A/N: Welcome to the start of the SECOND arc! You probably realized that I'm having a bit too much fun with Komatsu's history before meeting Toriko.

Also, this is like my 4th time editing because I kept exiting out without saving my edits like an idiot! *cries*

Okay, I will shut up now. Enjoy the chapter!

Special Shoutout to Konan248, Destin (Guest), TheOne (Guest), Lunamugetsu, KingCreations

Thank you for your kind reviews!


Chapter 3: The Deadly Troll Kongs


Near the port of Gourmet Town, there laid a huge market called "Gourmet Central Wholesale Market." From all over the world, every single kind of Gourmet ingredients was gathered there. The total area of the market space was 3000 hectares, and the amount of food brought in at any single day was about 900,000 tons. Every day, at least one trillion yen changed hands in this enormous market! With its grandeur and prestige, this market received the nickname called the "World's Kitchen!"

Komatsu marveled at all the rare ingredients being moved from one shop to another. There was a bustling of crowds screaming prices for the luxurious Silver King Crab. Her mouth watered wondering what that would taste like. Someone yelled seven million yen for the whole crab. There was no way she earned enough money to even try a piece of that crab.

"Hey! Hurry up, would you Komatsu!" a voice called out for her attention. "Our target will be sold before we get there!" he reprimanding her lightly. He adjusted his sunglasses that reminded her of a certain IGO director. She was currently sent on a job to hunt for some fresh ingredients for another IGO-sponsored luxury party. Today, the IGO Development Bureau's Section Chief was accompanying her.

"Ah, sorry Johannes-san!" She sheepishly laughed, "I just get so distracted by all these different ingredients!" Her eyes sparkled as she saw a group of workers carrying the Tsuchinoko Turtle, "Uwahh! This sure is the World Kitchen! There are tons of rare ingredients everywhere!" She felt like a child in a candy store.

"Oh! Is that you miss?" a familiar voice spoke out.

She turned around and saw the scarred man, Tomu, pushing a trolley of stacked crates. "Ah! Tomu-san! Thank you so much for the other day!"

"I'm just happy to see you back in one piece!" he snickered.

She chuckled in response reminiscing her surreal event with the Galala Crocodile and she was just as happy to be back in one piece as well. "Tomu-san, what kind of ingredients do you have?" She tried to peer through the cracks of the wooden crate; there seemed to be a variety of sea critters in there.

"Ah just the usual, I got some Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers, Jelly Momo Fish, Red Fishchins... all sorts!"

"Wow!" she marveled, "and they all smell very fresh!"

"Of course! Nothing but the best for my customers." Tomu proudly stated, "by the way, Toriko's suppose to be bringing ingredients to my shop. Wanna stick around?"

Her ears perked up at the mention of Toriko's name, she couldn't believe she was going to meet Toriko so soon! "Eh! T-Toriko-san is coming?" She wanted to see him but, she could feel the cold glare from Johannes for dilly-dallying once again. "I would like to but..."

"You called?" a voice responded.

She felt her back stiffening from hearing that familiar deep-toned voice. There was no mistaking it, that voice definitely belonged to Toriko! She turned around to greet him only to see a giant beast walking towards her. "Tori-UWAH! A monster!" she yelped in shock. The beast was awkwardly walking towards her but, upon closer inspection, she could see the familiar tuft of blue hair peeking out. "T-Toriko-san?" She called out.

The crowd started to get rowdy as they stopped and stared at the popular bishokuya.

"Mama, it's Toriko!"

"Toriko?"

"Toriko's here!"

"No way, is it really him?"

She looked around to see everyone pointing and calling out to Toriko. She momentarily forgot that he was incredibly famous and her presence was easily swallowed up by the crowd.

"Oh! A Shakurenodon! Looks like it weighs at least a ton." Tomu happily exclaimed ignoring the growing crowd around them.

Toriko dropped the beast to the ground, and she felt the slight tremor from the ground upon impact. "How's 40,000 for a kilo sound, Tomu?" Toriko said. "I've already used knocking on it."

She was impressed that the beast was knocked so cleanly. She inspected the creature closer and realized that it was still breathing. That beast was as fresh as it could possibly come.

"Make it 30,000 per kilo!" Tomu bargained, "I've got a lot of poor small buyers too, you know?"

She gasped, 30,000 yen per kilo was a steal! She quickly went up to Tomu, "Could you sell some to my restaurant too, Tomu-san?"

"Sure," Tomu said with ease.

She smiled back happily in response, "Thank you!" She had never cooked a Shakurenodon before! She could envision all sorts of dishes she could cook with the meat.

"I'm worried," Johannes said. He adjusted his sunglasses before confronting Tomu, "if you don't strictly follow the market prices established by the IGO... the true value of the ingredients will change."

"Oh?" Tomu grinned, "then talk to the Producer, Toriko." he chuckled darkly and said, "if you dare that is."

Johannes took a startled step backward, "i-impossible!" he yelped before clearing his throat and dropped the whole matter. "Toriko-san, I've heard the rumors."

"Aha, Johannes-san certainly gives up easily," she remarked as Tomu chuckled in reply.

Johannes cleared his throat to signal their attention, "A-anyway! So you've taken down a Galala Crocodile. Just what I'd expect from one of the Four Heavenly Kings." he adjusted his sunglasses again, "I just wish the other three would follow your example and contribute to the Gourmet Age."

Toriko scoffed and said, "I think it's pointless to expect anything from them."

Johannes adjusted his sunglasses as part of his habitual tick, "that being said, we have a job request for you."

Toriko just shrugged and gave a dismissal wave before walking off from the group, "Yeah, yeah, you IGO guys have plenty of your own privately employed bishokuya, don't you? You don't need -."

"The Rainbow Fruit has reached its full ripeness." Johannes cut in.

Toriko stopped in his track before turning around with a sly grin. "Oh?"

"D-Did you say Rainbow Fruit?" she turned to look at Johannes's expressionless face. "T-That's the phantasmal tree fruit that has a variety of different tastes based on the atmospheric temperature and the level of humidity!" She couldn't believe her ears! After all, she only heard of legends of this fruit and simply thought of it as just a fairy tale.

"I've heard about that," Tomu said as he dropped the crate on his trolley. "The Rainbow Fruit is a fruit said to have such a high concentration of juice that one drop of it into a 25-meter pool of water will make all of the water in the pool turn into a thick and mellow juice."

Komatsu could feel the excitement bubbling in her, "And!" She excitedly said, "I've also heard that the price for the Rainbow Fruit is so high that if you sold it, you'd be able to live a life of luxury you're whole life."

"There's also a rumor that it's completely wiped out from the natural world," Tomu said as he suspiciously looked at Johannes.

"That's a false rumor spread by some Gourmet Investors to raise the value of the Rainbow Fruit." Johannes said matter-of-factly, "a few days ago we confirmed that the Rainbow Fruit has been successfully grown in our Garden. Of course, we cannot say that those are natural."

"Eh, what do you mean?" She asked.

"It's one of those selectively bred trees you guys are so good at growing, isn't it?" Toriko interjected.

"Ah yes." Johannes said, "but the problem is the Rainbow Tree has been made into a Troll Kong nest. No one can get close to it."

"Troll Kongs..." She shuddered involuntarily from remembering the picture of a Troll Kong she saw back in grade school. Their faces gave her a nightmare for a month!

"The Troll Kongs are the strongest of all the Gorillas," Johannes continued, "a few days ago, we mobilized a 2 billion yen Gourmet Tank but, it was astoundingly flipped upside down... and that was a 40-ton Military tank!" Johannes adjusted his sunglasses, "the administration bureau has announced it to have a capture level of 9! It likely even surpass the Galala Crocodile!"

"C-Capture level 9?" Tomu stuttered.

"The Troll Kong... that's selectively bred too, isn't it...?" Toriko scratched his chin and looked unimpressed by the new information, "Geez, you guys do nothing but weird experiments, don't you?" he sighed and closed his eyes for a moment. "Is there really only one Troll Kong? I heard they usually form packs," he mumbled quietly.

"Let's take this request, Toriko-san!" Komatsu finally blurted out, "It's the Rainbow Fruit after all!" she felt like her chest swell up from happiness; she never imagined that she could go on another adventure with Toriko so soon! Suddenly her last night's lament seemed nothing but a distant memory. "I want to see it too! Let's go together!"

Toriko looked over at her and skeptically said, "You're really gonna die this time."

She understood that going on an adventure with Toriko was the same as signing off on a death sentence, but if she missed this chance, when will another chance to see a Rainbow Fruit come by? She gave a large smile and said the words that both saved and damned her, "Toriko-san, there's no time like the present, right?"

Toriko's eyes lit up in bemusement and grinned right back at her. "Geez, guess I've got no choice. Well, I'd like to try it too, so..." he chuckled, "I think I'll show my face there for the first time in a while... at that nostalgic Garden."

Toriko stretched his arms and finally said, "well let's go!"

Johannes cleared his throat before turning to Komatsu, "Chef Komatsu, you have to stay back and pick the ingredients for the party."

She looked at Johannes blankly before realization hit her that she was technically still on the job. She was about to protest but quickly clamped her mouth shut. Now that she thought about it, she didn't tell her manager or the director about this new change of plan. She was internally kicking herself, how could she be this irresponsible? If she just left without telling her boss she would most definitely get fired. She looked at Toriko who gave her a quizzical look. Her head bowed low in resignation. "R-right..." she agreed with Johannes meekly. "Toriko-san... it seems I can't go after all..." she laughed awkwardly in an attempt to cover her disappointment.

"Huh?" Toriko said, "if Komatsu wants to come, just let her come. She can deal with that crap afterward."

"T-Toriko-san!" She yelped in shock. She didn't want Johannes to think that she didn't take her job seriously from Toriko's careless comment! After all, Johannes was still technically her boss today.

"Komatsu." Toriko said with a stern face, "do you want to go and capture the Rainbow Fruit?"

Wasn't it obvious? She obviously definitely wanted to go. Before her brain could think of an appropriate answer, she nodded her head at Toriko in response.

Toriko grinned, "then choose the option you won't regret the most, Komatsu."

She stared at Toriko's face in a stunned silence. That statement he made was so stupid, idealistic, irresponsible, simple, and yet...

yet...

...it resonated with her heart deeply. Perhaps she really was a fool after all. With a sense of renewed courage, she gave Johannes a deep bow, "please let me attend this! Johannes-san!"

"..." Johannes said nothing and she could feel her heart beating loudly in her ears. The few seconds felt like long minutes. Her ears twitched when he finally gave out a deep sigh of resignation, "Alright, I'll call someone else to pick up the ingredients then."

She slowly raised her head and she could feel her nose stinging signaling her that she was close to crying. She swallowed back her happy tears and have a deep bow to Johannes once again, "Johannes-san! Thank you!"

"Just try not to make this into a habit." Johannes sighed once again as he took out his car keys.

She only laughed sheepishly, "Uhm... Yes sir."


They entered Johannes' white limousine, and there were red velvet curtains to cover the windows. The seats were made of black leather and were very soft to sit on. Komatsu entered first and she felt the limousine leaned a bit downwards as soon as Toriko stepped on. He was uncomfortably crouching while trying to get to his seat. He was also dragging a pot and placed it between his legs.

Johannes was in the driver seat and started the engine. "It will take 1hr and 45 minutes to get there."

"Okay!" she replied.

Toriko opened the lid and in it was filled to the brim with Salmon Roes. He took a spoonful, and she could hear the roes popping from every bite. "Muhooo! Look at this Komatsu, in hopes that we get the Rainbow Fruit, Tomu gave us a 100 kilos worth of Golden Salmon Roe!"

She was shocked when Tomu gave Toriko such a significant amount, but then again, seeing how quickly Toriko was eating the decadent salmon roes, perhaps the quantity was merely an appetizer for him. He took another spoonful before blissfully slapping his knee in glee, "YUMMY! The popping two-stage attack of this flavor is out of this world!"

She was astonished that nothing seemed to faze him. They were going to go and meet a dangerous beast that was possibly more dangerous than the Galala crocodile. But, for a chance to see the legendary Rainbow Fruit, it was worth it to face the possible dangers! But then again, would there be any Rainbow Fruit left by the time they arrive there? After all, the Troll Kong probably would've eaten it all by now, "hey Toriko-san? There's one thing I have in mind..."

"Hm?" he replied while stuffing another spoonful or roes into his mouth.

"Wouldn't the Troll Kong just eat the Rainbow Fruit right away? After all, the scent is said to attract all living beasts."

He spoke with his mouth full which she was used to by now, "Troll Kongs only eat animal meat. Its goal is probably to prey on animals that are attracted by the smell of the Rainbow Fruit."

"Oh!" She never realized how smart the Troll Kongs were, "But how is it possible that animals are still getting close to the tree even with such a vicious beasts living there?"

This time Johannes was the one to speak out, "There's no end to the animals that come close to it." She quizzically looked at Johannes odd driving posture. He was sitting near the edge of the seat with his back ram-rod straight. His hands were grasping the wheel near the top, and his whole body was swaying as he moved the wheel. Johannes continued his explanation, "it's nearly a reflex action. It's like in baseball when a foul ball hits the backstop net, spectators always move like they're trying to avoid it. Even though they know they are protected by the net, they still move out of reflex. Similarly, the animals cannot control themselves and are drawn to the Rainbow Fruit purely by their reflex due to the fruit's intoxicating smell."

"W-wow..." she was starting to get curious about the smell of the Rainbow Fruit. "By the way, Johannes-san... that's quite an amazing posture you're driving in."

Johannes grumbled something about how he disliked driving the limousine.

"Its attraction is so strong that it makes you forget all reason? That's a lot like love, eh Komatsu?" Toriko remarked with blase.

"E-eh?" She never imagined Toriko to be making that sort of comparison.

He started to snicker before saying, "Maybe this time, along with your will, you should also write a love letter."

"...EH?" She burst out. "l...l...l...love letter?" her face heated up thinking perhaps Toriko wanted her love letter. But one look at Toriko's face and she realized that he was just teasing her again.

"Hahaha, your face, hahaha," he laughed while clutching his stomach.

To save a shred of her dignity, she just looked away to hide her flushed cheeks, "P-please stop joking around Toriko-san! What's with the w-weird idea?"

He only laughed harder much to her chagrin.

"We're here, Toriko-san." Johannes interrupted.

"Oh! I see it! The Garden!" Toriko said as he stood up until his head touched the car's ceiling.

She was thankful that they finally arrived to break her weird tension with the subject. She placed her cool hand on her hot cheeks. Love that makes you forget all reason, huh? she thought listlessly. The fact that she was willingly walking into danger could only mean that she lost all reason! Besides, there was no way she was in love with Toriko...right? She shook her head to get rid of such a silly idea. She just went through an awful break up with her ex-fiancee, to even look at another man when she hadn't even fully given herself closure would be a rebound relationship at best. She took a deep breath and counted to three. She should only be thinking about retrieving the Rainbow Fruit!

Johannes parked the car, and she could finally see how giant the white wall actually was compared to at a distance. The wall stretched across the land as far as the eye could see. The sky was filled with dark clouds giving the white wall a more imposing look. There were two guards stationed at the only entrance and saluted to Toriko.

"Wow..." She had to stretch her neck all the way up just to see the top of the wall.

"Gouchisouma-desu." The two soldiers said in unison.

"Quit it with that greeting you guys, I haven't treated you to anything," Toriko said as he pulled a cigar branch from his pocket. He lighted it up by snapping his fingers with ease.

Komatsu walked closer to the entrance and read the sign, "B-Biotope Garden?"

"It's a man-made flora and fauna living space." Johannes began to explain, "we let animals live free-range in an environment exceedingly close to their original habitat."

"The IGO researches Gourmet Animals' ecology and such in these biotopes," Toriko added.

"O-oh wow... that's impressive," she said in awe.

"Could you open the gates for us?" Johannes asked the guards.

"Ah well..." one of the guards hesitated.

DON DON DON DON

A loud sound reverberated through the air. Jumping back in reflex, she looked around her surrounding to see if the ground was breaking apart. She then looked up to see the brooding skies with lightning flashing within the dark clouds, "I-is that thunder?" she asked in disbelief.

One of the guards cleared his throat for their attention, "we received contact from the research laboratory's watchtower just 10 minutes ago. They said that there is one Troll Kong on the other side of the gate."

"It's waiting to ambush?" Johannes uttered in surprise.

"N-no way!" She couldn't believe that the Troll Kongs were smart enough to plan out an ambush. "C...could that sound be the Troll Kong banging against the gate's wall?"

"No, that's not likely." Johannes said, "there's a deep trench between the Garden and the wall. No beasts should be able to cross it easily."

DON DON DON DON

She jumped again from the sound, except it was coming from behind her. She whipped back and saw Toriko casually smoking his cigar branch while his fist was hovering over his broad chest.

Putting two and two together, somehow Toriko was able to mimic the sound the Troll Kong made. Impressive but really unnecessary as she really didn't need a heart attack from shock. "P-please don't scare us like that, Toriko-san!" she scolded, "and...and how did you even make that sound just now?"

Toriko took another puff of his cigar, "it's called drumming."

"Drumming?" she asked.

"It's a form of intimidation characteristics to gorillas. The sound before was the sound of a Troll Kong pounding on its chest." Toriko's gaze sharpened at the gate's entrance, "the king of the Garden is warning me not to enter."

She looked back to the tall and wide fortress, "is it even possible for drumming sounds to reach all the way here across that thick concrete wall?" she asked in disbelief.

"I...I do believe that..." Johannes finally regained his stoic composure. "It is said that the Troll Kong's drumming is an explosive sound that can be heard tens of kilometers away..." he looked at the wall before him, "generally speaking, animals who hear this sound gets scared and run away."

"I don't care, open the gate," Toriko nonchalantly said as he walked past the guards.

"W-We cannot, Toriko-sama." the guard quivered, "there are regulations."

"Ah?" Toriko looked at the guard, and the guard immediately stiffened his posture.

"A-At this 8th biotope, if there is a beast of a capture level 5 or above within a five-kilometer radius of the gate, then we are not allowed to open it. It is presumed there are no animals that can cross the trench, but this is just an extra cautionary measure." The guard ended his explanation with a salute.

"So..." Toriko said as he gave his devil-may-care smile, and somehow Komatsu knew something bad was going to happen. "...it's okay if they're outside of the five-kilometer radius then?" The sound of thunder rumbled lowly in the distant. "In other words, if they're already gone when we open it, it's okay?" he asked.

She gulped down a lump that was stuck in her throat. She hoped that Toriko wasn't thinking of breaking down this wall.

Toriko cracked his knuckle and approached the white concrete wall. No one dared to stop him. "Besides drumming, Gorillas have the acts of throwing and breaking something nearby as a method of intimidation, but..." he trailed on before he took his fighting stance. She could see Toriko's muscles bulk up and suddenly she felt a similar chill from when he first fought the Galala crocodile.

"T-Toriko-san?" She called out in fear.

"Get back." Toriko growled before screaming, "Three-Hit Nail Punch!" his fist seemed to have met the white concrete wall once, and within seconds the wall started to give under the impact. She could see the wall concaving deeper and deeper.

"WAHHH!" both Komatsu and Johannes screamed in shock.

"It's open," Toriko said, and as if he cast a magic spell, the wall burst out leaving a giant hole in its wake.

Toriko sauntered in through the hole with ease, "sorry for the intrusion."

Komatsu saw Johannes and the guards shell-shocked. She politely bowed hoping to send a message to dismiss her and also to apologize on behalf of Toriko's reckless action. She sweatdropped when she realized that both the Guards and Johannes was still staring at the broken wall with mouth wide opened. She turned and ran through the man-made hole knowing that Toriko really doesn't wait for anyone. She was careful not to trip over the rubbles that were littered from the wall bursting open. At the end of the short tunnel, she was surprised to see Toriko actually waiting for her. "Toriko-san... we could've entered without going so overboard like this." she felt bad for the guards as they will have to explain to their superior of why there was a gaping hole in the wall. She wondered how much it would cost to fix a hole this big.

"STAY BACK, KOMATSU!" Toriko yelled.

"Eh?" she froze in her tracks and frantically looked around to locate the immediate danger.

"We're being attacked!" as soon as he said that, she saw a blur of five snakes launching their attacks at him.

All five of them bit him on his legs, his arms, and his torso. "T-TORIKO-SAN!" She screamed.

She could see the snakes digging their whole fangs deeper into his appendages. Their body started to coil around his body, "These are... these are Zombie Taipans!" Her body quivered in fear, "Toriko-san..." she started to cry, "these are extremely venomous... what should I do?"

"I know." He said calmly, "Be quiet. I told you to get away."

More tears started to pool in her eyes, she didn't know how Toriko could fight against venom! She saw his hand reaching for the Cigar branch in his mouth. He started to inhale the cigar until it disintegrated to ash. Then as he exhaled, a wisp of smoke poured out and enveloped his whole body.

The Zombie Taipans dropped from his body one by one. They were dazed momentarily before they sluggishly slithered away. "Okay, you're good little kids... you were just surprised being thrown all of a sudden." He gently said, "you can go back to your nest now."

She looked at the retreating snakes before looking to Toriko in confusion, "Zombie Taipans are known to not release their fangs until their prey is dead..." She was in awe how he got the bad-tempered Zombie Taipans to release him with hardly any effort.

Like usual, Toriko had a response to that, "they really hate the Cigar tree's smoke. It's an irritating odor, so you can use it in camps and stuff as a convenient way to ward off bugs," and like usual, he always managed to give her life hacks at the end.

She was dazed for a moment before she realized that Toriko had venom injected into him by five of these dangerous snakes. "To-Toriko-san!" She ran towards him. She saw blood oozing out from the punctured wound.

"Did something happen? Are you alright?" Johannes called out from the other side of the wall.

"I'm fine, it's nothing," Toriko yelled back. "Go wait at the research laboratory and drink gourmet tea or something," he said with a tint of mockery, "just sit back while I bring the Rainbow Fruit to you real soon."

"Th-Then...I...I wish you Food Luck." Johannes managed to stutter out.

Toriko walked to the lever and pulled it down. The gears started to turn and a drawbridge was slowly lowering to make a path across the deep trench.

"To-Toriko-san! You shouldn't be moving around like this! You need to hurry up and take the serum!" she fretted while looking around to see if there were any first aid kits attached on to the wall.

He just gave her a dismissal wave, "it's fine, I already got it."

She stared dumbly at Toriko. She could only understand him half the time.

"Now then, I'm heading out!" he leisurely walked across the lowered bridge.

She asked once more, "A-are you really okay, Toriko-san?"

He disregarded her question and continued across the bridge, "Hey, if you're coming, hurry up!" he looked back at her with his usual easy-going smile, "or else you're going to be left behind!"

"O-okay!" She stammered hesitantly. Once she caught up to him, she looked down to the trench and chewed on her lower lip when she couldn't see the bottom. She gulped in nervousness as she walked a bit closer to Toriko's side. She could hear the howling wind that reminded her of a ghostly moan coming from the trench. Did those snakes climbed all the way down and up the trench to get to the wall? But there wasn't any food around the entrance area, so why would they even hunt around there? "Toriko-san, why did that Snake suddenly attacked us?"

"Hm, you probably didn't sense its presence," he said.

"Huh?" She looked at him with knitted brows, "presence?"

"There was a Troll Kong across the trench that ambushed us by throwing these snakes."

"O-oh..." she paled realizing that a smart and robust beast was definitely more terrifying than any Galala crocodile. She looked at his wounds and then his gait. She was impressed that he was walking fine as if he didn't just get injected with toxic venom. She was concerned for his vitality, but then again he was the last person she should be concerned about regarding survival chances.

She looked up to see the sky grumbling lowly; she hoped to capture the fruit before it started to rain.


She was half focused on the rough terrain while trying to keep up with Toriko's brisk pace. She really needed to work out if she planned on going on more adventures with him. As she walked, she noticed off to the side a tree with Bacon leaves growing on it. Her eyes sparkled as she deviated from her track to quickly pick some Bacon Leaves.

As soon as she plucked out one of the Bacon Leaves, the leaves released a rich, smoky scent. Her mouth started to water, she really wanted to cook these freshly picked bacon leaves.

She looked back and saw Toriko in the distance. "Ahk! I better catch up before he really does leave me behind!" She started to run and called out to him to slow down his pace for just a bit, "W-wait, Toriko-san!" To her surprise, he actually stopped.

When she caught up to him, Toriko was looking up to the rumbling clouds, "The Rainbow tree is tall so it'd be bad if lightning struck. Let's quicken our pace."

"Yes!" She replied, "but first look at these Bacon Leaves! I've never seen them growing in nature!" She remarked in delight.

"Yea?" Toriko said, before he took a bite of something, "on the way, I found some Banana cucumbers," he took another bite, "it goes great with Bacon Leaves wrapped around it."

Wah, he's already eating it, she thought in disbelief.

He put the last bit of Banana Cucumber wrapped in Bacon Leaves in his mouth. He then jumped down the small rocky ledge.

She stared at the Bacon Leaves when inspiration suddenly struck her, "Oh yea! Toriko-san! Wouldn't this go great with Rainbow Fruit?" as she held up the two slabs of Bacon Leaves.

Toriko looked up from the lower elevation, "Oh! Once in a while you do say chef-like things, don't you? That sounds tasty!"

"W-what do you mean once in a while!" she gave an exaggerated pout, before seeing him give her a cheeky grin and she couldn't help but burst into giddy laughter.

"Okay Komatsu, jump!" he called out from below.

"Eh?" She looked down, and it was at least several meters before she would hit the ground. "I'm going to definitely break something if I jump, Toriko-san..." all traces of her previous mirth gone.

"Then, I'll catch you," he said while stretching his arms out towards her.

"E-eh?" she stuttered and took a small step away from the edge. She knew that now wasn't the time to feel shy, but the thought of Toriko catching her and embracing her was making her heart beat like crazy.

"Komatsu! Come on!" he called her attention back to reality. He took several steps backward to gauge the distance between them. Suddenly, the ground under him gave, and he quickly jumped aside from falling through.

"Toriko-san!" She called out in worry. She squinted her eyes as she couldn't see him amidst the dusty cloud from the rocks breaking apart underneath him.

"RWWOOOAAARRR!" A beastly roar thundered from the sky.

Her back bunched up, tensed. She had to force her stiff neck to look up. Her mouth gaped open trying to scream, but nothing came out. She saw the Troll Kong in midair with his four massive arms, and he held a boulder in each hand. She dropped the bacon leaves, willing her legs to move but alas they too shut down. The Troll Kong was only focused on attacking Toriko as it threw all four boulders where he was last seen.

Finally, gravity took over the Troll Kong, and it landed heavily right next to her. Without moving a single millimeter, she stared frozen to her spot at the many jagged teethes flashing dangerously before her. Its black eyes with red pupils locked on her.

Her breath hitched, and her fingertips felt numb. As cliche as it may sound, she saw her life flashing before her eyes.

The Troll Kong lumbered its giant body towards her. Her eyesight was starting dim, and her body started to sway unable to hold her own weight.

Memories of her first day enrolling into the top ten culinary School.

Memories of her first successful meal that brought a smile to her teacher's face.

Memories of her and her ex-fiancee sharing their first kiss...

Ah... she was going to die.

"GWAARRRAAAAA" The Troll Kong let out a mighty roar as if declaring it was now ready to eat. Its' mouth so wide that it could easily devour her whole. The stench of rotten eggs filled her nose, and her eyes followed the one glob of saliva viscously dripping down from his many sharp teethes.

"Knocking!" a flash of blue leaped in front of her eyes, and she saw sparks of electricity.

"Toriko-san!" she finally took a gasp of air.

The Troll Kong grabbed Toriko's waist. "GWAAAR-" it started to hack until it puked out whatever remains was in its stomach drenching Toriko's body whole. The Troll Kong slammed Toriko down to the ground and raised one of its four arms to smash Toriko down further to the ground.

"S-STOP!" she managed to finally yell at the Troll Kong. The Troll Kong surprising stilled eerily.

"AGA... AHK..." the Troll Kong chocked before finally collapsing right next to her.

"HIH!" She yelped as its eyes were still opened and its tongue lolled out.

"Don't worry, I used knocking," Toriko stood up and wiped the Troll Kong's vomit off his face. "He won't be able to move for a while."

"Toriko-san!" she called, before rubbing her teary eyes. "Are you alright?"

"Yea..." he took a small sniff of his hand before gagging, "ugh, this stinks! That bastard vomited all over me."

She sighed in relief that Toriko must be fine if he was still in his easy-going mood. She looked back to the still Troll Kong that was breathing heavily, "You just paralyzed it?" she looked away as its eyes were starting to creep her out, "that means, eventually it'll start moving again!" she shuddered in disgust.

"Yea, I used the type that wears off in half a day," he said.

"In half a day...?" she bit her thumbnail in worry, "is it really okay to not finish it off?"

"There's really no point in killing it," he said while trying his best to pat himself dry from the Troll Kong's vomit, "after all, our goal is the Rainbow fruit."

She took a real hard look at the man in front of her, he was indeed an enigma. He was so strong, and could probably kill whatever nuisance came his way. Even though this Troll Kong threw venomous snakes at him and tried to just kill him right now, how could he only just use knocking on it?

"Ahk! This is so stinky! I'm definitely going to need a shower after this" He whined before looking back and called her over, "Let's go, Komatsu!"

"A-Ah yes!" she replied, before taking one good look at the still Troll Kong. She really couldn't understand Toriko at all.


Despite Toriko telling Komatsu that they needed to make haste, whether he realized it or not, he was keeping more at her own comfortable pace. Her body still felt stiff from that near-death experience, and she was thankful that he wasn't sprinting towards the Rainbow Fruit.

They finally entered the crevice between two cliff-side rocks, as she was looking around she noticed an unusually large amount of discarded animal bones littered around.

"The Rainbow Fruit is close, Komatsu," he sniffed the air.

"Really?" her attention was now back on him.

"Yea! I can smell the Rainbow Fruit from here."

She sighed in relief that now it should be easy picking, literally and figuratively. "Since we took care of that Troll Kong, we can just relax and go take the fruit, right Toriko-san!"

"That guy was the lowest rank in his pack. That's the reason why he vomited on me."

"Eh?" she looked up to him, "P-pack?"

They finally exited out between the rock crevices and was greeted with an open field. "The Troll Kongs' intelligence is similar to that of a chimpanzee. So it's normal for them to do things like throw venomous snakes or dig pitfalls." He placed his hands on his hips and looked out to the open field. What greeted her sight caused her to nearly faint. He continued on, "But, the ones that don't resort to petty tricks are the most terrifying."

"T-T-Toriko-san..." she whimpered.

Arrays of different yelping, hooting, roaring, growling, and barking surrounded them. They were surrounded by sizeable angry Troll Kongs that was all ready to rip them apart.

"Now then," he calmly said, "the Rainbow Fruit is before our eyes, Komatsu."

She felt her life flashing before her eyes once again. Her eyes watered realizing that perhaps her time really had come.

"-Matsu, Komatsu!" he called for her attention.

She slowly looked over and managed to squeak out a response.

"After we get back, take a week off from work at the Hotel." He gave her a big smile, "you probably wouldn't be able to move an inch because of all the muscular soreness anyways."

"E-Eh?" her brain was still in shock-mode, and she had no idea what he was implying.

"GOOARRRR!" A mighty roar signaled the Troll Kongs to lunge towards them.

"Komatsu! Cling to my back with all your body and spirit!" he barked his order, "believe the whole time that you'll die if you loosen your grip for even a 100th of a second!" he crouched down for her to crawl on his back.

"Y-yes!" she yelled as she jumped on his strong back. Her arms wrapped around his neck, "will we be able to get out of this alive?" she anxiously cried out.

"Heh, I dunno, you better pray!" he said.

She felt her whole body lift up from his back when he would jump side to side to avoid the Troll Kong's attack. She could hear a cacophony of low growls and the ground shattering from the impact the beasts and Toriko were making. She chanced to open her eyes and immediately regretted it as she saw how close she was from being punched to death by the Troll Kongs. She could feel the Troll Kong's breathing down her neck. Her arms clutched Toriko's neck tighter in pure desperation.

"Knocking!" he yelled, and she felt her whole body turn upside down as he would somersault over the Troll Kong's punches. He used knocking on at least ten Trolls before having to replace the battery.

The Troll Kongs stopped attacking momentarily as they observed their fallen comrades. They began to circle him, eyeing the knocking device in his hand.

"T-Toriko-san! Why are you using knocking?" she shivered in fright, "t-they'll just wake back up again!"

"I told you," he said before sighing in exasperation, "our goal is only the Rainbow Fruit," he finally clicked in the battery for his knocking device, "the Troll Kong's meat is all sinewy, so you can't really eat it."

"E-eat?"

"I don't kill prey unless I have the goal of eating it." he simply said, "if I don't eat it, I don't kill it!" he readied his fighting stance with the knocking device in hand fully charged, "that's my rule."

She stared at him in awe, utterly speechless. She winced when she felt something cold hit her cheek. She looked up, and soon more raindrops fell on her. After a few seconds, there was a complete downpour.

A small respite past before the Troll Kongs gave out a mighty roar to prepare the pack to fight viciously once more.

He adjusted his stance by a few centimeters, "a Troll Kong pack has a hierarchy. Until we beat the boss, they won't stop attacking." As soon as he finished the statement, the Troll Kongs were right in front of them with their massive arms raised. Toriko deftly dodged all of their attacks by jumping, spinning, and sidestepping while using the knocking device on them.

"Damn! There's no end to them!" Toriko frustratingly said. He dodged an incoming punch, but his arm was grabbed by another Troll Kong in his blind spot.

She looked up to see a Troll Kong with only one eye. Its hand was large enough to grab all of Toriko's forearm. "GYAHH!" she screamed. She could see Toriko's skin twisting from its tight grip.

"This is legitimate self-defense, so don't think bad of me," he said before using his other arm to strike its arm. "Kni-!"

The one-eyed Troll Kong suddenly let go of his arm, and Toriko shuffled forward to regain his balance once again.

"Alright," he said before flexing his muscles.

She could feel the muscle on his back bunching up, and a cold shiver passed her that reminded her of the dark spirit that would come just before Toriko made his final blow. She looked up to see the Troll Kongs all standing their ground in hesitance. Perhaps they could also feel the unwelcoming chill that Toriko was emitting. Out of the corner of her eyes, she saw a different colored Troll Kong. This Troll Kong had silvery white fur and was standing the furthest away from the pack. The silver Troll Kong looked up to the sky before running away.

The sky rumbled in warning and seconds later a bright flash of lightning struck the ground between the pack and them.

"Gah!" Toriko grunted in surprise. The sheer force of the lightning caused a hole and left a black singe. "That was close, if that struck the Rainbow Tree, it'd be all over!" he quickly surveyed the area before he clicked his tongue in annoyance. "We have to hurry up and find the boss... which one was the first to get surprised by the lightning bolt?"

"Wait... Toriko-san, wouldn't the boss be the one that's surprised the least?" she questioned as she imagined a Yakuza boss being fearless.

"It's the opposite, in the animal kingdom, the most crucial ability for a pack's boss is crisis management," he said as he continued to look amongst the Troll Kongs, "that doesn't just apply to Troll Kongs. It's the boss's job to be the first one to sense danger." Her body swayed left and right as he looked around the area.

"To sense danger..." she murmured and recalled seeing the different colored Troll Kong, "Toriko-san..." she remembered the silver Troll Kong looked up to the sky and as soon as he ran away, lightning struck. "Before lightening struck, I think...I did see one guy running away first."

"What?" he turned his neck to look back at her, "which one?"

She looked amongst the black fur Troll Kongs and spotted the silver Troll Kong to the far left, "Over there," she pointed, "the one with the silver fur."

He looked to the left before chuckling, "We found him, the Silver Back." he cracked his knuckles, "you could also call him the Head Troll..." he nudged his head to lightly tap hers, "good job, Komatsu!"

"A-ah it's really nothing..." she said in embarrassment as her forehead buried deeper into his hair. It was an extraordinary experience, somehow at one point, she started to calm down while being on his back. She felt like she was a bystander and almost felt like she was in a disembodied state. In that state, her field of vision widened, and even when the lightning bolt struck near them, she didn't even flinch. She stared at Toriko's blue hair, the reason she was able to calm down was likely because the evil spirit that he was emanating was scarier than the Troll Kongs, but she also felt very protected by this veil of an ominous presence.

Toriko casually walked through the pack of Troll Kongs. She was amazed how all of them did not move an inch. They finally reached the Silver Troll Kong, and Toriko stood right in front of it. The Silver Troll Kong was trying to intimidate him by snarling with his mouth wide opened. Toriko stood tall, unflinching, and merely raised his hand as the Silver Troll Kong lowered his head to be patted.

The rest of the Troll Kongs started to bow to the ground, and thus ended the battle between Toriko and the Troll Kongs.

"A-amazing..." she whispered in astonishment as he just tamed one of the most vicious beasts to man.

They walked past the Silver Troll Kong who still had his head bowed. She was on his back as she felt unsafe to get off his back in case the Troll Kong decided to attack her. They walked a few meters and was greeted by a large tree with eight large Rainbow Fruits individually hanging from the thick stems.

The rain subsided, and the clouds started to part ways for the sun to peek out. As if the Gourmet Gods blessed their finding, the sunlight shone at the Rainbow Fruit which sparkled in all the seven colors of the rainbow.

"W-..." she stared in a dazed, the fruit looked so surreal and seemed like it came out right from a painting. Her arms loosened around his neck and she slipped off his back. "Ahk!" she yelped as she landed on her feet before stumbling back down to her butt.

He chuckled, "shocked to see the Rainbow Fruit?"

"O-of course!" she exclaimed before tearing up, "this is the legendary Rainbow Fruit that I thought would only see in fairy tales, Toriko-san!"

"Heh," he smirked, before jumping up at an impressive height to cut one Rainbow Fruit off the stem. He landed gracefully, and they both gulped as the scent of the sweet Rainbow Fruit hit them. The Rainbow Fruit was huge, the height of the fruit rivaled Toriko's height.

They heard a groan from behind, and she saw the Silver Troll Kong in front of the rest of his pack. They were looking at the Rainbow Fruit in Toriko's hand, and somehow it looked like they were worried.

"Don't worry," he said to the Troll Kongs, "I'm only going to take one. I have no intention to threaten your way of life."

Perhaps she just imagined the expression on the Troll Kongs' faces, but they almost seemed to sigh in relief. Her heart warmed at Toriko showing so much compassion towards beasts that many people would have no qualm killing. "Toriko-san."

"Hm?" He replied.

"You're really amazing." She said with a sincere smile. There was a space of silence where he just looked back in confusion, and she realized what she just said. Her smile cracked, and she felt her cheeks tingled hotly. "I-I mean, the way that you-you fought the Troll Kongs, and then and then..." her words tumbled together to an incoherent explanation.

"Oh!" he said in realization, "Troll Kongs are violent in nature, but they have pretty easy attack patterns once you get used to it," he said dropping another ounce of his infinite wisdom regarding beasts. "If you ever need help learning how to fight, I can teach you some moves." He said as they walked past the Troll Kongs.

She sighed in relief that he didn't take it the wrong way, although did he seriously think she had a body made to fight those giant beasts? She chuckled in bafflement, "thanks, Toriko-san, I will keep that in mind."


They trekked for 30 minutes across the Garden, and it started to pour again. She felt her clothes sticking to her body and her sweat mingled with the rain from the hot climate here. They finally arrived at the bridge, and she noticed workers already trying to patch up the hole Toriko made.

"W-wow, they certainly work fast..." she observed.

As they passed the group of workers, they all stopped their tasks and saluted to Toriko. He just waved at them as greeting and they opened the gate.

"Toriko-san." one of the guards saluted, "your ride will arrive in 5 minutes."

"Thanks," Toriko said.

"Miss, would you like a blanket...to cover up?" the guard asked.

"E-eh?" she was confused as to cover what exactly? She followed the guard's gaze and realized her white t-shirt was completely see-through from the rain. They could see her black bra as clear as day. "Y-YES!" she yelped in embarrassment as she quickly covered her chest with her arms.

The guard saluted and jogged over to the cabin attached to the wall.

"T-Toriko-san!" she cried, "why didn't you say anything?" Her whole face felt flushed as she realized that not only had Toriko seen her bra the entire time, but the workers AND the guards saw it too.

"Eh? It's just a bra." he said simply, "what's there to be embarrassed about?"

She was starting to question if Toriko actually saw her as a woman, or if he really had no idea of any of the social implication of when a man sees another woman's intimate wear! She was about to retort but saw the same blank expression he gave her when he fished out her white undies after the Galala Crocodile experience. She sighed heavily, "n-never mind." Somehow she felt too exhausted to try to explain this to him.

"More importantly, look at this Rainbow Fruit Komatsu!" he said with his tongue rolled out. "Look at the size and the heft!" he started to lightly bounce the fruit with his one hand.

"Toriko-san really only has food in his mind," she sighed in exasperation.


Toriko and Komatsu arrived at one of the IGO's headquarters, and Johannes was waiting in front of the front entrance. "I'm glad you both have made it back safely, Toriko-san and Chef Komatsu."

"Yo," Toriko casually greeted.

"The IGO would like half of the Rainbow Fruit, and of course we will reward you for your labor and for the ingredient," Johannes said.

"Wow, even with half, that's still plenty to make tons of dishes with the Rainbow Fruit, Toriko-san!" Komatsu said.

"Alright, deal," Toriko said.

Johannes bowed and gave Toriko a silver briefcase that was probably filled with stacks of bills. "Please wait in the lobby while we cut the fruit in half."

"Eh? I'll just cut it in half with my knife." Toriko said while holding up his hand.

"With all due respect, the IGO would like it to be exactly half," Johannes said while adjusting his sunglasses.

"Eh? You guys are so stingy." Toriko said while sighing as he walked into the entrance. More IGO workers wearing black-tie suits came to lift the Rainbow Fruit. It took nine men to raise the fruit to place it on the trolley.

"How about you, Chef Komatsu?" Johannes asked.

"Huh?"

"Would you like a ride home?"

"O-oh, uhm..." she looked at Toriko's retreating back and realized she didn't want to go home just yet. "C-can I wait with Toriko-san?"

Johannes stared at her under his sunglasses for an awkward moment before he finally said, "as you wish."

She finally released a breath she didn't know she was holding. What was that all about? She thought suspiciously as she followed Johannes into the building.

The lobby reminded her of the typical ten-star hotel. The golden chandeliers hanging emitted a warm orange light, and the floor was laid out with a burgundy-colored carpet. Toriko was sitting on the love seat couch while his foot tapped the floor in impatience.

"Toriko-san!" she called, and he looked up in response. She walked towards him and sat next to a single seater couch adjacent to his seat. "What are you going to do with your half of the Rainbow Fruit?"

"I'll probably sell most of it to the World kitchen," he said.

"Eh?!" She looked at him as if he was insane, "b-but Toriko-san, surely someone with your appetite would want to each the whole Rainbow Fruit! Especially since we went through so much trouble to get it too..."

"The Rainbow Fruit is a really rare ingredient," Toriko said.

"E-exactly!" she exclaimed, "that's why-"

"It's because it's rare, that I want other people to try this delicious fruit."

"Huh...?"

Toriko scratched his cheek with his index finger, "well, delicious food is meant to be shared right?" he said with a big innocent smile.

She opened her mouth to retort before closing it. There really was no way of winning against this man. They sat in silence, giving her a moment to reflect on Toriko's statement. Delicious food is meant to be shared... she looked over at Toriko, and it was true that as a chef her happiness came from seeing people enjoying her cooked meals.

"Komatsu," he called out. "I've decided what I want to do with my part of the Rainbow Fruit." he gave a toothy grin, "after sharing the piece to the World Kitchen, I want you to make me the most delicious dessert you can with the Rainbow Fruit!"

She blinked once. Then twice. "You...want me to... make your dessert with it...?" she asked again slowly hoping she didn't perhaps mishear.

"Hm? You don't want to?" he asked.

She definitely wanted to, but she thought he would ask a much higher tier chef to handle his Rainbow Fruit. After all, with his money and influence, he could easily hire ten stars or higher chefs to cook for him. She opened her mouth to say something but realized no words could possibly describe the honor and the happiness she felt from being chosen to cook the phantasmal fruit. Without thinking, she stood up and tackled Toriko into a tight bear hug.

She started to cry, "I do, I do!"

"Hey! You're getting snot all over me!" he exclaimed as he lightly pushed her away.

"It's... it's 'cause I'm sho happeh!" she cried harder as she buried her face in his chest.

"Okay, okay," he said while patting her head, "you're really happy, I get it."

She finally let go, and after a couple of sniffles she said, "You also said you wanted to eat at my restaurant right?" she gave him a wide smile, "if you give me three days, I'll convince my manager to reserve the restaurant and I'll cook our restaurant's full course menu!"

"OH! Seriously!" he whooped, "I can't wait!"

She giggled at his genuine excited expression, "me too!"

It was only after she arrived home, took a shower, and laid in bed that she realized she hugged and smeared snot all over Toriko. "WAHHH!" she yelled in realization. Her neighbor's dog started barking, and her other neighbor yelled at her to pipe down. "A-ah sorry!" she said meekly before stuffing her face with her pillow in embarrassment.

She really needed to distance herself from Toriko before her feelings developed any further. She wouldn't call this feeling "love" but, she had enough experience to recognize the signs of a developing crush. She closed her eyes tightly, trying to squash whatever budding feelings she may have for Toriko before it got too late.


- To be Continued -


Question Time!: Who else thinks Troll Kongs are kind of creepy looking?