A Troubled Student is an article presented and written by Dragon Lord Erin

A Troubled Student is an article presented and written by KontonMan

"You there drop and give me twenty." A man roared from his plush violet chair, a glass of wine sat in his hand an the other pointed at the crowd of marines before him. His gaze was hidden by his large hat but it felt as if he gaze was set on them.

"Umm me sir?" A lone marine questioned. "Why me? I was doing all the exercises." He spoke as murmurs stirred from the other marines.

The man rose from his chair, the whole room went quiet. He downed his glass of wine in one go. As his head leaned back his piercing brown eyes were revealed, though they looked a demonic red to the trembling marines before him. He then snapped his head down. "Did I stutter boy?" He spoke, his voice echoing through the large gym they stood in. The marine who talked back before still stood strong. It was then that the man began to move forwards, his steps slow but radiating power. As he walked towards the group the other marines shuddered and backed away from the man who dared to defy their instructor. The imposing figure stood before the marine that opposed him. "You think just because I'm sitting in my chair and drinking my champagne that I don't see everything. You were doing the exercises sure. However you weren't putting any effort into doing them. You went through enough motions to make it look like you were doing it and that's all." He paused, taking a small breath. "Now you listen good. If you don't want to give it your all in another class fine. Go ask for a transfer to another instructor who doesn't care. But you're training under me and I care. So when I say to give me twenty cause you're half assing it today, you better give me twenty." His voice was authoritative but calm, it was almost weird.

"Yes Instructor Valentine." The marine shouted back, immediately dropping to do his twenty.

"Now if you'll excuse me I have a meeting to attend, an old student of mine is dropping by. You'll all be following this guy's directions." He spoke pointing to the man on the floor. "I'm giving you a chance, let me down and I'll make sure those arms of yours won't work." He spoke as he exited the room. Valentine walked down the hall and soon flung a door open, revealing one of his previous students.

Marco knew. He could feel it. The same intimidating aura. The fear exuding out of an individual. The individual feeling as if he was trapped within a cage with Valentine. Marco knew that feeling. Long ago, he too had been a student of the esteemed Instructor. He was insanely scary, Marco remembering the fear he did not that long ago. Despite only two years passing, Marco was already a Captain, a sign showing how skilled his Instructor had been. He had heard rumours of Valentine's harshness while he was an Ensign, and when he became his student, Marco was in complete paralysis. Marco thought that it would be impossible to please him. And it had been for a while, until Marco began to give a shit and actually try his absolute best to please Valentine. He could still hear the orders he had barked. Marco laughed at the memory, and grinned when he heard Valentine's voice. It was a reassuring voice, a way to ground Marco's ego. As the door was flung open, Marco grinned, standing to his feet, saluting Valentine. "Hello, Instructor Valentine!"

"Marco how are ya!" The instructor cried as he pulled his student into a hug. "You're a captain now huh, just look at you. You look like you've grown a couple inches too." He laughed with pride as he released Marco from his bone crushing hug. "How's it feel to be a captain? I remember my days as captain quite well, had this one superior officer who was always making remarks about how our world was flat and the ocean fell off at worlds end or something. I think he was kinda delirious from the heavy drinking and such." Valentine mused, getting a little lost in his thoughts. He regained his composure though and sat down in a chair, motioning for Marco to sit in the other. "Now tell me what you've been up to. With your new position and all."

Marco laughed as his mentor pulled him into a hug, and grimaced under the man's crushing hug. He listened to Valentine's questions, and when the man offered him a seat, Marco took it. "Quite ironic, isn't it? You calling someone else a heavy drinker. Either way, being a Captain is more interesting than being a lower position. Although, being an Ensign under you eventually became fun. There's a larger workload from what I hear, but it's nothing compared to what you gave me back in the day." Marco said, letting a chuckle leave him as he finished that sentence.

"Recently, I was sent to catch a few Pirate crews, and it was rather fun. Of course, there's the paperwork, something I still hate to this day. But enough about me, how about you? How's your new batch of students?"

"First of there's a difference between drinking and gambling. I have a problem with the latter." Valentine laughed as he kicked his feet up and leaned back in his chair. "Yeah the captain position comes with more fun but way more paperwork too, thankfully that's what subordinates are for." The man spoke with another laugh. Finally he responded to his student's question. "My new batch of students eh. Well there's a few interesting ones, couple of em that need some discipline, couple that think they know it all, and a few hooligans. However there aren't any quite like you were." He finished with a sigh. "Those were quite the interesting days.

Marco felt a sense of pride rush through him at his former instructors compliments, laughing with him when he mentioned the use of subordinates. Marco smiled at the mention of the old days, where he wasn't plagued with work. To be fair, he was plagued with even more work when he was an Ensign, but that was only because of Marco's instructor having been Valentine. Marco chuckled as his mind faded back to the past.

Memory Lane Edit

Two years ago

"Time for the obstacle course once again." Valentine laughed as most of his class sighed or pouted. The course itself was of his own design. Beginning with a simple run through a ton of mud Followed by crossing a narrow beam with guillotines swinging back and forth on it, there were rubber but his students didn't need to know that. This was followed by climbing a very tall wall and jumping down the other side. Where they then had to wrestle an alligator into submission. Then it came to the final step, 100 feet of burning coals, no shoes allowed. There were a few rocks scattered in there that could be jumped on to get across, the jumps were just a little over human capabilities. Valentine smiled devilishly as he looked to his students. "Alrighty then, Marco, since you seem so interested let's have you run it first." He shouted to a young man in the far back who was currently not even looking at him.

Marco looked up, obviously tired. "Me? Yeah, sure. Whatever." he muttered as he made his way to the beginning of the obstacle course, having the audacity to yawn. He simply began walking through the mud, just saying a few things, such as, "Ew.", "Yuck.", and "The fuck is this?". Eventually, he looked back at Valentine, and Marco could swear he felt death radiating from him. Marco gulped, and began to try, running through the rest of the mud. He then saw the narrow pipe. Marco knew he had no sense of balance. Plus, the guillotines were scary. So Marco did a strange way. He climbed down to the bottom side of the pipe, and treated the pipe as 'monkey bars', swinging his hands from position to position. Once he was at the end, he climbed back up, and mockingly bowed towards the rest of his classmates.  Marco then saw the wall. It was tall...but Marco found a loophole. He went back to the pipe, and lifted it out of the grooves which it was in, and used it to create a decently-sized hole in the wall. He threw the pipe aside, and walked through it. Again, he mockingly bowed to the rest of his classmates. Marco turned back, now seeing the alligator. The alligator looked hungry, and Marco gulped once again. He looked down at the alligator and he suddenly had an idea. He went back through the hole in the wall and picked the pipe back up, and walked through the hole once again. With it, he slammed it down hard onto the Alligator's eyes, which would blind it and cause it immense pain. Still holding the pipe, he made it to the pit of burning coals, where Marco used the pole as a way to make it from rock to rock, until he reached the end. He finished the course, and made his way back to the group, bowing mockingly at Valentine as he did.

Valentine just stood there, staring at the other marines. "Well you're all still running it." He roared, motioning to the course. "Run through the mud, hop across the guillotines, dive through the wall, dodge the gator, and walk the coals. Just cause one idiots decides ruin the course doesn't mean I'm giving you all a free pass." The marines nodded their heads and began running it, though anger towards Marco radiated off their beings.

"Oi fucker thanks for making things harder on us." One of them yell as he pointed a gun at the man. "How's you like a hole between your.." He was cut off by the gun exploding in his hands. Valentine didn't even speak to him, a glare was enough to let him know that he wasn't to trifle with matters the Instructor was to attend to. Valentine walked towards his misbehaving student, though anger couldn't be felt from him he was emitting quite the terrifying presence.

"So you think it's entertaining to break my obstacle course huh. You realize I worked all night to put that together for you guys to run. You broke the wall, the guillotine run, left a piece of metal on hot coals, and you hurt that gator. Not to mention you messed up the course for everyone else." Valentine spoke, sounding more disappointed than angry. "I saw you at the back, zoning out and asked you to set an example. I wanted you to show me what you were made of. It seems you're just made of cheap laughs and laziness." He sighed staring down at Marco, his eyes hidden in the shadow of his large hat.

Marco raised an eyebrow as he saw the gun explode, and it earned a chuckle from Marco. Then came the lecture. The boring old lecture. However, Marco couldn't let that go. "No offense sir, but I did pretty well." he began, his eyes confident. "Unlike the rest of them, I had some ingenuity. I thought outside the box, and I made it. In a practical situation, I won't give a crap about a Pirate's ship, and the damage I cause it. Why would I? If my assignment is to capture them, I will, no matter what. In this case, my assignment was to finish the obstacle course. Which I did. So, in the end, I am made of ingenuity and craftiness...sir."

"You make a valid point and in a situation where you were alone I'd commend you for it. However you failed to think of your comrades. In almost any position in the marines you have people beneath you, you have to look out for them, it's part of your job. As the first on the course you're supposed to set the example." Valentine sighed. "You went on the pirate ship and attacked the pirates, beat em and captured them. However you left you subordinates on a sinking ship." He motioned to the obstacle course where many of the marines were struggling desperately to get past the guillotine. Those who managed to get by it were unable to climb the wall cause of the hole and since they lacked the height to jump the gator they were blocked by it thrashing outside the hole. One of them had managed to get to the coals but because of the pipe had stirred the coal up some of the rocks were covered in them, forcing the man to run on coal far longer than he should have. "In the marines you aren't just looking our for you, you're looking our for others."

Marco sighed. Valentine had a valid point. In order so Marco could easily finish the corpse, he had made it much more difficult for his comrades, people that he would lead one day. Marco looked up at Valentine and he got into attention. "Yes, Instructor Valentine Sir! I will make sure that this does not occur again!" he yelled. He then bowed to Valentine, his words sincere, "Please forgive me, Instructor Valentine Sir!"

"I'm not the one who needs to forgive you." Valentine sighed as he patted the man on the shoulder. "Its them who you need to apologize to." He spoke as he pointed to the marines as they struggled through the obstacle course. Some of them had made a human bridge to help others cross the guillotines while others had tackled the gator to the ground under their weight to let the others by. Those who had finished were shooting to encourage the others. "They're the ones you've wronged."

"Yes sir." Marco muttered, not wanting to apologize to those mundane idiots. But, he had to. So he could earn eventually earn Valentine's trust. He went into the obstacle course, and he held down the gator so others could get across. He even assisted them across the coal. With that done, he stood in front of them, outside the obstacle course. "I apologize. I'm sorry I made it more difficult for you guys so I could show off. I now realize that being a Marine is about teamwork. I am very sorry. I hope you can all forgive me." Marco said, hoping that the others would indeed accept his apology.

The marine stared at him a silence presiding over the area. Valentine watched the two parties from afar, flicking a playing card around in his hands. It was then that one marine broke the silence. "Oi it's ok there, we all make mistakes once in a while ay lads." He called out looking back to the others. Some of them cheered back but others didn't.

"I ain't just gonna roll over and accept this. I nearly lost me arm cause a you." He shouted, the rest of them marines agreed. Though there was a good part of the group that forgave Marco, the other part did not.

Marco thanked the half that sided with him, apologizing once again. Then he turned to the other half, mainly the one that spoke out. "I'm really sorry. It was a rookie mistake, and I said it won't happen again. I'm asking you, sincerly to forgive me. All of you."

"Trainings over right? Can I go get a drink?" The man called to Valentine, ignoring Marco.

"Yeah the obstacle course was the end of today so go have fun and drink responsibly. Cause It's going to be even more hellish tomorrow." Valentine cheerily shouted towards him with a wave.

"Aight then lads I'm gonna get wasted." The man declared as he walked out of the training area, most of the marines following his suit. The ones that were left dispersed as well, leaving to head to their bunks or eat something. The only two left were Valentine and Marco.

"Well you can't win em all can you." Valentine shrugged as he appeared next to Marco. "Some people don't wanna forgive ya from a simple apology. Some people take time to forgive and some take witness action rather than word to forgive. On the rare occasion some never do forgive, but that's just life." The instructor spoke.

Marco nodded, once again apologizing before turning to his instructor. "I have a question," Marco began, maintaining eye contact with Valentine. "When are we going to focus on marksmanship?"

Valentine cracked his neck and let out a yawn. "Well I was gonna have a practice in a week but if you're willing to give up your free time today we can go now." He shrugged as he led the way towards the shooting range. It was quite a large stretch of land on the base, dedicated to practicing with various weapons ranging from mortars to normal muskets. Valentine walked over and grabbed a simple musket from the wall before tossing it to Marco. "Unload a few rounds into these targets and lets see how you do." He stated, standing by to observe and help him improve.

"Right..." Marco muttered, examining the guns. He examined it, and fired some blanks as if to test the 'feel' of the gun. Without loading any bullets, Marco aimed the gun and pulled the trigger, and due to his abilities, a bullet left the barrel. The first shot hit its target, the bullseye. Marco felt some pride rush through him. And then he kept firing at the other targets. Soon, Marco had finished, having hit three bullseyes and seven elsewhere, usually near the bullseye.

"Hmm you're quite handy with a gun huh. Three out of ten is a failing grade though, if you want to actually go higher in the ranks. I noticed a problem after your first shot, Marco." Valentine stated as he looked at the young man. "You see after you hit that bullseye your face lit up, and then you hit another bullseye and it lit up more. Then you hit a third bullseye and it lit up even further. Out of those three only the first was in the center of the bullseye, the other two were progressively closer to the edge. The shots after that all spread out further from the bullseye. You see what I'm getting at here?" He asked, though he cut off Marco's attempt to answer. "The problem is you're letting emotion effect your shots, watch this." He stated as he pulled out a revolver.

He fired a shot through the direct center of the bullseye. "Oh boy a bullseye, whatever." He yawned as he fired three more shots, each hitting the direct center of a target. He then fired a shot couple shots that all completely missed targets. "Oh now I missed." He spoke without emotion before firing a couple more rounds through the center of a target. "You see that, If you miss you can't let it effect you at all, otherwise your aim wavers. If you hit you can't get prideful about it, otherwise you get overconfident and your aim wavers. "Now shoot this target until you can hit all bullseyes without changing your expressing or body stance." Valentine spoke.

Marco was in awe. And he thought he  was good. Apparently, he had a lot to learn. Lifting the Glock 18 back into the air, Marco took in a deep breath. He pulled the trigger, the bullet piercing the bullseye. Without wasting a second, he shot again, hitting another bullseye. Then another. It was when he had hit six bullseyes that emotion seeped in. As he fired the next bullet, he didn't hit the bullseye. And as more and emotion seeped into him, he failed. Only hitting six out of ten. He cursed under his breath. During the next round, he failed once again, hitting five out of ten. Marco kept mentally slapping himself, and he kept failing, the highest he got being seven out of ten.

It had been a few hours since he had gone to the shooting range. Marco was sweating, the strange heat during the night aggravating. He had been sent back to dorms after a while. However, Marco was upset. He had failed Valentine. Suddenly, Marco snapped. He stood from his bed, sneaking out of his room. It took half an hour, but soon he had made his way to the shooting range. He took the Glock 18, equipping a Silencer to the barrel. And he began to shoot away.

"At least you're persistent." A voice yawned from behind him. "You realize people are trying to sleep ya know, you can silence the gun but not the bullet." He laughed as he walked up beside Marco and leaned on the rail he was firing over. As it was now nighttime Valentine lacked his hat, leaving his face in full view. His attire was also less complicated, being dressed in a simple pair of black pants and a black shirt.

Marco turned to see his instructor, dressed in what only Marco could guess were his pyjamas. "Sorry, Instructor Valentine." he answered, yawning himself. "I guess you're right, I should head to sleep." 

Marco put the gun away, stretching and yawning as he began to walk away slowly, back to his dorms. Tomorrow he'd be exhausted. But it was worth it, the practise was quite beneficial. And the results were obvious. In the last three batches, consisting of ten targets per batch, Marco had hit all of the bullseyes.

"You do that kiddo," Valentine laughed as he waved him off. "The kid is getting pretty good. I'll have him try twenty next time." Valentine thought as he went about reseting the firing range.

The Present

Valentine finally broke the silence and pulled the two back from memory lane. "Still think you can shoot 50 bullseyes in a row? Paperwork can make ya quite rusty." He laughed as he stood from his desk and grabbed Marco. In a flash the two appeared in the shooting range. Before Marco could question him, Valentine had already answered. "It's a sub power of my devil fruit, the Oni Oni no Mi, Model: Kiro. You didn't see it much cause I tend not to use it, especially around recruits. They hear that you can make em powerful with a handshake and it destroys their work ethic completely.