Starting the year off strong! Happy New Year, everyone!~
So, I was writing this, and I was reading the manga while I was doing so… and I kinda realized the Casino and base of operations was constructed very differently than I had remembered. The secret entrance Robin had didn't actually make much sense when I saw how they built it. As such, I had to edit the floor plan slightly, if for no other reason than a lake THAT deep could have supplied water to literally all of Alabasta.
Chapter XII: A Dance With Sandstorms
The sound of rushing water was so loud they could hardly hear anything else. It was absolutely gushing in at ludicrous rates. The screen they had been speaking to Crocodile on hadn't been dark for more than a few seconds and the water was already up to their ankles. "We need to leave!" Robin shouted so that she would be heard over the roar, "NOW!" She said urgently.
Zoro had his swords out in a flash and had turned to the way they had come in, "Hyakuhachi Pound Hō!" He roared, swinging all three of his blades. An audible sharpness cut through the roar of the rising water, blasting it away from them from the sheer wind pressure. A spray kicked up as the wind blades traveled, and a screech rang through the air as they crashed into the wall. It was utterly carved up, but to no avail. The bars made out of Kairōseki held easily, resisting the power of Zoro's attack.
Luffy's luck was no better. He jumped up and swung his leg out with a "Rankyaku!" at the main entrance up above them, but was met with the same failure. A single-legged Geppō had him cocking his leg back as well. This time, his leg was glowing bright with the power of the stars, "Enten no Kizu!" The arc of plasma hit the Seastone barrier with a bright flash. Again, the Seastone withstood the rage of his attack, though it didn't escape entirely unscathed. It looked very slightly melted, almost as though it was sweating. Too far away, none of the three realized that as Luffy splashed back down, "Ugh!" He slumped over, the rising water now high enough to start sapping him of strength.
Robin was no better, and the two staggered to the steps with Zoro's help, regaining their vigor as they got out of the thigh-deep water. But eventually, they would run out of even this safe haven. Especially with the light rumbling coming from the tunnel. More water started draining in, with bananawani starting to enter the room as well.
"Robin, how thick is the roof?" Luffy asked her, grimacing as the water once more started to lick at his ankles.
Robin bit her lip, "It's a couple meters thick." She crossed her arms, "Give me five seconds." She closed her eyes, opening dozens of them above in the casino along with blooming dozens of arms. Patrons started to scream as she grabbed them and threw them towards the walls of the building. In only a few seconds, almost the entirety of the center of the floor had been cleared of patrons. She groaned as the water reached her thighs again and prevented her from finishing the job.
"We have to go now!" Luffy groaned, "Zoro, throw me up!"
Zoro quickly followed, grabbing Luffy and absolutely bulging his muscles, "Ichi Gorilla!" He threw Luffy straight up, before grabbing onto Robin.
"Rankyaku: Tentai-hō!" Luffy yelled, plowing his leg into the roof. Upstairs, the remaining stragglers screamed in terror and agony as they were blown away. The floor had exploded upwards, creating a giant fissure in the casino floor. The massive concrete slab continued upwards, destroying the golden Crocodile on the top of the pyramid, and sending debris raining across Rainbase. All of the patrolling marines gaped at the sight before they hurried to the destroyed building.
Down below, Zoro hauled Robin onto his back and jumped. The three pirates landed above in the destroyed casino, wincing as they saw the devastation they had wrought. But it was no time to pity the innocent people they'd unfortunately hurt, "We need to get to Alubarna as soon as possible!" Robin said, forcing herself to keep focused.
"Let's go!" Luffy said, and they ran out of the building and towards the bridge. They needed to get out of Rainbase if they wanted any chance at catching Crocodile.
As soon as they had hit the town square proper, they were attacked. Smoke started to fill the air as Smoker roared onto the scene, "You damned pirates! What the hell do you think you're doing?!"
He charged at Luffy, who gripped his pipe and drew it. Pipe hit jitte and a shockwave blasted out as Smoker was forced back, "Damn it Smokey! Get out of my way!" Luffy yelled at him.
"You won't get away with this!" Smoker yelled as more and more Marines started to fill the area, "White Blow!"
Zoro got in the way, blocking Smoker's jitte with Yubashiri, "We don't have time for this!" He yelled at Luffy, "None of the rest are strong enough to fight Crocodile, Luffy! Get out of here!"
"Crocodile?!" Smoker gnashed his cigars, "What does he have to do with this?! Did you destroy the casino because of him?!"
"Luffy go!" Robin yelled, before pointing, "It's that way! It's a straight line exactly where I'm pointing! GO!"
"NICO ROBIN?!" Smoker yelled with wide eyes, along with the newly arrived Hina, "You're with them?!"
"Don't you guys dare get captured!" Luffy yelled, before rocketing into the air with a quick Geppō, and then igniting his thrusters and starting to fly. He quickly picked up speed, and had to start using Tekkai as a sonic boom ripped through the air. Harsh winds buffeted him as a vapor ring formed around his body. He sped from the city faster than he had ever flown in his life.
"NO, YOU DON'T!" Smoker roared as he turned to chase Luffy, "WHITE LAUNCHER!"
"Soru!" Zoro vanished and appeared in front of the Marine, surprising him. He grabbed onto the jitte and wrenched it, smacking Smoker in the face with it and knocking him out of the sky. Smoker hacked out a cough as he plowed into the ground with Zoro on top of him, "Sorry, our Captain has business with your dog. I can't let you follow him." He raised his fist to knock him out while he was weak from the Kairōseki contact, before jumping away as Tashigi swung almost wildly for his head. "Damn it!"
Tashigi half-kneeled protectively in front of Smoker, panting, "Damn you, Roronoa Zoro! All that talk about how you weren't a bad guy, and now you do this?!" She screamed at him as she nodded towards the destroyed casino.
Zoro grimaced as Hina rushed forward, "Hina will capture you, pirate!" She was another marine and a woman on the taller side. She had bright pink hair and was dressed very sharply in a burgundy suit, with her marine coat worn loose over her shoulders. Robin never quite knew how people managed to do that without them just flying off.
"I think not." Robin said as arms bloomed in front of Hina, stopping her charge, "Cien Fleur!" A hundred arms bloomed, going for several of the armed Marines that were starting to point their rifles at them. "Clutch!" Dozens of marines screamed in agony as bones were broken. Hina herself was encircled with ten arms on her own, grabbing onto her in various places.
"Irritated. Hina is irritated." The pink-haired smoker mumbled, before the limbs just passed through her, leaving them grasping at air. Various shackles had formed on the arms holding her, and Robin immediately dispersed them when she realized her usual tactic had failed.
Robin's lips twitched, "Robin is also irritated." She shot at the pinkette with a half-smile, "What an annoying ability you have, Hina."
A tic mark appeared on Hina's head, "Hina is being mocked. How very dare you?" Still, she quirked her lips, "This shall be an interesting fight. Hina wonders, will her stamina run out first, or yours?"
"I suppose we'll have to find out, won't we?" Robin replied, "Though I suggest you lot get a move on." She glared at the fodder, "We tried to keep the civilians out of the splash zone, but we weren't exactly keen on drowning beneath that casino."
Hina's eyes narrowed, "Hina is curious as to what is going on. Hina will capture you quickly!"
"Oh, you know, years-long conspiracy to undermine and take over one of the twenty founding countries of the World Government by one of your government dogs. Standard stuff. I'm sure you're used to it." Robin replied, smirking as she saw the three leading Marines recoil.
"What the hell?!" Tashigi was the one that asked, shocked. "But why would a government ally-"
Smoker spat on the ground, "Damn dogs. I never trusted them from the start."
Zoro finished tying his bandana on, and smirked at Tashigi, "What, never heard of a villain with good publicity before?"
"Confused. Hina confused. What horse do pirates have in this race?" Hina asked them as she directed the Marines past them and into the casino. The fodder stood zero chance in this fight, so she would make sure they were useful. The rest of them picked up and carried away the injured, leaving only the two pirates and the three ranked Marines left. The rest of the area had long since cleared out. "Were you just looking to defeat Crocodile and claim infamy yourselves?"
"No." Smoker was back on his feet and glaring at Zoro, "They sounded too urgent for that to be the case. What are you lot up to?"
"Wouldn't you like to know?" Zoro put Wadō between his teeth and drew the rest of his blades. Robin crossed her arms again, and the three Marines got set and ready to go as well.
Vivi launched herself forward with a quick Soru. It was enough to surprise Sir Crocodile, judging by his widening eyes. With a scream of rage, she slashed right through his neck, throwing his head into the air. But that wasn't all. She even cut through part of the Alabatian throne with her slashers. She knew it wasn't over yet though, and her burgeoning Kenbunshoku confirmed as much. She dodged backwards and vanished in another burst of speed.
"Kuahahahaha!" Crocodile laughed as his head turned to sand and crawled up his suit. The man hadn't even moved from his place on the throne, other than to reach up and try to grab her. "My, my, picked up some tricks, have we Miss Wednesday? And so quickly too! You haven't been with these fools for more than a couple weeks now." He grinned darkly, "Yes, I can see why I lost so many of my agents to your band of morons." He stood from his throne, "Unfortunately, girl, I'm not like the mongrels I recruited for this farce. I've seen the New World for myself. Did you perhaps think that you could surprise me with sheer speed?" He relished the growing look of rage on their faces, "I'm afraid not." He said silkily, negligently grabbing his spent cigar and tossing it away. "I'm not some idiot who thinks Logia are unbeatable. I've trained my mind, body, and powers far beyond those fools."
"Wow, you sure love to hear yourself talk, huh?" Nami asked dryly. From this small sample size, she wasn't sure if he or Arlong was worse. Arlong loved it too, but he rarely propped only his own ego up, preferring to talk up Fishmen as a whole. And speaking of Fishmen, she was rather wishing she had actually pretended just a little bit harder and learned some Karate from her 'old crew.' She would have LOVED to shut this asshole up with Shōryō no Mizu right about now.
Chaka had his feet under him again, and he transformed into his hybrid form. "You're right. Logia aren't invincible. But every fruit has a weakness. I just have to FIND YOURS!" He lunged forward, slashing through the sand man with his sword.
"Pitiful." Crocodile rolled his eyes as he stood and simply walked through the slash, "Is this truly the best that the fabled Jackal can do?"
"His weakness is water!" Vivi called out, drawing a frown from Crocodile. "It prevents him from turning any wet areas to sand!" She was frowning heavily.
"Ah, I suppose that bitch must have figured it out herself." He looked irritated, "Well, no matter. I made sure there was none in the area."
Vivi was grimacing a bit more heavily now. A small headache had been building ever since they had started confronting Pell and Chaka earlier, and now it was twinging painfully. Almost as if someone was lightly rapping her skull with a hammer, only it was increasing in intensity as time went on. She was still paying as close attention to Crocodile as she could, but it was definitely bothering her.
"So that's why you've gone through all the trouble of getting rid of the rain." Pell ground his teeth, his face transforming as he too took on his hybrid form. Unseen to Crocodile, he stabbed his talons into his thigh. The pain was immense, but he didn't show it at all.
Crocodile snorted, "Hardly, fool. A little bit of rain in a desert would barely hamper me. You overestimate yourselves."
Chaka also took advantage of the information, turning into his full jackal form, slavering. "Water, or any liquid?!" he lunged teeth-first for the man.
Crocodile snorted, "I suppose you're blind as well as stupid?" He knocked the jackal away with a casual whack with his armored hook. The attack even knocked a few of the animal's teeth away, "Disgusting too. Keep your drool away from me." He was barely paying attention to Nami and Vivi as he grabbed Pell's talons with his actual hand. "Hoh, clever. Very clever!" he praised Pell upon seeing the blood on his claws. "But how much blood do you think a human has?" he asked rhetorically, "I'll tell you. Not enough." Pell's entire transformed arm began to shrink, desiccating away as Crocodile used his powers over dryness to start sapping away the moisture and strength in the limb.
"LET GO OF HIM!" Vivi shrieked, using Soru to dart forward.
"Ah, good! I was hoping you'd come t-" Crocodile started to grin at her, entirely taking his eyes off of Pell and Nami as he kept up with her speed.
That was his undoing. "MIZU NO YARI!" Nami yelled after appearing right behind Crocodile, thrusting her Clima-Tact forward and using her newest technique. One she and Usopp had installed specifically in the eventuality of her meeting Crocodile for whatever reason.
At this distance, there was absolutely zero way for Crocodile to dodge unless he had seen it coming. And seeing as a veteran like him would never even think of having to try against a bunch of rookie weaklings, Sir Crocodile had most certainly not been using his Kenbunshoku.
The medium-pressure jet of water hit him and basically exploded, drenching his head and torso and causing a very slight drizzle of rain inside the throne room. And seeing as Vivi had already been slashing for him and he'd been meaning to merely disperse into sand…
Vivi's absurdly sharp Kujakki String Slashers ripped right through his collarbone and continued upwards, slicing into his face, and carving right through his right eye as he desperately tried to dodge backwards. The man threw himself backwards on the ground, getting even wetter and positively gushing blood as he rolled away, howling in agony.
"QUICKLY! KILL HIM!" Chaka roared as he charged, his sword ready to pierce his enemy's heart.
"SABLES!" Crocodile's agonized voice roared out, before a tornado of sand rose up around him. Chaka and a charging Pell had to both leap back to not get shredded by the sandstorm.
Vivi grabbed Pell, "RUN!" She yelled, grabbing his arm, and fleeing.
"NO! WE CAN FINISH THIS NOW!" Chaka roared to be heard over the roaring sand.
"NO, YOU IDIOT! I CAN ONLY USE THAT MOVE ONCE!" Nami shrieked, "MOVE YOUR ASS!" She turned and booked it, following after Vivi. Chaka glared at the sandstorm, before turning and running as well.
The closer they got to the exit to the veranda overlooking the main courtyard, the more Vivi seemed to stumble. "Vivi, what's wrong?" Nami caught her and slung Vivi's arm over her shoulder.
"MY HEAD!" Vivi hissed through gritted teeth, clapping a palm to her forehead, "Argh, what is this?!" She shook it and tried to focus. Her head didn't hurt anywhere near as badly as it would if Crocodile won. She fought through the pain, "Pell, as soon as we're out of here, you need to fly away and check a place called the Spider Café. It's past the Sandora River and even Erumalu at the other end of our island."
"What?!" Pell gasped, still shaking his right arm out. It was back to normal after that little water bath Nami had given it, but it hurt. "No! I cannot leav-"
"DO AS I SAY!" Vivi snapped, making his jaw click shut in shock, "We thought the place would be abandoned, so we never bothered going there! But if Crocodile really prepared a drowning trap underneath Rain Dinners for the others, then my father can't be there! The Spider Café was a front for Baroque Works and high-level agents were there all the time! It could be where they're keeping my father!"
"But how could they have gotten him in so short a time? We saw the king mere hours ago!" Chaka asked through grit teeth.
"They've probably had him for days. Maybe even weeks!" Nami explained, "One of their members ate the Mane Mane no Mi! He can copy other people's faces and is a good enough actor to impersonate them flawlessly!"
"So that's how they did it!" Pell raged, "And with the King's face, they could sow their evil throughout the land with us none the wiser!"
"Exactly!" Vivi said, "We NEED to rescue my father! If we can present him, then the enemy can't use his face! Or better yet! We can have my father show his face WHILE the enemy is impersonating him! Then it'll b-" She cut herself off with a scream as they neared the door, clapping a hand to her forehead and staggering. She almost dragged Nami down with her. "Wh- what is HAPPENING?!" She cried out, tearing up.
They burst through the doorway, with Chaka shouldering it open. Immediately, sound blasted them as their hearts dropped.
Various areas in the city were on fire, and it was obvious that the Rebel Army had already arrived. They were too late to stop it. The sound was deafening as the two armies fought, and it was like every single death was stabbing Vivi directly in the brain as her Kenbunshoku fully woke up. It was like in her mind, there were over a million lights, and dozens were winking out at a time. "No!" She nearly fell to her knees, "Damn it! NO! WE WERE TOO LATE!" She cried out in despair.
"Damn it!" Nami cursed, "What did they do?!"
A guard ran over to them, "Chaka-sama, Pell-sama, wha-" He zeroed in on Vivi, "The imposter?!"
"No!" Pell roared, "The King was the imposter all along!" He grabbed the man, "Tell me what happened!"
The guard stammered, "Th-the King went to Nanohana!" He told them, "The Rebels came because he burnt it to the ground! They were all shouting it for the world to hear! That they were coming for vengeance for Nanohana! You're telling me it was a fake all along?!"
"Fuck! We must have missed them by just a few hours when we arrived! At most!" Nami cursed their bad luck, "We could have stopped this right then and there if we hadn't blown through the blockade so quickly!"
Vivi could only stare at the growing devastation in horror.
"So," Miss Doublefinger drawled, taking a drag from her kiseru, "You're the ones that have been causing us so many problems, hmm?" She breathed out a cloud of smoke.
Sanji grimaced, "And you're the ones that have been causing Vivi so many problems," he twirled, "Oh, the sea is cruel! To have such a fair, beautiful lady as an enemy!"
Miss Doublefinger smirked, "Oh, but who says we must be enemies, darling?" She made a show of eyeing him up and down, "Oh, but you're just my type. This organization has been such a drag, you know? Maybe I can just run away with you."
Sanji's eye turned into a heart, "Oh yes, Miss! I would-" He took a step forward, only to crumple to the ground as Chopper jabbed a hoof into him.
"Idiot!" Chopper yelled, "Even Ican see her playing you from a mile away! Think of Vivi, dumbass!"
"Ah yes," Sanji lit up a cigarette for himself, "Yes, the seas are cruel indeed."
Miss Doublefinger growled, "I think I'll take care of you first, tanuki." She glared at Chopper.
"Are you blind, woman?! I'm a reindeer!" Chopper roared out at her. "Let's take this elsewhere!" He was a monster, even if Luffy didn't seem to agree with him. And he would embrace it to protect his friends, no matter how much he wanted to allow his knees to shake in fear. This was an assassin and one of the most dangerous individuals in Baroque Works.
"Hey now, I didn't agree to allow a woman to be hurt." Sanji glared at his newest crewmate.
Chopper's eye twitched, "Do I need to tell the girls that you're being an idiot again, or are you actually going to fight?" The last time Sanji had acted like an overly chivalrous fool on the Merry, there had been pain.
Sanji's teeth cut through his cigarette, sending the rest of it to the floor. He spat the rest of it out, "A man should never harm a woman! I will not allow it to happen within my sight!" His ears caught something, and he gathered Chopper up in a hurry and rolled to the right. The wall next to where he had been standing shredded and exploded outwards, peppering them with bits of rubble. Sanji smirked as he got to his feet, grabbing another cigarette, and watching as the placid and uninterested Mr. One emerged, "Luckily, it appears I'll be too busy to watch."
Chopper growled out, "I'm still telling Nami." And Sanji started to sweat.
A deafening rumble rocked through Alubarna as Valerie crashed into the ground. "Somehow," Once it stopped shaking and the dust cleared, she growled out in irritation, "Whack-a-mole isn't as fun as I thought it would be."
"Ha!" Miss Merry Christmas popped her head out of her newest hole, "Just watching you makes my back hurt, you damn traitor!"
Usopp deadpanned, "Yeah, maybe you should have thought of that before calling dibs on the one lady who would just get out of your way, Valerie!" Usopp yelled at her. He just barely had his breath under control. Mr. Four was huge, slow, slow, and extremely strong. Just off pure muscle, Usopp would have compared him to a Fishman. But that wasn't the most irritating thing. The most irritating thing was the fucking dog gun that fired exploding baseballs! Every time he tried to snipe the man, the asshole dog cannon intercepted it! "YOU CAN'T HIT ANY OF THOSE PITCHES, DUMBASS!" He couldn't even use his improved version of Krieg's old spear! The whole point of that entire upgrade was so he could use it WITHOUT the explosions blasting him through a wall! "Let's trade! You could lay out this idiot easy!" He called out.
"Hell no!" Valerie cracked some knuckles just from squeezing her fist, "I told you all I was going to make Grandma Bitch here pay for insulting my chocolates!"
"Hah! You call those bitter dirt balls chocolates?" Miss Merry Christmas jeered.
"YOU SHOULD GO BACK TO THE BARGAIN BIN YOU BOUGHT THOSE TASTE BUDS AT, GRANDMA! THEY'RE CLEARLY DEFECTIVE!" Valerie shrieked, bursting forward in a Soru with her umbrella raised high above her head. Her face was shadowed with rage as she swung down. Miss Merry Christmas's laughter echoed out of her hole as she vanished back within the earth.
Again, the earth rocked so hard that Usopp almost fell over. "Oi vey…" He mumbled as he got his feet under him. The earth stopped quaking as he eyed his opponent, "Honestly, it's an insult to my sniping… but maybe I should just try hitting him." He mumbled.
"Doooooooonnnnnnnn'ttttttttt caaaaaaallllllllllllllllll mmmmmeeeeeeeeee aaaaaaaannnnnnnn iiiiiiidddddddiiiiiooooo-" Mr. Four was saying.
"ARE YOU STILL ON THAT, MORON?! THAT WAS SIX PARAGRAPHS AGO!" Usopp screeched at him. Ugh, why him?
"Hyakuhachi Pound Hō!" Zoro yelled, sending his three air slashes at Smoker. "Tch." He clicked his teeth in irritation as Smoker simply dispersed into his smoke. The air blades continued onwards, slashing into another of the buildings and carving into it. Thankfully it was an abandoned one, here on the outskirts, though it was another thing to be irritated about. A swordsman should only cut what he wished, not what he didn't.
"Will you ever learn?" Smoker deadpanned as he tried to surround Zoro once again.
His smoke was so weird. It could grab onto things and even hold them. It acted nothing like regular smoke when you got down to it. Utilizing a quick Soru, Zoro got the hell out of dodge. It had been like this for more than a few minutes already. He would try to cut Smoker, and he would fail. The man would just turn into his shitty smoke to dodge his attacks, and then try to surround him to capture him. Zoro had already utilized one Tatsumaki, which was what had gotten them far away from their original battlefield near the casino and towards an emptier area. Smoker had even complimented him on moving away from the civilians
Really, Zoro had just gotten annoyed at the townspeople begging their 'hero' to save them. Not that he would have consciously harmed them anyway. Zoro snorted, "Will you?" He shot back at the Marine, "You haven't learned a damn thing. You're still just trying to surround me with your stupid smoke. You're not strong enough to keep me from moving no matter how much of my body you manage to snag." He grinned viciously at Smoker's grimace. "Are those muscles just for show?"
Their very first exchange had ended like that. Zoro had been expecting it, but Smoker had pulled a new trick. He'd engulfed them in a whirling tornado of smoke, and had tendrils grasp at Zoro's limbs to lock him down. Zoro had very easily outmuscled the Marine, swinging his arms and creating his own tornado, blasting the smoke away and dispersing it. He'd almost thought he had won, since it had taken a minute or two for Smoker to gather himself. "Don't get cocky, scum. You haven't so much as put a mark on me."
"Let's fix that!" Zoro grinned, his eyes shining, "SHALL WE?! TORA GARI!" He blitzed forward, swinging two of his blades down at his enemy. Smoker raised his jitte, gritting his teeth and looking like he was going to burst a blood vessel as he caught the blades on his weapon. The ground beneath his feet cratered slightly from the impacts, and he let out a groan as his jitte trembled from the force Zoro was putting on them. His arms lowered, and his own weapon touched him.
That cost him a bit of strength, making him wobble from contact with the Kairōseki. Zoro's blades continued downward, before they jerked to a stop right before one of them would have carved into Smoker's shoulders. Zoro jerked back and leapt away, making Smoker stop and stare at him in befuddlement, "What the hell do you think you're doing?" He asked, growling the words out. "You had me. What in the fuck do you think you're doing?"
Zoro sneered, "If you don't understand, I won't waste wind on an idiot."
Smoker's teeth started to grind in his jaw, "Are you-" he hissed, "Using me for training?!"
Zoro smirked, "All fights are mere training for my dream."
"Tsubame Hikō!" Zoro ducked as Tashigi's voice sounded behind him. It looked like the woman had finally caught up to the two of them. She sailed over his head, Shigure having been primed to cut deep into his shoulder. She hit the ground and slid, coming to a stop beside Smoker. "Darn!" She cursed, panting. She wasn't great at that move, and it always took a lot out of her.
"Too slow. Too obvious." Zoro yelled at her, "And your damn glasses are falling again! Get a better-fitted pair if those are so bad!"
"How dare you!" Tashigi gasped, completely offended as she adjusted them, "These are top-of-the-line brand names! They cost me three weeks of pay!"
"Well, they fit like your head is an inch bigger, dumbass!" He yelled back, "Get your money back!"
Smoker interrupted them, "What are you doing, Tashigi?" He glared at his subordinate.
She blinked, "Uhh?" She blinked some more, "Helping to take him down?"
"Why are you not helping Hina take down Nico Robin instead?" He growled out. Tashigi hesitated, and Smoker rolled his eyes, "Oh fantastic, is he your rival? Is that what this is?"
"Hell no!" Zoro called out, smirking.
"Yes I am, asshole!" Tashigi called back, before cringing and looking back at her deadpan superior.
"Fantastic." Smoker growled out, "If that's the case, you need more training. He's beyond you, for now." He said, hiding a wince at the crestfallen look in her eyes.
"I'm beyond you too." Zoro deadpanned, getting his attention.
"Cocky punk." He growled, clenching his jitte, "You had me dead to rights when you forced my jitte into me. Why didn't you kill me?"
Zoro rolled his eyes this time, "I already said it's a waste of air to explain to someone who doesn't understand." He said, much to Smoker's frustration.
"Ah." Tashigi hesitantly raised her hand, "I-I wouldn't take a win like that either, sir." She cringed at the glare he shot her.
"Oho, that brings you up another notch, lookalike! I'm impressed!" Zoro snickered at her.
"Hey!" Tashigi snapped at him, completely incensed at the nickname. "You could at least remember my name!"
"Fucking sword nuts." Smoker growled out, "Tashigi, explain."
"Ah!" She twitched, looking back at him, "Well, if what he told me when he beat me was true, beating you by touching you with your jitte means nothing to him."
"Right." Zoro rolled his eyes again, "It proves nothing. I'm not any stronger. You're definitely not stronger. All it proves is that your shitty toy can win. At the end of the day, if I beat you because of it, then it means I wouldn't have beaten you without it. Now can we get back to fighting already?"
"…" Smoker deadpanned, "I'm here to arrest you and send you to either prison for life or an execution, and you're more worried about honor?" He started to generate more smoke, "You sword nuts are fools. Honor has its place, but not in battle. At the end of the day, you'll be behind bars because you missed your one chance to kill me."
"Hmph." Zoro snorted, "We'll see about that." They'd all gotten a chance to catch their breath by now, and even he could admit this wasn't working. Smoker was weak as hell when you could stop him from using his fruit effectively, which Zoro definitely could. But at the same time, he wasn't getting anywhere. AND he had to take a few seconds to knock Tashigi out on top of it. This was going to be a pain in the ass. He grinned viciously. Luckily, it didn't have to be. 'I can cut him.' He told himself firmly. He just had to tap into that state of mind again. He gripped his swords tighter as he firmed up his stance, 'I definitely can cut him. Ace said so. Said I was close. There's nothing I cannot cut!'
Smoker turned into a whirlwind of smoke, forming a smoke tornado in the middle of the street. He rapidly advanced on Zoro, who swiped at it, cutting it in half. But it merely continued to spin, unharmed. 'Damn it!' Zoro cursed in his own head once more, 'I just need to find that state of mind again! That's easy!'
He firmed up his body, barely even jerking as a flying fist from Smoker came racing in from behind and struck him in the back. His Tekkai was far too strong for the Marine Captain. In the whirling smokescreen, Smoker ground his teeth together, biting through his cigars as he threw punch after punch and kick after kick, only for Zoro to take them as if they were no threat at all! No matter the dull thuds as they impacted, Smoker felt as if he was making zero progress denting his foe's defense. 'And even my jitte won't help! He has no Devil Fruit!' Smoker cursed inside his head. How was it possible for this man to have come out of the same sea he'd been patrolling for so long? He backed away, ceasing his apparently useless attacks.
Zoro relaxed his muscles. Tekkai was a useful technique, but he hadn't figured out how to really do much else while using it. He spied the frustration on Smoker's face and grinned through his blade, "What's wrong, Captain? Not as easy as you thought it would be?" His grin widened even further, "Figured out that your little toy can't help you against a superior opponent with no Devil Fruit?"
"I don't see what you're so smug about!" Smoker barked back at him, "We're in a stalemate, clearly! And that'll end once reinforcements arrive! There's only one of you, but hundreds of us!"
"And what worth are hundreds when I could take them all out with one swipe of my sword?" The green-haired man shot back, "You, that pink-haired chick, and the lookalike are the only ones worth a fight, and Robin will be finished with cherry blossom before you know it."
"WHITE LAUNCHER!" Smoker bellowed, jetting forward at a pace that would have been considered quite fast in East Blue. It was probably still fast even for this half of the Grand Line. But to Zoro who had been training with Luffy since he met the man, it was positively glacial. Smoker roared as he reared back with his jitte, aiming to knock Zoro out with one harsh blow to the head. Zoro blocked it with his vastly superior strength, but it had been a feint. Smoker let go of the jitte, allowing Zoro to fling it out of the gigantic cloud. "White Snare!" the white-haired man growled out.
"What the-?!" Zoro stumbled a bit as Smoker's entire body turned into smoke, which felt more like molasses than the airy mixture it should have been. His entire body and head were engulfed, and moving felt like a fight in and of itself. 'Can't breathe! It stinks!' He hated smoke, and this choking feeling was the worst. He was going to pass out like this. He bent his knees, before leaping into the air with all of his power. His Soru blasted him more than halfway out of the smoke, allowing him to get in a gasp of air and to hack out a lot of the smoke, though it wasn't a completely clean getaway.
"No, you DON'T!" Smoker roared, continuing to chase him to engulf him once more.
"Geppō: Taihō!" Zoro rasped out his new, improvised technique name. Instead of forming a platform of air for him to jump off, a massive blast of air erupted from his feet. The last of the smoke that had been gripping his ankles was blasted away, and the rest of the following mass struck the ground with enough speed and force to crack it.
Smoker reformed out of it, swearing noisily.
"Your smoke reeks, you shit marine!" Zoro yelled at him furiously, his face and teeth looking sharklike. He quickly raised his right blade, blocking Tashigi's attack.
"Don't forget about me, Roronoa!" She yelled at him, face red and veins bulging as she struggled to make even an inch of headway against him.
"I don't have time for you, right now!" He yelled back, jerking his arm, and parrying her blade in such a way that she lost her balance, the tip of their blades going straight into the ground. He let go of Yubashiri, grabbing her by the throat and lifting her off the ground. "Get stronger if you want to fight me!" She squeaked in shock (the only bit of air she managed to get out) before Zoro bodily threw her at Smoker, who had been charging at them. The smoke man caught her, but by sheer bad luck he hadn't fully gotten his reacquired jitte out of the way, and her head smacked into it, knocking her out.
"Tashigi!" Smoker yelled, before noticing she was out cold. "Damn it." He gently placed her against one of the buildings, not taking his eyes off Zoro, who merely drew her sword and threw it at him. Smoker glared, "Charity, Roronoa?" He asked as he caught it, laying it on her lap.
"Hardly." Zoro grabbed Yubashiri and drew it out of the ground, "She was in the way." He took a deep breath, settling himself, "You're an annoying enough bastard to deal with without her making a nuisance of herself."
"You're annoying yourself." Smoker grinned through another cigar, "Luckily, I know how to beat you now." He placed his hands on the ground, "White Bog." He intoned, before his arms turned into smoke. But Zoro could clearly see it wasn't the wispy kind. No, it looked more like the goopy kind that Smoker had just tried to choke him out with.
The entire street started to flood with that almost liquid smoke. Civilians had long since left the area, but if any had still been trying to run away, their feet would have been stuck as if it was cement. As the wave of smoke started to get near him, Zoro jumped onto one of the buildings, putting him high above the streets. "What the hell are you doing?" He questioned the man, "Are you going to drown the whole city in smoke just to have a shot at capturing me?"
"I don't need the entire town!" Smoker yelled, and for the first time, Zoro felt uncomfortable as the level of smoke started to rise, much, much higher far away.
A massive wall of smoke started to rise in every direction which Zoro looked at. Smoker was trying to trap him! "Hyakuhachi Pound Hō!" Zoro blasted him again with his triple air blade attack, but Smoker didn't even bother to get up. The attacks carved into him, and dispersed harmlessly after carving into the ground. "Damn it!"
The clouds continued to build. The smoke was about midway up the building he was standing on. He could see Tashigi floating on top of them, but Smoker was essentially invisible now in the smoke. But he could still hear his voice, "White Wave!" It echoed from every bit of the smoky swamp.
"Shit!" Zoro yelled, having to leap from his building and land on another as the smoke rushed forward, smashing into the one he had been standing on like an actual tsunami wave. His old island of safety got crushed as planks of wood exploded and the building vanished beneath the swamp. He looked up, ready to Geppō out of the way, and blanched when he realized Smoker had closed off that avenue of escape as well. The sky was as gray as the streets. "Shit!" He quickly sheathed Yubashiri and put both hands on Kitetsu, his most bloodthirsty blade, "Ichi Gorilla. Ni Gorilla!" He growled out. Both of his arms positively bulged with muscle as he gripped the hilt tightly. "Yakkodori!" A crescent-shaped blade that almost looked like it was glowing blue hit the area Smoker had been standing in. The entire bog split in half, along with a couple feet of the earth below it.
But Smoker was nowhere to be seen. "White Tsunami!" Smoker's voice rang from every direction, and the smoke surged, crushing not only Zoro's perch, but all of the ones in the encirclement too.
"Geppō!" Zoro called out, and started hopping in the air, wondering what the hell he was going to do. Even he couldn't keep this up indefinitely. Luffy might have been able to, but Luffy had his Devil Fruit to just not let things get to this point in the first place.
And Smoker wasn't about to let the chance pass, "White Snakes!" He called out, and long bursts of cloud erupted from the sea below, shooting at him with gaping maws and sharp teeth.
"Shit!" Zoro dodged, and dodged some more as the snakes chased him. His breath was coming in sharp gasps now, Geppō takingmuch of his energy as he re-drew Yubashiri. 'Come on! I've managed it twice already! All I have to do is find this bastard and cut him!' He threw another Sanjūroku Pound Hō at the smoke, accomplishing even less than last time.
And then a smoke snake caught onto his right leg, preventing it from moving and throwing off his Geppō. He sucked in a big breath of air and clamped his mouth shut as another snake grabbed his other ankle, and then a final one grabbed his right arm. All three yanked him down into the bog below, smashing him into the ground hard enough that he gasped for air. He got only smoke.
"I told you, Roronoa!" Smoker echoed solemnly from every direction, "That you would regret not killing me when you had the chance."
Zoro rolled to his feet, but his lungs were burning. The smoke was irritating everything, making tears and snot run down his face. He rasped, leaping into the air, and trying to get a breath, but the snakes pulled him back down. He started getting lightheaded and his vision started to swim. Or it would have been if there was anything other than gray to see. He gradually slowed, his movements growing sluggish.
His eyes closed.
He could still feel his heartbeat, and in desperation, he tried one last thing. He couldn't even waste the air on his technique name as he grunted, spinning his swords, and creating the largest Tatsumaki he'd ever made. The whirlwind pushed all of the smoke away, allowing air from above to rush in. He coughed and rasped and hacked to get the smoke out of his lungs as his tornado faded away, and the smoke just rushed back in. 'I will NOT LOSE!' He roared in his own mind, finally finding that feeling from Drum Island once more. He hadn't fully gotten it when showing Ace, and he was getting fucking tired of having to be near death to do it.
If he couldn't do it on command, it was fucking useless.
But for today, he'd take it. And mark his words, he would train himself into his damned grave before he got caught like this again.
In his mind's eye, Smoker and Tashigi were both glowing blue. Smoker was the source of the smoke, which was almost like fritz on his senses, but he stood out all the same. For the first time, his blades glowed black with wisps of Busōshoku coating, and he charged forward with a Soru.
Smoker felt him move in his smoke and realized something was wrong, but too late to move. He quickly raised his jitte to block Zoro, not knowing how in the hell the man even found him among the rest of his smoke.
"Rengoku… ONI GIRI!" Zoro yelled, cutting clean through Smoker's jitte, and appearing behind him. A shockwave blasted all the smoke away, and an 'x' shaped stream of blood floated in the air between them. Smoker's eyes went completely white as he opened his mouth reflexively, his cigars flying from them and landing on the ground. His jitte was also cut into three parts, with the one in his hand falling from limp fingers and the other two spinning through the air and clattering on the floor. His right shoulder, left underarm, and the middle of his chest erupted with blood as he fell to his knees, before crumbling to the floor and faceplanting.
The smoke hadn't magically vanished with Smoker's defeat, and it slowly engulfed them again, though it lost that strange consistency and was actually wafting away now. Zoro took a step forward as his vision tripled, before he stumbled, and fell forward himself. Tashigi herself had also fallen from her floating cloud of smoke as it became normal smoke, and crashed to the ground. All three of them would have died…
If they hadn't all been thrown from the smoke onto the nearest buildings. Robin caught Zoro gently and laid him on the roof, before putting her hands on his sternum and pushing down multiple times. A puff of smoke left his lips, and he coughed, gasping in a breath. She sighed in relief as he started breathing normally as she crossed her arms and checked the other two. Neither of them had gotten as much smoke as Zoro did, and were both breathing normally. Or, well, Tashigi was. Smoker was rasping from his injuries.
He groaned, opening his eyes. Seeing who was above him, he laughed a little weakly, "Got any sake?"
Robin rolled her eyes, "Well, you're fine." She gently slapped her hand on the middle of his face and used him as a handhold to stand up.
He glared at her and grabbed her offered hand to get up himself, "Well, you look like you had fun." Her arms were littered with small bruises, but she didn't look very disheveled at all.
"Yes, well, Hina wasn't as much fun as your opponent." The two of them started to walk away, though she had to keep a firm hand on him as he stumbled multiple times as his legs refused to cooperate. Thankfully, that went away quickly enough as they walked, with Robin starting to explain what had happened after they separated.
"Well, now that the boys are gone," Hina drawled, "Shall we, Master Chief Petty Offi-" She looked over at Tashigi, only to sweatdrop as she saw the other woman disappear around a corner, clearly following Smoker and Zoro, "…What?" She asked flatly.
"Ufufufu," Robin let out a little, smug giggle, "Well, she could hardly stand to see her boyfriend lose to someone else. Poor thing is just going to get in the way." She sounded entirely too amused at the situation.
"What?!" Hina's voice was even flatter now. She then shook her head, "No, never mind. I suppose it makes sense that Smoker-kun's protégé would be a little too like him." She stared at Robin, "Hina irritated again. Hina will have to take you down quickly to go reprimand her for getting in the way of a superior's fight for a personal issue."
"By all means, Hina," Robin's smile widened as she crossed her arms, "Try." Dozens of arms rose from the ground surrounding Hina, "Let's test out that ability of yours, shall we?" Six of them shot forward with open palms, aiming to smack the stuffing out of Hina this time, each aiming at a different body part. Hina steeled herself, taking the strikes. Robin watched carefully as each and every part of her body that she hit started to bend as if she were made out of clay. Within moments, all of Robin's arms that she had used to attack with were shackled, having passed through Hina's body entirely, except for the ones in Hina's chest. The woman sidestepped, completing the capture on those limbs.
Robin's Devil Fruit transferred over all damage that her limbs accumulated to her main body. Unlike the first time, she didn't disperse the limbs immediately, and felt some sort of weakening effect on her body. Like she was using Tekkai on the spots that were shackled, preventing movement. She dispersed them, feeling that strange effect vanish immediately. "Yes, frustrating indeed."
"Awase Baori!" Hina called out, flinging her arms out and having a hundred feet of iron-like cages erupt from under her sleeves. Robin was very quickly surrounded by the cages, and then Hina crossed her arms, bringing the strangely flexible cages slamming shut on the dark-haired woman.
Robin jumped, immediately forming a line of arms that each grasped one another. "Wonderful." She let out a bit of an exasperated groan as her line of arms pulled her out of the way of Hina's binding attack, "She has ranged attacks too, and if those bind me, I will apparently be unable to move." She let out a sigh, "Perhaps I should have started with Soru as everyone suggested, rather than Tekkai."
"You won't escape!" Hina yelled, turning her arm towards Robin, and sending her cage following.
"Oh, bother." Robin sighed, "Cein Fleur…Wisteria!" A hundred arms formed out of the various buildings and started making arm links. They grabbed onto her, forming almost a spiderweb-like structure as they crept along. She darted every which way, evading Hina's cages. Every time her arms got captured, they would just disperse into her fuwa flowers and be replaced by new ones.
"Hina very displeased." Hina growled out, retracting her cages as this was very clearly not working.
Robin landed, "We do seem to be a case of the unstoppable force and the immovable object." Robin agreed, "I am curious. Has anyone ever broken free of those cages?"
Hina scoffed, "Even if they had, why would Hina say so?"
"I'll take that as a no, I suppose." Robin smiled, "Though I rather doubt you faced anyone like my Captain before."
"Hmm, and when did the Devil Child herself join a rookie pirate crew?" Hina asked back. Both of them were pretty much stalling for time, trying to think of a plan to beat the other woman.
"I'll thank you not to call me that." Robin said, though her tone was a slight bit frostier now, "Veinte Fleur." Her twenty bloomed arms formed into a single, rather large one. "Un Mano!" It shot forward, piercing through Hina.
"If multiple arms didn't work, why would one big one?" Hina asked smugly, starting to form her shackles.
"Who said anything about one?" Robin smirked, and delighted in watching Hina's eyes bulge in shock as all of the arms unraveled from their joined form, turning into individual arms, and launching themselves away in random directions. Hina's body bulged and distorted almost grotesquely as she screamed in shock and a little pain, but in the end all of the arms were still caged and dispersed.
But it had clearly taken its toll. Hina dropped to one knee, panting harshly. She was unharmed, and yet phantom pain from the surprise unraveling was aching inside of her body. She glared at her opponent, "Hina underestimated you." She glared as she stood firmly, "How foolish. Hina embarrassed. What a scary power."
"Indeed." Robin smiled back at her, "Ochenta Fleur! Cuatro Manos! What will you do, Hina?" The four very large arms formed a circle around Hina, one at each quadrant. The one to Hina's front right and back left attacked simultaneously.
"Don't underestimate Hina!" The pinkette yelled, "Hya!" She cried out, blocking the front one with her right leg and chopping the back one with her left arm.
Robin hissed in surprised pain as her real arms bruised up, "My, my, you're far more talented than Smoker-san." Robin complimented her, "Why, if it wasn't for his Devil Fruit, I doubt he'd even be a Captain with how easily my own manhandled him."
"Hina appreciates the compliment, though Hina could do without the insult to Hina's friend." Hina shot back, glaring at her. She prepared to use another attack, tensing her legs to send her cages into the ground. She could still direct them, and would erupt them beneath Robin's feet.
"My apologies," Robin was smiling like the cat that got the canary, "Though I'm thankful, Hina." She saw the tensed muscles, and directed her large arms to both attack Hina's feet. Hina was forced to abort, jumping into the air to avoid the swatting arms, "I had believed your defense to be almost Logia-like in ability, but that clearly isn't the case." Hina started to sweat, "Which makes me wonder… how well can you multitask?"
"Wha-" Hina was confused, up until phantom limbs growing from her own body grabbed onto her arms, legs, and even her head. She was held spread eagle, with one bigger arm holding her jaw shut.
"Cein Fleur!" Robin called out, "Cuatro Manos! Grab!" The four huge arms descended, while the smaller ones prevented her from moving.
If she did nothing, those huge arms would hit her. If she used her power, then the huge arms would unravel inside of her. No matter what she did, she was going to lose.
'No! Hina won't accept this!' She had never trained in Tekkai or really any of the Rokushiki, but she knew the theory. She forced her muscles across her entire body to steel themselves. Unfortunately, her technique failed almost immediately. She just didn't have the practice with it, having relied on her Devil Fruit's defenses. As the first gasps of pain forced themselves from her locked jaw, she vowed to get stronger, and then everything went dark.
Robin kept hitting her for a few seconds, before allowing her arms to all disperse when she was sure Hina was unconscious. She let out a breath, smiling, "My, that was almost therapeutic." She turned to look at the direction Zoro was fighting in, and blanched when she saw the masses of smoke covering the skyline in a vaguely cube-like structure. "Oh my. I'm sure Zoro won't appreciate me interfering with his fight, but he'll just have to get over it." She quickly ran in that direction, following her Captain's final message. She would not lose another crewmate. Never again.
"Pell, GO!" Vivi yelled, grabbing the man, and practically trying to throw him as the ground started to rumble.
"Princess, I-" The Falcon started to say, but Vivi simply screamed at him.
"…Don't you dare die, Princess!" He yelled, diving into the upper courtyard and assuming his full falcon form and zooming into the sky. He rocketed away, greatly picking up speed and disappearing into the horizon.
"VIVI, WE NEED TO GO TOO!" Nami yelled, and jumped off of the veranda they had burst out into. Vivi and Chaka quickly followed, and not a moment too soon. Just three seconds later, the palace utterly erupted with sand, bulging as beach loads of the stuff burst from every open window and broke open every door. It practically started to weep in sand.
Vivi, Chaka, and Nami all landed in the courtyard and booked it, running from the avalanche of sand. And then they heard it, "NEFERTARI VIVI!" Crocodile's voice sounded almost insane with rage as the man followed them onto the courtyard. He looked like a mess. He was sweating heavily. His perfect hair was in disarray. And his gaping wound was no longer bleeding, though only because it had been stuffed with sand. He looked like a monster, with his one remaining eye having multiple burst blood vessels inside, and was gleaming red. Nothing in his life had ever made him so furious.
"RUN PRINCESS!" Chaka roared as he turned.
"NO CHAKA!" Vivi screamed as he fell back, "RUN, DAMN IT!"
Chaka transformed into his hybrid form, and bled himself on his claws so that he would be able to actually touch the man, "I'll hol-"
Crocodile raced forward at such a fast pace that Chaka couldn't even blink before the man was inside his guard. "DIE!" Crocodile spat, thrusting his arm straight through Chaka's chest. Chaka's heart burst out of his back along with bits of spine, held firmly in Crocodile's sandy grasp.
"P-Princess…" Chaka let out a final death rattle as he resumed his human form. He collapsed, hanging macabrely on Crocodile's arm.
"CHAKA!" Vivi and Nami screamed in shock at seeing the man die so quickly.
Crocodile ripped his arm out and crushed the organ in his grasp, panting heavily and glaring at them dementedly, "Congratulations, Princess." He spat, "Not even my bout with Whitebeard left me so furious! I won't kill you." He stomped forward, "No, you're going to wish I merely killed you! Desert Entierro!" A massive wave of sand erupted from his body, forming into a tsunami wave that really would bury them alive.
Nami and Vivi turned and ran, using Soru to get to the edge of the upper courtyard and jumping. Both of them hit the lower courtyard and made for the stairs leading down into the rest of Alubarna. "Desert Prisión!" The sands above them rushed forward, encircling them, and blocking off the stairs.
"Geppō!" The girls cried out, fleeing into the sky despite the pain in Vivi's legs. Pain was better than whatever Crocodile had planned for them.
But Crocodile appeared out of the sands in front of them, roaring in fury.
"KYA!" Vivi squealed as he backhanded her into Nami, sending them crashing back to the courtyard grass.
"Oof! Shit!" Nami rasped as Vivi had landed on top of her. "Damn it, we need to get out of here! Is there any sort of fountain nearby?!"
"Yeah," Vivi coughed, knowing Nami was looking to suck up some water for another Mizu no Yari, "It's inside the palace directly behind us. Do you need a distraction? I still have some of his blood on my slashers." She glared at Crocodile as they stood shakily.
"Let's do it!" Nami whispered back, "Mirage Tempo!" She mumbled under her breath, leaving behind a mirage that ran at Crocodile. "Mizu No Yari!" The mirage called out, launching a jet of water at Crocodile.
Vivi used Soru, hoping to catch Crocodile by surprise before he realized it was fake.
Vivi rushed forward, but Crocodile ignored the jet of fake water, glaring at her as she appeared. His fingers were held straight out and coated in sand, "Desert Spada!" He called out, and the extremely sharp 'blade' of grinding sand molecules cut Vivi's arm right off.
Vivi gasped, appearing in the air, and literally skidding to a halt and then using Soru in the other direction to run away as her premonition ended. Crocodile ignored her, rushing unerringly for the hidden Nami. Nami screamed in shock, horror, and pain as he grabbed her arm, sucking every bit of moisture from it with his hand. He then whipped her bodily at Vivi, throwing both of them to the ground.
Nami was trembling, "K-Kenbunshoku…" She realized. They'd actually pissed him off enough for him to use his Kenbunshoku on them?!
"Oh yes." Crocodile stalked forward, "I'm surprised rookies like you even know of it. What a fucking insult for you two fucking rookie bitches to force this out of me." A vein was pulsing angrily on his forehead, "This is the WORST INSULT I've ever suffered!" He stalked over to them and grabbed Nami by the throat, lifting her off the ground. He kicked Vivi hard, rolling her away from them when the bluenette tried to reach for her slashers. Vivi could only cough harshly from the injury. She was going to have a massive bruise if they got out of this alive.
Nami was choking. Her un-withered arm was trying to pry open his fingers while the other hung limply at her side. She managed to rasp out, "Rankyaku…" She kicked straight upwards, generating a wind blade that cut Crocodile in half. But his grip didn't loosen at all, and she hadn't been trying to hurt him anyway. Just distract him. "Geppō!" With her other leg, she kicked forward, ripping herself out of his grasp and away.
But to her horror, he had simply allowed his hand to rip itself from his forearm, and it was still around her neck. She jerked to a stop, nearly giving herself whiplash as his hand dragged her back to him. He squeezed even tighter, making Nami feel like her eyes were going to pop out. Crocodile was ranting and raving by this point, "I won't kill you!" He nearly looked rabid as froth appeared near his mouth, "No, no, no. Death is too good for you bitches. I'm going to strip every inch of skin from your damn bodies millimeter by milime-" he cut himself off, actually having to block an attack with his hook as Vivi's bloody slashers aimed for his nose. He unconsciously eased up on Nami's neck.
Nami jerked her Clima-Tact, overclocking it way past its safety limits and mixing cool balls with the hot desert air. Dusk had fallen already, but that didn't mean it had already gone cold. The Clima-Tact shattered, disgorging a small spray of water. It felt wonderful on her skin, and her arm absorbed most of it, returning to normal. But some of it got on Crocodile as well. She kicked up, kneeing him in the forearm and then jerking his hand once his grip loosened. Despite the disgust, she bit down on his finger.
Crocodile howled as he reinforced his hand with Busōshoku before she could actually gnaw the digit off. She immediately let go of his hand and threw both feet forward, "Geppō!" His still-wet chest couldn't disperse, and the force knocked him back and Nami away from him.
He slid to a stop, now shaking in positively apoplectic rage. Vivi threw her bloodied (and now wet!) slashers at him, but he raised his black hand and caught them without even a hint of injury. The slashers turned to dust, with a line of sand whipping towards Vivi, forcing her to drop her broken weapon. He trembled as he spoke through gnashing teeth. Hell, they were probably in danger of turning to dust themselves! "I will break you." He hissed, "I'll visit every torment imaginable on you. I'll leave you in the desert sun to be pecked at by those vultures, only to force medicine and food into you so I can keep doing it for eternity!"
A rumble in the air slowly started drowning him out, and by the time he got halfway through the sentence, neither of the girls could hear him. And then they noticed it getting bright. They both went wide-eyed seeing a sun growing in the distance, and grinned in elation. Nami grabbed Vivi and bolted in the other direction with Soru, "RANKYAKU!" She cried out, cutting through the sand wall encircling them and bursting through the other side to the stairs.
Crocodile was so furious and hyper-focused on them that he noticed none of this, up until he saw their smiles and immediate retreat. And then his Kenbunshoku screamed. He dispersed into sand completely, right before a meteor hit the lower courtyard and shook the entire city. Half of the soldiers almost stumbled to the ground. Parts of the weakened palace collapsed, and the raised plateau that the palace sat on had multiple failures, cracking and crumbling down to Alubarna proper.
When the smoke cleared and the dust settled, Luffy was sitting in a crater. He had somehow sensed the agony his girls were in as he grew closer, forcing him to go even faster. He had crashed into the plaza the moment he sensed Nami and Vivi running. It left him confused and wondering how it was even possible that he had felt their pain from the outskirts. Was that part of Kenbunshoku?
Well, no matter. He glared at Crocodile as he reformed. "YOU!" The Villain snarled, "How did you escape?!"
Luffy punched one of his hands, cracking every knuckle, "I hope you're ready, coward!" He spat without bothering to answer the question. And then it was on, with his blistering Soru leaving anything Crocodile had seen from the girls in the dust.
Hey! I managed to write something without taking a whole ass year again!
Hope you all enjoyed it! I TOLD YOU Nami was going to be a badass! I never said Vivi also wouldn't!
We're close to the climax. Not sure if I'll end it next chapter. We'll see how long it gets. I've still got about half of my plans to go through, so I legitimately don't think this will be over in the next chapter. But I've been wrong before, LOL
Original technique Translations:
Rankyaku: Tentai-hō – Rankyaku: Celestial Cannon (This was as close as we could get to Astro Cannon, suggested by Epsi)
Tsubame Hikō - Swallow Flight
Geppō: Taihō – Geppō: Cannon