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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Pacifista
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Pacifista

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Marine Base E-55, East Blue

“Top of the morning!”

“Oh, Vice Admiral! It’s great to see you!”

“There’s a surprise room inspection today, don’t forget to hide those dirty mags.”

“Huh!?”

“Oh I’m just joshing ya. The look on your face was gold. Gold! You never know though.”

Still chortling at his joke at a young Seaman Recruit, Vice-Admiral Cholkin, his goatee slooped into a curl, his mustache trailing like a pair of streamers, slipped into his office. Hanging his justice coat on the rack, he was a bit dressed down, wearing only a light blue dress shirt and dark blue suit pants. Placing a tray of donuts and orange slices down on his desk with the paper, the man also known as Seiryu, the Blue Wind, took a seat, grabbing a donut to munch a he looked out a large window to the Marine base below, a number of hearty seamen at work in transferring supplies from ship to storage and vice versa, engaging in training drills, or mending one bit of damage or another. Whipping open the day’s newspaper, he reclined in his chair as he took note of the happenings around the world.

Licera Island, home of the Rokin Kingdom, North Blue

Pillars of marble rose through the throne room, the fifteen foot ceiling rather low for such an important chamber. Two forms marched through the black and gold marble, cool lighting shed by various lanterns. At the end of their path was a raised level, a 6 foot stairwell leading to a pond of blankets and pillows in all manner of warm colors, a skylight shining from above with the midday sun Trembling in the comfy throne was the full bearded, stern faced, and sweaty king, wearing a poofy red garb with a black and gold sash. King Stephan Ford Bolderone wiped his sweat, looking about. “Lucy? My darling?”

The two figures at the bottom of the steps stalled. The one at the lead had a scar straight across the forehead of his square shaped skull, like his head was once cut open. Shirt striped with purple and black, a long, moss green overcoat nearly reaching the ground, pirate captain Adam “Earthwalker” [58 million beri] let his hand twitch, uncomfortably close to his sword, a metal wire stretched across the back ridge of the blade and coiled around a section of the hilt, like a fishing rod. Nicky “Nightingale” [17.7 million beri] stood at his side, one pistol in his dark blue sash and the other twirling in his hand, his hair growing like a nest of feathers. “Lucy, please!” Bolderone begged.

“They’re so scary, aren’t they~” came a voice from the back. From a passage leading elsewhere in the palace, soft footsteps marked a path to the king. Bolderone let out a sigh of relief, resting his head in the lap of his wife as she took a seat, lithe hand stroking the side of his face as if he were a wee babe. Robes of black and white, silvery strands woven in to give the faint pattern of a spider’s web, long black hair flowing out onto the cushioned throne area, Mahonia Lucille’s pale yellow eyes glowed in the light, her dark red lips taking a smile of certainty as she met the glares of the Funk Reborn Pirates. “Wonderful work with Topelia. With income like this, maybe we can go back to paying the Heavenly Tribute after all. Perhaps I could even arrange to have your bounties annulled?”

Adam grunted, seemingly displeased at something or other, while Nicky stepped forward. “You...you don’t get it at all, do you!?” Griped tightening on his flintlock, he stalked forwards, watching the smile fade from Lucille’s face. “It doesn’t matter if the bounties are a pain in the ass, they’re...they’re a sign of our freedom!” Raising his gun, he pointed it at the infamous Witch of Webs, who only lowered her head, continuing to soothe the infantile king as he started to panic. “And what more are you going to take away from us!?”

Lucille didn’t respond, so Nicky steadied his hand, only to notice as there was a glint of iron across his vision. In disbelief, he started to turn, just as he was reeled in. Adam pulled him in, the iron wire cutting into his throat and drawing blood, the back of his blade against the side of his neck. Pistol dropping, he floundered, trying to pull it off. “H-how!? You didn’t even-” Looking back at his captain, the man was covered in sweat, his teeth grinding against one another, tears of frustration forming in his eyes.

“You should take him and go, before Rokki Road decides only one of you is leaving. Get him proper treatment, and come back in an hour for your next set of orders.” At the Witch’s words, Adam released his sword, taking his comrade by the shoulders and helping him back the way they came, red blood glistening on the ground behind them. The liquid reflected no smile of Lucille’s as she cooed to her husband, the man starting to calm down now that the room was clear. “How did you do that? I was so worried…”

“Never you mind. All that matters is that we’re safe now. Everything will be just fine…”

Pol Stictid, South Blue

“HEY, POL STICTID, LISTEN UP. IT’S HAPPENIN’ IN A FLASH SO DON’T YOU MISS IT! IT’S THE GRIME- KING-, THAT’S RIGHT, THE MAN HIMSELF! REMINDING THE WORLD WHAT REALLY MATTERS!” Taking up the full frame of a Visual Den Den Mushi’s projection, a twelve foot tall man in overalls with goggles and a handlebar mustache, standing in front of a large wooden ‘X’. The city skyline in deep night stretched behind them, the vertically built labyrinth of the island making ebbs of lit structures with flows of wooden walkways. And chained to the X was a man in black slacks, bleeding from a number of wounds, his arms raised and body limp.

“This dead man hanging was found by the Liver Pirates. They thought it was weird that he talked to himself while on the john but turns out he was only ‘talking shit’!” laughed Dupree [Grime King’s producer, no bounty]. Across the island, a number of crowds burst into their own echoes, a ripple of hateful glee spreading across the island. “It’s supposed to come out the other end, pal!” Dupree laughed, clapping the man on the shoulder, the spy letting out a groan of agony.

Stalking back over to the Visual Den Den Mushi, Dupree crouched down. “Now, I know you’re gonna miss me, but as long as these Government bastards keep messing with us, I’ll be back again and again! Now...give it up for...THE GRIME KIIIIIIING!” The whole 20 mile island erupted into a roar, Dupree moving aside as a rather small man, barely 6 feet (and only because of the top hat crowning his head) took the stage. Collar high, he tugged at his white ascot, the embellished peacoat dark, with dim teal buttons. Sprouting from the sides of his head were a pair of ram like horns, and his face was covered in a heavy gas mask. Turquoise eyes shone across the screens of the island as the man raised the microphone in his gloved hand. Twisted through the modified gas mask, his yell was beyond human. Like an iron whistle crossed with fallen glass scraping across stone. Hands fell back from ears when the call of rage subsided, for Radigan had much more to say.

“Money money money! Makes the world go round, so you Government folk always say.” Even twisted by the tinny reverberations of the gasmask, his words were no song, yet he spoke them with a sense of rhythm and melody that enraptured. “Your world, your rules, I say, so money money money is all it takes. Need a pirate dead? Or alive, so they can cut of the head and watch it fall as it may?”

“MONEY MONEY MONEY!” cried the pirates.

“Want to gain power: superhuman, at the cost of your love from the sea?” he raised his hand, the fingertips releasing an uncertain dark liquid.

“MONEY MONEY MONEY!” cried the smugglers.

“Want to be a king? But not a cool one, like me.”

“MONEY MONEY MONEY!” cried the loan sharks.

The singsong sense of his voice fell away, his words becoming gravelly. “So, we flip the script! I wanted to be a king, so I just said that I was! Want to have access to my power? Just live here, nothing special. And if you find a Government rat, no offense to the rodent, then I’ll give you-” Radigan whipped out a flintlock, aiming it at the crucified Cipher Pol operative.

“Please! I have money! I have a wife and daughter!” he pleaded.

Radigan stayed his trigger finger. “Oh, you’re offering to sell your wife and kids? You’re messed up guy! And here I thought we were shitty.”

“N-no, I mean-”

“It’s too late, I already made a promise to the Liver Pirates who gave me this rat. They’re gonna get some-” The man cried out as Radigan fired, punctuating each word with a bullet, the crowd joining him. “MONEY MONEY MONEY!”

As the man’s body went cold, so did the energy built up from the public execution, the visual feed switching off as the men of the island went to their usual scuffles, scams, and shady stints. Dupree came up, following Radigan as he walked off, taking the unneeded pistol. “That was banging! One of these days you’re going to bring the island down from sheer hype! Anyway, next time we get a Marine, instead of the usual ‘loyal dog’ line I was thinking we could liken them to puppets, or hey, maybe put those pipes of yours to work and try a song for a change!”

Radigan stopped dead, Dupree’s face falling in light confusion. “I am not singing. Bring that up again and your fired.” Dupree went pale, but Radigan continued onward, “Otherwise, that sounds wonderful,” Radigan asserted, a certain fatigue in his voice. “Though maybe those government types could learn a lesson for a damn change.”

Olive Island, West Blue

The light of the sunset was red. Olive Island had been known for its lush, verdant fields, ideal for countless crops, not just those of the island’s namesake. The neutral island was a pleasant, quiet place, enough so that many a nearby kingdom offered their passive protections, the folk able to live in peace without king or Marine base of their own, just a humble mayor working to ensure his people were fed, shelters, and educated. But now, smoke filled the sky as building burned. Those who’d stood up to fight had been felled, the sun reflecting their fall.

Atop a massive warhorse, clad in an armor curiass made of interlocked copper plates, helm protruding with two large horns sticking out then up, Yunxing D-Q [General Taurus of the Tianyan 12] held a hefty dadao blade, the back of the curved edge resting on his shoulder. Coming off of his mount, he stooped down to a figure resting against the side of the building, a thin balding man with glasses clutching a knife with white knuckles, blood running down the side of his head.

“Holding onto your weapon even as you die? To think a farming village would be so stubborn. Are you going to burn your crops as well?”

Mayor Gerald chortled, “And deprive a few more mouths of the last prized olives this island will ever grow? Though I suppose the smoke has already ruined the taste.”

Snarling, D-Q demanded, “Why did you start a fight you could never win!? Is this senseless loss of life what you wanted!?”

Despite everything, Gerald smiled. “We know what your Empire does to islands it conquers. Even if you chase down everyone who escaped, you’ll never find them all.” Looking to the smoke filled sky, he said, “I was a lad when this city was founded. I watched it grow into something I knew I could be proud of my whole life.” Gerald stopped for a moment, hacking up a mouthful of blood, the arrow in his shoulder having gone deep. “The people who ran from here will have this place in their hearts for the rest of their lives, even if you stomp it out here and now.”

“Pride? I only know pride in what I live for, not in what I might die for.”

“I know. I know you’d never understand. You’re not much older than 20, are you? Tell me, where were you born? Where does your name come from?”

D-Q was indignant. “I made it into the Yunxing dynasty through my strength and riding abilities! Do not mock the name of the Yunxing!”

Gerald shook his head. “Just a dynasty, are you?” D-Q gritted his teeth, but there was nothing more to say, as Gerald bowed his head, finishing, “There’s a jar of olives on the back shelf. Try one. Know what you tried to destroy, and remember that despite it all, you could never crush our pride as Olive Islanders.” Going slack, his breathing continued to slow. Within a minute or so, it would stop, forever.

D-Q stood, putting his hand on the neck of his trusted steed, but before going back into the fray, he could not stop himself. Entering the house, he found the promised shelf, where green olives stuffed with garlic cloves were jarred. The man who didn’t know why he’d been called ‘D-Q’ tried one, and thought it was one of the most interesting and unique flavors he’d ever experienced. It was the first trophy of his conquest he took no pride in.

Marine Base E-55, East Blue

“Whew…” Cholkin, the Blue Wind, let out a low whistle as he put down the newspaper. Picking up his last orange slice as he stood, taking a bite as he stepped toward the wide window, it was more sour than sweet. Maybe that was the result of all the chilling news he’d just read from across the world. Maybe the sweetness of the donut he’d just snacked on made the orange less tasty in the mix of flavors that lacked synergy. But either way, it was a lesson he would carry forward for the rest of his life: try a different fruit with the donuts. Banana, probably. Or perhaps strawberries. No citrus, except citrus flavored donuts, those were still fine.

BAMBAMBAM. Cholkin felt his heart jump out of his chest as there was a banging on the door. “What? What is it!?”

“Sir! There’s an emergency!”

Cholkin jumped to his feet. “What!? Is it witches!? Criminal scum? Imperialism!?”

“No sir! You remember how it’s supposed to be Taco Tuesday in the mess hall tonight?” called the Seaman messenger from the other side of the door.

Cholkin gave a grave nod, sweat starting to bead on his forehead. Remembering that his conversation partner couldn’t see through walls, Cholkin said, “Yes?”

“A rat got into all the cheese! We won’t have any cheese to go with the tacos!”

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Despite hopes and prayers, the East Blue was not without its woes after all...
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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by LostDestiny
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LostDestiny Goldfish Brain

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How long had it been since Annabelle had left Haster Island? She had to think harder than she should have to recall when she left the Island she once, reluctantly, called home. Four years? It had to have been somewhere close to that. Maybe five? She wasn’t sure, but there it was, just visible on the horizon. The dual lighthouses that flanked the cove housing the docks shone brightly in the night, as they always have. It would still be several hours until the ship she had bought passage on arrived on the Island. The trip had been a long one and her only option was to attempt to convince a bunch of pirates to let her join them on their trip to Haster. Trade ships very rarely made stops at the Island and she knew nobody savory wanted to go there, so the likelihood of her being able to buy passage from them anyway was slim to none.

“Oi girly, why you headed to this Island anyway, you a bounty hunter?” One of the crew members of the ship slid over to stand behind her watching the lights from the shore in the distance flicker. Annabelle was certain this man was the first mate, but she had never really taken the time to get to know any of the crew. She mostly stuck to herself and they seemed content to let her do so, as long as she helped out a little and or stayed out of the way.

“Something like that, I guess.” She muttered not really wanting to elaborate more. From the corner of her eye she could see the man’s one eyebrow furrow. It seemed the other was too heavily scarred for the hair to grow back. Luckily for him, whatever injury he had sustained seemed to have missed his eye. The red-head wondered how she had almost missed that detail. Maybe it was because other than the singular eyebrow and the mustache he was virtually hairless.

The man opened his mouth to say more but Annabelle moved away from him before he could get anything out of his mouth. She was aware he could follow her if he really wanted but he seemed to become distracted with Jazz. The raven had been perched on the railing beside her and hadn’t bothered to move when she did. Seeming to continue to watch the island get closer and closer.

Several Hours Later


Annabelle was woken to the sound of a bell ringing. She had been on enough ships to know that meant they were about to start docking. She didn’t remember falling asleep but apparently the easy rocking of the ship had lulled her to sleep. Rubbing the sleep from her eyes she headed to the deck of the ship where the crew was going through the docking procedures. Annabelle stayed out of the way as they worked, seeming to have conversations about all the things they planned to get up to on Haster Island.

Blue eyes landed finally on the port of Haster Island. She dreaded stepping foot back on her home island. What if she wasn’t able to leave? What if she was stuck here again? A shiver ran up her spine at the thought. She turned her attention to who she thought was the captain of the ship. Despite spending so much time on it she had honestly not thought to find out the name of the ship and its crew. She briefly looked up at the Jolly Roger for any clues. The only thing that would give her any sort of clue was the singular eyebrow on the face of the skull. Was the man from last night the Captain? Was she that confused? She scanned the crew once more and quickly spotted the man she had briefly spoken to last night. He was strikingly similar to the man she had assumed was the captain. Twins? Brothers? She wasn’t totally sure but one thing was for sure. The man who appeared to be the captain seemed to have deliberately shaved his left eyebrow, whereas the other man had scarring on his right eyebrow. She furrowed her brow at the choice but shook her head eventually and walked toward the Captain.

“E-excuse me. How long are you planning on staying on Haster? I could use a lift off as well.” Her voice was soft and seemed to be drowned out by the sound of the crew working.

“What was that? I didn’t quite hear ya, speak up.” The man replied when he finally realized the red-head was standing beside him.

Annabelle sighed and repeated her question once more, louder this time and more confidently, to ensure she was heard.

“Ah, we will be here a few days, headed to that Sun place next, though we will be makin a few stops on the way.” He replied as the ship was fully docked. “Yur welcome to hitch a ride for the same price, but we won’t be waitin for ya.”

All things considered these pirates weren’t too bad, they at least left her alone so if she could get off the island the same way she came it would make things easier. Nodding she spoke again, “Fine, I will pay you at cast off, if you won’t wait I am not pre-paying.” There was more confidence in her voice now. Knowing she would have a way off as long as she didn’t miss them made things a lot easier.

With that knowledge she quickly gathered her things and whistled to Jazz to join her. The bird flew down from the crow’s nest and landed on her shoulder as she walked off the ship and stepped onto Haster Island. ‘Alright, time to see how things are going here, hopefully nobody recognizes me.’ She thought as she walked through The Red District to an Inn that bordered The White District. It would be more expensive to stay but at least it would be filled with less trouble, as long as she didn’t get mistaken for one of the working women in the area.
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Hidden 7 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Pacifista
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RICO

“Bruuum bruuum bruuum. Dededele whoooOOOOP.”

“Oh my god would you please stop you’ve been making random noises for the last THREE HOURS!” came a cry from elsewhere in the brig. Following was a cacophony of agonized agreement.

“When we get to jail I am going to beat the shit out of you!” “Let us rot in peace!” “Yeah, I keep losing count of the wood grains in the floorboards I’m counting, prick!” “At least keep it down."

Rico, eyes wide to the point the red blood vessles were visible at the edges, raised his arms, seastone cuffs clattering to the ground. “This is my hell.”

A couple days ago, Rico had made it to the town of Tolsom Fold, a regular old place with a Marine battleship nearby. Out of sheer boredom, he tried to make the place a little less boring, and this was where he ended up. For a little public disturbance, he was being shipped off to prison. That was hardly fair! Indignant, he sat up, “This is bullshit, I didn’t even do anything wrong! What’s a couple poppers, huh? Oh no I scared a big tough squad of Marines, boo hoo.”

“Yeah, and when they were letting you out, you headbutted some Navy guy in the face and gave him a bloody nose.”

“He was muttering under his breath! I dunno what he said but it sounded rude. If you don’t speak up no one can hear you!”

“And then later when the big guy came to take off your cuffs, you shot fireworks everywhere with your dumb magic, so they threw you back in the cell.”

“That wasn’t magic, it just happens whenever I get excited.”

“Trust me kid, I feel like you’re safer in there. You seem like the kinda guy who’d bring himself to ruin if left unchecked, like an addict in the casino. Maybe a week or so in prison will do you some good.”

The warning went ignored as Rico flipped himself over, cuffs banging against the brig’s wood flooring again. “One of the old guys on Cannon Island told me he escaped cuffs in the war by dislocating his thumbs, so I’ll bet...owie! Nope.”

“Do you do anything quietly? Escape is the one thing you really should-”

“I just said you gotta be loud so people hear you doesn’t anyone listentome!? Rico hiss, throat getting gravelly with the last words.

Throbbing vein forming on the middle aged man’s forehead, he snarled, “Ignore me again you little shit and I’ll kill you myself.”

“I’d like to see you try! Anything to be less bored here.”

“QUIET DOWN ALREADY!” boomed a hefty voice, just following the slamming of the brig door. Stepping in, a bulky Marine Ensign with curly brown hair walked between the various cells in the hold, occasionally rapping his knuckles on the bars. “You’re all prisoners, so be good and quiet until we get to where we going, or you’ll be skipping another meal.” His threat was met by a rare silence, so the man left satisfied.

Well. Good to know something shuts you up.”

“Gotta eat so you can grow up to be big and strong.”

Hand brushing through his shock of white hair, the man leaned against the door of his cell. “I can’t place a bead on you at all.”

“Well, that’s good, ‘cause I don’t want any beads. They’re for crafts and stuff, not whatever you want to give me one for. But I can get you as many beads as you want if we get outta here. Food too.”

“In the middle of the ocean?” the old man let out a long sigh. “Better sooner than later.”

Rico sat up, eyes on the man in hopes of gleaning a bit more of his intent, but instead he grabbed a glint with his eyes, followed by the dull clatter as a ring of iron keys plopped on the floor of his cell. “You’re free to go. Jump in the ocean and don’t come back, you hear?”

Rico chortled, before undoing his seastone cuffs. Keys in hand, he walked straight through the bars of the cell with a hiss of fizzy flame and sparks of light, the smell of burning gunpowder filling the brig. Putting the key in the door of the man’s cell, he insisted, “And you’re coming with me!”

As the cell door opened, another voice mentioned, “Didn’t you hear him? There’s nowhere to go, idiot.”

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way. You helped me for a reason, right? You can sense it, I bet.”

“I did, actually,” Rolling his shoulders, the man said, “My name’s Andou. I’m a bit of a gambling nut, you see. Seen my share of games, paid my price.” He held up his left hand, where his pinky and a portion of his ring finger were carved clean off, the wounds healed long ago.

“Well, I’m pretty sure you picked a winner.”

Andou clapped his hand on Rico’s shoulder, “Kid, I am the worst goddamn loser you ever heard of. I can’t even win a game of rock paper scissors. Slot machine handles tend to break under my touch. I got sick of losing on the roulette when only betting red and black, so after putting it on both out of spite it hit a 00. I'm here because of a debt I couldn’t pay back, because I can’t help but to gamble in spite of all that. I’m pretty sure a black cat pissed on the leg of my mother as she walked under a ladder while she was pregnant with me. I bet on you because I wanted to pick a booger, not a winner. It’ll be the best use I’ve ever gotten out of my luck, trust me.”

Rico’s shoulders slumped, falling under the weight of expectations. “O-oh. Man...that’s really funny actually.” Knocking his arm away, Rico stated, “How about this: if you win, I’m going to prison, but if I win, you join my crew!”

Andou’s mouth went slack. “No, I’m betting on you, not-”

“Then it’s settled! Besides, no matter what happens to you, when I escape, you’ll be the man who helped the future King of the Pirates. That’s the bet I’m making.”

Andou stared, face long. Then, he cracked a smile. “Heh. Heh heh. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! AH HA HA HA HA HA! AH HA HA HAHAHAHAHA! HOHEH HOHEH HOOOOO HEHEHE HOOO!”

The door crashed open. “WHAT DID I SAY!?”

Patting his stomach, Andou caught his breath as the Ensign gawked at the open cell door, keys blatantly in Rico’s hand.

“Looks like the bet’s on, kid.”
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Daxam
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Daxam Majin Boo

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Corona Island, North Blue


”You’ve gotta be kidding me. Three days?!”

“Sorry, miss, but that’s the soonest I can promise the work will be done,” the old shipwright said apologetically. “I’ve got other, more pressing commissions I gotta finish first. Why are you in such a hurry, anyway?”

”Don’t worry about it,” Luna grumbled as she gave the shipwright his money, cutting the remaining funds she received from the two bounties she turned in by half. She had been about to set sail again, but couldn’t find her boat, only to realize it was half-submerged due to a crack in the hull. She was already a week behind and she really didn’t want to waste anymore time, but it seemed like she didn’t have a choice.

She left the shipyard with a sigh. Without anything better to do, she decided to walk around town, her cloak fluttering in the wind as she walked. Corona Island was known best for its seemingly perpetually sunny weather and the beautiful beach just to the west of the harbor, to which visitors loved to flock. Luna wandered through the decently-sized town, side-stepping running children as they played, unable to resist smiling despite her sour mood. She had always had a soft spot for kids and they never failed to lift her spirits.

“Today marks the 15th anniversary of the fall of the Nychthemeron Empire.”

She suddenly stopped and turned her attention toward a nearby outdoor bar. Some patrons were gathered around a table, upon which a Transponder Snail sat, the voice it mimicked deep and smooth. “Can you believe that, folks? The mighty Day-and-Night Empire, at the height of their power, brought to heel by the World Government over the span of just three days, thanks to an anonymous tip that they were preparing for an open rebellion. Nearly half a million Legionnaires and who knows how many Sicarii, yet none of that could stand up to the Marine’s Admirals or their firepower. From what I hear, even the young prin…”

The man’s voice faded as Luna stormed away, her fists clenched in barely contained rage as she resisted the urge to smash the poor snail. She didn’t stop walking until she was able to regain her composure and by then, the sun had started to touch the horizon. ”Guess I should find somewhere to sleep for the next couple of nights,” she muttered to herself.

She started to walk back toward the harbor in search of an inn, only to stop when she felt something tugging on her cloak. She turned, her fist raised, thinking that some of the thug’s friends wanted to pay her back, only to see no one there. She felt the tug again and looked down to see a young boy looking up at her. He was about five or six, yet small for his age. His hair was a black, curly mop and he looked up at her with small, black eyes. Luna sighed with a smile and crouched in front of him. ”Hey, kid,” she said gently, ”think you should be heading home? It’s starting to get late.”

“Miss, are you strong?” the boy asked, surprising Luna. Before she could answer, the boy said, “I, I saw what you did to those guys…and the bar. Are you really that strong?”

Luna gave the boy a smile. ”Yeah, I suppose you could say I am,” she said, slipping her arm out from inside her cloak to flex it, though the sleeve from the black leather coat she wore underneath covered her arm. Her arm returned to the confines of her cloak as she asked, ”Why do you wanna know?”

The boy was quiet for a few moments. “There are some bad men in the mountains,” he eventually said. “My mama tells me they showed up a few years ago, after the Nicky Empire fell and they couldn’t protect us. They come to our house and take all of our money and food.” Tears appear in the child’s eyes as he adds, “Papa tried to stand up to them and they…they…”

”Hey, hey, it’s alright,” Luna said as she patted the boy’s head. ”I think I can guess what happened. You want me to knock some sense into them, don’t you?”

The boy nodded and Luna gave him a reassuring smile. She stood up and asked, ”Do you know what direction they come from?” The boy nodded and, wiping his eyes with one hand, pointed to the east, toward the mountains behind the town. Luna nodded and said, ”Alright, you go home, now. And tell your mom she doesn’t have to worry about the bad men anymore.”

The boy nodded and hurried off. Luna stood there, watching him until he was out of sight, then turned toward the direction he pointed. Electro arced off of her body until she managed to calm her anger, if only barely. ”Perfect. I needed something to punch.”
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Hidden 7 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Pacifista
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RICO

Keys clattering to the ground as they were dropped, Rico’s red eyes flashed as he charged right for Ensign Torrent. “Just because you’re a kid doesn’t mean we’re gonna keep going easy on you!” Sticking two fingers in the corners of his mouth, he let out a shrill whistle that echoed down the halls of the boat. Within moments, voices and boots against wood could be heard throughout the ship.

“Call for help all you want, I’ll take you all on!” Rico called, reaching out his hand, red fur trim rustling in the air. A fist flung out, only to stop in midair, Torrent flinching. Rico stuck the fingers out, the tips catching alight in flames of green and red. Panicked Fuzanglong! In a burst of smoke and light, five rockets fired off, whizzing about in scatter shot directions, bounding off of the planks of the deck and leaving singe marks and smoke trails in their wake, the senses quickly overloading in the cramped quarters. Torrent took a step back, disoriented, while Rico shot his other fist out, catching the taller man in the face, blood spurting from his nose as he fell to the ground.

As the fireworks fizzled out, Andou waved away the smoke as he approached, coughing, “Why the heck didn’t you just punch him in the first place?”

Readjusting his black coat, Rico insisted, “It worked, didn’t it?” Andou just shook his head. Storming off, the two worked their way through the halls, path rather aimless.

“If we could grab my stuff, that’d help,” Andou suggested, taking over the course. One turn later, they ran face first into a squad of Marines, cutlasses brandished. “Well shit.”

Rico laughed, “Man, you weren’t kidding about your luck, old man!” Before Andou could retort, he felt a pressure on the back of his neck, Rico vaulting over him driving his knee into the lead Marine, knocking him into the wall. Bringing his foot down, as it fell, a number of firework rockets launched from the heel of his dark boot. Raging Hong! Whistling through the air, the fireworks exploded with a bang, cracking wood and blasting Marine soldiers in all directions, light in blues and yellows filling the air with the smokey residue. As the air cleared, so did the path.

Andou let out a low whistle. “You may be the second dumbest human being I’ve ever met, but you sure can throw down. Try not to torch the boat, fighting fires on the sea is a bitch.”

“Well now I gotta know who the dumbest human you’ve ever met is. And the dumbest non-human for that matter.”

At Andou’s guide, the pair found the Marine’s storage area, a number of cubbies and shelves arranged for the personal effects of prisoners, kept temporarily to be returned, or snatched up by soldiers and passed off as misplaced. Andou started sifting through while Rico stood by, leaning his hand against one of the shelves, only for it to snap under his weight, sending the young man stumbling, where he bashed his head against the wall. Andou glanced back, “You good?”

Getting up, Rico rubbed his head, noticing that the spot he’d grabbed was already cracked, the other shelves being completely fine. “I think your bad luck is starting to rub off on me man.”

Andou shrugged. “Just how it is. Get used to it. A ha!” Pilfering one of the cubbies, he pulled out a pack of cigarettes, sticking a metal piece over his right index finger, wrapping a leather strap around his wrist to keep it in place, the nail of the finger guard sharp and ridged like a screw.

“Ready to go?” Andou turned about at Rico’s question, knees buckled, eyes narrowed. Rico barely had time to react as Andou blitzed right at him faster than he could perceive. The sharp implement went right through Rico’s body, the sizzle of ignition following Andou’s strike. There was an intake of breath from behind Rico, the boy turning his head to see Andou’s finger lodged in the chest of a Marine solider with a rifle, the firearm clattering to the ground as the man did once Andou twisted his wrist to pull his weapon out.

Arm free, Andou brushed at his singed sleeve, bits of smoke wafting off. “Man, you’re fast. Also could you warn a guy?”

“Eh, didn’t feel like it,” Andou said, pulling away. Slipping out a cigarette, he propped it into his mouth. “Got a light?” There was a whistle as the small red flame of a rocket whizzed by, Andou’s face marred by a trail of soot, the end of the cigarette glowing orange. Taking in a puff, he met Rico’s gaze, pride evident in the lad's cocksure smile. “Thanks pal.”

Door to the deck slamming open, Rico and Andou spilled out into the open. “Dang it’s bright out here! How can we find a rowboat if we can’t even see? Oh wait, it’s getting better.”

“Took your time, didn’t you?” came the voice of Commander Lindsay, stiff mustache still bristling like it had something to prove.

“Hmm? Yeah, we kept getting lost, I guess. Oh and we ran into some of your guys but that didn’t slow us down too much.”

Lindsay’s brow lowered into a glare, the man dropping from the forecastle deck, facing off with Rico and Andou on the main, casting his justice coat aside. “Sorry for going easy on you. This time my discipline isn’t going to be so casual. You’re not just a shitty brat, you’re a menace, and it’s about time you learned the difference between right and wrong on these oceans.”

“Oh, don’t you worry, I know plenty of right and wrong, I just don’t mind being wrong.” Rico put one leg out, his neon green slacks catching the sunlight, the boy ready to rush forwards.

Plip.

There was a light flash of white. The two older men had their eyes drawn to Rico’s shoulder. Rico spotted a small white bit of sludge on his coat, partly streaked over the raised collar, smearing the black and green skull shaped decal. The cry of seagulls above was like a mocking howl of laughter. Jabbing his finger at the offending mess, Rico cried, “You see, that is wrong.”

Andou started to chuckle. “Hey Commander, you might wanna grab that bird and give it a medal. It just shat on the man who’s going to become future King of the Pirates, apparently.” Jaw agape, Rico’s eyes bore into Andou.

“God dammit, that was so good I can’t even be mad.”
Hidden 7 mos ago Post by LostDestiny
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LostDestiny Goldfish Brain

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Keeping her head down and her hood up she departed from the ship she had taken to the island and walked down the streets of the Red District. It seemed in the years since she left many businesses had changed. Likely unable to pay the “protection fee” that Albert and his goons enforced. The Inn she remembered being near the White District was no longer there so she wandered around a bit looking for a different one. It didn’t take too long for her to find one suitable. It was closer to the Grey District than she wanted but it seemed most Inns were in the area between the docks and the district she once called home.

“Seems more like a bar than an Inn but it will do I guess.” Annabelle muttered to herself as she entered the establishment. She walked up to the single person that appeared to be working here. “Excuse me, do you have an open room?” She questioned the older man with shoulder length salt and pepper hair. She didn’t recognize this man, he certainly wasn’t a local. He was too…pristine to be one of the hardened criminals who originally inhabited the island.

“Ah, you are in luck, I happen to have one room left. Right next to the one I call my one.” He winked at her, and she had to stop herself from rolling her eyes at him. Seems he fits in just well with the island personality wise at least.

The redheaded woman faked a smile. “That’s fantastic.” She couldn’t stop her voice from sounding sarcastic. “I suppose it will do. How much?” She asked him almost reluctantly. The man seemed to eye the larger firearm that was jutting out from behind her. It seemed he caught the sarcasm and her general lack of interest. She wasn’t shocked by it, someone who ran an establishment like this would likely be rather good with people.

After what seemed like an eternity of eyeing her he finally gave her a price, one Annabelle was sure he had raised for her attitude. She paid it without batting an eye and the man seemed to lose interest all together. Likely he jacked up the price to get her to try to barter with him but when she clearly wasn’t having it he frowned, handed her the key to her room and turned away from her without another word.

The sharpshooter took the key and walked toward where the man had gestured, assuming that was the direction of the rooms. She found her room fairly quickly and entered, immediately opening the window just enough for Jazz to be able to squeeze in and out, and jammed the window so it would take a bit of force to open it any more. The bird quickly joined her in the room and found a spot to perch himself.

“This might be harder than I thought, Jazzy boy.” She muttered to the bird who cocked his head to the side. Anna was never sure how much the bird understood but he was smart, he picked up on what Annabelle wanted him to do rather quickly even if he didn’t actually understand the words coming out of her mouth.

“Guess I should get started, I only have a couple days to gather as much information as I can. Maybe I should start with Palace security? No…I should try to get a feel for the people first, who are unhappy with the current rule and who are not.” Once again the bird simply turned his head to one side and Annabelle just shook her head. “Just, stay here. I don’t need people realizing Deadeye is in town.” She pointed to the bird and then to the room in general. She could easily close the window and lock him in the room but she didn’t want to cut off extra means to escape should the bird need to leave quickly.

After taking a moment to hide her more valuable things around the room, including her rifle, she headed out of the Inn and back onto the streets. If she was going to wander the Red District unbothered now was the best time, when the sun went down, it got…chaotic. Something she would rather avoid with her limited close combat knowledge.

In the four years since Annabelle left Haster the town seemed to have expanded a bit. The Red District was much more cramped than it had previously been. It seemed that despite the high price to start up a business many of the unsavory types had managed to do so. She would have to be much more vigilant. There is no telling who would decide to pick a fight with her for no reason, or just in general try to mug her. The Red District was a dice roll when it came to interactions with people. Sometimes all would be fine but you look at one person the wrong way and everything could quickly flip. As long as she avoided eye contact and stuck to subtly eavesdropping on conversations she would likely be fine. As long as nobody recognized her that is. It wasn’t like she left on bad terms but she would honestly just like to avoid having any sort of ‘reunion’ with anyone. In and out, a couple days recon, then she would be back to traveling and saving money. That’s what she kept telling herself at least.
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Hidden 7 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by Yankee
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Yankee 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐞𝐞

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South Blue
Earlier ...

Currently ...

"Treated like a common sea beast..." Suiten lamented, letting out a dramatic sigh. "You two really owe me for this." The blonde sailor leaned over the side of the small ship, both of his hands on the railing and a petulant frown on his face.

"You're the reason we ended up like this in the first place!" he snapped, glancing at the other fisherman as a hand came down on his shoulder.

"Aw let it go Lide, it were only an accident."

"But-"

"S'nothing I can't fix anyway. We'll be back on the ocean t'marra."

The blonde man sighed, just narrowly missing Suiten making a face at him when he looked back to her. After their boat started taking on water all three of them had begun to panic, but with a combination of hasty patching and Suiten pulling the small craft through the water the managed to make it back to the fisherman's home of Ponson Island. During the that time they'd spoken a little, swapped names and introductions, and now they'd pulled up past the dock to let the boat rest on the beach. The men hopped out of the vessel and the older of the two, Silva, turned to Suiten.

"We should be able to rustle something up to repay you, missy."

"Really?" she asked, perking up and swimming up close to the shore. Reigning in her eagerness, Suiten covered her smile with the long sleeve of her clothes. "I mean, if you insist~"

Lide rolled his eyes. Both men headed up the beach toward what Suiten assumed was their village. While she waited, she pulled herself into the boat and nosed around until she found a newspaper. Then she flopped back out and onto the beach, wiggling down the sand until half of her body was lounging out of the water, borrowed paper held high over her face as she read it. She thumbed through the pages, though none of the articles really interested her. A lot of crime and bad business, some grimy king or something in the Blue she found herself in, a dumb comic strip in the back. She tossed the paper back into the boat.

She was curious as to what the two fishermen would bring her. With a vessel small enough that even she could tow it, albeit slowly, Suiten couldn't imagine they were swimming in riches. ...it couldn't be that they were planning to capture her after all, right? She slunk back into the sea and under the dock just in case. When they returned, they were holding a small bundle of green-yellow fruits. Suiten poked her head out of the water.

"Hope ya don't mind bein' treated to some food."

"I was hoping for gold and jewels, buuuuut it'll do~ I'm pretty hungry." She reached out for one of the fruits. "What is it?"

"It's called a pawpaw," Lide answered. "Bet you don't have anything like that underwater. You're in for a treat."

It was true, the fruit was completely unfamiliar to her. The fishermen showed her how to peel the skin away and avoid the seeds when she took a bite. It was delicious, sweet and silky. She asked for another one.

"By the way, yer a long way from home aren't ya? What brings you 'round these waters?" Silva inquired.

Suiten remained quiet for a few moments, thinking about how to phrase her answer. "I'm looking for something. Have either of you ever seen light under the water? Any big bright spots or anything like that?"

"No. But we're usually heading back by nightfall - I guess it'd be hard to see something like that during the day."

Beside Lide, Silva tipped his head up in thought. "He's right. But... I think I do 'member hearin' about somethin' like that."

"Really?! Where? What was it?"

"It's somethin' I was told by my grandfather. Story he used t'tell, 'bout somethin' called a 'Sea Lamp.' Said he saw it while sailin' plenty o' times, deep underwater." Suiten was hanging on the man's every word as he hummed, scratching his stubbly chin. "Lessee... I think it's s'posed to be north o'here. They called the area somethin' different back then, but it'd be a few days travel by ship. Past Shark Reef fer sure, and if ya reach the palm forest y'gone too far."

The blank stare on Suiten's face told the old man that she had no idea what he was talking about. He raised an eyebrow and said instead, "Ye got a map?"

"Yes! I picked up a sea chart as soon as I could." Smiling, the mermaid stuck a hand into her bag and produced a rolled up parchment. She unfurled it, and its strangely glossy surface showed a rough map of the South Blue. Near the corner of the map where the Reverse Mountain stood there were some illegible scribbles and doodles that swooped to the southeast, gradually tapering off around the island they were on now. A record of Suiten's travels, perhaps. Silva reached out to take the chart, startling when the film covering it popped and fell away, leaving him with regular paper in his hands.

"Waterproof?"

"Ehe~ impressed? It's the same special kind of bubble we use back on Fishman Island. It wraps around the paper and—"

"Pffft."

Suiten's head snapped toward Lide. "What's so funny?"

"Your drawings- they really suck."

"! W-well, I...!" Suiten floundered, her cheeks coloring. Her cheeks swelled as they often did when she was embarrassed or pouting and she pointed a finger at the man that dare questioned her drawing ability. "Let's see you do better!"

Lide sputtered in response, trying to find a way out of the challenge, while Silva just shook his head at the younger folks' antics. He spread the chart flat on one of the dock's wooden posts and bent over it, marking the area that Suiten might supposedly find the Sea Lamp with a circle and a question mark. He interrupted the rest of Suiten and Lide's argument by handing the girl her map back.

"There abouts. Remember this is jus' a story I heard, so it could be jus' that: only a story."

Suiten was beaming as she replaced the film over it by dragging what looked like a little wand with an oval at the end of it across the paper. "Even if it's just a story, it's the first real clue I've found in a long time. Thank you."

The elder fisherman nodded, then placed his fists on the small of his back and stretched. "S'been a long day for this old timer. I'm headin' back, think I'll turn in early so I can work on the boat soon as the sun's up. Lide, see miss Suiten off will ya?"

Lide waved the old man off as he departed, moving to the end of the dock. Silva and Lide had been very kind to her ever since they scooped her up from the sea floor (well, mostly Silva), so much so that Suiten turned a little sheepish when she admitted, "Ehe, now I feel kind of bad for breaking your boat."

"You... you didn't feel bad about it before?" Lide asked, exasperated. He a pawpaw of his own in his hands, and he bit into the flesh of it as he nodded his head out towards the sea. "Well, off you go."

Suiten swam out a ways, slowly. "No one's ever this eager to get rid of me," she said, flicking her tail at the man. He shrugged.

"Mermaids are supposed to be lucky, but seems like it's been the opposite," he said. They'd lost most of their fish, damaged their boat, and had to cut their work day short.

"Oho, I'm lucky? Is that true?"

"Obviously not! It's just another story they tell around here, like the one Silva told you about the Sea Lamp. He's a nice guy, but that's probably why he's being extra nice. No way would anyone else get off scot-free for cutting a hole in his boat."

"...hmm~ so what do you think would be a lucky outcome after meeting with a mermaid?"

Lide scoffed, crossing his arms and leaning against one of the poles at the end of the dock. "Something like a treasure chest washing up," he said, and then after a moment followed with, "Or all the fish coming back."

"I'll see what I can do~" Suiten sing-songed, earning another scoff from Lide. He waved her off much the same way he'd done Silva earlier and then turned his back on the sea, making his way back to town. Suiten glanced at the map again, imprinting Silva's mark in her mind before splashing below the surface and darting off.
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Daxam
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Daxam Majin Boo

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The wind blew gently, fluttering Luna’s cloak as she walked up the path through the forest. She had left the town behind a while ago, so the only sounds around here were those of the rustling leaves, chirping birds, and whatever happened to be scampering through the undergrowth. She had been walking in the direction the young boy had indicated, not having any other leads, when her sharp ears picked up the sounds of laughter a bit deeper. She walked over one last rise and found herself facing the bandit’s hideout.

It was situated in the middle of a large clearing. Ramshackle buildings that appeared to be made from the remains of old boats and ships dotted the clearing, men and women, at least a couple dozen, walking in, out, and between them. A few campfires burned and the smell of cooking food made Luna’s mouth water and her stomach growl, but she resisted it. She was here for a reason, after all.

She reached into her back pocket and pulled out a pair of leather gloves, the backs of which were plated with steel. She pulled them on as she closed the distance between her and the bandits. As they began to notice her, she called out, ”Alright, I’ve had a pretty shitty day, but I’ll give you all a chance! You’ve got two choices! Make it nice and easy, bring out your boss, and I’ll only have to kick the snot out of one of you! Or, you can make this fun for me!”

The bandits all rose to their feet, brandishing various weapons. One of them, a huge, heavyset man strode up to Luna, a club hoisted over his shoulder. “Big talk, comin’ from such a little thing,” he said as he bent over. “We’ll give you a chance to take your words back and go back the way you came before things get ugly.”

Luna scrunched up her nose at the man’s breath and waved her hand in front of her face as she said, ”Trust me, buddy, with you, things are already plenty ugly.”

The man’s face twisted up in anger and, with surprising quickness despite his size, he brought his club down, the ground cracking under the blow and kicking up a cloud of dust. When it cleared, his eyes widened when he saw Luna still standing, having side-stepped the attack. ”Not bad…but not good enough.”

Luna twisted and threw a punch into the man’s stomach. Despite his ‘natural padding,’ he felt the blow deeply, as if someone had fired a cannonball into his stomach. The blow sent him flying back until he crashed into one of the dilapidated huts, bringing the rest of it down on top of him. Everyone else, eyes practically popping out of their heads, slowly turned from the collapsed building back toward Luna, who was rubbing her knuckles. She glared at each one in turn and simply asked, ”Who’s next?”

With that, the rest of them charged with a furious roar, which Luna greeted with a grin. She sidestepped a stab from a dagger and drove her knee into the assailant’s stomach before she pivoted on her heel and slammed her shin into the side of another’s head. She caught the wrist of an attacker coming from her left, gripping it tightly enough to feel his bones grind together in her hand. With a yell, she used the man as a weapon, swinging him into a group of three bandits before she threw him into another.

Her ears twitched and she could feel the presence of someone else behind her, but she didn’t react fast enough before she felt them grab her hood from behind. They yanked it down, exposing her snowy hair and canid ears. Electro suddenly flashed from her body, electrifying them before she spun around and connected a haymaker with the side of their head. She turned her attention to another bandit and raised an Electro-enhanced fist, ready to drive it into their face.

“THAT’S ENOUGH!!

The command was delivered with such authority that everyone stopped where they were, Luna, included. She turned toward the largest building, which seemed to serve as a kind of headquarters, where a massive, bearded mountain of a man stood. His curly, black beard was bushy enough that Luna would be almost convinced that the hair that used to be on top of his head simply migrated to his jaw. A large scar ran from his eyebrow toward the back of his head, as if someone had dug an axe into his skull at some point. He had proper armor, a steel breastplate made of layered plates with matching shoulder guards, though the dents and scratches showed its age. In fact, now that Luna had calmed down some, she noticed that many of his men wore the same thing or something similar. Their armor was even in the same shape as his. “I take it you’re the reason why my men haven’t returned, yet?” he growled in a voice that sounded like a landslide.

Luna thought for a moment, then remembered the two that accosted her back at the bar. ”Ohh, you must mean Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumbass. Yeah, they were bugging me, so I showed them why that was a bad idea. And you can tell me whose bodies you looted all this equipment off before or after I kick your ass.”

Rather than get angry or take a swing at her, the man took Luna by total surprise: he laughed. It was a genuine belly laugh, one that was almost contagious, made even more so by the fact tears of joy were streaming down his face. He wiped his face and said, sniffling, “Boy, you’ve definitely changed. I remember when you were this shy little thing, hiding behind your mother’s legs.”

Before Luna could ask what he meant, the man suddenly kneeled, as did his men, or at least the ones dressed like him, to the surprise of everyone else. The man then said something she never thought she’d hear, his voice quivering with emotion.

“I’ve been dreaming of this day for years. We are at your command, Princess Luna Nox.”
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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Restalaan
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Restalaan

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KUROZUMI HAKU


“Destination, Captain?”

“77th branch, those blistering coconuts in need of supplies again” Cadog said, lighting his pipe and letting the tobacco smoke fill his lungs. “It’s not right. Any Marines worth their salt can last longer than that.”

“But isn’t it the standard? Fighting takes lots of supplies.”

“Not in this sea.”

Haku nodded at that, learning that particular details mattered a lot. If it wasn’t combat, did it meant-?

“They’re sneaking the supplies and selling them?” The quiet air settled between the two as Haku accompanied Cadog, the latter continuing his walk.

“That’s one, or they’ve been in combat and haven’t been reporting it.”

“Isn’t that silly?” Haku blinked but Cadog shook his head.

“Pride does silly things,” The old captain shrugged as he adjusted his smoke pipe. “If those rats are keeping the loot for themselves instead of giving it back, I intend to tan their hides.”

“I…see.” Haku said, eyes looking down to the ground at that and his fingers twitched.

“But we need proof first.”

“Understood.” He replied back and bow, one that Cadog ignored the breach of protocol for now. This was his ship after all.

Cadog turned back to the first mate as he stood at the quarterdeck. “Once the supply ships begin to leave, we do the same as well!”

Like a bee hive, the crew sprung into action, easily practiced hands had them ready for sailing within minutes, and readied with supplies. It’ll allow them to last for months, or a full year if they ration and fish from the sea.

Haku was already at the top of the poop deck and took it further by standing upright on the pole itself with his toes. Arms crossed as he watched the supply ship loading itself in a snails pace.

“Ships are leaving!” He announced once the final supply ship cast off.

Immediately, the crew hoisted the sails with a grin as their captain approached the back of the ship.

“Anchors raised!”

“Cast off!” Cadog replied as his appearance turned to a liquid state, air intensifying in the alcohol scent as he raised his comically large fist that grew into the size of a water tower, compressed itself then pushed against the dock hard.

All crewmates rode upon the ship, some needing to hold themselves but the majority easily found their footing. Haku barely needed to move as he continued to stand upright.

Their ship shot off like a bullet, sending waves as it outright drifted across the ocean, parallel to the supply ship's route and then right into the lead position as it smoothly fell in line.

So with that, the journey begins.



Days turn into weeks, as the convoy of ships trailed behind the leading Marine ship. None dared to challenge or even come close despite only one marine escort ship being assigned to it.

Still, in this peaceful ocean. There was still plenty of things to do.

The supply ships from far can hear traces of noise loud erupting from the marine ship. Prompting them to wonder if they’re partying.

They couldn’t be further from the truth.

Right in the middle of Cadog ship, a ring of men formed around as everyone cheered rowdily. Both in amusement of the spectacle and partly ordered.

In the center of it, Haku stood alone, eyes blindfolded, and one arm tied to his back. Surrounded by the marines as they stood in formation, relaxed but ready to burst into action.

From an elevated position, Cadog nodded once as he sat down with his legs dangling.

Two marines came together and struck out with sticks that originally belong to a broom, currently repurposed as a training weapon.

Haku stood still as the nape of his neck rose before dodging at the last moment. Narrowly escaping their strikes as he hit one of them back but failed on the second marine. The latter was back in position by then, leading to another pair of marines coming from opposite directions coming this time.

This exercise continued relentlessly with no breaks or stops.

“Concentrate your sense, feel your surroundings.” Cadog monitored as he gave another signal. Adding another two more marines in the attack in a much more frenzied and chaotic pace.

“Your basics of Haki, or Ryuo, is there,” He explained as he pulled out a flask and took a sip. “Now you just need it to fully crystallize.”

Haku breath slowed, but he was slowly sensing more. The breath, scent, air, and even the gentle waves of the sea transmitted from the ship's hull to his foot.

Right now, he was surrounded by fifteen marines. Only four of them attacked at once but each with different timing, Haku thought to himself as he pivoted on his foot and spun downwards to his knees, finally hitting all of them at once with one single slash of his wooden stick.

“Finally.” Cadog waved his hand to the marines surrounding Haku.

All at once, they attacked him with their own strikes infused with a little haki. Enough to crack a boulder.

“Armament.”

Haku twitched as he held himself in place and curled his body inwards, hardening himself as he wreathed Ryuo all around his body.

Each strike landed perfectly and rung out like a gong before it was forced backward, breaking the formation apart as their attacks was repelled violently.

Standing upwards quickly, Haku felt an attack far faster than anything so far coming straight for his stomach. The cold sensation ran up his spine that he jumped to the sides hard enough that the wind whipped past his hair.

This energy, Cadog! He wryly thought as he knew exactly what it was.

From a bird’s eye view, Cadog body had his fist detached from his body. A feat only possible with the Booze-Booze fruit.

The mass of hardened liquid then swerved and followed Haku accurately, forcing the latter to swing at it with his infused Ryuo stick. A brief clash and resistance rocked through his arms before it lessened in a blink of an eye but the feeling of danger was still there.

Thinking fast, he dropped flat on his back and tucked his legs in. Allowing the liquid fist to flew over him harmlessly as he rolled backwards and snapped back up to his feet immediately.

“Hmph, good. Let’s stop here.” Cadog voice announced as his fist rejoined the main body, allowing Haku to finally take off the blindfold.

After numerous lessons, he had finally gotten observation to a decent level that he can deal with most surprise attacks.

Granted, Cadog hadn’t used his armament, just the basic of Ryuo for most of his strike.
Haku held his stomach and winced from the phantom pain.

I kept my lunch this time.

“That’s enough for Paradise but still a far cry for the Devil’s Sea.” Cadog broke his thoughts as he slowly walked down from the quarterdeck as water was distributed to those who participated in the exercise. “Same for your armament.”

“I know.” Haku said, past moments of Wano came as he remember the strong samurai that did exist there. He would be ranked as a low to mid samurai at most, nothing compared to the elite, daimyo or shogun.

He still had a long way to go.

“Captain! Land ho!”

That drew everyone's attention, prompting them to return to their station as Cadog and Haku went to the front.

“Finally, any longer and I might have to pull those barnacle-ridden ships myself.”

“We do have enough rope and anchor chain.” Haku smiled, eliciting a harumph from Cadog who blew his pipe.

Still, Haku looked on at the 77th Marine base contemplatively.

They had a mission here, and it was something only they can accomplish.

[77TH MARINE BASE, CONOMI ISLAND]

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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Hillan
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Hillan I'm a writer - Lying's what we do.

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M O R G A N B R A N D
M O R G A N B R A N D





A grim look on his face, the newly arrived Lieutenant could not believe his eyes at the sight in front of him. This was his first deployment to Sunstrider, stationed at the base in Solstone, near a particularly famous bar. The Marine outpost had been recently built, out of a law enforcement base the locals called ‘ashbringers’ whatever the hell that was. He had just stowed away his belongings on the base when he was called out into the field to join his captain and direct superior, Doster Brust. He met his captain who was donning awfully casual clothing despite being on the clock, attending official Navy business here in Solstone. The lieutenant approached Doster, nodding at him and Doster did a quick salute, indicating that Doster’s casual demeanor didn’t mean he wasn’t one for ceremony.

“You must be the new officer, huh? Here to replace Blueblood?” The subordinate nodded. “Good. He was always a prick.” A slight chuckle was shared between the two men. “What’s your name, young man?” The captain asked, smirking under his white mustache.

“Lieutenant Darnold… Sir…” the younger officer stated, still shocked at the sight before them, distracted to say the least. Doster Brust chuckled heartily.
“First time here on the island, huh? They don’t tell you what this place is like back at HQ. Let me show you around, Darnold.”

“Should we not do anything abou-”

“No no. Don’t interfere. That was Blueblood’s problem. He poked his nose in the local business. Trust me, you don’t want that.”
As the two marines walked, they came across the mystery to the younger one - the two local merchants flogging each other with whips while arguing over something almost incomprehensible

“Any resemblance to actual persons or objects, living or dead, is purely coincidental!” One shouted before he was cracked in the shoulder by the other man’s whip.

“Well, according to the stationary laws as stipulated in Section 2C of the Strider Lawmen code, this is defamation of my property!” the other shouted, only to be thwacked by a whip from his opponent.

“All sales are final, except for when they're not! Your product is shot, so it’s not!” The original merchant, one with long brown hair shouted at his balding compatriot, cracking his foe over the ribs, a trail of blood following the whip. This had been going on for a good ten minutes, for as long as the Lieutenant had been standing outside. People walked past the two, not paying them any mind, this was a seemingly common occurrence in this district of Solstone.

”STOP FIGHTING!” He shouted at them, approaching them as they both turned around while grabbing at each other’s collars, having abandoned the whips they were both ready to throw a punch in the other's direction. The two men stared him down, analyzing him from tip-to-toe, figuring he was a marine instantly.
“None of ya’ business, white hat!” they shouted in unison, startling the Marine, going back to socking each other in the face.

”Why are they fighting?” he asked his superior, whom chuckled once more.

“BWAHA, see, young one. Here, this is just how things work. They argue and they fight. These two, Fisk and Noet, they’re traders. Fisk sells beef, Noet sells fish. And they trade with each other all of the time. The thing is… They both think the other’s product sucks. So they bad mouth the thing they just bought from the other, which inevitably turns into one of these encounters.”

The Lieutenant couldn’t believe his ears or eyes, but once he processed what was going on, he too began laughing.

”That’s funny as hell!” He shouted, continuing their stroll. As they walked, they saw more and more of the merchants strictly adhering to legal argumentation, or taking to violence for seemingly no reason. They stepped over a four way wrestling match in the mud where everyone involved was in their upper 60's and wearing expensive suits.


“No receipt, no laundry!” One clothes cleaner shouted, throwing away a man's freshly washed set of clothes.

“Forgot your caste card? Don’t ya worry, solstone codex states you’re fine without one! Need that in print? I got you covered my friend.” A bathhouse owner beamed at a man dressed as a factory worker, standing out as a sore thumb.

“You bastard, that interest rate is half a percent higher than you promised me yesterday!” One disgruntled older gentleman with a monocle yelled at a poor, meek teenager

“No wait! That was my brother who promised you! But I’ll still cash in, hohoho!” The young banker retorted as he hastily ran away from the far bigger older gentleman.


“They’re all… Just… Shrewd businessmen?

His superior shook his head.

“No, they’re actually quite an emphatic bunch over here. This is the true melting pot of this entire country. The rest of the island only houses one breed of these people. This is where they can all truly come to meet. Sure, they fight, but look at Fisk and Moet over there.”

He nodded backwards, their gazes found their way over at the two merchants, who were now sharing a bottle of alcohol to clean their wounds, helping each other with bandages on the spots they couldn’t reach.

They are a community, one that cares about each other. We marines have no authority to interfere with the natives' business. Unless something comes that is under our jurisdiction, we do not do much here. I heard you’re quite a battle hungry young man, so you must have pissed someone off something fierce to get stationed here, bwahahaha.”

His subordinate nodded, solemnly. Yeah, he had.

”If we don’t have any power here, who does”

“Well, real power in this country is not that of the one who has the biggest muscles or the best weapons. Politics and fighting go hand in hand here. The politician with the better arguments will win the brawls, they will fight their opponents in rhetoric and in the mud, while behaving as civilized as any noblemen. Their political system, ‘democracy’ they call it is very complicated and despite being here for many years, I still barely grasp it.”

“The royal family rule because they have… Democratic power?” The lieutenant asked, and his captain smiled.

“Sort of. They’re born into power. That’s why the castle up on top of the mountain in the middle of the capital is off limits. Even to us. As far as ruling the kingdom goes, it’s anyone’s game. Parlament believes that the best argument wins. But trust me, here there’s a lot more to winning arguments than knowing the laws the best.”

That’s why we’re here, in fact. At this place. There’s a certain someone I need to talk to. He spoke as his hand reached the door handle of The Ashes, the single most popular pub in the entire kingdom.

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Hidden 6 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Pacifista
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Pacifista

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RICO

Brandishing a bottle of vodka, Commander Lindsay grumbled, “You’re a damn fool you know, just like all my men who charged at you thinking they could handle your Fruit powers on their own. Hope none of them ended up dead because of you.” Drawing a hefty knife, its blade more than half a foot long, he pried the bottle open, peeling the seal off and swishing the content around. “Having a will to move will only get you so far on the ocean. Thinking you’ll always be lucky enough for your recklessness to pay off is childish. What you really need is strength and wits.”

Pacing about, Rico admitted, “Well, I’ve got strength at least.”

Lindsay shook his head as he held his knife against the bottle, pulling out a piece of wood with his freed hand. “To think a stupid party trick would help out in a real fight like this…” he muttered, taking a swig of vodka and charging forward. Striking the wood against the deck, it caught alight. Whipping it out, he raised it to his mouth as he closed in on Rico, who took on a look of panic and turned to run. A gout of flame erupted as Lindsay let his fire breath roar. The ball threatening to engulf Rico, it streaked into his side. There was a burst of noise and motion as his body exploded into action, sparks and rockets firing off from his body. The remaining half of the boy was blasted back, crashing into the railing, which cracked under the force of the impact. His right side reforming with a hiss, once his mouth was back to normal, Rico cried, “You trying to kill me man!?”

A smirk came to Lindsay’s face. “Knew that’d do the trick. Couldn’t do that below decks of course: fighting fires on the sea is a bitch.” Eyes lighting up, Rico gawked, pointing at Andou, who waved for him to focus. “I’m not trying to kill you kid, you can surrender at any time.”

Slipping to a kneeling position, Rico smiled, “Nah, not interested.” Kicking against the ship guardrail, the wood cracking from the blow, Rico’s feet were cast alight, the young man gliding across the ship deck right at Lindsay’s feet. Hectic Feilong! The man scrambled to take a swig of vodka, but as he moved the torch to his face, Rico made contact, shifting his course to roll into the Marine’s legs. His evasion action came too late, the Commander getting caught on the boy’s shoulder and crashing to the group, spitting up the sip he’d just took as he coughed it out, having slammed onto his stomach. He managed to keep the bottle and torch raised, even as some of the liquor spilled out on the deck, even if the knife clattered to the ground.

On all fours, Rico scrambled to his feet, taking a fighting stance. Lindsay jammed the torch into his mouth, biting down on it from the side, while he took the knife in his hand, rushing forwards. Rico barely reacted as the blade slashed through him, doing little more than shed pink and gold sparks onto the ship deck. “Huh? Did the fall rattle your head? Rico asked, raising his fist.

“Off courshe not, I toltd chou, didin’t I?” Lindsay said, words muffled through his torch as he raked his blade across Rico’s eyes, the boy blinded for just a moment. “Whaht chou kneed on shis sea-” Lindsay jabbed his knife again, cutting through Rico and charging onto the opposite side of him, barreling down on Andou, who’s eyes widened, “-is strength-” the knife dug into Andou’s shoulder, the man dropping his cigarette and staggering backwards with the weapon stuck fast. Pulling the torch from his mouth, he backhanded it against the still reforming Rico, “-and wits!”

Another explosion rocked the deck, leaves of a firework shooting into the sky and glancing off the deck. Rico’s body once again splattered into the same point of railing, the wood nearly given completely. Reforming with his elbows against the deck, he grimaced in pain, eyes spinning from the fatigue of having to forcibly expend so much energy for his powers in the face of the flame. Coughing, he moved to his feet, only to see both Andou and Lindsay also knocked to the ground, the former bloody and the latter messy with a fine layer of soot. ”Oh no they’re dead!”

Reaching to Andou’s side, the middle aged man grumbled as he tried to get up, “I’m not dead, idiot. And chances are we’re not so lucky on his account.” Sure enough, Lindsay started to stir, his grip still tight on his torch and liquor. “Dammit, that’s what I get for letting my guard down.”

Standing tall as Lindsay got back up, Rico insisted, “Don’t you worry, Andou, I’ve got this.” Stepping forward, his foot slid a couple inches on the deck, the boy’s arms flailing as he managed to keep his balance. “Hey, can you stop bleeding everywhere!?”

Andou glared. “I’ll try.”

Swishing around the vodka, the fall he’d suffered had cost him more uses than he was comfortable with. Letting out a long sigh, he said, “Sorry kid. I’m sorry that the world failed you; sorry that whoever raised you failed. You’re just a dumb kid who doesn’t know better, holding a damn arsenal in his body with that Fruit power of yours. If you don’t get stopped here, you’re going to run headfirst into a wall you can’t overcome somewhere down the line. You should’ve been taught better, and I’m not good enough to whoop some sense into you.” Getting the bottle’s neck near his lips, he finished, “If I kill you, don’t blame me.”

Rico wasn’t smiling, his eyes narrowed in focus. “I don’t care that the world failed me: what I do from here on out is my responsibility! Don’t you dare talk about the people who raised me like that!” Fists up, he took a fighting stance, facing down Lindsay head on. Mouth full of alcohol, cheeks puffed out like a hamster, the Marine charged forward, casting the emptied bottle aside. Rico turned tail and ran away. “Oi,” Andou grunted, unimpressed, before rolling out of the way himself.

Rico peeling out towards the edge of the ship, there wasn’t much room to run. Jabbing his fingers at Lindsay, a few small rockets shot out, careening off just enough that the man wasn’t even fazed by the explosions at his feet. Stuck, Rico jumped onto the railing, stuck between the threat of water and the impending flame. There was a crackling of wood. Lindsay planted his feet, torch raised as he shot out another fireball. The side of the ship was engulfed in light and heat, only for it to fade away, Rico missing.

Eyes wide, Lindsay bounded forward, noticing that a portion of the guardrail had broken away. Just as he reached the part where the deck spilled out into the ocean without the barrier, a hand clasped onto the edge of the wood. A face appeared, grin wide, blue sparks bursting from Rico’s legs, shoulders, and arms. A sharp uppercut slammed into Lindsay’s gut in the same motion as Rico pulling himself onto the deck, spittle launching from the man’s mouth. Putting his whole body behind the blow, his elbow ignited. Sunny... Whole forearm launching off, Lindsay was carried into the air, his passage marked by the sound of a whistling rocket, his face panicked. Rico’s arm reformed, two fingers stuck up in a V for victory. Zhulong!” High in the sky, the firework detonated, green and purple sparks barely visible in the sunny day.

Eyes raised, watching the faint light fade into the bright day, Andou looked back down at Rico, the boy stretching and dusting himself off after a fight well done. Andou didn’t yet know how he pulled it off, but he did. Glancing at his shoulder, his suit coat tied around the wound in a makeshift bandage, he knew they weren’t quite out of the woods yet. Picking up his fallen cigarette, still barely lit, and took one last drag before flicking it off, his flame being extinguished in his own blood. “Guess this round goes to you, kid.”
Hidden 6 mos ago Post by LostDestiny
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Annabelle spent an hour or so wandering the Red District before deciding she should see if the condition of the Grey District was any better than it was when she left. She knew she was far more likely to get recognized in the poor residential district but she needed to cover all her bases to decide if she was still going to put together her plan. It was Slim but Albert could have potentially changed his policies in the time she was gone.

Stepping from the border of the Red District into the Grey was, as always, a stark contrast. The booming businesses of the Red District cut off abruptly and made way for a variety of buildings that were clearly meant to be homes, some in better condition than others. Those closer to the businesses were generally kept in better condition but they still looked significantly more run down than any buildings in the other districts. This district had been her home when she was a child, even when her parents were still alive and the separation of the districts had been faction related and not class related.

Annabelle walked down the scattered footpaths of the Grey District with her hood on and her head down. Very carefully avoiding the path that leads to her family home. She knew it was likely occupied by now but she had no interest in finding out who had taken over the place she once called home. Instead she headed toward the north side of the district, toward the building that had been designated as the orphanage. Though it was more just a building a bunch of parentless kids lived in if they wanted protection from the violence and wanted “free” food. Nothing was actually free on the island, if children wanted food they would have to work for it.

Approaching the building it wasn’t any different than she remembered, maybe a little more dirty but otherwise just the same. A small group of children played outside of the building chasing each other around. A very small smile graced her lips as she watched them play as if they didn’t have a care in the world. She had been standing there long enough thinking that she hadn’t noticed someone walk up and stand behind her. Not until the person cleared their throat. She jumped at the noise, not realizing that she was previously spaced out.

“You lost little lady?” An all too familiar voice came from behind her. Slowly Annabelle turned to face the man she once called her best friend. He was somehow taller than when she had last seen him, and he wore a knowing smirk. “Not many people fit your description Belle you couldn’t hide forever.” He said, pulling the hood off her head.

Annabelle quickly pulled her hood back up. “Only you would catch word that someone vaguely matching my description was spotted and not only assume that it was me but that you would find them here, Damien…” She muttered looking at the ground. Of all people, why did it have to be him? There was a time when Annabelle would be relieved to see her old friend, but that was before the boy who was the closest thing to family started working for the man responsible for the death of her parents.

“What’s the matter? Didn’t intend to stop and say hi while you were here?” He asked entirely unfazed by Annabelle’s words. He flung his arm over the much shorter girl’s shoulders and smiled down at her just like he used to. “How about we go to a bar and catch up, I am sure you have lots of stories from your time away. Are you back for good? I know Regal could really use some skill like yours.”

Annabelle has to stop herself from physically wincing at Albert’s name. Damien worked for the man and any negative perspective on Albert Regal was not tolerated. “Um, I’ll be here for a few days. I…I don’t intend to stay sorry.” She had to play nice, even if he made her physically uncomfortable to be around now. Even if he was one of Albert’s “Brutes”.

“Ah well, that still leaves plenty of time to catch up, cmon, I just got off my shift, let’s go get some drinks and share some stories.” He didn’t wait for her to respond and started leading her back toward the Red District. Her ears were ringing, this was what she was trying to avoid. Damien of all people was not who she wanted to run into. It was too late now though he found her and he was still convinced they were friends.
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Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Yankee
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Yankee 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐞𝐞

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South Blue


When Suiten left Ponson Island, she cut through the water in a straight line going north, the direction Silva had mentioned his grandfather spotted the 'Sea Lamp.' Before meeting Silva and Lide, she'd been taking a route that would eventually see her back to the edges of the Red Line, going diagonal across the South Blue from where the mountain spit her out. With no way to scour the entire sea floor, she'd just been kind of hoping she'd find something while exploring. The problem was, she wasn't an explorer, just a fish out of water.

But not literally, 'cause that'd be stupid!

Would it be possible to try and measure where the sun shone brightest in this part of the ocean? Where were the warmest parts of this sea? To identify areas that a tree like the one that fed Fishman Island sunlight were more likely to grow? Sure, but she didn't have that kind of time. She was just one girl - beautiful and brilliant, yes, but still.

As she'd told the fishermen, theirs was the first hint she'd had since leaving the Grand Line. The excitement of finally having something to go off of spurred Suiten onwards, swimming swiftly towards her goal. If it would a few days by boat, it would take her about half the time if she really pushed it... but it was better to pace herself. Still, her speed was much faster than the lazy flicks of her tail from earlier.

I wonder what exactly this lamp could be? She wondered, considering the nature of the Sea Lamp as she swam. Silva said it was deep underwater, so that area's sea floor must be lower than around here. Then again, the area around that island was basically epipelagic... If the lamp is something fed by the sun it might not be deep enough. And if it's not... Piezoluminescence due to the water pressure? Then it would be something that dropped into the sea. Maybe... some mineral deposit that sits on an under sea vent that's re-emitting energy as light whenever the gas escapes and heats it up?

There could be any number of explanations. It could even be a literal lamp, reflected off the ocean's surface and appearing as an undersea mirage to tired sailors. If it was even real, whether it was a natural phenomenon or not would be meaningless if that light was not in someway connected to the sun. After a certain depth the sun's rays couldn't penetrate the water, so nothing could grow on the sea floor... except in that one miracle spot in the waters straddling Paradise and Devil's Seas, fed by the Sunlight Tree Eve.

But if she allowed herself to be optimistic, maybe the South Blue could be the home of Fishman Island 2. Name pending. Maybe Merfolk Island this time! Eh, no... Suiten Island, ehe~

It was a day later that she reached the first landmark. The reef the old fisherman mentioned was hard to miss, given all the sharks. Bull sharks with elegant horns sprouting from their heads and rings through their nostrils, tiger sharks with bold stripes and cute whiskers, shark-sharks that looked all... sharky... I'm tired of describing sharks! Suiten blasted right through the waters surrounding the reef after shouting at the toothy fishes to stay out of her way. They hurried out of her path as she swam through, looking at each other in confusion.

Half a day after that, Suiten broke the surface of the water and peered around. This should be the area marked on her map. She hadn't seen anything underwater, and also didn't see anything while looking down. Similarly she hadn't seen much while making her way here except for fish. No lights around save for the blazing orb in the sky. If she had to wait around until night to investigate the area, then it would have to be in a slightly more interesting area than the open ocean. Actually, she did see something now that her gaze wasn't focused on or in the water. It looked like a bunch of trees. "Wait a minute... No... did I overshoot?!"

A couple dozen meters away was what could only have been the "Palm Forest." Hundreds of palm trees were sticking out of the water with no island in sight. Suiten swam over, finding their trunks just extended a ridiculous length down into the sea shelf below, giving the appearance of trees growing on the water.

"Aaaah... do I have to go back now? But I thought this was the place..." She pulled her map out to make sure, but she was no more a navigator than she was an explorer. She must have been pretty close to the area at least. Close enough, hopefully. She managed her frustration by jumping out of the water to snag a coconut and then bashing it against the tree until it cracked open. She took her snack with her as she slowly, almost stubbornly dragged herself back the way she'd come - though she didn't get very far.

She swam at the surface to make sure she didn't end up somewhere she shouldn't, spotting a shark fin coming from the other direction. One of those sharks she'd seen earlier, maybe? Regardless, she called out to it. <I'm not in the mood, so go some place else!> The shark did not seem to hear her, so she tried again. <I said mooooove, okay?> It didn't deviate it's course at all.

"What the..." <Hey, listen to me! Hey!!> At this point Suiten had slowed her movement, her eyes narrowed in confusion. There was no way the waves of her voice didn't reach it, so she was completely puzzled as to why it wasn't following her instruction. Unless...?

Curious, Suiten propelled herself forward. Finally she seemed to have been noticed by the shark thanks to the heavy splash as her tail hit the water before she dove. From this distance the figure was silhouetted, but it clearly had the fins and nose of a shark. When it spotted Suiten coming for it, it startled and zipped away. Though it was fast, faster than Suiten had thought at first, unfortunately it couldn't out-swim the mermaid.

"Aha!" Suiten exclaimed as she caught the fish by its tail. There was a curious sound, like cloth being torn just before the shark whirled around so that Suiten could see its face properly. Shocked, Suiten released her grasp on it. "You're...?!"
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Hidden 6 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by Daxam
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Daxam Majin Boo

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The clearing quickly became a hive of activity. Men and women hurried to and fro, lighting campfires and retrieving food and alcohol. Soon enough, the entire clearing had been taken over by a large party, the soldiers of the Nychthemeron Empire celebrating their princess’ return while everyone else just wanted an excuse to party. Music played, people laughed, some others sparred, and others still swapped stories with each other.

Luna sat on the steps leading into the main building, a mug of beer in her hand. For the first time in a long time, she allowed herself to relax. For years, she had thought her home was gone, that whatever survivors there were had scattered to the far corners of the globe. Now, however, she was closer to feeling at home than she had been in the last decade and a half. “Enjoying yourself, Your Highness? You know this party's in your honor, right?”

Luna looked over her shoulder to find the leader of the ragtag group, Marcus Istria, standing behind her. The older man used to be a Prefect, the second-highest rank in the Empire’s main military force, the Legion. From the way he moved, it was clear to Luna that the man hadn’t lost even a bit of his edge, despite his age. ”I told you not to call me that,” she said with a chuckle before she took a swig of her beer. ”I haven’t been a princess in so long that it’s weird having people treat me like one.” Then, in a softer tone, she added, ”Besides, it’s not like I have an Empire to inherit, anymore…”

Marcus was quiet for a moment before he sat down next to her with a groan, his bulk taking up the remaining space on the step. “Gods above, I’m getting old,” he muttered with a chuckle as he took a tankard of beer offered to him by one of his men. Another moment passed before he added, “You know, Your High–” he stopped himself when he saw the glare the young woman gave him. “Right, sorry. You know, Luna, an Empire is more than just the name or even the borders.”

He gestured out toward his group and continued, “It’s the people. Without the people to support it, there wouldn’t be an empire. So long as there are people who remember their home, who maintain their customs, the empire will never truly die, even if it’s reduced to little more than cinders.” He looked at Luna with a smile and added, “It just needs someone to help it blaze, again.”

She was quiet for a long time, looking into her beer. ”I’ll admit, it’s a nice thought,” she finally said, ”but I can’t see it happening. First off, how can we bring the Empire back with, what, twenty, thirty people? Second, even if we could, there’s no way the World Government would give us a chance to regain even a fraction of what we had before they wipe us out, again.” She sighed and added, ”Besides…I have something more important I need to do before I can think about anything else.”

The grizzled veteran regarded Luna for a few moments before he decided to leave the topic for another time. “I heard,” he said. “One of the youngest Marines to be promoted to Captain, huh? Without a Devil Fruit, no less.” Marcus took a long drink before he added, “What the hell could he be thinking?”

”Beats me. But, whatever it is, it can’t be good,” Luna replied as she drained the last of her beer. She wiped her mouth, then looked up at Marcus with an inquisitive look. ”Oh, by the way. There’s this kid in town, who said a couple of guys from here robbed him and his mom of their food and money. They even killed his dad.” Her eyes narrowed as she asked, ”Are they really your men?”

A weary sigh left the older man’s lips as he said, “I’m ashamed to admit it, but they were. Don’t worry, though. I took care of them a little while before you got here.” He took another swig and said, “I won’t go into details, but they won’t be bothering anyone, anymore. It won’t do much, if anything, to ease their loss, but I’ll send someone in the morning with as much money as we can spare.” After a moment, he added in a low growl, “We’re probably gonna have to relocate, though. I can’t afford anyone getting nosy and finding out about us.”

Marcus drained his beer and set the mug on the step before he stood. “Anyway. This is a time of celebration, no place for depressing talk like that,” he told Luna with a grin. He jerked his head toward the central bonfire and said, “Let’s go enjoy the party, princess.

Luna chuckled at the older man’s teasing and watched him walk away for a moment. She had to admit, it had been a long time since she was able to really relax. She was already a week behind and it would be another three days before her boat was repaired. Why shouldn’t she enjoy herself, especially since she had little choice in the matter? ”Alright, alright, I’m coming, old man,” she said with a chuckle as Marcus waved her over. She set her empty tankard next to the one Marcus left behind and walked toward the flickering flames and dancing shadows.
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Hidden 6 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Pacifista
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RICO

The wane of Rico and Andou’s escape was matched by the gradual drowning of any will to fight. Lindsay’s hot-headed mind for battle didn’t survive the defeat of Ensign Torrent and the Commander himself, and with the man still in danger, the Marines agreed to live and let leave: they would fish their fallen leader out of the drink, while Andou and Rico would be allowed to patch themselves up, take some supplies, and go. Well, as long as they did so before Lindsay woke.

Bandages on his shoulder, Andou looked up from his small vessel to the railing of the battleship, one spot still quite broken, reduced to flotsam. Tossing the butt of his cigarette into the drink, he watched as Rico hopped down, landing into a separate vessel, the small sailboats originally meant for supply runs or rescuing fallen personnel. Once the other boat settled, Andou asked, “Hey kid, I’ve got a question for you.”

Rico’s head shot up, eyes narrowed. “Oh yeah? I’ve got a question for you. Why can’t I go to Shuffle Island with you?”

Andou shook his head. “My debts are my own business. I’ll take care of them on my own. In the meantime, if you can’t get there yourself, you aren’t about to become Pirate King, not while I’m alive at least. I don’t care if you have to hitch a ride, buy passage, commandeer a vessel...hell, shadow me if you think you can: just get there in one piece and I’ll join your damn crew. How big is it, anyway?”

Rico pouted at Andou’s meaningful and good reason for their separation, but he quickly recovered, blinking, “Huh? You’re the first one to join the Inferno Pirates!”

“I’m...you...you’ve gotta be shitting me.” There was an audible smack as Andou slapped his forehead. “Guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but oh well, I’m true to my word.” Letting out a long, low breath, he finally got to his original question, “What the hell happened in that fight anyway? You knock the railing down?”

“Mmmm, nah I just jumped on it.”

Andou winced. “Wait, so you won on accident? He had you pretty cornered. It was either get burned and blast into the ocean, or jump back and fall in anyway. Or, no, hold on. You’re pretty quick on your feet to jump off the railing after it fell, actually. Even if I came up with that mid-fall, I probably would’ve just gotten dunked if I lost my footing like that, and you’re a Fruit user so-”

“Oh, no, I wanted it to break,” Rico explained with a giggle. “If I didn’t see it coming, yeah, I probably would have hit the water.”

Andou’s eyelids strained as the man was assailed by varying thoughts. “What? You didn’t break it, but you figured it would? There’s no way you could know that!”

“I didn’t know! I...how do I explain it...” Rico crossed his arms over his chest. “It’s like...with the way my luck’s been today I figured it probably would, so I tried it. Then the railing went down and I was able to counterattack once I jumped off.”

Andou’s eyes gradually widened. “You...you sunavabitch. You gambled on my luck.” Andou slumped, back resting against the mast of his ship as he sunk to a sitting position. With a cold laugh, he muttered, “You just might make it to number one dumbest person I’ve ever met.”

Rico smiled, pumping his fist. Then, realization dawned. “Wait, hey!”

“His name was Jaq,” Andou began, Rico’s mounting frustration being stemmed. “He was an old friend of mind. Reminds me of you a little: reckless to a fault. He was the only other person to try and gamble on me. Well, except me, but it always goes bad for me no matter what I do. And guess what: he isn’t around any more. If you honestly think I’m a fit for your crew, then you’ll be walking down the same road as him. And if you still want me to join you after that, knowing what happens when you bet on me, then kid, you are without a doubt the dumbest person I’ve ever met.”

Rico’s mouth widened into a smile, pronounced canines flashing. “Maybe the world could use a little bit more stupidity. I don’t think anyone smart ever said they were going to be Pirate King, after all.”

Andou shook his head. “At least you’re self aware.” Rico jabbed out, Andou raising his hand reflexively to catch a flash of gold. Glancing down, he held a piece of hard candy in a shiny wrapper. “Huh?”

“Butterscotch for the road? They’re my favorite, but I have some strawberry ones if you want that one instead.”

“Hard candy!? What kind of geezer do I look like to you!?”

“YOU DON’T NEED TO BE OLD TO LIKE HARD CANDY, IT’S FOR EVERYONE!” Rico shrieked, the intensity knocking Andou off guard. “Sorry.”

Finally standing, Andou said, “Honestly, the other reason we need to split is that you are too goddamn much. I need some detox before we end up on the ship together. It means I’ll last a little bit longer on this earth before you inevitably bring the both of us to our graves.”

Rico was in awe. “That is the rudest thing anyone’s ever said to me. The guy who said my mom should have drowned me after I was born is up there but jokes on him, I don’t even have a mom!”

“Yep, I can feel the symptoms. I’m gonna head off before it’s too late for me,” Andou finished, unfurling his sail. Despite himself, once Rico was going off on his own way, he popped the butterscotch into his mouth. So sickly sweet it was making his teeth hurt…
“And you just let them get away, huh?” Lindsay moaned, patting down his burn marks with an ointment drenched rag, the ship’s doctor managing his other wounds. The Seaman opened his mouth to defend himself, but Lindsay insisted, “What’s done is done. The lot of you couldn’t have stopped him easily without some smarts, and honestly, he’s not without wits himself, to pull one over on me like that.” Lindsay grit his teeth as he reconsidered the end of their battle. What a devious foe, to act like a simple child only to go outside of the box like that in the end, purposefully breaking the railing to get away. Strength and wits indeed. There was no other way he would do that, Lindsay reasoned with himself. “I’ll write the report for HQ. Do we have a picture?”

“Yes sir! It’s not the best but it’ll do. What should the bounty be?”

Lindsay shook his head. “Eh, I’ll let them figure it out, they love that. Especially the epithets. He’s an odd case though: he’s not violent or dangerous on his own, but with that nasty power and his chaotic temperament, he’ll be a thorn in the side of any lawman he runs into.”

“Yes sir! What was his name again?”

Lindsay stared. “Ah.” A league away, in the opposite direction, Andou too let out a low ‘Ah’. The two men of different walks in life, sailing their own separate ways, came up with the same realization at roughly the same point in time.

I never got that stupid brat’s name!

An a ways away, a small dot on the horizon marked the position of Rico, the seemingly anonymous young boy who’s name would one day ring out all over this ocean. A hand shielded his eyes from the sun as his nameless vessel trailed off on its wayward, unknown path, like a firework bolting out into the blue.
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Hidden 6 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by LostDestiny
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LostDestiny Goldfish Brain

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With no real way to decline the invitation for drinks Annabelle found herself at one of the many bars in the Red District. Though this one seemed to be mostly populated by those who worked for Regal. Which made the red head more than nervous. She didn’t want to be here of all places, and certainly not with Damien who seemed all too happy to see her again. There was no way the dark haired male knew what she was planning. She kept her plans to herself, hidden from the boy she called her best friend. If it had gotten out that Annabelle was planning to overthrow Albert in some way, and Damien knew about it, he would have been in just as much trouble as she would have been. So the thoughts never became words. She was eventually even more glad she had never articulated her plans when Damien joined the ranks of Albert’s Brutes.

She was snapped out of her thoughts by Damien placing a drink in front of her and snapping in her face. ”You sure still space out just as much as you did before you left, glad to see not much has changed.” His teasing smile was almost comforting to Annabelle, almost. ”So Belle, what exactly are you doing back. I was pretty sure when you left I was never going to see you again. Not that I am complaining of course.”

Annabelle fiddled with the mug in front of her. Damien knew she didn’t drink but it must have slipped his mind, or maybe he thought she had picked up the habit in her years away. ”Just, checking in. Had a few things to check in on, unfinished business and all that. Just here a few days, then I am leaving again.” She managed to give him most of the truth hoping he wouldn't pick up on her not telling him the full thing, but when she looked at him he seemed to believe her.

”So your first step wasn’t to tell your best friend you are back for a bit. I’ll have to convince Gabe to take my watches.” He feigned offense and chugged his drink, signaling for another one, which was quickly brought.

Several hours of talking later Annabelle had managed to give him a complete rundown of her ‘adventures’ while she was away. Leaving out the parts that would potentially clue him in that she was the gun for hire Deadeye. He knew she was good with a firearm but she had always left out the fact that she killed people for money. She was sure Damien was still convinced she was simply wielding the weapon for self defense, which, once again, was only partially the truth.

When had Annabelle started to hide things from Damien? There was a time when she told the boy everything. When they were in the orphanage together and he was the closest thing she had to family. I had to be when she started taking jobs that were less than savory. Now telling him half truths was second nature. Even more so now that he worked for Albert. Would Damien be loyal to her or Albert if he ever found out the real reason she was back? It was a question she was terrified to find out the answer to, but for now she could use him. At least running into him had some benefits, she could ask about the state of Albert’s men and she was sure he would never suspect a thing. The switch to ‘work mode’ was easy. Treat Damien like any other person she got close to in order to get information. She could feel guilty about it later.

The conversation went late into the night and Damien got more than wasted. Annabelle left the male passed out at the table and slipped out, walking back to the Inn she got a room at. She felt like she was being watched. She hated that feeling, she was usually never wrong about it, but she needed to do her best to not give any indication she knew she was being watched. Was someone tailing her? Was she just paranoid? She quickened her pace only slightly when she was within eyesight of the Inn, entered swiftly and went up to her room. She couldn’t shake the feeling, and when she rounded the corner from the walled off doorway she froze, realizing exactly why she felt like she was being watched.

”Hello Deadeye, so nice to finally make your acquaintance.”
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Hidden 6 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by Hillan
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Hillan I'm a writer - Lying's what we do.

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M O R G A N B R A N D
M O R G A N B R A N D




"Another drink to another failed motion by our incredible leader!" Stede shouted as the bar cheered, he sent eleven glasses of ale down the bartop, each getting grabbed by a hand of people dressed in simpler garbs than those of the councilman sitting at the edge of the bar, nearest Stede. Morgan shook his head. "You're stupid." He grimaced as Stede laughed. "Not as stupid as that motion, friend. You really thought you would upend the last tax deal? Just because your idea made sense and was legally sound? C'mon Baron Brand, haven't you been around this circus longer than this?"

Morgan shook his head, as a big glass of ale made it's way to him. Jack laughed heartily from the back, laughing at Stede rather than Morgan, the older gentleman knowing full well that Morgan's proposal had nothing to do with the tax referendum - it was about voting districts. The bartender was talking out of his behind, as always.

Morgan nursed his beer, the conversations inside of the bar ignited, people from each of the states sat here engaged in conversation and enjoying each other's company. As sad as Morgan was about getting absolutely destroyed at the parliamentary hearing today, it was always a relief to sit here and watch the people, his people, not just those of Solstone, but all of Sunstrider - the real people of Sunstrider - gathered like this. United, even in disagreement. No walls between them. His eyes were big as he sat folded over the table, resting on his folded arms as he looked at the ale in front of him, listening to his people and feeling that ever-present flame inside of him flicker brighter upon hearing the discourse take form within The Ashes. They were all discussing the pros and cons of his proposal, the hearing had been closed doors, yet the entire town knew what he had put forward. He had urged the council to put forth a motion that would enhance the autonomy of voters, allowing even those who weren’t part of the upper echelons of the caste system to vote and take part in the politics in a more meaningful way. Naturally, this would have lead to less power inside of the council itself and Morgan's fellow councilmen weren’t too pleased at the idea of seizing power.

He took a deep sip of his beer when the doors swung open, in stepped six rugged men, each carrying arms, rifles slung around their shoulders and cutlasses in their belts. Clearly these ruffians were pirates. Not the first time pirates make landfall on Solstone, and it certainly isn’t the first time their kind steps into The Ashes. The man in charge spit on the floor as he yelled for the barkeep. Stede waved them off, as he was pouring a drink for another patron, instead one of the barmaids made their way over the pirates to show them to their seat.

That’s when chaos ensued. The pirate did not take kindly to the young woman telling them where to sit, a crack like thunder echoed in the room as it went dead quietly, the only sound heard was the woman hitting the floor and letting out a shrill yell. Stede dashed behind the bar, grabbing his shotgun as Jack and Morgan both left their seats, no words were spoken as the pirates eyed up the three men walking towards them in the lounging area of the bar.

The woman crawled to her feet as Jack comforted her, she was crying.

“BWAHAHA, YOU SEE THAT FELLAS?! DUMB BITCH THOUGHT SHE COULD TELL US WHERE TO SIT!” [Octavian Sorss First Mate Of the Bull pirates, 10 Million Beri bounty] His bald face held many scars, including one over his right eye that was adorned with an eyepatch. Stede stood behind Morgan and Jack, his double barreled rifle loaded. "Now hand us all of the booze you have! Food too! We're hungry as the devils hell!"

”You damn idiots. You think you can just waltz in here and take what you want?!” Stede demanded as Morgan shook his head, his eyes were cold unlike the flame burning bright in Stede’s eyes. The pirates raised their guns, Morgan produced his lighter and cigarette from his pockets, lighting his cigarette as the pirates leader spoke. "Wait, Stede." Morgan warned his oldest friend, eying the pirates.

“D’aaw, we hurt the bartenders feelings, boys!” He shouted as the seven men behind him began laughing, aiming their guns. “You best behave, son, unless you think your two barrels can beat our 8.” His face twisted into a grin as he aimed the pistol at Stede who gritted his teeth. Jack made sure the barkeep, Liza, had gotten into the hands of the rest of the staff.

”They’ll wreck the place with those guns…”
Morgan nodded and inhaled before he sharply exhaled through the cigarette, producing a wave of smoke and charred ember flakes that found their way to the men. The pirates began coughing as the smoke became like a fog around them, blowing out through the open window and door behind them.

Cindering Destruction

The flakes landed on the pirates belts and their guns where they quickly began burning, disarming the pirates and destroying their firearms by burning through the mechanisms of the guns.

“W-What?! Our guns! What kind of shitty magic is that?!” Octavian grunted, startled as he threw the gun to the side, cursing as he fumbled to arm himself with his cutlass that was clanking to the floor as the belt that he wore had been burnt through.
"Kill these bastards, that was my favorite pistol!" Octavian yelled as his pirates charged at the native trio, cutlasses raised and pants almost falling down their legs.

Stede laughed as he lifted his rifle, before opening up the barrels, holding the gun into the air as two unfired shells hit the ground, signifying he was evening the odds, instead using the pistol's grip as a baton, while Jack used his cane as a quarterstaff, Morgan held his hand on the handle of his cane sword but did not draw it.

”Seems we'll have no other choice. This old dog could use the exercise.”
“Let’s Dance!” he shouted, him and Jack springing into action as Morgan held back, ensuring the rest of the bar patrons would not get caught in the mayhem. The rumble got rather loud, but wound up being over rather quickly, Jacks brutal strength and Stede's wild nature made the two of them a fearsome duo despite being outnumbered. Octavian himself made a mad dash for Morgan as his two friends were preoccupied, cutlass swinging at the Baron, he sidestepped though not quickly enough to properly avoid the attack, the cleaver tearing straight through the side of his head and down his shoulder, splitting the man's body, only for there to not be blood out of the expected wound, but instead a hazy mirage as Morgans body reformed immediately. Stede and Jack appeared in front of the pirate, leaping into the air while facing the rest of the pirate gang, the two pushed their hands into the pirates face, knocking him onto the ground and forcing him into the rest of his band with enough force to send an echo of teeth, metal and bone breaking.

The two marine officers entered the bar shortly after their walk had concluded, they had noticed the ruckus from outside and how the people were hollering about a fight inside of the bar - nothing unusual for the senior officer, yet the younger one was uneasy, something told him trouble was inside of the bar. They swung the door open and were shocked to find a pile of defeated and broken Pirates near the door, the Baron sitting on a chair facing the door, his cane in one hand, the other holding his beer with the cigarette still burning in his lip, Stede and Morgan sat on either of the armrests, drinks in their hands, keeping an eye on the defeated pirates. The two marines were shocked at the sight. The bar bustled back with life as the marines called for backup to handle the prisoners, and the officers could return to their expected meeting with the Baron.

"Welcome to Sunstrider."

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Hidden 6 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Daxam
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Daxam Majin Boo

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It had been a night like any other, warm and with a clear sky, and the full moon shone down on the capital island of Eclipsis. The ruling family of the day had gone to bed, leaving the Noxes, Luna’s family, to oversee the night. A majority of the Legion had gone off duty and were enjoying the night however they saw fit, whether that be drinking at one of the taverns that dotted the city or sleeping, while a few remained on duty and kept the peace.

At seven years old, Luna was the complete opposite of the woman she would grow to become. Shy and quiet, she was almost never far from her parents, hiding behind their legs whenever they stopped to talk with anyone, other than the daytime rulers and their young prince. She would often accompany her father whenever he made one of his frequent trips into the city, oftentimes practicing what she had learned from her Sicarius mentor. Despite her best attempts at stealth, however, her father always knew she was tailing him from the moment he left the palace. He would never punish or even get upset with her, however, and would let her join him as he made his way through town, often to a tavern to talk with visiting sailors and pirates.

Tonight was no different. Luna sat in her father’s lap as a pirate regaled them with a tale of how he had single-handedly brought down a massive Sea King. Luna’s father, Emperor Comet Nox, was a tall wolf Mink with snow-white fur and startling blue eyes. Normally, as in when he was doing his work as the Nighttime Emperor, he would be dressed in his regal attire, his tunica palmata, which was a purple toga trimmed in gold, but whenever he went into town to mingle with the people, he wore a simple tunic and breeches.

The pirate was in the middle of talking about how he had decapitated the Sea King with a single strike when the door to the tavern suddenly burst open, drawing everyone’s attention. In the doorway, desperately trying to catch his breath, was a footman from the Legion. He looked around until he spotted Comet and breathlessly said, “T-The Navy’s here…They’ve surrounded the island and have opened fire on the forts…” He drew in a deep breath, then added shakily, “They’re here for war.”

Things happened quickly from there. Luna remembered being carried by her father through the city as he ran faster than she had ever seen. She remembered his startled grunt as a Legionnaire jumped out of an alleyway and swung his weapon at Comet, wounding the emperor before he could put down the traitor. “That’s how they made such short work of our defenses,” he had growled as he started to run again, ignoring the cut on his arm. “How many of our men did they turn?”

A huge impact slammed into the ground behind them, throwing them to the ground. Comet held Luna close to his chest to shield her from the landing, then quickly jumped to his feet. Comet let out a low growl and slowly set his daughter down behind him. “Damn. It just had to be you,” he said. Without turning, he said, “Luna, I need you to run and don’t look back, no matter what. Use your training. Try to find your mother, don’t trust any soldier or Sicarius.”

Luna looked around Comet and saw the silhouette of a man, black against the amber light of the flames behind him, a long coat fluttering on his shoulders. ”B-but, Papa–”

“Don’t argue!” he snapped, yelling at Luna for the first time. Slowly, his body began to grow as a soft light shone from him. His fur grew longer and thicker and Electro sparked from his body like a thunderstorm as he used the full moon to enter his Sulong form. “I can’t fight him and protect you at the same time! I’ll find you later, just run!” he commanded her, his crimson eyes locked on the man in front of him.

The man took a step forward, but Comet charged at him. “You’ve got me to worry about!” he roared as he swiped at the man. Luna, tears in her eyes, turned and ran, doing her best to ignore her father’s cries of pain.



Luna woke up to find herself laying in a cot in one of the ramshackle buildings Marcus and his men had built. She ran her fingers through her hair with a sigh as she stared up at the underside of the bed above her. ”Haven’t had that dream in a while,” she muttered quietly. She slowly sat up and looked around to find herself alone in the room. Guess I drank too much and someone carried me in here, she thought, cradling her throbbing head in her hands.

It was then that she noticed two things: it was still dark out and the sounds she heard weren't from a party. She could hear Marcus as he shouted orders to strike the camp, then an order to wake her up. Taking that as her cue, Luna stood up and left the building to find all the fires extinguished and the men hurriedly gathering supplies. ”What’s going on, Marcus?” she asked.

The mountain of a man turned, surprised to see that Luna was already up, then his face quickly grew grim.

“The Navy's here.”
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Hidden 6 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Pacifista
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Pacifista

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RICO

Puddle Kingdom, Gunwhale Island, West Blue
Horse hooves thundered against the rolling hills of golden grass, cutting along the arid winds. The mid autumn had yet to see its first rain of the season, one that would usher in winter to come. The hooves and horseshoes were not so feverish as to catch the dry hills alight, the trio of hunters coming to a stop in the valley, a stream trickling its way through. It weaved well down the hill to the port town of Cipita, the modest palace looking down from its own peak.

After dismissing the familiar view, the lead rider slipped off of his mount, patting the chestnut furred horse as his green eyes glanced across the mud. Clad in chainmail, a brown half cape across his shoulder, the young man with a gold circlet pushing back his medium length brown hair [Alliant DuPont, Second Prince of the Puddle Kingdom] traced a finger across a hoofprint in the muck, the mark not indicating any sort of horseshoe.

“It’s clearly not just a rumor we’re chasing…” Alliant insisted, moving to pull himself back onto his horse.

A wide faced, older man, Jolibi, wearing a round helmet scoffed. “You sure are hopeful.”

A younger lad, Negrigan, with tufts of green poking out of his leather hat was apprehensive. “It’s just a bit odd, isn’t it? For a unicorn to appear just after the king demanded a horn.”

“Odd, yes, but it could just as well be fate.” Starting onward, Alliant moved his horse at a leisurely pace. “Horses don’t often escape here, there’s not supposed to be any outsider presence. What are the chances that two escaped horses mated and raised a child that make these shoeless tracks?”

“Well...better than a unicorn spontaneously appearing when the king needs it.”

“It’s a magical animal for crying out loud!” Alliant burst out. Reeling himself in at the wide eyes of his cohorts, he cleared his throat, fist raised to his mouth to hide his slightly flushed cheeks. “Legends say just the sight of a unicorn’s mane can heal the heart. It should be lucky we’re only after its horn: the blood is said to be able to grant eternal life.”

“What’s the horn grant again? Virility?” said Jolibi.

“What’s that mean?” wondered Negrigan.

Alliant gawked. “You may be a longtime companion of my older brother’s, but seniority is no excuse for disrespect!”

“Er, it was just a little joke, your liege.”

“I may not respect all of my father’s choices as a ruler, but he’s still-” Alliant’s words came to a sudden stop, his eyes wide as he looked down the stream. Those at his side joined him, freezing as they saw a glint of white off in the distance, the pure white horse a fair ways off in the distance.

“Never seen a horse like that, not on this island,” Jolibi admitted.

Alliant’s blade came free of its sheath. “Onward!” he called, leading the charge. Barreling down the hill, heading towards the open stretch of field close by the forest, they honed in on their target, the white beast at the mercy of their movements. The three of them corralled the beast in, driving it towards the woods of red and amber leaves, where the treeline would hedge its movements. As it got closer, they guided it along the forest towards a cliff, where they would trap their bounty. Alliant’s eyes glinted in the light as they searched for the telltale sight of the animal’s horn. But as its gallop was halted by rock wall, the hunters closing in, Alliant was met not with white, but red.

“LET’S GOOOOOO! I’M OUT!” Bursting from right out in front of Alliant and his horse, the figure clad in black, blood red, and neon green was alien to Alliant, the modern fashions and garish colors well beyond his purview. And alas, the path of Alliant’s horse had also been well beyond the boy’s purview, the young man meeting Alliant’s eyes with a wide eyed and blank stare, his smile curled into a pursed pair of lips.

His mount crashed right into him, bowling the young man over. It was a stroke of luck that Alliant managed to control his horse well enough to not follow him to the ground himself. Bringing his horse to a stop, he turned about in his saddle. “Gods above, are you alright?”

The two other hunters stopped as well, watching as Rico steadily pushed himself up from the grass, hoof marks faintly visible on the back of his red firm trimmed black coat, and the back of his head. Nose bleeding slightly from having a horse’s knee smashed into it, Rico managed a shaky thumbs up. “I think I’m good,” he muttered in a wheeze.

Alliant’s face tightened, heart drifting downwards into his stomach. “I’m deeply sorry for my lack of discipline and focus, but I will make my amends in due time.” Blade flashing through the air, he turned his attention onto his prey, trapped at last.

Red pupils trapped in starstruck eyes under sunken eyebrows, the ‘unicorn’ stared down its predators. It’s ears were droopy, long face ending in a distraught grimace through a slack jaw. The portly beast was nothing like the masses of muscle that were the royal riding horses, a pot belly sticking out above its skinny legs, knees knobbly and quaking in fear. It’s stubby tail shook like a leaf. And crowned on its forehead, a brown, bumpy horn rested. The three hunters didn’t have the will to move, jaws seeking out the ground.

Pulling his mouth off the ground, Jolibi admitted, “Well, I’m healed. I feel better knowing my life has never knocked me to the level of this poor thing.”

Negrigan shuddered. “It is comforting to look at, like seeing your ex-girlfriend together with a less attractive man.”

Shaking his head as he regained his bearings, Rico grumbled, “Man, you guys are mean.”

The ‘unicorn’ began to cough, spittle scattering about as far as their riding boots, snot running from its nose. Jolibi whipped a rifle off his back, “I was against killing it, since I don’t really want to burden anyone with eternal life, but I get the feeling that this thing doesn’t want that burden either.”

Alliant opened his mouth to tell him to stand down, but Rico moved forward. “H-hey! What are you doing? Stand back!”

Rico insisted, “Don’t worry, I’ve always been told I’m good with animals.” Inching towards the horrified animal, Rico cooed, “Hey there buddy, how’s it going?” The unicorn continued to watch until Rico was within arms length, where it turned its head away, avoiding the young man. “Come here, I’ll-” the unicorn turned its head back, jaw latching onto Rico’s apple colored scalp. “AHHHHHHHH-” he cried out, pushing himself out of the beast’s maw. Teeth gnashing, Rico charged back in, arms wrapping around the unicorn’s neck. Feet digging into the leaf covered dirt, he lifted the horse upwards and fell backwards, slamming it into the ground with a suplex.

“WHO THE HELL EVER SAID YOU’RE GOOD WITH ANIMALS!?” the three hunters cried.

The unicorn stood shakily, walking its way back into the forest, defeated. “Now I just feel bad for it,” Jolibi muttered.

“Got the horn! Pretty sure it’s just a pinecone though.” Sure enough, Rico held up a pinecone, an immature one with its scales still packed together. Somehow an impact had stuck it on the poor albino horse’s forehead, the animal likely released from whatever ranch had bred it as a foal for its odd coloration. As Alliant pieced all of this together, he slumped forward, letting out a long, long sigh of air from his deflated hopes.
Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Restalaan
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KUROZUMI HAKU


“So here’s the 77th marine base?”

Haku looked at the base, noting immediately the pristine condition of the area. The bay itself was being occupied but it was not at full capacity, aside from one fully functional warship, the rest was empty.

If anything, their presence was the only reason why the bay looked busy. As the supplies ship made their landing and unloading to the harbor.

One he observed carefully as he moved multiple crates stacked on top one another easily while the ones unloaded by the normal workers carried one in pairs.

Still, as he made his way past the bay and gates. The guards didn’t paid attention to them, which honestly disturbs Haku with how lax they are. Was the East Blue so peaceful that they didn't need to worry about potential sabotage?

Well, no need to point that out for now as he quietly looked around to see some suspicious signs as he placed the crates in front of their quartermaster.

“Ah, yer a strong one aren’t ya?”

“Yes sir.” He then tilted his head to the sides and gestured with a nod toward the warehouse. “Want me to help put them inside, makes it faster.”

“Sure, hey, you! Show the lad where we keep our usual!” Voice raised loud enough to one of the passing marines had them quickly shuffled Haku inside as they guided him.

Cold, pristine, and only one exit. Haku mentally noted as he scanned his eyes around, the chill in the air increased as he entered the warehouse.

Purposefully, he dragged his feet and slowed himself in an effort to get more information. The floors smooth but wasn’t dull, so if things were being smuggled out, it wasn’t from the front.

So the operation was done from another route, or only a few people were involved.

Which points to the top rank officers in this base.

Though Haku had to snap out of it as the marine hollered at him to stop.

“Right! Just place them here, old ones at the front, new ones at the far back.”

“Understood.” He nodded and followed the instructions, once done, he gestured his head to the sparse warehouse. “You seen a lot of action? That’s a lot of supplies gone.”

“Nah, just minor ones. We just restock late most of the time.”

“Won’t you guys go hungry?”

“Well, there’s the village island just a few hours from here and we get paid well enough that we can afford buying extras if needed.”

A village close by?

That bears investigation then, after all, where there are people. There are always traces of crime. It’s merely a matter of finding it out, not to mention accomplices could also be there.

This was truly getting complex, he had sneaked and stolen precious things before but an investigation like this was a new experience for him.

Perhaps he was overthinking it too.

“I see, “ He ended with a gentle smile before saluting. “If you don’t mind, can you tell me the village name? I might go there to have a look during my break before we sail off.”

“Sure no problem.”



Returning from the transport, Haku sighted Cadog speaking with the captain of the 77th base. The former looked like he was browbeating the latter as Cadog was grumbling a storm as the two toured the area.

“-you water loafer, look at the place. Barely kept well, you have too many unused ports as well.”

“Yes, sir. We’ll make sure to keep things at peak condition.”

It was a weird sight to see two similarly ranked men but Cadog had seniority not just in age, and experience but also in his service record. In comparison, the 77th Marine captain was almost a greenhorn.

Though Haku kept that last comment to himself, regardless, both men are far more experienced than him in being part of the Marines.

Cadog noticed the latter even as he quietly follow the two behind and decided to let it go for now. “Aight then, you lot however keep a good job in patrolling the waters. So we’ll help patrol the area for three days, you and your boys get some rest in the meantime.”

”Thank you, sir! My men certainly will like it!” And with that, the man left a much happier mood as Cadog continued walking down the pier and lit up his smoke pipe.

“Report.”

“No visible signs of trap doors or hidden entrances. Floors are clean and not replaced, plaster was also not made old intentionally.”

“So the amount stolen or smuggled out is a small amount, or they have some other way of bringing it out without being detected.” Cadog surmised but that didn’t mean anything, they needed much more solid proof.

Quickly boarding back to the ship, the first mate and quartermaster were already assembled with a map in hand.

“Here’s what we can gather, there are many islands in between but not many of them are populated.” The First mate reported, marking a few of the sea routes used.

“Hmph, plenty of hiding spots.”

Haku agreed with the Quartermaster assessment, they’ll have to comb for weeks if that’s the case.

“Forget about the routes, focus on the endpoints.” Cadog waved it away and looked at the settlements instead. “There’s always a buyer at the end.”

“There’s a village here, I shall take a look at it,” Haku suggested, one that met no objections.

“I can think of a few other locations for a hidden cove or base.” The Firstmate quickly followed up as he scouted the areas that could host people comfortably, or long enough for a transfer.

The Quartermaster deliberated as he looked to the skies. “Dividing our men, we can cover those areas far quicker but that’s assuming the weather does not have a tantrum.”

“This is East Blue, not the Devil Seas. Our Navigator will spot a rain or thunderstorm miles before it happens.” Cadog huffed as he crossed his arms. “We’ll finish this in a day.”

“Very well, I’ll plan our course then.”

“Good, once the crew has their break and meal, we’ll cast off immediately.” Cadog then looked at Haku. “You too, get enough food to fill your belly for a day. You’re going in deep.”

“Yes, sir!” He saluted stiffly at that before being dismissed by Cadog, the latter already uncorking a liquor bottle before drinking it in big gulps much to the consternation of the First mate.

The moment Haku left, the Firstmate turned to Cadog. “You sure he can handle it?”

“Of course, and the seagull got to leave the nest.” Cadog watched Haku shrinking back and took another swig. Letting the rum settle in his mouth first before enjoying the aftertaste.



Later come the evening, sun was already slowly setting as most fisherman stayed for one last haul before heading back to Gosa Village.

Seas and wave gentle before a larger wave rock the surface, making way for a larger ship as it cut through the sea and horizon.

The proud white flag that flew the Marine banner made the inhabitants at ease, though some noted that it was a much larger ship, as they waved at it.

Sailors waved backwards as they sail onward without stopping before long leaving the area.

So fixated, that not many noticed that there was a blurring dot making its way rapidly toward the village harbor.

In the evening light, a silent figure crept into the village easily as a quick change of clothes had them blended into the village.

“Beautiful night.” Haku looked at the skies, it was a new moon and clouds was gathering. as he adjusted his clothes.

[GOSA VILLAGE]

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