“77th branch, those blistering coconuts in need of supplies again” Cadog said, lighting his pipe and letting the tobacco smoke fill his lungs. “It’s not right. Any Marines worth their salt can last longer than that.”
“But isn’t it the standard? Fighting takes lots of supplies.”
“Not in this sea.”
Haku nodded at that, learning that particular details mattered a lot. If it wasn’t combat, did it meant-?
“They’re sneaking the supplies and selling them?” The quiet air settled between the two as Haku accompanied Cadog, the latter continuing his walk.
“That’s one, or they’ve been in combat and haven’t been reporting it.”
“Isn’t that silly?” Haku blinked but Cadog shook his head.
“Pride does silly things,” The old captain shrugged as he adjusted his smoke pipe. “If those rats are keeping the loot for themselves instead of giving it back, I intend to tan their hides.”
“I…see.” Haku said, eyes looking down to the ground at that and his fingers twitched.
“But we need proof first.”
“Understood.” He replied back and bow, one that Cadog ignored the breach of protocol for now. This was his ship after all.
Cadog turned back to the first mate as he stood at the quarterdeck. “Once the supply ships begin to leave, we do the same as well!”
Like a bee hive, the crew sprung into action, easily practiced hands had them ready for sailing within minutes, and readied with supplies. It’ll allow them to last for months, or a full year if they ration and fish from the sea.
Haku was already at the top of the poop deck and took it further by standing upright on the pole itself with his toes. Arms crossed as he watched the supply ship loading itself in a snails pace.
“Ships are leaving!” He announced once the final supply ship cast off.
Immediately, the crew hoisted the sails with a grin as their captain approached the back of the ship.
“Cast off!” Cadog replied as his appearance turned to a liquid state, air intensifying in the alcohol scent as he raised his comically large fist that grew into the size of a water tower, compressed itself then pushed against the dock hard.
All crewmates rode upon the ship, some needing to hold themselves but the majority easily found their footing. Haku barely needed to move as he continued to stand upright.
Their ship shot off like a bullet, sending waves as it outright drifted across the ocean, parallel to the supply ship's route and then right into the lead position as it smoothly fell in line.
So with that, the journey begins.
Days turn into weeks, as the convoy of ships trailed behind the leading Marine ship. None dared to challenge or even come close despite only one marine escort ship being assigned to it.
Still, in this peaceful ocean. There was still plenty of things to do.
The supply ships from far can hear traces of noise loud erupting from the marine ship. Prompting them to wonder if they’re partying.
They couldn’t be further from the truth.
Right in the middle of Cadog ship, a ring of men formed around as everyone cheered rowdily. Both in amusement of the spectacle and partly ordered.
In the center of it, Haku stood alone, eyes blindfolded, and one arm tied to his back. Surrounded by the marines as they stood in formation, relaxed but ready to burst into action.
From an elevated position, Cadog nodded once as he sat down with his legs dangling.
Two marines came together and struck out with sticks that originally belong to a broom, currently repurposed as a training weapon.
Haku stood still as the nape of his neck rose before dodging at the last moment. Narrowly escaping their strikes as he hit one of them back but failed on the second marine. The latter was back in position by then, leading to another pair of marines coming from opposite directions coming this time.
This exercise continued relentlessly with no breaks or stops.
“Concentrate your sense, feel your surroundings.” Cadog monitored as he gave another signal. Adding another two more marines in the attack in a much more frenzied and chaotic pace.
“Your basics of Haki, or Ryuo, is there,” He explained as he pulled out a flask and took a sip. “Now you just need it to fully crystallize.”
Haku breath slowed, but he was slowly sensing more. The breath, scent, air, and even the gentle waves of the sea transmitted from the ship's hull to his foot.
Right now, he was surrounded by fifteen marines. Only four of them attacked at once but each with different timing, Haku thought to himself as he pivoted on his foot and spun downwards to his knees, finally hitting all of them at once with one single slash of his wooden stick.
“Finally.” Cadog waved his hand to the marines surrounding Haku.
All at once, they attacked him with their own strikes infused with a little haki. Enough to crack a boulder.
Haku twitched as he held himself in place and curled his body inwards, hardening himself as he wreathed Ryuo all around his body.
Each strike landed perfectly and rung out like a gong before it was forced backward, breaking the formation apart as their attacks was repelled violently.
Standing upwards quickly, Haku felt an attack far faster than anything so far coming straight for his stomach. The cold sensation ran up his spine that he jumped to the sides hard enough that the wind whipped past his hair.
This energy, Cadog! He wryly thought as he knew exactly what it was.
From a bird’s eye view, Cadog body had his fist detached from his body. A feat only possible with the Booze-Booze fruit.
The mass of hardened liquid then swerved and followed Haku accurately, forcing the latter to swing at it with his infused Ryuo stick. A brief clash and resistance rocked through his arms before it lessened in a blink of an eye but the feeling of danger was still there.
Thinking fast, he dropped flat on his back and tucked his legs in. Allowing the liquid fist to flew over him harmlessly as he rolled backwards and snapped back up to his feet immediately.
“Hmph, good. Let’s stop here.” Cadog voice announced as his fist rejoined the main body, allowing Haku to finally take off the blindfold.
After numerous lessons, he had finally gotten observation to a decent level that he can deal with most surprise attacks.
Granted, Cadog hadn’t used his armament, just the basic of Ryuo for most of his strike.
Haku held his stomach and winced from the phantom pain.
I kept my lunch this time.
“That’s enough for Paradise but still a far cry for the Devil’s Sea.” Cadog broke his thoughts as he slowly walked down from the quarterdeck as water was distributed to those who participated in the exercise. “Same for your armament.”
“I know.” Haku said, past moments of Wano came as he remember the strong samurai that did exist there. He would be ranked as a low to mid samurai at most, nothing compared to the elite, daimyo or shogun.
He still had a long way to go.
“Captain! Land ho!”
That drew everyone's attention, prompting them to return to their station as Cadog and Haku went to the front.
“Finally, any longer and I might have to pull those barnacle-ridden ships myself.”
“We do have enough rope and anchor chain.” Haku smiled, eliciting a harumph from Cadog who blew his pipe.
Still, Haku looked on at the 77th Marine base contemplatively.
They had a mission here, and it was something only they can accomplish.
[77TH MARINE BASE, CONOMI ISLAND]