Hidden 5 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Pacifista
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“I haven’t even seen King Lulouis but he’s got to be hopping mad about last night,” said Spentiff the clerk over his morning breakfast at the diner.

“Both the princes are in hot water, so no kidding. What the hell is that kid’s deal anyway?” wondered Banonono the greengrocer.

“He’s just being annoying for the hell of it, little brat,” grumbled old lady Loleth from another table, before she went back to sipping her morning milkshake.

“I think he just wants the festival to happen,” Flake the cook called from the kitchen across the counter.

Loleth almost spewed shake from her nose. Slamming her palm on the table, she sputtered, “I-it’s blackmail!”

“More importantly, why does this kid care more about the festival than we do!? Enough to go against King Lulouis. Anyone smart would have ducked their head down with the reward an all,” Spentiff grumbled.

Leaning back in his seat, Banonono mumbled, “He’s just doing what he wants, I guess.” Looking about, he wondered, “What do we want?”


BAM. The door clattered opened, Prince Alliant poking his head through, his normally prim hair unkept as though brought through the wind, his expression hectic rather than refined. Not finding what he was looking for, he left without so much as a word.

Storming through the city streets, Alliant acted as though a flash of red and neon green would fly out of the alleyways like a firework, creeping around corners like a cat.

Rico, what is wrong with you? I can’t figure your game at all! Alliant battled mentally. Rico had seemed like an honest sort after all, but now he was an...outlaw. Allaint flinched at the realization, thinking back to his conversation with the young man on the day they met, Alliant opening up about his concerns for the island. Rico was possessed by the powers of the devil, so...Alliant had made a deal with him? Alliant didn’t even offer him anything! And more importantly…

“This is...my fault?” the young prince moaned.
“I can’t sleep at night! How can you have failed, even knowing where he’d strike!” Lulouis wailed, fist pounding on the armrest of his throne.

“Father, there was no guarantee he would strike from the lake yet again, but this time there will be no mistake! Rico will be captured!” Petre promised.

“If so much as one firework goes off I’ll-” Lulouis began, before erupting into a coughing fit. As he hacked away, Petre waited in complete stillness until his father calmed down, breathing heavily. “I’m retiring to my quarters for a short while. Deal with this devil boy!”

Atop his trusted mount, Prince Petre and his men circled the lake, just as before. This time, the sun was still sinking, the rowboat Rico had used flipped upside down and kept right behind Petre. The King had been restless for two years, but Petre would still do all he could to give the man something close to a peaceful night.

Within an hour of the sun setting, there was a brusque cry from the edge of the clearing. “Aw dang, you guys aren’t gonna make this easy for me, huh?” Moving after the voice, Petre stopped as he saw a rather haggard looking Rico, the boy doubled over, leaves and twigs jammed into his hair and clothes.

“...Were you out here all night?”

“Y-yeah! And until that festival starts, I’ve got a fireworks show to put on!” Rico declared.

Petre studied the boy, shaking his head. “If you surrender, I’ll request amnesty.” His men balked at the claim, many of them already having their weapons out.

“I am hungry enough to wonder how amnesty tastes, but no thanks. I can’t do that.”

Petre growled, “You may be a simple fool and a devil of chaos, but there’s no reason that you’d come right at us like this it you truly meant harm! This lake is the only spot on the island you can shoot your fireworks without starting a wildfire, is it not?”

Rico crossed his arms over his chest. “Welp, got me there. Kinda hard to host a festival if the smoke is from a burning field and not tasty barbecue.” Pulling his leg back and raising a fist, Rico took a fighting stance, as two men charged forward with the blunt edges of their blades. Their blades whiffing through Rico’s body with a scattering of fizzling sparks, the young man smiled. “Too bad for you: once a firework has started, you can’t stop it.”

Despite himself, Petre gave a wide smile. “I thought you were a thoughtless oaf, but there’s something about you I can’t hate.”

“Sir, hold on!” called one of the knights, interrupting the mounting battle. Petre followed the pointed hand of one of his subordinates, aiming right back to the capitol city, the buildings alight with far too much noise and merriment. Realization dawned on all: “They’ve started the festival against the King’s demands!”

The knights chattered amongst one another, but they were quickly silenced. “LET’S FUCKING GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Rico cheered, dropped down to his knees, his cry piercing the night. He flopped down to the ground, giving Petre’s knights a moment to discuss things among themselves.

Quieting his men, Rico sat up suddenly, a dour expression on his face. “Aw hell. I can’t take part if I’m an outlaw, huh?”

“You just realized that!?” gasped one of the knights.

With a smile, Rico hopped to his feet, staggering slightly in his fatigue. “Oh well, can’t go back now, not after such a cool line.”

Petre chortled. “I cannot fall back either. We’ve received orders to deal with you as we see fit, but there have been no such orders to quell the joy of the citizens. You’re quite crafty, to plan this far ahead.”

“No, I wasn’t kidding, I just wanna party,” Rico whined. “I’m so hungry I could eat your horse.” Pillbox the Bright’s long jaw dropped and his eyes shot open in fear, snot dripping from his nostril.

Petre didn’t balk, raising his hand in command. “FIND THE LIMIT OF THIS BOY’S DEVIL POWERS AND BRING HIM IN!”

Hidden 5 mos ago Post by LostDestiny
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LostDestiny Goldfish Brain

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Despite the boss’s previous sour mood upon returning to the island the crew still found time to celebrate their “great haul”. Maxwell was, as usual, excluded from the celebrations even though he was the whole reason they got the haul in the first place. Not that he minded, the crew usually over indulged in both booze and other indulgences. Not to mention, unless they were on the sea, Brutos generally got rather irritated if Maxwell was anywhere near a situation that could turn violent. Maxwell wasn’t sure if it was some twisted way the fishman showed he cared, at least a little, for him, or if he simply didn’t want his greatest asset to get ruined. Either way Max, as well as the crew, never wanted to risk it. So now the brown haired male sat in his room in the rather large building they used as their home when they were on island and listened to a couple of rodents bicker about various things that he assumed were important to them.

“Can we get back on track please.” Maxwell said, gaining their attention once more. The rodents stopped bickering and looked up at him as if they had forgotten he had even been there. “Like I was saying, Brutos wants more. I would really appreciate it if you and any information now that you give it to me.”

“More what?” One of the rodents asked. It looked over Maxwell in a way he had come to realize was the rodent trying to see if he had any snacks on him.

Max produced a couple crackers from his pockets. “More everything, info, stolen valuables, those kinds of things. He is mad about not getting to that guy before the Livers did.” He handed one cracker to each of the rodents.

“Not your fault rats can’t fly.” One of them squeaked quietly to itself. To which Max almost instinctively cringed. Even though he knew Brutos was not in the house, nor could he understand the rodents, it still made him nervous when they spoke even slightly ill of him. And they did this often. They had a lot to say about a lot of people on the island but the various territory leaders were the favorite topics. Not to mention the offense they felt every time anyone referred to the people The Grime King killed as rats. If he and his higher ups could hear the things the actual rats said about them they would have likely exterminated all of them by now.

“Oh! I remember now, I was going to tell you when you came back but you were getting yelled at.” The other said as the first stuffed its little mouth with as much of the cracker that could fit. “Some of shark man’s last stock have been talking about revolting. I don’t think fish for brains would like it if talk of his supply being bad got out.” Again Max cringed at the subject, he hated thinking of other people as stock but what could he do.

“Thanks, do you know where they are?” The young male asked the rodent. To which it nodded and went on and on about the location of this “bad stock”. It took a bit to piece together where exactly the rodent was talking about. Sometimes they were not the most attentive creatures and they got side tracked a lot. “Okay, anything else you guys have for me?” He asked when they finally got a few other small pieces of information sorted out.

“Ah yes, we left the pile of shinies in the usual spot, got some good stuff this time I think.” The rodent who previously had its mouth full of cracker seemed rather proud of itself. Max got up to check the hole in the floor where the rats liked to stuff their things. There were a few shiny stones, some Max was almost sure were various gems if they were cleaned off, a couple rings, and various other jewelry, there was even some stuff he was sure they had taken from some raven’s nests, various shiny wrappers and things like that. He would have to be sure he gave those back. The birds hated when the rats stole from them even if it was by accident. “Thanks.” Max muttered, shooing the two rodents and sitting back to sit in silence for the first time in a while.

Sometimes Max forgot that to them this was just a way to get food, whereas to him it was a matter of staying in a position of relative safety. He wasn’t sure what would happen if Brutos no longer viewed him as useful but he knew for sure it wouldn’t be pretty. Thinking back Maxwell had been a child when he had eaten his devil fruit, stolen from Brutos’s old crew back before the fishman was a captain. That had been close to ten years ago, and seven years since Brutos started up his own crew. Five since Maxwell and Brutos crossed paths once again and the fishman persuaded, if you could call it that, Maxwell to use his abilities to benefit his crew. In return Brutos would make sure nobody else ever laid a hand on Max. Nobody else being anybody but Brutos himself.

With a sigh Maxwell sorted through the remaining trinkets that had been brought to him. Discarding the things he was sure carried no value, and placing the valuables in a bowl beside his door that someone would pick up later. Max wasn’t usually allowed outside of the crew house, unless of course someone else was with him. The captain was too paranoid that someone else knew what the boy could do and would scoop him up, but yet he refused to teach Maxwell how to defend himself. It annoyed Maxwell, but what was he supposed to do about it?

After all was said and done Maxwell leaned against his door and listened to the sound of laughter that came from somewhere else in the house. Likely some of the crew returning after their celebrations. He could go out and join them but he was so exhausted from the time on the sea that he decided not to. Being on the ocean made him nervous, after all, the sea hated him. In a way he was relieved he was no longer allowed on the ships. Solid ground was his friend. He couldn’t help but smile at the thought of the next time the crew went out to sea leaving Maxwell here with one maybe two “babysitters” who would likely lose interest after a day or two. Oh the things Max would get up to then.
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Hidden 5 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Pacifista
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Outskirts of Tune Town, Melody Island, East Blue
Habit fluttering against the rough wind, Coriander pushed her way through the gusty weather as she left the church. Bible clutched tightly in one arm, her other hand keeping her coif and veil pinned to her head, her struggle was upwind. Leaves brushing past her and shuffling against her face, she wondered from what divine mood these winds billowed. Were they angry? Mournful? Lonely? Desperate for change? She could only speak for herself, and she was rather annoyed, for the slight humidity they carried wasn’t enough to make up for the worrying lack of rain. And more importantly, she was going to be tired by the time she got home, which would make it all the more annoying to do the reading Mother Basil had assigned. She was way more interested in finishing the last chapter of Journey to the Bottom of the World, frankly.

From dirt path to main road, Coriander found that the more open areas were a bit less windy compared to the tree strewn path to the old church. And out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a flash of pale green hair going off, and fast. “Pepper?” she muttered, wondering where she had been off to in such a hurry. And seeing that back, shrinking into the distance, she traced it backwards, seeing footsteps in the dirt made with force behind them, something abnormal for the considerate young girl. Sensing something wrong, she turned about, following the footsteps backwards. Passing through the treeline, as she went down a dirt path even more unused than the one to the church, her eyes widened and paced quickened as she realized where she’d come from.

“-then I’m not gonna hang out with you either!” Coriander heard Cassia as she approached. She was honestly shocked: he never raised his voice.

“Eehhhhhh? Cassia likes Peppermint!” Rue laughed, pointing.

“You guys are being mean!” Cassia shouted.

“She should be used to it now,” Sorrel muttered, pinky in his nose.

“We cycle through everyone, and she’s being an extra annoying-” Verbena said, stopping dead when he saw the teen girl appear behind Cassia, Coriander’s expression ruinous.

“You shouldn’t be mean at all! And keep it down,” she hissed, eyes glancing to the nearby house, one well out of the way. The kids were parked near some brush and a nice sized tree: an obvious lookout spot, but they’d thrown caution and stealth to the side in their argument.

Cassia turned about, speaking in a raised whisper, “They wanted to spy on Mr. Ryu and Peppermint didn’t want to since it was bad, so they said they were never gonna be friends with Peppermint again.”

“Snitch,” Rue pouted, sticking her tongue out.

Coriander put a hand on Cassia’s head, rubbing his hair before turning on the other three. “You guys are the ones who are gonna lose out if Peppermint stops being your friend you know.”

“Nuh-uh, she’s always getting us in trouble, goody two-shoes Marine wannabe,” Verbena muttered.

“And she’s scary! You were there yesterday!” Sorrel added.

“She’s not scary she’s cool! People in the Grand Line do that kinda stuff all the time!”

“Yeah, but she’s a little girl, not a cool adventurer, it’s weird!” Sorrel grumbled.

“She can do whatever she wants and she wants to be lame!” Rue sneered.

Coriander felt her face crinkle in her glare. “That why she’s good! Great even! I would have loved to be her friend at your age!”

“Huh, how is that good?” Verbena grunted.

Coriander puffed out her chest. “She’s great! She doesn’t even break stuff as much as you guys, or me, she doesn’t complain at all about living alone. Having the strength to do whatever you want and choosing to protect the people you care about is what makes a Marine! You guys-”

“WILL YOU PIPE DOWN ALREADY!” came a roar from the nearby house. The kids jump, scrambling behind Coriander as the door swung open, the teen girl clapping a hand over her mouth. Stepping out into the open, the door was swung shut by the wind behind him, as an old man with mid length dark gray hair from the back half of his otherwise bald head and a full goatee stared them down with blazing black eyes. A long tan overcoat coat trailing over a black shirt and jeans, Coriander had never seen Ryu Burnet [Village Hermit, Militia Captain] in a good mood.

“Coriander, right? You got a good reason for raising a ruckus outside of my front door?” Burnet asked coldly.

Bowing her head, Coriander explained, “I’m sorry! The kids were snooping and being little devils, so-” Coriander stopped, glancing down to see that Sorrel, Verbena, and Rue had slipped away, Cassia clutching her habit as he hid behind her. Turning about, she saw the trio skittering off. “Oh you little brats, you’re gonna get it!”

“They had the right idea. Get gone. I don’t want the religion you’re selling.” Coriander looked down at the bible in her hands, shifting it to behind her back with an awkward glance aside. “And don’t go filling that girl’s head with the cockamamie you were just spouting about the Marines. It’s not good for her.”

Coriander balked. “Huh? The Marines protect us! What do you know?”

Burnet glared, Coriander flinching back. Shaking his head, he muttered, “Never mind, let her do whatever she wants, just don’t come around here again unless you have a good reason. Tell that to the other kids too.” With a click of his tongue, he turned back, opening the door and slamming it shut behind him, leaving Coriander and Cassia to their lonesome.

Hand on her hip, Coriander muttered in derision at the crotchety old fart, “Well!”
A Windy Day of Melody:
The Hermit and the Ogre Girl

”What was that!?” came a muffled shout from the house. Without only a little panic, Coriander scrambled off, pulling Cassia along in her evacuation.
Hidden 5 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Pacifista
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Tossing, turning, groaning, once again King Lulouis was finding no sleep. His bed was far too large, the stone room much too cold. Yes, that was it. With a grunt, he threw his legs over the bed, wheezing as he pushed himself up and donned a pair of slippers. His feet plodded to the bathroom, where he took some water to wipe his face. Staring into the mirror, he glared at a face lacking any of the royal grace he once had. Wrinkles etched from a permanent glare, a dreary gray mane, a short, scratchy beard, an off white nightgown: he turned away, not appreciating the honesty of a mirror.

Shuffling towards the door, off to find a servant in this early evening, he stopped dead. He didn’t exactly possess the best hearing, but even so the faint noise from the city caught him. Steps wide, he stormed over to the window, eyes shooting open as he saw the city alight, not from a conflagration of destruction, but a blaze of lantern light, the wind carrying the sounds of revelry and merriment. There were no two ways about it: they had begun the Ko’Bo’Ka’Na Festival. His hands found grip on the stone brick of the windowsill even as they trembled in anger. “You dare… You dare!” Hobbling his way to the door, he started down the spiral stairs. “Defy me, will you!? Guards, guards!” Lulouis’ roars echoed into the palace, but even as he reached the common area, the throne room, and the entry hall, there wasn’t a soul to be seen. “Guards!? Servants? Petre? Alliant? Where...where are you?” His blustered started to fade, a timidity returning to his voice, lost in the echoes of the castle. “Where did you go? Why...why did everyone leave me?”
The calm of the long path was punctuated by the occasional cough or grumble. Lulouis’ slippers had become marred with dirt, the king not even changing in his mad dash for the town (as generous as that description might be). Slowly, the bustle of festivities became louder and louder. Like so many of the years before, the town was littered with pop up construction. Stalls for snacks and pleasure foods were rampant: cotton candy, sauce coated decadences of every sweet and savory variety you could fathom. Instruments abound swathed in song, crowds gathering, some to listen, others to dance. Comedians and jesters pulled in laughs, while puppets drew the awestruck eyes and gaping mouths of children. And all of it drove Lulouis mad.
2 years ago

Back arched, the royal mantle Lulouis so often wore proudly was faced away from the window that, even through closed glass, was a gateway to the faint sounds of the Ko’Bo’Ka’Na Festival below. But even though Lulouis wanted to find the cloth to stuff the window and render it all silent, to do that, he would have to release the hand of the woman in front of him. Silvery white hair splayed out on the pillow, bedsheets covering her thin body, one far too thin even for a woman as old as herself, Queen Lycien DuPont’s eyes were locked on that window even as her husband continued to hold her hand.

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t do more for you,” Lulouis mumbled, his voice faint, fragile.

Lycien shook her head. “You’ve done more than enough for me. You took me to Marie Geoise for the Reverie just a month ago, you helped me raise our two wonderful sons, and you’ve given me more love than I’ve ever known what to do with.” Running her thumb over the back of Lulouis’ hand, she said, “And what about you? I’d be much happier knowing you were off enjoying the festival instead of moping around here.” There was a playfulness to her words, one that frustrated Lulouis to no end as she made light of her own death.

Slowly, Lulouis shook his head. “I...I can’t. How can I go enjoy myself when I’m about to lose the one thing that made me happiest?” Lycien didn’t deny him. Lulouis always figured she just didn’t have the energy. She gave him a small, sad smile before going quiet again. Within the hour, she fell asleep. And she never woke again. When her breathing stopped, the room becoming quiet, all Lulouis could hear was the sounds of that damn festival. He stayed there, as though trapped in time, until the festival too went quiet.

If he got his way, there would never be noise from that festival again. Let both of them rest in peace.
As Lulouis struggled through the streets, trying to make his way, the crowd parted for the doddering old man so clearly out of place. He wanted to cry and roar, but the bile in his throat kept his words stuck. Stumbling against a wall, he started to cough and hack, the fit lasting until he burped out a glob of stomach acid. Sweat beaded on his forehead, he tried to find the words, when the land of Banonono the greengrocer found his shoulder. “Are you all right?”

“Don’t touch me! Stay away!” Lulouis wailed, pulling away.
3 years ago

Lycien’s hand reared back, her expression clearly pained. It was a face Lulouis would never forget. But as he shook her off, he continued to move back towards his study. “The Tianyan Empire has taken a nearby island, we have to shore up defenses! And we only just now got word of another merchant company interested in the Drunken Iron Ore. The iron is hot! Just have fun at the festival without me!”

Eyebrows narrowing, Lycien was even less receptive to the idea than him knocking her hand away. Hiking up her dress, she turned her head away in a huff. “I’m not going without you!” as she reached the end of the hall, for a moment she turned back, Lulouis watching her, his expression a mote softer, but still resolute. Face tightening, she turned away. “There’d be no point,” she muttered as she left. Lulouis let out a long sigh, shaking his head. It was all for the good of this country, her first and foremost.
“Stop all of this at once!” Lulouis spat as he stumbled into the nearest intersection. A boy chasing after his dog Ropho suddenly veered out of the way as he tore through, collapsing onto the paved stone. The two stopped, going to him as he held himself on his hands and knees. The boy tried to help him to his feet, while Ropho licked at a scrape that appeared on his hand.
20 years ago

Alliant laughed as the dog licked at his face, the four year old prince more interested in the stray than the glorious festival. Dressed down into casual clothes, Lycien stooped to her son’s side, her hair a dirty blonde, joining Alliant in petting the good boy.

“See? The festival is plenty enjoyable without foreigners, even if Alliant’s more interested in the dog than the festival so far,” Lulouis chortled, the clean shaven man fiddling with his brown ponytail for a moment.

His bronze beard an uneven scraggle, Petre grumbled, “Size isn’t everything, but the villagers have been complaining about less business-”

“Pish posh. Business is second to pleasure with the festival.”

Lycien butt in. “Pleasure? All I hear is business!”

Lulouis opened his mouth, a tinge of guilt passing over his face, but Petre grumbled, “More business would mean less need to horde the ore!”

“If we let them in just for the festival we’re showing a lack of integrity!” Lulouis retorted.

“You spend 364 days worrying about the kingdom, but you can’t allow even one day of rest?” Lycien’s glare did finally draw them back, but the prince just exciting his teenage years didn’t stop, he just chose to be more careful.
Helped to his feet, Lulouis was steadfast on his path, even though he didn’t know where he was going. Less than half a dozen people followed him, each one knowing who he was within minutes, but in this moment he wasn’t a king so much as a fellow islander in need. Lulouis' mind rushed, and it must have been bumping into things because the stress left his head pounding. “Where...where are my boys?” he grumbled to himself, words easily missed by those behind him. Turning his head, he saw Macklamalky’s stand, brown, amber, and red orbs glistening in the light.
36 years ago

With a mighty crunch, the recently crowned King Lulouis bit down on a bright red candied apple, the sweetness and sourness melding together with the sticky candy and crunchy apple, the mixture absolutely irresistible. A second and third one in his hand, the last one rather small, he turned about, seeking his family in the passing crowd. He didn’t meet eyes with Lycien, as the young woman was scanning about. The bite grew warm in his mouth as he stopped chewing, sensing something wrong.

“Where’d Petre go?” she asked.

Nearly dropping the treats, Lulouis switched gears into panic mode before he’d even realized. Hopping into action, he pushed his way through the throng of people. Food falling out of his mouth, he called, “Petre? Petre!?” Reaching the other side, he kept his eyes peeled for anything out of place. He was just there a second ago, and that realization made his heart race. As the heir to the throne, Petre had been a ripe target to pluck. Rage filling his heart, he started to storm off, nearly tripping over a tree root as he went off in search of any guards. But he needn’t go that far. A wave of relief washed over him as he saw Petre off by the trees, fiddling with his pants. “PETRE!” he called, rushing forward.

Petre looked up like nothing was wrong. “I godda go to the bafroom,” said the three year old boy.

Letting out a gasp of exasperation, Lulouis insisted, “You should ask first!” Leaning the candied apple away, he felt his body lose strength as adrenaline faded. Looking back, he waved down Lycien before placing a hand on Petre’s back, guiding him properly as best he could.

Even has his heart had settled, his mind had not. He was king now. As he watched the festival, he saw it not as a patron of its festivities, but as a ruler. It was something to guide and protect, just as he did his son, his physical heart walking outside of his body. It was a simple incident, but it stuck with Lulouis more strongly than the candy to the apple. A part of him was left behind that day.
”I don’t know sir,” admitted Flake.

“I can’t lose them, I can’t,” Lulouis howled. “They’re all I have left.” Shoulders shuddering, he kept walking without direction, until a loud popping made him stop. Turning about, he saw Loleth sitting by a number of prizes aligned on shelves, simple pop guns going off, corks launching to snag those prizes.
43 years ago

Cheers erupted, clapping sounded, and Loleth handed Prince Lulouis a small stuffed horse, legs stiffened so it might stand. And right away, he handed it over to the young woman at his side. She cooed, “Eh? For me? Whatever did I do to deserve this gift?”

Lulouis blushed slightly, clearing his throat before he replied, “You were trying so hard to get it, that I thought it’d be a shame.” Those in the vicinity gave a few whistles, Lulouis’ red shade deepening.

Horse held up, slightly covering her smile, the young woman dropped it down before grabbing Lulouis by the hand and pulling him off. She looked back at his mystified face, observing, “I can’t just accept such a nice gift without offering anything in return. Come on!”

Moving right on down to the next road, she stopped by a puppet show, the two getting the gist of the story within moments, stooping down behind a small crowd of children as the young adults they were and sticking out the rest of the story to the end. Next they grabbed some skewers, Lulouis munching while she talked about her favorite parts of the festival. Somewhere in there, he’d gotten her name: Lycien. He’d offered his only as ‘Lou’, feeling a bit awkward about sharing any more. But their journey continued into the night, the two seeming to stop at every attraction on their path.

Reaching the local jeweler’s, Lycien entered the closed store casually, having produced a key easily. She returned with her hands clasped, gesturing for Lulouis to open his palm. Into his hand she dropped an iron ring, the shimmer akin to a boat in the sea. To imagine oneself standing on it, they’d be shifting back and forth, like a drunk man.

Lulouis gawked. “This is too nice of a gift! I can’t accept this!”

Lycien shook her head, smile not fading for a moment. “It’s nothing amazing. I’m proud of it, but it’s only my first ring ever, I’m still just an apprentice. It’s nothing we can sell, but it means a lot to me.”

“Then I really can’t accept it!” Lulouis held out his hand, but Lycien made no move to retrieve it.

“Then call it an early birthday present. Or a late one. When is your birthday?”

Lulouis cowed. “Er...today.” Lycien raised one eyebrow as her eyes started to widen. “I swear, I’m not making that up!” But as he’d said it, it became harder to let go of the ring. Looking into its glimmer, he admitted, “Honestly, I haven’t thought about it in years. I always have really good birthdays, so I don’t even really mind that no one acknowledges them.” Realizing something, he wondered, “Why did you want to give me something so nice anyway?”

Lycien shook her head. “I just thought you were having so much fun it was making me happy. But I changed my mind, that’s not a good birthday present.”

“No, it-” Lulouis began, before Lycien swooped in, pecking her lips on his cheek in a kiss.

“Happy birthday,” she said with a sly smile on her face. Lulouis thought his heart was going to stop. As he was stuck in place, she started to step away. “Now I have another reason to love the day of the festival.” And with that, she fled, possibly to hide a blush of her own. Lulouis didn’t remember how long he was stuck there processing what had happened. But time wouldn’t stay stopped forever. Like a fairy tale, he would explain his heritage on the same day he proposed to her, their marriage one that would last a lifetime. Until death...
Eyes spaced apart, they began to regain focus, coming to center on the hand set against the wood support holding aloft the roof of the stand. One the hand was a lone ring, it’s shimmering rocking back and forth like an inebriated man.

His mouth opened, a faint whimper coming, his eyes starting to shine with tears that soon began to spill. He missed her, so much that he sometimes couldn’t bear it. She was not only his wife, but his best friend. He loved the dreams where she was miraculously alive, acting as though nothing was wrong, but when he awoke to a cold, empty bed, far too large, he felt like he never wanted to wake up again. But this festival, the one she loved so much, on the day she loved so much, was a dream in itself. Fun and revelry in hopes for a good year to come, where stories were made and told.

Right now, in this moment, Lulouis was no king. Appearances cast away, he crumpled to his knees, leaning against a stall, his loud wails silencing the street. Clenching his hands against his face, his shoulders trembled as he wept. Yet he would not be the only source of water spilling this night. A cloud passed by far ahead, a brief shower passing by, much to the surprise of those on Gunwhale Island. It wasn’t a lot of rain: it only lasted for a minute or so, and even then it was spotty and uneven. But once it cleared up, so many of those drenched just picked their festivities back up with a laugh. The Ko’Bo’Ka’Na Festival was there to call the rains, after all.

A hand coming to his back, Alliant leaned down. “Father...dad. Let’s get you cleaned up. My house isn’t far. I’ll send for Petre and then we can have some fun. How does that sound?” Shifting his position, Lulouis buried his face in his son’s shoulder, fruitlessly trying to hide from his subjects what they already knew was coming: his wet grunt of compliance. In the wake of the rainfall and in anticipation of the king’s return, the festival had a second wind, those holding themselves back having no reason to now that the king had acquiesced. It was not the biggest festival the island had hosted, but it might have lasted the longest and sounded out the loudest. Closing out the festivities, there would be the first in a new tradition, as a lone firework would streak through the air, a lone firework that miraculously pushed past the rain, bursting brightly in the night sky.
Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Hillan
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Hillan I'm a writer - Lying's what we do.

Member Seen 4 days ago



Finding out that the renegade prince was a target of an assasination plot piqued Morgan’s interest. It was never hard to understand why someone would want the prince dead - Aztec was perhaps the most outwardly detestable of the royal family. It was a matter of figuring out who and getting them to call off the hit. Few had the guts to attempt to attack the royal family, especially those who did not come from the island and no islander would hire an outside assassin to do so. It was quite the conundrum, one that Morgan pondered over his next few pints at The Ashes. Brust and Darnold had left him, once he had given them the clear that he would need to think the situation over, he wasn’t sure if he could aid them in their search, nor if he really cared. The relationship between the Marines and the politicians on Sunstrider was always complicated, the base was located in Solstone, as the main kingdom never truly accepted Marine assistance, wanting to sort its issues out on their own. Furling his brow and letting out a slight sigh.

Or because they had secrets they didn’t want the world government putting its nose in.

Finishing his drink, he figured it was about time to head back home, Stede was cleaning the bar and Jack sat in the back, smoking his hemp pipe while listening to some old codger tell him a story from his youth for the 10th or so time this week. The old warrior always enjoyed hearing tales of old, even from times before his own.

”Truly want me to believe there was a man who fought using three swords in that country of Wano?” Jack chuckled as the old man, Graz Coots, carried on explaining the details of his many travels through the Devil's Sea, before the new world had even given birth to its king and namesake.

Graz nodded intensely “Yeah! They said he had made a deal with death, once so intense that if he ever opened his mouth to speak, the miasma would leak out and spread chaos and death! So the bloody samurai did the only thing he could, kept a sword in his mouth!” Jack laughed heartily as smoke left his lungs. Noticing that Morgan was about to leave, Jack’s eyes grew sharper, himself getting ready to follow his ward. Morgan waved him off.

”Rest a while more, Jack. I’ll return shortly. Got a short detour to take before I’m heading back to the manor for the night.” Jack nodded in response, turning his gaze back to Graz and his story about the Devil’s Sea. Stede waved bye to Morgan, raising the remaining of his ale to the Councilman’s health.

Morgan exited The Ashes, took a deep whiff of the cool air outside, producing his cigarette case from his pocket he put the cigarette to his mouth and ignited it with his lips, the flame traveling along the paper of the cigarette past the filter almost invisible, until it grew in size at the end of the cigarette, expanding and perfectly ignited the tobacco. Walking a few blocks, Morgan stopped, leaning against a stall that had closed for the night.

“The sun is gone.” A voice, determined and enigmatic spoke, first half of a codex to ensure the safety of the meeting.

”But yet I have a light.” Morgan responded, completing the code from the stranger on the other side of the stall, invisible to the councilman.

”What do you know about Hexxer? What does the West Blue’s most dangerous assassin seek here on our island?.”

Bonet chuckled.
“What does anyone seek here, dear Baron? I know precisely little about the killer known as The Hexxer, which is a lot more than anyone else. But you cannot afford that information, Brand.” The spy assured Morgan who scoffed, Bonet was never an easy man to do business with.

”Are the marines right in fearing for the prince’s safety?.”

”If Hexxer is indeed coming for your prince, then Aztec is already ruin.”

”That’s not an answer.”

”You don’t pay me for speculation. You pay me for the truth. They do not know for certain that the prince is the target of the assassin, but if he is there is little that can be done to save him.”

”Do you know where Aztec is?” Morgan asked, dragging from his cigarette as Bonet chuckled.

”Do you fear for his safety, Baron?”

”No. I fear for my country. Principcide would shake the stability of our already fragile nation. Besides, I doubt Aztec would go down without a fight and I’ve seen that boy grow into a man since we were both children. He’s always had a near insatiable appetite for destruction. ”


The docks erupted into chaos as explosions rang out, a battle erupted between a few rogue members of Solstone and the Solar Triad, protecting their turf as each believed the other faction was overstepping their boundaries in recent weeks.

“You stank ass solstoners have no right to do business on the Triad’s turf, you better tuck your tails between your legs and get outta here ‘for you get blown up!” One of the Solar Triadmen shouted, they numbered six triad members, four citizens of Solstone.

“You triaders have been cheating us for too long! Our deliveries have been getting shortchanged for the past month. This is a formal complaint!” The solstoner, Tagoma, shouted back, holding up a filed paper from the Solstone courthouse. A gun was raised and the lead tore the paper to smithereens. Tagoma and the others ducked for cover.
“Sorry, I don’t see any formal complaints or letters of safe passage!” Lao responded, a shit-eating grin on his face. His fellow gangsters joined in

SHIHIHIHI they laughed as Tagoma cursed.

“I have copies!” He shouted, chucking a object from his pocket towards the triad, plugging his ears with his fingers as his three cohorts did the same. Lao looked at the object, still laughing

“SHIHIHI you throw this garbage at me?? A bomb? C’mo- wait a BOMB” He caught himself, his and the other triad members eyes bulging out of their skulls as they all ducked for cover .


Leaving a two meter-wide crater in the alley, damaging the walls slightly, spraying debris around.

“You freakin’ solstoners are crazy!” He shouted, hiding behind some crates. “Come out and fight instead you bastards!” He yelled, his body still postulated on the ground, Tagoma rose up, gun in hand as he and his three allies got ready to make a stand.

From the side of the alley another figure moved, only revealing his through the darkness.

”You guys having a fight? Without inviting me?”

The voice spoke, sending a chill down the spines of all 10 combatants who were ready to let loose on each other.

“NO WE DIDN’T MEA- PLEASE HEL-” Tagoma and Lao both screamed, as shouts and yells woke up half of Zenith.
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Hidden 5 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Pacifista
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“‘I’ve got it!’ said Fontaine. Taking the Super Floaty Wood logs they got before, they lashed them to the front of their boat and started their journey out of the bottom of the world, into the ocean that we now call, the ‘Devil-”

“Hey, waitaminute!” Sorrel blurted out. Corinader stopped dead, the finale of her reiteration of Knox’s adventure to Fishman Island now thoroughly ruined. Her pose was stilted as Sorrel slowed her roll, the girl standing straight in their corner of the library, all the other kids joining her on the day after their brief meeting with old man Burnet. “Bubbles float normally, but when you put them on a boat they sink in the water? That doesn’t make any sense.”

We were so close and you had to notice now!? Coriander’s mind balked while her true face wore a strained smile. “Yeah that’s kinda weird huh?” Coriander honestly didn’t have an answer, because frankly it made no sense to her either. Letting out a long sigh, she took a seat of her own. “Well, I was basically done anyway. What do you guys think? Wanna go to Fishman Island one day?”

Coriander was met with a few jeers. “No way!” “The whole island smells like fish I bet.” “It’s dark down there…”

Coriander gawked. “What are you guys talking about? There was the roots of the Sun Tree Eve so there was plenty of light, and we live by the ocean and it doesn’t smell like fish.”

Rue explained, “There’s a buncha fish walking around there though!”

The book didn’t describe any particularly odd scents, so Coriander worked with what she had. “They’re mammals!”

Rue didn’t seem to grasp it. “They’re called fishmen though.” Coriander surrendered to the 7 year old.

Cassia offered, arms wrapped around his knees, “Most people who try to go down there die, it’s scary, and it’s dark on the way there.”

Coriander sucked her lips in for a moment. “It’s not like we’re talking about actually going, it’s more of a ‘what if we could’. Do you wanna see it?” Cassia thought for a moment, before nodding. “I wanna go! They live so close to Marie Geoise, but Knox never mentioned if they have any kind of God, so maybe I could teach them about the Dragon Blood Faith! I have to become a fully fledged Sister first though.”

Sorrel moped, “I don’t wanna. That one guy got sick from touching one of the fishfolk, and some of them were poisonous! I can’t go to an island where I can’t even bump into someone on accident.” Coriander raised an eyebrow in thought. What he said didn’t seem wrong going by the book, but it did feel wrong, even if Knox’s band had been pretty adverse towards the fish folk, and vice versa.

Verbena poked Peppermint in the arm, the girl oddly quiet. “I don’t get sick from Peppermint and she’s even stronger than a Fishman!” Coriander’s look soured while Sorrel chortled. Peppermint’s expression didn’t even change, which made it all the more chilling when she grabbed Verbena’s finger and twisted it back. “Owowowowowow!” Verbena cried, the normally tough boy reduced to whining.

“Pepper!” Coriander burst out, on reflex. Pepper let go, eyes widening in shock as she realized what had happened.

Verbena sobbed. “I didn’t even say anything mean!”

Scrambling to her feet, Peppermint’s mouth hung open, her face distraught. Teeth coming together in a frustrated grimace she raised her foot, stamping down. The floorboard snapped under the force, both sides ripping from their nails and whipping up from the split center, the other kids letting out cries of shock as the force of Pepper’s stomp shook the floor. Even Coriander, the biggest among them, felt like she’d left the ground for a moment, heart rising and falling with her stomach. Eyes shutting, tears squeezing out, Peppermint ran off, yet again pushing out of the library and out of sight. Aside from Verbena’s sobs, everyone was silent.

Crouching down, Coriander held her hand open, Verbena complying, gently laying his hand in hers. There was some red irritation, and the initial stages of swelling already, but Coriander couldn’t tell if it was sprained or outright broken. “Hold it close to your body so you don’t hit it against anything, okay? Sorrel, you go with him to Mrs. Poppy.”

The purple hair boy nodded, putting a hand on Verbena’s back as he guided the chubby boy towards the exit. “Sorry grampa,” Sorrel said as they left, Coriander looking up to see the shiny bald head of old man Cicely. His eyes widened behind his spectacles as he saw the remains of the wooden plank in the ground.

“I-I’ll explain!” Coriander insisted. Putting her hands on Rue and Cassia’s backs, she asked, “You two go play for a while, okay?” Leaning in to Rue’s ear, she whispered, “And don’t bully Cassia.” Rue puckered her lips and looked aside, but Coriander felt she would actually listen, today if no other day.

Alone, Coriander and Cicely found chairs so Coriander could explain everything that was going on. “I know it’s just normal teasing, but what Verbena did this time wasn’t even that bad. I don’t really know what to do...”

Cicely thought for a moment, before opening his mouth and coughing. He hacked for a good few seconds, taking a few more to catch his breath. Seeing Coriande’rs concern, he waved his hand. “Don’t worry about me. We should figure out what to do about Peppermint. I do think you’re right: I think Verbena was trying to be considerate of Pepper in his own way, but it didn’t come across the way he intended.”

“He is always mean to her. Always,” Coriander noted.

“All children are problem children in one way or another. You should know that better than most. But Peppermint is special. The whole island was in a tizzy when a little kick from a newborn somehow broke Bay’s rib. And she only got stronger.”

Coriander pouted, “I was there you know.”

“Oh, you were!” Cicely laughed. Growing dour, he said, “But you were young, you know. When her parents were killed, at sea-” Coriander’s eyes opened wide, the fact just now sinking in. It had happened 6 years ago: Coriander was 10, Peppermint only 3. She could remember feeling sad at the idea of not seeing them again, but it still hadn’t felt real to her at the time. Mother Basil had helped her work through it, but Coriander had never considered Peppermint, aside from how the island handled her. “-we all did our best. In a way, we were lucky that she cut herself off, since she was less of a danger to herself and others, but it took a good while before she started to open up again. We all took rotations watching her, teaching her how to fend for herself. It took a village, truly. She turned out to be a wonderful girl after all that, didn’t she? A little miracle, she is.”

Coriander nodded. Just a year ago, Peppermint insisted she could take care of herself, her weekly parent rotation ending. Coriander hadn't been by her house in a while, but the more she thought about Peppermint cooking and cleaning on her own...when was the last time she got help? She also spent a lot of time playing with the kids. Coriander suddenly grew concerned: it wasn’t like she could live without her parents, even if she had enough of the same basic skills. “Oh no...” Coriander whined. Not too long ago, Coriander had connected with Cassia, seeing his loneliness, one all too familiar to her. But she’d been blind to Peppermint, taking her strength for granted, and not just her physical might, but her apparent mental fortitude, and even that was reaching it’s limit. Blinking back the tears she had no right to shed, Coriander wondered, “What should we do?”

Cicely smiled. “Well, we need to have the floorboard fixed. I don’t mind, no one does. Not a person here would bemoan having to rebuild even the whole village for that girl. But that’s just a short term fix. I know she wants to be a Marine, but sending her off to some Academy, or to be a Cabin Lass just feels like outsourcing the problem: getting rid of some troublesome element. That’s not what she is, she’s family. Plus, Burnet would veto that.”

Coriander’s brow furrowed as she remembered. “What’s his deal anyway?” she huffed.

Cicely smile turned sad. “He’s got his own demons. Doesn’t trust the Marines much at all, and I ever asked about it. Never understood it either, since he was a Marine himself before he retired-”

“EHHHHHHHH!?” Coriander stopped, having stood from her chair in shock. Sitting back down, she murmured, “Sorry.”

Cicely let out a short laugh, before finishing, “The kids are just being kids, but just like you mentioned, if they push Peppermint away that’s going to be their regret. I’d love for them to figure out what they’re doing wrong on their own, but if only everything were that easy. And as for Peppermint, we could talk with her, but I’ll bet she’s already convinced herself that she’s doing something bad. She’s too good of a girl. Too good to let herself make mistakes, even if there’s so much she can learn from them. You learned plenty growing up, didn’t you? Still are!” Cicely let out a laugh at Coriander’s expense.


“But at the same time, her mistakes can be even more devastating than most of ours. Honestly, I can’t think of an easy answer here,” Cicely admitted. “Maybe Basil could give some guidance? The Blood Faith has a lot of tools for discussing the lot in life we’re handed that is ‘birth’.” Coriander pondered on that, but the real answer she started to drift to wasn’t quite in the same part of the ballpark. In fact, it was right along the foul line, and which way it fell wasn’t for her to decide.
Even though sun shined and wind rattled the windows, inside of the house once belonging to Peppermint’s parents, the young girl sat in the kitchen, curled up against the counter. Various bits of trash and dirty clothes were littered about the whole house: it was hardly coated, but it was certainly messier than most people were comfortable with. Worse yet, though the house was certainly lived in, the wood had numerous gashes and gaps where a small limb had errantly punched through. Peppermint shivered, her house full of drafts on the windy day. The house was large, far too large. It was made for a family, and Peppermint had been alone here for a full year. So many of her parent’s old things were here, Peppermint having gone through them countless times. She wondered if she’d ever fit her mom’s dresses, wondering if a tomboy like her could ever look that pretty. She wondered what her father was like, having no real memory of him, the closest window into his life having been a few business correspondences she couldn’t even read, not knowing half of the words.

Her stomach growled, Peppermint struggling to stand. She needed food, but her powerful body felt weighed down, like a whole island sat on her back. Looking at the counter just under her eye level, she saw an old knife, embedded in the counter-top, the larger half of the cutting board she’d once split still in her possession. Reaching over, she grabbed it, twisting her hand as she tried to yank it out. It came free, but not without a flash of red. Looking down, her fingers had been slashed. With a clatter, the knife fell to the ground, and her heart started to race. She’d done something bad, she’d messed around with a knife, and she’d gotten hurt because of it. Fingers wrapping around her wound, a low whine of pain escaped her lips as she looked around, but there was no one there to help her, just the whistling winds.

”I wanna be a Marine!” A young Peppermint had shouted. Mother Basil had merely asked the kids what they wanted to do in the future, but Peppermint made a bold declaration, one that had the other kids laughing at her, but she didn’t think it was funny. Pirates took lives all the time, and Marines stopped them. If she was a Marine, that could mean there wouldn’t be other people who’d end up feeling like her because they lost their parents. But a Marine had to be good. And in this trashed house, Peppermint was bad. God kept punishing her for being born bad. The blue emblem of the Marines seemed all the more distant as she curled up on the floor, staining it with red drops of blood and clear tears.
Hidden 5 mos ago Post by LostDestiny
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LostDestiny Goldfish Brain

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Annabelle had been sleeping peacefully for once when she was woken to Jazz squawking in her ear. She groaned and pushed the bird away but it seemed he was having none of it. Though it didn’t take long for the red head to realize just why the bird was losing its mind in her ear. A loud boom and a rumble fully woke her up. She grabbed at her pistol and looked around frantically only to realize the sounds were a distance away. Toward the docks she had seen when she was getting the lay of the land.

“What the heck?” She muttered looking at the bird whose feathers were ruffled. “It’s none of my business what kind of crime goes on here. Why are you bothering me?” She questioned as if the raven could speak to her. Sometimes she wished he could, but he hopped around on the bedside table clearly uneasy. “Jazz, we don’t get paid to investigate explosions.” She scolded him as if he would understand her. The bird simply continued to move in a nervous manor.

After several minutes of this Annabelle sighed and grabbed her things. “Fine, but we are only going to look from a distance, through this.” She muttered as she grabbed her sniper rifle. This seemed to calm the raven down some. “Crazy bird.” She shook her head, grabbing her jacket and her mask. No way was she going to get caught out without her gear.

After a bit of talking and some roof to roof travel Annabelle managed to get herself into a decent spot to hunker down and look at the chaos through the scope of her gun. Jazz had been perched on her shoulder up until this point and now the bird found a nearby tree to sit in. Clearly not wanting to get any closer to the area the explosions had gone off. It had been quiet basically the entire trip to her spot so she was sure whatever happened was likely done and over with by now but it was still worth a look.

After another moment or two of looking through the scope toward the docks she found the area where something had clearly happened. What she was not expecting was that people were still there. Were they not worried about the Navy coming? She couldn’t remember what that pirate crew told her about the Navy in this place. Regardless, the fact that it appeared quite a few members of the commotion were still present in the area suggested that perhaps the Marines didn’t care if they were in the area. She wasn’t sure if that was good or bad for her. Either way she decided, what the heck, she was awake and watching, might as well see how this played out.
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Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Daxam
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Daxam Majin Boo

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North Blue

Luna awoke to find her world swaying and wooden. It took her a few moments to realize that she was on a ship out at sea. She sat up a little too fast and winced as pain lanced her side. She placed her hand over her wound and found that, underneath the t-shirt she now wore, her waist was neatly bandaged up. Taking it easier, she stood up and made her way over to the door just as it opened. On the other side was a young man, probably a couple years older than her, with close-cropped blond hair, tanned skin, deep green eyes, and freckles that dotted his cheekbones. He wore light tan shorts and a deep red, sleeveless shirt, exposing his well-toned arms. I remember him from the party…Rufus? “Oh, good, you’re up,” he said with a smile, though Luna could see the smile didn’t reach his eyes.

”Where is he?” she asked, her voice raspy, as if she hadn’t used it in days. She started to take another step, but Rufus placed his hands on her shoulders.

“Easy, Your Hi–” He shivered at the glare he got and quickly backtracked. “E-easy, Luna,” he said, “you’ve been out for a couple of days and you’re still recovering.” Before she could argue, he quickly said, “I won’t tell you to go back to bed. You deserve to be here for this just as much as any of us.” With that, he slipped Luna’s arm over his shoulders and added, “Just lean on me, okay?”

Luna relented, mostly because she knew she could barely stay on her own two feet after being out for so long, and let herself be guided to the top deck of the sloop, where the rest of the crew was gathered. The ones nearest heard the door open and turned back to see Luna being supported by Rufus and parted, clearing a path to the center of the deck, where Marcus laid.

He was dressed in his armor, his hands clasped around a sword Luna didn’t remember him using, and his body lay upon a wooden pallet. Off to the starboard side was one of the ship’s jolly boats, suspended over the water by a davit. “Unfortunately, we can’t give him the proper rites he deserves,” a voice said next to Luna. She looked over to find that it was the ship’s doctor that spoke up. Galen, she remembered from the party. He had dressed out of his armor and now wore a short-sleeved, yellow shirt with an image of a winking sheep on the chest. “Proper practice would be to take him back to his home and cremate him there, but we all know that’s impossible…” He sighed, then turned to Luna. “I know you probably didn’t know him very long, but if you’d like to say your goodbyes, then go ahead. We’ll send him off afterwards.”

Luna hesitated for a moment, then removed her arm from Rufus’ shoulders. She took a step and staggered, but held her hand up when he tried to help her again. She took a breath, straightened up, and closed the distance between her and Marcus’ body. When she was standing next to him, she placed her hand on his arm and then noticed the smile on his face. She let out a quiet chuckle and muttered, ”Were you really that happy to die fighting by my side, you old bear?”

She let out a shuddering breath as her grip tightened on his arm. ”I didn’t know you all that long…but during that party the night we met, I felt like I was actually home. After the night we all lost everything, I was lucky to be taken in by some great people, but that feeling I had after meeting you and the others…it was like I was back on Eclipsis with my father, listening to you old soldiers tell your stories…” She sniffled and wiped her eyes before she continued, ”Thank you, Marcus. I’ll find Sol…and we’ll make things right, again.”

She stepped back and returned to her place between Galen and Marcus. A few people stepped out of the crowd and carried the pallet bearing Marcus’ body over to the jolly boat. They secured the pallet to the boat and lowered it to the water, where it was caught by a passing current. Luna and the crew watched as the boat drifted away from the ship, bobbing gently on the waves. Once it was a ways away, one of the crew, a tall slender woman that Luna remembered as Aquila, raised her bow, nocked with a flaming arrow. She let it fly and Luna watched as it trailed through the air and embedded itself into the side of the jolly boat. Before long, the boat, and the body of Marcus Istria, was engulfed in flames. Seeing that, Luna wanted nothing more than to curl up and cry, but she knew Marcus wouldn’t want her to do that. She had a job to do, after all.

She and the crew continued to watch the cremation at sea until the small boat sank beneath the waves, taking the former prefect to his final resting place.
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Hidden 5 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Pacifista
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The day after the Ko’Bo’Ka’Na Festival, an air of tension hung over the capital for those not in the know. Like a hangover, the villagers had over-imbibed, much of the work to be done in the morning put on hold for an intensive cleanup. The exhilaration of going against the king had faded, leaving the anxiety of the incoming punishment. Even those who did know of the royal family having actually took part in the festivities were left with doubts that everything would be alright after the king called for an assembly at the city square.

Voices murmuring in trepidation, the whole kingdom buzzed about in the square, their collective concerns forming a low hum of discussion, all of it silenced when King Lulouis took the platform, flanked by Princes Petre and Alliant, all of them as regal as ever. Though the men wore distinguished looks, they were well crafted masks, neither prince having any idea what the assembly was for.

Stepping forward, Lulouis raised his voice, words carrying over the crowd. “People of Puddle, I don’t intend to waste your time. After all your revelry, we must return to a harsh reality. Our island is not in the best of positions. We are falling behind the rest of the world, clinging on through luck: a rare resource that is oh so very finite. It’s a difficult hand for any leader, but frankly, I do not believe I have been making the right choices. Even before the death of my wife, a heart in the right place doesn’t make the world move. Not always.” The king was silent for a moment, his eyes glancing over a nearby hill, past which rested the city’s graveyard, where a fresh bouquet of flowers rested at the royal mausoleum. “As such, effective immediately, and henceforth, I am abdicating the throne.”

It started as a pitch, then rose to rumble, then thunder. The townsfolk, a large number of which only ever knew rule under King Lulouis, erupted into shock and awe. Some were anxious, some excited, but all tittering quieted down with a single hand being raised. “Prince Petre is much older than I when I was crowned, and I’ve known for a long time that he was more than suitable a leader. But I held on. For what reason, I’m not sure. Petre’s due has long since passed: I do believe it’s time I let go. I will be leaving the island for a time. Pinoko Island has all the facilities I need to recover my health. I’ve neglected it for far too long. I don’t know how much time I have left in this world, but I want to spend as much time as I can with my sons, and next year...I would like to enjoy the Ko’Bo’Ka’Na Festival. I would like to look forward to my birthday for the first time in a long time. Petre will not be alone, he has an upstanding younger brother with him, and I will offer everything I can upon my return, but for now-” Lulouis’ hand waved Petre over, the prince winding up his dropped jaw. Posture stiff, he approached his father, removing his circlet and kneeling down. “I crown you: King Petre. May your reign be long and resolute.”

Bequeathed his crown, King Petre stood, meeting the gradually rising cheers of the crowd head on. From behind him, he could feel Alliant’s smile upon his back. The three felt their hearts turning in unison, like gears unstuck, now able to move towards a future full of possibility.

Later, the crowd gradually dispersed after Petre announced his desire for a fresh start and intent to address the problems plaguing the island head on. The newly crowned monarch moved off to find his younger brother waiting on him. Petre closed his eyes and smiled. “Did you plan for this?”

Alliant was taken aback. “Hardly! I had nothing to do with much of anything. I’ve never been much of a prince.”

Petre clapped his hand on Alliant’s shoulder. “Nonsense! You have more trust with the people than I ever had. Not as much respect, perhaps…”


Petre laughed. “But really, don’t act like you played no part in this.”

Alliant looked off towards the ocean, unable to deny it. “I didn’t do much, I just met a little firestarter.”

Petre flinched. Alliant gave a quizzical look. “You’re telling me...”
Lying down in the lakeside grass, rope pinning his arms to the sides, Rico had a blank look on his face. All about him, Petre’s men panted and gasped as they caught their breath, having beaten Rico’s Fruit power through sheer attrition. Even Petre was at his limit, much of his weight pressed on his horse. The game of tag, the keep away with the small rowboat. Neither side sought to harm each other, and that resulted in this wasteful disaster. After all that it only ended because of a sudden shower. His men being reduced to this was shameful. Shameful!

“Man...this sucks and blows at the same time!” Rico whined.

“Nuh-uh, nothing can suck and blow at the same time,” said one of the knights.

“Yeah huh!”

“Try it then.”


“Knock it off already!” Petre snarled. “Let’s get back to town, I’m done.”

“Sir!” called a messenger, coming up to the scene of exhausted men. “...Sir?”

“Out with it already,” Petre grumbled, pomp and decorum on vacation.

“Prince Alliant is calling for you. King Lulouis is allowing the festival! He also asked that the foreigner be exonerated.”

“Oh god!” Rico shouted, his breathing quickening in fear.

“It means you’re annulled of blame for supposed crimes,” Petre disparaged.

Rico thought for a moment, before saying, “Wait, it’s not the other thing? We’re all good then?”

“All good.”

Rico smiled, sparks sizzling as he slipped from his ropes and hopped ot his feet. The array of knights stared in disbelief. “So I can go have fun and eat food at the festival!?”


“YaaaaaaAAAAAAAAY!” Rico cheered, hands raised in the air. With whistles and screeches, a number of rockets fired off from his person, popping in the air and cracking on the ground. The dry grass was rather receptive to Rico’s mood, growing in blaze all the same. Opening his eyes to see the flames about him, Rico screeched. “AHHH AHHHH AHHHH AHH AIIIE AIIIE AHH AIIEE.” Foot stamping, he tried to quash the nearest fire to little avail. Once the knights returned from having ducked for cover, their shields dug into the dirt as helmets were cast into the water as makeshift pails, the organized troupe finding a last burst of energy to fight the fire. A last trial before the festivities could be enjoyed in full. And enjoy the festivities Rico did, trying just about everything he could, be it food, dance, or show. Filling his empty stomach on candied apples and chicken skewers, filling his ears with laughter at a comedy show, filling his heart with dance at the concerts, he was at the shooting range with a pop gun when an older fellow approached him.

“Having fun, boy?” the question was matched with Rico’s pop cap flying off a little to the side, bouncing of one prize and knocking into another. Both rattled to the gasps of onlookers, only to settle, gasps turning into groans. But Rico smiled.

“This is the most fun I ever had!”

A bit of moisture coming to eyes thought dried out this night, Lulouis smiled. “Is that so?” While Rico lined up his last shot, he began, “I have a bit of a request, if you are willing to indulge…” And so, that lone firework would fly.
The next morning, Rico yawned as he stood at the dockside, Princes behind him as though he might try to run off.

“I really can’t thank you enough,” Alliant insisted.

Rico stuck out his tongue, “Yes you can, I’m sick of it!”

Petre shook his head. “I just can’t understand why you’d bother.”

Rico paused for a moment, before admitting, “I dunno. I didn’t really think I’d help any, I just figured there being a festival would be better than there not being a festival. It rained a little, but it looked like that didn’t stop anything!”

Alliant nodded. “We need the rain. We may not like it when it happens, but it always passes eventually.” He exchanged a knowing glance with Petre, who couldn’t deny him.

“Says you, Puddle Prince, the rain is great! Usually. Hey, either of you guys wanna be pirates?”

Petre balked, “What?”

“I’m recruiting!” The two stared. Alliant broke out into a sweat, realizing that he in fact, did not mishear the young man the other day. At the silence enabled by the two men trying so very hard to unpack this strange lad, his shrugged, “Oh well, your loss!” Pointing a finger to the sky as he turned off to the gangplank of the merchant vessel, he laughed, “Fireworks are made to go ‘up’, and I’m headed to the top!”

“You better watch who you ask,” Petre warned.

Alliant chortled, “Rooting for you might be heresy of the deepest kind, but you are a strage sort, and no one normal would aim to be Pirate King.” Petre’s eyes shot opened at Alliant’s words, but Rico only laughed. “Come back next year, if you don’t die.”

The gangplank lifted, sails lowered, Rico gave a thumbs up. It wasn’t a promise, yet there was hope, one of many hopes that Alliant hadn’t felt a one of in what felt like a long time. As he went back to his day to day among the people, his heart wasn’t the only one set ablaze on this small Puddle.
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by pkken
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Valery Shimmamoto

After about a 10-minute detour, Valery was back on the main road and heading into town. By now the sun had turned in for the night and the moon had revealed itself. This provided Valery with a sense of relief, watching the sunset and the moon rise has always provided Val with a sense of security. Even amongst the hurricane of emotions, it seem to provide him with a moment of clarity to reflect as he used the moonlight to guide him to town.

Old Man Shigetsu made his thoughts pretty clear, even though he could see where he was coming from it was difficult to fully
comprehend. The geezer had much more to lose as he had to take into consideration the dojo members well being. In the end, his hands were tied. Valery sucked his teeth before shaking his head trying not to become annoyed again.

“Now is not the time to get pissed, stay focused on the plan”

The first order of business was learning about the bastard in question, Val not only didn’t have a location but a name nor face to boot.

“Ughh” he groaned as he rubbed his temples vigorously. He should probably start there before picking a random place to sail to. He thought who might even have any info at all and before not it clicked in his mind.

“Shun!” He exclaimed, pounding his fist into his hand. That guy pretty much grew up in the dojo. He would have some information worth his while for sure! With haste, Valery picked up his pace as he began jogging toward town with excitement. He for sure would have some sort of description of the person of interest.

"Ahhhhh" Shun exclaimed in relief patting his visibility protrudingbelly as he exited the establishment. An ear-to-ear grin was plastered on his face. "A shame that Val missed out, nothing beats some barbecue after a strenuous day of training." Oceansong village looked illustrious as always after sun fall, a rather cozy port town with a warm and inviting vibe to it. Lanterns and large flora decorated the streets coupled with vendors and restaurants galore. People of all ages populated the streets with smiles all around which provided a comforting feeling.

Shun made his way down the main street towards the docks, in search of his favorite dessert spot. A small ice cream cart near a beautiful ocean view of the North Blue. It was relatively close to Hatchy's BBQ restaurant which made it the perfect dessert for this occasion.

"I Knew I would find you here!" A familiar voice sounded off in which Shun turned only to see none other than Val. "I see that Sensei let you off the hook" Shun replied as he waited for Valery to catch up to him. "Yeah Yeah Yeah" Valery shook off his comment, "Got a moment?"

Shun noticed the sense of urgency within Val's voice, not to mention that he also had his actual sword with him. Either something serious happened or Valery was about to do something stupid. Shun let out a sigh, "Sure, we can talk over some ice cream."

The two perched over a ledge, watching the vessels aligned along the docks of the harbor. Shun had taken a bite out of his salted caramel cone as he turned to Valery who had been eating a simple vanilla cone. "So whatcha need to talk about?"

Valery had been staring deeply into his dessert before taking a deep breath. "Old man Suigetsu gave me a bit of insight into the person I'm looking for. He made sure to leave out a description or name though deliberately, I guess upcoming marine hotshot. I was hoping you might have some useful information on this guy." Valery took a bite out of ice cream as he awaited his friend's reply.

"Are you sure you want to pick a fight with the Marines? I mean there is no coming back from it, you'll be viewed as a criminal. No different from a pirate." Shun questioned his friend. "I understand that you are eager for vengeance but is that really what is best right now?"

Valery held the cone firmly and sighed, "It's not smart I get that but I'd rather actively do something instead of waiting idly by. Old man Suigetsu said they are communicating with the Marines in order to retrieve the clan's sword but by the time that happens we'll be the old man's age." Valery took a bite out of the side of the cone. "They're not going to give back the sword so easily, it wasn't like my father was an angel after all in the eyes of the world government. Neither am I completely clean either Shun." Valery said taking another large bite out of his cone. "He offered me an out by telling me to come here and lay low, which is probably why old man Suigetsu is trying to scare me off from taking matters into my own hands." Valery gazed off into the ocean with deep intent, "I'm planning on setting sail tonight whether you give me what I'm looking for or not, so do you know anything at all?" Valery took another bite out of the cone, only leaving one last bite of the cone.

Shun sighed, "It sounds like your mind is already made up, there's no point in convincing you otherwise." the boy shook his head. "I heard some of the senior students speaking amongst each other about a Marine named Maxwell Rackham. He's risen up the ranks quickly, when it comes to skill with a sword he is in a completely whole other league. He also seems to be pretty popular with the ladies, developing something of a small cult following. He's got long black hair and sharp facial features as well. Shun said with burning envy, "The last thing I heard was that he was somewhere within the north blue so you might be able to see him if you're lucky..or not should I rather say" Shun said dusting his hands off.

Valery closed his eyes and took a deep breath, "Maxwell Rackham, I won't forget that name. Thanks, Shun I really appreciate it." he said relieved, as he finished the last bite of his ice cream cone before facing Shun and sticking his hand out. "It seems like this is where our paths will split though Shun, thanks for everything while I was here. I guess I can say I learned since I first came." Valery smiled, Shun grasped his friend's hand and returned the smile. "Oh really? Doesn't seem much like it, in fact, you're leaving with even more reckless abandon."

Valery chuckled, "Take care of everybody in my stead alright? Also, give Suigtesu some trouble here and there every once in a while."

"Not a chance in hell"

With that last exchange, Valery was off to the docks. From perched up top near the ice cream cart he noticed a ship preparing to set sail. It was time to catch a ride to wherever they were heading, exchanging some muscle for travel seemed like a fair trade.

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Pacifista
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Door cracking open, eye gazing out, Ryu Burnet came face to face with a resolute Catherine Coriander, the young nun standing with her back straight and eyes firm. “You look like you mean business.”

“May I come in?” Despite the politeness of her words, her tone carried a curt shortness with it. The door came closed, and after the rattling of a chain, the door came wide open again, Coriander stepping inside, letting her eyes adjust. It was the middle of the day, but there wasn’t a lot of light in the room, most of it coming from the windows, blinds only partly opened. There was a stuffiness, the scent of dust heavy in the air. As Coriander walked to the living room, she had to dodge around old newspapers among other refuse: the occasional beer bottle, food wrapping, messy dish left to mold. There was enough room to walk, paths carved in the floor by trudging feet, but she could feel her mother channeling through her, intuitively wanting to clean up the mess.

Taking a coat and resting it over the back of an armchair, she took a seat, cloud of dust coming from the cushion. Burnet opened the blinds of a window nearby, light shining on the specks of dust in the air before he took a seat with a low groan. Perhaps Coriander hadn’t been paying much attention, but he didn’t seem to have changed out of what he’d been wearing yesterday. Though Coriander wasn’t here to judge him for that.

“I want you to help Peppermint.”

Burnet didn’t even blink. “The strong girl, right? What about her?”

“I just think she needs help and guidance. She’s been living alone for a year and-”

“I ain’t adopting her.”

“I wasn’t gonna ask that! Let me finish.” Coriander caught the slight roll of his eyes, but put that aside. “She’s...a really good girl, okay? I want her to make mistakes so she can learn from them, but her mistakes can be...really bad. I know she doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but even that is getting to her. She’s kind of trapped, I think. She’s different, and she keeps being made aware of it. I don’t want her to feel like she’s alone, but if we just pretend she’s not different, we’re ignoring who she really is. I just...don’t really know how to make her feel accepted. We all love her, but…”

Burnet was silent as Coriander trailed off. With a grunt, he muttered, “She’s not my responsibility.”

Coriander glared, back straightening in her indignance. “I-, you...”

“Why do you even think I can help her? And if it’s the reason I’m thinking you’re thinking, then you can leave.”

Coriander was struck silent, mind racing as she tried to find another path through the conversation. “You’ve sailed a lot. Have you ever met or heard of anyone like Peppermint?”

Burnet pondered for a moment, before admitting, “Yeah, there was one guy. Treated like a monster by everyone except his mother from birth. After she died he went on a bit of a rampage and ended up in jail. There was a big gang war at some point, a bunch of the prisoners dying, even a bunch of the guards. That guy was the only one left standing at the end of it all, drenched in blood.”

Coriander swallowed. “What happened to him?”

Burnet was sullen. “He broke out of prison and started flying the pirate flag. He saw hell and claimed he was going to drag the rest of the world down to the same level. That crew was the Abyssal Call, and that man was Avalon Duskar.”

Coriander let out a sudden squeal at the invocation of the Devil himself, feet kicking at the ground before she jumped onto her seat like a cat, all fours on the cushion. “Huh? Buh?” Mind scrambling, she slipped back to a natural position, “Wait, that...that’s all the more reason to help Peppermint! Not that I think she would ever go that route, but...the future...she was born-”

“Still not my responsibility.”

Coriander felt her anger starting to bubble. “I bet you wouldn’t stop the Devil himself if you had the opportunity. He who lets the Devil walk freely is no better!” Burnet gave a shrug. “What is your responsibility then!?”

Burnet gave a slight sideways nod of his head, “If there’s trouble, I lead the milita until the Chowder Kingdom sends its men. Peppermint isn’t a part of that.”

“Yeah, she shouldn’t be fighting, but she’s going to become a Marine whether you like it or not, so the least you could do is help her use her strength in a better way.”

Burnet grimaced. “That’s a pretty big ‘least’.”

“It’s not like you’re doing anything here except making a mess of yourself.”

Burnet followed Coriander’s downward glance, seeing a food stain on his shirt. Brushing at it, his hand trembled and fell into a fist. “She’s better off throwing away that stupid dream! She’s better off without the Marines!”

“She’d be the best Marine!” Coriander retaliated.

Burnet shook his head. “Have you ever met a Marine in your life?”

Corinader’s mouth shot open, only to gape. “J-just you, but I read about them!”

Burnet closed his eyes for a moment, before beginning, “Yeah, exactly. You get the good version, the ideal, the story the World Government wants you to hear. Even when you hear about corruption it’s always in the context it it being quashed out. But that’s not the Marines I saw. Before the Devil, after, it didn’t change what authority and power can do to a man. At boot camp we were all always talking about protecting people, making the world a better place, all that. Some just wanted to money, sure, but there’s safer careers out there. But the reality isn’t so simple. I was a ‘good Marine’, I never did anything wrong. I never killed any innocents, I never pilfered goods for myself, I never stepped a toe out of line. I just did what I was told. And if you think that’s what makes a good Marine-”

“Good Marine? Isn’t that expected? That should be the baseline!” Coriander reeled herself in at Burnet’s firm gaze.

“Yeah, it should, but it’s not. We don’t talk about ‘lawless lands’ enough, not on the whole. Have you ever thought about it?”

Coriander’s brow furrowed. “They’re basically wastelands, right? No law, no rules, just anarchy and chaos...”

Burnet let out a laugh. There was no warmth to it, only cold condescension. “You literal child. If not for our tax to the Chowder Kingdom, Tune Town would be lawless land. People don’t live in caves or woods because they want to. They seek comfort and stability because it’s desirable. The East is full of lawless lands. If there’s no Marine base or Kingdom, the people there have less human rights than we do. I hear it’s particularly bad in the Devil’s Seas, but it’s not like it’s absent even here in the East. I’ve seen it. A lot of people take the peace of this ocean for granted, but there’s no rule or law stopping Marines from acting like pirates in some place has enough wealth or if the people there piss of the wrong guy. If there’s anarchy and chaos in a lawless land, it’s because it was brought there. Sometimes by pirates, sometimes by Marines acting no better than pirates. I saw it up close and personal, and I didn’t do a damn thing. I kept my fucking mouth shut. I let the Devil in the Marines walk freely.”

Coriander was stunned, struggling to believe it, but unable to deny Burnet, for his heart only spoke with truth. Managing to swallow, she stammered, “B-but couldn’t you have made a report? Isn’t there the Marine...Invest-”

“The Marine Inspectors? Yeah good luck getting a hold of those glue sniffers, there’s only a handful of them in each Blue and the one’s I met didn’t mind having their palms greased. Even if you do, the moment you’re outed as a snitch is the moment you put a target on your back. Corruption comes from the top down. It’s the authority figures who decide what rules and behaviors to enforce. That’s how it is as a soldier. You’re not trained to speak your mind, you’re trained to follow orders. Besides, it’s not like they were breaking any laws anyway. Is that the kind of ‘good girl’ you want Peppermint to be?” Coriander felt tears of frustration rimming her eyes, but she used all her power to keep them back. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. If she’s a good girl then she should neve-”

“You’re the worst!”

Burnet nearly bit his tongue. “What did you say?”

Coriander glared up at him. “You should step down from being militia captain immediately.”

Burnet was affronted. “Excuse me?” Hand on his arm rest, he sat up, leaning at her. “Damn religious types, all this crap about forgiving sin and-”

“It’s not that! It’s not what you’ve done, or didn’t do back then, it’s about what you’re not doing now! If the Marines are the problem then what about you!? You’re not a Marine anymore! Who’s stopping you!?”

Burnet scoffed. “What about me?”

“You haven’t changed at all! And this time there’s no excuse! You didn’t do anything before, and you’re not doing anything now! Who wants a militia captain like that? When trouble comes to down are you going to be sitting here and doing nothing too!?” Coriander stood, arms straight at her sides as she raged.

“Of course not! I live here! I’m going to protect my home!” Burnet growled back, standing himself.

“Protect!? What are you protecting!? You’ll help us when you get to fight, but you won’t help even one of us who needs you right now? Forget being a good Marine, what about being a good person? If someone’s in need, and we can help them, shouldn’t we help them?”

Burnet froze, eyes widening to the point that red bloodshot lines were visible at the edges. “Get out.” Coriander didn’t falter. In a huff, she turned off, maneuvering around the refuse and tearing out the door, which slammed shut from the wind. Moving to the kitchen, a number of dirty dishes scattered about, he grabbed a beer bottle, only to find it empty to the touch.

“We’re Marines! If someone’s in need, and we can help them, shouldn’t we help them?”

Leaning an arm on the countertop, he pressed his other hand against his forehead. “God dammit...”
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Daxam
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Daxam Majin Boo

Member Seen 5 hrs ago

Luna stood at the starboard railing, her eyes fixed on the horizon. An empty plate from lunch sat on the railing next to her and her fork hung limply from her mouth. It had been a few hours since Marcus’ funeral and his death weighed heavy on her mind. She was grateful for the help he gave her. If she had taken too long dealing with Arbor’s lackeys, either he would have gotten a lucky shot off on her or the rest of his men would have shown up and wore her down with numbers. Still, she couldn’t get over the guilt she felt. It was because of her that he died, that he’d never get to see his precious home return.

“You know, Erik’s gonna have some words for you if you drop that,” Rufus said as he came to stand next to Luna, leaning back against the railing.

Luna sighed, took the fork out of her mouth, and placed it on the plate. She didn’t know him all that well, but Luna heard enough to know that Erik was a crotchety old man in the best of times. If she lost one of his utensils, she’d never hear the end of it. After a few moments, she asked, ”Why aren’t you guys pissed at me? I mean, I get it, I’m my mom and dad’s daughter, but Marcus is dead because of m–”

“Alright, I’m gonna stop you right there,” Rufus said, suddenly serious. He was quiet for a moment, then turned to Luna. “I know it sucks. I do. But Marcus made the choice to fight by your side, even though he knew it could kill him. He had the resolve to do what he could to help you, not just because you’re our princess, but because he wanted to help you. So don’t blame yourself for the choice he made, alright?”

”But if I were stronger or faster, then I could have–”

“Could have what? Saved him? Yeah, maybe,” Rufus interrupted. “Maybe not. The only thing we know for sure is what’s already happened and there’s nothing we can do about that besides stand up, dust ourselves off, and take a page from his book.”

”What do you mean?”

Rufus flashed Luna a smile. “Resolve ourselves to do what we can and keep moving forward.”

”Resolve, huh?” Luna echoed. Even if she hadn’t realized it, that was a constant theme in her life. Her parents, when they did everything in their power to protect her despite the impossible odds. Marcus, when he came to her rescue. Even Sol had to have incredible resolve to take on his impossible mission.

Rufus took a couple of steps away from the railing, then turned back to the half-Mink princess with his hand extended. “So, are you gonna keep moving forward with us, princess? Or, should I say, ‘Captain’?”

Luna opened her mouth to argue that she couldn’t possibly lead everyone, but stopped herself. The look in Rufus’ eyes told her that not only he, but the rest of the crew, had already made the decision, one that was probably made when she went to bed the night of the party. It was pointless trying to argue and she was sick of doubting herself, anyway.

Luna cracked a smile and took her second-in-command’s hand. ”Alright, fine,” she said. ”I’ll need help pulling someone away from the brink of stupidity, anyway.”

As she pushed herself away from the railing, her elbow bumped against the plate that held her lunch. It and the fork that rested on top of it both fell into the ocean below. Luna’s sharp ears could hear Erik swearing profusely below deck, as if he had sensed a disturbance of some kind.

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Restalaan


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The afternoon sun came as men moved, moving crates inside a mansion quickly as they wore hats. Both to protect themselves from the harsh sun and prevent others from seeing their faces with work continuing in near silence.

A brief gust of wind came across them. No one considered it unusual and even welcome it.

Hence no one noticed another new presence that had just walked in brazenly like he owned the place.

Haku strolled in quietly, looking around before ducking into an empty hallway and aimed to quickly find evidence. Even if there are no papers to keep track of, there are always bound to be some documents or ledgers.

This was familiar territory for him and in such a mansion, there’s always bound to be a clue there.

Faint footsteps approached from the second just as he reached the modest but strong oak staircase. Prompting Haku to duck into a blindspot to keep himself hidden, breath nearly stilled and mind blank.

Quiet, soft, and favoring one side. He idly analysed as the footstep got louder, and descended the stairs as it came closer and closer.

From the corner of his eyes, Haku saw the shadow as an elderly man with white hair moved past him, with a monocle in one side of his face and was dressed rather casually despite the rings that he wore.

The Mayor. Haku recognized from the briefing and photo shown to him on board the Kirin. He was on the right track then as he waited for a while longer before he resumed moving upwards.

It didn’t take long for him to find the office as he checked for traps first before pressing his ears against it, then slowly but firmly, he twisted the door handle to avoid making any sound.

Once opened, he smoothly moved inside the room and closed the door behind him.

Taking a look around him, the place with filled with books, a wide carpet, and wooden oak desk that served as the centrepiece, piled with numerous papers and an abandoned cup with a small amount of leftover liquid alongside traces of camomile scent lingering in the air.

Haku glanced through the papers before he placed them back in the exact position as he ran through all of them systematically. Most of It was reports of the island's current supplies stock, requests for help, trade deals, and numerous messages for urgent deliveries to neighbouring villages.

He now has an idea of just how desperate the situation was, that yesterday's complaints seemed subdued compared to the reality of it all.

Haku shook his head, a crime’s a crime. The Mayor turned to crime for understandable reasons, but all it’ll do is let other problems flourish.

Still, this isn’t enough.

Checking the drawers swiftly revealed a few small books, stamps and postcards. The books had nothing beyond torn pages, used perhaps as scribbling rather than anything concrete.

Haku stopped as he reached a certain section, it contained numbers and alphabets. Random perhaps, but he knew better.

It looked like Marine’s code, one that is reserved for commissioned officers but had a few modifications done to it.

Did someone teach it to a civilian? Haku thought as he quickly memorised it, checked for any more codes, and put it back.

He can only decipher parts of it, the rest has to be sent to Cadog. Acting on partial information was dangerous, and the one who knows this best was Captain Cadog.

Though it didn’t escape his attention that these are explicit instructions on how to move things and the amount expected.

From the open seas, fast breeze filled the sails of a marine battleship to its fullest and moved at top speed. Marines moved around the deck as they kept it at top condition and eyes open for any threats.

Cadog tapped his smoking pipe, looking at the horizon and the weather carefully. While his navigator was doing the same, it didn’t hurt for multiple eyes keeping a lookout for it.

He moved the tobacco pipe to the corner of his mouth before letting out a puff of smoke, as they passed through Gosa’s Village sea route.

“Report.” Cadog said without turning his back as a thump of a foot and salute came. That earned a few looks from the crew before returning to their work.

“I uncovered a set of messages Marine coded, in the Mayor's office,” Haku replied back, almost like he had always been there the whole time before the latter handed him a notebook.

Cadog frowned and ignored the damp state of his clothing, focusing on the report instead as he flicked through the pages quickly. Prompting Haku to continue his report.

“Marines from the 77th base were also spotted, offloading supplies and outside of uniform.”

“Hmm.” Cadog hummed as he closed the notebook with a snap of his wrist and slipped it in his pocket, then reached for his flask and took a brief swig of its alcoholic content. “How many are involved in this?”

“Four to five, perhaps more.” Haku continued reporting on the number of possible collaborators. “But they could also be paid and not told of what they’re doing.”

“Still involved,” Cadog said with finality as he turned to issue a new order. “Navigator, full speed back to base.”

“You heard the captain! Full speed to the 77th Marine Base!”

“Aye, captain!”

Haku quietly took his place and headed to join the crew but a cough from Cadog stopped that as he went back to attention.

“And the people?”

“Shortage of food, prices went up, and there’s rationing. But there weren’t any overt crimes, nor did the Mayor look to be embezzling or profiting from these.”

“Never assume,” Cadog chided as he adjusted the steering slightly, turning an oncoming wave crash into a gentle slide against the hull of the ship instead. “Remember, a crime’s still a crime.”

“And that captain of the 77th Marine Base?” A hard tone came as the strong scent of rum intensified. “If this is true, then that’s multiple levels of breaches. That blistering barnacle will be lucky to be alive at the end.”

Haku kept silent about that as he glanced away momentarily before he looked back to Cadog. “And his subordinates?”

“All of them will be investigated.” A moment of pause from Cadog before the latter added. “But those found innocent will be reassigned, kept under strict probation but that’s about it. We’re only aiming for the ones responsible.”

Haku let out a sigh he didn’t realize he was holding and quickly nodded at that decision, that was as fair as it’ll get.

“In the meantime, get out of that getup. You stick out like an albatross in a bowl of soup.” Cadog grumbled as he turned away.

Haku will never understand why as he filled out the dress quite nicely. He had thought Cadog would be proud that he managed it all the time and with so little resources as well.

Perhaps it was too obvious to tell from Cadog's perspective?

Oh well. Guess I’ll have to do better. Haku quickly went inside below the deck to dress back in uniform and cleaned himself up in the process.

77th Marine Base

Currently mostly devoid beyond the skeleton crew left behind, as everyone was expected to take three days off due to the presence of Captain Cadog and the Kirin’s crew.

This was why when the Kirin moored in the afternoon, no one suspected anything out of the ordinary.

Cadog, the Kirin’s first-mate, and Haku, all of three went towards the 77th captain's office. They kept to a leisurely pace as Haku moved behind the first-mate as per protocol and carried most of the incriminating documents.

With a quick rap on the door by Cadog, the latter entered without waiting to be invited as the first mate and Haku filed in together.

“Ah, Captain! Back from your patrols?” The 77th Captain rose from his seat and quickly gestured to Cadog for a seat even as he went to the cabinet to get the latter a drink.

“Aye.” Cadog shrugged and took a seat across the table, letting the 77th captain finished pouring as he too returned to his seat. “So, is there anything? I doubt you brought those two for pleasantries.”

Hands waved towards the First-mate and Haku.

“Nothing much.” Cadog commented as he took the glass, swirled the contents, and downed it in one gulp. “It’s about your activity of sending your supplies to the mayor without permission.”

The air couldn’t get colder than some of the winter Island in the Devil Seas as the accused paled so fast that Haku wondered if the man had a devil fruit that allowed him to turn that white.

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Hidden 4 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Pacifista
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Phoenix Beach, Sunstrider Kingdom, West Blue
“Later dudes! Thanks for the lift! Sorry about the ship!” Waving his hand, Rico hopped off the gangplank, onto the docks.

One of the crewmen of the merchant vessel furrowed his brow. “...What he’d do to the ship? Hey, get back here!” But Rico was already lost to the crowds. The midday was rather warm even in this month of May, and Phoenix Beach was a hotbed of tourism. All sorts mulled about: lads and ladies in swimsuits enjoying the sun and breeze, casino hoppers juggling coins between their fingers, families enjoying the lunchtime. Rico was wide eyed, glancing about at the colorful folk and loud signs. “Whoa, is there a festival going on?” Rico lit up.

Shuffling around like gremlin, he happened across a push cart, scent of fried chicken burning at his nose. “Get it before it runs away! Spicy Firebird Popcorn Chicken! Try the Three-nix flavor: three times the spice! It’ll make you rise from the ashes!”

“Aw yeah buddy, give me some pops!” Rico drooled as the clean shave man handed over a carton, toothpick stuck in for prime snaking. Rico popped some into his mouth, smoke coming from his nostrils. “Aw yeah I was starving. I can feel it burning my soul!”

“That’ll be 500 beri.”

Rico swallowed the bite in shock. Wheezing out in pain, he gasped, “Wait, it costs money? There wasn’t even any corn!”

The cartpusher was affronted. “Of course it costs money you little imp!”

Eyes and nose running from the spice, Rico coughed, “I don’t have any money!”

“Burned a hole in your pocket, huh? Don’t give me that you-” Rico took another bite of food, “Don’t eat it if you can’t pay for it!”

“It’sh good tho,” Rico said as he chewed. Swallowing, he admitted, “I got allowance like, a whole month ago I think, but I ran out. I bought this coat! It’s really cool. Well actually it’s really warm right now and I should take it off but I don’t have anywhere to put it. Oh, I got it!” Sticking the toothpick into his mouth, he handed over a few pieces of hard candy. “We’re even!”

The man turned up his nose. “Helios no! Do you even know what money is for?” Rico’s eyes wandered, his mind as empty as his wallet. “Money can exchanged for goods and services.”

One of Rico’s eyes twitched while the other spun out of place. “Oh shit I don’t know of any of either of those things or how they applies to this exact situation.”

“You want that, right?” he pointed at Rico’s chicken. Rico nodded. “That’s a good. Now exchange money for the good.”

“Ooooooh, why didn’t you just say so? It is really good, you’re right, but I’m broke, bloke.”

“I’m calling the Sootstriders.”

“Is ‘soot’ another word for money? Because that’d be a big help, thanks.” Rico took another bite of chicken as he smiled, satisfied.

The man was no older than thirty, but as he leaned over his cart to Rico, the years crashed down on him. “Look, kid, please, I’m begging you here, just pay me.”

“I dunno how? Where can I get some money?”

“Find some goods or services and exchange them for money! In other words, get a job.”

“Ooooh, I dunno if I can do that, but I’ll try!” With a wave, Rico headed off.

“No! Give back the- oh you little shot.”

A short ways away, there was a call for Rico. "Hey, kid!" called one of two men.

Rico stopped, swallowing his next bite. "You lookin' for work?"

“Am I!? Yessir!"

"Got a question...you ever whacked a guy before?"
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by LostDestiny
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LostDestiny Goldfish Brain

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It wasn’t long before the fleet set out again. Brutos decided that with Maxwell not with them they might need some extra time out. Of course before leaving Brutos set out a whole list of rules that Max was to follow while most of the crew was gone. The shark man had even taken the time to write them out though the handwriting was horrible. If Max was honest up until then he was convinced that the Boss didn’t know how to write.

-No leaving the house unaccompanied
-No talking to the Muckrakers
-No talking to anyone for that matter.
-No leaving the territory even accompanied.

The list seemed to go on forever with about a million other things Brutos had deemed Maxwell was not allowed to do though those four seemed to cover most of it. He was also left with a list of things he needed to do, most things boiling down to getting Brutos more money, and any useful information was to be passed to his “caretakers” so that they could take it to the proper channels. Maxwell was sure that Brutos had left a similarly large list with the few men he left behind to ‘watch’ Maxwell. Though the boy was sure they would only care to uphold it for the first week or so at least. Afterward they would get bored of watching the boy who talks to animals and would do off and do their own thing.

It took less than two days total for Paul and Hendricks to lose interest in Maxwell and go off to do their own things. Neither returned to the house the second night and Max couldn’t help but think that this was some kind of new record for the speed in which someone disobeyed Brutos. It made sense though, those two were the newest editions. Max wasn’t sure about how or why they joined, not totally, but he knew at least with Hendricks it hadn’t been a very pleasant experience. Was Brutos so sure that his crew was totally loyal to him and or afraid of him that even the newest members would follow his orders blindly, or was he losing his edge? Whatever the reason Max couldn’t help but be at least a little relieved the two of them had left him alone so quickly. It meant Max had at least 2 weeks to do…something…

If asked what Maxwell was doing he honestly wouldn’t have an answer. He only had a handful of Berri to his name and honestly he wasn’t sure what he had was really enough for, well, anything. Either way he bribed some of the local birds to keep a look out for his babysitters so that he wouldn’t get caught out and slipped into the streets of Pol Sticid, something he hadn’t done in a long time. Not alone at least.

Elsewhere unbeknownst to the young brown haired boy Hendricks was meeting with an old associate, an enemy of Brutos and the Saw-Tooth Pirates. Money and information was quickly exchanged and the two parted ways. Hendricks knew if he lingered too long one of Maxwell’s little animal informants would catch wind of it and inform the boy. Even new, the older pirate was well aware that Maxwell got information from all over the island rather quickly, and discreetly. All he had to do was sow enough worry in the Muckrakers that the boy could just as easily get and sell information on them that might potentially cause trouble with The Grime King himself. This one stop was all it would take to get the word around and then the “Mighty Brutos” would lose the one thing that put him so far ahead of all the others in terms of information. What happened to the boy was none of his concern; he, much like many others on this island, simply wanted to get ahead. And Hendricks had his eye on “Riptide” Brutos’ cut of territory.
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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Pacifista
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Marine Base E-50, Conch Archipelago, East Blue – 16 Years Ago
Heels clacking together, hand raised into a salute, a pair of pink eyes under a Marine cap gave a firm gaze. “Ensign Truuni Culveri, reporting for duty, sir!”

Scratching at his salt and pepper goatee, Commodore Ryu Burnet [13th East Blue Marine Patrol Division Commanding Officer] mumbled, “You’re gonna have to change out of that basic Marine gear. You’re an officer now, we’re going to need to be able to spot you easily in the thick of it.” Arms crossing over his black and blue button up, he admitted, “I figured a sailor of your sorts would jump at the chance to wear whatever the hell you want.”

Truuni gave a smile, “Sir! The outdated sexual harassment is amusing, but not appreciated.” There were a few fragments of laughter, bolting out at the sudden bluntness of Burnet’s new second in command.

“Well, that’s one thing about you that isn’t green,” Burnet admitted, noting her turquoise hair tied into a ponytail. Turning to the staffing officer overseeing the personnel change, Burnet demanded, “Get me a guy Ensign, I can’t hit this one.”

The round faced man balked. “Sir, you shouldn’t be smacking around anyone.”

Whipping out a pair of tonfas, Truuni grinned, “Don’t worry about me, I can take it!” There was a flash of brown, and the clattering of wood on wood. The air rushed with impact, ground crunching under the weight of the blow. Bruises started to form on Truuni’s forearms where her tonfa’s had struck her body, blocking Commodore Ryu’s quarterstaff.

The staffing officer pointed a finger, searching for the words to note the harsh treatment, but Burnet was more concerned with something else. “Novice. Roll with the punches, you’ll take less damage.”

Truuni’s eye bore into him, a look he could never forget. “Sir: my men are right behind me.” Burnet glanced to see a handful of soldiers having jumped back out of the way, though when Burnet’s quarterstaff struck out, they would never have scattered fast enough.

Burnet’s expression didn’t change. Running a hand through his thinning hair, he slipped the quarterstaff back into the loops of his justice coat. “That was a test: you passed.” Turning his gaze on the rest of his new men, he demanded, “Anyone else want to introduce themselves!?” The snapped to salute, their silence speaking so many words. Starting to turn off, Burnet said, “Be careful girl, you’ll be done in by that eagerness of yours.”

“Not if I can help it, sir.” Truuni countered with a coy smile.
The tone of next few years had been well set by that initial meeting. Burnet had his strength and his wisdom, but Truuni wasn’t afraid to challenge him, even if it mostly tried his patience. It was hard to say if either was learning much of anything from the other, for their contrast only made them dig their heels in deeper, but that exact fact made them a talking point of the local Marines, the pair of interest for their almost universal dissonance. It was joked about that if they ever agreed on anything, snow cones were being served in hell, the dessert ironically being one thing they both admitted to enjoying (the syrup topping flavors was another matter entirely).

It was two years into their assignment on the patrol ship that Truuni came to Burnet’s office, slamming an inventory sheet down on his desk, following it with her Marine cap, the hat taken off her head for the indoors and plopped onto the table. “They’re definitely swiping rations! These numbers aren’t adding up!”

Stuffing the rest of his granola bar into his mouth, Burnet grumbled, “You don’t need to be doing inventory more than once a month, unless we’re making a supply run.” Truuni’s mouth hung open, eyebrows narrowed in anger and disbelief as she pointed at his wrapper. “Calm down, Marines don’t ration out granola bars, there are mine.”

“Oh, right.”

“How many times have you done inventory this month?”

“Never mind that! Rules are rules for a reason aren’t they? I swear, half the guys are getting rounder by the week! If this keeps up we’ll be rolling them into battle!”

Burnet held his chin in contemplation. “If we set up the hammocks, do you think we could use it and launch them like a giant slingshot?”

“...Sorry, this is serious, I shouldn’t have joked like that. But sir! We’ve got an audit coming up too!”

Burnet leaned back in his chair, shrugging, “Yeah, missing supplies ain’t great, but they aren’t going to care about a number that could have come about through a rounding error, or just scrapped out because of mold or pest damages. Some late night snacking isn’t going to raise any eyebrows. And it’s not too costly at the end of the day, if the Government couldn’t pay for it with their Heavenly Tributes rolling in then the world has bigger problems.”

“But what about the integrity! Overlook one victimless crime here and they’ll be looking to see what they could get away with next!”

Burnet waved his hand, “Slippery slope. You’re welcome to try and catch them in the act, you know. Or work them harder, let them burn off that extra weight. Honestly, that’s the way I’d rather deal with it. Let ‘em know it’s wrong without actually making waves about it. You get those pencil pushers riled up and everyone is going to have problems. Fuckers love assigning corrective action.”

Truuni’s face fell, the girl losing steam, her hand scrunching up her Marine cap. “What’s the point of Marines if not to uphold rules for peace and order?”

Burnet let out a low sigh, leaning in. “Peace and order is good and all, but there’s plenty of evils in the world that happen with all the rules going exactly as intended. I’m not stopping you if you want to take this further up the chain, but you better think long and hard about what the consequences will be. Hear me?”

Truuni shut her eyes, scooping up her cap and inventory sheet. “Loud and clear,” she said, turning off without as much as a salute. Burnet didn’t question it at the time, but she hadn’t been one to shed decorum before regardless of how she felt, not that he’d have brought it up anyway. For the first time, Truuni started to relax a bit, shedding her standard infantry uniform for more casual clothes. Burnet was glad to see her chill a bit, and their men took notice, growing a bit friendlier with her (though Burnet’s brow grew tired of shooting glares at those with burgeoning ulterior motives). Even so, he felt a certain sadness, as a bit of the honest childishness in her heart had been put to rest, seemingly for good.
Slamming an empty beer mug down, Truuni suppressed a belch, instead snarling, “What’re they thinkin’ with Cholkin, huh? Like he can just schmooze on in from the Grand Line like the Seiryu position was fer him, when Rear-Admiral Honswore knows the East like the back of his hand! Just promote ‘im!”

Burnet chortled, “You can’t say a man deserves a double promotion because he actually replies to your fan mail.”

“It’s not fan mail it’s legi’mate suggestions to help the Navy run better!” Truuni scowled.

Burnet let a rare smile slip as he took another draught of beer. Truuni pulled her hoodie on a bit tighter, before mumbling, “Commodore, do you remember why you became a Marine?”

Burnet raised an eyebrow at the reference to rank, before insisting, “I’m old but I ain’t that old. I was kind of a small time thug in a big time city, and I knew it wasn’t going to leave me with much of a future, so I wanted to go somewhere where my strength could take me farther. It also cleaned up my act. All that stuff about justice...honestly I got sick of it before boot camp was over. Filled my head with so many ideas you’d have thought I was killed and replaced with the fellow you’re talking to, all the times I went on about being a good Marine instead of...”

“You’re a plenty good Marine,” Truuni finished with a pout. Burnet rolled his eyes. She didn’t catch that, but she did catch his expectant gaze. Taking another sip, she began, “I wanted to be a Marine because of my dad. He died as one when I was little. He didn’t even get to officer rank or anything, so I think I wanted to join to, like...not surpass him or anything, but more...make sure his death wasn’t in vain. He never accomplished much, but if he could inspire me to be a great Marine, then that’d make up for it, right? Then the Devil struck, and I figured I couldn’t wait any longer, so I lied about my age and enlisted at officer’s academy.”

Burnet stared into space for a moment, before saying, “You what?” Truuni swirled the drink in her hand, Burnet realizing, “You only just now hit legal drinking age, didn’t you?” Truuni giggled. “You little hypocrite. Hyposhite even.”

Truuni giggled, slumping down onto the counter. “If I’d ‘a known being a Marine in the East felt more like community service sometimes, I mighta pushed to be assigned to the Grand Line...but don’t let that worry you, I’m glad to be here!”

Burnet conceded, “Yeah, peace is best. Don’t ever think otherwise.”

“Yeah...” Truuni mumbled, lowering her head. It was only the two of them here in their ship’s mess hall, and as Burnet allowed her to drift to sleep, it felt like it was only the two of them in the whole world. He would never admit that paternal inkling in his chest, not even to himself. To him, peace was the result of protecting what you cared about. In his days of watching his fellows in arms, men he’d broken bread and shed blood with, either fight and die heroes or become no better than pirates in lawless lands, he made a judgment call, choosing to protect them over the random innocent. He felt like it was his way of retaining his humanity, and sitting here, thinking of Truuni, now a Lieutenant Junior Grade, his silence had protected that humanity of his. Now he just had to protect her, and the rest of his men, as best as he could.
“What do you mean leave it be!?” Truuni slammed her fist on Burnet’s desk, the wood cracking in half.

Burnet didn’t flinch. “That place is like a fortress and we don’t have the manpower!”

“We do! There are dozens, maybe even hundreds of people there willing to fight for their own freedom!”

“What’s the point of endangering the people we’re supposed to protect!?”

“WHAT’S THE POINT OF LETTING THEM SUFFER WHEN WE HAVE THE POWER TO DO SOMETHING!?” Truuni roared, Burnet taking a step back, caught off guard by his junior. Her hand gripping the wood, she muttered, “This isn’t about food being pilfered, this is human lives being traded like goods. We can’t just let this go! We’re Marines! If someone’s in need, and we can help them, shouldn’t we help them?”

“If we threw ourselves into every little conflict, there’d be no Marines! At the end of the day, we’re outnumbered out there! We go through the proper procedures: report to the 55th and wait for instruction.”

“How long is that going to take!?” Truuni howled.

“We’ll just have to find out, won’t we?” Burnet snorted, turning to his Den Den Mushi. He felt Truuni’s eyes burn on his back before she stormed out. Burnet shook his head, finger freezing over the dial. He knew about this place before they even got close. They were profitable enough to bribe all the patrol ships nearby, but a storm had forced them into the area. Burnet wasn’t into looking for bribes, so he was going to keep his nose clean and pretend nothing was wrong, but Truuni didn’t know how the world worked, that even if they dislodged the slavers and rescued countless innocent people, the power vacuum would just be filled by another group and nothing would change. And on top of that, the other patrol ships would have it out for the 13th. They’d been pretty fortunate up until now, but Burnet wanted to protect that luck, in spite of the number.
Hope is a terrible thing. The slightest bit of vagueness offered a hope just as slight. Seeing a small rowboat bobbing in the ocean in the path of their vessel, a wooden box jammed with spears and blades poked through the wood resting atop it, Burnet felt dread. In the wake of Truuni’s disappearance following her requests to the other men of the 13th to come with her to the slaver base, an offer not one man took, he feared the worst, but even now he couldn’t just accept how human sized that box was.

He had hope. And until that box was brought on board and cracked open, he’d been able to keep it. Seeing Truuni, he came to despair as that last bit of hope was gone. Burnet was proud to be strong, proud to be a rock his men could rely on. How could he be that rock when he was on his hands and knees, justice coat having slipped from his shoulders, the man unable to hear his own angered wails for the ringing in his own ears? But how could he regain that composure when he saw the frozen expression of his shipmate of 6 years? Saw her wrists bruised by the tonfas she swung to her last, the other wounds on her body well beyond the weapons stuck in her body as an intimidation threat?

His anger an inferno he felt might immolate everything, the 13th stormed the island, but their foes were already gone, the base abandoned. The Marines they’d bribed would look on the 13th just like Burnet had feared. Truuni’s solo effort was all for nothing. Or so Burnet was prepared to claim, until their search of the island turned up a number of folks in rags, dozens coming out of the woodwork. “You’re finally here! She said reinforcements were on the way!” Burnet felt his face tighten, unable to believe that Truuni legitimately believed they would come for her. “She never gave up, we owe her everything. We didn’t even know her name.” “Thank you, thank you!” came so many grateful words as Burnet’s men got everyone to safety. He’d rather they’d have thrown rocks: it’d have hurt less. He wouldn’t be able to listen to the commencement he got for dislodging the slavers, his promotion to Rear-Admiral being considered as Truuni got the standard posthumous double promotion to Lieutenant Commander. He wouldn’t accept it, resigning his position to eventually drift to Melody Island, a quiet place he could live out the rest of his days in peace. He’d tried to live as a good Marine, but even by his abysmally low standards, he was a bad Marine, one who couldn’t even protect what little he’d sought to keep safe.

Reaching for another bottle, all the ones that came to Burnet’s hands were empty. Slumping back into his seat, hand pressed against his face, eyes watering even as he tried to hold them shut, one last comment striking him from 12 years ago, words Truuni gave to alleviate the fears of the people she was trying to rescue when the claimed reinforcements never came.

“Don’t worry, they’re coming! My Commodore isn’t a bad guy, he won’t leave you!” He fought his tears as easily as a leaf could fight the wind. “Stupid fucking girl.”

“You won’t help even one of us who needs you right now? Forget being a good Marine, what about being a good person?” Burnet shook his head, “Damn the lot of you.”

Glancing over his shoulder at the quarterstaff leaning by the door, he knew he didn’t want to be in this dark room, but he didn’t want to go outside either. He didn’t want to do anything, he didn’t even really know what he wanted to do. Then the thought came, and he felt his breath start to steady. Wiping his face, he took to the sink, washing himself up. Changing out of his shirt, he picked the cleanest one he could off the ground, before heading for the door, pushing it open against the wind.

He still didn’t know what to do, but he knew what he wanted, and that was to stop feeling like this. So if he didn’t know, then he’d just ask himself ‘what would Truuni do?’ And even though she hadn’t been on this world in over a decade, he knew goddamn well what she would do.
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Daxam
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Daxam Majin Boo

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After a lengthy dressing down from Erik, Luna found herself at the helm with him, Rufus, Galen, and Aquila, discussing their next moves. She still felt weird about leading their crew, but she stowed that discomfort away. These people, even if only because it was Marcus’ will, had faith that she would be able to step up and she had decided she wasn’t going to disappoint them.

“We’re running low on provisions,” Erik was saying. He leaned against the railing in front of the wheel, which was currently being manned by Rufus. The man’s short hair, held back by the white headband wrapped around his forehead, was almost completely white, aside from a few streaks of sandy blonde, as was his small goatee, and he seemingly had spent his entire life on some ship or another, if his tanned, leathery skin was anything to go by. He was easily the oldest person on the ship, but if his temper was anything to go by, he still had more life in him than a person a fraction of his age.

That was something Luna had noticed after waking up. A few of the crew were middle-aged, a couple, like Erik, even older, having been veterans from the Legion before the Empire fell, though most of the crew were still in their upper twenties, lower thirties. The younger men and women had joined up relatively recently, she figured. A few of them had the same look in their eyes she was sure she had, one that told her that they had lost something all those years ago.

The rest probably joined thinking they might be able to earn some cash or something along those lines. As far as Luna was concerned, so long as they didn’t up and disappear in the middle of the night with all their supplies, she didn’t care why they were on the ship.

“We can get by with whatever we can snag by fishing,” Erik continued, “but we’ll need to swing by an island at some point to stock up on essentials. Preferably sooner rather than later.”

“We also need to ask around about Sol,” Luna added. ”Last I knew, he was heading west, but that was a week ago.”

Rufus slowly nodded and looked over his shoulder at Galen. “Sounds like we should pay a visit to Bacchus,” he suggested.

The doctor sighed and said, “As much as I hate to admit it, I think you’re right. With any luck, they’ll be able to spare something for us. As for our wayward prince, it won’t hurt to ask around, but I won’t hold my breath.”

Her brow furrowed, curious by Galen’s hesitation, Luna piped up, ”I remember my dad talking to me about Bacchus Island. It used to be our main supplier of wine, right? Did something happen to it?”

Rufus and Galen shared a look while Erik averted Luna’s gaze with a quiet curse, obviously irritated. It was Aquila who spoke up after a moment of silence, her voice soft, “It was about a year after the empire fell. The Marines were hunting down survivors of the Legion and there was a large number of soldiers garrisoned at Bacchus Island. The man who led them was the prefect of the Fourth Cohort, but when the Marines arrived, he and a number of his men had fled. The remaining Legionnaires, leaderless, were disorganized and fell easily to the Navy.”

“That gods-damned bastard,” Erik growled. “He was always a piece of work, but I never thought he was a coward on top of that. I hope Lunara left his soul to rot.”

Aquila glanced at Erik, then turned back to Luna. “The fighting ended up destroying most of the vineyards on the island. It was in such a state that the government must have decided there was no coming back, so they didn’t station any Marines there. The remaining residents didn’t give up, though, and even though they aren’t anywhere near what they used to be, they’re well on their way.”

“Least until the pirates showed up,” Rufus interjected. “The people on Bacchus Island set up their own local government and things were going well for a while. Then, a few years ago, some pirates showed up, kicked out the governor, and now they’re hoarding whatever wine and money was left over while working the people to the bone to keep their buzz going.”

Luna was quiet for a moment as she worked to get her anger under control. Not only did one of her own people leave those he was supposed to protect to the wolves, but now a piece of her parent’s empire was infested with something worse: parasites. She let out a long, calming breath, then asked, ”Wait, if you guys haven’t been there in a while, then how do you know what’s going on?”

“One of our old crewmates lived there before the Empire fell,” Rufus explained. “There was a short story in a newspaper a little while back, no more than a paragraph on the back page, really, talking about the pirates invading. Marcus let him go back home and he’s been sending us letters ever since. Though…come to think of it, we haven’t heard from him in a while…”

”That’s that, then,” Luna said. She crossed her arms and, with a grin, declared, ”Set a course for Bacchus Island! Let’s show those pirates we’re sick and tired of being pushed around.”

Arc 2: Bacchus Island will start next week
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Hidden 4 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Pacifista
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“Oh god please, I’ll pay you back, honest, just spare me!”

Rico looked down on the begging man, his hair long and clothes ratty. His cheeks were puffed out slightly, his look vacant. In his hand was a simple flintlock pistol. Turning over his shoulder to the two Solar Triad thugs who’d roped him into this.

“Just finish him off and you’ll get paid,” insisted Hong.

“I’m gonna be honest fellas, I did not sign up for this.”

Jingyi balked. “What!? That’s not what you said before! Just hurry it up and off him so we can be neatly removed from culpability.”

Rico’s eyes wandered, perhaps drifting back to what he said before.

“Have I whacked a guy before? You betcha. No one in the West can whack like me. I’m the whackiest freakin’ whackjob you ever met. I whack out the wazoo. My whacking is cracked, jack. Talking smack wearing black BAM, I whack. Whacked so hard I broke my back, once. From the rack with a crack, I’ve got a knack for whack.”

“...I kinda want to hit him,” Jingyi grumbled.

“I wanna see how far he can go with this,” Hong said.

“Please help I don’t know how to stop.”

“I think I misunderstood you guys, must be a local thing,” Rico suggested.

Hong took the gun back. “Well, we’ll salvage this somehow.” Twirling it about, he pointed it at Rico and fired. But Rico didn’t fall, his face reforming with a fizz of sparks, his eyes narrowed in anger. “What the sho-” Rico grabbed him by the face, bending a knee and bringing him down, smashing him into the stone alleyway ground effortlessly. Cracks formed about, Jingyi and the debtor letting out cries of shock.

“That was really rude you know!” Rico growled. Stomping towards Jingyi, he demanded, “What the heck is even going on here!?”

Jingyi tried to retreat, only managing to back into the wall. “H-Humex over there is late on his debt repayment!”

Rico paused. “I have debts to pay too, how the heck can we pay if we’re dead?”

Jingyi became indignant. “Hey, if we go soft on you guys it’s over for our rep! That’s worth more than the rest of the debt, so-”

He stopped when Rico glared. Trying to slip away, he failed, Rico grabbing him by the scruff of his shirt. Using his other hand to flip the man around, Rico brought him down, slamming him into the ground with another cracking of stone. “That’s stupid! You’re stupid!” He grumbled. Turning to Humex, he noted, “And if I think your plan is dumb then you’ve got another thing coming!”

Humex stared, before mumbling, “It’s n-not that stupid, really. The Solar Triad are feared around here for a good reason, and you just knocked out-why are you going through their pockets?”

Rico stuck out his lips as he pulled some beri out of Hong and Jingyi’s wallets. “I whacked some guys, just not the one they wanted. Besides I need to get to Shuffle Island somehow.” Pulling together about 10,000 beri, he muttered, “How much is a ship? Like a ride? To a place I wanna go?”

Humex thought for a moment before answering, “Er, depends on where you want to go. Shuffle Island...maybe 50,000? A bit more?”

“Sweet!” Rico cheered, pocketing the cash. “Anyway, you should probably run, they’re gonna be mad when they wake up. We both gotta find a way to earn some money. Any ideas?”

Humex balked, “If I knew I wouldn’t be in this situation. You have bigger things to worry about though! You don’t want to be on the Triad’s bad side. What’s your name, anyway?”

“Meh, I’ll figure it out, they don’t seem so tough. Anyway, I’m Rico. Can I crash at your place?”

This guy is going to get himself killed, so Helios no! Humex thought with a wince. “Er, there are some good places to stay right in Phoenix Beach if you have the cash.”

Rico pouted. “I need the money though, dang, this is gonna be hard.”

“Tell me about it. Anyway, thanks for the help pal, but we better get before the Sootstriders come.” Humex skedaddled, leaving Rico behind. The young man looked to the two bodies, wondering aloud, “I don’t know how ash is gonna help but see you later bro!”

As the two parted ways, Humex felt his heart pounding. He had a ray of light, finally. It wouldn’t be enough to remove his debt, but he had something that could be worth a lot in the right circumstance: information. This Rico kid, with a weird power and crazy strength, who the Triad could be gunning for within the day...he just needed to offer the right words at the right time for the right price.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Daxam
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Daxam Majin Boo

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A couple of days later, Luna was napping on the topdeck of the ship, her back against the port gunwale. It was late afternoon and the gunwale gave her just enough shade to avoid the worst of the sun. Her nap, however, was interrupted by a firm kick to the thigh. She opened her eyes to see Rufus standing there, looking down at her. “Sleeping well, princess?” he asked. “Nothing else for you to do?”

”Hey, I’ve tried,” Luna replied as she stretched her arms over her head. ”Up until now, the only thing I’ve ever sailed in was a little boat. It was about all I could do to make sure I was going in the right direction. Working on a full-sized ship is completely different. I don’t really feel like getting laughed at when I end up tangled up in the shrouds, again, and Erik’s already banned me from helping in the kitchen. You start one little fire and you’re suddenly not allowed within sight of any pots or pans.”

“Way I hear it, it took three people to put out that fire,” Rufus muttered, before quickly shutting up when he caught Luna’s glare. He crouched next to her and said, “Alright, Erik and his kitchen notwithstanding, you know it’ll only take a little bit of practice to get used to doing everything else, right?”

”Of course I do,” the half-Mink captain sighed. ”And I promise, I will. It’s just better for everyone if I take some time to myself when I get frustrated. Otherwise, I tend to get zappy…or punchy…or both…”

Whatever Rufus was going to say was lost when Luna suddenly jumped to her feet, her nose tilted upward as she sniffed the air. She ran toward the bow of the ship and continued to smell the air. ”I think I smell…grapes?” she muttered. A moment later, she realized that was exactly it; the scent of grapes, warming in the afternoon sun. Something about it brought a powerful sense of nostalgia.

“That’s some nose you’ve got,” Rufus said as he joined Luna at the bow. “We must be getting close.” He turned back toward the crew and shouted, “Start getting ready to pull into port! The captain’s smelling Bacchus!”

Not too long afterward, a landmass gradually began to appear over the horizon. It wasn’t a small island, but it wasn’t large, either. Rocky cliffs rose above the water and a collection of buildings could soon be seen around a rather large port, relative to the island’s size, where a few ships were docked. One in particular stood out to Luna, due to its size, but because of the distance, she couldn’t make out anything else about it.

The rest of the island was covered in rolling green hills, the verdancy interrupted by the facades of buildings and walls, which Luna assumed were the vineyards. At the very top of the hill, sitting above the town and the vineyards, was what appeared to be a large complex, almost a palace, as if whoever lived there wanted everyone to know just how much more important they were than everyone else.

“So, that’s Bacchus, huh?” Luna muttered. ”It doesn’t look too bad…”

“Just wait,” Galen replied, having appeared behind Luna and Rufus. “After we’ve docked, you and Rufus can look around town while the rest of us stock up on supplies. Get an idea of just how bad things are.”

Luna nodded and turned back toward the island. As they drew closer, she realized she could smell something else with the grapes. Something all too familiar to her.

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Pacifista
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Hair poofy and pink, Mrs. Poppy ran a finger across her face, tracing lines down the wrinkles carved from her worried expression. “This is the second time in just a few days one of you has gotten hurt, what is Coriander doing?”

Sprained finger wrapped in a splint, Verbena pouted, “It’s not like it’s her fault!”

Poppy sighed, “I know, it’s Peppermint. Just be careful for a change. The problem will sort itself out eventually.” Verbena’s brow furrowed over his beady eyes, but he hopped off the stool and headed out without a word of thanks. Stepping outside Mrs. Poppy’s clinic, he found Sorrel waiting for him, Cassia and Rue assembled as well. Verbena avoided meeting their eyes, the boy typically using his weight to push the others around, but now they’d seen his weakness.

“Mrs. Poppy doesn’t get it at all!” Verbena finally blurted out, kicking at a stone as he broke the silence. “Peppermint’s not a problem…”

Sorrel mumbled, “Huh? You make fun of her all the time.”

“Yeah? I make fun of you guys too, don’t I?” Verbena snapped.

“‘Cept me,” Rue giggled.

“I can smack you though,” Sorrel jabbed. Verbena frowned.

“You’re too mean to her!” Cassia cried, his volume a bit louder than needed. As the others leaned away, he added, “If you can’t be nicer I’m not gonna hang out with you anymore.” The kids were quiet, thinking it through.

Rue stopped walking, crouching to the ground. “I still think she’s a goody two shoes, but she’s kinda like my big sister.”

Sorrel mumbled, “It would be pretty lame if she stopped hanging with us, since she’s the only one of us who’s both big and nice. But she’s still a little scary: that floorboard almost hit me.”

Verbena started a course, insisting, “I’m gonna go apologize.”

Sorrel shivered, “I didn’t know you could do that!”

“Shut up! It’s not like I meant to make her that mad!” Verbena wailed. “I don’t really think she’s a monster! I thought she would laugh the other day! She’s one of us, right!?” The kids were stunned to see Verbena with tears at the edge of his eyes. “She never does anything bad! She’s never hurt any of us before. I didn’t want to make her sad: I wanted her to laugh. I’m the bad one! But she’s never bad so she probably thinks she’s bad right now. So I gotta apologize!” The other three frowned, Verbena’s words ringing true.

“I didn’t say anything wrong but I still wanna help cheer her up,” Rue insisted, mouth hidden behind her clutched teddy bear. Sorrel and Cassia nodded along, and in no time, they were on the path to Peppermint’s house. Reaching the door, Verbena stopped, noticing the doorknob was loose, barely hanging in the door. Raising his hand, he moved to knock, but there was a footstep from behind him, one much larger than that of any of his friends. He turned about.

“You her friends?” asked Ryu Burnet, his long hair and trench-coat flowing in the wind.

“AHHHHHHHH,” the kids shouted in unison. Burnet flinched at the noise, but he couldn’t particularly blame them after his attitude yesterday.

“Calm down, I’m here for the-hey!” Burnet cried out as the kids started to scatter, fear supplanting rationality. Reflexively, Burnet reached out, grabbing Cassia by his arm. “Would you all be quiet!” he snarled. Against all reason and logic, this produced the opposite effect Burnet had intended, Cassia bursting into tears, sobbing loudly. “H-hey! Come on now. Ah shit.”

Burnet looked up at the door as it creaked open. The two of them both stopping dead, Peppermint’s hard gaze having a particular aura to it. The girl wore a hoodie, a white cloth stained with red was wrapped on her hand as tightly as she could manage. Peppermint growled, “Let him go.”

“Hmm?” Burnet replied, not seeing the issue. Peppermint huffed, door getting blown open as she backed up, disappointing into the darkness of her house. There was a rushed patter of footsteps, and Burnet was glad he reflexively let go of Cassia’s hand. Peppermint shot out of the doorway like a missile, her pale green shock of hair making fast friends with Burnet’s ribcage. Momentum transferred, sending him hurtling across the dirt road and into a fence on the opposite side, where he plowed through the wood like it was made of toothpicks, crashing into a thick tree, wood splintering.

“Unnnnnnn,” Burnet groaned, vision swimming. He’d heard she was strong, but not in his wildest imagination did he think it was something like this. His vision came into focus as he noticed Peppermint charging at him. Rolling out of the way, her fist smacked into the tree, splinters gushing out of the back like flour from a ruptured sack. Burnet didn’t think the blood could rush out of his face so fast. “Holy hell.”

“No-” Peppermint began, turning her gaze on him, leg going up, “SWEARING!” Burnet pulled himself back a bit, her stamping foot going right between his legs, the quake shaking him to his core. Sweat was coming, and fast. The man of a hundred battles felt his rusted survival instincts creaking into place. A fear gripped him, the realization coming that if he didn’t do something fast, this girl could kill him. Pulling his leg back, he pressed it against Peppermint’s torso before pushing off, hurtling her back. The girl stumbled, losing her balance and planting into the dirt, giving Burnet time to stand, against the will of his sore joints and creaky bones.

“Are you done?” Burnet coughed. But Peppermint pushed herself up, nostrils flaring as the steam of anger billowed out. Burnet felt his heart shrink under the girl’s anger. With a roar, she charged at him, and Burnet, in all his wisdom, could only think to turn tail and run like fucking hell.

Streaking through the buildings in the midday, they drew a number of heads. It was an unusual sight: Burnet wasn’t out and about often, let alone running for his life, and Peppermint was a little green hellion on his heels. He was wise enough not to turn back and lose speed, but he could sense that she was still gaining on him. While from the outside, the old man running from Peppermint sure looked funny, he’d seen visions of a nine year old harbinger of death, and wasn’t in much a position to take it lightly.

How long has she been this strong? The whole time? Burnet realized, the spats of life flashing before his eyes taking him to his numerous rampages as a child, a young Burnet not even just breaking things on accident, but because he could. Peppermint could break anything on this island, but from what Burnet heard, she barely had. The dread in his heart started to wane. The potentials this girl was capable of, yet straying from, all because she wanted to be a Marine? You’re not a good fit for the Marines at all! he realized. He thought back to his first mission with the 16th Patrol Division, where they tore through a lawless land taking things as they pleased, the villagers helpless to resist for fear of true retaliation. Burnet’s heart burned to stop them, but they were his own comrades, one’s he’d been laughing and training alongside just the day before. He burned to act, but instead repressed himself.

And it didn’t stop there, it never had. He’d kept his men in line too, claiming it was for their safety. But just because he could hold himself back forever doesn’t mean everyone could stay that way. Truuni had chose to act rather than be held back. But here, Peppermint had been holding back her whole life, and she couldn’t manage that forever. Her dam was finally breaking, and god knew what she was going to take out before the flood subsided. Coriander was right: she did need help, and Burnet was the only one who could give it to her. A life of being told ‘no’, of telling himself ‘no’, of telling others ‘no’… To that, he decided to say ‘no’, planting his foot in the dirt. Whipping his quarterstaff off his back, he turned about, giving it a good, underhanded swing. “Sorry kid,” he grunted as the wood met Peppermint’s torso. Following through, Peppermint was launched skyward, onlookers gasping out. Verbena and the kids pointed in the sky as Peppermint flew. Cicely wiped sweat from his bald head as he watched, fearing the possibility of having to make good om his words about rebuilding the leveled town for Peppermint’s sake. A distance away, Coriander saw the airborne girl and let out a cry, eyes bulging out, feet going into motion as she sped over.

Peppermint landed with a crash, bouncing into a set of barrels left by the dockside, smashing through them. Sitting up, she looked around, all eyes on her. Lifting a hand, brushing away a piece of wood that stuck to it, fear and guilt crossed her face. Burnet saw her beginning to retreat into herself yet again, the release small and fleeting. Her world was one made of paper, so easy to tear, yet she navigated it so carefully. But the stress of that was something Burnet couldn’t imagine. Peppermint was an amazing talent, and the more he watched her in action, the more he felt his heart well up with something he thought was long gone: burgeoning hope. Peppermint was too good for the Marines, but she had goodness, and she had power. Burnet lacked both, and couldn’t make the change he’d never even considered. Truuni had all the goodness, but despite her skill she was just one above average solider. Peppermint didn’t have to be strong enough to move the world, she just had to be strong enough to protect what she cared about, and in a lot of ways, she already was.

But she couldn’t protect herself, and her heart. Not alone.

Quarterstaff jabbing against the ground, Burnet shouted, “On your feet, soldier!” Peppermint gawked, scrambling to a standing position. Putting his front leg forward, quarterstaff aimed at her, he said, “Battle position!” Peppermint squeaked, raising her fists awkwardly.

“I am Commodore Ryu Burnet, and this sparring match isn’t over. Your enemies aren’t going to give up because of a couple broken barrels. No matter what breaks, you have to keep going until it’s over!” The words came easily, moreso than they ever had, Burnet's own dam finally breaking, even though their weight he still felt on his back. For a moment, he felt as though Truuni’s eyes might be watching him, the eyes of a girl who could only go forward. Burnet didn’t turn back: he couldn’t face her, not yet. Instead, he let that push him forward, the man finally moving into motion after 12 years. “If you want to protect what you care about, you give it your all! Understood!?”

Peppermint gave a nod, still hesitant. The itching Burnet felt on his face, wind biting through the trails of his tears, was more than enough explanation as to why she was holding back, but if she kept that up, she was going to be in a world of hurt. Quarterstaff flashing, he knocked Peppermint about without remorse. He didn’t need to feel bad: she broke it in two within 5 minutes, and he was taking his own licks. Even with two separate halves he was still able to knock her about, but her anger had melted, exchanged with a grin. Bouncing back from being launched, she laughed like she’d been playing with a bubble wand. And honestly, as Burnet fought with all he had to keep Peppermint from crushing him, the pitched conflict had somehow become fun in its thrill. He remembered that look Truuni had given her when she defended her men from his aimless blow.

She was smiling. During their spars, their debates, their leisurely moments. He’d tried to compartmentalize it as a quirk of hers. Who’d find hanging out with an old geezer like him enjoyable? But as he came to enjoy seeing this raw talent blossom, getting more agile as the fight went on, his time with Truuni kept resurfacing. He’d acted like a father to her, but even that was something he held back on. He couldn’t apologize to her, he couldn’t make it up to her, but there was one thing he could do.

As the sun started to set, the town full of onlookers, gashes in the dirt roads and splintered trees strewn about, Burnet and Peppermint lay on the ground, bruised and exhausted. “Hey girl…” Burnet panted.

“Y-yeah?” Peppermint returned in kind.

“You still wanna become a Marine?”


“I wanted to be a Marine because of my dad. He died as one when I was little. He didn’t even get to officer rank or anything, so I think I wanted to join to, like...not surpass him or anything, but more...make sure his death wasn’t in vain. He never accomplished much, but if he could inspire me to be a great Marine...”

You couldn’t inspire me to be a great Marine, Truuni. No one ever could. But god dammit girl I’ll make it up to you by making the greatest Marine in the fucking world.

“Well, you got yourself a mentor kid. I’ll make you the best dang Marine there ever was.”

Peppermint’s eyes widened, her face shifting to shock, then breaking into tears, her arms going to cover her face. Burnet’s hand found her shoulder, the smile on his face hurting his cheek muscles for its rarity. “Me too kid, me too.”
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