. For a moment, even Akahige was silent as he registered what had just occurred.
"I underestimated Kasumi. I expected her ploy would attract some pirates, but I didn't expect it would bring Shin Koku and Akahige," She stated, her eyes gazing toward the two at the mention of their names. "As well as the Taipan and the Burning King," She once again glared coldly at the two when their names were called. "I even saw the ships of the Fishman and Okama Pirates. This plan turned out much better than expected."
Akahige's grin had left the man's face, and in its place was a look of shock, and even nervousness. He looked from the Vice Admiral and down to the lower portions of the island, where he managed to spot the island slowly being surrounded by the Marines, as they had begun to fire upon pirate ships. But he quickly regained his composure and turned to Lotte. "You know what, Lotte?" He began, the grin once again reforming on his face, albeit with it could be seen that it was under some duress, and he appeared to still be quick anxious. "I find myself reconsidering fighting you after all. We're friends after all, right? HAHAHAHAHA!" He laughed, even that seemed a bit forced. "I think we'll probably just catch you later, and instead do what pirates do best...RUN!" He yelled, and his crew at his command quickly dispersed to the different ends of the Royal Peak and down the mountain.
"Run if you like," The Vice Admiral remarked, watching the Akahige Pirates disperse from the area. "You won't get far...your ships will be gone soon," The Vice Admiral sighed. "I'll get them later. First..." She jumped down from the chest, turning her attention to the other set of pirates that remained on the top.
The Vice Admiral was relatively young, but she had already gained a fierce reputation among both pirates and Marines. A fierce believer in justice, she has been responsible for the imprisonment of multiple famous pirates, as well as the destruction and breaking up of many more crews. She was also instrumental in many of the Marines' victory over the King Pirates during the war, and is considered to be one of the most terrifying forces a pirate would ever have to face.
Bass - On top of the world?
Bass HAD been slowly making his way down, but his ears perked up when he heard those other pirates chatting. They were… still wanting to fight? It didn't make sense to him in any sense, but to each their own of course. He was thinking that the other group was going to just come upon them like mindless apes and he had to wonder yet again… how DID humans become so evolved? How had they gotten full control of this world and yet they squealed in glee every time they got to kill? It was mind boggling in a way to the bat and he had to wonder why they kept doing it. He never saw bats ganging up and killing each other or seeing wolfs kill each other simply because they didn't like each other.
That was soon interrupted however when some sort of light appeared and a human shined out from it. Bass let out a bit of sound and frowned when he saw that the being wasn't solid, but some sort of image instead. He blinked as this woman seemed to scare the others and he became a bit more interested. He made his way up as his ears flicked. "Hello there." He said as he tilted his head as Vance and Avril seemed to become panicked for some reason. "Why are you two scared?" He asked as he looked at them and back at the woman, "She doesn't seem bad. She hasn't threatened us yet or anything." He said cheerfully. "Unless… she does want to kill us." He turned back to face the image, "I don't get why you humans kill for so much as getting a weird look, but we've been through a lot. I really don't feel like fighting or killing anyone." He frowned, "There has already been too much death, and what will more accomplish?" He asked.
"Oh~!" Ojey exclaimed, crossing his arms and pouting. "You can't do that, that's cheating! I demand you to take it off and make this a fair fight!"
"Eh? Oka-guilty?" Elric gritted his sharp teeth. His expression was one of anger and contempt rather than his grin he wore earlier. He brought his fingernail claws up to his face and twirled them, showing them off to his opponent. "You Marines are always Oka-playin' judge, mustache-man. I'm tellin' you now...no one oka-judges me!"
Elric burst forward, charging at Markus with his full might. His fingernail-claws were raised and extended even more, becoming the size of small daggers. He extended his arms out to his sides and brought them together at the same time. "Oka-dice!"
Markus held his arms outward, and said "Well you're right about Marines, I'll give you that. but you got one thing wrong..." As Elric swung his arms, Markus jumped up, and planted his foot square into the Okama's face. He then kicked off into the air towards Ojey. "I'm not a Marine any more!" Markus quickly holstered his pistol, and took hold oh his rifle by the stock and handle, spinning through the air.
"HAMMER OF JUDGEMENT!" As he swung the rifle like a hammer at Ojey, he pulled the trigger, releasing the bullet at him with incredible velocity and force! So much so that it burned like a meteor through the night sky.
Ojey's eyes opened wide, seeing the rifle and burning bullet soaring through the air at him. He placed all of his energy in the roll to get out of the
way, with the bullet ending up grazing his hip. Instantly, he began complaining o
f the immense pain of the bullet, including the surprising burning sensation it was providing. As he rolled around on the ground complaining about the hit, Elric had already recovered from the hit to his face from Markus's boot, and was angrily sneaking up behind the ex-Marine while he was focused on Ojey.
Just as he was about to rip open his back, however, Elric was suddenly hit on the side of his body, the blow containing a surprisingly immense amount of force to the large Okama captain. He was sent back and flung toward nearby trees, breaking them apart. There now stood Kuzo in his bulked up Tank Mode.
"Hey there," Kuzo greeted Markus. "Doing alright?"
"WHAT WERE YOU THINKING THROWING ME LIKE THAT!?!" Markus was livid at the sight of his would be captain. "THESE WOMEN ARE INTENT ON KILLING ME BECAUSE OF YOU!"
Markus looked back at Ojey. "Damn, I thought that would finish him for sure. I spent so much time working on it." Turning back to Kuzo swinging his pistol around, he said, "Do you know how hard it is for me to come up with analogous names? Hammer of Justice finally hit me, but it couldn't hit him!" Markus sighed before firing his pistol at the downed Ojey. "Oh, by the way, you should plug your nose."
Kuzo chuckled somewhat nervously as he scratched the back of his head and listened to Markus. "Sorry about that," he mumbled, as he observed the two Okama pirates. "Hmm, my nose?" he questioned Markus with a confused expression. "Why would I want to plug my-"
Kuzo didn't get a chance to finish his sentence, as a moment later, his nostrils were filled with the stench of Ojey's ability. "What the heck is that?!"
From the side, Ojey could be seen laughing, still grasping his shoulder from the shot he took earlier. He positioned his arms again forward, bringing his hands inti position to release his ray again. "One of you is cheating, but not the both of you!~" Ojey inhaled and announced again. "Smeru smeru beam", targeting Kuzo in his green ring of his ability. Not knowing what the ability exactly did, Kuzo didn't take a chance. He reverted to Lightning Mode, then quickly dashed to the side to avoid the hit. However, only seconds later, his nostrils were filled with the terrible stech he smelled before.
As he struggled with it, Elric recovered from the hit and dashed for Kuzo and Markus. "Thats two times you oka-bastards crashed into me!" He exclaimed furiously Ojey continued firing his beam toward Kuzo, but as Markus fired off a shot toward the okama pirate, causing him to attempt a dodge, he manged to spot Elric in time two avoid a direct hit from him. Kuzo lifted up his hand, Elric's fingernails slashing through his hand, to which he grunted in pain, and Elric grinned. He then quickly maneuvered toward Markus, while Kuzo backed off in his Lightning mode, trying to swipe his fingernails across the ex-Marines face.
The strange woman was fast, and even with Markus' nostrils filled with the smell of gunpowder, it was still very hard to dodge. Markus lifted his rifle, rather than running, and attempted to parry the blow with his bayonet. "You alright, sir?" Markus yelled back at Kuzo. "If you can deal with her I can take down the smelly one. I've got protection."
After a momentary pause of fighting resulting from Markus successfully dodging and parrying the attack, Kuzo examined the two opponents before them. Markus had a point. Elric was ferociously gifted physically, but against Ojey and his strange smell ray devil fruit ability, Kuzo felt he would probably be better suited to fight the Captain. He gazed at Markus’s protection, which he noticed now upon his upper lip, a mustache that he hadn’t had before. He raised an eyebrow in confusion, nodded in agreement soon after.
“Alright,” He declared, facing off with the man(?) in the maid uniform while Markus went off to fight against Ojey. Kuzo and Elric stared each other down, or at least that was what Kuzo believed was happening, as he couldn’t quite see his opponents eyes through the mask he was wearing. Elric grinned, his sharp teeth once against coming into view.
“Eh? You think you can take me on one-on-one? You’re oka-crazy, man,” Elric chuckled, bringing his sharp fingernails to his face. The sun began to reflect their sharpness. “No one beats me like that. No one!”
Kuzo shrugged. “Honestly, I’m not really sure who you are.” He said plainly.
“Eh?! Oka-bastard! I’m the Okama Hero, Captain of all Okamas far and wide! I will make the world an Okama world, even if I have to force everyone to join it! You’re either an Okama, or your oka-done for. You decide.”
Kuzo silently observed Elric, not speaking for a moment. Elric, gritted his teeth and tapped his fingernails together, expecting some sort of a well thought of retort from his opponent. Kuzo continued to look intently at the man, the only noise in the area coming from the nearby fighting between Ojey and Markus. Eventually, after was seemed like a prolonged drought of speaking, Kuzo finally opened his mouth. “Hmm, no thanks.”
“Eh?! What the hell was that long pause for, you oka-bastard? Wasting my time? You think that’ll oka-save you from me?!”
“Actually, I was just wondering why you were wearing a dress,” Kuzo responded lightly. This sent Elric over the edge, and he instantly charged forward toward the man in the blue bandanna in rage. “Oka-Slice!” Elric announced, bringing his claw-fingernails down toward him. Kuzo, who was still in his Lightning Mode, managed to spring into action and avoid the attack quick enough. Instead of slicing through him, Elric cut through the bark of a nearby tree, his fingernails going deep into the thick wood. Kuzo took note of this, and also the Okama’s surprising speed to go along with his impressive strength.
Elric was relentless however, quickly moving on from his missed attack and striking toward Kuzo with another slice of his fingernails. Kuzo quickly began dodging his attacks as they came at him. He noticed with each one coming at him, the attacks began to get closer and closer, with one fingernail reaching his skin and partially cutting him across the forearm. Elric changed his attack pattern as he swiped and swung at Kuzo, and instead elected to try and stab the man with his fingernails. “Oka-impale!” He hollered, bringing his arm back and preparing to strike straight through Kuzo. Realizing he would mostly like not be able to dodge at this distance, Kuzo quickly altered his body, moving instead into Tank Mode, and bringing his large arms up to defend against the impaling strike. His bulky, dense arms effectively stopped the attack in its tracks, and Elric was successful in drawing blood at his arms. Even with all the bone density, Elric still managed to dent him, which was surprising to Kuzo.
“Eh? How did you do that? You’re oka-large now!” Elric took a step back, examining altered body of Kuzo. Kuzo, who didn’t waste the time to explain, instead decided to try and fight back. He brought one of his massive arms back, while the other one had used to hold onto the Okama’s arm. He thrust the fist forward, trying to collide head on into the Okama captain. “Cannon Arm!” He shouted, as his fist collided into the unsuspecting and surprised Elric. He took the blow directly to the fast, caused his mouth to momentarily convulse and deform, before he was thrust back into the trees. He fell through the first set of trees, and then was propelled even further into the next set behind them, and then behind those. Each row was knocked down with relative ease, until eventually the man was stopped in a larger hole.
However, he wasn’t done. Elric began rising slowly, spitting out blood from his mouth and examining the route and power that he fell at. “W-what the oka-hell?!” He spat, breathing deeply. Blood was present across his face as he angrily limped his way back over to the battlefield in front of Kuzo. “Who the oka-hell are you?!” He demanded.
Still in his Tank Mode, Kuzo moved his arms forward in preparation for any more attacks from Elric. “Kuzo’s the name. Tristan D. Kuzo.”
“Kuzo? That name supposed to oka-mean somethin’ to me? Never heard it!” Elric yelled, still enraged. He arrived back relatively nearby Kuzo. “I dunno what you’re doin’, but you can change your body, so I’ll watch out for that now!” Elric charged in again. Kuzo prepared his fist in the same way and struck again with the same sort of blow. However, as he didn’t hold on to Elric this time, Elric with his superior speed was able to evade the attack, with the ‘cannon arm’ furiously hitting into air. Elric positioned himself instead around Kuzo, and sliced him with his claw-fingernails. Kuzo grunted, turning his body as quickly as he could to attack again, but Elric already moved out of the way and struck him at another point on his body. Again, this was repeated several times, with Elric landing some hard strikes across Kuzo’s form, until eventually he landed a fairly powerful slice across his chest, causing him to back up and collapse. He began breathing heavily, while Elric towered over him with his sharp-toothed grin.
“I oka-got your thing now. You’re fast when you’re small, but you can’t fight. You’re oka-strong when you’re big, but you oka-can’t catch me! I’m too fast for you! You got that first punch on me before, but that was oka-lucky! Now, you’re oka-done!”
Kuzo continued to breath heavily. In his mind, he realized that the man was right. While in Lightning Mode, he couldn't throw any punches that would be damaging to the guy. While in Tank Mode, Elric was fast enough to dodge most of his hits. Suddenly, an idea began to form in his head. “Well, I haven’t really gotten a chance to try it but…”
Kuzo began to stand up, still panting pretty heavily. He positioned his arms out to his side, and clenched his fists. Elric looked on in confusion and wonder. “Eh, what are you trying now, back to being oka-skinny? Let’s see how that’ll oka-work out for you!”
“No, not exactly Lightning, not exactly Tank…” Kuzo spoke, trying to concentrate on his body. “I think this one is more of a Cross.” His left arm suddenly expanded, while the rest of his body remained relatively normal. It expanded to the size of his usual Tank Mode, and stayed for a moment at that size. Elric’s facial expression could be seen visibly turning anxious. He knew would most likely not be able to take another hit like the one he had landed before on him. However, just when it looked like Kuzo had gotten the hang of having the one arm large while the rest of his body was normal size, his left arm suddenly decreased in size dramatically back to normal. The density of his bones suddenly shifted from his arm to his head, expanding it to a size almost twice as large as it was before. The rest of his body suddenly retracted to Lightning Mode. This suddenly change in weight from his upper body couldn't be supported by his lower body, and Kuzo found himself unable to keep his head up, and it suddenly collided to the ground.
“Crap,” Kuzo muttered under his breath at the unfortunate change in events. He had never gotten a handle at using this mixed form yet, unable to balance the necessary amount of the Lightning Mode and the Tank Mode successfully. Desperately, he tried to lift up his head from the ground, but the his skinny body which still inhabited the Lightning Mode didn’t allow for it. Elric meanwhile was bursting in laughter, his previous expression of distress completely replaced with jubilance. He rose his fingernails again and tried to bring them down upon Kuzo’s body. “Oka-duo slice!” He shouted. Desperate to try and escape the mess, Kuzo quickly retracted back into his full Lightning Mode, and jumped away, with only one of the Okama’s claw-fingernails colliding onto Kuzo’s right arm. Due to the bones being hollow and thin, it caused a deep gash to appear, with blood flowing freely.
“Looks like you can’t do you oka-change like that, huh? Too oka-bad, man!” Elric ran forward for the strike again. Kuzo again tried to tamper with this new mode of his. He once again focused on his arm to grow larger, but once more it backfired, with his shoulder suddenly increasing in size, as well as his chest. Elric pounded on him, slashing away while Kuzo desperately tried to move again. He landed another deep cut across his leg, followed by one more across his chest. Once more, Kuzo tried to alter his form, unsuccessfully increasing the side of his neck, and then his thighs, which didn’t help in him trying to dodge. Elric collided with Kuzo with a tackle this time, sending the lanky pirate toward the ground. He could feel the impact resonate in the places where his Lightning Mode was active. He was sore, and may have even suffered a few fractured bones by now. Elric paced confidently toward his downed opponent, ready to finish the fight off. He charged forward, prepared to impale him with his fingernails. “Say bye now, oka-bastard!” Elric yelled.
As he approached, Kuzo made on final attempt at the new form. He extended his arm, and focused to try and get the Tank Mode to only activate on that arm. Elric closed in, only a few paces away. He shut his eyes, hoping that would help with the concentration. Elric was almost at him now. He felt his body transform once more while his eyes were close, but to his disappointment, his left arm hadn’t increased in size as he had hoped. However, feeling the increased weight coming from his left side, he looked over to see that his other arm actually had. “Works for me!” Kuzo declared, bringing his right arm back, and bursting forward with the speed of Lightning Mode toward Elric. He never saw the hit coming, as Kuzo brought his arm forward, combining the speed of the two attacks into the culmination of the semi-new form, the Cross Mode, though only on his arm. It did the trick, as he rammed his enlarged fist right directly at the Okama captain. “Cross Cannon Arm!” He yelled, punching Elric directly on the front of his body. He took the hit directly, his body contorting again like before, with several of his teeth falling off then and there upon impact, before he was flung through the air and far off of the Royal Peak Mountain.
Kuzo watched the path of the Okama Captain as he flew through the air, yelling something unintelligible. He sighed deeply, letting his body collapse and transform out of his forms and into his normal mode. He felt onto his behind, crossing his legs and exhaling, and then smiling.
Ojey glared furiously at Markus. He didn’t like how he was fighting him, as he viewed it as a way of cheating, and decided he had to try to get rid of the advantage he had. He noticed he was a ranged fighter, so Ojey decided to try to shorten the distance between them. He dug through his pockets, picking out two items from there. From one pocket, he took out a handkerchief, which he intended to use to wipe away Markus’s newly placed mustache. With the other, he took out a baton-looking stick, which was activated with the press of a button and which created a shock around the stick. He quickly ran forward, trying to shock the ex-Marine, while also trying to wipe away the dirt from his upper lip.
Markus saw him coming and carefully dodged each attach gracefully, as Ojey tried to wipe away the gun powder and trying to shock him. "Two attacks at once leaves you easy to read. Have you ever fought for real before?"
"You need to play fair!" The Okama screamed, quite frustrated.
"Far as I can tell, using my brain is perfectly fair. You're the one trying to cloud my judgement with odors." Markus kicked at Ojey's wrist, disarming him of the stick. "That was an extremely basic disarm, how did you even let me do that?"
"You know you're not that special once you take away the stench." Swinging both his pistol and rifle towards the loon charging him, Markus fired off one round, yelling, "Twins' Punishment!" Just as fast, his rifle's bayonette sliced into the hot bullet, splitting it in two as it flew at the on coming Ojey. "Without that smell you're predictable and weak. A woman should never be remembered for her stench."
The split bullet struck Ojey, piercing both his chest and stomach at once. He stopped in place. Just as it seemed like he was about to say something, blood exploded from his mouth and he fell over, a lifeless body.
With the conflict at a close, Markus turned to witness the remainder of Kuzo's fight. It was truly impressive to witness the two captains' fight. He found himself content with his decision to try and join this crew, and any doubt he had left was dispelled.
"Let's get moving," he yelled at Kuzo, heading further up the mountain after the fight was ended. They proceeded to make their way to the peak to meet the others.
Wright D. Morgan vs Koan Marismo
"Stand back y'all," Morgan had shouted to everyone on the summit, as Koan looked over to the group that had gathered there. The tension in the air had shifted greatly. What was once anxiety over having to do with Akahige and his crew had turned into something...something Morgan couldn't describe. The Marines were animals that many pirates looked at as a joke. You can easily avoid Marines if you were crafty enough. And fighting Marines had evolved into a pastime of Morgan's, especially after he eaten his Devil Fruit. But never. Never had he fought a Vice Admiral. Commodore Kiba was the highest ranking Marine he had ever fought and the record was clearly in Morgan's favor. Well, except that one little fight where he cheated and used a Sea Stone Bullet. No need to get caught up in details though. Morgan knew enough of the seas to recognize her though. He swallowed down any fear he had, as his eyes narrowed. He hated the Marines far more than he hated fear.
"I know ya, 'White Knight.' You are Akasame's lapdog, right?" Morgan said, as he walked over to Koan. He spat at the ground and grinned at her. "A lot prettier than I imagined. I guess not all y'all Marines are hideous."
Koan silently turned, her cold, unsympathetic eyes glancing in Morgan's direction. "And you're the Burning King. Kiba's told me about you. He said you were unpredictable at times, but I didn't quite imagine that you were stupid as well," She remarked, her eyes briefly glancing around at the other pirates as well. Her eyes connected longer with Skellen and she made a mental note.
"I suppose this is your new crew, and the ones who've stolen the Grand Justice from Loguetown," She murmured, mostly saying it as a note to herself. She then spoke louder, addressing the entire group of them. "Hear me now!" She announced with confidence and vigor. "For crimes of larceny, assault, prison escape, assisting in a prison break, and piracy, I hereby place you all under arrest. Lay down your weapons now and face absolute justice, and I won't harm you. Resist...and there will be consequences."
"Excuse me m'am, but I don't have any weapons. Well," Morgan smirked, raising his hands up. "Other than this one!" Two large fireballs flourished in his hands and he launched the two shots with pinpoint accuracy. As soon as the fireball was near Koan, the fireballs exploded, leaving the area in ruins with out a dustcloud as a memory. "Allow me to correct ya on a couple of lil' things! One, I prefer reckless not stupid. Believe or not, there is a fine difference. And two, it ain't resistance if yer dead." Morgan snickered and turned the majority of his body into pure flame. "Here's my offer: Ya can go back runnin' to your boss and tell him that his absolute justice ain't nothing but a dream. This is the Golden Age of Piracy for a reason. Or ya can die. Your choice."
The fireballs melted nearby snow and destroyed any rocks or trees with ease. However, as they approached Koan, she suddenly morphed her body into the yellow light of her Devil Fruit ability. She disintegrated into tiny, separate particles of light, before reappearing off to the side of the targeted area. The smoke covered this area of the top as well, causing it to appear as if she hadn't really moved at all.
"This isn't his absolute justice," Koan began to say to Morgan as the dust settled. "Nor is it mine." Koan lifted a hand and pointed it at the Burning King.
"This is the world's absolute justice. Divine Bolt," She announced, as a ray of yellow light was suddenly produced from ther hand. The light began to warp and meld until it appeared as a small orb of light. Then, in a sudden and powerful burst of speed, the light directed itself at Morgan's chest. Having focused on the light for a while, Morgan saw the attack coming and having gathered his own burst of fire and launched himself into the sky, narrowly avoiding the attack as the burst of energy flew by faster than anything he ever saw.
The attack was fast. I don't know if I can dodge another. I need to end this quick. In his vantage point in the sky, he fired another shot of flame, placing him on a crash course with Koan. He gathered a host of energy in his right fist, as a flaming bird trailed behind. He expelled so much flame as a boost that the bird consumed all of Morgan's being. "Phoenix Fist!" He roared, echoing the blitz he unleashed earlier. The impact of the punch was titanic, practically leveling the summit in his wake as an explosion tore apart the rocks and rubble in the immediate area.
As the dust was clearing, Morgan attempted to breath what air was not polluted by the ruins of his signature attack. "That ought to do-" Morgan felt strange uttering those words as he regained composure as a presence caused him to feel uneasy. Koan remained stoic, mere inches in front of him as the dust finally settled. She was unscathed and unimpressed. A small flicker of light gathered at her side. By the time Morgan realized what was happening, it was too light. He felt his body twist in agony as a kick slammed into his side with unbelievable speed. As he was catapulted out of the hole he created, his body tore through the remnants of the ground before shattering one of the few trees still standing into hundreds of pieces. When Morgan stopped rolling around like a ragdoll, he managed to twitch himself to a sitting position. He gasped for air but instead spewed blood all over the ground and his body. "H-h-how did you h-h-hit me..?" He said, vomiting more of his insides.
The bright light of her logia ability transported Koan a few paces in front of Morgan. She stared coldly at her opponent, as her body became normal again. "I despise your type of pirate, Burning King," She began as she strode toward the downed fire man. "You think because you've eaten a cursed fruit that you're invincible. But you're not. I know the true immortals of the world," She stopped when she was only a few feet away from where Morgan lay. "You're just a wild dog that needs to be put down."
"And I despise you dogs of the World Government. That makes two OF US!" Morgan roared as he changed his arm into a flamethrower, spewing a torrent of flames in Koan's direction consuming her body in fire.
Koan quickly de-materialized into small light particles, bursting out of the way of the flames and reappearing in small portions to the left of the attack. However, she never fully materialized, instead shooting down like a ray of light right at Morgan, spearing at him aimed right for his chest with her foot, which shone brightly of the light of her ability, while the rest of her body once again was normal. She knocked him down again with the kick, then positioned herself right above him. She stood over his body, her leg still shining with her ability as she moved it right over his chest. "Now, it's just one, Wright D. Morgan. Prepare to face absolute justice." She remarked, as she prepared to bring her foot down upon the Burning King.
A sudden burst of snow occurred nearby as something appeared to impact the area just beside Koan and Morgan. Koan stopped her finishing attack on Morgan and turned her indifferent eyes toward the sight of the impact. From the impact, the last two members of the crew had arrived: Graves Markus and Tristan D. Kuzo. Kuzo was in his Tank Mode, having bulked up to tried and power the two of them to the top and the last leg of their journey. He transformed out of this mode back into his normal mode, and took a look at the plateau on top, or what was left of it after Morgan's destruction. He placed his hands on his hips and looked around, seeing most of his crew standing around next to a large open chest.
"Oh, hey guys. Got the treasure I see," He commented with a smile. "Nice work!" He turned around, gazing at the rest of the mountain top, where he saw Morgan on the ground, heavily bloodied. "Hey Morgan, having a bit of trouble the-" Kuzo suddenly stopped speaking mid-sentence, as his eyes trailed to the woman above him. He looked into her eyes surprisingly, and she looked back at him. However for the first time since her appearance at the top of the mountain, she too had a surprised look on her face. The two stared at each other for a moment in bewilderment, before Kuzo finally broke the silence.
"Koan? Is that you?" He asked the Vice Admiral in front of him. Koan reacted instantly to his voice and the usage of her name, pacing forward toward Kuzo. Kuzo continued to look upon her with a surprised look, though a smile also made its way to his face. "What are you doing here?" He asked her. Koan was now directly in front of him, appearing to pace casually toward the man, until suddenly, she took out her fist, and slammed it right into his face. Kuzo instantly fell to the ground.
"WHAT AM I DOING HERE? WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE?!" She fumed, as she continued to hit Kuzo with punches and kicks to various parts of his body, all of which were done without using her Devil Fruit abilities. She continued to express a volatile and impatient rage that didn't suit the stoic, cold Vice Admiral Morgan fought moments before. It was almost as if she had made a complete personality alteration.
"Ow! Ow! Ow! Koan, stop it! What did I do?!" Kuzo cried, trying to cover his face and body from her punches and kicks with his hands.
"I knew it! I. JUST. KNEW. IT!" She screamed, punching Kuzo some more along his body with each new word she uttered. "Leave him alone, Koan! He'll make his own way Koan! He'll do the right thing, he won't become a pirate, and HERE YOU ARE!" She punched him again, this time a bit harder as he fell from his spot on the ground and tumbled a bit further to the right, stopping at one of the few trees still partially standing.
"Kuzo? You know this bi-" Morgan said, vomiting up more blood, as he rose from his vulnerable position, in between Koan and Kuzo.
Kuzo shakily stood up, his face heavily swollen because of the numerous hits Koan landed upon it. "Huh? How do you know Koan, Morgan? And why are you all bloodied up?" He asked him.
"And just how do you know the Burning King?!" Koan demanded from Kuzo, tapping her leg furiously.
"Well, I'm his captain!" Kuzo said, puffing out his chest proudly. "I broke him out of prison in Loguetown and we all stole the Marine ship together!"
"And he is doing so w-" Morgan tried to be sarcastic as more blood spewed from his mouth.
A dark, creepy atmosphere suddenly began settling in behind Koan as she slowly began raising her fist again. "You don't mean to tell me..." She began to say, as with each passing second her appearance began to get more and more frightening. Kuzo's smile slowly began to fade from his face and sweat began going down the back of his neck. "..that you were the one behind the theft of the Grand Justice do you? And that these are all apart of your pirate crew?"
"Uh....um...yeah." Kuzo replied nervously. Koan instantly went on a tirade, pouncing on Kuzo and beating him once again to the ground with a flurry of punches and hits, with each one producing a cry of pain from Kuzo's mouth. This went on for approximately a minute longer, until Koan tiredly backed away from Kuzo, allowing him to rise to his feet. She took a few more steps back, then sighed.
"You...you were supposed to be different," She began to say, her eyes trailing down to her feet. "You weren't suppose to become a pirate. I failed with the others, I wasn't supposed to fail with you..."
Kuzo looked at her silently. After all the time that had passed, it didn't look like she changed at all to him. Koan was also the one who believed in the freedom of the seas, the true believer in justice for all. She thought she could get that with the Marines, and she constantly made him and the others edge toward that same path. But it was never his to walk. Still, he couldn't help but feel bad for her now. He knew she felt it had always been her duty to steer him the right way, being older than him and basically looking out for him when he was younger.
Kuzo's thoughts suddenly turned when he remembered that she had just mentioned the 'others', which he took to mean the other two members of their group of childhood friends. "Others? You mean Bart and Vyne? Have you seen them recently? How are they doing?" Kuzo asked curiously, wondering how his other friends were.
Koan looked up from the floor and gazed at Kuzo. She raised an eyebrow and spoke. "...you mean you haven't heard anything?"
"I've been sorta out of the loop on recent things." He replied. "I could see you've join the Marines, and rose up some. Looks like you're fulfilling your dreams. I'm guessing they are too?"
Koan gave a small smirk for a moment, but quickly let it disappear and shook her head. "You really don't know about them, huh..." Before she could say anything else, the sounds of the Marines firing upon all of the ships at the harbor, and the sounds of intense fighting happening all across Duke Island began to be more and more apparent. All across the mountainside, the gathered at the summit could see the Marines making their way through the pirates, defeating, capturing or killing any they find. Koan quickly looked from the fighting that was nearing to Kuzo and the rest in front of him.
"Damn it," She muttered under her breath, once more looking between the intense fighting and Kuzo. "Damn it, Kuzo! Alright, just go. Go now and get off Duke Island. This will be your first and last warning from me! I would advise you to take this chance to rethink your path, but I already know you won't. Just...go!"
Not needing to be told again, as he quickly began to see that this island was crawling with Marines, Kuzo nodded and looked over to the rest of his crew. "Well, looks like we'd better get off this island. To the ship!" He yelled, as he began to make his way off the summit. He walked over to Morgan to try and help him onto his feet.
"Tank Mode!" Kuzo announced, bulking up to the point where he was able to lift up Morgan off his his feet and slinging him over his shoulder. He took one look back at Koan, who merely stood in place, watching them as they made their descent.
Tristan D. Kuzo - Duke Island, Heading down the Royal Peak - On the way to another adventure!
The path down the Royal Peak was much easier than the path up. However, the did meet with occasional resistance, this time from Marines who were sweeping the island of pirates under Koan's orders. Kuzo realized that the two of them were on opposing sides here, but he couldn't help but be amazed at just how far she had come since he last time he saw her. In a few years time, she had shot up the ranks to a Vice Admiral! He was amazed...but he wasn't surprised. She always had that ambition driving her to that goal. He was happy to see her going on her path.
Seeing her in such a position made him wonder about the other members of his orphan family...Vyne and Bart. The two of them were just as ambitious as Koan, in their own ways. Bart was strong-headed and forward about it. Vyne was more subtle, but never hid what he wanted, and never seemed to deviate from his path. He was sure that the two of them were somewhere in the Grand Line as well, and he had the feeling that they might have accomplished some amazing things as well. This only seemed to drive the inner fire in Kuzo even more. He had to show them he too belonged in their company. He would go forward to his own dreams and goals...
"Mmm?" Kuzo turned his head to Avril, while also dodged a pair of Marines as they tried to slice him up, as well as the wounded Morgan over his shoulders. The practically ran them over with his bulkier form as he continued down the mountainside. All around, Marine violence was increasing the closer they got to Regal Town and the harbor. "Yeah, I know her!" Kuzo replied with a grin. He looked forward to the harbor and smiled. "She's my friend...my sister basically. We grew up together." He suddenly turned back to Avril again as he realized a part of what she said. "But you sound like you know her too. How do you know Koan?" he asked.
Down in the harbor, pirate ships were being destroyed by cannon fire left and right. Many pirates along the shores cried out as their tickets off the island were gone forever. With nothing left to do, many fought to stay free, while others simply gave up so they wouldn't die. Kuzo caught sight of a handful of ships, maybe 20 or 30 (although it was probably around 5-10, Kuzo still can't distinguish) that managed to make it passed the Marines and off the island for good, the Sky Pirates and Akahige Pirates being among them. He was thrilled (and surprised) that the Sky Pirates managed to fix their ship. He wondered if they would cross paths once again along their adventures.
Looking directly forward, he caught sight of the Dream Chaser, relatively untouched. He figured having it appear as a Marine vessel likely threw the Marines off for a bit, enough for the crew to have a chance to escape. "Alright guys!" Kuzo began, tossing Morgan to the deck of the ship and jumping forward onto it as well. "Off we go! Anchor up! Vance, take hold of her! On to the next adventure!" He cried. "Oh, and try not to get hit by any cannonballs!"
Bass looked on as everything just seemed to… well, it just started getting hectic. Suffice to say everyone was now rushing away from this woman and they didn't seem to care that she was almost disappointed. Bass tilted his head and watched as the others were quick to head off. He turned to the woman and offered a weak smile, "I'm sorry for… uh, doing all that stuff you said we did. Kuzo is good, I really like him and you seem to be good friends with him. Just because you two have different ideas doesn't mean you can't stop being friends." He said as he nodded his head, "I'm not entirely sure why everyone is scared of you, but you're good too."
He flapped his wings just a bit, "Um… I'm sorry if Kuzo made you sad, but he's really good. I have to go now, but you really believe in what you do. I hope you do good." He gave another weak nod as he began to scramble on down, giving the woman another friendly wave as he got low enough to actually be able to flap his wings and sustain flight. He looked down below and followed the others as they moved along the ground.
The Skull Pirates- Leaving Duke Island
Avril remained silent, choosing not to answer Kuzo's question just yet as she and the rest of the group made their way down the mountain. It was not long before Avril had found herself on the pirate crew's ship, Kuzo ordering Vance to quickly take the wheel and get them out off the island before things got even worse than they already were. While Avril herself still had no intention of joining the crew, hitching an actual free ride on their ship and at least accompanying them until their next destination was much better than staying behind at the chaos that was known as Duke Island.
"The whole problem is what do I do now?" Avril thought with a sigh. "The whole reason I was at that island in the first place was to get some of that treasure... Now I just came up empty-handed and I ain't got the slightest idea where in the world I'm goin' now..."
Meanwhile, after Vance had leapt up and attached himself to the side of his ship using the ropes he extended from his sleeves, he made a break for the helm on the upper deck while shouting out "You don't have to tell me twice!" back at Kuzo. After another swift jump and a skid along the deck, he grabbed a hold of the helm and began turning it frantically, the ship turning (Way too slowly in his opinion) to slowly point towards the harbor, away from the town that was gradually becoming rubble.
A couple of cannonballs began making their way toward the ship, Kuzo quickly bulked up into his tank mode, making his way to one as it approach and catching it in his enlarged hand before it detonated. There was a slight stinging pain from the impact, but Kuzo tried to ignore it. He aimed the cannonball, averting it away from the ship and toward the second one heading for the mast. The two collided and exploded just before reaching the ship. "Someone better get on those sails or we'll be hit by the cannonballs!" Kuzo cried from the front of the ship, as he waited to redirect more cannon fire.
Morgan was rolling on the deck, still in a surprising amount of pain from Koan's fierce attack. He had no idea how she hit him or anything, but he did know that every part of his body was in intense pain. He managed to pick himself off the ground and slower than snail on a hot day, he made his way to the sails. Hoisting and trimming these things is gonna hurt..., he thought to himself. Grabbing a bunch of ropes and doing his best to run and jump around the deck, Morgan yanked the ropes jus right to get the sails to catch a bunch of wind, and did what he could to position in them in adequate position to give Vance the lift he needed to make their escape. However, the action was terribly painful as Morgan's body had yet to recover and he collapsed on the side, smiling at his accomplishment before wincing in agony, clutching at his side.
Avril frowned, making her way over towards Morgan with a sigh. "Don't ya think you're pushin' it just a bit, Pepper-kun? I'm sure someone else could've gotten the sails for ya..."
"Heh," he said, trying to crack a smile but he ended coughing. "Most of these guys barely know the starboard from the port. I highly, ow, doubt they know how to hoist sails properly."
"And ya guys are supposed to be pirates...?" Avril questioned with a sigh. She rubbed the back of her head. "Most usually have at least some form of sailin' history, don't they?"
"Could of sworn, I, ow, mentioned that all these fine gents are rookies before. Didn't I?" Morgan asked. He picked himself up and slid his feet gingerly and slowly over in Vance's direction. "It doesn't matter in the long run, really. I'm stuck cleanin' up after all their messes for now. Who knows? Maybe I'll have some fun while I do it," he shrugged his shoulders but then gasped in pain as he did.
"If ya live long enough..." Avril replied. "I don't expect ya to do much cleanin' if ya keep goin' around and pickin' fights with Vice Admirals like Koan, Pepper-kun..."
Morgan rolled his eyes. "She got in a lucky shot. I'll make sure to return the favor next time, alright? Hey Vance, how we lookin'?" Morgan shouted over to their helmsman, who would hopefully navigate their escape successfully.
"We-" Vance managed to call back just as another cannonball flew over his head just past the ship and landed in the water behind the ship, causing Vance to yelp out, throwing the wheel to the right to try and dodge another shot from one of the marine ships on their left. "We'll be lucky if we're going to make it out of here alive! Good news is that the log pose is pointing to a new island, so if we can just keep away from getting too injured, we should be fine!"
He grit his teeth as another barrage of cannon fire hit the water just besides the ship, leaving Vance to turn the ship once more, the deck swaying back and forth as he kept a good distance away from the nearby ships. Thankfully, the ship was built for speed, and Vance seemed to be a natural at steering such an uncharacteristically maneuverable ship, which was lucky considering that otherwise, they might've been nothing but a bunch of splintered planks floating in the water by now.
Soon, the cannon fire was behind them, and it only took them about half an hour to completely lose the remaining ships aiming to bring them down. Vance nervously kept looking over his shoulder and to the sides, scanning the horizon for anymore Marine ships. "Is... i-is the coast clear?"
"Probably," Skellen piped up from where he leaned against the railing of the ship. "This ship is supposed to be unusually fast and maneuverable so I don't see them catching us easily. The marines are going to be looking for us now even more than they had been before though, so we should be wary and keep an eye out for them. It would be really good if we could repaint the ship and get a new flag, we still look like the missing marine ship. Besides, it's much easier to sneak attack people who don't know who we are."
Skellen surveyed his battered and bruised crewmates.
"Ignoring the fact that Avril and a marine are on board... who do you want me to patch up first before I go and restock my poisons? Firestarter over there looks the worst off."
Morgan lumbered around and looked at Skellen: "I wouldn't mind some help, doc."
“Which reminds me,” Kuzo interjected, jumping down from his position in the front of the ship to the center now that the threat of the Marines seemed momentarily gone. “In case anyone hasn’t met them yet, everyone, welcome Avril Meads and Markus Graves! Avril’s gonna be our new mechanic and weapons specialist. Markus is our sniper. He’s really good! Helped me take out a few Okama pirates earlier.” He piped happily, pointing to each one of them as he described them.
Kuzo took a look at some of the crew reactions to the two newcomers. He watched as some began to settle in, and Skellen began tending to Morgan’s injuries. Doubtless some would have mixed emotions about a Marine joining their ranks, but he knew they would eventually get used to it. At least, that’s how he made out the situation in his own mind. Kuzo crossed his arms as he thought out loud. “So there really was no treasure at the top of the island, huh? Or maybe there was, but it was moved. Maybe the same person with the note? Hmm…” Kuzo put a hand to his chin and thought, but quickly decided to dismiss it for the moment. “But it was nice seeing Koan again. Looks like she’s doing well. She’s gotten really strong…” Kuzo turned to Markus. “Have you ever met her before while you were in the Marines?” As he said this sentence, a sudden remembrance of what Avril said to him earlier popped in his head.
“Actually, you seemed to know her as well, right Avril? Is she well known, or did you know her personally?”
"This one is persistent... I thought I told him I wasn't joinin' a crew, and here he is already tellin' 'em I'm in it and givin' me a position too?" Avril thought, gazing over in Kuzo's direction.
Markus had not expected to just be accepted by Kuzo into the crew, especially with his history. "I know of her, but I've never had the pleasure of meeting her in person." After a moment he realized that something was odd. "My superiors- I mean ex-superiors, gave us no indication that other Marines would be there. I wonder why Wilhelm would leave out such an important detail of our mission."
The woman snapped out of her thoughts when Kuzo once again asked her how she knew Koan. Realizing that there was honestly little that could be done about her situation at present, Avril resigned to giving the captain the information he wanted. At the very least if it was only to one island, it would be a nice break to not have to hide away the entire time on a ship.
"I don't personally know her, no," Avril answered, shaking her head in the process. "But I've heard 'bout all she's done and her reputation. I guess ya could say that Dead-eye ain't your only ex-Marine on board... I kinda had my own run with them as well. But the whole... uniformed identity thing wasn't really up to the snuff they wanted ya to believe it was. So I kinda bailed on the whole Marine thing after a year or so... 'Course, I kinda did help myself to a souvenier of sorts when I left... which in turn gave me a bounty despite not bein' a pirate. But in my defense, how was I supposed to know that stealin', modifyin'... and sometimes sellin' weapon plans and other blueprints was a crime?"
"Fantastic," Skellen commented audibly as he finished disinfecting and wrapping the large burned chunk of flesh on Morgan's arm and started moving on to examining his other injuries "We have two marines on the ship. You realise that these two were both voluntarily a part of the most destructive, corrupt and ruthless organisation on the face of the Earth, right? The marines have done nothing but caused needless suffering to millions of innocent people and each and every person affiliated with them should be put to death. The fact that they are ex-marines just means that they're happy to jump ship at any time, assuming they really are ex-marines, I have already pointed out that Avril over there is one hell of a liar. If either of them tries anything I get dibs on being the executioner."
Markus approached Skellen with confidence, something he couldn't always muster in social situations. "What you don't seem to get, is that we're both here because the Marines are the destructive, corrupt and ruthless. I don't like them any more than you do." He looked over at Avril and pointed at her firmly. "I can guarantee you that she would much rather be here than in Wilhelm's possession."
Skellen continued to glare at the two new members of their crew, feeling nothing but distrust towards either of them, but alas the health of the crew members he did trust and want to look out for was his primary concern for the time being. Skellen continued to treat Morgan's wounds, splinting his other arm and sticking it in a sling for good measure. The doctor then looked to the Burning King's more minor wounds before producing a strong pain-killer and handing the vial of yellow-ish liquid to him.
"Whether you admit it or not, you're going to want this, it's a painkiller. You aren't used to taking hits so you probably have a pretty low tolerance for pain and you've been worked over rather badly. That shoulder you cauterized yourself would have been free of bacteria at first but the dead flesh left over is susceptible to new infections, your other arm has taken severe soft tissue damage, you've got a couple of broken ribs and other chipped bones throughout your body. How someone who is meant to be intagible had this done to them, I'll never know. You need to take things easy for the next while."
Skellen stood up, looking around at the rest of the crew, most of whom who were injured and thought back to the powerful marine woman.
"Do you still have that Sea Stone bullet, Morgan? If you do, can I have it? Anyway, who's next?"
"My consciousness disagrees with ya, doc. I can take quite a few hits before callin' it quits. But erm, thanks," Morgan said accepting the painkiller. "For yer troubles." He flicked the sea stone bullet at Skellen. "Come to think of it, I really don't wanna be reminded of Kiba. So yeah, ya'll can keep the bullet. Don't know why you would want it though," he finished with a shrug, as he walked over to Kuzo.
Kuzo's eyes widened at the realization that there were two former Marines on board the ship. "Interesting..." He muttered, before giving them a bright smile. "I don't know about that, Skellen. I don't think everyone in the Marines is evil, just like not every pirate is evil or good," Kuzo's eyes trailed from Avril and Markus to the rest of the crew. "We should decide what kind of people they are for ourselves, and from what I saw, I think Markus is good enough for us! And you guys fought with Avril, mostly you Morgan. What do you think of her? Is she a bad person?"
Now that Vance was satisfied with the fact that there hadn't been a marine attack for a while and having double-checked the current course, he locked the helm and stepped over to the railing, placing his hands on top of it while looking down at the others. He was surprised, both at the fact that Avril and this Markus guy had joined the crew, but that they were both marines as well. However, Skellen's little outburst only made him want to keep his secret of being a... sort of ex-marine himself, hidden.
"Well, uhm... personally, I don't think Avril's a marine anymore. She sure doesn't act like one, and she's a great fighter. But, uh... welcome to the crew, you two, I guess!" He offered both Markus and Avril a smile before giving Kuzo another, small glance. I still can't believe he knows Koan personally... maybe he isn't as hopeless as we thought...?
"I hate Marines, even you ex-ones, but considerin' I can't blast ya'll to high heaven seein' as how I should follow my doctor's orders, I guess ya can stick around. That I suppose ya proved yourselves to be more like good old fashioned pirates at any rate. To be honest, if it wasn't for Avril, I probably wouldn't have made it to the top. She's fine in my book, for whatever that is worth these days," Morgan sighed contently, but feeling better since Skellen's treatment had kicked in. "But I'm watching you, Markus. I can still smell the Marine on ya."
Markus was plenty used to being the outcast at this point. "That's fine with me. I didn't expect to be accepted with open legs... wait, arms, I meant arms."
"For once, I agree with Morgan to a degree." Skellen added "for the time being though, I'll stick to just keeping an eye on you - I can't go killing you against my captain's wishes, unless I think I have to anyway. Do either of you want treating?" Skellen said the last part with an audible sigh.
"Aww, you're so nice Pepper-kun," Avril said, thanking the Burning King in her own way for his defense against Skellen's verbal assault. The woman then offered a smile in the direction of Skellen. "That's so thoughtful of ya, Doc. It's nice to see ya have some pleasantries 'bout ya after all!"
As this talk was going on Bass suddenly flapped down, landing on the deck. Bass had been thinking on the flight here and that was why he had arrived late. It hadn't helped that even the air was chaotic and he looked about at the others. He could feel himself starting to get a bit shaky and he bit his lower lip. He quickly moved past the others and to the door, quickly heading down below deck as he slammed the door behind him, disappearing from view.
Having spent the better part of the escape locked up safely inside, Lotte finally emerged from her hidey hole, warm, freshened up, and in a considerably better mood than before. Just in time to hear the discussion on Avril and Markus, she leaned on the banisters, chin in hand while letting the gentle breeze weave through her long blonde hair. Finally equipped with her sea legs, the trip was getting much pleasanter by the second- along with the increase of company of course. She had no ill feelings towards Marines-- often having spent the better part of her life relying on their protection even-- but found it intriguingly curious as to why some of her crewmates, particularly Skellen, seemed to be so set against them. Pirates, she supposed, but it was undeniable that marines did good sometimes.
"Isn't it fine? If they've already joined then that's that! Besides, don't you think it'd be boring for me if I was the only girl on board?" She let out a girlish giggle and waved down to Avril and Markus with a grin, "My name is Lotte! It's nice to meet you! If you ever need anything, I do odd jobs around deck, so let me know if I can help!"
Avril glanced over at Lotte, offering the younger girl a smile. It was starting to become harder and harder to tell these guys that she still had no intention of actually joining the crew. For the time being, Avril determined she could always just announce her exit once they arrived at the next island.
"It's nice to meet ya, Lotte. Glad I could help out with our little gender-ratio problem we have here among the um..." Avril began. It was at that moment that she realized that ever since she had met this group at Duke's Island, she had never actually heard what they called themselves. "...What is the name of our little group, anyways?"
"That" Skellen said, quite surprised that nobody had thought of this yet "is actually a pretty good question. What is the name of our crew exactly... and don't let Morgan pick or we'll end up named after him."
"Well, the Burning Crew does have a good ring to it," Morgan said with a hearty smile.
"But that would imply that it was your crew, Pepper-kun... And as I recall, you said that Ku-kun was the captain of the ship," Avril replied, glancing over at Kuzo as she spoke. The girl stared at him for a moment, her eyes lighting up with an idea. "Ku-kun, you were changin' sizes and stuff a lot there towards our exit of Duke Island. What's your Devil Fruit power?"
"A colossal pain in the ass from a medical standpoint." Skellen suggested, keeping a matter-of-fact tone.
Kuzo turned to Avril, grinning at her. He stuck out both hands out to the side of his body, and clenched his fists. "Tank Mode!" He shouted, to which his body instantly responded, bulking up to the familiar size of his Devil Fruit power. The ship instantly adjusted to his new weight, causing it to shift and lean toward the size he stood on, and then slowly beginning to rock.
He explained. "I can adjust, manipulate, and generate bones into different shapes and sizes. I had a few bad experiences with the Devil Fruit at first when I tried to generate more bones though...let's just say it's not really good for my skin..." He chuckled nervously, scratching the back of his head as he remembered back to his first experiences with the ability. When he tried to generate more bone shapes which his skin wasn't use to, it caused it to tear and rip, which often made him bleed out. He shook his head, trying to push away the memories.
"But I figured out a way to use the ability without damaging myself too much. Altering the density of the bones themselves. When I bulk up into this Tank Mode, I'm durable and stronger. And when...Lightning Mode!" He shouted again, this time reverting to the small thin for he encompassed. "When I go into Lightning Mode, I can jump further and run faster, but I'm also more prone to damage. I've been trying to make a hybrid mode, one where part of my body is in Lightning Mode and part is in Tank Mode, but it's pretty hard. So basically...I'm a Bone Man." He stated as he finished his explanation, clenching his fists and reverting back to his normal form.
"Maybe the Bone Crew!?" Kuzo beamed to the rest of them, seeing their reaction to his idea.
"Well, it's better than nothing but I swear I'll murder anyone who makes puns on the name." Skellen responded, choosing to return to where he had been leaning on the edge of the boat.
"Then why would ya wanna go with a name that would encourage that?" Avril questioned. She glanced up at the sky, her eyes closing as if she was deep in thought for a moment. "Maybe not bones in general, but maybe what if the name of the crew was based on a bone in general... Ya know, like... The Skull Pirates?"
"It ain't no Burning Pirates or have that fiery feel I'd be down for, but I could live wit' that," Morgan said, motioning that he would applaud if agonizing pain wouldn't occur the second he moved.
Vance raised a hand in the air as if trying to get a little bit of attention, sending the others a smile. "I like the Skull Pirates!"
Lotte wrinkled her nose, "Whaaaaaat! That's not a cute name at all-- Can't we do something that sounds better? Like-- Lovely Pirates, or-- well I guess you're not all lovely so maybe... well everyone likes sweets so maybe like Sugar Pirates!"
"You do realize we are pirates right? We need a name that makes people afraid of us and what not," Morgan interjected with a smile.
"They were good names, just not very... fittin' for a crew like this one," Avril added. She smiled at Lotte, giving the girl a small wink to follow as she continued. "It might have worked if they looked cute like us, though..."
Ignoring Morgan, she put her chin on her hand, thinking over Avril's point-- "True. I guess we can't be called any of that with this lot! I guess Skull is okaaaaay-- but I think our ship's name is better than our actual name!"
"The ship's name...?" Avril questioned towards Lotte. She was slightly surprised at the fact the ship had apparently been named before this crew had actually came up with a name for themselves. Then again from Avril's observations thus far, this crew seemed to do things in a most unusual fashion for the most part anyways. "What do ya call the ship?"
"Wasn't it The Dream Chaser?" Vance questioned, furrowing his brows and crossing his arms over his chest. "... I think it was, at least."
"My vote still goes to Poseidon's Pony, anything to mock the marines." Skellen commented, ruffling through the supplies he had bought.
Vance glanced over at Skellen with a confused look. "But... we're going to be sailing the ship. We'd be making fun of ourselves."
"If I recall correctly, we actually never agreed on a name in first place," Morgan said. "I'm sure Kuzo just said 'Dream Chaser' and expected us to agree wit' him." Sure, Morgan did suggest it but only because the Blazing Inferno wasn't going to over too well in the first place. No one seemed to enjoy his love of fire, except for himself.
Lotte blinked, seemingly surprised, "I thought we agreed on it already?" She laughed at the general disorganization, "Maybe we should just call ourselves the Unnamed Pirates- Or the Really Bad At Coming Up With Names Pirates!" Giggling madly she waved her hand as though to shoo away the thought, "Anyway, I don't care whatever name we pick, so you guys choose!"
"Dream Chaser and Skull Pirates..." Kuzo commented, putting a hand on his chin and thinking on the two names, before looking around and smiling at the rest of them. "I like it! And I think it settles it on my part! We'll need someone to make our flag but..." He began to head off to the galley, morphing into his Tank Mode as he did this and grabbing on of the barrels filled with drink as well as two dozen mugs, for lack of ability to make out his own number of crewmates correctly. He scrambled to bring them out to the deck, the mugs coming close to falling out of his hands on multiple occasions.
Along the way up, he spotted Bass in the corner, and stopped in his tracks. "Hey there, come on up with us!" Kuzo exclaimed to his bat crewmate.
Bass however looked far from happy. As the bat looked up he had tears clear in his eyes, he was shaking, and he was biting his lower lip to keep from whimpering. "U-Uh hey Kuzo." The bat wiped at a eye with his wing tip. "Um... what's g-going on?" He croaked out, his throat thick with emotion.
Kuzo looked down at the bat through his bulky form. He could tell something had made him upset, but he couldn't quite put his finger on what it was. Still, he felt that he had to try and cheer him up. He temporarily placed the barrel and mugs onto the ground and placed his enlarged palm on the bat's shoulder. "Our troubles are like the sea, never permanent and always changing, but having people around you helps. Come join us up top and we'll help cheer you up!" He beamed, offering the bat a smile.
Bass frowned at the offer and looked down, "How... how can you be like this?" He asked softly, "So many lives given... for nothing." He closed his eyes, "Am I bad pirate Kuzo?"
Kuzo silently gazed upon Bass, his smile momentarily disappearing before once more emerging. He stepped forward and thrust the bat forward with him, motioning him toward the deck. "That's ultimately for you to decide. I think you'll find the answer out yourself soon enough."
Bass couldn't help but eep as he was pushed along, glancing back and trying his best to put a smile on his face... if but to hide what he was feeling.
Together, they made their way up to the top with the barrel and the mugs. On some occasions, a few fell out of his hands and broke on the wooden floor, before he finally managed to bring it to the center of where the crew was gathered. He then began to toss the mugs to each of his crewmates, despite whatever they may have been doing at the time.
He held his own mug out, opening the plug which held the liquid in the barrel and began to pour everyone drinks. He then held his mug out in front of him while he addressed the crew. "We're the Skull Pirates," Kuzo began, smiling at each one of them. "By the sails of the Dream Chaser and the seas of the Grand Line, we'll get into all sorts of adventures while we follow our hearts. Tell me nakamas, what are you dreams and goals?"
Vance blinked in surprise at first as he caught the mug, but pretty quickly got caught up by the excitement of Kuzo's little speech and the realization of them being an actual crew with a name, now. He filled his mug and raised it up in front of him. "I... want to explore the entire world. Sail every sea and see the most phenomenal things imaginable!"
Scuttling down off the second floor and onto the deck, Lotte ran up beside Vance with a bright smile- equally infected by Kuzo's excitement and raising the hand that wasn't occupied by her mug, "Me too! I want to see everything and live freely-- I don't want to have to listen to anybody's rules but my own!"
Skellen was lucky enough to look up at just the right moment to catch the mug flying in his direction. The assassain/doctor/basket case cocked an eyebrow, allowing a wild grin to spread across his features
"The Skull Pirates and the Dream Chaser? It'll do" he laughed like a madman before adding in a more serious tone "I want to bring down the marines and the world government so I never have to see the little man crushed by their oppression again."
Skellen then maniacally grinned again before continuing "and any new poisons or medicines I can discover in the meantime are just an added bonus. Somebody fill the doctor's glass!"
Morgan shuffled around and precariously grabbed a mug and filled it the best he could with one good arm. He took a quick sip, was pleased with the taste before finally speaking up: "Everyone pretty much said my piece already. I wanna have the freedom to do what I want when I want, like Lotte. Yet, the whole World Government tends to get in my way when I try to do that, so they are probably gonna have to go to make that happen. Isn't that right, Skellen?" Morgan finished his drink and tossed the mug, not wanting to lose any sense of self control.
"Down with the government!" Skellen yelled, already lost in the atmosphere.
Markus hadn't given much thought to his goal yet, but one was definitely clear. "I, too, wish to see the World Government ended. Their corruption knows no bounds. It's time for a new world. A perfect world."
Avril smiled as she listened to the crew each make mention of their dreams and aspirations that they had while they would be traveling across the seas as members of Kuzo's crew. While the woman herself still had no intention of traveling much further past the next island or so with this group, she could not help but feel obligated to join in, if only so she did not come off as completely rude for the time being.
Raising her own mug into the air, Avril joined in with the rest of the Skull Pirates. "My dream is to make the perfect weapon... One I can always count on and can stay undefeated. And to sail around the world on a ship that I built with my own two hands."
Throughout this, a slightly scandalized look had crossed Lotte's face and she hurried to retrieve Morgan's mug. She chastised him, punching him in his good arm, "You can't drink before everyone's finished! The manners of a monkey, honestly! We haven't even said cheers yet!" And he thought himself a gentleman. Shaking her head at him she plopped the mug back in his hands with a 'hmph' and turned doe-like innocent eyes at whoever was left to announce their dreams.
Bass was silent for a moment, his own mug being hugged by his two wing tips. "I... I want to help others." He said softly. "I don't want anyone to feel pain, especially if they don't have to. I want to make a difference, for the better."
Kuzo smiled as each one of them revealed their own dreams. He was quite happy to have gathered up such a group of ambitious people into his crew to match his own. He chuckled a bit as Lotte knocked the mug into Morgan's hand. Holding his own in his arm, he looked at his mug, and spoke. "And my dream...mine is to find my Ultimate Treasure. I don't know what it is yet...but I'll know it once I find it...here on the Grand Line," Kuzo looked up from his mug to the others.
"Guys, let's drink together and make a promise. We'll sail through the Grand Line and face the endless possibilities of what awaits us, together! But we'll ride these seas undeterred toward our dreams, always trying to reach it, and if asked, helping each other reach them! We'll always be here for each other!" Kuzo held his mug out to the others. "From this day on, we're nakama forever!"
Markus' ears caught that word twice now, and yet... "What does it mean... to be Nakama?" It was a foreign concept to him, one he had never heard before. Marines never cared about anything other than service, it was all he really knew.
"Hmm?" Kuzo gazed upon the ex-Marine, looking him over quizically, before smiling. "It's what we are. What it means to you is your decision. For now....CHEERS!" He exclaimed slamming his mug to the center where he expected to be met by the others.
"Cheers!!" Lotte called out enthusiastically, though not drinking from her mug at all and only slamming it down next to Kuzo with a significantly clumsier manner.
Avril stared at Kuzo quietly as she raised her mug to meet his. The woman almost could not believe the answer that the captain gave. It almost sounded as if he did not actually know himself. Then again, from what she had seen of Kuzo so far... Well, maybe it was not too surprising for Avril so far.
"This guy is either an amazin' optimist... or completely stupid..." she thought with a sigh.
Markus smiled hesitantly. The answer didn't really clear anything up, but he decided to leave it for the moment. He picked up a mug and set it down on the table with Kuzo's. "Cheers."
"Nakama means... crew, right? I mean, that's what I heard, at least." Vance added, after taking a swig of his mug, now holding it in both his hands, glancing from Kuzo, to Morgan. "Like... not just any crew, but one where we trust and have fun with each other, ye
Bass looked down at his own mug, at the liquid that seemingly indicated that they had achieved some sort of inspiring victory, yet he couldn't help but feel the crushing guilt hitting him as he held this cup. So many had died yet no one here was batting a second eye. He forced himself to put on a smile and put hin his cup as well. "Um, cheers." He said as he followed Markus' example. He didn't know what to make of Vance's explanation, but if having fun meant killing others... Bass couldn't help but shudder a bit at that realization.
"Cheers!" Skellen yelled, clanking his glass into the centre. Skellen took a hearty gulp before adding something further in
"Where's the next stop?"
Against his better judgement, Morgan met the rest of the mugs. "Cheers," he mumbled. The moment felt a bit nostalgic, hearkening back to his younger days. Skellen posed a question as most of them had taken their respective gulps. "I'm not sure, myself. Granted I'm not a real experience with these waters and whatnot."
"Good question," Kuzo added, setting down his now empty mug on the barrel and glancing over to Vance. "Wherever the log pose takes us, I guess. Which way's it pointing to now, Vance? Anyone have a map or something maybe?"
"Oh, uh..." Vance raised his arm to glance at the log pose on his wrist, lifting his head afterwards. "Well, it's pointing... uhm. The way we're sailing. Hold on." He scurried off to the insides of the ship after placing down the mug he was holding, and emerged a short while after, carrying a rolled-up piece of paper and an odd-looking, semi-triangular object with what looked to be a scope on the top, as well as a small, palm-wide sundial.
He spread the things out on a nearby crate that they hadn't moved from when they took over the ship, unfolded the paper which was revealed to be a map before looking into the sky, through the weird scope-thing, proceeding to glance between it and the sundial. After a few minutes of checking up on things, he lowered the scope-thing and glanced at the map, tracing his finger across it before finally planting it near one edge of the map, on a certain island. "From the looks of things, we're headed here. I'm not a hundred percent sure since this -is- the Grand Line, and it's kind of hard to actually navigate, but... this is where we're heading."
Morgan walked over and watched Vance go to work. Hardly a navigator himself, he just assumed that Vance knew what he was doing and didn't ask any questions. When the work was done, he positioned himself to get a better view of the map and glanced at where Vance was gesturing. "Wait a good second," Morgan said with a slight smirk. "I think I know that island." The Burning King took a closer look, examining the location any surrounding evidence of the map. Vance was right in that this was the Grand Line and nothing was definite on these seas, but Morgan was confident. "Yep. I'm pretty sure. My gut has been right more often than not, so I trust it." Morgan pointed at the island. "If Vance is right, we're headed to Dinas, the trading capital of the Grand Line. Anyone who's anyone holds up shop there. My ol' captain told me that in Dinas 'the only thing that flows through the canal more than water is money.' At least I think that's what he said. He tried bein' poetic or somethin'," Morgan said before smirking again. "And if memory serves me right, this is where our 'treasure' might be. After all, it's where Kobushi Corporation is."
Morgan and Bass: A heart to heart
As the high time began to slowly wind down Bass glanced down at his cup, his frown becoming more pronounced now. He was struggling really hard at this point so he shackily set his cup down and made his way to the door. He quickly walked down to the lower level and got into the first door he could find. He closed it behind him and sat down in a corner, his tears already starting to come back. His bottom lip trembled and he bit down on it, trying to stop it from moving. He began to shake as those images passed through his mind again and he buried his head into his wings, doing his best to silence his crying.
How could anyone want to harm another? How could anyone wish, no, desire to attack another? For him... he never wanted to. He didn't want to cause harm... but he had to in order to survive. These people... they did it not out of necessity. They didn't NEED the money in order to live. Yet here there were happily blasting anyone away simply for what? To have a few coins? He rubbed at his eyes yet they still continued to get moist. If this was the case... would have to kill more and more then?
Morgan, wanting nothing more than to rest, made his way to the lower decks. He left the others to their own devices. They could socialize and what not. Of all the pirates, Morgan had little in close relations with them. Sure, he bonded a bit with Vance and Avril, and even Bass to an extent. But the others? Hardly. Morgan still felt strange finding himself in another crew, after swearing to himself that he will wander alone. Was he truly a bad luck charm? They survived Duke Island, barely. Maybe Kuzo could change Morgan's fortunes. Or maybe...just maybe.
The sound of crying disturbed Morgan's thoughts. The screechy tone was easy to identify. It was Bass. Morgan bashed down the door the muffled weeping pierced through. The room was relatively dark with little lighting, probably how Bass liked it. "What's wit' boy?" Morgan said, producing a small spark in his good hand.
Bass slowly glanced up, blinking a few tears away. He turned his head away, "I.... I don't think you'll understand." He croaked out, his words a bit hard to understand. He used a wing tipe to wipe at his eyes, "I... I just was crying a bit. That's all." He said, trying to brush the issue aside. "Uh, so everyone still having fun up there?" He asked. "I mean, I don't want to ruin the fun or anything."
"Really? Y'all are cryin'?" Morgan said with a sigh. He pulled up a chair and plopped into it. It creaked a bit as he sunk all his weight into. He took a deep breath as if trying to expel his frustrations with Bass. "Let's ignore the party for a moment. Pirates will be pirates ya know? But one thing pirates don't do is cry. Especially just because they can." Morgan sighed again, wondering he was bothering with the whole thing. "So why are ya cryin'?"
Bass looked away, but then he sighed, "I... so many died." He said softly as he hung his head, "I... I gave into my urges again. I didn't want to... and I did." He began to get a bit pancky. "I... bit in and I couldn't stop! I wanted to stop but I just kept on doing it and I was so angry and I got angrier and angrier and I wanted to pull away but I couldn't!" He began to breathe faster, "A-And Vance saw and he was so scared and I couldn't stop!" A few tears formed in his eyes yet again, "And then all those others who died for what? A treasure that wasn't there? I... I'm a bad pirate!" He finally burst into loud sobs as his wings hung from his sides.
Morgan nodded and crossed his arms the best he could. "Did ya give in these 'urges' to protect yourself and Vance?"
Bass slowly nodded his head, "T-There was this one guy... he came and... and I just panicked. He hit me hard... and I remember being right there... Just so close to him." Bass sobbed out.
"So ya defended yourself? Then ya did the right thing. I fail to see your lil issue here," Morgan got up and stretched. "Bein' a pirate means bein' free, at least that's what I feel. But it always mean ya'll got defend your freedom, no matter the cost. If a guy wants to fight ya, fight back. If a guy threatens your nakama, ya threaten back. If ya want to chase somethin' like treasure or a dream, ya never slow down," Morgan said, almost applauding himself. Morgan kneeled down and stared Bass dead in the face. There was a fire in his eyes. "Now, that means ya'll gonna get in fights and people are gonna die. We don't cry about it. We pirates do what we believe in. That makes it jusified. Got that?"
Bass stared on and frantically began to shake his head, "No... no that doesn't make sense." He said. "Is killing others to take what they have justified? I-Is killing someone over an invisible treasure chest? Morgan, I KILLED a man!" He cried out. "There is never any justification to that!"
Morgan began to fume, feeling the flames burn from his body. "Ya'll don't get it do ya? We are pirates! We take what we want! The others will do it otherwise! Mercy and kindness are admirable traits, but they'll get ya killed. Ya got be prepared to do whatever it takes if ya wanna make it out there. I've killed many men to defend my dreams and my nakama! Do ya see me weeping all over it? No!"
Bass blinked as he slowly took a step back, the heat starting to make him sweat, "B-But you're used to it. I mean... I... I just I can't do that. I'm not sure if I don't want to do that. I mean... it's not bad... but it's not good either." Bass fumbled over his words a bit, "Uh... well, I mean everyone has a story right?"
"Yeah, and your point is?" Morgan asked, leaning towards Bass with curious look. Hidden beneath was a heavy load of sarcasm. He didn't care for Bass' dumb reasons, but he'll let him vocalize them.
Bass squirmed and began to curl his body up a bit, raising his wings to cover his head a bit, "I... I mean e-everyone c-can't be b-bad...?" He squeaked out.
Morgan just about had it. He had said his peace and he tried to be nice. But sometimes you have to be mean. Morgan lunged forward, practically tackling the bat with his one good arm, driving the bat into the wall with almost explosive force. "There is no good or bad on these seas! There is ya and them! That's it! If ya don't fight, ya die. They don't care about ya. They care about themselves. The sooner ya learn that, the longer ya get to live!" Morgan let the bat go and turned away from Bass, dusting himself off. "Do I make myself clear?"
Bass staggered back, "But... you can't be like that." He said. "I mean... if you really are a pirate and care about yourself... why help me then?" The bat asked. "Why waste time on me if that can't be true?"
"Because," Morgan said. "Like Kuzo said, we're a crew now. We are supposed to look out for each at the very least. That's one thing about bein' a pirate. Ya pick your friends and ya pick your enemies." Morgan turned and faced Bass. "The sooner ya realize who your enemies are, the faster you'll stop cryin' all the damn time. Then and only then will ya be strong like me."
He blinked, "You... you mean that?" He wiped away some of his leftover tears, "Uh... so how do I know who is my enemy? I mean everyone can't be my enemy right? I'm friendly enough so why would they want to hurt me?"
Right now I want to smack ya, so ya aren't off to a good start, Morgan thought to himself. "Look kid. I already said my piece and I can't give ya all the answers. Ya'll have to figure that out on your own." Morgan paused and sighed. "Like my enemies are anyone who get in my way of what I want to do. And my friends are anyone who stay out of my way or even support me...not that they are a lot these days, but ya catch my drift. Ya know what I mean? So figure it out. Ya'll not that stupid I hope."
"Oooooooh." Bass nodded a bit, "Okay... so uh... my enemies are... uh..." Bass frowned, "Uh... well can you kind of... I mean I'm not really a fighter and all... I haven't TRIED to kill anyone really... do I HAVE to kill someone? I mean I know you can knock people out if you hit the right places. Do you know how to do that?"
"Well, yeah. Smack 'em in the head hard enough seems to work for me at least," Morgan placed a finger on his chin. "You could also knock the air right out of 'em with strong enough hit to the gut." He then snapped his fingers. "Also some people pass out if you choke 'em or cause enough pain to their body. I think it's called shock if you do that last bit."
The bat nodded, "Oh, okay. So... I can kick them in the gut then? That's better than death." He said cheerfully. "Thanks Morgan."
"Well, yer gonna have to kick 'em pretty hard. Maybe a lot. Ya'll be be surprised how much damage a guy, or girl, can take," Morgan added, making sure Bass didn't think one solid kick will put someone down. After all, Bass will look like a bigger fool than he already is in a fight if he was going to get into one. And Morgan had a feeling there was going to be a lot of fighting ahead.
Bass nodded, "Oh... okay. Um... have you ever killed anyone Morgan?" He asked. "I just... whenever my temper gets the better of me I try not to... and I feel so horrible after if it does."
Morgan's expression suddenly became very blank, somber almost. "Let's just say ya'll get used to it. The first time is always the hardest."
Bass sighed, "I... " He stayed silent for a while, "Okay... I guess I can. But the first time was a long time ago for me."
"Then ya'll be fine. It gets easier from here," Morgan said tapping Bass on the shoulder. He didn't care for details. He didn't need them. Bass was right when everyone has a story, but you didn't need to always hear it, especially in a situation like this one. Emotions were amped up and contrary to popular belief, talking about doesn't always help. Well, it didn't always help Morgan at least and in his head, experience was a better teacher than anything else.
Bass nodded weakly, "Uh... thanks Morgan. For everything and all. So um... are we friends then? I mean, you said earlier anyone that doesn't get in your way is a friend. I really haven't had friends before... what do friends do?"
Morgan blinked. "Um...well. I..." he said before pausing. That was a good question. He didn't even know how to answer it. "I guess friends, uh, help each other? Somethin' like that. Ya know when ya see it, I guess. I think Kuzo may be a bit better at this whole heart to heart thing."
Bass nodded. He stood there, but then quickly wrapped his wings around Morgan in a friendly hug, "Back at the island I saw friends doing this all the time. They say it's a hug." He said cheerfully.
Morgan sputtered a small flame around him to lightly burn Bass off of him. "Yeah, well, let's say it's a bit early for hugs between us men here. Mkay? We can do what they call a high five?" Morgan raised a hand up. "Ya'll gonna hit that with your ha-wing thing."
Bass yelped as he got off and the looked at his hand, "Oh... uh..." Bass raised his wingtip and lightly smacked it against Morgan's hand, "Like that?" He asked.
"Yep. Ya pass. Ya do that before ya leap into huggin' people. It's the girls ya wanna hug before the guys anyway," Morgan said with a wink.
"Ooooh... okay." Bass said as he nodded, "So girls before guys, got it!" He said with a happy grin. "So where are we going now?"
"Ya weren't outside when I announced it?" Morgan sighed. "Place is called Dinas. It's like a big merchant city. Shouldn't be too long before we all get there. Probably a good idea to catch some sleep. If I remember the stories right, it's a busy place."
Bass nodded a bit, "Oh! Right, uh... do you want me to fly around? I mean, I can spot stuff out from a distance if you need me to. Not sure if I can help that way... or such..."
Morgan twisted his face, not in frustration, but more in thought. "I think it'll be best if you try to be more human than bat. Dinas is swarming with a lot of people and some marines are bound to be wanderin' around. They'll know about ya due to Duke Island. Before ya know it, BAM! Ya'll be shot right outta of the sky. We don't want that, now do ya?"
Bass paled and quickly shook his head, "N-No I don't." He stammred out. "Okay... I can stay on the ground. Eh... only problem are my clothes." He spread his wings out a bit, "I mean, my cloak was fine... before it got all ripped up on the mountain. I really won't be able to hide that well. Are there clothes I can get from this Dinas place?"
"Plenty," Morgan said with a smile.
Bass nodded yet again, "Okay... uh. Well, I guess that's it then. I'll get to just being on deck then. Thanks Morgan!" He said as he rushed out of the room.
It was a messy day and a half on Duke Island. Many of the pirates present during the ‘treasure hunt’ were accounted for, with most of them having been captured or killed. The captured ones were already on transport to the various prisons across the World Government-controlled Grand Line, with a few of the higher profile pirates on a one-way ticket to Impel Down, the maximum-security prison for the most dangerous criminals. The dead bodies of pirates were disposed of as efficiently as possible. For Koan, that mean letting them rot at the bottom of the sea. The criminals didn’t deserve any better.
However, there were also those that had escaped. A handful of crews had managed to avoid death or captivity, the Akahige Pirates among them. Also included, and the reason for Koan’s heightened stress level, was Kuzo and his crew. Because of his unexpected appearance, Koan had certain emotions which she usually concealed with great care come up to the surface of her persona. For a long time, she had been known as the stone wall ice queen of the Marines, the White Knight of true, absolute justice, with no tolerance or mercy ever shown to criminals. By letting them go, she had broken one of her strongest ideals. Of course, no one but her knew of this, which made the entire situation more internally compromising than externally. She let him go under the rouse that she expected him to abandon his path and go along the true ways of an upstanding citizen. That, however, was something she knew would never happen. Kuzo had begun his journey down the road of piracy, and the next time they met, she would have to follow through with her ideals, even if it meant killing a friend. Even if the strange bat-like creature spoke of the high character of Kuzo, to her absolute justice, a pirate was a pirate. Simple.
Koan sighed, sitting at a desk in one of the many abandoned buildings in Regal Town. The place was an absolute mess. Still fresh off the war with the Kings, Duke Island had certainly seen better days. What made Koan upset was that nothing it seemed had been done yet to try and relieve any of the stress of the citizens, or rebuild the town. It had been over a week since Siver’s execution, but there had been no major fighting on or around Duke Island in over a month.
“Ma’am!” A Marine soldier entered the building where she sat, saluting upon entrance. “Three more vessels have been packed and sent on their way to the prisons as directed, with one on its way to Impel Down. We’ve nearly concluded searching any additional remote areas across the islands for any other pirates. We’ve also alerted neighboring islands with Marines bases of the pirate crews that got away, so that they would be on alert, as ordered! We’ve also made a link to HQ to try and contact Admiral Akasame as you requested. If all goes well, we should be able to depart the island and pursue the pirates.”
“We won’t be going just yet. Have all forces not going toward the prisons to stand down here on the island.”
“We’ve been chasing the ghosts of war for weeks, but we haven’t done anything in terms of rebuilding the damage. Fighting and pursuing and killing pirates is part of seeking absolute justice, but those affected by the conflict have to be helped too. That too…is justice.” She placed her elbows on the table and locked her hands together, staring out of the window at the town below. “We’ll begin helping the citizens with rebuilding their homes and providing them medical assistance and food should they request it. Once that process is complete, I’ll leave a fourth of our forces here on the island permanently to construct and maintain a new Marine Base to protect the island from future pirate incursions.” Koan began looking through files on her table of various Marine Officers. “Commander Valentine has distinguished himself quite a lot these past few months. Inform him of his promotion to Captain and his assignment as head of this future Marine base. The paperwork will follow later.”
“Y-yes ma’am!” The soldier snapped another crisp salute to the seated woman. “Admiral Akasame should be on the second transponder snail.” He added on his way out. Koan nodded, looking to her left to see three different colored and shaped transponder snails. She picked up the middle one, and spoke.
“Hello, sir. Koan Marismo reporting in.”
"I hear Duke Island is in ruins," Akasame's voice ran through the transponder snail with sinister, almost gruff authority. "I trust that means the mission was a success then? I want details, Koan."
"There were approximately forty pirate crews present on the island," Koan began to explain to her superior officer at the other end of the transponder snail. "We have either captured or killed approximately 33 of those crews, with the rest currently being pursued or monitored as we speak. Included in the captured are high profile pirates on their way to Impel Down including "Plague of the Ocean" Jishi Jeremoh of the Fishman Pirates and Elric the "Okama Hero" of the Okama Pirates." Koan took a deep breath then continued. "...as you expected, the announcement drew out the Akahige Pirates, but they managed to escape the island." She paused for a moment, awaiting Akasame's retort of the first part of her report.
"That isn't what I wanted to hear, Koan," Akasame said. "The goal of the plan was to capture Akahige and all of his fellow...super rookies or whatever ridiculous title these pirates have given themselves," he reminded her. "What of the other escaped crews? What do you know of them?"
"He won't escape for long, Admiral," Koan replied firmly. "We'll get him and the rest yet. As for the others...among them is the crew responsible for stealing the Grand Justice back in Loguetown. At first, our initial intelligence assumed it was under the leadership of the Burning King, as they had freed him from prison there. However, after speaking to them, I discovered that they were led by someone else..."
Koan fumbled with papers, looking at a few photographs of the crew in front of her. She sighed deeply again, knowing that she had to provide the details even if she was conflicted about it. "...his name is Tristan D. Kuzo. From what we gathered around the island and the pieces we put together in Loguetown, he masterminded the theft of the ship and the breaking out of the 'Burning King' Wright D. Morgan. He also was responsible for the defeat of the Okama Hero. The others in his crew include the Burning King, who brought down the Plague of the Ocean on the island, as well as the Taipan, Bridges L. Skellen of Eden. He's noted more as a terrorist and an assassin than a pirate, but it seems he's chosen that route now too. We've also confirmed two former Marines among them, one of which has deserted and murdered multiple of his fellow soldiers right here on Duke Island. The other has stolen valuable information from us. We had only recently accounted for the exact blueprints we stole, but the value of them far exceeds her current bounty. For these crimes and others the other crew members were involved in, including those they had committed on Duke Island, I recommend an increase in all of their bounties, effective immediately, sir. They are a much bigger problem than they may seem."
"Are you just saying that because you are friends with them?" Akasame said.
"Sir?" Koan began. However, before Akasame even began to speak, Koan felt her stomach churn. "What do you mean?"
"I saw the feeds, Koan. In case you had forgotten Kasumi did record most of what happened at Duke Island. Luckily, there was a delay and we were able to prevent your little reunion from being broadcasted to the whole world. I am sure Shirotora would commend your actions, but I am not Shirotora. You know better! You made us look weak! I could have thrown into the deepest levels of Impel Down for treason!" Suddenly there was a loud crash of glass or something. Likely Akasame had broken something in office. Or someone. "I will happen to not mention this to Kanaru, if only because of your accomplishments regarding the rest of the mission. And I agree that these bounties should increase significantly. I will bring your recommendation to Kanaru's attention and he can deal with the rest. Anything else you would like to add?"
"...no sir, I believe that concludes my report. I will, of course, submit to any punishment you desire. I'll forward all information to our staff and they'll begin creation of the bounties. As for the pirate crew..."
Avril and Vance: Shooting The Sea Breeze
After the course had been sorted out and Vance had packed away all of the navigational tools, he headed back up to the helm, taking a deep breath of the seabreeze. A light smile painted his lips as he glanced at the log pose, making sure the ship was still on-course. He had always loved sailing, but for some reason, this felt like... a different experience. A much more free experience, somehow.
"So... You've apparently only been a pirate for a few days and you're the navigator...?" Avril asked, seemingly popping out of no where. A small smile was on the woman's lips as she made her way up towards the helm where Vance stood. Avril leaned against the near by railing, removing her hat as she took a look out at the sea sounding them. The breeze caused her long white and blue hair to blow around wildly, but it seemed to bother her little as she turned around to face Vance once more. "Maybe I dunno how the whole piratin' works, but I would normally think they'd have someone more experienced for that, right?"
Vance blinked a little in surprise as Avril came up on the 'second floor' of the ship, glancing over at her as she leaned against the railing. "Oh, uhm... well, actually, it's more like... a day of being a pirate, I guess. And I've had experience with sailing before! My... uh, dad brought me up and taught me everything about sailing." He paused, glancing down at the main deck at the others mingling about. "Truth to be told, we kind of got on the ship in a rush, and it seemed like... not a single one of the others knows how to navigate a ship." He gave a sheepish smile, glancing back at Avril, his brows furrowing a little. "So, uhm, do you actually not remember helping me out against those pirates? You were pretty cool."
"No offense, but all you guys sorta run together after a point," Avril said with a smile. She paused for a moment, taking a seat on the floor as she continued. "I mean, I'm not a pirate or a sailor... And never really had the money or supplies to make a ship of my own... So I usually just get 'round by sneakin' on a ship and hitchin' a ride without them knowin'... Ya know, until they do know... And chase after me... which results in me havin' to sometimes put a few of them down. And it's not like I can get a ride to where I wanna go with a Government ship, obviously... But, thanks for the compliment regardless, Mr. Navigator."
Nodding slowly, Vance glanced briefly at the log pose on his wrist before adjusting the course to the arrow pointing ahead of them. Still looking ahead at the vast, blue sea in front of them, he spoke again. "Guess it doesn't matter, you helped me out, so I owe you one, whether you remember it or not." He looked to her with a smile and another shrug. "... And Skellen seems like the sort of guy who'd get upset about pretty much anything, so... just ignore him, even if you did do something to him." He paused, looking ahead of the ship again. "Uhm, and you can just call me Vance."
"He does seem to be rather uptight and violent..." Avril replied, giggling softly. "Are ya sure that makes for the best person to be a doctor, Vanny... Maybe ya guys should put out a want-ad?"
"Well, truth to be told, we didn't exactly... uh, plan all of this out. It was sort of spur-of-the-moment, and Lotte and I personally didn't have alot of other options than coming on here." He paused, suddenly seeming to realize what she'd called him, but he didn't seem inclined to comment on it. Instead, he glanced down at her again. "So... you're like, a shipwright, then? I mean, I noticed the hammer and what you said down there, so I just sort of assumed..."
"Somethin' like that... I do like to build and design things... Mostly like weapons," Avril replied. "In fact, that's part of the reason the Marines sort of wanna get their hands me... Like I said, who knew that borrowin' some plans for an unspecified amount of time would bite ya in the end, am I right?" She paused again, pulling her hammer into her lap and looking at it with a smile. "I know a bit about buildin' and repairin' things. I guess you could say I picked up from my pops back home. Anyways, one day I do wanna build my own ship. I've even been working on a few plans on the side when I'm not busy doin' other things, but... Well, it's sort of hard to do when you don't have a lot of money, ya know?"
"You stole building plans from the marines? No wonder they're out to get you." After making sure the course was proper again, he locked the helm and turned around to properly face Avril, lowering himself down to sit cross-legged, with his back against the wheel, nodding his head lightly. "Yeah, I guess. I think it's a great idea though, wanting to build your own ship. I'd help you out, but, uh... I've got, like, thirty berries to my name, heh." He sent her a sheepish smile, raising a hand to run his fingers through his slightly messy hair. "But from the sounds of things, the person who stole the treasure before us is on the next island, so.. hopefully we'll actually get it, and I don't have anything to spend money on, other than food, so I could help you out with my share if you want!"
For a moment, there seemed to be a small light in Avril's eyes at Vance's offer. In fact, Avril seemed like she wanted to pinch herself just to make sure she had heard the navigator right. She leaned forward, carefully meeting his gaze for a moment.
"Are ya serious...?" Avril questioned. "I mean, not many pirates I know of, new or not, like to just say 'Here, ya can take my money!' and then just leave it at that... they usually want somethin' in return if ya catch my drift... and if ya think I'm doin' that..."
Vance looked a little surprised at her response to his offer, her final comment causing him to look confused for a moment before his eyes widened and his cheeks went red, raising his hands up in front of him defensively. "No, oh no, no, no! That's- that's not what I meant at all! I just... I mean yeah, I guess I'm a pirate now, but... I don't really -need- money, you know?" He raised a hand to rub the back of his head, looking rather sheepish. "And... well, you need money to make your dream come true. If I could help make someone's dream come true, then compared to that, money isn't really worth a lot, right?"
Avril gave a small shrug. "I wouldn't say that... Money is still pretty important ya know... I mean, think of all the things you'd buy with it after you had your own ship... what with food, drinks, furniture, and all that sort of stuff... But if you're really sure you don't need any, then I'd be glad to take your share, Vanny!"
"Great!" Vance replied with a warm smile, patting his thighs as he stood up again, stretching his arms out over his head. "Anyways, it'll probably still be a day or something before we get to the next island. I should stay up here and make sure the ship doesn't sail off into the calm belt or something... but I'm getting pretty hungry." He placed a hand on his stomach with a little frown. "... and I realize that we have no chef." He glanced at Avril, offering her a hand to get to her feet. "Would you, erh... mind asking any of the others if they could... make some food or something?"
"No problem, Vanny! I'm sure I can find someone to whip us up some grubbin' goodness!" Avril exclaimed, her mood clearly lifted up to an all-time high do to getting Vance's share of the promised treasure. The woman began to hum to herself happily as she left the helm area, keeping her eyes open as she looked around. "Ooooooh, Pepper-kuuuuun~"
Lotte, Kuzo, Morgan, Avril, and Vance - The Galley, Dream Chaser
Below deck, a lilting voice floated through the swinging doors of the kitchen and down the halls, cheerful despite how quiet the lower decks were.
"Hoo~rah~ and up she rises hoo~rah and up she rises~"
Singing lightly to herself as she wiped at the freshly washed mugs with a clean rag, Lotte was growing increasingly accustomed to doing chores that were once reserved only for those far below her status. Wiping windows, tables, chairs, and things that Lotte had never known accumulated dust and dirt without regular attendance-- washing dishes and doing laundry, hanging out sheets and hampers to air on deck-- she was determined not to be a complete burden. Though they'd both boarded the ship in a last ditch effort, Vance was useful as a navigator- indispensable, irreplaceable, and capable of fighting. While she couldn't quite fathom being booted off of the ship for her uselessness (because quite frankly, nobody ever said no to her when she really wanted something,) she did have a firm understanding in that she had to do her best as well, to contribute to the journey one way or another.
"What shall we do with the drunken sailor, what shall we do with the drunken sailor..."
"Hey there," Kuzo stated as he entered the kitchen to find Lotte tidying up a bit. He sat down at one of the stools at the countered and smiled warmly at her. "Nice song. Where'd you hear it from?"
She looked up, a bit surprised to see the captain. To be honest, she hadn't really spoken to him, at all as of yet-- having pinned him as one of those members that she just wouldn't ever get to know. Yet here he was. She smiled too though, continuing to wipe the mugs after her surprise had passed, "I heard the sailors on the ship to Loguetown singing it- It's quite repetitive so it was easy to pick up. Do you know it?"
"Not really," He replied with a light chuckle. He leaned in on the table, his elbows on the counter with one arm crossed over the other. He lifted the stool forward, balancing himself on the two front legs of it with his elbows. "But I'd love to learn it! We pirates have to know a lot of drinking songs, after all! It's gonna be a long journey!"
Brightening that he was so easily going along with it-- everything had seemed difficult with Skellen and Leon-- she set the mug aside to free up her hands. "Okay! It's easy- The first part goes 'What shall we do with the drunken sailor?' and you sing that three times! Then at the end you say 'Earlye in the morning!'-- It's the same tune the whole way through!" She clapped her hands and demonstrated the verse with a grin on her face, before holding her hands out to show that it was Kuzo's turn, "Okay, I'll do it with you so ready? One, two--!"
Kuzo continuously nodded as Lotte explained how to do it. Seemed easy enough, just say the first verse, sing it three times, and end with the last one. "Alright, I think I got it!" He exclaimed, clearing his throat and began.
"What shall we do with the drunken sailor, what shall we do with the drunken sailor, what shall we do with the drunken sailor, what shall we do with the drunken sailor, what shall we do with the drunken sailor, what shall we do with the drunken sailor, what shall we do with the drunken sailor..."
He was on a seemingly endless loop, not realizing he was only supposed to say the verse three times, or perhaps just not realizing that he didn't say it three times.
While Lotte had sung along for the first two rounds, she quickly realized that Kuzo was getting a little too excited and laughed along as she clapped her hands, helping him with the beat as he went on and on-- what a funny man!
"Early in the morning!" He sung loudly the last bit, throwing his arms in the air, and grinning at Lotte. "That was cool, how'd we do?"
"Terrible," Morgan said out of nowhere, sitting at the table, sipping tea quietly with a very morose expression painted about his face. "Are y'all truly incapable of doin' any sort of math?" Morgan sighed, continuing to sip his tea. "Also, ya were off key a bit. Then again, we can't all be as talented as Lotte over there, now can we?"
She managed to chime in with Kuzo in time to sing the last bit of 'morning' with him, clapping her hands enthusiastically before smiling over at Morgan's rather apt assessment of their duet. "If it's fun that's all that matters! I've practiced a lot, but singing with people is a lot better than singing by yourself. So! Your turn!" Grinning at him she clapped her hands, counting him in, "One, two--!"
"Yeah, come on Morgan. Your turn to prove you can do any better," Kuzo shot back to Morgan with a grin, leaning back in his stool across the counters and crossing his arms.
"I ain't much for singin' but if I need to show ya how it's done, you got it!" Morgan knocked back his little bit of tea as Lotte was prepping to counting him in.
"What shall we do with the drunken sailor, what shall we do with the drunken sailor, what shall we do with the drunken sailor, Morgan said before stumbling over the last phrase as he completely forgot the words he was supposed to sing. He mumbled under his breath keeping the beat right but covering up his little mishap the best he could before bursting into flames out of embarrassment.
"Early in the mornin'~" Avril chimed in, walking into the room with a small grin on her lips. She glanced over at Morgan, giggling at his little mess up. "That wasn't terrible, Pepper-kun... Nothin' that some practice couldn't fix. Still, I think the little lady here has ya beat by a mile."
The second time had certainly gone better than the first, and Lotte broke out into a smile mid-song when their trio unexpectedly became a quartet. (And was particularly entertained by Morgan's little kaput at the end, even if it had made her jump a little in surprise.) "We have lots of time to practice~!"
Putting down the last of the mugs, she opened the cabinet in which they were kept, putting each one back inside one by one without realizing that she could be doing multiple mugs at a time. "Aren't you two pirates?" She asked Kuzo and Morgan with a playful note of doubt in her voice, "I would've thought you'd known songs like this~"
Morgan's face turned a bit sour at Lotte's little jab, taking her assessment of him as an insult. She was right though. He should know more pirating songs considering how long he had been sailing, then again he didn't exactly have time to learn. "I spent a lot of my time on the seas alone," Morgan finally admitted. "I didn't exactly have anyone teach me how to sing between avoiding marines and...a few other hobbies of mine."
"Hmm," Kuzo placed a palm on his cheek and stared out the window silently for a few seconds, thinking back on his times with the orphans, and everything that transpired afterward. "Truth be told, this is my first official pirate crew. I was on the seas for a while, but we were never really pirates. I guess because Koan didn't want us to be called that." He chuckled lightly. He turned back to Lotte, Morgan and Avril. "But you're right Lotte, we'll have lots of time to practice, and lots of time to pick up more songs!"
Holding the last mug in her hands, she blinked as she felt as if she'd unintentionally caught a glimpse of her two crew members' pasts. Their stories were... much different than how she'd envisioned it-- swash-buckling, merry-making crews were what being a pirate was all about! Or so she'd thought. Ignoring, or perhaps not noticing Morgan's sour face and Kuzo's silent contemplation, she put her arms down, leaning on the counter with curious eyes. She opened her mouth, looking fully prepared to pry even deeper-- but instead: "I actually don't know very many sailor's songs either. I only know two; the ones I heard on the ship to Logue Town. I'd never been on a ship before then! But from now on, I'll learn lots more and we can sing them all!"
She glanced over at Avril with a cheerful smile despite the others' slight gloom, "What about you, Avril? Do you know many songs? Skellen said you were in the Marines...? Or was that the other guy..." Putting her finger on her chin, Lotte stared up, rifling through her memory or lack thereof, having not paid much attention to the specifics during introductions....
"Hmmm... I really don't know many tunes myself," Avril replied, glancing down at Lotte as she spoke. "Well, at least not those that may be appropriate for pirates to go 'round singin'... A pirate singin' Marine songs might turn a head even more than a crew sailin' in a Marine ship."
She paused for a moment, crossing her arms for a moment and closing her eyes as if she deep in thought. A small smile slowly formed at her lips, her eyes opening up with the light of an idea shining through them.
"Ya know, Loli... I bet instead of just learnin' songs that are already bein' sung all over the place, ya could probably rack your noggin' and come up with a tune or so yourself..." Avril mused. "I mean, you're not half-bad at singin'... and it looked like you were havin' fun with Pepper-kun and Ku-kun... Maybe ya should put that sort of energy and talent to use and be the musician for the crew, yeah? Ya know, someone to go 'round and keep the spirits up."
"Ah, I like that!" Kuzo exclaimed, slamming one fist into his open palm. "Good idea Avril. Lotte, you can be the new musician of the crew! Lead us in a song!" He turned around, examining the rest of the crew inside the galley. "And everyone has to be apart of it. Captain's orders!" He added with a wide grin.
The door to the galley suddenly creaked open, Vance's head poking itself through the doorway, quickly locating the group seated around the room. He gave a smile and waved, still in the doorway. "Oh, hey. I, uh, heard you guys singing from upstairs and wanted to come see what was going on. What're you singing?"
Looked like it was going to be harder to learn pirate songs than Lotte had anticipated. Drumming her fingers on her arm, she brightened at Avril's suggestion. Musicians? They had those?? "I can do that!" She raised her hand excitedly at the prospect of something she was actually good at. Chores, she'd been learning- but they were definitely not her forte. "I can sing, and play piano and violin. A little flute- but I'm not so good at that compared to the others." Listing them off on her fingers, she seemed a little surprised at Kuzo's sudden declarations-- and order? Bursting out into giggles, she waved Vance over when he poked his head inside with perfect timing.
"We were singing Drunken Sailor!" She started to clap her hands to a steady beat again, the few gears in her brain working away at a tune and some lyrics.
"Well, since we don't have any drunken sailors -yet-, I'll teach you this one instead!:"
Making a delivery-- bringing it across the sea!
Binks' Sake in the hold, as we sail through the breeze~
Far across the eye can see, the sun is shining merrily-
As the birds fly in the sky as they sing out with glee!
"Whenever I motion, you guys sing 'Yo ho ho ho'' like I just did, okay?" Giving a few beats for her crewmates to absorb the information, she motioned them in--
Avril nodded and smiled at Lotte. After all, it had been her idea for the shorter girl to pursuit this title, so she did not mind indulging her a bit. "Yo, ho, ho, ho~"
Vance, having taken himself a spot at the very end of the counter, resting his forearms on it, looked pretty baffled at how well Lotte was actually singing. Without any hesitation and with a bright smile on his lips, he chimed in as Lotte motioned to them. "Yo ho ho ho~!"
Kuzo smiled and nodded silently but enthusiastically, extremely pleased that Lotte was going along so well with his suggestion, and getting into the singing immediately. He tried to pick up the tune of her song, nodding happily at her instructions, then burst out singing at her mark. "Yo, ho, ho, ho, ho~!" Kuzo smacked his head with his hand. "Aww, dang it too many." He inhaled and tried again. "Yo, ho, ho~!" Kuzo shook his head again. "No, no not right," He tried to follow the beat of the music, and open his mouth to sing once more. "Yo, ho, ho, ho~!"
Morgan pretty much followed their leads, shrugging a bit as he took a breath. Singing wasn't his thing, and he was terrible at any sort of memorizing of lyrics, but Kuzo's enthusiasm rubbed off on him. If he was going to give it a shot, Morgan couldn't let him get too far ahead of him: Yo, ho, ho, ho~!
Laughing mid-song as Kuzo slipped up again, she waited from him to try again-- and again, before he finally got it right. Nodding and smiling enthusiastically at him, she took a deep breath,
"Bid "Adieu" to everyone, as we sail under the sun--
Sailing on from dusk till dawn and singing out--" She glanced at their captain with a knowing smile, "--as one!"
"Cross the gold and silver waves, changing into water sprays,
Sailing out on our journey to the ends of the sea!"
After cueing another round from her crew mates to finish off the song, she broke the beat she'd held steadily thus far, clapping her hands together in applause for everyone's performance. Or, in some cases, efforts.
Brimming with glee, Lotte put her hands down, leaning over the counter as she looked around at the others with eyes gleaming, "I'll learn lots and lots of songs at the next island, and the one after that-- and I'll make lots of new ones just for us!"
With his spirits clearly lifted high after the song, Vance gave a bright smile to everyone, finally looking back at Lotte. "That was really amazing. You're a fantastic singer, Lotte!" He paused, glancing over at Kuzo. "We really need to get her an instrument. Do you think we could get her a piano?"
"Yeah, sounds good to me," Kuzo replied, as he crossed his arms and returned Lotte and Vance's smile with a grin of his own. "Our new musician will need it anyway. We'll put it on the top of our list of stuff we'll need at Dinas. Along with...." Kuzo placed a hand to his chin, scratching it while he thought, before remembering what else they ought to pick up. "...some paint! For a new flag!"
Avril offered Kuzo a small smile. If anything else, he had optimism for his new crew. Still, it seemed like he could use a small amount of guidance in the right direction towards other things they could and most likely would actually need.
"Those sound good, Ku-kun... But how about we add food, drink, medicine for your doctor to treat with, and clothes to that list as well?" the woman suggested. "Even with a clever new flag, we won't be able to get very far if we starved to death or died of illness out on the sea..." She paused for a moment, glancing down at herself and then Morgan. "Clothes might also be on that list... A few of us are starting to look a bit rough after all that commotion on Duke's Island."
"Yeah, I guess most of us could use some new clothes." Vance commented, pausing and nodding his head. "Avril's right, we need to focus on the important things first. And -then- get some paint and a piano!"
Kuzo nodded back to Avril. "Makes sense to me. Add those to the list," He declared with a smile. He suddenly began looking around thoughtfully, then spoke once more. "Probably a good idea if we make a list as well." He added with a chuckle.
"One tiny lil' thing, guys. Who's steerin' the ship?" Morgan said, disrupting their talk.
"It doesn't steer itself?" Lotte asked, tilting her head at Morgan's interjection.
"Some can, but I think this one usually requires steady guidance from an expert navigator," Alby replied, glancing over at Vance with a grin. "What do you think, Vanny?"
Vance blinked a little as everyone seemingly turned to him, realization slowly painting across his face. "You know, I-" He was interrupted as the entire ship suddenly shook, causing Vance to stumble a little backwards, before the ship seemed to settle again. Without another word, Vance spun around on his heel and darted out of the galley, disappearing from sight.
Bridges L. Skellen
Skellen remained leaning against the deck twirling the sea stone bullet between his fingers, the now empty mug hanging at his feet as his free arm rested his wait on the edge of the ship. He’d have quite liked to have been a part of the miniature party that had brewed below deck, but his thoughts were locked on something of far greater importance – something he had realised through his interactions with Morgan and the encounter with Koan.
Those of us without devil’s fruit abilities are severely outclassed in combat right now. It doesn’t matter how much more skilled we are, if we can’t so much as touch our opponents then we can’t win. Morgan is practically intangible and this Koan woman was able to wreck him with that fruit of hers. Sure I might be able to go head to head with some of the Paramecia or Zoan but pretty much every Logia has a huge advantage of me. Sea stone is the only weapon I might have against them at this point and this bullet is the only supply I’ve got right now.
Skellen clasped the bullet tight in his hand and stood up straight, stretching his limbs before he abandoned his empty glass and proceeded to move below deck where the noise of songs and merrymaking from the galley was louder, almost deafening. Skellen contemplated various methods of utilising the sea stone as he walked towards the infirmary. It seemed to him there were a few ways he could make use of it but he wanted to assure that whatever method he chose would fit nicely with his skill set as well as be usable by others if the need should arise. He thought back on his various encounters with devil’s fruit users and recapped his own strengths and weaknesses, his own strategies and the flaws inherent in his method of combat.
Whether or not it was because they were the freshest in his mind, or because they had struck the biggest cord the two memories that kept returning to him were the attack by Koan and his battle with the Tensen pirates. The key aspect with Koan was simple enough, once she got going they didn’t stand a chance so it was imperative she was dealt with quickly. In his battle with the Tensen Pirates, Mina had only been a threat because of her fruit – the truly dangerous ones had been her father and brother who were actually fairly skilled opponents. In that battle two things had been very apparent; if you’re not a good fighter a weaker fruit won’t guarantee you the win and at all and that through planning he’d defeated a devil fruit. So strategy was also important. In that instance he’d also given Lotte his coat and told her how to use his weapons – so it would be easy enough for his crew to make use of the sea stone weapon should they need to. The answer seemed quite clear to Skellen, the best method of using the bullet would be to use the sea stone like a toxin.
The assassin-turned-doctor turned into the infirmary and began scouring through the shelves, drawers and his bag for useful tools. He ended up retrieving a thick scalpel, a candle, a matchbox and a handful of his empty vials – the variety that came with a needle attachment at the head.
“Perfect” Skellen grinned “this way I’ll take a long time to use up the bullet – even though it will take a while to produce the weapons too – and they won’t really need any preparation before use.”
Skellen set up the candle, igniting it with one of the matches before grasping the bullet with a set of tweezers and holding it in the flames. Slightly softening the material. He then proceeded to slide his hand within the sleave of his leather coat using his now protected hand to hold the scorching hot bullet. Skellen then picked up the scalpel and began to furiously scrape at the bullet, his face reddening from the effort with which he worked. Gradually a pile of dust like particles formed on the desk at which he worked and on his sleeve. Only when the pile was somewhat significant did Skellen stop, blowing out the candle at placing his new kit into a small box which was promptly placed into a draw. Skellen dusted what he could off of his now slightly charred sleeve onto the pile and, withdrawing a small jug from his bag, slid the “dust” from the desk into it. Once he had gotten as much of the sea stone as he could into the jug he distributed it between the vials and filled each with water before placing the needle caps onto them.
“I’d have liked to have made more, but for now it is probably better to limit the number I carry. This way if they get damaged I don’t have to go looking for a whole new source of sea stone.” With that Skellen placed his new weapons into his satchel and left the infirmary. Heading to the Galley to re-kindle what was left of the now quiet “party.
“Why are we so quiet in here now?” he said, walking into the room with his trademark lunatic grin.
It is said that in Dinas, everything is connected. Its islands. Its wealth. Its people. Everything. Perhaps it is because of the grand number of bridges and canals. Perhaps it is because of the vast amount of trade and activity that flows into the city. Or perhaps it is because of the all-seeing tower that looms over the conglomerate of islands that is home to the Kobushi Corporation.
Dinas has been around ever since the Grand Line was first traveled. It’s exact origins are unknown but the stories say that one Hiraku Kobushi established Dinas many years ago to act as a trading hub, a place where people exchange goods, get supplies and rest before wandering deeper into the Grand Line. People soon flooded to the meager offering that Dinas’ earliest years provided and the small hub slowly but greatly expanded. Over the years, Dinas expanded to encompass the surrounding rock formations, crafting man-made islands to house the increasing number of inhabitants. What was once one island suddenly grew into five. Bridges and canals connected all the islands together, allowing for easy movement between the poorer outside islands and the wealthy core.
Soon, the expansion was halted, as the pioneers of ancient Dinas had no other islands to terraform. So they built up. Larger buildings swallowed up the insignificant. Walls and other barriers separated the impoverished from the dignified, as more and more wealth and pride entered the core island and spread out. Dinas became ever changing, a wholly dynamic island as the expansion of travel in the Grand Line and the New World made Dinas ever more important. It emerged as the trading capital of the world where anybody who was anybody would have some outpost on one of the islands of Dinas. Smaller, independent business kept themselves on the outer rim islands, yet the largest and most powerful business did their business on the core, original Island.
The rise of Morris D. Rallo marked the first radical shift Dinas ever made. Dinas became a major base for the World Government and the Marines. Due to the constant stream of people, the Marines used Dinas as a means to an end. Pirates were often captured by the constant vigilance of the Marines and any other outfits that were willing to ally with the Marines. Rumors would often spread like wildfire, allowing them to stop entire operations before they began. It’s prime location at the heart of the Grand Line allowed for easy traveling to all other locations in the vast ocean. In exchange for the help of various corporations, the World Government would offer protection and assistance in establishing new ventures. The deals seemed fair. At least for a time.
For there is always one constant in Dinas: The Kobushi Corporation. Established in the center of everything, holed up in ominous tower that watches over all of Dinas (and some say the world itself) is the center of operations for the largest corporation in the world. Currently lead by Kasumi Kobushi, the corporation has aggressively expanded since the dawn of Morris D. Rallo’s reign as the King of Pirates, becoming even more influential since his defeat (and subsequent death) at the hands of Fleet Admiral Kanaru. It is said that the Kobushi Corporation has its hands in every business dealing on the four blues, the Grand Line and even the New World. No one knows its true intentions or how the operation is ran. All anyone knows is that Kasumi is in charge.
At least that is what Morgan knew as the ship pulled into the northernmost port of the island empire. After sailing for nearly six days, the feeling of solid ground under his feet would be welcome. Sure, the man loved the ocean but sea legs grew weak over time. Dinas was the perfect stop for the crew. Almost everyone needed a good meal and drink, a fresh set of clothes and supplies for the journey further down the Grand Line. A feeling for the outside world would be helpful too. Dinas could provide all that. It was the closest thing to the center of the world. And best of all, Morgan was in the perfect place to find out what happened at Duke Island. He wouldn’t leave the island before he accomplished that.
What you can do
In a word: anything. Obviously, I rather you not destroy everything and run away, but everyone is being given a lot of freedom to walk around and explore. Dinas is a mega city, a metropolis on the ocean. The picture above is an example of one of the five islands that constructs the city, and the city does have a medieval yet modern feel, making Dinas something of an anachronism as it blends both periods together. There is plenty of activity, stores, and things to do. So explore. Do joint posts and go crazy. Eventually, I will throw in some plot and maybe SV or I will give you guys some things to do in the meantime (until the plot really happens). For now? Bond. Buy stuff. Whatever. Most of all, have fun.
Kuzo and Morgan
Dinas Island - A Tasty Diversion
"Wow," Kuzo muttered as he looked on at the impressive city of Dinas from the edge of the ship. Even he had heard of it, though this was the first time he had ever set his own eyes upon it. "Big place," he stated, jumping onto the edge of the ship now as he observed Lotte, Vance and Avril go off ahead to explore the enormous town and do some shopping. He heard mention of clothes, and turned around to see if any of the others still remained on board. His eyes caught sight of Morgan.
Bridges L. Skellen and Bass- Facing the Law in Dinas
"HI!" Bass said and he was greeted the same way. A scream followed by the woman running away. He frowned as his ears drooped a bit more. "Skellen... you said that they wouldn't run away." He said as he turned to his companion, tears already forming in his eyes as he sniffled, "Why are they still scared then?"
Skellen turned around from where he'd been examining a large stall of "medicinal herbs" - all of which were pretty much useless much to his irritation - at the sound of yet another scream and Bass' continued questioning. Trying not to laugh at the terrified expression on the woman's face he answered the bat.
"I highly recommend finding out what the term sarcasm means... it might save your life." Skellen would have happily left it there, but Bass' sniffling threw him into a panic - he could not cope with his crying and he was pretty confident it would attract attention they did not want.
"Maybe it will just take time and practice? I mean you're not going to master being social in the space of an hour. You're probably going to have to get used to people screaming until you get the hang of it."
Or you could be a little less creepy and mind your own business...
He paused his crying there as he nodded, "You're right... so how do I get better?" He asked. "I mean you can talk to people too. Can you give me some advice. And what does sarcasm mean?" He asked. "It sounds funny, sarcasm." He giggled a bit. "Um... but are there any cloaks around too? I haven't seen any yet."
"Most people get better at interacting with others by interacting with others, it's something we learn as we age. So I guess the same will apply to you as with small children - pick a suitable role model and emulate how they interact with others - there is no medicinal use for carrot sticks moron!" Skellen yelled at the herb vendor before returning his attention to Bass "I am probably not a suitable role model."
Skellen moved along the crowded street with Bass in tow as he answered the bat's next question
"As for cloaks, this doesn't really seem to be a district with many places selling clothes, let's keep moving forward for now. We're bound to find one soon enough."
Bass flinched at his yell and nodded slowly, "Uh... you're probably right." He said softly, "Anyways I think Morgan can be my role model. Do you think? I think he's good."
"Personally I'm not sure if I love him or hate him. The matchstick is certainly interesting though, and probably better with the schmoozing than me anyway." Skellen chuckled "who you use as a role model is up to you, but if you pick Morgan I'd recommend not copying his tendency to set things on fire."
Bass just tilted his head, "Why would I do that? Oh hello." He said as he waved a wing at another couple. The man was quick to drop his packages and run off with the woman as Bass frowned, "Well... they must have forgotten something and are heading back to retrieve it." Bass said with a forced smile"
"Yeah... probably. I mean, everyone is very busy in cities like this." Skellen replied to Bass. Honestly he just wasn't sure what to say, he couldn't help but feel sorry for the bat but on the other hand he couldn't really fathom why he was so attached to the opinions of others either.
"Have you noticed that the shops and restaurants around us seem to have classed up significantly? We must be closer to the richer districts." Skellen added, "accidentally" tripping over a young man who'd been shooting Bass looks of disgust.
Bass looked over and frowned, "Uh... Skellen shouldn't you apologize?" He asked as he pointed out a wingtip to the fallen man. As the bat got close to try and help him up he received a wad of spit in the face. The bat stopped right there and fell onto his rump. He let his head droop as the man ran off and he wrapped his wings tightly around his body. He was soon shaking there as the doc would hear some light sobbing coming from inside the temporary shelter.
He had to spit on him... Skellen thought to himself, surprised at how angry he was with the man. It seemed as though people were far too judgmental based on nothing but appearance or reputation - just like the marines had been to the pirates resting on Eden.
"Relax." Skellen said, crouching next to his companion, "People like him, their opinions aren't worth considering. Judgmental, controlling people are scum, don't give them the satisfaction of knowing they won."
Bass slowly opened his wings as he rubbed at his eyes, "M-Maybe he was having a bad day..." He croaked out as the spit still stuck to the fur on his face, "T-That must be it. Maybe h-he was just having a b-bad day. I'm sure h-he's a good guy."
"He'll be having a bad day if I see him again..." Skellen raged, he was still surprised by the effect his companions misfortune was having on him, but if Bass wasn't going to toughen up any time soon someone had to look out for him.
Bass shook his head, "Please don't." He told Skellen as he got up and wiped the spit off as best as he could. "It was my fault. I should have seen that I was having some bad manners. Obviously I did something wrong, probably made the wrong gesture that must have insulted him." He said as a small smile formed over his face, "How about we find some cloaks now? Right?" He asked.
"Excuse me. But you shall not be retrieving any cloaks today," a voice suddenly said from behind the two pirates. It was that of a relatively tall woman, with long blonde hair wearing a pair of glasses to shield her delicate blue eyes from the sun. She was dressed professionally, almost too much so, in a black suit with an equally black tie against a pristine white shirt. Her deadpan voice matched her deadpan expression. She appeared to be adjusting her white gloves for a brief moment, as if she had expected a violent response from the bat and his friend. The professional demeanor was met with gasps from onlookers as they recognized the figure immediately. It was "Hundredth" Sarah of the Unit. Sarah served as a negotiator, a middle-woman between the Kobushi Corporation and local businesses, collecting money and establishing deals from the more upscale patrons. If strong words and bold actions worked, Sarah would be set. Even then, if muscle was required, Sarah was more than capable to serve. She was the ideal professional and one of the more renowned representatives of the company. A far cry from the more brutish members. "People have been complaining of a disturbance from a strange creature. Luckily, I have been able to find you as to address this complaint swiftly and effectively. If you were to come with me, sir, we will remedy the situation immediately."
Bass felt his ears quickly fall flat against his head as he rubbed his arms with some embarrassment, "I... I didn't mean to cause that much trouble." He said, "I was trying to be a bit more social. I'm sorry... I don't think I know social codes that well." He made his way to the woman, "Um, my name is Bass. I keep getting spit on... but I think I just didn't shake hands the right way." He looked down at the claw that was placed at his wing tip, "I don't really think I can shake that well with a claw."
"I care little for excuses and so called good intentions. You are a problem. My employer sends me to solve them," Sarah said, her eyes narrowing. "You will come with me peacefully, or suffer the consequences. Do I make myself clear, sir?"
Bass nodded, "Of course. I don't want to make your job any harder." He said with a smile. "Uh, see you later Skellen!" He said as he gave a small wave to his companion, "I'll go back to the ship later."
Skellen's arm had shot out, gripping Bass tightly and pulling him back to where he had originally been standing, before he even knew he had reacted.
"You should be nicer to my friend here you know, he's very sensitive" Skellen said coolly, his eyes narrowing to match those of Sarah and a wicked grin appearing amongst his features.
"Further more, we have no reason to do what you say, I don't care who your employers are nor what they want. It's not his fault that the people in this city are pretentious snobs. It sounds like your employer is about as morally sound as the government, and unfortunately that's not saying much."
Sarah leered at Skellen, her deadpan expression marked ever so slightly by frustration. However, her calm demeanor had not cracked. She eventually smiled: "On the contrary, you have a number of reasons to listen to every word I say. I shall offer one to start with: As a visitor, you are obligated to abide to Dinas' laws. Your friend here has disturbed the peace, and therefore as violated a law. As an enforcer of the law, it is my duty to rectify the situation." Sarah paused and crept an inch closer to them both. "I was going to give you a free pass, but I have since changed my mind. You both now have another offense: resisting arrest. Now if you will both come with me, we can make this very easy on us both."
Bass quickly broke free of Skellen's grip as he frowned, "Please forgive him. I wasn't resisting! He just grabbed me! I'll go with you, honest!" He said as he frantically nodded his head, "It's alright Skellen, she's a police woman and I always heard on my island that police were the nicest people around. She hasn't spit on me yet so that's proof!" He said with a weak chuckle more aimed to cut through the tension in the air, "Uh anyways I'll go with you." Bass said.
"Excellent. If you will come with me, you will be processed and subjected to the appropriate punishment for your crimes against myself and Dinas," she calmly replied. The crowds around them deafened their gasps. Punishment did not always fit the crime in Dinas.
Bass quickly nodded as he looked back at Skellen, shooting him a glance that pleased for him not to do anything. On the one hand, no one liked punishment... yet on the other he didn't want Skellen to get into trouble as well! That would only make things worse! "Okay, sure." He said. "Uh.... what does processed mean?" He asked as he tilted his head, "Sorry, I'm not really used to different words like that. Anyway, lead the way." He gave a cheerful grin, "At least I can use that time to see more of the city and maybe find a store that sells cloaks. Is there one? I mean I haven't seen one yet." At this point he had just fallen into his old routine of asking questions just because of curiosity.
Sarah was caught off guard, blinking at the questions. She coughed quietly. "Processed means you will be charged with your crimes and then given the proper sentencing in one of our jails until we see fit to release you," she answered politely. "Also, you will not be purchasing any cloaks or personal items all the way. They are not permitted in jail. Nor will you receiving any visitors during your stay."
Bass nodded, "I've... I've never been in jail before... it'll be a new experience." He said with a happy nod, "I have heard some stuff about it, but it can't be that bad, maybe it's just overexaggerated." He nodded again, "Uh... so do you have any hobbies? I personally love flying. I mean, I guess it's a given since I'm a bat, but it just feels so good to have the wind in your fur. I do hope though I haven't been too much trouble, I never realized I was going to force you to come out here and arrest me. I might have been interrupting something more important. I hope I wasn't." He said as he lowered his head, "I'm sorry for that." In fact... he DID sound very sorry, almost as if he had done the wrongest thing in the whole universe.
Skellen watched the exchange between Bass and Sarah, a stunned expression on his face. He was actually unsure of how to respond to the strangeness of the situation. He was standing there watching a human/bat hybrid happily chat away to a pretentious, uptight woman who was attempting to arrest the two of them. That sort of thing doesn't happen every day... unless you happened to be Skellen.
"Firstly lady, I am a pirate and therefore your laws mean about as much to me as a pile of warm elephant droppings. Secondly, you're so uptight I'm pretty sure a steel pole has been surgically inserted into a certain orifice." Skellen stood there scratching his head before continuing "But hey, Bass wants to go to jail so why the hell not? Lead the way oh empress of anus poles!" Skellen bowed down briefly in mock worship, before gesturing for Sarah to lead the way and stuffing his hands into his pockets with a shrug.
"I will work under the impression you will be joining us... pirate?" Sarah asked.
"Well to you it's Mr. Bridges, unless you plan on taking me to dinner before jail, then it's Skellen." Skellen laughed, enjoying being a colossal thorn in the woman's side. If you're going to go to a city like Dinas, you may as well enjoy the experience.
Bass glanced back and forth as he slowly tapped his wing tips together, "Uh... I'm really sorry." He said to the police woman. "I mean, I don't think you want all this hassle. Skellen, that was a very very bad thing to say! I didn't even understand half of that... so does that make it bad?" He paused and titled his head, "What did you mean by a certain orifice? What is an orifice?"
Sarah coughed again, this time more forcefully as to hide her frustrations. It wasn't the first time a man hit on her, but this one did it without any tact. However, the cough also symbolized the end of her patience. From her back pocket, she pulled out two pairs of handcuffs. She threw one set on Skellen with relative ease and then stared at Bass, then the handcuffs and then at Bass again. "I am going to hope you will follow me without any issues."
Bass of course nodded, "Yes, of course! I don't want to make this any harder!" He said with a small smile, "Should we get going then? I don't want to waste anymore of your time, and I think we wasted quite a lot here." He tapped his wing tips together, "I'm sorry about that... I guess I just talk so much that I don't know when to stop. If you want me to shut up just say so."
"Shut up" Skellen offered, smiling like an idiot at Bass as he considered the best way to continue taunting the lady cop. Most people wouldn't enjoy being in the situation that Skellen was in, but the thought of jail wasn't something that really intimidated him, and anything that could potentially toughen Bass up would be a good thing.
"I agree, if you're taking us to jail get on with it or let us go... but what's with the handcuffs? We only just met."
This is probably a terrible idea, but hey it's turning out to be pretty fun.
Sarah coughed once more, clearing your thought. "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against when faced with processing. You have the right to challenge any accusations when facing the Judge. If you wish to consult any friends or family at the courthouse, you will allowed to do so. Do you understand your rights as I have presented to you?"
Bass of course nodded silently, not opening his mouth since Skellen's 'shut up' moment.
"Yeah we got that pole lady" Skellen said nonchalantly "Will you get sacked when we escape?"
"Nobody has escaped our dungeons. I fail to see any chance of you doing so.
"Then you're about as clever and inventive as you look duchess. Now are you going to throw us in the slammer - wow that sounds interesting - or are you going to continue standing in the middle of the street having a pleasant chat with a man-bat and a handcuffed guy who you claim to be arresting?"
All the while Bass' eyes were widening as he realized at that moment that Skellen was being really, really mean to her! He of course wanted to say something to reassure her that Skellen didn't mean anything... but of course his mouth was closed tightly and he hung his head. He had no way to help now!
Selena, Morgan and Kuzo - Searching and talking in Dinas
Kuzo left out of the front door with Morgan, finishing up the bread along the way. However, he ignored his request to search for paint. Kuzo had put that on hold now that he had his sights set on something far more valuable. He caught up to Selena, and tapped her on her shoulder. "Hey," He called out, offering her a warm smile as he swallowed the last of her food. "I really like your cooking. And your fighting. I'm Kuzo, by the way."
Selena, who's mind had been completely somewhere else, almost jumped out of her skin at the sound of Kuzo's voice and the tap on her shoulder. The green-haired girl quickly spun around, her foot literally stopped just short of the pirate captain's face. A small sigh of relief escaped Selena's lips as she managed to avoid causing a rather embarrassing commotion. She managed to smile weakly, lowering herself into a more relaxed state.
"Thanks um... Kuzo, was it?" she replied, rubbing the back of her head nervously. "But it was just bread. I could've made you something far more worth your time if that whole... incident wouldn't have happened. Sorry about sort of... ruining your meal like that."
Kuzo's eyes had widened to twice their normal size as he found himself with a foot right to his face, but was relieved that she had stopped right before the blow hit. He chuckled a bit to pass if off as nothing, then continued as if nothing happened. "How about making something for me and my crew on my ship?" He asked, placing his hands hips. "Meaning more long-term? I need a cook! I like you, how about joining us?"
"Sorry, can't do that," Selena replied quickly, her back facing Kuzo once more. "I'm the head cook at that restaurant. Besides, that old bat sort of needs me to help her out with things. She's not exactly in the best of health right now."
"Aww, are you sure?" Kuzo pressed on, determined to get her to consider the proposition more. "I mean, there has to be someone else that can take care of her, maybe? Another worker at the restaurant, or family or something?" He gave the girl a grin, bringing one of his hands to his chest. "I could tell from the moment I looked at you, you've got the heart of an adventurer just like me. Don't you wanna get off this island and see what awaits you out in the rest of the world? There has to be something out there you want to see."
"Sabola Island," the girl answered quickly. A smile slowly crept up on her lips, her eyes lighting up as she the thought of what she mentioned ran through her mind. She quickly turned back around, her excitement growing at the prospect. "It's supposed to be a legendary island that's in the New World! You've heard of it, right? Well, no matter. It's an island that's supposed to have almost any spice you could imagine! Plus one that's so amazing, it can make anything taste like pure heaven in your mouth! Ever since I was a little kid I've dreamed about getting off this island and setting out to find it myself... Bringing it back with me and opening my own restaurant and having my cooking be talked about all over the world!"
Kuzo couldn't help but smile brightly as Selena talked about Sabola Island. If there was any doubt before about his decision, all of it was washed away instantly by the way she described her dreams so passionately. This was the cook he wanted, there couldn't be another out there like her.
"That sounds like a dream worth pursuing! We're setting sail and traveling all across the Grand Line, and eventually into the New World as well. Come with me, Selena. We can go there and find our ultimate treasures together! And I promise you I'll do whatever I can to get you to Sabola Island!"
Selena closed her eyes, sighing as she shook her head. "It sounds, great... Really. But I really can't just up and leave Marta like that. She's been taking care of me since before I can remember, and... I know what you think you saw back there, but her kicks aren't exactly what they used to be. I can't just turn my back on her right now... not when she's getting this sick and her health is going down like this. Sorry, Kuzo."
Kuzo's smiled instantly turned into a frown. He could see that she really did want to go, whether or not with him, but definitely to the island. But he could also see that she really did care for the old woman in the restaurant. Kuzo knew if he was in a similar position, he too would probably not turn his back on a friend or caregiver that was in need. Yet even then, he wasn't going to give up that easily. "Maybe let our doctor take a look at her?"
"Doctor? I mean... we've already had one look at her, but..." Selena replied. "Well, I guess a second opinion wouldn't hurt... Oh, I really don't have that much money on me at the moment, though. I sort of do have a table to replace..."
"That's OK," Kuzo quickly interjected. "I'll get you a new table, our doc can take a look at her, and you can just come with us!" He turned passed her and looked around the city streets, before picking a direction and walking it. "It's settled then. Let's go find Skellen!"
Selena stared in disbelief as Kuzo had more or less determined the plan of action, not even really giving her a chance to think about it from there. "H-Hey! Hey, wait a minute!" The girl called out, quickly starting to chase after the pirate captain. "Look, I really appreciate the positive thought your giving this whole situation, but how is it settled? Your doctor may not even be able to fix her, you know!"
"Yeah, maybe not," He replied, pausing along the cobblestone street and looking back at her. "But maybe yes. Is it not worth trying for your dreams?"
"Well, yeah of course it is..." Selena replied quickly.
"Then, come on!" He yelled, turning back around and ushering her to follow.
Selena bit her lip, before nodding and following Kuzo once more. A small smile came to her lips as they walked. Something about the pirate's attitude was very infectious. "Is this doctor of yours that good?"
"The best," Kuzo replied, looking left and right for any sign of the man. He doubted that he would still be on the ship by now, but it would probably be next to impossible to find him in the city. "He knows all about poisons and medicine and...needles. You know, doctor stuff!" He added with a chuckle. "Now we just have to find him..."
"I thought we were lookin' for paint, not Skellen," Morgan interjected, growing more and more fed up with Kuzo's shenanigans. "I understand that Selena here is a beautiful young woman and probably would be a better pirate than ya'll, but we do have things we need to take care of before we can really call our fancy selves pirates. 'Cause right now, we look like bums that hijacked a Marine ship and decided to sail around in circles pretendin' we know what we are doing." As Morgan expressed his feelings to his "captain" he came to realize that much of the problems were a result of Kuzo's leadership. He could only sigh. "Ya know what? I'll just go and find the paint myself. I seem to have a nasty habit of cleanin' your messes anyhow." Morgan brushed Kuzo aside and bowed towards Selena, before digging his hands in his pockets and storming off.
Selena watched quietly as Morgan stormed off, leaving her and Kuzo on their own. The green-haired cook gave the captain a confused look. "...Is he always so agressive like that? Seems a bit too serious, if you ask me..."
"He just needs some time to cool off," Kuzo replied, glancing at Morgan as he walked off on his own. He had half a mind to go after him too, but figured probably the best thing for him now was to be on his own and figure things out. Morgan had been alone for quite a while now. Maybe he wasn't quite used to being with a pirate crew again. At least, that was Kuzo's thinking. "But you're right, he is a bit too serious sometimes. And..." He wanted to delve more deeper, bring up some of the thoughts he was thinking about the way Morgan was talking. There was something specific that irked him about the way he spoke. But he figured he'd have a chance to speak him mind to him later. "...well, never mind, let's go find Skellen," He declared to Selena happily.
Kuzo turned around again and strutted forward, no particular destination in mind. He silently observed the streets of Dinas, marvelling at the numerous shops and restaurants present. Duke Island's little market district was nothing compared to this. In fact, he was pretty sure he had never seen anything like this in his life. As he walked, in no direction in particular, he tried to keep an eye out for Skellen. He didn't speak up to much to Selena, but offered her the occasional glance to make sure she was still behind him, and a smile to follow.
"So, Selena, tell me about yourself," He finally pipped up, while examining a set of expensive looking jewelry pieces through a glance window.
Selena had been following Kuzo rather quietly up until this point. She was slightly amazed at how well he seemed to know his way around the massive city, considering that he was an out-of-towner. Yet as the duo navigated about the city, the pirate captain took every turn and twist in the street as if he knew exactly where he was going. That said, the green-haired cook really was not able to aid much in the search for Skellen... Mainly because she had no idea what the doctor actually looked like.
She paused as he did, when Kuzo finally broke the silence by asking her to tell him about herself. The green-haired girl looked thoughtful for a moment, bringing her finger to her mouth as if she was thinking about something very complicated.
"Like... what exactly?" Selena asked. "I mean you already know I'm a cook and my dream of finding that island, but... Is there anything else in particular you wanna know?"
"Well, are you from here for starters?" He asked, moving from the window with the jewelry to once again looking around the streets for his doctor. "What's it like to live here? Where'd you grow up?"
"Um... Sure, if you're really that interested," Selena replied, crossing her arms over her chest as she walked beside Kuzo. "It's not exactly all gumdrops and rainbows though... Honestly, it's kind of a drag to talk about, but... Since you asked nicely and complimented my cooking, I guess I can let you in on it..."
She paused in her walking, closing her eyes for a moment with a quick sigh. "It all started about 12 years ago..."
Lotte, Avril, and Vance - Dinas Island and The Dream Chaser
Avril smiled as she looked over her work. The ship's cargo hold had held all sorts of special little knickknacks for her to use in restocking her special items. The woman was actually quite worried, having had used up all she originally had left back on Duke's Island. Although, Avril's work had proved to be quite... a burden to some of the others. The woman had essentially locked the door behind her when she went inside, stressing to everyone that the work she was doing behind the door was of the extreme, confidential variety.
"Well... I guess I should go see what sort of place we landed at," Avril mused. She made her way out of the cargo hold and back onto the deck. Her eyes widened at the sight of the island they landed at. She had never seen anything quite like this before. "Wow... Talk about wantin' to make an impression on tourists..."
"It's pretty impressive, right?" A voice came from up above Avril. Vance was sat across one of the mast-beams, tying a firm knot on a length of rope holding part of the sail in place now that the ship was resting at the dock. He smiled down at Avril. "I've been here twice before, and it definitely left an impression on me, heh. Have you ever been here before?"
Avril shook her head in response. "This is the first time I've been here, actually. A doctor I know of mentioned this place before. He said he had taken trip here back when he was still studyin' medicine, but... it doesn't look anythin' like he described it."
"It's been like, two years since I was here last, and it definitely looks like there's alot of new buildings. It's growing pretty quickly." Vance commented. Finishing off the knot, he slid off the side of the beam and jumped down onto the deck, bending his legs as he landed before stretching his arms out above his head, turning to look at the city-island. "It'll be nice to get proper footing, but... it can be a pretty rough city if you go to the wrong area." He glanced at Avril, sending her another smile. "Got anything you wanna take care of while we're here?"
Avril looked thoughtful for a moment. She looked Vance up and down... followed by looking over her shoulder at Morgan... and then down at herself. A small smile graced her lips as she nodded.
"I think so, Vanny..." Avril replied. "Maybe we should get of the ship and see if there are some clothin' stores or somethin' nearby? Very few of us actually look presentable to go... most places off the ship."
Blinking, Vance looked down himself at his jacket and trousers. Granted, it was starting to look a bit... raggedy, but he didn't think to pack more clothes when he ran away from home. "Well, uh... I don't know Avril, I wasn't really planning on going anywhere. I was just sort of... thinking of taking care of the ship, you know?"
Meanwhile, towards the front of the deck, Lotte had sparkles practically oozing out of her as her eyes took in the grand sight before her, running from one side to the other and leaning over the railings to get a better look. Could she get off now? Now? How about now? She listened in agony as Avril and Vance talked-- yapping on and on about whatever they were talking about that didn't involve getting off the ship yet. But like a dog waiting to go on it's daily walk, she kept throwing longing glances between them and the city, all of her senses completely overwhelmed by this mysteriously grandiose place.
Perking up when Avril mentioned her favorite thing in the world (read: shopping, specifically for clothes) she eagerly hurried over, mouth open about to jump in and volunteer herself for the job. But then Vance opened his first, and she pouted.
"No!" Her response was instantaneous as, in an unusual display of forwardness and strength, she grabbed at Vance's arm, dragging him over to Avril and looking at her with determination and... more sparkles. "We're going." She declared, looking as if she might bubble over with anticipation, "Both of us!! Let's go shopping!! Vance can hold our bags-- he's my bodyguard after all." It had been awhile since she'd drawn the body guard card, but between her choices of male acquaintances or perhaps friends on board, Vance was definitely sturdier than Skellen. "Let's go-- like right now!! Right now right now! Not later right now but now now!" She paused for a split second before adding politely, ".... Please."
Avril giggled lightly at Lotte's excitement. It was sort of like watching a little kid the night before Christmas. She nodded at the shorter girl before looking over at Vance.
"You know, shoppin' right now might not be too bad an idea... We might be even able to find a really nice deal or three while we're out there," Avril paused, a small smirk gracing her lips. "This place is sort of big though... Probably a few thugs and criminals lurking about, waitin' to get two pretty girls like us alone for their own devious reasons... Surely, you wouldn't want that to happen, right Vanny...?"
Vance, still reeling after Lotte pulled him over besides Avril, blinked a little as he was adressed, glancing between the two girls now staring pretty intently at him, Lotte with a very excited, child-like smile and Avril with a more mischievous, plotting smirk. He felt his cheeks darken as he swallowed down, lifting a hand to rub the back of his neck. "Well, err... no, I guess I don't. The ship can probably take care of itself anyways. Or, err... well, maybe not, but you know." He glanced up at the helm and then back at the girls and gave them a smile and a nod. "Alright, I'll come along with you two. Just, uh... no running from the bill again, okay Lotte?"
She jumped up and down, shaking Vance in the process, "Yes!! I know what that is now!" Lotte announced the fact rather proudly, extracting a beli from her bag with a grin. "And anyway you and Avril will be there so if I forget it's fine!" Scuttling over to the edge of the ship she pointed excitedly towards the city, completely ignoring all of Avril's warnings about criminals and thugs because they were irrelevant in the face of shopping. "Let's gooooooo~!"
"Shall we?" Avril questioned to the navigator, before making her way to join Lotte. As much as Avril was looking forward to this herself, the smaller girl seemed a bit too eager for her own good at the moment, and something told her it was probably not in their best interest to keep her waiting to much longer, lest the girl explode from the energy running through her. "So... What sort of clothin' store do you think we should look for first, Loli? Somethin' sporty? A bit more formal...?"
Vance looked a little unsure at first, but quickly shook it off as he smiled and followed behind the two girls, moving his arms behind his head, enjoying the rather sunny weather and the fresh air as they headed off of the harbor and into the thickly populated streets of the city. Must be a spring island.
"Something adverture-y!" She announced, holding up a finger, "Because we're on an adventure!!" While her reasoning was shallow, what she had in mind wasn't exactly on the impractical side of the spectrum. She did know that their last stop had been disappointing in the shopping selection, and that islands from here on out might not always be so... abundant. So it was better not to get anything delicate. Because then she'd have to wash that separately, as well. It would be better to get things that are durable, things that could be both warm and cold, and... "Soooo I don't know about the others just yet- I have to keep thinking, but I know we should get a new jacket for Skellen, because his current one is.................." Her mouth drew into a line as she recalled borrowing it-- and while it had been welcome at the time against the cold, it was definitely not her first choice in outerwear. "And then.... well, let's see what's there first. The whole trick is if you look at something and think for even a second, 'I'm not sure I really like this', then that means it's a no go. You have to go with the gut!!" She lectured on and on as they went from store to store, and she flicked through the racks with expert precision, needing only a split second to pass judgement on each garment of clothing. Ones that passed her initial screening were tossed behind her to Vance, or a waiting store clerk-- and she occasionally paused to consult her fellow female sense, Avril.
Normally, Avril was not one to take part in such frivolous clothes shopping. While she knew that she and most of the others could stand to have a new outfit or two because of how the adventure at Duke's Island had treated them. There was something a bit... contagious about Lotte's enthusiasm through the the experience so far. The woman was starting to find herself getting really caught up in the moment with the younger girl. She took two skirts that she had found from their newest target, quickly tossing them into Vance's growing load. Avril herself had been aiding the shopping group in making sure they got a good deal by making use of her... assets, to some degree.
"Loli, don't forget to maybe keep an eye out for a cloak or two for Batsy-chan," Avril sugested, smiling softly at the short girl. "It wouldn't be too fair if we bought new clothes for everyone else and didn't let get him somethin' to wear so he could get out and stretch his... legs and stuff..."
"That's... a pretty good idea. Nfh... whoa!" Vance winced as one of the smaller boxes on top of the growing pile in his arms almost fell off the top, but he managed to swerve to the side in order to get the balance back straight. He was physically fit enough to not get bothered by a couple (Or twenty) boxes stacked in his arms, or at least the weight of them. Keeping it all balanced took more of an act, however. "A-Anyways, don't you think we've got enough clothes for now? I mean, you both have gotten like, four different outfits... shouldn't we buy some provisions and stuff too?"
"Okayyyy~" She replied, only half-paying attention to Avril's warning. As far as she was concerned, that area of inconvenience was Avril's duty, as Lotte didn't do much in the way of acknowledging that particular crew member's existence. She had yet to square away with how generally mangy he looked and wasn't really keen on conversation with him. A cloak was easy enough though, it wouldn't require her to do all that much searching around. Not as much as finding a proper jacket for Skellen had been. "It's not like the clothes are just for us-- I bought stuff for you and Morgan and Mr. Doctor too!" She counted the outfits off on her fingers, before blinking at Vance. "... Are we getting provisions too? Wasn't that everyone else's job??"
"I... Don't remember makin' it my job to..." Avril replied as she glanced back over at Vance as well, though not with out putting a new pair of boots onto his pile. "Didn't Skelly mention somethin' about it? Or Pepper-kun? It sounds like somethin' they would wanna do... Besides, when you think about it these new clothes are provisions!"
Vance stumbled a little to the side as a large man came past the three down the large, busy street, before dancing back behind the girls again, only just being able to peek around the side of the small mound of boxes in his arms. "Oh, really? I guess we'll let someone else handle that, then..." He paused, furrowing his brows a little. "Wait, you've bought stuff for me too?"
"Yep!" She lifted a cream colored tunic shirt from the racks of an outdoor boutique, thumbing at the fabric before putting it back on the rack with a shake of her head, "Hmmm I think it's the pink bag on your right arm--" She jabbed her finger towards a bag that was a particularly heinous shade of pink before happily moving on to the next rack, "It's just a new pair of pants though. Did you have anything you specifically wanted? Like how there's the cloak and then Skellen's jacket. Since you're with us you can pick!"
"Well, uh..." Vance started, glancing briefly down himself at his current attire, which wasn't much to speak of. There was one part of it he deemed completely necessary though. "I sort of need a jacket or shirt, or... you know, something with long sleeves, like a coat."
"Huh? How come?" Avril questioned, giving him a curious look. "I mean, I know it might be chilly some places, but not absolutely everywhere. And you're not a doctor like Skelly... I think it's almost required that those fix-'em-bleed-'em guys gotta wear one."
"I didn't really mean a doctor's coat, more like... just an overcoat? And, uh, I just sort of... do. I can't really tell why. Sorry." He managed to send Avril an apologetic look past the boxes before dancing around a small child running between the three, which almost sent the wares flying, but he managed to keep a hold of them.
"OK," Lotte piped up. She'd seen his ropes in action, but even so didn't connect the need for an overcoat with them. All she cared about was that now she was looking for two coats. Er, three, including the bat's. It was another good long while before she was finally satisfied with the day's purchases-- having gotten new clothes for everyone, even the bat. She was very quickly falling in love with this island- already having made the deduction that she liked large islands better than little ones. Things just seemed less backwards! "OK!" She announced at long last, putting her hands on her hips and looking back at Vance who was very impressively balancing most of their purchases, "Lets go back and take a break! I learned how to make tea so I'll put some together for us and we can sort through everything-- unless there's anything else you want?"
"Huzzah!" Vance's voice came from behind the mountain of boxes, now starting to struggle with balancing them, his hands constantly shifting to keep several of the smaller boxes from falling onto the ground. "Ship sounds like the best idea if you- whoops, got it- ask me!"
Avril giggled lightly at Vance's enthusiasm, both at the prospect of returning to the ship and catching of the several boxes from falling to the ground. "I agree. I dunno how much more our little packmule can carry, Loli," Avril teased, patting Vance on the shoulder as she walked by him. "Plus, I'm quite lookin' forward to puttin' on some clothes that don't look like I've been lost at sea from a shipwreck."
Grinning at the unanimous decision, with a skip and hop she bounded off to lead the way back to the ship-- "Okay, lets go!" ... or at least, in the direction she thought the ship was probably in. Just head towards the ocean, right?
... After many redirects from the more direction-savvy Vance and Avril, and a few detours from the easily distracted Lotte who ended up buying a few things on the way back as well, they at long last made it back to the ship-- and commandeering the kitchen which had the most table surfaces on which to sort their purchases, Lotte began the battle of sifting through boxes and bags of clothes, accessories, and other paraphernalia she'd deemed necessary.
"This table will be my clothes, this table Avril's, this one Vance's, this one Morgan's, and then Mister Captain's, and then Mister Doctor's, and then..." She blathered on and on as she expertly opened boxes-- something that would've normally been kept to servants work at her own home, but opening boxes in and of itself was something she deemed as part of the shopping process, and so had always done it herself. "In the meantime," She pulled out a large brown cloak-- and then another black one, laying them on the table, "I think the brown one would be better for this town-- a black cloak will make him look more evil than he already does." She held out the brown cloak for Avril, stating plainly and officially wiping her hands clean of the affair, "I don't know where to find the bat though."
"Vance you should go change while I'm doing this-- find the others to come change too?"
"If ya don't mind, I'll take my own to go change before findin' Batsy-chan," Avril replied, taking an outfit in particular she wanted to wear first. She smiled at Lotte and Vance before heading to the girls cabin which she and the shorter girl shared, before giving Vance a small, mischievous smirk. "Be a good boy, and don't go peekin'..."
Vance's cheeks went red at Avril's walk-by comment, quickly busying himself with picking up the clothes Lotte had put out for him, bundling it all up in his arms. "I, uh, I'll go change as well before finding the others. With any luck, they should just come back here at one point." Pausing, he looked from the clothes, to Lotte and sent the girl a smile. "Thanks for helping with this, Lotte." And with that, he went off to the boys' cabin, which was a lot more crowded at night and in the morning.
"Kayyy!" Lotte chimed off to Avril, holding up a shirt that she was having second thoughts about-- maybe it wouldn't fit Morgan after all. Skellen perhaps...? She turned it over in her hands, completely missing Avril and Vance's exchange as she deliberated on who out of the crewmates to bestow the shirt upon. "Hmmm... Oh?" Looking up when Vance thanked her, she nodded enthusiastically, smiling brightly back, "Sure, it was fun!" Without thinking of thanking him in return for carrying all their things, she tossed the shirt back into Morgan's pile, rummaging around for her new brown boots. She'd have to get changed as well, but set her new outfit aside as she waited for the others to come pick up their new clothes as well.
Avril made her way into the girls' cabin, shutting the door softly behind her with a smile. The whole shopping experience had been a lot more fun that she thought it was going to be. In fact, Avril could not remember the last time she had had so much fun. In fact, as she thought about it, the woman realized that that was the first time she had ever really... went shopping for something like clothes.
"Maybe I'll have to do it again with Loli sometime..." Avril mused with a small giggle.
Stepping further into the room, Avril removed what bit remained from her old outfit before beginning to change into her new one. She wore a pair of acid-wash style, light blue, denim shorts on her legs, held in place around her waist by a new, black leather belt. A black, midriff-baring halter top covered her torso, with a denim vest that matched her shorts worn open over top of it. A pair of black, forearm-length, fingerless gloves now rested over her hands, and a new pair of black, heeled ankle boots were worn on her feet, and her usual choker still rested around her neck Avril decided to remove her hat for the time being, carefully laying it on the bed which she called her own, before giving herself a once over in the mirror.
A quick grin graced her lips. "Not bad... but somethin' still feels missin'..." she mused. Her eyes drifted over towards a small dresser by her bed, grin growing wider as she spotted her black goggles laying on top of it. The woman quickly placed them around her head, wearing them in her hair as she turned back to look at herself in the mirror once more. "Perfect!"
Meanwhile, Vance had just shut the door behind him, shuffling over to place all of the clothes given to him by Lotte onto the table in the middle of the boys' cabin. Wiping his brow, he began sorting out the clothes, placing them seperately on the table. Alright, let's see what Lotte had in mind for me...
After a few moments of sorting through the items, he had a good overview of what the girls had in mind for him. A pair of dark-blue, nearly black trousers, a white shirt over his torso, with a sort of leather 'harness' consisting of a few straps, one going across his chest and two going up over his shoulders, which he figured was some kind of fashionistic thing. All of this would be under a slightly-longer-than-waist-length, black canvas jacket, which seemed very sturdy to Vance. It even had long sleeves, perfect for rolling up if he needed to. To top it all off, there was a long, dark-blue scarf which he personally liked alot, and finally, a pair of sleek, long, brownish-gray boots with a small sort of protector-flap going up in front of his knee.
All in all, it seemed like a pretty solid outfit, and he was actually looking forward to trying it on. He proceeded to tug off the rather worn jacket he was currently wearing, tossing it over a nearby chair, leaving him in the equally tattered undershirt, on top of which the long rope he'd been using several times was coiled many times around his chest, up over his shoulders and down his arms.
He stepped over to the chair he had dropped the jacket on and tapped one end of the rope along his left upper arm with a smile. "Hey. Come on, I need to change." he said, as if expecting the rope to just slide off by itself.
The rope then proceeded to do exactly that. It unfastened itself from his chest and arms and slid down along his limbs to coil up on the chair, one end of the rope, which was pulled into a tight with a small nub sticking out of it raised into the air, facing him, like a snake. Vance smiled and gave the rope an affectionate pat on the... knot.
"I know, you love being wrapped around me, but you can't expect me to never change clothes. Anyway, the two girls in the crew just helped me buy some new clothes, and I think you'll really like it! Although... I think I'm supposed to keep the jacket open, so I'm not sure how we'll sort you out..."
"Sort ya out...? Who in the world is he talkin' to?" Avril thought, leaning closer to the door.
After the woman had changed her clothes, Avril was curious to see what Vance had thought of some of the outfits which she and Lotte had picked out for him. She was going to knock on the door and see how he was doing, but that's when she happened to overhear Vance talking to someone. Needless to say, she was a bit curious. Did Lotte stop in first before she did? Her eyes widened suddenly at a thought. Were they doing something...?
He frowned thoughtfully, folding his arms over his chest while the rope swayed from side to side, a faint noise, like a mixture of a hiss and the creaking of rope being strained emitted from the coil of rope, the other end of it lazily hanging off the side of the chair. "I know, I know! We'll figure something out, don't worry." Vance muttered, furrowing his brow in thought.
Avril gasped in surprise. "Of course, that's it! They must have some sort of secret relationship or somethin'... I gotta let them know they don't have to hide it!" Not wasting another moment, Avril quickly opened the door and stepped inside the room. "Vanny, Loli! Stop, ya don't have to sneak around doin' stuff like this!"
Freezing in place, like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck, Vance's head snapped to the newly opened door, his eyes wide with surprise as he was half-kneeling in front of the chair where the equally frozen coil of rope was laying, Vance's fingers in the middle of what could be assumed as tickling its chin.
"...Loli?" Avril called out, stepping further into the room. It did not exactly take a great deal of effort to see that the girl was nowhere to be found in the room. All that stood within it was Vance... and a rope coiled up in the chair. The room was absolutely quiet, so much so that you could probably hear a pin drop from outside on the deck. "V-Vanny... Are you... talking to a rope?"
"I, uh," Vance began, but before he was able to explain himself, the rope that had previously held itself frozen, lifted into the air, suddenly lashed out, the entire length of it slithering onto the floor, darting over to hide underneath one of the hammocks. Vance jumped a little as this happened, before hurrying after it. "Ack, no! Wait!" He winced as he knelt down in front of the hammock, peering underneath it, holding a hand out. "Come on, it's alright! It's just Avril, you know?"
Avril slowly took a step back. "Vanny... That rope, how... how is it..." the woman stammered, trying to find the reason that such a thing could even happen. "What in the world is goin' on, exactly?"
Sighing, Vance slowly pulled his arm back, dejected that the rope wasn't coming out. He slowly stood up and raised a hand to rub the back of his neck, turning to face Avril with a sheepish smile on his face. "Uh... it's a... magic trick? Eheh...?"
"...I don't think ropes moving on their own as a conscious bein' counts as a magic trick," Avril replied, crossing her arms over her chest in the process. She moved back to the door, closing it softly behind her. Despite the fact that the whole display had been... more than a bit odd for her, Avril had quickly regained her cool as she turned back to Vance and offered him a reassuring smile. "Now... Why not try the truth this time, Vanny?"
"Okay, okay!" Vance raised his hands defensively while pushing a finger to his lips, peering around to make sure there wasn't anybody else here. "But you have to promise to keep it a secret, alright Avril?" Vance demanded, his expression suddenly turning somewhat stern.
Avril nodded. "I think that can be arranged. So, what's the grand secret here...?"
Vance took a deep breath, seemingly steadying himself before nodding his head, his hands planted at his sides. "Alright, well... err, basically... mnnh. Well, see, my dad's a marine captain. He's really the reason I'm so good at fighting and... navigating, I guess. But, uhm, at one point, he brought me to this... lab or something, where I found her." He gestured back at the hammock where the rope was hidden. "Basically, she's a... rope that's 'eaten' a Snake-Fruit of some sort. They were going to do all kinds of tests on her and keep her locked up, and I didn't want that to happen to her, so... I replaced her with regular rope." He gave a sheepish grin and shrugged a little, rubbing his left arm with his right hand.
"And... well, when I ran away from my dad, I brought her with me. She really likes huddling up against me, and she's super useful, like you've seen. She's just a bit... cautious, towards people, so that's why I haven't told anyone about her. And... well, because she's a top-secret project from the marines, so, uh... please keep this a secret between us, Avril?" He pleaded, biting his lower lip while wringing the bottom of his undershirt, clearly more nervous than he'd ever been.
Avril closed her eyes, trying to take everything in as best she could. She really felt like she had just learned quite a bit about Vance in the past few moments, especially with the fact that he was a former Marine, just like herself. However, she also had several questions. She walked further into the room, kneeling down to take a peek under the hammock, the rope laying coiled up in the corner, twitching as she came into view.
"But... how exactly does a rope manage to... well, eat?" Avril asked, staring intently at the rope. "And for that matter, why keep... her a secret?"
Vance shrugged a little and knelt down as well, holding out a hand for the rope, as if offering a treat to it. "I don't really... know. It's just what they told me. It's something to do with some Marine scientist figuring out how to... 'feed' devil fruits to inanimate objects. So she's... an experiment. If the Marines ever got wind that -I- had her this whole time... well." He paused, suddenly looking extremely worried. "... Dad might just come after me, then."
"But... I'm pretty sure ya don't have to worry about that sort of problem..." Avril replied. She flashed the navigator a positive smile. "I mean, none of us are Marines, but... Still, if ya wanna keep it a secret, you have my word."
Vance returned the smile, lifting a hand to rub the back of his neck a little. "I think I'd like to, at least for a little while longer. Thanks, Avril." He then lowered himself back down and held his hand out again. "See? She's just trying to help us. Come on out, we'll sort through this."
Slowly, the rope began slithering out from underneath the hammock, the knot in one end starting to suspiciously look like the head of a snake. It coiled up along Vance's arm, the 'head' raised up, as if looking at Avril, as Vance slowly came to a stand again, smiling. "There we go."
"So... How exacty do you use her in combat...?" Avril questioned. "Do ya just hide her under yer clothes or somethin'?"
"Well, usually..." he starts, then wriggles his finger against the rope-snake, causing her to coil around his chest, with both ends moving around his back, up over his shoulders and down his arms, sitting snugly around his chest and arms, without restricting him. "... I have her like this, with my coat on top, so she's hidden, and... well, we're pretty good at figuring out what each other want."
"That has to be a bit... uncomfortable though..." Avril mused. "Especially when you get into warmer climates, right? I mean... Ya can't wear a coat everywhere..."
"Well, uhm... it's not that bad, but..." He paused, glancing over at his new clothes, laying out on the table. "I was actually trying to think of a better way to do it, but... I don't really know how. I mean, I can't just leave her. We're a team, you know? Not to mention if someone found her while I was away from the ship..."
Avril's eyes suddenly lit up with excitement. Her smile grew wider as she looked back and forth between Vance and the rope. "What if... There was a way ya could carry her around without havin' to hide her?"
Raising his brows, Vance glanced at Avril while rubbing a finger against the knot that seemingly made up the snake's head. "Uhm... what do you mean?"
"Well... Like a backpack or somethin', only... not!" Avril began to explain. Her usual calmed voice was starting to perk up with excitement, much like it had when Vance promised the woman his share of the treasure. "I could make you somethin' that you could wear on your back, like... maybe somethin' she could wrap around, and yet would still have that easy access she needed to unwind and be used for combat or... anythin' else you might need her for!"
Staring at Avril with wide eyes, Vance seemed a little put off by her sudden change in demeanor, but quickly began smiling as well. "Well, erh... that'd be... pretty amazing. But how'd we get something like that? I mean, it's not something you can just go out and pick up. 'Hello, I'd like to buy a carrier for my snake-rope', you know?"
Avril giggled lightly. "That's what I'm here for, remember?" the woman said. "Did ya forget what I said back when we left Duke Island? I'm gonna make the world's greatest weapon one day! Sure, this probably won't be anythin' close to what I had in mind, but... It'd be like a small steppin' stone. Plus, we are crewmates, right?"
Raising his brows slightly more, Vance wasn't sure how to feel. Sure, he saw Avril as a crew mate, which is why he offered to give her his half of the treasure, once they found it, -if- they found it, but... But what? I guess I've been a little unsure about Avril since she came along, but... it turns out she really -is- one of us. His surprised look quickly turned into a bright smile once again, nodding his head firmly. "Yeah, we are! Do you really think you can make something like that for her? I mean, I'd be really happy if you could, Avril!"
"Leave it to me! It'll take me a bit to sketch out the plan and get it built for ya, but by the time I'm done, I promise both of ya are gonna be happy with what I come up with," the woman replied.
In the time it had taken for Avril and Vance to change and deliberate on his sentinent rope, Lotte had taken the opportunity to shower-- and change herself-- though her clothes hadn't been tattered thanks to previous purchases on Duke Island as well. Why would she be left out of trying on new clothes though? Her new tube-top white dress was simple, with brown leather accents on the chest to match her brown boots-- a number of bracelets on her left wrist and a gold-ruby bangle on her right arm-- one of the many valuables she'd lifted from her jewelry box and intended to trade in for funds when she needed them. Her hair was parted differently, slightly more to the side and the front braided back and around to keep it out of her face from now on-- and while she was excited to show Vance and Avril, she was more keen on finding the others so that she could start putting the extra clothes away-- there was more she wanted to see on the island, and she didn't want to be stuck on board all day.
And so, stepping onto the deck, she leaned on the railing, looking up and down the dock for familiar sights like a giant bat man, a grumpy doctor, or a hot-headed skirt-chaser.......
Kuzo and Selena - Dinas - Venom
Kuzo listened silently to Selena's story. He was surprised that she decided to share it with him, pleasantly so. It was not often people would divulge too much to people they didn't know to well. He was happy she decided to, but as she began her story, he found that it wasn't all rainbows and fun times. She had a pretty tough ride to get to where she was. In some instances, hers was a bit similar to Kuzo's, at least in the fact that he didn't know his parents either. But at least he had his friends to lean on. For a while before Selena met Marta, she didn't have the same luxury.
"Well, when Skellen takes a look at her, then maybe you'll reconsider," Kuzo finally replied as Selena finished up her story.
"I know you got faith in him and everything, but even if he manages to fix whatever's wrong with her, I can't just up and leave... Speaking of which, do you have any idea where he is?" Selena asked, giving Kuzo a curious look. "I mean, I don't wanna interrupt your search process, but this is like the third time we've wrapped around this corner. Did you guys set up a meeting spot or something?"
Selena took a look at their surroundings, a small frown forming on her lips. Sure enough, the duo had somehow managed to get back on the street leading back to the Mermaid's Pearl. It was at that moment that an important thought happened to cross Selena's mind, something that might have been key in the whole process of searching for this doctor.
"Hey, wait a sec..." Selena said, glancing back at Kuzo with wide eyes. "...You never told me what this guy looks like."
"Ah," Was all the came out of Kuzo's mouth, taking in his surroundings to confirm exactly what Selena said about going down this path before. He chuckled lightly, then scratched the back of his head. "I guess you're right, and yeah, I didn't mention how he looks like, either!" He crossed his arms, closed his eyes and looked up into the sky to try and get a more valid picture of Skellen. "He's ab-"
Kuzo was suddenly interrupted by the not-too-distant sounds of screaming coming from the direction of the restaurant that Kuzo and Morgan came from. Most of it was jumbled screams of passerbys, but he did suddenly manage to hear one of them distinctly yell a name in the process.
"Selena!" A voice belonging to an older man standing not too far away from their current position. He had a large, pointy nose, and enormous, blue almond-shaped eyes. His hair was black and slicked back and tied in a ponytail. He wore a similar outfit to what the other waiters of the restaurant wore, leading Kuzo to assume he was apart of the staff there. As he got closer, however, something seemed amiss. Tears were draining out of his eyes and nose, and all of the color was flushed from his face. He sped toward Selena upon spotting her along the street.
"S-Selena! We've been looking for you everywhere! You must come quickly!" He implored, leading her to the direction of the Mermaid's Pearl.
Selena glanced up at the man with a curious expression. The last time she had seen this waiter so worked up about something was when the local bar stopped serving his favorite blend of hard lemonade. The green-haired girl offered the man a weak smile.
"Calm down, Ramsley... I'm sure they'll bring back the dark cherry one before too much longer," Selena said quickly. "And even if they don't I could probably figure out how to make it myself, you know."
"No, Selena!" Ramsley began, his suit becoming drenched from the tears pouring down his face. He fell to the ground, continuing to bawl like a baby as he slammed a fist onto the pavement, ignoring any pain that would come from it. "I...I'm so sorry. I just froze up! I'm weak, I couldn't do anything to stop him..." Ramsley lifted his head, and stared helplessly at Selena. "It's Marta, Selena. He came...he got her! G-go quickly!"
Selena did not need to be told twice. Without even taking a glance back at Kuzo, the green-haired girl dashed off in the direction of the restaurant. If any poor person happened to be in her way, Selena merely shoved them aside, often sending them tumbling to the ground in her haste. Within moments she ran into the Mermaid's Pearl, her mind going blank at the sight that laid before her.
The restaurant had been laid to complete and total waste. Chairs and tables were over turned. The aquarium tank had a huge hole knocked in its glass, water leaking out onto the floor with the fish flopping about on the floor. Many of the chandeliers had crashed down to the floor, with the curtains ripped from the windows and many of the ornate decorations of the establishment either missing or broken. Glancing around, Selena's eyes went wide at the sight of George. He looked rather disheveled and bruised, as if someone had literally beat the man within an inch of his life.
"G-George...?! George!" Selena shouted, making her way towards the man with haste. She quickly knelt down by the host's side, shaking him gently to see if he was still breathing. "George, wake up! What the hell happened?!"
George's eyes opened slowly, feeling disoriented and confused. However, once he realized where he was, he began to panic, sitting up and looking around the room for someone, despite appearing to be heavily injured. "Where are they?! Where are they?!" He began to shout over and over, his eyes scanning the ruined restaurant in search of 'them'. "Are they still here?! Please...please don't let them still be here! I'll do whatever you like! Please don't hurt me anymore....please. Please! PLEASE!" George began to cry profusely, curling back up in a ball and retreating his body underneath a table that was still partially in tact.
Kuzo meanwhile silently observed the devastation that had occurred inside the restaurant. He noticed among the broken piece of furniture and ruined dishes and glass, something else along the floor. It was a substance, something he couldn't identify. Yet both the destruction and the substance followed along a path from the restaurant to the kitchen in back.
Selena sighed in annoyance. Just once she wished that the man would not be a walking bucket of irritation "God damn it, George! Would you grow a pair, already?!" the girl snapped, smacking the distraught man on the back of his head. "Who are 'they'?! What the hell happened and where is that old bat, Marta?!"
George sulked lower into the table after being hit, curling up in a ball tighter and simply rocked himself, humming a low tone as if to try and make the outside world disappear forward. From behind, another voice spoke to Selena. "There were two of them," Ramsley, who had run back into the restaurant after Selena. His eyes were red and puffy and his nose still leaked fluids from his crying. "T-they came for payment, and for retribution for Hodas...members of the Unit!" He cried, sniffling his nose again to stop the floodgates.
"T-The Unit?" Selena whispered. Her eyes went wide as everything suddenly poured back into her mind. Hodas was that member that Selena had put in line back when he came to the restaurant just a little while ago... despite the fact that Marta had informed the girl to get her should they come. Leaving George to cry and weep like some baby, Selena quickly ran to Ramsley, grabbing the man by his shirt in frustration. "So, s-she just payed them, right? I know they tore up the place because of what I did, but where is Marta?!"
Ramsley began to cry profusely again, unable to control his body as he tightened his eyes shut and shook his head. "She payed them, but...but then they demanded payment in blood too! They wanted the one responsible for beating up Hodas! Marta didn't want to give you up so he...he...." Ramsley continued to bawl in front of Selena, pointing toward the kitchen.
Selena dropped the man down and tore straight into the kitchen. Everything around her seemed to freeze at that moment. She felt sick... absolutely sick at the sight before her. Selena felt a deep pain in her heart as she slowly made her way forward, her eyes falling onto the form of Marta laying on the floor... very still. Her body looked absolutely battered and broken, as if someone had held the old woman down while another one beat her down in the process. But the most unsettling sight of all was the purple slime-like substance that covered the old woman's form.
Selena was on bated breath as her feet slowly moved her forward, falling to her knees by the old woman's side. "M-Marta...?" she called out, her fingers lightly brushing the old woman's face before she pulled back quickly, a burning sensation coming to her fingertips as she touched some of the purple slime on her cheeks. Tears slowly started to well up in her eyes as Selena sat there, staring at her form silently. "...I... I caused this... This is my fault..."
Kuzo walked inside the kitchen behind Selena, followed by Ramsley. They both observed the horror of the scene in front of them. Ramsley quickly dropped to his knees, beginning to cry again. "I-I-I'm so sorry, Selena!" He stammered, tears pouring onto his face and slamming hard onto the kitchen floor. "I couldn't do anything to stop them! The mace Unit member...I couldn't do anything against him! He took everyone apart so easily...b-but..worse than that..." Ramsley clenched his fists, sobbing uncontrollably. "I'm a coward! A big coward, Selena! I couldn't do anything against that man! He was there....! He did this!" Ramsley raised his eyes from the floor to Selena.
"The Leader of the Unit! The Poison Demon, 'Billionth' Aldridge!"