Shakky's Rip-off Bar
"Nyuu~ I'm so sorry.." Hachi groaned from the bed. "Because of me..because of me..."
"Stay still Hachi." Chopper reiterated from the fishman's side, a drop of sweat on his forehead and fresh bandages in his grip. "Unnecessary movement could reopen your wounds!"
"Scary scary scary." Usopp chanted with a panicked wave of his hand. "A pirate with a bounty bigger than Luffy's got taken out in an instant! Just who was that?!"
"An Admiral's coming too. Why does this stuff always happen to us?" Nami added in with a depressed mutter, her hand over her mouth and comedic rivers of tears streaming from her eyes.
Zoro grunted. "He seemed strong."
"Well that much is obvious." Franky huffed from the side. "But who was he? He didn't seem like a Marine."
"That's because he's not." Shakky announced, taking a small sip of her cigarette as most eyes turned to her. "Based on the description…" The bar owner moved her hand aside, letting the smoke slowly exhale as she thought. "You said he went straight for Captain Kid? And then warned you away after?"
Luffy nodded. An oddly focused look on his face while his hands rested along his knees.
"Ms. Shakky," Brook spoke up. "Was that one of the other super rookies you mentioned? The one's you said were always in the papers?"
"Not exactly." The bar owner replied as she squatted down behind the counter to rifle through a cabinet. "How familiar are you all with what's been going on in the South Blue?"
"South Blue?" Franky's eyebrow quirked. "I haven't been there since I was a kid. Has something been happening?"
"Umm," Nami frowned to herself. "I could've sworn there was some headlines..I didn't really make the time to read much though...Robin?" she prompted to the woman next her.
"You are referring to the resurgence of Marine control over the ocean?" The archaeologist spoke. "It's the only one of the Blue's where incidents of piracy is actually dropping. Not too long ago the newspapers were celebrating an 'overwhelming victory' against a coalition of allied pirate crews. 'Hornigold's War' I believe it was called."
Shakky reemerged from below the counter with a knowing grin and a stack of newspapers in hand. "You're close." she teased, plopping the folded papers down onto the bar. "It's true, piracy is at an all-time low in that ocean, and while the government continues to tout about how it's because of their efforts and those 'overwhelming victories' you mentioned, my own connections in the region provide a different story. A story about a Bounty Hunter."
"A Bounty Hunter?" Sanji questioned from the sofa.
"Yes. Much like how the citizens of North Blue have their tales of 'Sora, Warrior of the Sea' who fights against the evil armies of Germa 66, South Blue now has it's folk hero 'Jack Sparrow'. A Bounty Hunter who scours the ocean atop his flying partner and obliterates pirate gangs one ship at a time. The only major difference between the two of them being Jack Sparrow is actually real." Shakky paused to tap the edge of her cigarette into an ash tray. "Even the more conservative estimates my contacts have told me is he's estimated to have eliminated at least half a billion in value from wanted men in the last year."
"H-Half a billion?!" "On the low end?!" "Scary! Scary!" "That's.." "Pfeh, that's not so much.."
Shakky smiled through a giggle as the crew all responded to the info in their own way. What a plucky group of kids! Is it any wonder she decided to root for them?
"Oi! Oi!" A voice suddenly cried out as one of the Straw Hats jumped to their feet. "That super pirate from the auction house, Eustass-what's-it! He came from South Blue!" Usopp loudly asserted as the mental dots began to connect. "Are you saying..are you saying.." The sniper's voice started growing disbelieving. "That that Bounty Hunter chased him all the way through the Grand Line?! And that's who we saw?!"
Shakky chuckled. "That does seem to be the question of the hour doesn't it? Again, going back to your description...it certainly sounds like it could have been him. Or a copycat dressed in his likeness. Though I doubt a fake 'Sparrow' would be able to dispatch someone like Eustass Kid so easily. More than that, there's another mystery at play in this tale." One of the newspapers was pulled from the stack. "Do you remember when this article was printed?"
Nami caught the lobbed paper and quickly laid it flat for the others at her table to see. She got only a few sentences in before her eyes grew wide, "This is…"
"AHHH! That's him!" Usopp cried as he pulled loose a menacing brown poster Shakky had kept tucked among the pages.
"Cipher Pol?" Sanji mumbled through his own cigarette, his eyes scanning over the page. "Like the ones we fought to get Robin back? Though this article does say he's a rogue... How old is this?"
"Its date matches up to when we were in the Triangle." Franky noted from across the table. The cyborg leaned back with a frown as his arms spread over the backrest of the couch. "It explains how none of us saw it, but now I'm confused. I know that kingdom, Yateron. The island I was born on wasn't too far from it. How could someone travel all the way here if they were in South Blue just a week or so ago? Moreover, the name on the poster doesn't match with this 'Sparrow' person you mentioned. Are you really sure this is the same guy?"
Shakky shrugged. "Who knows? It's all a bit of a puzzle to be sure."
Luffy tilted his head. "So...is he a good guy or a bad guy? I don't get it. Ah!" The captain suddenly perked up as he remembered something. "Hey old man!" he turned to the ship-coater who had been silently drinking this whole time. "You said you had something you wanted to tell me right?"
"EEEEHHH?! You were on board with the Pirate King?!"
"Yeah. I was First Mate. Silvers Rayleigh, nice to meet ya."
"Ah, none of you noticed?" Robin asked from the corner.
My teeth clamp down. My eyes twitch. The urge to scream is there but I crush it deep.
HP Regen Skill Active!
-Current speed: 4.7% max health per minute.
Alert! Major organ damage detected. [Skill] [HP Regen] is at 25% effectiveness until repair is complete.
The yellow laser beam that just erased the top chunk of my kidney travels onward. Its slight downward angle smacks it into the ground somewhere in the distance and a shining dome of fire and light erupts from the earth.
What. The. Fuck.
Anime horseshit at its finest. These Pacifista lasers need to pick a category and stick to it. Either they bore through things, piercing and burning away matter like it's barely there or they should explode on contact. Pick One. None of this doing both or neither whichever they feel like crap.
My hand comes off the hole in my side and I force myself to run as another beam barrels down on my position. It's such a weird sensation. Actually feeling the burnt flesh un-sear itself and slowly knit back together. On the bright side of things at least I can say I now have confirmation my regen can handle things as severe as organ destruction, even if it's a bit slow to get the job done.
On the not bright side of things...there's everything else.
Blood and oil leak from the side of PX-3's face as it tracks my movement. A moderate injury from the exchange we just came out of. At first the war machine had been rather sluggish for an interrupting third party. Its attacks were telegraphed. Easy to adapt to as I kept focus on the remaining Kid Pirates. Much like the Schwarzenegger Terminator its best trait was its durability. 'Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton' is one thing, but when that living tissue is the cloned flesh of Bartholomew Kuma you get a juggernaut that doesn't know the definition of staying down.
So I ignored it. Kept it as a secondary priority. The shiny [Quest] reward for dealing with it could wait. Killer, Heat, and the other officers took precedence.
Boy what a fucking mistake that was.
Because it started adapting to us.
Blue Will-o'-Wisps slam into the prototype's back from one of Heat's special techniques. The ethereal flames cling to its body, burning its artificial flesh with something not quite of this realm.
The machine ignores it. It has already determined that Heat's flames are not capable of harming it beyond its organic layer.
I zig-zag my way across the battlefield, constantly shifting course -sometimes randomly- as golden explosions pepper the landscape, each one aimed by the machine's predictive algorithms -not for where I am- but rather where it believes I will be.
I dash through a sphere of light at my left, ignoring the superficial burns, and swing Kugizume hard. An arrow of arctic blue screeches through the air, briefly holds the shape of something avian, and then gouges a long gash across the faux-Tyrant's chest.
'Tch. Too shallow.'
The machine leaps across the field, shaking the earth from the sheer force required to get it off the ground. Its speed is akin to an apprentice [Soru] user, fast enough to terrify weaker opponents but not enough to vanish from the eye. Kugizume points forward and I meet its charge head on. Determined to pay it back generously for the blow it landed earlier.
A horrible grinding of sparks erupts over and over as it blocks the Meito with its oversized arms, accepting little bits of cosmetic damage as it keeps me away from anything important. All the while building a massive overcharged beam in its open mouth.
My leg suddenly lurches, moving in a way I didn't command it to and my eyes shoot to Quincy. A half-burnt, barely conscious pirate officer -who should be dead!- lying in a crater who's using the last of her strength to hold a palm in my direction.
And who possesses a Dance-based Fruit that grants her a lesser form of Doflamingo's power to puppet people.
Hydraulics and muscle both squeeze down on my sword arm as the war machine seizes the chance to disable me. 'Shit shit!' I flip myself diagonal, using the cyborgs own grip as the anchor point, and smash a shining Haki-black boot into the Pacifista's cheek.
There's minimal impact, really all I did was manage to turn its chin, but the minimum is still plenty enough to have its laser go a few dozen degrees off course and blow another piece of the landscape behind us straight to hell.
+ 115 Exp!
+ 90 Exp!
The notification announces the unceremonious passing of Wire. Plus two of the few pieces of chaff remaining who were trying to cart him off. I hadn't intended for the beam to be redirected in his direction, nor would I expect the [Game] to even give me credit for such a thing. If anything I'm almost disappointed by it. Getting the luxury of passing on while blissfully blacked out is more than the raider deserves. If I'd had it my way then he would of-
Golden light builds up between the gaps of the fingers trapping me in place. I can almost see the calculations being run behind the machine's exposed cybernetic red eye. Causing damage to itself from a point blank detonation will be considered an acceptable loss so long as the target is eliminated.
My free arm comes crashing down, stabbing a secondary blade from the [Inventory] through the metal wrist. "!? !?" Yatagarasu shrieks in alarm at the rude transition from subspace, even more so as I attempted -and failed- to imbue a bit of my newborn Haki into its edge.
Regardless, the gambit is successful enough. The reinforced -but ultimately mundane- metal gives way against the 'spirited' Meito I never use and I definitely feel wires and tubing severing from its intrusion. "!? !?" Confusion continues to pour off the blade who's last memory -if a sword can even hold memory- was me discovering it in a cave. Meanwhile brown fluid spurts out of the punctured wrist as the opening begins to spark.
The gathering light dies away and I employ a bit of [Seimei Kikan]'s muscle ballooning trick to strengthen my legs. Combined with one of my daily uses of [Adrenalin Rush] and a double donkey-kick of [Geppo], I push off the thing's chest like a cannon blast, violently propelling the machine onto its back and myself well and far away.
And based on how its hand is still death-gripped to my arm I'd say it looks like I came away with a souvenir.
A howl to my right brings me face-to-face with a charging Killer. With his hair partially burned away and a mask that's half gone he fits the role of 'unhinged psychotic' very well. My swords rise to meet his when Observation screams the intent of Heat who's managed to angle himself at my rear. Ghostly blue flames rush at my back like ethereal homing missiles and I take to the sky to avoid.
Bursts of white clouds signal my rapidly changing direction. Like a true [Geppo] Master I'm already another three or four turns deep before the first even begins to dissipate. Remarkably though, the pursuing flames chase after me every step of the way. Turning at the same spots I did, pivoting into hard 90 degree angles one after another like its the most natural movement in the world.
'Intriguing. They follow the target's exact trail rather than simply straight lining to my position. I wonder if I could- "!? !? !?" - good god would you stop whining you little bugger! No wonder your last user ditched you. Chill out for a second and we'll talk later okay!'
My path sets me down at the foot of the downed Quincy -who so graciously revealed she was still kicking earlier- and my hand hooks around her ankle. With a great twist I throw her from the crater PX-3 put her in and straight into the path of my spectral pursuers.
There's a screech of some kind as her last words. Something about Captain Kid I think. Though between the burns from the Pacifista's laser and all the hateshe had packed into her voice...it all just sounded...garbled.
I couldn't understand a lick of it.
Both Meito's snap into a X-guard over my head as Killer's scythes come in from above. The 'Massacre Soldier' pounds away at my defense. Furiously hammering his metal against mine, totally uncaring that his weapons are getting damaged in the exchange. It's like he believes somehow, that if he just slams desperately enough, he'll find a path in.
A glint in the periphery catches my attention and I barely have time to swear before the yellow beam smacks the ground right between my two feet. 'Oh son of a-'
I leap out of the blast and slide along the dirt with a growl. 'Goddammit that's another of my jackets fucking ruined! I don't have an infinite stock of these you know!' The ground shatters under my boot as I launch myself at the machine that just won't stop intruding. [Berserker's Blood] sings in my ears as I bring the swords into a claw-like pose. 'Flying slashes don't get through the chassis, guns are pointless, trying to out-muscle it is possible but annoying, and the [Rokuōgan] has littleuse against something with no flesh & blood organs to target. So. Let's. Try. Drilling.'
Swordsmen have always been able to pull some ludicrous stunts in this setting. Now that my levels in the associated [Skill] are starting to get higher it's about time I tested my hand at joining them!
A whirlwind slams center-mass into the Pacifista forcing its heels to go dragging back! Electrical sparks flash from the puncture wound as my blades grind away at its belly, ripping just a little bit deeper with every revolution.
My spinning starts to slow, the Pacifista corrects its stance to retaliate, but the damage is done. There's a nice big hole right in its center. With one grand movement I dismiss the Meito's both to the [Inventory] and coat my fingers in as much Armament Haki my amateur ass can summon.
"This looks important!"
My hand plunges in and firmly takes hold of something. And then with every strength enhancement I've got it's time to puuuuuulllllll.
Metal wrenches as my prize comes loose. Debris and shattered machine parts flying outward as I rip it free into the open air. PX-3's remaining hand -which had been reaching for me- suddenly begins to spasm. The electrical sparks visible in spots where it had received notable damage die off as the current stops flowing. Like a computer powering off its exposed cybernetic eye loses its red color and the machine starts to topple.
Quest: Disable the Pacifista!
Reward: 10,000 Exp, Three Lv. 1 [Skill Disk]'s, and [Skillbook]: Cybernetics
You have reached Lv. 90!
Congratulations! You have reached Lv. 90!
Stat points awarded per Lv up increased! (40) → (45)
You have 485 points to spend!
PX-3 hits the earth with a tremendous thud, shaking the ground one final time for the day. Tossing away the..whatever component it was I liberated from the thing's chest I turn my eye back to last where I saw Killer.
...only to find no one present.
A scowl develops as I continue to scan around. 'Where is he..where is he...I know that blast that got us both wouldn't have killed him!' Actually now that I'm looking around.. where did Heat run off to? I haven't seen his dumb face since he sicced those spectral wisps on my ass.
I spit a glob of blood to the side. 'Don't tell me he grabbed the wounded Killer and retreated! Cowards! They do not get to just leave!' Jack Sparrow's Compass comes into my grip and I flick it open. 'Where are they! Which way!'
The arrow spins fruitlessly in a circle, indicating every direction yet no direction, much like it once did for the real Captain Jack in Dead Man's Chest.
I testily sigh and snap it shut. 'Don't get angry Jack. Nothing is ever helped when you get angry. You know that. You know that.' With a deep exhale I try switching tactics. Observation Haki, novice mine may be, should still be able to tell if anyone's nearby. I focus my senses outward….and get very little back until I can settle out my own breathing. Once I do though, it's nothing but a mess. Oh sure, there's plenty of auras in my range, but there's like a dozen different directions to choose from and all of them are running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Plus my sensing is so shit I can't really focus on any one of them in particular. I've yet to recreate that razor precision that let me see Rosenwald the night my Observation awakened.
'Dammit! I can't believe after all this the two of them are going to get away!' I briefly consider just picking two as my 'best guesses' and then giving chase...when I instead pull my senses back in and take a seat on the fallen PX-3.
With the fight seemingly at an end the mystic muscle that moderates my Haki chooses to make itself known. It's not like the dull ache or slight burn of a traditional workout..it's more of a...heavy weight pressing on the psyche. A weariness of the soul itself. Still, the sensation does get the tiniest of smiles out of me.
Repeated use, followed by rest, and it gets easier to use every time.
'Well. I suppose, if nothing else, a mostly-successful day is better than a full-failure. I'm sure I'll find a chance against Killer and Heat again someday. They're not getting off that easily. In the meantime...where to next?'
Not Long After, Grove Number 12
Every One Piece fan knows of Sabaody Archipelago. It's an iconic string of chapters/episodes that radically alter the trajectory of the story. Some even refer to it as the turning point.
I must have read or watched it half a dozen times. At least the important clips of it that is. And being here, present on this iconic epoch-forging day, it provides an opportunity I had not yet possessed before now.
To compare the differences in my reality.
There are always slight deviations when a manga becomes an anime. Things get stretched out. Filler bits are added or character interactions changed. I've always known since 'Day 1' which universe I was dropped into. But is my new world a closer match to that of 'manga' One Piece or 'anime' One Piece?
To some it may seem like a silly distinction. 'Why bother?' they may ask. 'It's basically the same' they would say. To those with that opinion I must respectfully disagree. Details matter.
Take some differences in the Sabaody Archipelago arc for example.
In the manga the Archipelago is made up of 79 absolutely massive trees and their roots. 'Yarukiman Mangroves' they are called and each one is big enough that an entire shopping district or residential area can be built around the base of its trunk. In the anime, while those trees still exist, there is also a plethora of smaller trees added that help fill in the background. Trees that are still large mind you, but they're more on the scale of Earth Redwoods than something so large it can be used as its own island.
Those extra trees are not present here. So it seems like that's one point in favor of being closer to the manga.
A counterpoint to that though...or rather a point that's more representative of the anime being the one that's closer to this world..
Is how absolutely callous Kuma's dismantling of the Straw Hats is.
"I will protect you! Even if it costs me my life!" The living skeleton roots himself in the Warlord's path. Shielding the sniper and cook. "Ah, wait, I'm already de-" A wisp of dust and a simple 'pop', and with it a second member of the crew is now gone.
Usopp's gut-wrenching shout gets a wince from me, even with it being so far away. It's difficult to make out faces at this distance, crouched up in the canopies as I am, but still.. it's a hard thing to watch. The shock. The confusion. That slowly-developing visceral despair that's overtaking their postures.
This was a lot more fun when it was just happening on a screen.
In the manga Kuma was efficient about it. All business. He got one and then the next and then the next. Repeating like that with barely any panels at all between Straw Hat 'casualties'. Seven of the main characters gone in only 10 pages.
Here, he's pausing after each elimination. Letting the losses become all the more brutal by just how spaced out they are.
"S-Stay away...Stay away!"
The Warlord begins his lumbering walk once more. Slow. Each step like a death knell.
"Stay away!" The crying sniper trips over his own feet. "Stay away! F-Flame Star! Flame Star!" The pellets explode uselessly against Kuma's exterior. They may as well have been made of paper. "Dammit! Flame Star! Flame Star! Flame Star!" The Warlord pulls his hand back.
"Usopp! Get out of there!"
And then number three is gone as well.
Sanji is fourth just 20 seconds later. His final charge never even meeting completion.
There's a lull afterward. The tiniest of hiatuses where Kuma chooses to give his secret message to Rayleigh, once again proving just how fast the Warlord can be when he really wants to.
The key sentences are delivered and then it's back to task. The Warlord warps to cut off two trying to escape, staggering them onto the back foot.
It seems the Tyrant is done playing with his food.
"Outta the damn way! Strong Right!" Franky's signature move strikes Kuma dead-center in the face. Wind whips around the blow as the air reverberates with a powerful gong.. "W-What?!" and then clears to reveal an undamaged Warlord staring down impassively at the lesser cyborg.
Luffy screams forward, unleashing one of his best -angriest- 'Jet Pistol's' of the entire series. The air splits around the sound of a cannon as the attack moves so fast I can barely track it.
It's pointless. It's almost casual how easily Kuma deflects it.
Franky and Nami are gone in all the time it takes their captain to scream.
Chopper goes after that.
And then finally number eight...Robin.
'Alright. Time to move out.' I'd wanted to observe this event. More out of a personal desire than anything based in logic. And now I have. Best to slip out before the afterparty. It's been a risky thing just watching this much, even with Kizaru and Rayleigh being rather focused on each other.
Observation Haki has a wide range of application. Battle precognition, emotion sensing, presence detection...where it famously falters and reveals its imperfection though is it can't efficiently do more than one of those things at once. If all its abilities were on all the time then events like Charlotte Flampe getting a vindictive sneak shot on Luffy while he was dueling Katakuri simply wouldn't happen.
Though when dealing with big dogs like the 'Dark King' and the man whom some theory-crafters speculate is the Strongest Admiral of the series...it's probably best not to keep gambling on their inattention.
And yet...something compels me to stay. To see what happens after Luffy is gone. What do you get when it's just Kizaru, Rayleigh and Kuma all standing around? With a bonus Sentomaru off to the side as the only observer.
Luffy pounds his head against the ground, his skin bruised and scuffed as he brokenly cries. "I couldn't..I couldn't even save one..my my.."
For a moment, a brief tiny moment, I think I see something akin to remorse over the Tyrant's face.
"So you're going to send this one off too?" Kizaru sounds a bit exasperated. Annoyed, but not enough to actually expend the effort to interfere. "I hope you have a good explanation for this... This will be a major issue you know..."
Kuma wordlessly takes a step closer to the series protagonist who glares at him with furious tears.
And utters his most famous line.
"We will never meet again." His palm opens up. "Farewell.."
...it takes a few moments for the dust to settle.
The clearing has an odd sense of calmness over it. A finality that's difficult to put into words. No one is exchanging words or even barbs. A nervous part of my brain half expects one of the powerhouses to turn their neck up in my direction… when the Admiral simply begins to stroll off.
"Oi oi uncle Kizaru!" Sentomaru steps forward to object. "Where are you going! That's 'Dark King' Rayleigh right there! We have a duty to apprehend him!" At these words the right-hand of the previous Pirate King simply smiles knowingly and begins to walk away himself. Naturally in the opposite direction of course.
Sentomaru's teeth grit, obviously suppressing down a snarl, when he huffs and turns away to follow after his 'uncle'. No actual relation if I recall correctly. It's more like when a member of a mafia group calls the boss man 'father'. An unsatisfied look is thrown at Kuma as well, though whatever true meaning lies behind it I can only speculate.
I watch the men go and an old phrase pops in my mind. 'So that's it then? Just 'Everyone back in their corner'? How anti-climactic.' I wasn't expecting some grand battle but I at least thought there might be some sort of verbal exchange. Who knows what interesting tidbit might've been said?
'Though this has become something of an opportunity..' I realize as I look at the last man staying around. I know Kuma lingers on Sabaody at least for a little while after this. There existed a small blip of a flashback during Luffy's recovery after Marineford where it showed the Warlord explaining his actions to Rayleigh outside Shakky's bar.
Before I know it I can feel myself descending down the canopy and moving in his direction.
He doesn't spare a glance at me as I approach. He just continues to stare off into space, his expression blank yet somehow at the same time oddly contemplative.
"Jack...'Sparrow' is it?"
His voice is just as I remember it. Like a machine simply posing an inquiry. Only this time it's without the clipping in his tone.
PX-0 (Bartholomew Kuma), Royal Shichibukai, Lv. 147
"Either name is fine. Though these days I find Sparrow is preferred, yes."
Lord the temptation to use [Observe] is there..there's no crippling fear holding me back this time, now I just think...it might come off as rude. If he does possess adequate Haki to detect the [Skill] then it would completely derail what could be a simple chat.
"I just wanted to put you on official notice." I spoke with a little smile. "Your mother asked me to watch out for you, so don't think you're going to get away with your little self-sacrifice play. I gave that sweet old lady my word and I don't intend to break it. Plus," I switched to a more joking tone. "Lindbergh already owes me one favor and saving you has got to be worth at least another three."
The tiniest little upturn in his mouth tells me the 'Tyrant' actually smiled at that remark, an expression I don't recall ever seeing on the man. Manga or otherwise.
"If you were to travel...where would you like to go?"
Just a few months ago those exact words had put the fear of god racing through me. It convoked images of nightmare islands and exotic locales where only New World veterans dare to tread.
Here..the way he asked is almost pleasant. It's an offer. A one-way ticket to get out of his hair and be sent somewhere of my choosing.
It's not like I'm in any position to alter his fate right this second now anyway. Besides, Korka's ship is no doubt nearing Tequila Wolf by now. I told the Revolutionaries to expect me back in a week and quite a few days past a week it has been. Not to mention traveling by Devil Fruit will be way faster than attempting to navigate again by compass and glider.
My mouth opens, the word 'Tequila' on the furthest edge of my tongue...
...when an idea strikes me.
A half-baked, not-smart, colossally dumb and just plain stupid idea.
... But if it works?
If it works I can potentially destroy canon in a way that it's simply not recoverable. An ultimate expression of spite against Panda even more so than killing off Eustass Kid was. That was more for me than it was against him anyway.
'But is 'Spite' really a good enough reason to do something so horrendously reckless?'
Sure. Why not?
So I utter a different island's name. A place not even in the same ocean as Tequila Wolf.
Kuma shows no outward reaction to my choice. He simply bends down and prepares to swipe outward with his palm. 'I can still see the hint of that smile though.'
"Until next time then, Jack Sparrow. I wish you...luck."
You've survived an encounter with a Royal Shichibukai! + 3 LUK!
LUK (102) → (105)
A Familiar Island, South Blue
A sudden bounce is what awakens me.
My back meeting the ground comes swiftly after and I glance around at the giant paw-print crater embedded in the soil. Shaking off the drowsiness I get to my feet and do a quick stretch to pop my spine. I hadn't exactly meant to drift off but I won't lie and say the nap wasn't useful.
Checking my watch it seems the transit was about...four hours. Not exactly warp speed but I'll be damned if it's not the quickest I've ever traveled. Not even Kiwi could have gotten me here that fast. The abilities of the Paw-Paw Fruit are nothing to scoff at that's for sure.
Looking at the sky I'd say there's about 60 minutes left of daylight here.
I'd prefer getting this done before dark sets in.
It's a familiar path down the hill that marks the entrance into town. A bit of a small blessing considering I've only ever walked this road once prior. It makes me wonder just how precise little 'Barty' is able to make his targeting. A few hundred meters more and I would've splashed down straight into the ocean.
Less than an ideal landing zone considering I'm still maintaining that facade of possessing a Storage-Fruit.
Actually, that leads to an interesting thought. Is it possible Kuma's cybernetics help run the math for him? Could one of the biggest reasons the Paw-Paw Fruit is so busted be because it's the hands of someone who's part-computer? Hmm. The idea doesn't seem...wholly impossible. Perhaps if I'm ever fortunate enough to meet the famous Vegapunk someday I can ask him the question.
Despite the orange auburn sky announcing dusk overhead, the town seems to still be in full motion.
Raucous laughter is leaking out from the pub I once got drunk in.
The marketplace where I bought so many useless vacation items is still open and bustling with shoppers milling about.
A group of children rambunctiously run-about the street. Tittering and laughing as they play tag with an adolescent Super Sparrow. Most likely one..from..Kiwi's...flock... 'wait-what?'
My feet continue to carry me through Baterilla's main settlement and the more of it I see the more my brow quirks between puzzlement and….amazement. Last I saw it the island was in a bad spot after Eustass's raid. Many shops torched out and ships in the harbor all sunk.
But now it seems to be a town transformed. The islanders have fast-tracked their economy back into shape by..by becoming a tourist trap. With the main theme of that trap being...me.
Well not me me per say. More of the 'perception' of me. The idealized 'Jack Sparrow', hero of the South Blue, bane to pirates and all that yada yada.
I spot hand-carved dolls propped up in shop windows that have my clothes right but not my face. Painted whittlings of Kiwi that are roughly the correct shade of brown but have the number of spots on his wings all wrong.
'...oh good lord there's even a half-finished statue being worked on in the plaza..'
I..knew tales of 'Sparrow' were continuing to spread by more than just newspaper. With stories of his exploits being added with each word-of-mouth retelling. Mori even teased me about it once right before he was spirited away to that training program. Apparently 'Sparrow' was getting credit in the rumor mill for more than just the pirates I'd actually caught.
To provide an example, there was a tiny blip of an article in the five weeks of slow time I experienced after Hornigold. A simple report that two low-tier D-list pirate crews, 'The Driftwood Pirates' and 'The Greenbeard Pirates', had raised cannons against each other and both been sunk at sea.
Evidently the metaphorical grapevine had begun to gossip that this article was not true and that it was in fact me who had taken them both out.
I had laughed it off when Mori told me. Just gave a chuckle and forgot about it. After all I was more focused on my own things. Helping clear out towns like Timber Bay and grinding numbers into the Billion Beri Quest.
'...clearly I should've kept my ear lower to the ground if I missed something like this developing..'
Well..we'll just have to put this all on hold for the moment.
We're here for a reason.
It's not a long walk to make it to the workshop of Pascal, the man who once designed my speedloaders. His lights are on, telling me the tinkerer is still up, probably fiddling away on some project or another.
Such a shame I don't have time to say hello.
I look to the shop directly across the street. Its windows positively covered in festoon flowers, small advertisements of home decor, and thankfully no bits of 'Sparrow' paraphernalia.
Its owner is sweeping, tidying up things for the night.
Braxton Berwynne, Retired Pirate, Lv. 116
'Hmm. He lost two levels. Time really beats us all I suppose.'
He spots me the moment I make a step towards him. The pleasant facade I know he takes so much pride in slips away and an almost vicious old man takes his place. "You."
I cut off his tirade before it begins. I've no time for pointless posturing about whether or not I'm welcome on 'his' island or not.
"In about six days Portgas D. Rouge's only son is going to be publicly executed. Yes or No, do you want to try and save him? Answer quickly because if so we need to go now."
The once New Worlder stares at me with open eyes and a positively stumped expression.
"Well shit sonny. Give me 10 minutes."