SEVEN NAUTICAL MILES OUTSIDE OF PALETTE ISLAND, THE SEASHARK SHADOW-ROCK FORMATION.
The Hinnon Breeze was riding along swiftly on the waves. It was a good day for sailing. The skies were clear, the sun was shining and the wind was at their back. Their sails full and their spirits were well. That was, until the cowboy in the nest on top of the mast spotted something in the far distance with his eaglelike vision. Something coming closer to him.
“Oi! Everyone! We got incoming! Starboard side!” He yelled, as the others would pay attention to the galley on their side. The marine vessel belonging to the 41st unit. An auxiliary force of the marines patrolling the entrance into the Grand Line. In pirate-language, it’s what they call a ‘big fucking problem’. Lina poked her head out of the kitchen window, Macario from the door of his own vessel still leashed to the Breeze. “I guess there are still Marines in these parts, huh?”
“Ehhhh,” Lina mused, noting the size of the vessel, notably larger than the one they’d encountered a few weeks ago. However, she didn’t move from her spot, thinking little of it all and going back to work, while Macario, more cautious, hopped up onto the deck proper, keeping an eye out.
On the marine ship, the spotters had already gotten a bead on the Hinnon Breeze. The black flag on top of their mast alerted them that this was a hostile ship. And a pirate ship, nonetheless. Those didn’t come around here very often. The bored marines were all iching for a fight. That is, till one of the men in the secondary lookout nest noticed that there were no more than three or four people on the ship. That wasn’t much of a fight. The Marines let out a painfully bored sigh as they all reverted back to their non-combat positions.
All but one. The Captain of the ship, perched up in the highest lookout point of the vessel, her long gun positioned on the railing. She was kneeling to get onto the right height. Her scope seeing each of the three people on the ground, focusing on the blonde man. The new batch of bounty-orders had come in for the North Blue earlier that day, and the woman smirked as he could clearly see that the man she had in her scope was the 50 million-upstarting pirate and former Marine. Gemma Matrix hated deserters.
As the bullet would rip for Chester’s throat, Kuhn had spotted the glint from the scope, and leapt down onto the main deck, shouting for Chester to get down. The Captain ignored what the gunner told him, as the latter pushed him out of the way, the bullet ripping past him, grazing his shoulder as they both fell to the floor.
Kuhn rolled on the ground, to the side where his long rifle was propped. Grabbing it and very quickly taking a position on the mast. Loading in one of his special bullets, he fired at the sniper in the marine ship. The bullet exploded with a charge of TNT, blowing up the nest, the Marine Captain having gotten out of it right before impact, but lost her position.
“We've gotta fight on our hands!” Chester howled, excitedly. Not even caring that he had just narrowly escaped death. The Marines were all gearing up for battle as the ship turned around towards the Breeze, aiming to get into cannon range.
Rolling his shoulder, Macario muttered, “Guess Marines are Marines. Shoulda thought twice about shacking up with pirates but here we are.” From below there was some stomping, Lina’s light blue sundress rustling as she shouted, “What was that!? What did Chester do this time!?”
“No time to point blame” Kuhn shouted, as he moved his hand to indicate to Lina that she needed to get over here. Kuhn pulled off the Tarp covering the new cannon they had bought, as he glanced at the old one.
“It should still shoot with a little bit of fixing. Captain, Scholar, please fire this one. I’ll fix the other one. Lina, help me.” Kuhn told them. Lina went to help while Chester nodded in agreement… And confusion. He looked at the cannon, and then at Macario, then at the cannon, and then at the stack of cannonballs.
Macario frowned. “What is that look?” With the old cannon a bit further away on the deck, the two were out of earshot, especially as the ringing of cannons sounded out, Marines firing their test shots, still going wide, but each one alluding to the coming barrage as the Marine battleship began to approach, heading to cut off their path and preparing to sail side to side with the Breeze once it was closer.
Chester looked at the cannon, fiddling with it. Unable to figure out how to open it up to load the cannon into it. In fact, he couldn’t even figure out how to prep it to get the fuse lit. Not to mention such things as calibrating the aim. He glared at Macario. “Do… Do you know how?” He asked, sheepishly.
“Uhhhhhhh…” Macario murmured. “I’m gonna be honest, I know how to throw a punch but aside from that I’m definitely in the ‘make research papers, not war’ kind of camp.” The whistling of a cannonball coming particularly close, Macario raised a fist, but it merely impacted the water, the force shaking the boat. Flexing a hand, Macario said, “We might have to improvise.”
Chester grinned at the idea. “You’re not all bad, Mac.” Chester told him, as he grabbed a fistful of cannonball. “Watch this!” He growled as he threw the cannonball at an incoming one, the two exploding in the air.
Macario gawked. “Are you crazy!?” Tensing, he raised his fist, but while he did indeed have a ranged attack, it was no gun, not by a long shot. Mid range would be a more accurate descriptor: he could punch someone on the other side of a room, but now with this alternative in front of him, using it to block cannonballs was…
“Scoot over,” Macario said as he stepped forwards, snatching up a cannonball and holding at the ready. Eyes narrowing at a black spot growing as it got closer, he fired it off. Unfamiliar with throwing them and not possessing the same dumb luck as Chester, it went wide, so Macario reared back his fist. “Xun!” It was pretty close for comfort, but the cannonball exploded from Macario’s ranged punch, the explosion rocking the boat. He didn’t like having to use it, but even so, he had it in the wings if needed. Reaching over, he grabbed another cannonball. “Alright, it’s not that stupid…”
Chester grinned. “See, I told you! Genius! Watch this!” Chester joked, grabbing a ball, and pointing towards another one the marines had just fired, he twirled around and threw it with a motion starting from his back, hitting it mid-air. “Ka-boom!” He shouted as the two iron balls collided, exploding. “Let’ em have it, Macario!” The captain shouted, grabbing another two balls and chucking them at the marine ship, not quite making enough distance, as the larger vessel grew ever closer.
The two continued their cannon-less assault, but it could only go on for so long before they expended their store of ammo. Macario had been a bit more conservative with his use, meaning that reaching to find no cannonballs left him with a grumpy look on his face. Switching to the backup, a ranged fist knocked another cannonball out of the air, but with the ship encroaching, they were about to have to deal with way more. The sails were unfurled but Macario realized no one was manning the helm. “Oh shit!” He cried, scampering over to the wheel. Their course had been a bit erratic, guided by the waves, but only now did someone take hold of it. Eyes scanning the horizon he hadn’t spotted their destination quite yet, but it wasn’t a good time for that anyway so he merely kept the course evasive.
While Macario darted for the wheel, Chester picked up the slack, throwing cannonballs twice as fast, but half as accurately, with careless abandon that for his entire journey had been his signum. With his accelerated chucking of the iron balls, the carts that were loaded were quickly empty, and Chester realized he was out of ammo. And soon after he had, the marines began advancing, now that the hail of balls was over and the pirate vessel’s defenses were rendered inert they could safely sail towards the Breeze. Chester grabbed a bottle and took a swig, deciding to look for more cannonballs. He shouted at Macario.
“We’re out of ammo, I’m gonna look for more! Use your fist-stuff to knock out any incoming fire!” He yelled, disappearing under the deck as the marine cannon-fire once more ensued, now from closer range.
“Eh- Wha- buh- Muh-,” Macario stammered helplessly as Chester ducked out of sight. One arm on the wheel, as he spotted a cannonball headed their way, he jumped off, firing another Xun off before jumping back to the wheel. The ship’s movement was a bit erratic as a result, which assisted in evasion, somewhat, but as a result, their escape was staggered, the Breeze failing to make any headway in escaping the marine pursuit. Another cannonball sailing through the air, Macario’s jaw slowly dropped, matching its descent, when he noticed it was heading towards his ship. Sprinting away from the steering wheel, he was too late, an explosion splintering the wood of his cabin. Macario smelled smoke. “No no no no no no no no no n-” he shouted, hopping down, ripping his shirt off and soaking it in seawater to deal with the flames.
Emerging from below the deck, Chester came out yelling, carrying four, embroidered and engraved cannon balls under his arms, On each of them sat a note “DO NOT TOUCH - KUHN”, Chester, of course, touched. Loading it into the cannon up on the deck, he fired, missing the mark, horribly. The ball exploded into a pool of raw rum on the sea where it hit, several meters in front of where the Marine ship was.
Chester loaded the other into the cannon, but it was taking too long, so he decided to simply just throw the three of them, all at once. One hit the marines, taking out the very top of their mast, making screws and bolts fall onto them, the other contained some kind of sleeping gas and silver-misted gunpowder.
They were out of firepower and the marines were about to sink them. Up from the docks emerged Kuhn and Lina. The gunner was angry. Really angry. The other cannon didn’t work, he couldn’t fix it and he saw how close the marines were getting. Kuhn realized what Chester had done and his look went dark, walking up to the captain, his coat blowing in the wind as a cannonball whizzed past him, his fist clenched as it was pulled, like a trigger and with all of the ferocity of his firearm, his fist was planted into Chester’s jaw, making the captain stagger backwards.
“YOU STUPID SON OF A BITCH!” Kuhn yelled, Chester grinned, headbutting Kuhn in the nose and then hitting him in the chest, sending him back into the door down below the deck.
“You wanna fight, NOW?!” The captain asked, a little excited at the prospect to fight the gunslinger himself.
A smack resounding throughout the deck, it was as though the cannonfire was drowned out. A red mark on Chester’s face, Lina’s expression one of frustration, she lowered her hand, eyes rimmed with tears. “What are you doing!? We’re in danger right now!”
As if to punctuate matters, a cannonball exploded, rocking the deck of the Breeze. The three stumbled from the force, catching themselves to various degrees, Lina hopping on one foot as the deck rocked back to catch her other leg, Chester was still rubbing his red cheek, and Kuhn was too angry to come up from under the deck. Not before he could figure out a way to beat Chester to death with his revolver.. As the sound faded out, damage done, cries came from within the ship. “It hurts it HURTS!”
Hands gripping her sun hat, Lina grimaced, spouting, “We have to get out of here!”
Kuhn stayed under the deck, investigating the old cannon once more, as if he hoped he was wrong before. Looking it over, he realized a thing. It was loaded. Completely unfireable and it would, like he and Lina figured out before, take far too long to repair. But it was loaded. One cannonball.
He walked up the deck, iron-ball under his arm, Chester smiled upon seeing him “Aaay!” He yelled, Kuhn shrugged him off, his other hand resting on his revolver. “Let me save our assess. Man the helm, please. And after we’re safe, and da lady Lina is no longer in danger, you and me, Cap’n, are going to have a serious fucking discussion.” Kuhn warned, loading the cannon, the marine ship was now so close they could make out the faces of the people onboard, Kuhn being broken out of his anger for a second, upon seeing the strawberry-blonde hair of the woman from his past, standing on the mast of the ship. Jenna Matrix.
“Forgive me, mon ami.” He said, as he fired the cannon, straight into armory, where the gunpowder was kept on the marine ship, a series of explosions erupting, incapacitating the ship and making it block the path for the ships behind it. The Hinnon Breeze could sneak around the bend, and into safe harbor.
But another storm was brewing for the crew onboard. One born from within the ranks of the Breeze, and Chester was gonna feel the winds.