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December 17th, 2014 (10:42 AM).
December 22nd, 2014 (07:02 PM).
Joshua and Selena - Mermaid's Pearl
Selena returned to the party not too long after she had departed to do some last minute preparations for her new journey. Since departing, she had changed into the new outfit that Joshua had come up for her, finding that the man had some pretty good taste when it came to comfort and function... for the most part. She was now dressed in a pair of black, loose fitting pants with a thin, white stripe down the outside of both legs with a belt of the same color to match. A black halter top was now covering her torso, while her feet were... still bare.
The green-haired cook looked out into the partying pirates, quickly spotting Joshua's tall form walking about the room. She quickly made her way to the man, carrying a pair of boots in her hands as she walked.
"Hey, Joshua!" the cook called out in a rather loud and energetic voice. "You did pretty good coming up with the new threads! But for future reference, boots are totally out!" As if to emphasize her point, Selena playfully tossed the footwear in his direction, before stretching and then hopping into the nearest chair.
Poor Joshua had been staring all too hard at the floor trying to come up with a plan-of-action when Selena's voice pulled him from his thoughts. He could never decide what to do with himself at parties besides chat with a few people, the cook's timely arrival saved him from his conundrum. He had only just turned towards her with his familiar smile when he saw a pair of boots coming his way, which then thumped harmlessly on his chest and fell into his arms. "Well I'm glad to hear you're mostly pleased with your new attire. My deepest apologies about the boots but I couldn't help myself."
He set the boots on the ground and slid them under the table nearest to him so nobody would trip and took a seat himself. "I've always thought a nice pair of boots look so wonderful on a beautiful woman, it's one of the reasons I enjoy winter so much, so many lovely young ladies don boots, especially fur-lined boots. I'll keep them ready for when it gets cold, according to our dear captain I'll be more-or-less in charge of keeping the crew properly dressed."
"Wow, sounds like you got the rough end of the stick there. That's a lot of measurements and styles you have to keep up with and everything," Selena replied. The green-haired cook looked around, quickly spotting one of the waiters of the restaurant walking by. She quickly wasted no time in grabbing hold of one of the glasses on his tray with a grin, before taking a really big swig of its contents with a satisfied gulp. "Oh, but you better not try anything funny when going after our measurements! I dunno about the other girls, but I wouldn't hesitate to give you a good whacking if you did!"
"Oh I wouldn't dream of it - unless of course I were having a nightmare about being corrupted and beaten within an inch of my life I suppose -" Joshua held up his hands in a show of surrender. "I've already had my fill of dealing with entanglements and problems for one reason or another, I'm just glad I can't expect such nonsense from a pirate crew. Why just a few minutes ago a waitress was teasing me for properly introducing myself and asking her name because I wished not to look at her nametag, you've nothing to fear from me I assure you."
Selena gave the man a nod and gazed back out into the room. "Speaking of crew, what exactly do you make of this one? I mean, I know we haven't known 'em for too long but... they kinda blow out the idea of what I had in mind when it comes to pirates, you know? Especially our new captain, am I right?"
Joshua leaned back a bit in his chair and draped his arm over the back of it before voicing his agreement. "Indeed, I was quite shocked, especially after... my short stint with the Sky Pirates. But I learned a long time ago that a pirate doesn't have to just be some lowlife criminal with a boat, and I can't imagine a crew of mundane scoundrels and scallywags ever conquering the Grand Line. So I suppose we're on the right heading in that regard. What are your opinions on the crew if I may ask? Besides that they aren't quite normal of course."
"I dunno much myself," Selena said, crossing her arms over her chest. "I've only really been around Kuzo, the doctor and Vance so far... Vance seems to be a pretty normal guy for the most part... I have to admit, the doctor isn't someone I'd want to operate on me in some alley at night, but he seems okay too... I just have one small problem with the crew, really..."
"Well I hope I haven't contributed too much to your woes, just what is the problem?" Joshua's curiosity was peaked, and he took his arm off the chair to lean forward slightly and emphasize his interest.
"Well... it's that giant... bat," Selena mentioned, her voice going down a few notches just in case. "Why in the world would they keep something like that around? Who knows what kinda diseases or something it might be carrying around!"
Joshua tapped his chin thoughtfully with his forefinger. "Hmmm, that's actually an excellent question. I haven't really put much thought into it myself, or bothered to ask anyone. But I can only assume that whatever happened, he or she became a member of the crew like the rest of us, and afterwards Kuzo wouldn't be so quick to throw him or her out."
"I guess so, but the whole thing is just so... unsanitary. I hope they don't expect me to let the thing inside my kitchen!" Selena huffed.
"What the chef says goes in the galley right? I'm sure you'll properly teach anyone who ignores that sacred rule how mistaken they were. I for one have no intentions of going against the chef, although I'd be more than willing to help with prep work anytime you needed it."
Selena gave Joshua a small smile. "How much do you know about cooking anyways? No offense, but you don't exactly look like the most handy type when it comes to kitchen duty."
Joshua chuckled and took a small sip of his own drink. "Oh? I wasn't aware it was very attached to appearance, and besides I don't think I exactly look like a pirate either. I've spent quite a bit of time on my own so I know how to at least keep myself fed without constantly running to taverns or restaurants. I'm no chef, and certainly not one of your caliber, but I could probably help with simple things."
"Eh... sure, why not?" Selena said simply, before leaning back and propping her feet up on the table. "I've heard of worse reasons for wanting to do something... Speaking of which, you said you were already in one crew, right? Why switch to this one?"
"Well..." Joshua rubbed the back of his head in slight embarrassment as he continued. "To be completely honest I left the Sky Pirates as soon as we landed on Dinas...they're...well, they're simply a total mess. I wouldn't say a lost cause, but I certainly had no place with them. I only joined them in the first place to make progress towards the Grand Line. And it just so happens I ran into miss Lotte shortly after we made landfall on Dinas, but she didn't seem to enjoy my company, so I decided not to wear out my welcome. I only wandered a bit more before I ended up at that infernal tower, and from there I couldn't just ignore all the carnage going on."
He let out a big sigh and leaned forward to rest his chin on his knuckles. "I'm well aware that people like to say chivalry is dead and I can tell it's certainly impractical but that doesn't change how I feel. So I followed my gut and helped the Sky Pirates push through the tower until I got separated and met up with you and Vance. Once I was informed of yours and miss Marta's plight - very well all of Dinas' plight - I knew I'd made the right choice."
"So, wait... You just wandered into the tower and then pretty much stayed there because of my situation?" Selena asked, raising an eyebrow at Joshua as she took his story in. A somewhat skeptical look quickly over took her features as she leaned closer for a moment, before being replaced by one of a more inquisitive nature. "Just between you and me, you're not one of those types are you? You know, the ones who go around preaching chivalry while really being some sort of dirty pervert on the side?"
A smirk overtook Joshua's face for a moment but faltered for a moment when he forced himself not to burst out laughing. "Certainly a very astute observation, and a possibility a lady should always be aware of when men do such things. But allow me to elaborate, I didn't find out a lovely lady such as yourself was at the center of it all until I ran into you and Vance, I just had a feeling. I'm sure it will be quite some time before I worry about anything romantic, I'd have to meet the love of my life first. And I'm nowhere near worthy of such a woman, I must grow much stronger and fill out far more of my story before any of that."
"Your story?" Selena questioned. "Are you a writer or something? Truth be told, I really don't read a lot of books... In fact, I dunno many who do. I mean, maybe some dark-haired girl into archaeology or something... but where would you find one of those anyways?"
"Oh they're around, but they can be very dangerous from what I hear." Joshua took another swig of his drink and set the mug back down gently before continuing. "How should I put this? I've never really known what to do with my life in any certain terms, so I'd like to make my life as epic a tale as I can - while of course punishing those who wo - well I've ranted enough about my philosophies for one night. But I keep a journal of events as I travel, and one day I intend to make it a proper book."
"I see... You know in a way, you could probably considered more of an um... a... record keeper...?" Selena mused, trying to think of just what the right word would be. She smiled brightly, eventually shrugging off the thought and getting down to the point. "You know what I'm trying to say, right? They take details of every little thing on a ship and all that! One of those nerdy types!"
Joshua shook his head as he tried to imagine himself sitting at a desk chronicling everything that happened on a ship. "Well I've not really much of a mind for such mundane and possibly tedious things, I plan to use my journal more for all the amazing sights we might see, the wrongs we may right, the fascinating people we might meet!" He started to stand up when images of more climactic battles like the one they had with Billionth, and undiscovered islands covered with ancient ruins and scenic waterfalls. Halfway through rising Joshua realized he was getting worked up and sat back down.
He cleared his throat after he was properly seated. "In any case, I think someone much more practical than myself would be far better suited to such a task, as you can see I'm too prone to flights of fancy. If I may ask, I'd like to hear more about you Selena, I only know the most basic details besides your expertise with cooking."
"Huh? What do you wanna know, exactly?" Selena asked, giving Joshua a curious look. "I mean, that's a pretty wide topic to cover without any specifics in mind... and a long winded talk can get kinda boring... You gotta know when to cut-off, am I right?"
"Ah, of course, silly me. What are some of your favorite things to do, and of course what are your dreams?" Joshua leaned forward so he could give his full attention. He was hoping for a passionate respone, although he couldn't expect Selena to be as ridiculous as he was.
"Well, cooking, dancing, and having a good time, of course!" Selena replied, the cook smiling brightly, "Normally, I'd have been all about cutting loose at this party, but... ah, when you're more or less picking up and setting sail most unexpectedly, I guess you gotta put some other things first..." She paused for a moment, leaning back in her seat and closing her eyes.
"Truth be told, before I met Kuzo and these other guys I really had no plan of setting out or anything like that," she mused. Her eyes snapped open as she realized part of what she said could have very well been misleading. "I mean, I have a dream... I mean, we all do. I guess it's not really just mine though. It's sort of helping to make another person's come true too." She paused for a moment, glancing at the door which Marta had exited through earlier. "I guess you could call it a payback for everything she did for me."
"Oh, you dance?" Joshua raised an inquisitive eyebrow. "I shouldn't be surprised considering the flowing grace with which you fight, but I'm impressed nonetheless. I've never really been any good at it myself, a step here or there, maybe a classic dance with very practice and measured steps. But nothing that takes any real skill. It's a shame you haven't been able to let yourself be truly swept by the festivities, a party is a wonderful place for dancing. I'm sure you'd show up the competition, I must admit I'm a bit jealous."
Selena looked out into the restaurant and grinned. "I'm sure that showing these guys up in a dance off wouldn't be too hard. I think that most of them had so much to drink by this point that taking two or three solid steps would be a challenge at this point."
Joshua's smirk grew once again and he placed his hand on top of his head. "True enough, but how would you really rate yourself? I'm sure you're excellent if the way you fight is any indication but how do you see yourself as a dancer?" His features were overtaken by a frown for a short moment when he realized he was feeling only his hair and muttered quietly to himself. "Why do I keep misplacing that confounded thing?"
"Well... I'm not too bad, I guess. I'm not really into all that sorta classical crap, mind ya... I like to do a bit more... free form, if you will," Selena explained. She paused however, when she noticed that Joshua seemed a bit... preoccupied. "Um... Is there a problem? I mean, if you would rather do something else..."
Joshua's eyes widened at the possibility that Selena might think she was being ignored. "Oh, no, nothing could be further from the truth! I'm just frustrated with myself, I seem to be too daft to even keep track of my hat. So, free-form you say? I respect that, it takes so much more skill than pre-ordained steps, and expresses so much more." He took his hand off of his head, he'd just have to forget about the stupid hat for now. "Maybe one day we'll all be lucky enough to see you express your grace."
"Ah... well, you sort of already did if you saw me fight that Millionth guy..." Selena reasoned, a weak laugh escaping her lips in the process. "Maybe a better way to explain it is... not so much dancing-dancing, but more like... um... ass-kicking-dancing..."
"I can hardly imagine a better kind!" Joshua answered. "I only wish I could put on such a spectacle, I'm sadly lacking in finesse." He took another sip of his drink, emptying it to his disappointment. "Do you have any plans for the first thing you'll cook on the ship? Bringing any special ingredients from the Pearl perhaps?"
"Now, now... A cook can't give away all of her secrets," Selena said with a slight tune in her voice. It was not exactly a full dodge, as she was raised to keep the finer points of cooking a secret from others. However , the other part of this small evasion was because the green-haired girl actually had no idea what she was going to cook just yet... and she knew better than to try and take anything from the restaurant... Marta would never let her hear the end of it. "You'll just have to wait and be surprised like everyone else!"
"Alright." Joshua acquiesced. "I've got nothing against surprises, I suppose we'll just see what happens." He grew quiet for a moment, wondering why he was at a loss for words all of a sudden. "Well, I'm sure I've bored you long enough, there are always more interesting things a beautiful lady could do at a party than talk to some dull jack." He stood up and grabbed a cup off the tray of a passing waitress and raised it towards Selena. "To our new crew, and hopefully a strong friendship!"
"Right back at ya, Joshy!" Selena replied, taking hold of one of the cups her self and clanking it up against his own with glee. "Let's make this trip one we'll never forget!"
"It's a promise!" Joshua downed most of his glass at once and started to make his way back to the party, but stopped at the last second. "Oh, and don't let your schedule get too crowded once we're on the ship, I may call upon you to teach me to dance with some real skill one day!" He widened his good-natured smile and waded into the crowd.
December 24th, 2014 (12:19 AM).
January 6th, 2015 (10:54 AM). Edited January 6th, 2015 by Fort PokePower.
Kuzo and Firenze - Can You Paint With All the Colors of the Grand Line?
While everyone else in the restaurant was partying and having a good time, there was one particular redheaded girl sitting at a table in the corner of the room, a brush in hand a canvas propped up in front of her. Normally Firenze would join in on such festivities, but with just a few strokes left to place, she was eager to finish the last piece of her Dinas collection - or as she liked to call it, the First Conquest. Already set snuggly in her shoulder bag between a few slim pieces of wood to keep them straight were three other pieces. The first, a view of the island she'd first seen when coming into the port on the Sky Pirate's ship; the second, the Kobushi Tower, still whole and standing proud; then the third was the Kobushi Tower again, but this time as it was crumbling apart and falling to ruin. This painting she was now working on, of the rambunctious party around her, was the fourth and last of the set.
Kuzo meanwhile had moved slightly away from his earlier spot with Selena and had begun dancing and singing along with the other members of his crew, the Sky Pirates, and the cooks at the restaurant. At one point, he caught sight of Firenze sitting off in the corner. He decided to approach her. "Hey! What are you doing all the way over here by yourself? We're supposed to be celebrating... well, you!"
Firenze had been so totally focused on her project that she didn't notice that she was the one being spoken to until Kuzo was right next to her. She paused to look up at him, brush poised over the canvas. "Wuh...? Oh. Heh." She rubbed the back of her head sheepishly, accidentally painting her hair a few shades of brown. "I wanted to catch the moment while I could."
"Hmm?" Kuzo leaned in to see what it was that Firenze was working on. His eyes grew wider as he observed the canvass that she had been painting. "Oh wow!" He exclaimed excitedly, looking on in wonder at the island and the tower, both versions, she was painting. "I didn't know you were an artist. Have you been doing this for a while?"
The interest in her work perked Firenze up immensely as she sat up a bit straighter. "Oh, yeah! I mean, most of what I did back home was designs on pots and vases, but I did what I could with what I had," she said, her voice eager. "Everything out here's so colorful though! I can't get enough of it!"
Kuzo placed his mug down on the table and leaned in beside Firenze as he took in the world she was doing in its entirety. He was always interested in his crew's hobbies, but he was even more interested in listening to them when they were passionate or excited about that, even if he had no knowledge of expertise on it to begin with. It was part of the reason why he sought out people like that. "And there's sure to be plenty of more colorful things out there on the Grand Line!" He replied excitedly. "So what is it you want to do with this? Do you have a goal in mind?"
To be honest, Firenze hadn't given much thought to any goals when she'd left home. At the time, she'd just wanted to go. But now that she was gone and had found a crew to travel with, she realized there was an idea that had been in the back of her mind for quite sometime now, and the more she thought on it, the more enticing it seemed. "Well, there's two parts to it really. First, I just wanna get out there, see everything I can, paint it all. Then, when there's no more to see or I'm just too old to keep going, I'll get myself a gallery to set it all up in so others can share in my journey." Personally, Firenze believed the latter was more likely. There was just no way she'd be able to see every corner of the world before her life was over.
Kuzo grinned as he listened to her response. "So you want to paint the world, huh? That's something I've never really heard of before. I mean, I heard of making a map of the world, but painting that entire journey? That's a pretty tall task. You think you're up for it?"
"As long as I've got the ink!" was Firenze's confident reply.
Kuzo chuckled at her response, then picked up his mug. "Well, we'd better make sure to pick up a lot of extra ink before we head out then!" He said to her as he took a swig of his drink. "So what made you want to paint in the first place? Share your story with me!"
"Well, my..." She paused for a moment, trying to think of a word to describe her relation to Slean before continuing, "mentor would always tell me about all the places he'd been on his journeys. Only thing is, he really sucked at drawing." Firenze chuckled as she recalled the scratchy little lines the old pirate had drawn in the sand to try to give her an image of what he was talking about. "So I figured, I already paint pots, how different can canvas be? Ends up a lot different... But I got the hang of it eventually, and I'd paint what he'd described as best I could. It was just a way for me to... see beyond the world I lived in, I guess you could say."
Kuzo listened eagerly as Firenze described her mentor and the way she got into painting in the first place. He leaned in on his bar stool toward her with wide, almost child-like eyes and a sheepish grin on his face. "That's pretty incredible! But you know, it'll be a hard road, like I said. Painting the Grand Line alone will be a feat. It's at least 3 miles wide after all! Huge! I'm glad you're up to the task!"
He looked down at his drink and moved it around to the left and right as he recalled a memory of his past. "I had someone I once knew that wanted to see the entire world too... she... " Kuzo seemed lost for words for a brief moment, but quickly snapped out of it, put down his drink and patted Firenze (somewhat heavily) on the back. "As long as you're on my crew and my ship, I promise you I'll help you paint the world. You have my word!"
Roleplays I am in:
Sekirei: Wings of Fate (OOC/IC) as Fia and Akira Takako
Pokemon Odyssey: Search For Cresselia (OOC/IC) as Kaveri "Jetstream" Vian
One Piece: The Golden Age (OOC/IC) as Anahita Z. Firenze
Roleplays I GM:
January 6th, 2015 (12:57 PM).
Lotte and Kuzo - Mermaid's Pearl
"Lotte!" Kuzo exclaimed as he spotted the blonde-haired girl among the partying pirates. He approached her while holding a drink in one hand, a plate of food in the other, and at the same time tried to dance to the music playing the background. "Good to see you having fun! How do you like the piano?"
Back at the piano after Morgan's drunken tale, Lotte had spent the past few songs chattering with anyone who passed by- restaurant matrons, a word with Vance, a word here and there with others as well. But she brightened considerably at Kuzo, having been very glad to see him in good spirits in the past few days after his ordeal in the tower, and of course, because she'd pinned him as the gifter of the very piano she was happily plodding away at.
"Captain~!" She lifted one hand to wave while the other trilled a note, sending his warm greeting right back at him-- "It's good to see you up and about! -- Oh the piano, I love it! I really do, I think it'll be really nice on the ship in the evening and stuff! You have to teach me all the songs you know, Vance taught me one earlier but he's not exactly pirate-made, you know?"
"Yeah, I'm feeling much better now, thanks to Skellen and you," He replied with a smile. "Plus even if I still had an aches left over, there's no place for that in a party!"
Lotte let out a laugh, "Mostly Skellen! I'll get better at it soon though-"
He placed the mug and plate of food down on the counter beside him, and placed his hands on his hips as he began to admire the piano.
"I'm glad you like it! I think I got a pretty good deal for it, if I do say so myself." Little did Kuzo know, he had actually initially gotten ripped off by the piano dealer, as he agreed to pay a small fortune. However, after some intimidation from Edward and pointing to the fact the Kuzo was apart of the Skull Pirates who defeated the Unit, he managed to get the piano for free. Kuzo didn't know any of this, of course. "Sure, I can teach you everything I know as well!" He continued, then quickly put a hand to his chin. "Although... I'm not sure I was a pirate until recently either. When I was with my brothers and sisters, we were probably more adventurers than pirates, mostly because Koan would beat us up if we called ourselves pirates," He chuckled.
Lotte tilted her head, hands visibly slowing at this news before she started, realizing the the rhythm of the song had begun to drag into slow motion. Abruptly picking up the pace, she inquired with a note of disbelief, "Really?? What's the difference between adventurer and pirates? I always thought they were the same-!"
Kuzo laughed out loud in response and scratched the back of his head. "That's a really good question!" He replied. "I... uh... to tell you the truth I can't tell what the difference is, really!" He said with a shrug of his shoulders. "I guess they mean different things to different people, but I never really did anything different then than I'm doing now. Koan always hated calling us pirates, though. Like, she really hated it."
He put a hand to his lip and tapped it lightly. His eyes trailed off to the side of the restaurant as he pondered a point. "Maybe that's why she became a Marine. Yeah, that makes sense!" Kuzo then returned his attention to Lotte and smiled again. "What was I saying? Oh yeah! So they're basically the same, I guess!"
"Hmm~" Lotte hummed, thinking to herself, "Koan..." Hm, the name was familiar, but she couldn't quite place it. Thinking it unimportant for the time being, she commented, "My father's the same- he says he likes adventurers- thinks they're good spirited with their hearts in the right places. But- he's not quite as fond of pirates for some reason."
"It would make sense!" Lotte agreed, "Well, I guess 'pirates' sounds cooler than 'adventurer' after all!"
"It does sound cooler, yeah!" Kuzo agreed with an affirmative nod of his head. "I guess pirates have bounties too. I never had one as an adventurer, so maybe that's another difference?" He questioned with another scratched of the back of his head. Once more, Kuzo shrugged it off and focused his attention back at Lotte.
"You know, I don't really know much about you or where you're from," Kuzo stated in realization. "You mentioned your dad, what's he like? How about your hometown? I'm guessing it's a lot different than what you're used to seeing!"
"True!" She piped, remembering that quite a few of her new found friends were on rather poor terms with the marines. Blinking as he inquired after her family and hometown, she looked up at the ceiling in thought, recalling with a sort of nonchalant air, "Oh, my father is a wonderful man- he likes to travel and has all sorts of stories. He's why I really want to see the world! But, he's definitely very traditional, so he wasn't too happy about me wanting to leave home on my own..." She nodded at her assessment, pleased with her apt description as she continued, "Oh my hometown is really pretty though-- It's kind of like here, but more flowers and trees and stuff!"
"Oh, it sounds nice!" Kuzo replied cheerfully as he listened to Lotte describe her father and then her hometown. "Maybe we can visit it one day! But," He recalled before about what Lotte said close to when she first arrived on the ship. "What made you want to leave and sail the seas? I remember before you said that you want to live free and not listen to anyone's rules but your own. Is that the only reason why? Or is there something else?" He asked curiously. Of the bunch in his crew, Lotte was always the one he was happy to have aboard, but also surprised she was there in the first place. He wanted to know more about what her own reasons were for being there.
Lotte laughed at the prospect, "Oh I don't think we can visit it-- I don't know if the Kingdom would take well to a troupe of pirates!" She hummed along to the song, thinking to herself before answering, "Well my father's stories, of course--" A pregnant pause as she hesitated for a moment, wondering if she should tell- if it was even necessary to mention it. But she didn't see the harm in telling Kuzo. He was her captain, after all. "And..." Throwing a quick glance around to make sure everyone else was preoccupied, she tuned a smile to Kuzo, saying cheerfully but quietly, "I didn't want to get married!"
Kuzo laughed in agreement. "Yeah, I can see that I guess. Not every place is as accepting of pirates as the ones we've bee-" Kuzo suddenly cut himself off and blinked at Lotte. His mind was now processing what it was that he had just said to him. When the information registered, his eyes grew wide and he shouted louder than he intended. "What? Married?!"
"Shhhhh!!!" Lotte put her finger to her lips, as the music abruptly stopped, looking around at the others. They didn't seem to have much reaction- or at least, the ones that were drunk out of their minds didn't. In any case-- she supposed it wasn't a big deal after all. "Gosh Captain," She laughed, giving him a light punch on the arm, "Can't you tell when a lady wants to keep a secret!?"
"Oooh, right, sorry," He replied in a slightly lowered voice. He glanced around to his left and right to ensure no one else was eavesdropping before he continued. "I guess it just caught me by surprise is all. I mean, I never expected... I mean I never knew... you're just so young! What are you, 13? 33? Around there? Does everyone get married that early on your island?" He asked curiously.
"Close!" She exclaimed though he really wasn't close at all, "I'm 17!" She put her elbow on the edge of the piano, her chin in her hand as she mused, "But it's really not that old! I wouldn't have actually married him until I was 18! I mean- I have to get engaged, first, right?" Drumming her fingers on her chin Lotte peered around at Kuzo and the others, "I don't think the common folk on our island do- one my maids is nearly 40 and she's not even married yet!"
"Oh wow, 17?" Kuzo repeated in a surprised voice. "Never would have guessed that. That's more than me," He stated as he crossed his arms and nodded to himself at the realization. He then continued to listen, and when Lotte was done he replied. "OK, so not everyone does get married, but you were going to? Or were your parents just saying it was going to happen? Either way, it doesn't sound too fun unless you really like the person. Like, reeeally like. And even then, I'm not sure if that's something I would wanna do. Then you wouldn't be able to go out to sea anymore!"
"Really?" She bought it, unquestioning of his habit of messing up numbers, "You look so old though!" Lotte leaned back on her piano chair, hands supporting her around the edge as she hummed, "Yeaaah, I mean if my parents say it'll happen then it'll happen! And the best offer came from the Duke's son, so there was no way I could say no to him. So I ran away!" She sat up, smiling brightly, "I know right?! I want to see the world before I do something as boring as get married!" She considered how it seemed that it wasn't even on Kuzo's to-do-list. Lotte was avoiding it, but it always seemed like an inevitable end to all things- a reality that she would have to face someday. ".... Hmm, must be nice to not have to get married at all. There are some good things about being a commoner after all."
"Eh? I'm not that old! I'm only..." Kuzo put a hand to his chin. He then began to count his fingers while he continued to look up in the air. After a while, he decided to shrug off the counting and continued to listen to Lotte. "Man, that sounds like a pain. I don't know who this Duke guy is, but I can almost picture him in my mind." Kuzo's thoughts began racing with the images of some fat slob with pimples covering his face and a large white wig. He shuddered and shook his head. "No. No way! We don't want that!" He exclaimed. He then rose his mug into the air and stood up, placing one foot on his chair and puffing out his chest. "Lotte, as long as you're apart of this crew, you're not allowed to get married! Not until you get to see as many places and get into as many adventures as you want to! That's an order!"
Lotte giggled at Kuzo's protest, but let the subject drop, having deemed it as her win for the day as he'd failed to produce a counterargument to her observation. "It is a pain! He's-" But before she could explain, Kuzo had raised his mug into the air-- making a proclamation that brightened her face and brought sparkles to her eyes, "Really?!" She hopped to her feet, raising an imaginary mug as she had no grog of her own, faking a cheers with him as she exclaimed, "Aye aye Captain!"
❝in the darkness before the dawn
January 7th, 2015 (09:05 AM). Edited January 7th, 2015 by gimmepie.
January 8th, 2015 (10:25 AM).
Kuzo and Vance - Mermaid's Pearl - Silliness and Rokushiki!
As time went on in the party at the Mermaid's Pearl, the patrons became increasingly more loud and rowdy. Most likely this was due to the increased alcohol in everyone's systems, but Kuzo liked to think, at least on the part of his crew, that everyone was getting a little more comfortable with each other to open up and just let it all go. At this point, he had practically talked or danced with everyone in the room, and he couldn't be happier. These were the kinds of celebrations he wanted to have with his crew.
"Vance!" Kuzo cried out as he spotted his navigator in the middle of the celebrating patrons of the Mermaid's Pearl. "Good to see you up and about! Cheers!" Kuzo exclaimed as he rose his mug to meet Vance's.
Blinking at the sound of his captain, Vance turned around with a surprised look on his face. Still dressed in a set of pyjamas with his jacket pulled over it, he was now also sporting a pair of chopsticks from his nostrils. He smiled brightly and raised his mug to let it knock against Kuzo's.
"Hey Kuzo! Man, quite a party, huh? I think Lotte likes her new piano."
"Yeah, she really does!" He replied brightly as the captain examined the piano with pride. "That'll be a fine new piece to our ship, I think. Surprisingly it didn't cost me as much as I thought it would, which is also good!" He exclaimed as he crossed his arms and looked it over again. He then turned to Vance and observed the navigator, noting the chopsticks lodged in his nose. Kuzo laughed and pointed to them.
"Hey, what's up with those things? They're hilarious!"
"Yeah, I bet it didn't." Vance muttered under his breath, well-knowing his captain's skills with numbers. He then grinned brightly, which caused the chopsticks to point more diagonally. "What're what things? I have no idea what you're talking about! I'm just a walrus having a good time!"
With that said, he clapped the back of his hands together while doing an impromptu little dance to the music.
Kuzo began to howl from Vance's joke, and decided to join him in his dance. He looked around for a pair of chopsticks to try and replicate the navigator's motion. He spotted the mohawk Sky Pirate Liam Moru, who was about to use a pair to eat some food. Before Liam could bring the chopsticks down to his plate, Kuzo snatched the pair out of his hand.
"Hey, I'm gonna use these!" He exclaimed before sticking the chopsticks up his own nose and mimicking the same dance as Vance. Liam blinked a few times at his empty hand, then glared angrily toward Kuzo.
"What do ya think yer do-" He began to yell, but was suddenly cut off by the sight of Vance and Kuzo's dancing. Liam brought a hand to his mouth to try and contain a laugh, but couldn't hold it and began to whoop uncontrollably while continuously slamming his fist down on the ground. With tears still in his eyes, Liam decided to join the two of them, grabbing his own set of chopsticks and trying to imitate the two of them.
Amid the silliness, Kuzo suddenly sparked with a thought. He removed his chopsticks from his nose, and placed them in the folds of his bandanna. He then hid part of his face in shadows and tried his best to give off a creepy smile and stared at Vance. "Hey Vance... heff heff heff, I'm Billionth!" He said as he tried to imitate their opponent they fought a few weeks ago by making the chopsticks look like the horns from Billionth's Poison Form.
Seeing his captain pretending to be Billionth and even imitating his chuckle made Vance laugh pretty hard, having to stop the dance to bend over and plant his hands on his knees, wiping a tear or two from his eyes.
Kuzo laughed along with Vance before he took the chopsticks out of his head and settled in on a seat to catch his breath. "Haha! This is the life, ain't it, Vance? No cares in the world, no plans, no baggage carrying you down. Just you, your crew and whatever adventures you can get in! Doesn't get any better than this!" He exclaimed excitedly, as he beamed at his navigator. He then stared at the man for a few seconds in silence, as if analyzing him, before he blurted out. "Hey, tell me something I don't know about you!"
Vance chuckled, wiping a tear from the corner of his eye as he took a seat himself next to Kuzo, pulling the chopsticks out of his nose and placing them on a nearby table, all the while Liam continued dancing. "Yeah... it's pretty great. I don't have to worry about my dad or... well, anything."
He paused for a moment, shaking his head as he leaned back in the chair. "Well, almost, at least." He looked up at Kuzo with a raised brow as the captain suddenly turned to him. For a few moments, Vance looked thoughtful, but eventually, he hit his fist into his palm. "Oh, I know. You know how I can move really fast and my Impact Bullet technique?"
"Impact Bullet?" Kuzo repeated curiously. He cocked his head in wonder and continued to gaze at Vance. "No kidding. Can you show me?"
"Oh, well, uh..." Vance glanced around the bar before rubbing the back of his head. "I don't really think that's a good idea. It's... kind of destructive. Like a bullet, but... well, the size of my hand, I suppose. Or finger, really."
"Oh come on!" Kuzo exclaimed as he patted Vance on his back and grinned excitedly at his navigator. "What's the worst that could happen?" He asked. "Let's see it!"
"Well..." Vance hesitated, but the drinks in him started to convince him that this sounded like a good idea. He nodded with a smile. "Alright! Grab one of the bottles on the counter and throw it into the air, then!"
"That's the spirit!" Kuzo grinned widely as Vance agreed to test out his ability. He went to the far end of the counter and grabbed one of the empty bottles one of the others must have been using and prepared to aim it in the air. "Alright, on three. One. Two. THREE!" He yelled, and as he finished his count, he threw the empty bottle in the air above the two of them.
Vance flexed his fingers in preparation, pushing his hand into a fist with his index finger extended. As Kuzo threw the bottle, Vance waited until it was an arm's length away before shouting "Shigan!", his arm shooting forwards with the speed of a bullet, his finger penetrating the bottle.
Grinning over at Kuzo, Vance slowly lowered his arm again, the bottle surprisingly still intact, with Vance's finger having gone straight through it. He gingerly pulled out his finger before lifting the bottle to look at Kuzo through the hole. "Strength is nothing without precision. But, uh, that was actually the 'original' move, the Shigan. My Impact Bullet works the same, but just before I hit my target, I pull back my arm ever so slightly, so I won't penetrate them. So instead, it's more like a really concentrated punch, the speed of a bullet, give or take."
"Way cool!" Kuzo yelled out as he observed the small, precise hole Vance created with his Shigan. "That's really great aim. I don't think I could ever make that kind of precise shot." Kuzo then listened to his explanation about why he chose to use his version of the attack, instead of the original move. The very explanation showed Vance's good nature, which Kuzo could respect and relate to. He too never enjoyed severely harming someone if he could avoid it.
"That's a pretty neat move. Where did you learn it from?" Kuzo asked curiously.
"Awh, it's... not really a big deal. Really! Anyone could do it with the right training!" Vance rubbed the back of his head sheepishly, before looking up again, smiling brightly, the booze in him clearly making him alot more agreeable and chatty. "Well! It's actually part of a martial arts style called Rokushiki, which the navy developed, and my dad started training me in it when he took me away from home. I wasn't really interested in fighting, so half of the techniques, I can't really do properly."
"Huh... that's pretty cool," Kuzo replied as he thought back on the name. Something about it seemed familiar to him. "Hmm, I get the feeling I heard it somewhere before, but I can't put my finger on where exactly... oh well," He finally gave up and gave Vance a light smile and a shrug. "You said your dad taught it to you? What is he like? Have you seen him recently?"
Vance's cheerful mood quickly plummeted as Kuzo began inquiring about his dad. He sat back down in his chair and picked up another glass of a random liquid, taking a little swig of it while shaking his head.
"I haven't seen him since about a week before I met you guys in Loguetown. He's... uh, tough. Really tough. Like if-you-don't-complete-your-training-you-don't-get-dinner tough. And even then, dinner wasn't anything to write home about." He paused, shaking his head. "Anyway, that doesn't matter! What I was -going- to tell you is that during a fight in the tower, I actually managed to get another of the Rokushiki skills to work! I couldn't keep it going for more than a few seconds though, so I have to keep training when we get sailing again."
Immediately after asking the question and seeing Vance's reaction, Kuzo instantly regretted the question. He could see that this was a touchy subject, same as Skellen's subject about his home. It seemed just about everyone had one thing or another they were a bit uncomfortable with talking about.
"Oh, I see," Kuzo stated once Vance finished explaining about his father. He then perked up again when the navigator began talking about Rokushiki. "Great to hear! I can't wait to see it in action! Speaking of which... I can't wait for us to head out on our next adventure! I'm guessing the log pose is already pointing to the next place by now, right? So after the party we're gonna be sailing off!"
Blinking in surprise, Vance looked down to the log pose he had more or less forgotten about, still sitting firmly on his wrist. "Oh! Oh, right, yeah, it's ready! No clue where it's pointing to, but..."
He paused, looking down at the pose for a few moments as a warm smile crept up on his lips, looking up to his captain, raising his glass in preparation of a toasty. "... That's the best part, right?"
Kuzo grinned and nodded his head in agreement. He also raised his own glass and clashed it right into Vance's. "Right you are! Here's to our next adventure!"
January 8th, 2015 (10:32 AM).
The Man in the Brown Suit- Streets of Dinas
“So the rumors were true…the Kobushi Tower did fall,” a tall man said, standing before the crumbled ruins of what the people affectionately called Ground Zero. Excavation teams dug through the rubble diligently, looking for clues to dozens of things. Clues to what happened. Survivors. Evidence proving the hushed rumors concerning the once dictatorial Warlord. It was a scene of controlled chaos. The Man in the Brown Suit simply stood there, with his long dull blue hair flowing in the wind and a black gloved hand brushing his matching full groomed beard. A pair of copper eyes surveyed the scene, taking in all the sights and sounds of the site before him. Many onlookers looked at him curiously, though he could hazard a guess or two why. And even an outsider looking in could give you a few more. The man’s height was more than impressive, towering over many by a couple feet at least. His brown suit was finely tailored with a tan vest, black dress shirt and a light tan tie to complete the eclectic mix of browns and dark colors on his torso. A brown trench coat draped over his shoulders, with a fur outer lining on his color and front and a tan scarf resting around his neck, giving a regal feel to the man’s image. Was he rich? Or of importance? Either way he fit with the affluence of Dinas, that much was clear. But he seemed out of place.
A quiet ring came from his pocket. The man with a dry expression reached in and answer the call on his Den-Den Mushi. “Sir! Sir! Have you completed your objective?” A voice rung through with impeccable enthusiasm.
“In a matter of speaking. The Kobushi Tower was destroyed as everyone said,” the man replied with a regretful sigh. “Sadly, it safe to say the prisoners escaped.” He paused and looked around, as if trying to get one last grasp on the situation before making any decisions.
“Sir? Are you there? Did something happen?”
“No, no. And call me James, please. At this point, as far as I’m concerned…I’m off duty” he replied to the fair question. “Give the rest of the crew the day off, we set sail tomorrow at 0600.”
“Si- I mean, thank you…James. I’ll let them know. I’ll see you back on the ship then,” the voice replied.
“I was never a fan of ranks and titles, anyway,” James said to himself, tucking the Den Den Mushi back in his pocket. He eyed the main street, before looking back at the ruins one last time. It was a bittersweet display, as James was never much of a fan of Kasumi. Yet, he couldn’t but feel…disheartened. He admired it’s architecture, really, and to see little more than it’s foundation stand before and the rest of proud white structure in piles of rock and dust scattered about with men and women digging and prodding for wealth of some kind. Whether it be literal or metaphorical did not matter to James. He had his own priorities and for now he would put them on hold. I wonder where is a good place to grab some food. And a drink, he thought to himself.
The Man in the Brown Suit had been traveling for a solid two weeks now, catching wind of prisoners being held by Kasumi Kobushi. He had volunteered to pick them up himself, wanting to take a peek at her operation himself anyway. There were some rumors about her dealings and James, being quite insightful in comparison to some of his colleagues, felt he would be discern it something without stirring up the upper echelon too much. However, he was halfway across the world on other business, so he was aware it was going to take some time for him to arrive. Regardless, the endorsement of Kasumi Kobushi promised that the prisoners would be safe, secure and not going anywhere.
James did not expect this, but he was hardly surprised given the reputation of a select few of those prisoners. He would not be bothered by it for too long, knowing full well that Kasumi’s failures as a Shichibukai do not harm his reputation in the slightest. Little could be done at this point. James had walked down the main street for some time, with little grabbing his attention. He was hardly a picky eater, but he was not in the mood for much of the food. Too much of it felt…imported. James was fond of local eats when he traveled, wanting to get a feel for the place that he and the Marines were trying so hard to protect. It was a trait he shared with a few of his comrades and one he wished more shared. Yet sentiment was never going to be a desired trait with Kanaru in charge and there was little he could do to stop that.
"See boss man? It was just like that waiter guy said!" Sena Albert of the Stray Pirates exclaimed, as he pointed through the window outside of the Mermaid's Pearl at the Skull Pirates inside. Huddled around the window with Sena was the rest of the small, rag-tag crew of the Stray Pirates: Broccoli, Marcello 'Beauty' Ladorra, and the Captain himself, Adams 'Stray' Kondo. Kondo pushed past Beauty and Broccoli to have a glimpse inside the window. He caught sight of the Skull Pirates, just as Sena said. He noticed Morgan in particular as one of the one that really irked him before.
"That's definitely them!" Kondo spat as he gritted his teeth.
"So what are we gonna do, Captain?" Broccoli asked curiously. "We followed them all the way to Dinas from Duke Island! Should we burst inside and take them out while they're nice and unprepared?"
"No way!~" Beauty began to protest. "If we go in and challenge them now, we'll be completely outnumbered!~ They'll harm my beautiful face!~"
"Let's get 'em while they're sleeping!" Sena chimed in, gripping tighter on her large hammer. "We can wait 'till its dark, and BAM! They'll never see us coming!"
"There's a lot of them! No doubt they'll have people watching them at every time!" Broccoli retorted. "Our best bet is to go in strong and duke it out! We got the upper hand, and they're still all injured!"
"Quiet! All of you!" Stray yelled at his crewmates. "My brilliant mind has come up with a plan! This is how we're gonna do it! Dinas is built on a system of canals and waterways! So below the restaurant is nothing but water! Using the dynamite we were going to use on the ships back on Duke Island, I'll use my Door-Door abilities to appear at the lower levels of the restaurant! Then, I'll set the dynamite, and collapse the restaurant into the sea! Almost half of their crew has Devil Fruits abilities, including that insufferable Burning King! They'll all die in the water, and if any of the remaining crewmates survive, that's when we strike!"
"Oh wow, cap!" Sena exclaimed in awe. "What an awesome plan! It's full-proof!"
"It's perfect, smooth, and without flaws,~" Beauty stated in wonderment. "Just like my perfectly-toned arms!~"
"I couldn't have thunk of one better, cap!" Broccoli grinned with his missing-toothed smile. "We're so gonna get them this time!"
"I rather you not cause excessive property damage. I think the city has gone through enough these past few weeks, wouldn't you agree?" James said from behind the Stray Pirates, having been able to listen in to the majority of the conversation without being noticed. That was something of a quirk of his: the ability to blend in so well, that very few people would be able to notice him. He leaned forward to match the scheming eye level of the pirate crew and simply looked at them with a soft smile.
"EH!?" Stray turned around to meet the gaze of the rather tall man in the brown suit. "Who do you think you are?! Do you have any idea who yo-" Stray suddenly cut himself off as he got a good look of the tall man. His face and body instantly went into panic mode. He began to sweat across his body. His face was drained of any color. His teeth shook uncontrollably. "Y-y-y-you... y-y-y-y-y-y-y-you...."
"B-b-but... why are you... w-w-what are y-y-ou..." Kondo couldn't make his own words out.
"Oh... please don't hurt us!~" Beauty begged fearfully. "I just got eyebrows done!~"
James smiled weakly before frowning. "I have little time to answer you. I will be asking the questions instead, Kondo. Why are you here?"
Stray continued to sweat profusely. "O-oh, well, you know... j-just walking a-around Dinas... looking for s-s-s-somewhere to eat... n-no-nothing illegal."
"Huh? But boss man, I thought we were planning on how to take out the Skull Pira-mfff!" Sena chirped enthusiastically before she was cut off. Stray, Beauty and Broccoli instantly paled, and then quickly tried to hush Sena up by closing her mouth.
"Ah, Sena. I had admittedly forgotten you had became a pirate. Your grandfather is very worried about you. And you, Kondo. Your brother is not pleased either. Though, that is putting it mildly," James began. He stood up straight, taking a peek into the window. "Now...what is this about the Skull Pirates?" He asked, in a polite but stern manner.
"Gramps?" Sena questioned, then suddenly became worried as she remembered something. "Ah! Gramps! I forgot to tell him I was leaving to become a pirate! Uh... uh oh..."
"Uh... not that w-w-w-we know too much... we j-just saw them in th-this restaurant. They were the g-guys who b-blew up the K-Kobushi Tower!" Stray explained. "V-very scary p-p-pirates. M-much more important t-to go after than us!"
James placed on hand on chin and brushed his beard. "So you say, Kondo. So you say," he said gently. After a brief pause to inspect the Stray Pirates, he reached into his pocket to pull out his Den Den Mushi. "Nate?" He asked. "Come in Nate."
"Uh, y-yes sir...I mean James!"
"At ease. I'm sorry to bother you, but I caught wind of a pirate group wandering Dinas that may need to picked up sooner rather than later. Just have the men keep an eye on all the docks in the city. I suspect the Stray Pirates may try to escape today."
"Thank you," James said, putting the Den Den Mushi back into his pocket and looking back at the Strays: "Consider that your warning."
"I... uh... I... Strays!" Kondo snapped worriedly. "T-time for a tactical retreat!" He ordered, as he ran out of the area, with the others following closely behind.
The Man in the Brown Suit turned away, watching the fleeing pirates for a few moments, considering chasing them down before reminding himself that his own tactical genius assured their capture. Its i his own way of dealing with things, a middle ground between some of comrades. He approached the door of the Mermaid's Pearl, slipping inside relatively unnoticed despite his head close to scraping the ceiling at its lower points. The entire restaurant was madness, consuming by a boisterous celebration of sorts. Despite his eyes tracking some figures he recognized, he did not want to cause too much of a commotion. After all, he did not have definite proof of identities, only hearsay from the second most pathetic group of pirates in all the Blues and Grand Line. And that was hardly reliable.
The waiter Ramsley had stopped trying to get a hold of the situation probably ten minutes into the Skull Pirates' grand celebration. Instead, he did his best to clear the area of any empty (or broken) plates and mugs. When he saw the tall man enter the restaurant, he jumped through all the commotion to greet him.
"Hello there, sir!" He said hastily, but still as politely as he could muster. "I do apologize for the commotion, there is a private event being held. Party of one?"
"It's fine. And yes, just one. I'll sit even near the event if you can't help it," James said, trying to put the man at ease.
"As much as I'd like to put you out of it, I'm afraid my hands are tied on this, sir," Ramsley apologize as he urged the tall man in the brown suit to follow him. "The... umm... party is unfortunately encompassing the entire restaurant and moving around quite a bit. Mind your head, sir!" He exclaimed as a few dishes past over the two of them. He finally led the large man toward the counter along the edge of the restaurant, where the bar resided. "I hope a counter seat is comfortable to you. It is probably the best seat to avoid any... umm... distractions."
James took the counter seat happily: "This is perfect. Thank you." He offered a smile and faced the bar, occasionally looking over his shoulder at the party. He wasn't quite used to the commotion, but he enjoyed well enough. It reminded me of when he was younger, really, which while nostalgic was bittersweet. It reminded him of his slowly, but surely, advancing age. Being middle aged was terrible, but he managed to avoid the crisis up until this very moment. He quietly motioned the bartender for a simple drink and in a few moments, a small glass was slid before him. James tipped generously and took a sip, enjoying the relaxing mix with a content sigh.
All around James, the celebrations of the Sky and Skull Pirates were in full swing. In fact, some could say it was almost like pure mayhem. Kuzo was drinking merrily while also dancing ridiculously with Dekuranu, Matterine and other members of the Sky Pirates. The group were also sticking chopsticks up their noses in order to try to make the funniest face to each other. As Kuzo got on top of the counter for his turn to make the funny face, he found himself losing his balance and tumbling down the table and onto the ground. He rolled over close to where the counter was, before he laughed off the tumble and began picking himself off the ground. He leaned over to the counter and yelled toward the bartender.
"Hey, another few rounds for all of us!" He ordered happily, before giving off a laugh. The bartender nodded and brought his drink with a grin of his own, as Kuzo turned to his left to see the tall man in the brown suit sitting beside him. "Hey there!" He greeted him, as his drink was brought out. He held it in front of him and toasted toward the man. "Here's to new friends!"
"I'm afraid you have me mistaken with someone else," James said, waving down Kuzo. "I'm not a part of your celebration. Just here to relax."
Kuzo laughed and drank from his cup, before he returned his gaze to the newcomer. "Just because you didn't start as part of our celebration doesn't mean you don't have to join it! The name's Tristan D. Kuzo! What's yours?"
"James. James Calaway if you must know," the man said in response after a brief pause as if processing Kuzo's name. "What do you for a living to...throw such a big celebration?"
Kuzo's grin grew larger as he puffed out his chest and pointed to himself confidently. "I'm a pirate!" He began to say. "Captain of the Skull Pirates actually. We're celebrating new additions to my crew: Selena, Joshua, and Firenze!" He stated enthusiastically as he pointed to each of them in the bar. "I also have the rest of my crew here... Morgan, Avril, Vance, Bass, Skellen, Lotte... oh and I guess we're celebrating taking down those Unit guys and bringing down the tower. Especially Billionth. He was tough!"
James looked at each of the pirates that Kuzo had gestured at, taking in their location in a meticulous manner. Kuzo's story was interesting and impressive, though the name Billionth did not ring any bells offhand. Then again, it was probably just a title. "Interesting," he found himself saying. James took down the rest of his drink in a single gulp. As he placed the glass on the counter, nine stone pillars blasted from the floor, knocking each of the Skull Pirates square in the chest and through the outside wall into the streets just outside the Mermaid's Pearl. A few moments later, James emerged from the front door, adjusting his suit and tie ever so slightly.
"I was ordered to bring a number of pirates into custody. And since the Tower fell, I was worried I was going to return empty handed. But now, it seems fate has brought us together. Skull Pirates, you are coming with me," James said. "To Impel Down."
January 15th, 2015 (01:30 PM).
The Skull Pirates Vs. James "The Man in the Brown Suit" Calaway- Outside the Mermaid's Pearl, Dinas
Selena coughed loudly, clutching her chest as she slowly climbed to her feet and took a look around herself. The first thing her eyes laid on was the rather large, gaping hole that stood in the wall of the Mermaid's Pearl. The next thing the green-haired cook noticed was the fact that every member... or at least, what she assumed to be the whole crew had been forcefully ejected from the restaurant. She really was not too familiar with them all just yet.. Finally, Selena eyes fell upon the man in the brown suit, narrowing into a rather nasty glare as she finally got her wind back.
"I dunno who the hell you are buddy, but I think you're about to get into a world of hurt," Selena said, clenching her fists tightly. "Not only did you just wreck up the wrong place, but you ruined one hell of a party. That officially makes you as good as dead in my book!"
Avril glanced over in Selena's direction, the older woman still trying to catch her breath from the rather unexpected attack that she had suffered with the rest of the Skull Pirates. "J-Just what are ya gonna do, Mossey? Did ya not notice the fact that this guy managed to toss all out into the street like yesterday's garbage without breakin' a sweat?"
Selena huffed. "He just caught me off guard, that's all! Now that I know what he can do, there's no way he'll get me again!"
"Know what he can do? Ya got ambushed by one attack. I don't think that qualifies as knowin' the strategies of... whoever this guy is," Avril thought, rolling her eyes at Selena's rather cocky attitude.
"You should perhaps listen to your friend," James advised, looking at the collection of pirates before him. Many of them were recollecting themselves, as his attack caught each off-guard yet at this point, it seemed apt, if not capital, to speak to them with the confidence they would heed him well. "I do not enjoy harping on cliches, but I will have to use one now. There are two ways this can go. The easy way is that you come with me quietly and no one gets hurt. I will also assure that you will receive a fair trial. The hard way is...well, I think you already know what implies." James took a deep breath and stared at all of the Skull Pirates and Kuzo in particular. "What will it be?"
Kuzo groaned as he picked himself off of the ground following getting thrown through the air by the James' stone pillar. He realized he was outside with the rest of the Skull Pirates, and looked upon the damage the man just inflicted upon Marta's restaurant to get them out there. "You wrecked Selena's restaurant," Kuzo stated as he looked from the damage to the Mermaid's Pearl over to the man in the brown suit. "They just finished repairing it after the Unit messed it up!" A serious and impassioned expression made its way upon the Captain's face, as he bent his knees extended his arms outward. He clenched his fists together and his body began to bulk up. "Tank Mode!" He cried, and his body responded by transforming into his bulkier, larger form.
"I'm gonna kick your ass!" He yelled, as he charged forward at the taller man. He moved a fist back behind the rest of his torso and forced it forward toward James. "Cannon Arm!"
Once Kuzo was within reach, James cocked his own arm back covering in what appeared to be thick, strong marble in the shape of large fist and drove on the head of the eager captain, smacking Kuzo into the pavement with a large rumble of the ground. The rumble was powerful enough to stir the barely alert Morgan back into the reality, the recovering man still dazed from James' entrance and the wounds he suffered earlier. Seeing Kuzo eat the direct hit, the restaurant destroyed and a tall man standing over everyone else, it didn't take long for him to put the pieces together.
"Like hell, ya can punch that dim witted 'Captain' of mine before me!" Morgan yelled. Conjuring jets of fire under his feet, Morgan launched himself at James with explosive speed, twisting himself in midair to deliver a powerful flaming kick at the tall man. James easily read the move and sidestepped Morgan's brave charge, catching the leg and slamming him down to the ground. As Morgan crumbled on the cobblestone, James aimed a hand at the Burning King and covered the man in what appeared to be mud. "Da heck is this frickin' crap?" Morgan asked. Suddenly the mud hardened and only Morgan's head was easily seen as he was locked in place in mere moments.
"Of all the Skull Pirates, you are the one I know the most about," James finally said. "It's a mud prison, good luck moving and making a spark now." He flicked the man's head as Morgan struggled to stand up, throwing him back down to the ground.
"Now that I have disposed of what I assume is your Captain and First Mate, do you understand what kind of situation you are in?" James asked. "If you surrender now, I can promise you safe passage to Impel Down."
Selena scoffed, not really appearing to be all that concerned at the moment that James was able to handily defeat Morgan and Kuzo with little effort at all. Perhaps it was because of the fact that she was angry for the damage caused to the restaurant or it may have had to do with the fact that the green-haired cook was being powered a bit by some of the liquid courage she had consumed during the party just a short while ago. Regardless, the green-haired cook charged forward, fist ready to punch the man in square in the middle of his face.
The punch nailed James directly in the face, knocking the man back a step as he felt his entire head flip back from the sudden impact. Repositioning himself, James took a step forward and looked at Selena. James' features seemed cracked as if Selena broke a stone with her firm attack, yet they reformed right before her eyes. "I take it that you are not surrendering then," he said solemnly. "I was hoping to prevent more damage from being caused." James replied kindly with a stone covered kick into Selena's stomach.
Selena let out a rather pain-filled grunt as she fell backwards, before skidding back towards Avril. The cook groaned, trying to catch her breath once more as she slowly picked herself off the ground, cluching the side of her stomach in the process. Without giving it a second of debate, Selena charged forward once more towards James. She quickly stopped right in front of the man in the brown suit, before dropping to the ground and attempting to trip him up quickly.
James merely jumped, completely avoiding the sweeping of his legs. Following his landing, James fired a bursts of clay that covered the bulk of Selena's legs. The clay spread, consuming her lower body before, much like Morgan's mud prison, hardened, and inhibiting any form of movement from the green-haired cook.
A curtain of crimson dashed any chance of immediate awareness when Joshua finally opened his eyes, but his bangs were quickly pushed away by his wheezing as he tried to regain his breath. He stood up just in time to see Selena's attack shut down, and did the best he could to try and assess what to do before he got himself disabled just as easily. After only a moment of contemplation the fear of seeing some of his crewmates at their enemies mercy trumped caution and he launched himself at the man in the brown suit.
He took a running start and jumped as high as he could, closing his legs and falling towards the ground like a spike. He slammed into the street they'd been thrown onto knocked a chunk of its cobblestones vertical behind him, bracing his feet on it to send himself flying straight at their enemy. He hoped that with enough momentum he could slam into the man too fast to sidestep and too hard to block even with his constructs.
James did little to brace himself for Joshua's bold attack, seemingly just standing there absorbing the impact of the attack head on. Sliding back with his legs eating up the city streets as he remained standing, bits and pieces of crystal and stone fell to the ground, all coming from James' person. His body looked cracked and crumbled with different earthly materials composing his person. As James shook his head, his body reformed into the being that his opponents grew used to...a tall man in brown suit. He dusted the remains off, while other fragments recollected themselves. He sighed as he looked Joshua, before kneeling down and placing a hand on the cobblestone streets. Emerging from the ground and surrounding Joshua became what resembled a giant cage, composed of thick stone and presumably a host of other sediments. "If you won't accept my offer of a jail cell in Impel Down, then I will lock you in this one for the time being. Also, don't bother trying to break out," James reminded, snapping his fingers as a rock spike shot of the roof inches away from Joshua's head. "I can crush you in an instant if you try."
Joshua considered frantically beating on the cage as hard as he could for a split second before he huffed and sat down in his prison. Seconds later his eyes caught on something black with a hint of red. His eyes widened and he reached through the bars of the cage in a rush. However it was no use, his fingers scratched at the ground mere inches from his hat after finally laying eyes on it once again. Joshua lost his composure for once and growled low and guttural, punching the ground hard enough to make a few of his knuckles bleed.
Letting out a quiet groan as Vance slowly staggered to his feet, his hands raised up to rub his chest. Ugh... what the...? the navigator thought as he stumbled a little on the spot, still slightly weakened from his recovery, Vance slowly managed to figure out what was going on, having heard the man's words while lying on the ground.
Seeing several of his crewmates lying on the ground and the man standing over them didn't do much to help the sinking feeling in his gut, and if both Selena, Joshua, Kuzo and Morgan were beat down by this guy without as much as a scratch...
"W-wait, stop! Don't attack him! He's too strong, you'll only get yourselves hurt!" he called out, looking at his friends while trying to suppress the urge to run off to the side and hide from this monster of a man. "We can't fight someone like him!"
Skellen, although somewhat drunk and rather perturbed that his hilarious joke about the pin-cushion had been so rudely interrupted had slipped out of sight whilst his cremates were defeated one by one. Having seen how easily some of the strongest physical attackers of their crew - not to mention Morgan - had been battered aside like flies - he had no intention of trying to fight the man in the brown suit head on. Not even Billionth had been able to fend them off so easily.
Keeping to the shadows, Skellen let his mind slip back into the mindset of his old trade. It wasn't easy to do out in the open, but Skellen managed to maneuver himself so he was back near the hole where most of the rubble was piled up from their opponents surprise attack. As Vance awoke Skellen moved quietly up behind the new threat clutching one of his seastone injections. Answering Vance, Skellen moved to jab the needle into the man's neck.
"I don't see why we can't!"
Barely noticing Skellen's sneak attack, James quickly hardened his body and layered in sheets of marble. It was a rather quick and seamless process all things considered, forcing Skellen to only watch his injection get stuck in the stone skin that James had coated himself in. A few seconds later, he reached for the injection with a stone covered hand and pulled it out, holding it gingerly in his hand, his body slowly converted to a more human state. James then turned to Skellen and looked at the doctor with curious eyes: "Trying to poison me? That's a new one, I must admit." James clutched a stone hand tightly and shattered the injection, dropping the remains to the ground. With his free hand, James punched the doctor in the face and as he fell back, covered him in a stone cocoon with only his face being exposed so he could breathe.
Encased in the cocoon Skellen hit the ground hard, his nose bleeding profusely and his head spinning uncontrollably as a result of copious amounts of booze and a single punch to the face. He was long passed seeing double, at least six shadowy James' looming up above him and every sound sounding like a far away echo. On the periphery of his vision Skellen saw what he could swear were butterflies, then noticing his "cocoon", his completely and totally addled brain constructed a single thought
"I'm gonna be a beautiful butterfly!" the doctor exclaimed before subsiding into unintelligible babble on the fringe of consciousness.
"This isn't goin' good at all," Avril thought with a worried frown. She had been watching as one by one, the crew had been having their asses more or less handed to them by James. Now, there was barely a handful of them left at this point. The woman glanced around at those who were still left in fighting condition, which did less to improve her outlook on the situation when she realized that there were really only three of them left. "Well, four... But I dunno if or how Loli could really help us out in this whole mess. I don't think Vanny has that rope with him, I don't know how much an impact I can make now that my hammer is gone, I have no idea where Batsy-chan is, and..." She paused in thought, glancing over at Firenze, the last of the "new recruits" which had yet to take a swing at James. "Unless Scribbles has somethin' under her belt, I don't see how we're gonna make it outta this one. I mean, I did some restocking on some of my flashbombs and the other balls, but..."
She paused again, this time glancing over at Skellen. From what Avril saw, it did not look like getting a sneak attack off was much of an option either. At least, it was not one if she attempted to go at it alone. Of course, this threw into question just how Avril would manage to get a surprise attack off with someone working as a diversion. It would be way too obvious if she tried to plan something out now with someone.
Seeing Skellen get his rear handed to him as well, despite the jump he had on the man, Vance cringed and looked around at the remains of the crew before looking back to James, trying to prevent his legs from shaking. "W-w-who -are- you? You just burst in and started beating us up and we don't even know who you are!" he exclaimed, lifting an arm to point a finger accusingly at James.
James seemed almost disappointed at Vance's question, frowning slightly as he had expected to be recognized, especially at the moment. He sighed deeply, his face twisting in frustration and disappointment. "I would expect you recognize me, Hayden Vance. But it doesn't matter. I am a Marine. You are pirates. It is my duty to stop people like you from disrupting the delicate balance of things. I am merely doing my job."
"Doesn't it seem like you're the one disruptin' the balance of things here?" Avril asked in return. "I mean, ya kinda are the one that just caused property damage and possibly hurt people that weren't even involved with us back inside in the restaurant..."
"And your group destroyed an entire tower, endangering countless lives," James countered. "I have fine control over my abilities so I can assure you that only those that I targeted were harmed. In addition, I will offer payment for my damages to the owners of the establishment following my business here. I have more than enough authority to do that at the very least," James qualified his statement. "I didn't come here to cause trouble. I came here to bring you all to trial. It is your choice from here on whether it gets messier or not."
"No more trials! Trials suck!" Skellen yelled deliriously before adding with a weird giggle "I'm a Skellen sandwich!"
Ignoring Skellen's outcries, Vance kept James' gaze. "But bringing down the tower wasn't a bad thing! Everyone on the island was being hurt by Kasumi! And have been for a long time! That has to have given us a little slack... right?"
"Forget it, Vanny... Ya know how Marines are. Once they decide on somethin', there isn't any mind changin' to be done. It's part of the reason I decided it wasn't exactly my scene," Avril responded. She turned her attention back to James and sighed. "It's a shame, really. It's people like ya that give a certain other Marine I know of bad names."
James did not let the fact he was insulted by Avril show on his face, keeping a straight gaze at the two talkative ex-Marines. "I knew you seemed familiar, Avril Meads. I cannot say your departure was a shock. At least not to me," James said with a weak smile. "To your point, Hayden Vance, I did not agree with any of Kasumi's methods and I suppose part of me is thankful that her operation came, literally, tumbling down. Personally speaking, I never trusted her. However, I would much rather be it done in the way that Zakiru Kiba had intended, which would have been through the systems we Marines have put in place to guarantee order." James took a few steps closer to Avril and Vance. "Your methods, on the other hand, are crude and illegal. And it is for that, I must do my duty."
"System? If your system worked then that whole incident wouldn't have happened in the first place," Avril replied, Vance eagerly nodding along. The woman clenched her fist as she spoke, starting to get a bit angry at how dismissive James was in the fact that the Marine's system had proven to be failures time and again. "If the system worked, then Teeter..." she caught herself, taking a moment to catch herself from saying things she really did not feel like bringing up at the moment. "Then other towns and islands wouldn't have the same sort of oppression or worse thrown on them..."
"I suppose then that pirates like yourselves are innocent from all crimes and that...I should give up my duty to protect innocents from other forms of oppression," James said with a stern shake of his head. "The system may have its flaws, but in time, they will be fixed. For the time being, I will bring an end to the reign of dangerous pirates one day at a time. Today happens to be your day, Skull Pirates. Tomorrow may be the day that 'other towns and islands' will have their days of oppression end too. As bad as you think us Marines are, you pirates are no better. Each island you go to is immediately thrust into danger in the name of adventuring and challenging the system you all hate so much. I don't expect you to understand, but for one moment consider the ramifications of your actions and realize that you have brought this upon yourselves."
"You're the one bringing this on us!" Vance shouted out, starting to look a little angry himself. "People on the island are happy with what we did! (Even if we didn't do it for them, exactly.) Couldn't you... uh, at least give us a headstart? ... Please?"
"No," James replied sternly as he formed a large, perfectly round boulder out of the ground beside him and tossed it toward Vance.
The sudden attack caught Vance off-guard. He managed to say 'Tekkai!' right before the boulder hit him, but either he still didn't have a proper grasp of the ability, or he simply hadn't recovered enough from the previous fight. As the boulder hit him square in the stomach, he tumbled to the ground, letting out a hacking cough.
"Why would he do that?" Skellen laughed, his mind still hazy but the delirium finally beginning to fade "Fairness or consideration have never been anything the marines care about. All they care about is throwing about their power and punishing people for doing the right thing. The only reason he hasn't killed us yet is because he wants to pretend he has morals. The system does work, that's the problem. The system isn't around for justice, the current system is all about maintaining marine superiority. It's only everyone else it fails, it works fine for power-hungry bureaucrats and their lackeys." Skellen fought off a wave of nausea as his head continued to swim.
Having stirred in time to hear James' speech on pirates, Lotte was, undeniably confused and rattled from the sudden attack and her swimming vision in the wake of regaining consciousness. She sat up, long blonde hair riddled with bits of debris though she herself was mostly unhurt thanks to the frame of the piano above her. She gazed at it, her beautiful gift from the Captain who was now unmoving on the ground-- and listened with half an ear as Skellen ripped into the marines. Though in her youth, the marines had seemed like a tool, and extension of her and her family's power, she couldn't help but begin to agree. What did they do? What gave him the right to indiscriminately attack them when all they'd tried to do was save their friends?
"Stop!" Lotte got to her feet, the scrapes on her knees fading in tufts of indiscernible white smoke as she turned an angry gaze at the marine, "I order you to stop this right now! I don't care what you're here for-- my friends aside, how dare you attack me!" She stormed forward, livid and indignant, "When my father hears about this you'll be sorry!"
Lotte's shouting was enough to rouse Firenze, the redhead sitting up with a groan. Despite their current situation, she couldn't help but chuckle groggily at the blonde girl's outrage, but her amusement dwindled away when her eyes came to the table she had been sitting at. "NOOOOOO!" Forgetting the pain in her chest, Firenze scrambled over to the shattered ruins of the table. Brushing aside the splintered wood, she uncovered her bag - which at least seemed to be undamaged - then let out another cry as she lifted the painting she had completed only minutes ago, the canvas now wrinkled and torn down the middle. With a sigh, she carefully smoothed it then tucked it into her bag before turning to glare at James with an uncharacteristic scowl.
"That took me the better part of the day to complete! I don't care if you're a marine or the bloody king of the world, you don't mess with art!" As Firenze was shouting, her hands went to the pouch on her belt and in a few swift motions her brass knuckles were on her hands. She didn't move towards James, though - she'd noticed the current conditions her crewmates who had already tried to attack him. Instead she got into a fighting stance, her body turned slightly to the side, legs slightly bent, and her fists raised.
The unmoving Firenze made for an easier target as James casually raised a hand and from it two stone shackles were fired, wrapping around the artist's ankles, pinning her to the ground. They resembled granite but were far stronger and heavier than the material it resembled. Regardless of its make, its make was solid and tightly snug. Even if Firenze had managed to move, through the weight and constrained range of motion, any attack would be for naught. Satisfied with the work, he turned to Lotte and smiled: "I beg to differ, young Lotte. Your father has been quite worried about you. Should I return you to him, he would probably insist on rewarding me. Of course, I will reject it as I don't need any gestures. Now then, if you are all done with resisting arrest, I will seize this moment to bring you to your temporary cells abroad my ship."
"My father would certainly protest as to the manner in which you've chosen to try to bring me home!" Lotte continued, determined to have the last word, "You could've killed me!"
Firenze attempted to step out of the way but wasn't quick enough as the shackles clung to her and dragged her to the ground. Grunting, she attempted to stand up again but was only able to push herself into a sitting position, her hands resting on the ground at either side as she continued to tug at the restraints. When she realized this wasn't getting her anywhere, she pouted and crossed her arms - only for the weight of the shackles to drag her arms back down.
Avril cursed under her breath, looking at the situation before her. Things were looking more and more bleak by the moment, and now only she, Vance, and Lotte remained. She knew that Vance was not exactly at 100% right now, having just really started recovering from where Billionth poisoned him almost to the point of death and Lotte... Well, she was not about to ask or expect Lotte to join in this battle. Besides that, the girl had already chipped in the best way she possibly could... At least, that's what Avril figured.
"Either I'm goin' crazy or these guys are startin' to rub off on me more than I thought," Avril thought.
Reaching into her pocket, she gazed over at Vance and gave the boy a look which she hoped he'd pick up as a cue to grab Lotte and run. She took one final deep breath, before suddenly taking off and running towards James. "I may not be all that strong or have any Devil Fruit powers like the others, but I got more than enough to hold ya back a bit!" the woman shouted, quickly pulling her hand out of her pocket and launching a small, sphere-shaped object straight in James' direction.
James simply stared at the object and as it flew in his direction, caught the object with a rock covered hand. Without investigating it, assuming it was some sort of explosive or at least in the nature of an explosive, James crushed it and tossed it aside with a grimace. Hoping that Avril wasn't going to be foolish and try something again, he slowly approached, hoping that intimidation would work.
Having caught Avril's glance, Vance was slowly regaining the air that had been knocked out of him, and just from that one look, he knew what she wanted him to do. What they both knew was the only thing he -could- do right now. He struggled as he got to his feet again, trying to get back his breath and his footing.
Avril slowly took a step back, giving James somewhat of a weak smile. "That was pretty quick on your part there... I guess I should've known better than to try and fight such a high-rankin' Marine like yourself right...?"
"A fact I have been reminding you all of for some time," James replied. "Is this finally your version of a surrender?"
"Yeah... Unlike the rest of these guys, I know when I'm licked..." Avril sighed. Slowly, the woman raised her hands over head and nodded. "I give up, ya win..."
James crafted a pair of stone handcuffs from his hand and continued his approach towards Avril, preparing to formally cuff the pirate as if to solidify her surrender. As he approached however, the smile on Avril's face grew a bit wider. Slowly, she opened her hands which had been closed up until this point, releasing another sphere from her palm. The ball quickly fell to the ground, bouncing once before a bright, flash of light quickly enveloped the area... and most likely reminding Skellen of something very unpleasant. Skellen proceded to start yelling and swearing and otherwise lamenting the second loss of his vision and the existence of the marines.
As the flashbang went off, Vance was already by Lotte's side, having grabbed her arm and began to pull her away, towards a side-street. If they could get far enough away from him, they might be able to save the others later. "Lotte, come on, let's-" he managed to say before being cut off by a rumble below.
Blinded, James was obviously at a huge disadvantage for a moment. However, he couldn't let a meager distraction impede him or disrupt his duty. Pounding his foot into the ground, he pushed a localized earthquake through the ground, hoping at the very least to knock anyone on their feet back to the ground until his vision returned.
Avril honestly had not been expecting that sort of counter attack in the slightest bit. The woman let out a yelp of surprise as she quickly fell onto her backside. She winced lightly in pain, as the earthquake that came with the fall did little to cushion her fall in the slightest bit.
As the ground shook violently, Vance lost his footing and mis-stepped, accidentally letting go of Lotte, tumbling off to one side while Lotte went off to the other.
"Avril-!" Lotte called out, stumbling around from the shaking earth but otherwise unharmed as she sent a whirling glare around at the man.
As Avril fell, James' vision had barely returned but he managed to launch a large rock cuff that latched itself around Avril's torso, pinning her to the ground much like Firenze's ankle cuffs had earlier. The difference here was that Avril's consumed her arms and torso, locking her sneaky hands in place, preventing any more surprises from being thrown at the Marine.
"Feh! Some 'noble protector of the peace'." Unable to just sit grinding his teeth anymore, Joshua spat into the dirt outside of his cage. His usual smile was naught more than a distant memory with the cold glare he gave his captor. "To think someone who actually seems to have some decent morals and has made it so far in life could still be so blind. Of course the marines have their place in the world, there are too many selfish people in this world to not have a rule-of-law."
Joshua punched the same spot on the cage's floor that he had earlier, this time slightly scuffing it and drawing a small amount of blood from his knuckles. "The fact that someone who even speaks of justice, let alone one who claims to have the right to carry it out can't tell the difference between marauding scoundrels and travelers pursuing their dreams disgusts me. What good is the system, or the people who run it, if those such as yourself become mindless dogs, following orders as if their speakers were infallible?"
While he heard Joshua barking the same rhetoric, accusing James and the rest of the Marines of being unjust because he was simply doing his job, James had decided it was perhaps best to ignore the caged, now bleeding pirate. He could only sigh as he walked away from Avril, giving Joshua a glance as he did. As he did, he noticed something of a fire in Joshua's eyes. It was not uncommon in pirates or much of anyone to glare at James like he did, but there was something different. Had he bothered to give it thought, maybe it was something to be concerned about. Either way, it was a strong aura or sorts.
Refocusing his attention to the task at hand, James had walked over in the direction of Lotte. "Now, if you will come with me, I will return you to your father."
"I absolutely refuse-" Lotte folded her arms, looking very much like a child as she turned her nose up to him, "You can go back and tell my father that should he have the sense to send a more gentlemanly marine to attempt to persuade me to return in a non-violent manner first, I will consider it. But! I will be going no where with a brute like you!"
James blinked, and was for the first time on this day legitimately caught off guard. In his mind, he was perhaps a bit more kind than his peers, especially a certain someone. Yet, to have her abducted by pirates was not something he could ignore and request "a more gentlemanly marine" would come and "persuade" her. "I do apologize for that, yet I cannot allow you to remain with these pirates. I will escort you home for your own good." With a confident declaration, James made his motion to approach Lotte in a calm but brisk gait.
She hesitated, both faltering in her confidence and offended when he ignored her resolve to not return with him. For her own good? There was nothing good waiting for her at home-- though she admitted creature comforts would be nice, she dreaded the lectures, the judgmental whispering, and most of all him. Taking a few steps back as he approached, Lotte continued in vain, "Don't you dare--!"
A vertical, sharp, compressed blade of air suddenly rushed in between Lotte and James, cutting off his path. Vance, standing a few metres away after having just shot off his attack grit his teeth, knowing that James wasn't going to forgive him for that.
"Leave her alone! Lotte, run!" he shouted, bending his knees before disappearing from sight, using the Soru technique. A second later, he appeared right in front of James as he skidded to a stop, one finger jutting out as he thrust his hand forward, aiming to pierce the man's side, rather than simply using his Impact Bullet technique. He couldn't afford to hold back against someone like this.
Both attacks hardly wounded James, only causing him to lose a small degree of balance from the surprise of it. As Vance lunged forward with his Impact Bullet, James sidestepped the attack, grabbed Vance's arm and tossed him to the side, launching a small stone bracer around Vance's neck, gluing him to the ground. There was barely enough space between the brace and neck for air to go through, as if he was tired of hearing Vance speak to him.
"I believe we all wasted enough time here, wouldn't you all agree? Now, if you will spare me a moment (not that you have much choice), I will call for some extra men to escort you all to my ship. Since coming quietly was an option you all elected to ignore several times now," James said, disappointed that the Skull Pirates were not going to be more cooperative. Then again, he did suspect that.
January 15th, 2015 (01:36 PM).
An Epic Confrontation! - The Authority vs. The Legend!
“Oi! Oi!” A voice boomed from the distance at James. It was far enough to know it was from a decent distance away, but it carried over quite powerfully nonetheless, as if the one doing the screaming had lungs of steel. That, or plenty of practice. “Just what do you think you’re doing?! Stealing the thunder away from my big entrance?!” The origin of the voice could be identified now as a man at the edge of a decently-sized ship. Though the ship was somewhat far away, the eccentricity of it could be seen a great distance. It sported all manner of strange and bright colors and markings. The paint job was swirled and unaligned, almost as if the one who did it purposefully did so to make it stand out. The ship also contained multiple and oddly-shaped cannons across the deck, including the largest one by which the man who was shouting stood beside.
The man wore a white, cowboy-like hat and a teal pirate’s coat. He also had two sets of tattoos across his face: one with a marking below his right eye, and another, similar one across his chin, though upside down from the one on his eye. He had messy, medium-length blonde hair and a smile that seemed like it was permanently etched onto his face. "This is supposed to be..." The man pointed a thumb toward himself. "MY MOMENT!"
The man with the hat then crossed his arms and looked on at James in disgust, before he had a thought. "WAIT! Maybe my moment isn't gone just yet!" He declared. He then held up a hand toward the group of Pirates and the Marine out in the courtyard in Dinas. "Hold on, I'll be over there in... a Bang!" He yelled to them. The man with the white hat then turned over to the largest cannon right beside him and patted it gently. He grinned toward it, then puffed out his chest. He blew at the fuse of the candle with his breath, which somehow managed to light it. The fuse lit up, but it appeared as if nothing was inside the cannon to fire with at the moment.
That was when the man with the white hat started climbing into the cannon himself! He positioned himself so that his face was turned toward James and the Skull Pirates. On his face was the same, unwavering smile that was on it from the moment he announced himself. "OK, here we go! Three...two...one... LET'S START THE SHOW!" He howled, and simultaneously, the cannon fired. The man with the hat was propelled forward with a tremendous velocity and altitude through the air. However, in between his arms, he appeared to be carrying a bundle of rockets, or more precisely... fireworks. The fireworks were lit as they were launched with him from the cannon, and they were just about to go off.
He was now high above the rest of the buildings of Dinas, and when he was at the very peak of his 'jump', he tossed the fireworks out of his hands and screamed loudly as they all exploded over his head. The man with the hat laughed almost maniacally as a multitude of colors and shapes emitted from the fireworks and the sky was lit up with the bright display of splashy bombardments. The man posed in the air with his hands outstretched to his sides, and then he looked down, and all at once he began to fall from the sky directly toward the man with the brown suit and the rest of the Skull Pirates. The man grinned widely, placed his hands together and fell from the sky like a missile. Kuzo thought for sure he would do something to lessen the fall or pull up at some point somehow, but the man fell straight toward the streets of Dinas. "WOOOOOHOOOOOOOO!"
In fact, he fell straight at the ground, and then straight into it as well! A loud rumble and a sweeping of dust and rocks filled the area as the man collided directly with the hard pavement. By the time the shockwave of his crash passed, Kuzo saw the man with his entire head stuck into the ground below. He struggled multiple times to remove it from the ground, pulling once, then again, and then again. Eventually, the man lifted his head out of the ground, but found himself with a good chunk of the rock around his head, as if it were stuck to his head. He continued on casually as if everything was normal, and grinned at James. "The Living Legend... has ARRIVED!" He exclaimed as he posed for everyone and gave James a thumbs down.
James had observed the entire spectacle with a discerning eye, watching each and every moment with a raised eyebrow. It was not the overt nature of this 'Living Legend' and his entrance. It was not the fact the man seemed to need constant attention and bask in the admiration of his populace. It was something else. James felt as if he knew him from somewhere. After digging his head out of the ground, the raised eyebrow gave way to a piercing gaze as James stared down the Living Legend. "What are you doing here? This isn't your territory."
"That's not true!" The man with the white hat exclaimed back to James. He extended his arms outward and yelled at the top of his lungs. "THE WHOLE WORLD IS MY TERRITORY!" He then began to laugh heartily. The laughing continued maniacally as citizens that still remained close by the action began to take off at the appearance of the man very few didn't know. When he began to stop, he reached into his pocket. "But the real reason I came was for this!" He showed James what appeared to be a wanted poster, with a picture of none other than Tristan D. Kuzo.
Kuzo didn't recognize the man right away while he was far away. Nor did he figure out who he was while he was facing away from him with his head covered with the stone residue of the street. However, when the man turned toward Kuzo and grinned, Kuzo's eyes opened wide. "V-Vyne?!"
"Been a long time, little brother! I see you're doing well!" The man with the white hat answered back.
"Vyne! It's Vyne!" Kuzo repeated excitedly. "I can't believe it! Of all the people!"
"I came here as soon as I saw the poster and heard the new to surprise you!" Vyne explained as he turned back to James. "I had the perfect opening planned and everything! But you had to show up and steal my thunder!" He pointed a finger at James. "But I still outperformed ya!"
James blinked at Vyne as he talked with Kuzo, cocking his head to the side as he called Kuzo his "little brother." The development was intriguing but he couldn't allow a small trivia fact disrupt his business. "Vyne Crash. You will have to take your business elsewhere, and at some other time. As a Marine, it is my duty to see these criminals detained. Unless you wish to be amongst one of them, I advise you stand aside. I rather not arrest a Shichibukai today, but do trust me when I say, I welcome the opportunity. After all, a pirate is a pirate and I am a Marine. It is my duty to maintain order."
"Did he say Shichibukai?" Kuzo asked Vyne. Vyne looked over at Kuzo again and grinned, and gave him a thumbs up.
"Got a lotta catching up to do, don't ya Kuzo?" He laughed loudly again then turned once more to James. He furrowed his brows and pointed at the tall man menacingly. "I ain't going anywhere, bastard! It's time for you and I to put on the real show for everyone!"
"What makes you think I have any interest in putting on a show?" James asked with a narrowing eyes, as he stared down at the Warlord.
Vyne grinned again and pointed to himself. "You wanna get my lil' bro and his gang of misfits, then you gotta go through me first. And since you aren't planning to back down, and I ain't planning on moving, then..." Vyne clenched his fist and moved it behind his body. As soon as he did, his arm below the elbow began to alter and transform. His skin began to harden, crack and then grow. It appeared as if something was pushing under his skin and ripping it up into a harder, rougher material. It eventually reshaped to appear more like scales. Without a second more of hesitation or pause, he burst forward with an extraordinary pace and forced his newly-transformed arm forward.
"Ryū-Ken!" Vyne shouted as his arm was surrounded by a charring energy. The strength of the arm also began apparent as the ground below his arm and anything without its path between him and James began to crack and shatter under the pressure. The arm-force and flame-like energy combined into a deadly, combustion of energy which was sent hurling toward the tall marine.
"Chikyū no hando!" Extending his own hand forward, James summoned a large stone hand of cobblestone, soil and earthly materials to sprout from the ground, launching it forward to not only push the charging Vyne back but to snatch him in a tight grasp. Clenching his outstretched hand into a fist, James tightened the grip on Vyne, hoping to crush the Warlord in an instant, ending his dream of stopping James from accomplishing his sworn duty.
Vyne's fist clashed with the large earth hand that James created. The clash created a tornado of fire and bits of rock swirling around the streets, breaking apart everything it crashed into. However, James' gigantic hand of earth proved too large for Vyne to completely clash with, and eventually the stone hand closed around him. Vyne found himself encroached around the rock hand as it closed in around his body.
However, before it became too tight around him, he steeled himself and yelled out loudly. The same scale-like 'armor that appeared around his hand made it's way to his other hand, and he used the strength of both of these arms, as well as the combustion-like energy that was appearing around them, to spin around, erupt and break out of the stone prison James created in a twirling fury of flames and physical exertion. "Ryū Arashi!" Vyne roared again as he burst through James' ability and twirled into the air. In the process, he crushed the piece of street stone that surrounded his face from his dive earlier.
As he was in the air, he gazed over to his side at all of the observers that were still around to watch their epic confrontation. Distracted by the crowd in the city, Vyne gave the onlookers a thumbs up and grin before he placed his fists along his waist and posed in the air in case there were any cameras around to catch his picture.
"Taiseidō," James uttered quietly and his drove his hands together over his head. In that moment, two pillars from the earth below everyone's feet that shot from the ground sprouted flanked Vyne. And then, came together and sandwiched the man, crushing him between two pieces of foundation. Feeling as though his job was done, James sighed and dusted himself off: "Show off."
Soon after, however, a rumbling sound began to be heard from in between the two large pillars. Soon after, they began to be forcefully pushed apart. When they were parted large enough, Vyne could be seen struggled to pushing the two large rocks apart with both of his hands, which were still morphed into the odd, sturdy scale material. His head, however, was once again coated in what appeared to be the remnants of the pillars he was trapped in, as if they were stuck to it.
All at once, he forced the rocks apart of his body and yelped in victory over his feet. "YAAAH!" He howled as the pushed through the rocks. "You cheap shotted me!" He declared to James, kicking off the pillars now with his feet as he did the splits to push them further away from his body and back onto the ground below. Then, he sucked in a deep, deep breath, which seemed to expand his chest outward in what appeared to be an almost unnatural amount. He then breathed out toward James, which surprisingly came as an inferno of flames which spiraled directly toward the man in the brown suit. "Ryū no ikari!"
Seeing the flames fly towards him, James drove a foot into the ground and raised his hands in the air. "Chikyū no kabe," he yelled. As the words were uttered, a giant rock wall rose from the ground, surprisingly ornate in design with ramparts and tower like edges. The wall caught the flames easily, with only aspects of the wall feeling the burn of Vyne's impressive attack.
In the background, Morgan looked on, insulted that Vyne had copied his move. Yet, as insulted as he was, there was little he could as he was still caught in the mud cast than James had locked him into, so he simply found himself squirming as James' wall tanked the flames. When Vyne finished his siege, James leapt up on top his wall and looked down at Vyne, awaiting his next assault upon his defenses.
"Earning one of your many nicknames, ain't ya?" Vyne questioned the tall man at the top of the wall with a grin. He walked up to the large wall in front of him and kicked it with his foot. "This wall is blocking the view of our fight! Let's change that!" He forced his two armored arms forced and struck them into the wall. The density of the stone was thick, but the material of Vyne's hands were also sturdy. They pushed through the wall and cracked apart the surrounding area of the stone. The further Vyne stuck them in, the more the stone cracked. However, instead of merely forcing in his hands, through the cracks of the wall, a faint, red light began to appear, followed by smoke. The wall began to crack up more and flames and smoke burst from the fissures. Vyne forced in a final amount of his ability, which caused the entire wall to collapse and erupt into a fiery explosion.
As the wall crumbled, James lost his footing and found himself tumbling to the ground, getting lost in the pile of rock and dirt only be to spread further around by the large explosion Vyne unleashed. With the remains of the wall scattered about, victory seemed to be Vyne's for the moment with James no where to be seen. But just as that thought entered anyone's mind, small pebbles and stone make stir, rolling side by side into the middle of where the wall once stood, inches away from Vyne's being. The pieces of the earth came together and slowly outlined the shape of a tall man, but incomplete like a piece of marble ready to be molded by an artist. Bit by bit, the shape became more defined with arms and legs becoming readily visible, a head coming to form. Hands and feet were outlined, and fingers were drawn. Soon, the smaller grains of dirt crafted the features of a face and James came together as unscathed as he was before with a grimace of frustration. As James' body was in complete, he cocked a large marble fist back and slammed it down on top of Vyne's larger head, mirroring the move he did on Kuzo some time ago but with a far more vicious bloodlust.
The boulder surrounding Vyne's head was instantly crushed from the force of James' slam. As he was hit directly over the head, the ground beneath Vyne began to collapse and give way from the sheer force of the blow. Vyne was forced down and onto one knee from the hit, but he held his ground from plummeting down unlike Kuzo had done. Instead, he moved his hat up on his head to reveal his face to James. Part of his face was suddenly morphed where the bulk of the blow was struck to the same material of his hands. The scales were across part of the left side of his face, as well as over one of his eye and part of his mouth. His eye was a different color, a colorful red instead of the simple black. Vyne then grinned at James, which revealed the part of his mouth which was morphed to have larger, sharp teeth.
Vyne then brought his enclosed fist forward again and aimed it directly at the man in the brown suit. Again, the combination of the powerful force and combustion emitted from it. "Ryū-Ken!" He repeated a previous attack, sending a scorch of flames and power toward James.
The force of the blow plowed through James' chest lifting the Marine off his feet, fairly high into the air before sinking back to the ground with a loud thud. The ground quivered as a small crater formed where James ultimately settled. There was a quiet pause for a moment before James picked himself off the ground, cracking his neck as the dust cleared. James' features were crystallized, with chips of clear diamond fell to the ground before disappearing into the ground beneath his feet. With each step, James returned to normal, with crystal giving way to tanned skin and blue hair. The tall man was clearly not harmed from the attack, having braced his body before the startling impact of Vyne's raw power.
James stomped a foot deep into the earth and a number of rocks rose out from around him. Then, slowly they shaped themselves into sharp spikes shaped like missiles. Outstretching a hand forward, James launched the barrage of missiles towards the pirate.
Vyne braced himself for the spike attack rather than try to run for it. With his confident grin planted on his face, he positioned his feet on the ground and took in another deep breath. His chest expanded once more as he did so. "Ryū no ikari!" He roared as the blaze once more appeared from his mouth at his command and rushed through the air at the incoming spikes. Moments after making contact with the spike-shaped missiles, the attacks began to catch on fire in the torrent of flames, and then soon after melt form the immense temperature of the flames. Vyne continued to shoot his blazing attack from his mouth passed James' attacks and toward the man himself.
As the blaze of flames shot towards James, he pounded his foot on the ground again and raised a small pillar of stone to block the brunt of the blaze. The sparks of fire spread around, but managed to not to endanger any innocent lives or buildings, as if James had carefully calculated (or made an educated guess) with his defensive stance. As the flames died down, James punched the pillar and launching forwards a large stone fist headed directly for Vyne: "Chikyū no ken!"
"It's gonna be like that, eh?" Vyne questioned as the attack came forth from the Marine. "Let's see who's got the stronger fist!" He yelled. As he did so, the man with the hat snorted out through his nose, which produced what appeared to be steam that poured through the area around the two combatants. Kuzo lost track of the two of them momentarily through the thick fog, but he did hear his brother once more call out an attack. "Ryū-Ken!" He heard Vyne shout.
However, immediately after the attack was called, Kuzo heard something he didn't recognize. For a moment, he thought it might have been thunder due to how loud it was. The ground shook from that loud rumbling and Kuzo fell back flat on his behind because of that. The loud thunderous sound came again, and for a second, Kuzo thought he saw a large shape within the steam Vyne had released. Then he realized: it wasn't thunder he heard, it was a roar. Apparent contact was made between the two attacks as the steam cleared the area. Kuzo covered his eyes from the stirring winds momentarily, but quickly returned his gaze to the intense battle to see what was happening. When he did, he was surprised to see Vyne finishing his clash with James' large stone fist, but nothing else beyond that. Did he imagine what he saw?
As the two attacks concluded and James' fist crumbled, Vyne took a few steps back, breathed in heavily and placed his hands on his hips. "You're worth every bit of the name you've made for yourself. A demon on the field!" He praised the Marine before he pointed to himself with his thumb.. "But my performance was bigger. Flashier. Better! Which brings me to ask what a man of your caliber is doing chasin' Pirates like my lil' bro!"
"I have my reasons, Vyne Crash. None of which am I obligated to share with you," James rather plainly said. "If I recall correctly, you Shichibukai had divided up the Grand Line, amongst other locales to help us ensure...order," James said, swallowing his pride. The man was never fond of the Shichibukai system, preferring good old fashioned Marine presence, but the directives of Kanaru were not to be questioned, even by a man of James' status. He mentally shook his head, focusing back on the Warlord in front of him. "So answer my question truthfully, what are you doing here, Vyne Crash?"
Vyne grinned at the Marine and shrugged his shoulders. "Kasumi is gone from this island, and my name hasn't been said enough in Dinas," He began to explain. Vyne turned around and observed the wreckage of his fight with the Marine and nodded his head in approval. "I think they know me better now, don't you?!" He laughed loudly.
James sighed and rubbed his eyes, the cool countenance giving way to some amount of frustration, as he approached Vyne, standing quite close to the Warlord. "A fact I am wishing was not true. Please skip to the point," James grumbled lowly before looking back at the man with a blank but stern expression.
"My point is that YOU," He began to reply, as he waved his finger wildly at James. "should have much better things to do than build up my reputation. Believe me, I can handle it myself. But shouldn't you be going after bigger fish? I mean, my bro and his people are OK, but a man like you should be after the guys doing the worst of the worst! Guys like... Blackheart." Vyne paused after mentioning the name to let it sink in.
A second or two after the name was spoken, the silence between the two figures was shattered by a younger, eager voice booming from around the corner. "DID YOU SAY BLACKHEART?!" Rounding the corner, an average sized man, clearly dressed in a marine uniform with a gray suit, dark blue hair, light gray eyes and a dark tan complexion stuffed himself within inches of Vyne's face. "What do you know about him?!" The Marine spouted before realizing quickly that Vyne was, in fact, the Vyne Crash, recognizing the Shichibukai. "Oh sorry, I thought you were someone else, Mr. Crash." He fixed up the outfit of the Warlord, trying to be fairly polite. "I am just on edge because of some reports we got of Blackheart and I am looking for...well, maybe you have seen my CO? He's tall, usually wears a brown suit, I think. Long-ish bluish hair, kind of like mine actually. You know him right? Have you seen him around? I've been looking everywhere in the city for him."
Vyne blinked a few times silently at the Marine in the gray suit and then looked over to James who was standing right beside him. He gestured directly at James with his finger. "You mean him?"
"Who?" The young marine asked, gawking at Vyne. He decided that, being Vyne worked with the Marines, looking what Vyne was pointing in the immediate vicinity would not be a terrible idea. Following Vyne's finger to a man matching the vague description right next to the Warlord, Nate's jaw drop and he began to sweat profusely. "OH MY GOD. SIR. I DID NOT RECOGNIZE YOU. I AM SO SORRY." The Marine began to bow repeatedly, begging for forgiveness from his commanding officer.
James took a deep breath, rubbing his eyes with a tinge of frustration. "Why does this always happen?" He mumbled quietly to himself, before motioning to the other Marine to stop, with a calming gesture of the hand. "Nate, at ease. Now, what is going on exactly?"
Freezing mid-bow, Nate looked at James and his rather blank expression, which was often the grimace he always wore. In other words, Nate was, for all intents and purposes, forgiven from his mistake. "Oh right, sir! We have gotten new reports that Blackheart is terrorizing Ethora Island."
"That's relatively close," James said. "I take Kanaru wants me to take care of it then?"
"Yes, sir," Nate said with a salute. "We are the closest able bodied force to handle the situation. We are to abandon our previous orders and address the situation immediately."
"His words, not yours I take it," James said with a small smile, able to read in between the lines of his new orders. "Fine, then. Contact all ships and prepare for immediate departure," he began, turning towards Vyne and the Skull Pirates. "Oh, tell...what's that one ship's name? Poseidon's Pony? Order them to remain docked. I have a special job for them."
"Sir, yes sir! I'm on it!" With a emphatic salute, Nate bolted away with as much as speed as he entered the scene, gone in what appeared to be a puff of smoke.
James refocused his attention towards the remaining pirates, but looked around the immediate area. For the most part, the rubble was hard to stomach with his skirmish between the Skull Pirates and Vyne have torn up the street, not to mention the restaurant. Crouching down, James placed a hand on the street. The ground beneath everyone shook, shifted, ballooned and straightened out as if a wave from the ocean bellowed through the street itself. The rubble from the various amounts of earth manipulation that James ensued was swallowed up. The various amounts of earth related prisons that had ensnared the Skull Pirates disappeared and many of the damages appeared to have been remedied. In fact, it was if nothing happened in the first place. The street was pristine, cleaner and better paved than before with James fixing every nook and cranny, with each crack that may have once existed filled to perfection.
James stood straight up and dusted himself off before he turned to the Skull Pirates. He smiled weakly before pointing to the restaurant and the damages that James was unable to fix with his abilities. "Early tomorrow morning, I am ordering an entire Marine crew to come to this location to repair all the damages I have caused. Additionally, you shall receive a large amount of Beli as compensation for the inconveniences our little skirmish has caused. It is the least I can do given the circumstances," James said with a bow. He turned around and began to make his way to his ship but he shifted back towards the pirates, locking Vance in a gentle stare. "Consider this...your head start, Skull Pirates. I think I will be seeing you again sometime soon." James walked away without as much as a wave, taking his own words to heart.
"So long!" Vyne waved goodbye to the Marine, before he turned to Kuzo. "Now then..." He darted for the Skull Pirate Captain and wrapped an arm around his neck as he embraced him. "Little bro!" He yelled as he headlocked Kuzo, laughing as he did this. Kuzo laughed along with Vyne, still in shock from seeing his older brother there with him. "I can't believe it's you. I came as soon as I saw your wanted poster! Skull Pirates? Captain? And you took down Kasumi and the Unit too?!" He asked in disbelief. "You're doing the family proud! Well, most of them anyways," He said as he let go of Kuzo and chuckled somewhat nervously. "If Koan knew, she'd probably kill you!"
"She actually did try... sorta! Back on Duke Island when I met her!" Kuzo responded eagerly.
"Oh, you were there?" He asked, which Kuzo nodded to. "I'm guessin' she wasn't too pleased. Probably why she didn't mention anything to me yet. But hey, good for you, finally getting out here! I knew it was just a matter of time!" Vyne's eyes traveled over to the other Skull Pirates. "And you got a crew too? Well, ain't ya gonna introduce me? I'm sure they'd be thrilled to meet the Living Legend in person, after all!"
Kuzo looked at Vyne and titled his head. "Hmm? Living Legend? Is that you?"
Vyne opened his eyes wide. "What, you never heard of me?! Have you been living under a rock?! I'm as famous as they get, bro!"
"Oh, really?" Kuzo asked excitedly. "Sorry, I've been a bit out of touch lately, so I didn't know."
Vyne lowered his head and sulked for a moment. "C'mon, let's go meet your crew..." He said in a bit of disappointment.
Kuzo chuckled and nodded. "Sure," He began to lead Vyne over, before he stopped and looked back at the tall man in the brown suit who walked away. "Say Vyne, who exactly was that man, anyways? He was really strong!"
Vyne stopped sulking and stared at Kuzo. "Who was he? Who was he?!" He repeated. His eyes traveled from between Kuzo to the rest of the Skull Pirates around. "None of you know? Why does this always happen?" He asked himself. "Who you just fought was probably one of the strongest men the Marines have ever produced!" Vyne responded vigorously as his eyes wander back over to the man walking away in the brown suit. "He's been called many things! The Silent Authority! The Stone-Faced Soldier! The Earthshaper! The Man of Stone! Terra King! The Wall of Marineford! But he's most well-known for the name the Marines have given him!" Vyne crossed his arms and grinned widely as he observed the man disappear from the streets of Dinas and toward the sea.
"Ginokami! One of the three Admirals of the Marines!"
January 15th, 2015 (02:13 PM).
"You need to eat more meat!"
January 15th, 2015 (02:44 PM).
Tristan D. Kuzo - Streets of Dinas
Kuzo opened his eyes wide at the name drop that Vyne made. "Wow, an Admiral?" Kuzo stated in astonishment. "But that means he's really strong, right? There's only like, three-hundred Admirals!"
Promptly after Kuzo made this declaration, Vyne turned to his younger brother and bopped him over the head. "Idiot! It's three! Three Admirals! I even said it earlier! I thought you'd outgrow this!"
Kuzo yelped at Vyne's hit and rubbed his head. "Oooh, three," Kuzo repeated. Soon after he did so, he opened his eyes even wider, and practically jumped in the air. "THREE?! But that means he's super strong! And you actually took him on!?"
"Of course I did, I'm me!" Vyne exclaimed loudly as he extended his arms into his sides. "The Living Legend! The man who fought alongside the King Pirates in the War! The man who beat the Woodrow Pirates single-handedly! The man who went toe-to-toe with an Admiral of the Marines! The man who will one day become the most famous pirate of all time!"
Kuzo grinned at his brother's declaration. Even after so many years, it seemed that Vyne hadn't given up on his dream one bit. In fact, it looked like he was on the verge of accomplishing it. Kuzo then looked over to Avril and heard her out. He then turned back to Vyne.
"I don't know what to say Avril," Kuzo replied with a slight chuckle and a grin. "It's not like they were all famous when I met them! They were just... my siblings. But they went to the Grand Line years before I decided to," Kuzo scratched the back of his head. "So I guess they had time to make names for themselves! Oh yeah," He turned back to his brother, then gestured to all of the Skull Pirates in front of him. "Vyne, this is my crew. There's Morgan, my first mate, Avril here's our shipwright, Vance, the navigator, Lotte the musician, Firenze our artist, Joshua's the tailor, Skellen our doctor, Selena our cook, and Bass... well here's not here, but he's our... Bass! Everyone, this is my older brother, Vyne!"
"Good to meetya all!" Vyne stated as he tipped off his hat. When he did so, a large boulder could still be found latched on to the top of his head from his fight with Ginokami, as if it were stuck there. Vyne placed the hat back on and wrapped his arm around Kuzo again. "Any friend of Kuzo's is a friend of mine!"
January 16th, 2015 (06:50 AM).
January 16th, 2015 (07:32 AM).
January 18th, 2015 (06:26 PM).
Wright D. Morgan- Trust Issues
Morgan groaned fairly loudly as he slowly sat up after the beating and humiliation he had just endured. Part of him did not want to move, and instead sit there like the useless piece of pirate that he believed himself to be at the very moment. Not only did he get beaten down in a hilariously fast fashion, but it was by a Marine no less. Hearing the murmurs from this new arrival in Vyne Crash, the Living Legend that he had heard of but did not bother to drool over like the others, that the victor of his brief skirmish was none other than Ginokami, one of the near legendary three Admirals and the Wall of Marineford only bandaged his wounded pride. At least it was an Admiral that he had lost to, but there was no panacea for shattered confidence, other than knowing that Morgan would have to try even harder next time. And that that meant pushing himself much harder. Hopefully, his body could take it.
Bringing himself to a standing position, Morgan walked over to where a bulk of the others were gathered, positioning himself fairly close to Kuzo and Avril as he was introduced to Vyne Crash, a brother to Kuzo. The clueless look on Vyne's crash combined with his carefree demeanor definitely resembled the obliviousness he had grown accustomed to from Kuzo, so compared to Koan's relation...this wasn't as much of a stretch. But compared to some of the others that were shocked that Kuzo knows not only a Vice Admiral, but also a Shichibukai, Morgan was growing suspicious instead. As much as he wanted to like Kuzo and commended the young man on his enthusiasm, he now knew two individuals that have, in some capacity or another, connections with the World Government. This, of course, was one of Morgan’s pet peeves as he had no fondness for the Marines, especially considering he had spent a little too much time with Kiba lately and just got embarrassed by an Admiral who was within minutes of booting them all the way to Impel Down.
“Siblings, eh?” Morgan said, scratching his head. “And a Warlord too? So, ya are basically a Marine? I mean, they call ya a pirate and ya are allowed to do pirate things if I understand correctly, but ya basically talk with higher ups like Ginokami, who just the living snot out of us, right?” Morgan pestered, putting his hands on his hips. “Ya sure ya aren’t a Marine in disguise, Kuzo? I mean, your siblings seem to be all friendly one way or another with the guys that have tried to kill us a couple of times and me dozens of times. I ain’t sure I am comfortable at the moment bein’ a part of your crew if I keep havin’ to bump in your Marine family on every other island we go to.”
January 21st, 2015 (11:51 AM).
Tristan D. Kuzo - A Pirates Life!
As Kuzo listened to the way Vance and Morgan described Vyne, it only further confirmed that his brother was indeed a force to be reckoned with. Although Kuzo doubted at this point after facing off against one of the top Marines, that point needed to be confirmed anymore at all. What it did do for Kuzo however was make him think about just how far he still had to go. Here two of his siblings were well on their way to the top of their respective organizations with prominent reputations, and Kuzo was still well behind. He was no match for Ginokami, and he had the feeling if he would have fought Koan or Vyne, the result would be the same. However, instead of deterring the Captain, it only added fuel to his ambition. He wanted to get stronger. He had to.
"Yeah, a Warlord works with the Marines sometimes!" Vyne shouted to Morgan, which snapped Kuzo back to the current situation. The Living Legend stepped up on a barrel which was next to a sign to a restaurant. The rust of the battle had caused it to break apart, and when Vyne stepped onto the barrel, it caused the sign to fall onto Vyne's head. Oddly, instead of causing it to fall down after all, it seemed to somehow remain attached to the top of his head, as if it were glued there. Vyne placed his hands on his hips and continued. "But I don't care about any of that! Call me what you will: Pirate, Marine, anything in between! As long as everyone will know my name, that's all I care about! Warlord was just the next step on the ladder! Soon after it's going to be Yonko, Pirate King, hell, maybe even Admiral and Fleet Admiral!" Vyne let out a long, loud laugh.
Kuzo grinned with Vyne, then looked back at Morgan. "No way I'd be a Marine, ever. They're too boring. I don't want to go around taking orders or following rules. I want to go out to the sea and have adventures with my nakama!" He answered passionately. He then returned his gaze to Vyne. "Besides, Vyne doesn't sound like he's in the Marines. To me, he sounds like a man of the sea with a dream of his own. Koan is a Marine, but she probably always wanted to be one. She always was out for justice. And then there's my other brother, Bart. Well... " He cocked an eyebrow and smiled again. "I'm not really sure where he is now, but he's always wanted to be King of the Pirates. I don't think that would change. That wouldn't be like Bart. Have you heard anything, Vyne?" Kuzo asked his older brother.
For the first time since arriving on Dinas, Vyne's expression could be considered fidgety. He stared back at Kuzo and crossed his arms. "You haven't heard about him at all since we were all together, right?"
Kuzo nodded in reply. "Just like you and Koan, not really anything," He answered, now getting more curious as to what Bart had been up to.
"Well I might as well say this now since you're gonna hear about him eventually, and you'd better hear the truth from me," Vyne spoke back. His tone was serious and somewhat apprehensive, which made Kuzo even more inquisitive. "Whatever you do or hear, stay away from Bart," He stated sternly, as if he was giving an order to Kuzo, from an older brother to a younger one. Kuzo furrowed his brows and continued to stare at Vyne in silence and confusion. Vyne continued. "He's still a pirate after the title of Pirate King, that much hasn't changed. But the only difference is, he doesn't care who's standing in front of him, who he hurts, and what he does in order to achieve that dream. People like you Kuzo, people who act on whims and impulses, they're tough to be around, no doubt. But there's a limit even you will do. I know you're the kind of guy that'll never do something that will hurt innocent people, or people you care about, like your family or crew. Bart doesn't have that same mindset. Ever since... well ever since that day, he's been a man with nothing to lose. Men like that are dangerous to be around. So do me a favor so I won't have to keep worrying about you: stay away from him," Vyne repeated. He looked across at the rest of Kuzo's crew. "All of you. I know my bro can act recklessly but this is one thing you shouldn't let him do, got it?"
Kuzo winced slightly as he recalled a memory from his past he would rather have kept buried forever, a day of extreme pain and loss. The reference to that day was one he would never forget no matter how hard he tried. It seemed Bart took the loss a lot differently though. But there was still something about the situation that didn't sit right with Kuzo. After a while of thinking in silence, Kuzo finally grinned back at Vyne and shook his head. "No, no way. I don't believe it, Vyne," He answered stubbornly. "He's always been rude and rough, even when we were together, but deep down I don't think he is the way you say. I mean, he's our brother, right? When everything else goes, we'll always have that bond. He'll always have us, and we'll always have him."
"Wha- Kuzo haven't you been listening to me? He's not the same guy he once was!" Vyne protested. "Listen to me, damn it!"
"No way!" Kuzo barked in reply. "Isn't the whole reason we left the orphanage and went to sea so we wouldn't have to follow the rules anymore? So we can do what we want as a family, have all the adventures we want and do what we believed was right?" He asked Vyne, who stared back in silence. "That's what I'm gonna do! If I wanna go do something, I'll do it! If Bart is close by, I'm going to say hi to him! If he needs a hand, I'll help him! If my crew is ever in trouble, they know I'll protect them! If we want to have fun and throw a party, we'll do it! If we want to go on an adventure, I'll take us there!" Kuzo continued to glare intensely at Vyne, before he suddenly broke his gaze and looked on to the crew of his crew.
"Which reminds me, I think we've been here in Dinas long enough!" He declared. The days actions, including seeing the tremendous powers of Ginokami and Vyne, and hearing about Bart had clearing done something to stir him up. He was as passionate as he'd ever been. "The log pose has been set, right Vance?" He asked him, but before he could get a reply, he stuck his hands into the air and yelled. "Let's go to our next adventure!" He proclaimed loudly. He then grinned and looked over the rest of his crew, and in the process assessed both their condition, and the condition of his own body, which came at him all at once by an set of intense pains and aches from the party celebrations and the fight with Ginokami. "Uhh... tomorrow morning!"
Vyne, meanwhile, had been gazing at Kuzo during his entire speech, and as it concluded, he laughed loudly. "Ha! You little brat, you haven't changed at all! And you know what? I like it!" He turned around and proceeded to run down the street. "There's some stuff I have to take care of now, but I'll see you off tomorrow morning by your ship! See ya then!"
4 Weeks Ago (04:59 PM).
The Skull Pirates- Life Lessons
Although he did his best to watch the skirmish between Vyne and James, Joshua didn't move a muscle when the action was over and the cage around him began to collapse. He didn't even flinch when a solid chunk of stone from the creation broke over his head, just sat there in the rubble brooding for a few more minutes. After some thinking time he took a deep breath, stood up out of the pile of cage-bits, picked up his hat, and strode over to the gathering of his crewmates with his trademark smile still missing. Everyone seemed to be distressed at one thing or another, but there was no denying Joshua's worries were less practical. It still bothered him that he had the feeling the man who'd beaten them all so easily was a decent person, but could still be so mechanical about his duties.
"So, one of the seven Warlords? Quite an interesting family you've got there captain, although your brother seems to have a bit of a one-track mind. Has he eaten a devil-fruit as well? I can't imagine any other explanation for his abilities."
Kuzo looked over to Joshua and shrugged. "I don't know. He didn't have one when I last saw him," He replied and looked back to where Vyne stormed off. He slowly stood back up despite the aches across his body and chuckled a little. "But then again Koan didn't have one either all those years ago so he must have gotten one! I wonder which one it was..."
"It's simple. It was a Devil Fruit," Morgan said, pointing out the obvious. "He probably got it when he went and joined the Marines, just like your other 'family member.' The World Government is full of Devil Fruit users after all. They can afford to hand them out like candy nowadays," he continued, looking at the others curious of he was in alone in progressively distrusting Kuzo and his copious connections. Then again, he was probably the only one paranoid.
"He's right surprisingly enough" Skellen added in, oozing contempt for the marines "They've got piles of them. I've uh... "dealt with" enough of them to have noticed that more and more of them are in possession of Devil Fruit abilities"
"I had no idea they would have such easy access to something like devil-fruits. Although I must admit I know very little about them, besides what everyone knows." Joshua scowled while he considered the concept of any group being able to acquire devil-fruits so easily.
"It would make sense, if ya think about it," Avril chimed in. She crossed her arms over her chest, glancing at both Kuzo and Morgan for a moment before continuing. "We've seen the kinda stuff they can do, and heard about even more like that Billionth guy ya all took on earlier, right? What better way to try and keep everyone under thumb than by fillin' your ranks with 'em. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if they used some... less than honorable methods to acquire 'em, ya know? Like maybe buyin' 'em off some illegal market... or killin' to get 'em."
"In the criminal underground there's even been rumours going around about the bastards researching how to create the damn things" Skellen added on to Avril, before realising he'd been involved in conversation with her and deepening his scowl.
"And when ya got chicks like Kasumi workin' with ya, it ain't exactly hard to dip ya'll hands into the Black Market while keeping ya head clean too. I can actually think of a couple of Marines who wouldn't mind doin' themselves, but lucky for us, he ain't in charge or chasin' after us at the moment either," Morgan said with a sigh of relief. Running his fingers through his hair for a moment to relax, he cleared his head at more pressing matters than Marine operations. For the moment, he would put his reservations about Kuzo on hold. "Anyway, we can't exactly debate this stuff. Ya said we're sailin' out tomorrow, Kuzo? Well then, I am goin' ta double check our supplies and make sure ya didn't waste our money on dumb stuff like ya did back on Duke Island. The seas know I can trust ya about as well as ya can do math anyway."
"What are you talking about, Morgan?" Kuzo questioned Morgan with a look of perplexity. "All I bought on Duke Island were a couple of talismans to bring us luck! They didn't even cost that much to begin with. And it's not like we used a lot of our money in Dinas anyways, right?"
"I'm going to pretend ya didn't say anything and that I didn't get dumber hearin' ya speak," Morgan said with a pout. He turned around and walked aimlessly in the opposite direction, fairly sure he was headed towards the ship but at that point he didn't particularly care. He just needed to get away from Kuzo for the moment, before he caught whatever disease rendered him incapable of performing math.
It was all a great big flurry-- people coming people leaving, but all she really cared about was that she was here, and not being dragged off home. All this talk of devil fruits-- she'd once only known them for being highly valuable-- worth a whole lotta money. Which Lotte had always found strange-- why ingest a fruit that makes you unable to swim in the ocean? It had certainly hindered her decision to leave home for a long time. But, on the open sea, it seemed they were more useful than they would appear. "I'll go with you!" She announced, jumping to her feet when Morgan started off to the ship. She didn't want to risk getting found by any more stubborn monkey-like marines.
Joshua watched Morgan and Lotte leave and then just stared down at the ground a few seconds before speaking. "I didn't really get wounded at all, so if anyone needs help with anything I can assist...other than that..." He gritted his teeth and forced himself not to stomp the ground like an angry child. "Other than that, I don't know what to do with myself right now..."
"Hey! Hey guys!" The tender, frightened voice of Matterine was heard from the doorway of the Mermaid's Pearl. She was peering out of there with only her head and her arms, looking terrified. "Are both of the strong guys gone?" She asked as a shiver ran over her entire body.
"What the hell?!" Liam Moru spat from his own spot just above Matterine. Even though he didn't want to show it, his legs were shaking behind Matterine's. "A Warlord and an Admiral!? What did I do to deserve this?!"
"Now that stupid asshat Edward chooses to be asleep!" Dekuranu boomed, despite also appeared only from the crack of the door.
"You three act like you were the ones who did all the fighting, not them," Marta piped up, motioning towards Kuzo, Selena, and the rest of the Skull Pirates. "If any of you had the right to be scared, it would have been my idiot apprentice and her crewmates, not you... And you call yourselves pirates."
Marta shook her head and brushed by the cowering Sky Pirates, making her way towards Kuzo and the others. First she stopped by Selena, an irritated frown quickly making its way to her lips. "Was that the best you could do? After all this time I spent training you over the years and you went down in one move?"
Selena stood dumbfounded for a moment, before clenching her fists and stomping her foot. "Last time I checked, you didn't train me to go up against a damn admiral! Besides, I didn't see you exactly rushing out here to help us, you old ba-!"
Before she could finish that insult, Selena found Marta's cane quickly being shoved right into her stomach. The green-haired cook cursed under her breath, before coughing and trying to catch it. Slowly, the older woman made her way towards Kuzo and shook her head.
"You certainly know more than a few interesting characters, boy..." Marta said. "If anything, you have luck. It's not often that a pirate crew goes up against an Admiral, loses, and keeps their heads all in the same day."
"Yeah, but I'd rather not have to lose," Kuzo murmured in reply. The idea of having someone that much stronger than him still didn't sit too well with the captain. He then grinned toward Marta. "Next time will be different though. I won't need luck."
"Oh? And if that next time happens to be tomorrow?" Marta asked. "Or even later today? Have you honestly taken a moment to comprehend just what happened to you all now?"
"We'll have a chance to comprehend later!" Kuzo declared. His eyes trailed over to the ocean beside Dinas. "Right now, we have to get ready. Plus I still need to see Avril's designs to the Dream Chaser. Then, we'll be off to our next adventure!"
Marta sighed, clearly seeing that Kuzo was not actually willing to think things through properly. Without wasting a single moment, Marta took her cane and managed to reach up, whacking the pirate captain right on the back of his head.
Kuzo instantly fell to the ground and clutched his head. He yelped out in pain and continued to hold his head. "Ow! What did you do that for?!" He yelled at Marta from the ground.
"Because, you're not seeing the big picture or thinking about what needs to be thought about, you fool!" Marta replied back. "Do you honestly think the Marines are going to just sit back and let you go about your merry little way now? You escaped from an Admiral... Regardless of whether or not one of the warlords was responsible for that escape you all just received or not, they won't care. As far as the government is going to be concerned, you're climbing up their list... and as a result of that, you as the captain need to take more responsibility in the well-being of your crew!"
Kuzo remained mostly silent following Marta's lecture. He continued to hold his head at the place where she smacked him with her cane. However, he was less focused on his own pain and more on her words. Despite him not wishing to hear it, what she was saying was true. The more notorious his crew would get, the more stronger people will go after them. It was only natural. That meant that in order to protect his crew, Kuzo would have to get stronger as well.
"I like the crazy old lady" Skellen added "can we keep it?"
"You wouldn't be able to keep up with me, boy..." Marta replied, chuckling under her breath. Slowly, the woman turned, glancing over her shoulder before she started to make her way back into the Mermaid's Pearl. "You best think over what I said, Kuzo."
4 Weeks Ago (05:05 PM).
"You need to eat more meat!"
4 Weeks Ago (02:22 PM).
"You need to eat more meat!"
3 Weeks Ago (09:58 PM).
The Skull Pirates- Where's Avril?
Kuzo groaned and rolled in his cot. The injuries he had received from Ginokami yesterday were intense, though he had mostly recovered from them thanks to Skellen's doctoral handiwork. However, he still felt aches across his body nonetheless. He intended to have a full sleep that night so that he could be refreshed for tomorrow's journey, but a few thoughts stayed in his mind that kept him up. One of which was what Vyne said about Roberts. The other being what Marta said about his crew and his responsibility. Kuzo didn't like juggling so many deep thoughts in his mind, and did his best to not think about it, but they kept coming up in his sleep.
When he did eventually fall asleep, he found himself unpleasantly waking up by accidentally rolling out of his cot and onto the hard, wooden floor. He groaned on the ground, and decided instead of trying to fall asleep again, he would simply start the next day. He jumped to his feet and cracked his arms, back, and shoulders. With each twist and turn, a different bone was cracked, and it felt oh so good. The one advantage of being a bone manipulator was it was fairly easy to manipulate his bones to the point of being quite easy to crack.
He proceeded out of his quarters and onto the deck of the crew, where he walked along silently and admired the new designs and colors Avril had made to the Dream Chaser. It was great. The excellent use of mixed colors, the side paint jobs, the flag. It was exactly what he wanted from a pirate ship. What's better is that it no longer looked anything like the Grand Justice Marine vessel that sailed out from Loguetown. Kuzo decided to go and thank Avril once more for a great job.
He hadn't considered the fact that it may have still been very early and she was likely sleeping. The captain simply walked toward the rooms, and barged into hers. "Hey, Avril!" Kuzo greeted the room loudly. "I just wanted to sa-" He cut himself off when he realized no one was in here. "Oh, you must be up already. I'll go look for you!" He grinned into the room as he apparently didn't get the drift that he was talking to no one.
"Avril?! Aaaaaaaavriiiiiill!" Kuzo bellowed as he walked across the ship and looked for his shipwright.
"Oi," Morgan said, emerging from what appeared from the bottom of the ship. He had woken up quite a bit earlier than Kuzo had and did one last double check of the supplies, as he assumed he was the only one who was aware of what was actually needed for a successful voyage. That and he knew Kuzo wasn't going to do it regardless. With a pen behind his ear and a pad of paper, Morgan practically looked like an accountant, with scribbles on his pad that only he could possibly understand due to his terrible handwriting. "What in the blue hell are ya doin' barging into a ladies' room like that?" Morgan questioned, slapping Kuzo upside the head. "It's rude for one thing, because ya know privacy and all. But what if she's sleepin'? Or gettin' changed? Come to think of it..." Morgan said, raising an eyebrow. "Move over," he finally ordered, shoving his captain out of the way, grabbing his head and driving it gently into a nearby wall as he poked his head into the room.
"She's not in there, I already checked," Kuzo replied to Morgan as he scratched his head at the place where Morgan bopped him. "Where are you, Aaaavril!?" Kuzo called again across the ship.
Selena opened the door to her room and glanced out into the hallway. Her eyes narrowed as she noticed Morgan and Kuzo standing in front of Avril's door. Or rather from her angle, it looked as if the two of them were trying to push past each other to try and push into the shipwright's room. The green-hared cook suddenly dashed out of her room and charged straight for the duo, eventually jumping up to kick Morgan out of the doorway with a rather fierce glare.
"I knew it! I could tell right from the moment I saw you in the Mermaid's Pearl you were just some sort of sleazy pervert!" the cook accused, pointing straight at Morgan as she spoke.
Falling back onto this bottom and rubbing his cheek, he looked up to Selena with a perplexed but eventually shocked face as if insulted at the accusation: "Eh?! That's awfully low, lady! I much prefer ladies' man, thank ya very much!" Morgan got up and stared down the girl. "I'll have ya know I was checkin' on my friend here because Kuzo here can't find her. And now we gotta find where she ran off to 'cause of...reasons!"
"Reasons...? Have you ever thought that maybe she's just grabbing a shower or something?" Selena asked. Her eyes narrowed again as she realized what she had just suggested. "Or wait, are you actually hoping that that's the case?!" In response, Morgan could look up to the ceiling and nod with a leering grin, as if pleased with the idea even if he did not immediately think of it.
"We have a shower on this ship?" Kuzo questioned in surprise. "Hey, I didn't know that! Let's go check there, then. Aaaavril, we're going to you in the shower!"
Selena stared in disbelief at her captain and without the slightest bit of a warning delivered a sharp kick to the back of the man's knee. "First of all, you're not going to see if she's in the shower! Second of all, you haven't showered since you got this ship? Um... Gross?"
"Certainly explains the smell," Morgan commented.
"Ouch, why does everyone keep hitting me?!" Kuzo cried as he stumbled over following Selena's kick to the back of his knee. "I showered, just not on the ship, dang it!"
"Probably because your devil fruit powers could never hope to thicken your skull to be any more densely than it already is." Joshua stepped onto the ship from the gangplank, his words missing any hint of the usual positive inflection. It seemed he hadn't been back to the ship at all until then. Instead of stopping to actually join the conversation he walked right past them towards the door to his room, a large wooden case hanging on his back.
Skellen appeared on the scene just as Joshua skulked back into his room, he too hadn't been asleep but had been in his little infirmary more or less playing with chemicals, trying to recreate Alridge's poison.
"What the hell are you all going on about?!" Skellen grumbled "and what's up his ass?" he added, gesturing to the door Joshua had just vanished behind and speaking as though he himself wasn't also fuming at the interruption.
Just then, a door a little further down the hall opened, Vance exitting, just then finishing buttoning his pants. He stopped dead in his tracks, blinking at the group to his right. "Uh... why's... everyone out in the hallway? What's going on?"
"There goes Avril bein' in the shower," Morgan said with a pout.
Selena stared at Morgan in disbelief. "You're not getting anything for breakfast. So enjoy that." She paused for a moment, looking at Kuzo and Morgan curiously. "Wait, why's it so important for you guys to find Avril so early anyways? Is something already broken on the ship?"
"No, I just wanted to thank her for a good job with the colors," Kuzo responded to Selena. His eyes wandered the ship again, half in admiration of the new design, and half in search of the one who made those designs. "But I can't seem to find her. I've been searching for thirty hours now."
"Avril's missing?" Vance's brows rose as he stepped closer to the others. "But she was here just last night! I saw her out on the deck with Lotte just before I went to bed."
"Apparently," Selena replied. She turned her attention back to Kuzo, raising her eyebrows at the captain's statement. "Um... 30 hours? I don't think we've been back here even half that long..."
"Well, not really any skin of my nose. I'm going to get back to something interesting," Skellen shrugged before heading back to the infirmary.
"You're all so louuud..." Protested a whiny voice as Lotte opened the door to her room, still in her night gown and with her normally tidy straight hair tousled into a nest, "If it's Avril," She paused for a yawn, rubbing her eyes as she stared sleepily at the congregation in the hallway, "She said something about something or other that I'm not supposed to say or something, so I'm sure it's fine."
"What exactly did she say?" Morgan asked, not enjoying the sound of someone not supposed to share. That usually meant there was a secret involved, but considering Avril wasn't around Morgan wasn't so sure. He, of course, did not want to jump to conclusions. After all, misunderstandings do happen and this crew came together, in a matter of speaking, through happy misunderstandings. "I mean, secrets aren't exactly the best things to keep ya know?"
Lotte seemed to wake a bit, pouting as she fixed her eyes on Morgan, "It's a lady's honor to keep secrets! Besides, she didn't really say anything that wasn't obvious." Lotte mused, already having sort of forgotten the contents of their conversation. I mean, it was all a given, really. "Would you want me to tell everybody <i>your</i> secrets?" She stuck her nose in the air, giving off a small 'hmph'!' in response to Morgan's disapproval.
Kuzo stared silently with a blank expression at first Lotte, then Morgan. He didn't quite put together that Avril was gone right now, only that she was missing. But what Lotte just said was a bit disconcerting to him. He walked past them toward the deck, hoping she was there getting some fresh air.
"Avril!" Kuzo shouted as he made his way to the open deck. The fresh scent of the sea filled his nostrils from the left side of the ship, while the bustling open market of Dinas came at him from the right. But there was no sign at all of Avril Meads. What he did see, was a letter stapled to the mast of the ship. The Captain approached the strangely placed note and ripped it off the mast, and began to read.
To Whoever Finds This Note,
I never actually thought that the time would come for me to have to write one of these things. I know by the time you find this, you probably have been looking for me sometime... then again, maybe you didn't even know I was missing in the first place. I'll be honest when I say that with most of this crew, it's a little hard to tell sometimes. Anyways, I think I'm getting a bit off track. I guess I should come right out and say it. I've been lying to you all this whole time.
I don't really know if those of you who were there remember it all that well or not. I'm sure at least Pepper-kun, Skelly, and Vanny will. But when we first met on Duke Island, during that whole mess that was caused over that treasure, I told you all I was just some sight-seeing tourist who was interested in catching a glimpse of the treasure there. That was only a partial truth, if even that. I was actually sent there by my own captain to find the treasure and bring it back myself. Needless to say, when that whole... explosion of chaos happened, I ended up finding myself in need of some help with getting to the summit and all that sort. I guess you could say I was lucky that I happened to bump into you all then. Without Pepper-kun's help, I probably wouldn't even still be around at this point... but then again, maybe it would have been better that way.
While I honestly think that I probably should have cut my ties there and moved on, I for some reason found myself joining up with you all and coming here, to Dinas Island. At first, I thought it was maybe because I wanted to continue the hunt for that treasure, to save my own ass from my captain and not get in any worse trouble than I probably would already be in for coming back late and empty handed. The problem was that the longer I was with you all, the more I started to lose sight of what I was actually trying to do. Time and focus both just sort of... slipped away from me, I guess. At least, until I had a talk with Pepper-kun at that party that sort of put things back in perspective for me.
You see, the crew I actually belong to is one that is... rather dangerous to say the least. They are capable of things that would make some of the members of the Unit seem like some low-level Marine thugs. And it's because of this and the time that we did spend together, that I decided to go back and keep you all safe. I spotted one of them back at the Mermaid's Pearl, and... Well, I guess that's how I knew my time was up. I wanna wish you all the best in where ever you end up sailing to next. Try to not get into so much trouble and please... just forget I was ever a part of your lives. I think it would benefit us all if we played it that way.
PS: Vanny, I left it in the galley for you. It's all ready whenever you wanna start using it, okay?
Kuzo read over the letter silently. He held a bewildered expression on his face the entire time, not really believing what he was reading. He re-read it again, this time skimming over to the most important details. He eventually looked up and stared at the rest of the crew around. "Avril's... gone," He murmured out. He passed the letter on to the others to read, while he crossed his arms and walked over to the side of the ship that faced the sea.
Morgan snatched the letter from Kuzo's hand and began reading the letter. He was sure that eyes were glancing over his shoulder, reading the letter with the same interested zeal that had consumed the Burning King. His eyes ran rushed up and the down the page a handful of times, and with each reading of the letter more questions filled his head. Morgan couldn't place the questions into sensible words or anything that remotely made sense. A bomb was going off in his mind and he was mixed with all kinds of emotion. Confusion, rage, frustration, concern, worry, regret, doubt...and a creeping feeling that her past was all too similar to his own. Morgan's teeth clenched and his hand gripped the paper tightly with a slow burn eating away at the edges.
Having tottered out on deck, Lotte folded her arms against the chill and read over Morgan's shoulder when Kuzo passed it around, her normally cheerful or at least childish face growing somewhat serious for once. When she finished reading, the edge of the paper began to singe, and she tore her eyes away, looking instead out at the ocean that Avril had been gazing at just the night before. Even for someone as dim as Lotte, the things that Avril had said last night all clicked into place- and she turned, putting a gentle hand on Morgan's before tugging the letter out of his hands. "Don't burn it up, Morgan," She said, "Maybe there's a clue, some way we can help her in here."
It was at about this time that Skellen walked out onto the deck drinking something that looked suspiciously like mouth wash. He'd been rather close to hurling test tubes at the wall in frustration and had gone up to the deck for some fresh air... only to find that the noisy bunch were now all standing silently on the deck reading something.
Selena glanced over her shoulder as Skellen made his presence known. "Apparently Avril's decided to take off on us. I really don't get most of the reasoning as to how or why... or where, for that matter. Apparently something started bugging her since that party back at the Pearl..." Selena frowned, crossing her arms across her chest with a huff, deciding to give Skellen as best a summary of the letter as she could before continuing on with her thoughts. "I don't really know her that well, but she went on and on in the letter about how she had been lying to us all this whole time..."
Skellen's eyes narrowed, an expression that generally indicated his distaste as the Skull Pirates were surely noticing, contrasting this though, Skellen shrugged before he spoke.
"Am I really the only one not shocked that she was lied about things and took off? She's a Marine, that's what Marines do. She's not the first one to screw with our crew and she won't be the last." Skellen finished by taking a swig of the mouthwash-looking concoction.
Morgan glared at Skellen, the letter safely removed from his hands. They tightened into a fist with sparks of flame venting through his fingers. His thoughts were still a rampant mess, but he could feel his anger growing. It needed a target and Skellen's poor choice of words only threw oil onto the fire. He bolted towards Skellen, grabbing the doctor by the collar and driving him into the wall with a loud thud. "I dare ya to say that one more time. Ya honestly still dwellin' on the fact she was a Marine? She has proven to me to be as much a pirate as any one of us, if not more so! And at the moment, I am doubtin' your loyalty to this crew as much as ya seem to doubt hers. But I ain't gonna whine about it...so ya best choose your next words carefully before I dump ya to the bottom of the sea!"
Skellen smirked at Morgan, not flinching at the angry pirate. Rather, he had slipped his hand into his ever-present satchel and removed a syringe which he promptly held at Morgan's neck.
"Careful now, I'm a much better swimmer than you are."
"Morgan stop-!" Lotte's disapproving cry started as she took a step towards the quarreling men, having never understood why Morgan and Skellen couldn't just... get along...! But she glanced helplessly in relief as Vance took over, hiding behind him a bit as she nodded in agreement to his assertions.
"Morgan, wait!" Vance's hand grabbed his shoulder, stepping up besides him with a look of both disbelief and worry washed over him, clearly not wanting him to hurt Skellen, but also showing concern for his disappeared crew-mate. "If Avril's gone away, we shouldn't be fighting each other! We should..."
He paused, lowering his gaze for a moment before steeling himself, looking up again, his brows furrowing as he kept his hand insistingly on Morgan's arm. "... We should be trying to find her and bring her back! That's what Nakama do, right? She wrote she wanted to keep us safe, so she obviously cares about us!"
Morgan locked his gaze towards Vance, silently wishing he would release Morgan's arm so he could make Skellen go out with a bang. He took a deep breath and released his grip on Skellen, tossing the doctor to the ground. "I just doubt some people here feel the same. And those people aren't any...nakama of mine," Morgan replied, staring down Skellen as he spoke, issuing one final warning to the doctor.
Skellen picked himself off from the ground and returned the syringe to his bag. Dusting himself off he replied
"There's every chance she was just playing us from the beginning. Don't forget I have had extremely different experiences with that woman than you have. We aren't all blinded by charm. As for not being a nakama of yours, remember that next time I save your life."
Kuzo was more or less silent while the others argued. Though he was partially listening, he was thinking more about why Avril had left in the first place. He paced across the newly designed ship, observing the intricate colors she painted and the flag she created. Why would she have done all of this if she wasn't really one of them? Kuzo didn't believe it. He wouldn't. The last paragraph spoke volumes about her situation more than anything else. She was doing this because she didn't want them to get hurt. But for some reason, Kuzo believed Avril was the only one getting hurt.
Kuzo leaned against the railing and shook his head, before he turned to the rest of the crew. "Vance is right. We are all nakama," He stated firmly. "All of us. Even Avril. I don't know who this crew of hers is, but they're not taking away our shipwright away from us!"
Selena stepped forward, crossing her arms over her chest. "Look, I admit I don't know her as well as you all do. Maybe Skellen's right. Maybe Kuzo and Morgan are right. Again, I don't know. The question is that if we were to try and bring her back, how exactly would we do it? We don't know where Avril was going and that letter didn't exactly drop us any hints. That gives us... well..." she paused, pointing out towards the sea. "All of that to sail through and find her. And keep in mind that she said she belonged to another crew. Which means if they're ANYTHING like us their gonna be constantly on the move."
"Even if you do find the traitor" Skellen said coldly "she and her crew are just as likely to greet you with a hail of bullets as they are open arms... probably more so. If you want to go looking for her I hope you're prepared for the worst."
Kuzo glanced at Skellen and nodded. "Yeah, maybe. But if Avril really is going to leave us, I want to hear it from her! We deserve that much," Kuzo then put a hand to his chin to ponder Selena's question. It did present a problem of how to find her without any clues given. That's when the Captain had an idea. "The log pose!" Kuzo exclaimed. "She was on this island same as us, right? So if her crew has a log pose too, then it probably will point to the same place as ours will," He turned toward Vance. "We've been here long enough, right Vance? Where does the log pose lead?"
Vance blinked, lifting his arm and looking down at the log pose on his arm. "Oh, uh..." He paused, lifting a hand to point out towards the sea. "Uhm... that way. I mean, the log pose doesn't say which island it's pointing towards. But it -is- set, so we can go whenever!" He added with a wide smile, nodding his head firmly.
Kuzo nodded again and made his way to the front of the Dream Chaser. "Then let's get going!" He shouted.
"-ZOOOO!" A loud, familiar voice called from within the city. Kuzo turned to see Vyne running to the edge of the shore and waving his hands around furiously. Along the way, Vyne accidentally hit his head along one of the signs of a nearby shop. The shop sign broke in half as Vyne went through it unfazed, and part of it somehow managed to stay attached to the man's head. "KUZO!" He yelled again.
"Vyne! Glad you made it!" Kuzo exclaimed happily, waving back at his brother. "Wanna join us? We're just about to head out."
Vyne grinned and shook his head. "Nah lil bro, I have some things I have to do here. Then some Warlord stuff to do after that. I just came to see you off!"
"Aww," Kuzo frowned and shook his head.
"Hey, you don't need me looking over your shoulder anymore, lil bro! You've got your own people for that now!"
"But then when am I gonna see you again?" The Captain asked.
"It won't be long!" Vyne shouted back and extended his arms in the air. "We're pirates! We'll meet on the seas soon enough! Keep chasing your dreams, and I'll keep chasing mine! One day we'll cross paths again! Who knows? Maybe next time if you make a big enough name for yourself, you'll be someone even the Living Legend has to look into!" Vyne waved one more time and then burst back into the town. "Now let's see, what should I stir up today? Hahahaha!"
Kuzo grinned and waved back at his brother. He was happy he had a chance to see him again after so long, though he wished it was for a longer term. Despite that, he had a feeling he would be seeing him again soon enough. For now though, it wasn't his brother that needed him. It was his crew. He turned back to them.
"Come on everyone, get the ship ready to sail! We've got a nakama to get back!"
2 Weeks Ago (04:30 PM).
The Kingdom of Jeroa
If there is one thing to be said about the people of the Kingdom of Jeroa, it is their remarkable endurance. Jeroa is known for its extraordinarily irregular and random weather patterns. One minute, it could be a calm, sunny and peaceful day in the bustling capital. The next, storm clouds would gather and an intense outpour of rain would swathe the city. But the climate inconsistencies do not end with rain. There could be hail, snow, fog, hurricanes, thunderstorms, blizzards, sandstorms, wildfire, and anything in between. The origin of these intense weather conditions has always been speculated upon and written about, but for the large part remains highly unknown. Most people would jump at the opportunity to leave this hell behind and travel to somewhere with a more predictable climate.
The people of Jeroa Kingdom, however, are quite resilient and hardy, and more than a little stubborn. Instead of leaving and starting over, they've learned to adapt. Homes are built with solid foundations. Castles with thick walls. Streets are flawlessly paved. Tarps are conveniently placed over outside shops and homes to be rolled out when any precipitation falls. A hatch also extends off of the roof of most houses to cause snow to filter down from their roofs into the gutters. Along the roads, after every hundred meters or so, there are stone pagodas conveniently placed for people traveling to hide under in case it begins hailing, snowing or raining. On top of the taller buildings or those further up along the hillside, there are long, metallic spikes tactically positioned to act as lightning rods during thunderstorms. These rods not only gather electricity, but store and harness it too for use by the kingdom. Years of experience and tireless effort have made the people of Jeroa resourceful, able to almost take advantage of the turbulent weather.
As such, the people of Jeroa are an inventive, forward thinking crop, priding themselves on their adaptability. The Jeroans have crafted a culture that focuses on learning quickly and master numerous skills in the process. Subsequently, Jeroa has become an ideal place for pirates and Marines alike to acquire recruits from Jeroa are among the sharpest hands on any ship. But perhaps most interestingly is that despite Jeroa's focus on looking to the future and continually facing the challenges ahead, from their own land and the volatile situation that is always hanging over the heads of its people due to the warfare between pirates and Marines, is the ability of the people to craft a cultural climate that respects tradition. Jeroa has been for the longest time a monarchy, despite other regions turning to alternative forms of government. This form of governance has maintained staunch order in the kingdom while demonstrating the people's adherence to tradition, reflecting a national identity that observes the past to look forward, never repeating the mistakes to create a more perfect Kingdom.
"Wow," Was all that managed to escape Kuzo's lips as the Dream Chaser pulled into the port of Jeroa and he was able to see all of the unique features of the city for the first time. He had lived most of his life on the edge of civilization for quite a while, so it is still a shock for him to see monstrous cities like this one and Dinas. Jeroa was unique too, having all sorts of intricate designs and additions to their houses and shops, which Kuzo didn't exactly know what they were for.
Yet at the front of his mind more than anything else was just how wide the city was, and how difficult it would prove to be to get any sort of read on Avril's location. As much as he would have wanted to roam the city and check out all of the unique sights, his crewmate was the priority here and he had no intention of doing anything but gather information on her whereabouts. The only problem was that the very size of Jeroa would make it a difficult challenge to pick up on anything. Still, this was the most likely place she was at if she too used a log pose from Dinas, but it didn't guarantee that she was here. He hoped that they didn't come here in vain.
Kuzo walked over to the side of the ship and glanced around the port, before his eyes trailed off to the larger city behind it. It appeared to slope upward as if it were built along a hill, climbing higher and higher until it reached up to a castle, where he presumed whoever was in charge was at. There were also multiple other larger buildings spread out throughout the city, along with hundreds upon hundreds of shops, residencies, and other buildings.
"So this is Jeroa," He murmured to himself. Turning back to the rest of the crew, he gave them a helpless shrug and continued speaking. "I can't say I know anything about the place. So I really wouldn't know where to start or who to talk to. Anybody have any ideas?"
1 Week Ago (10:39 AM).
Selena frowned at Kuzo's question. The green-haired cook honestly thought that with such conviction being displayed upon their departure from Dinas, as well as the time had taken the crew to get here, that he would have managed to think of some sort of plan during that time. Selena made her way over towards the side of the ship beside Kuzo and looked out into the city beside him.
"Well... What do you guys normally do when you first get to a city like this?" the cook asked curiously. "I mean, Dinas was almost this big, right? Didn't you guys all practically just jump off the ship and go exploring and stuff? That's how you found me and the Pearl, yeah?"
"Yeah but..." Kuzo looked on into the big city and shook his head. "When we were going into Dinas, we didn't have anything hanging over our heads. I wanted to get a cook, yeah, and music supplies and paint. But now, we're looking for Avril. She's the priority. I figure talking to someone who may know things is the best place to start."
"Well, there you go. Now, we just have to find someone like that!" Selena replied, giving Kuzo a reassuring grin. "Oh, um... Do you know anyone like that, though? I've never been here, so I don't..."
"There's usually town criers standing on every other street in case the weather does something to an official building and the people should know, and they stand there all day. One of them might have seen her." Vance had chimed in from somewhere in the back, and as everyone turned to look at him, he blinked, quickly lifting a hand to rub the back of his head. "Uh... at least that's what it said in the book I read about this place on the way here! O-or we could just go to the nearest tavern! Or... a mechanic's shop? Uhm, since Avril likes to tinker?"
Having been leaning over the railing, gaping at the great expanse that was Jeroa, Lotte hadn't contributed much to the desperate search for Avril. It wasn't as if she didn't care- but she felt like there were things that should be meddled with, and things that shouldn't be. Being somewhat in Avril's shoes herself, Lotte had elected to mostly ignore the gravity of the situation, not quite ready to face the consequences of her own predicament by facing Avril's.
But crinkling her nose at the others' suggestions, Lotte looked over her shoulder, "They've got a ship, haven't they? Why don't you just ask the dock master where their ship is?"
"But we don't even know the name of the crew she was actually with, do we?" Selena retorted. "I don't remember seeing it mentioned in her note, anyways."
"Perhaps it's a rather infamous crew?" Joshua cut in after quite a while of silence, still hefting the strange case on his back. "After all, she seemed fine until we were defeated by that Marine, maybe her old crew is a very powerful one and his own strength reminded her of them? She did seem concerned about what they might do in the letter."
“Or perhaps, she’s already gone ‘cause ya’ll rather keep blabbin’ away about ifs, whats, hows, buts and what have yous!” Morgan shouted, as he approached the edge of the ship. Having heard enough debating to last a lifetime, he launched himself off the ship and landed rather gracefully on the dock. “Talkin’ about stuff ain’t gonna solve it. So while ya’ll go on thinkin’ about the right course of action or whatever, I’m actually gonna make an effort of findin’ Avril.” With a half wave, Morgan made his way into the city of Jeroa. While he never actually visited the city in all of his journeys as a pirate, he figured it couldn’t be too different from any place else.
Kuzo's eyes followed Morgan as he made his way through town. He had a strange feeling in the pit of his stomach that he ought to not let him go off on his own. They already lost Avril. He didn't have an wish to lose anybody else. "I'd better go after him," He stated to the rest of the crew as he jumped over the side of the Dream Chaser and followed Morgan. "How about you guys ask around and see what you can find out about Avril's crew from any of the town criers or something like Vance said?"
"Would be a lot easier if we knew the first thing about 'em..." Selena thought with a sigh. This city was huge and she had the feeling this was going to be like finding a needle in a haystack. "Just don't go getting lost or anything. Something tells me this place isn't as easy to navigate around as Dinas!"
Vance was about to call out to Morgan and Kuzo as they were heading out, but stopped, looking up into the sky, his brow furrowing. "... Uh, everyone might want to get some cover for the next few minutes." With that said, Vance disappeared inside of the ship.
"Wait-!" Lotte straightened when Morgan started to take off-- looking around quickly as though expecting someone to stop him. But no one did, so she pouted, hurrying after him. She should never have promised Avril to look after him- he was a pain in the butt!! Hurrying off the ship to tag along behind Kuzo, she shouted after them- "Wait I'm coming with you-!"
"Sure, come on!" Kuzo called after Lotte behind him, before he turned to Selena and grinned. "Oh, come on, what's the worst thing that could possibly happen?" He yelled at her. As if to answer his question almost immediately, a loud, rumbling noise began across the skies. Rain began to drizzle down. It began slowly, but within a few seconds it picked up tremendously. A town crier near the docks, a short, stout man with a large, white mustache and a conical straw hat yelled loudly around.
"Storm incoming! Ships anchored, tarps up!" He howled, to which the citizens around began to react immediately. Tarps, tents, and covered began to form across the market stalls along the streets, and many businesses closed up their windows with a plastic covering to ensure no debris from any storm broke through. The poles across the city began to light up and warm up in preparation, just in case lightning would burst out.
Nobody was paying attention, but anybody who looked back would notice that Joshua was no longer in sight. His disappearance didn't last long however, and he shortly returned carrying an umbrella. He opened it and lifted his head for a moment before he remembered his manners and held it over Selena, since she had no cover like Lotte.
Selena was surprised by Joshua's rather quick reaction to the oncoming storm. She gave the tall, red-haired man a grateful smile, all while trying her best not to laugh at the fact that Kuzo and Morgan both more or less looked like drowned rats at this point. The strange part about the whole thing was the fact that the rain seemed to just come out of no where. Selena could have sworn that it was bright and sunny when the ship had pulled into the city.
After the storm had raged on for about five minutes, as quickly as it had started, all of the wind, rain and even the clouds seemed to just... dissipate, leaving a semi-cloudy, but surprisingly blue sky above, as all of the tarps and covers around town were removed again, within several seconds.
Vance emerged from inside the ship, lifting a hand to scratch the back of his head. "Alright, I guess I'll go see if I can find out if anyone's seen Avril, I suppose. We should have someone watch the ship, the weather can be really dangerous here, and we don't want something bad to happen to the Chaser."
He gave Selena and Joshua a smile before climbing down onto the docks and proceeding into town, pulling the collar of his shirt ever so slightly up, while doing his best not to look around too much.
"Well... since those three are going off on their own, I say we tag along with Vance. You know, 'cause it takes three to tango... Or something like that," Selena said, glancing up at Joshua. She did not wait for the red-haired man to reply before she hopped over the edge of the ship and started to chase after Vance. She paused, glancing over her shoulder at Joshua. "You coming?"
Joshua had been staring at the sky in amazement when the sky cleared so suddenly. Vance's voice brought his attention back to the situation and he collapsed his umbrella while Selena began to follow after Vance. "I suppose island rains can't always be predicted, I better keep this with me for now. Oh! Right away!" He ran over to Selena and joined her in catching up with Vance, unconsciously running as flat and even as he could to keep the case on his back safe.
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