The holy city was shrouded in fog on this dreary Sunday morning, being not long after daybreak. The various merchants and slaves were out and about, getting ready for their day of serving the lords of the city. This was for them, all of it. But there were still people of importance here besides the Nobles of the World. Marines and other individuals involved in the World Government were abounded in the city, each carrying about their own business.
There were even a few pirates running around this holy city up in the clouds, but unlike most, they weren't slaves. They were allies of the government known as the Seven Warlords. One of them sat in a fairly large room full of seats for all shapes and sizes surrounding a long table. He was known as Jack, The Black Blade of the Seven Warlords.
Jack sat at the conference table on a comfortable reclining chair, waiting for the others to arrive. He sat there sipping a cup of hot tea, given to him by the various marine servants that were about the headquarters. The Warlords were known to be relatively volatile, so they were treated well whenever they were brought to this city, lest they be willing to cause trouble. They'd be put down for sure, but how much damage would be caused in the meantime.
The Seven Warlords had been called to this place to discuss recent events, as a lot had happened. Everything from the death of one of the Admirals to the incident on the giant's home island of Elbaf. Not all of them would show, but it was still needed to inform them what was going on and what they should look out for. All in all, another day's work.
But for the moment Jack was the only one here, so he waited with his tea. He honestly wondered how many would show up, especially considering they weren't at full strength anyways. But in the meantime, he only requested another thing of tea.
Having not received permission to bring in his whole crew, even if they stayed just at the entrance, the Shichibukai known as Qasarhog Yanbaal sighed, taking normal steps towards the building. The Government Headquarters there, that is.
"Sir Yanbaal, of the Seven Warlords, has disembarked" A loud voice announced through a speaker.
He smiled, reaching the building, without even bothering to look at the rest of the land. Although, he could certainly feel the nobles looking at him "It better be worth it..." He looked down, clearly not liking the staring, having fully entered the building. A man in a suit nodded at him, offering to guide Yan to the meeting room.
Entering said room, Yan smiled, noticing that there was already someone there. He observed the man and fully stepped into the room "This sword, those clothes...Black Blade huh?" Yan mused, moving to sit at one of the chairs.
"Aren't we both stained black?" Jack responded with a slight smile. Both of them had epithets of black, a feature he commented on. "But yes, I am Jack, Yanbaal I assume?" he continued on. "Heard you had an interesting time on Elbaf too, with all of the trouble that had occurred there."
"kakakakakaka!" Yan smiled, putting his right leg over the table "We both are, indeed. Yes, I am Yanbaal" He scratched his chin lightly "...Hah, I just went to check some stuff, didn't get to see much, so no worries."
There was another odd figure among the nobility that stood out here. A woman with pink hair clad in a tattered kimono, with a sword strapped to her waist, paced towards the designated room. She yawned, clearly dragged here against her will, as one could see from the eyes of the Marines that stared at her.
"Lady Hecate of the Seven Warlords has arrived." An announcement was made towards the individuals of the room, as the Samurai woman, now identified as Lancaster Hecate, entered the room.
"Just so y'all know, I dun' really care for this 'ole meetin' shtick. I'mma jus' lay down 'ere and if anythin' interestin' pops up, I'll give y'all a holla'." Hecate said with her unrefined accent, yawning and lying down on one of the longer seats in the establishment. Although lazy, she was paying attention, primarily to see if there was any conflict she could swing her sword against.
"Admiral Warren D. Ralph has arrived." the voice over the intercom announced causing all marines nearest to the meeting room to form two lines on each side of the hallway. Each marine stood solid and still with their hands at their sides and their eyes pointing straight ahead as they awaited. Ralph walked across the holy land of Mariejois looking around in disgust at the nobles however his face did not show this. The numerous slaves being ordered around by the world nobles never sat well with him which was a reason why Ralph never liked coming to Mariejois. However today was a day where he was summoned to convey a meeting between seven warlords, that was if they showed up.
Ralph walked up a set of stairs that lead to the meeting room and down the hallway on each side were marines that all saluted Ralph as soon as he was seen. As Ralph walked the echo of his shoes tapping rung throughout the hall and into the meeting room which would alert anyone inside. As Ralph drew close to the door, to marines standing by the door adjusted, moving to open the doors for the Admiral. Ralph could see into the room before the doors were even open though, the presence of three people were inside, all three of considerable strength.
The marines opened the doors and Ralph walked into the room and looked at the three warlords in the room. The doors closed behind Ralph and he walked around the right side of the table not making eye contact with any of the warlords until he reached the head of the table. There he would take his maroon color coat off and wrap it around the chair with the inscription "Justice" facing away from the table. He adjusted his cuff links on his bright orange shirt as well as his purple polka dot tie.
Ralph looked at each individual and cleared his throat to speak. "It is time we get this meeting started. On behalf of Gorosei, Fleet Admiral Kurama, Admiral Fuyuki, and Admiral Alf...." There was a pause as Ralph was about to announce the name of the former Admiral. Ralph took a deep breath and started over. "On behalf of Gorosei, Fleet Admiral Kurama, and Admiral Fuyuki. I Admiral Warren D. Ralph will convene this meeting of the Shichibukai." Ralph took a seat in his chair and brought his hands together in front of him. "Let's get straight to it. After the death of Admiral Alfred Glave the side of the World Government has weakened considerably. There are currently only 4 Shichibukai and only 3 Admirals. We are short on powerhouses and God forbid if something like Marineford were to happen the World Government would be in deep shit. Now because of this, the navy has had to work triple overtime in ensuring that shit doesn't hit the fan and so we've had to relocate thousands of marines mainly to the New World because we simply don't have enough powerhouses to deter pirates and other organizations."
"Such language is unbecoming of you, Admiral Warren. Would you like some tea to help you calm down?" Jack responded in an even voice to the obviously agitated man at the head of the table. There was no reason to swear that much for a man in his position, even if the world government wasn't in that great of shape currently. "That being said, I am curious about what you plan to do about this Veno person after they have put Admiral Glave in his grave, rhyme unintended." He continued. "My sources put him on some pirate paradise in the calm belt, which from what I have been told was mostly World Government territory." Jack wasn't normally one for intelligence sources, but he had recognized that it would be prudent for him to cultivate an information network outside of the marines to learn about things. Numerous bounty hunters and martial artists around the world were on his payroll, as he used bounty hunting as his primary source of income outside the stipend the warlords were paid. Simultaneously doing his job and staying in practice as well, at least when he wasn't honing his skills further.
"That being said, I've heard some extremely interesting news from Elbaf that I hope someone can corroborate. Apparently, the former warlord Salazar is alive." He added before taking another sip of tea. "After all, everyone knows he was killed."
Yan looked at Hecate and then at the arriving Ralph as he spoke "Kakakakaka! What a warm welcome from Sir Admiral. I'm going to agree with Mister Swordsman here...to take down an Admiral is no easy task...though I wonder what methods this Veno has used, kakaka" He put both his legs over the table now "About working a lot...I can't deny I've been doing a lot of tasks in your stead, kaka. I've been going deep shit into some Underworld deals and have denounced them for you Marines"
Yan turned at Jack this time "And what do you plan, Mr. Jack? Gonna' track down Veno and chop his head?" Surprisingly, the tone wasn't that of mock, Yan really possessed an interest in what Jack had.
"Tsst. Can't handle a little foul tongue, Jack? Well, you'll learn quickly that words like shit, fuck, bitch and a combination of many words practically have a community on my tongue." Ralph adjusted his tie once more, gently wiggling it from side to side until it fits comfortably around his neck.
"Veno....that damn nipple sucker has gotten strong enough to defeat an admiral. I would love to say that we are sending a fleet to deal with him however that's not the case. Yanbaal's questions are mines as well. We don't wanna send marines to a slaughter if we don't know our opponent and with Veno eating the fruit Alfred had in his possession no telling what new abilities he has. However, I will say that what Veno has accomplished is nobody's fault but mines. I'm sure you all know of the incident a while back in where Veno took a world noble and I was called to rescue the world noble and deal with Veno but failed at both." Ralph paused and clenched his fist tightly. "Jack...I think I'll take some of that tea."
Taking a sip of Jack's tea, Ralph's nerves were calmed and he moved on to the next topic of discussion. "Anyway.....Salazar, no way he's alive. Fleet Admiral Kurama saw to him personally......unless he let him go which is something he has done in the past with other pirates. Where did you hear this rumor from Jack? Has there been any sightings of him?"
"It's less that I can't handle it and more that it is rather unprofessional." Jack responded to the Admiral's tirade. "A man in your position should be able to do better without it." Jack was a formal man in meetings like this. Though to be honest, he didn't care all that much.
"As to how I heard, I talked to some of the marines on Sir Fuyuki's ship after he got back from Elbaf. Apparently, Vice Admiral Kaldor saw him alive and well is what they had heard." He responded to the comments on Salazar. "I was hoping you could confirm or deny the accounts, as I wouldn't think they'd keep a secret like a former warlord still being alive from a man in your position. Though I guess maybe if it is true the reports haven't been fully filed yet, so maybe the information hasn't spread yet."
"As for Veno, well. Veteran Logia users are annoying to deal with, especially if he could defeat an admiral prior to gaining said fruit. If I run into him, sure I'll probably take him down. However, I'm not going to go looking for that much trouble, not with the way the world has been going. Especially with an insurgent organization bombing weddings, Blacklist isn't something to take lightly." The rumors of the organization had run rampant since Elbaf, and Jack's network had picked them up fast. Least none of the people he paid were dumb enough to make an attempt on a billion plus bounty even if they found one, at least he hoped.
"A good response, kakakakaka!" Yan smiled widely at Jack, listening to the rest of the conversation "I am indeed surprised a Pirate as mighty as an Admiral is not even a Yonkou yet...Had I imagined he'd have pursued such a position? Given how successful he seems to be." This time, he scratched his head slightly "Aaah, I've heard of this...Blacklist...tricky bastards, right?"
"I tried getting some information about its involvement with the wedding in Ebalf...but, nothing definite so far. I've also heard Veno was involved..." This time, Yan adjusted himself in the chair, getting his legs off the table "Kakaka! But pay no mind, I'll keep trying and I'm sure we could formulate a plan if we bring pieces together"
"Humph.....Alright, Jack, I'll tone my tongue down a little." Once again, Ralph reached for his tie to adjust it again, however, this time instead of a gentle wiggle, he gave it a violent shake causing the tie to come undone. "Fuck this tie." Ralph said under his breath taking the tie from around his collar and placing it on the table. "This is the first I'm hearing of Salazar being alive and if Vice Admiral Kaldor saw him alive then what you say is true then. Though if Vice Admiral Kaldor has not reported it yet then putting it in the Newspaper isn't ideal at the moment."
"You seem well informed about things in the world Jack." Ralph commented. "The Blacklist is something new. Something that probably needs more attention than the Revolutionaries although they've been quiet as of lately." Ralph paused and glanced at the woman laying lazily in her seat. "Speaking of quiet, Hecate do you have any input of the situations we are discussing? Maybe Veno and how he was able to take down an Admiral or possibly even a plan like Yanbaal suggested." Ralph's glance turned into a stare with his attention now placed on the lone female in the meeting if she was up to even responding to what was being discussed.
"Eh. Surprisin' y'all 're thinkin' little ol' Veno o'er here is that strong." Hecate yawned, "Ain't ol' Admiral Glave a Martial Artist? Ain't no carpenter gonna beat someone like 'im in a fight, even with that Oil Fruit." She sat up straight, and for a moment went serious. "ol' Admiral Glave was a family man, ain't no way he wasn't flustered. That Veno pro'ly struck just the right chords and survived. Ain't no way a coward like 'im is becomin' a Yonko anytime soon. Y'all are underestimatin' the power of Glave."
After Hecate spoke, Ralph looked very surprised. Not because of what Hecate said but how she said it, her speech pattern was that of a seasoned male pirate. He had never heard a woman speak in this manner before and it caught him by surprise. However, he did not mention this as his quickly wiped the expression from his face and continued the discussion. "I think Veno is almost the spitting image of Monkey D. Luffy during his rise. And with Veno's success as a pirate so far, the government has expected there to be an influx of pirates. In general, the power balance in the world is leaning and not leaning on our side. And with groups like the Blacklist starting to draw enough attention to come up in a discussion like this is ridiculous!" Ralph paused as a notable strain could be heard in his voice.
"I prefer to err on the side of caution personally. Even distracted and in a rage, defeating Glave was by no means a simple task. That shows that Veno is at least somewhat capable. That being said, I've already seen an increase of fairly high bounties on Saobody." Jack responded. He had been living on Saobody for the last few months, making a living capturing the rookies as they went about their business. "I've taken down at least 3 100,000,000 plus bounties in the last month alone. Glave dying to a pirate will only make that worse."
"I'm not one to particularly care about the occasional hard fight, they are even enjoyable. But the recent events are not omens of a stable time." Jack took another sip of his tea. "The world government could use a victory to show they are still in it. Attempt to take down one of the Yonko, Sengoku perhaps? He seems to have been faltering lately." He paused for a moment before continuing, "That being said, these events do not bode well for the world."
It was Yan's time to frown "I can confirm that, lots of people in the Underworld have complained how much Sengoku's involvement has decreased over time...in a quick span, that is" He scratched his chin as if trying to remember something "Everything is unbalanced anyway, if anything...taking down a Yonko could balance things a bit...though it's no easy task, even if he's weakened."
Yan shifted himself in the chair "If anything, some Agent should confirm this...weakened state of the Yonko Sengoku by using their own eyes. Someone of trust."
Ralph's eyebrows raised and his eyes widened a bit at the information on Sengoku. "Agreed, the World Government needs to assert their power as a dominant force that isn't being passed up by the other world powers. And this news of Sengoku is what I've suspected. There hasn't been any news or updates on him since he became a Yonko. Now knowing that his presence in the underworld has faltered is interesting and can be an opportunity. If this were to happen, the Navy taking down a Yonko will probably balance the scale of power." Ralph stood up out of his seat and stroked his mustache as he thought about possible options. "I don't know...this is something we could very well do, given that we were to find out where he is and what he's doing because as of now we don't have the slightest intel on the man. I may have to consult Admiral Fuyuki and Fleet Admiral Kurama about this. This here is potential."
Ralph placed his hands on his waist and leant back while moving his pelvis forward and a pop was echoed through the room. "Boy I tell ya, I can barely shit without..." Ralph glared at Jack after his choice of words and rephrased what he was going to say in a more fitting manner. "I can barely sit down for several minutes without having to get up and stretching or popping something. I'm getting old. Anywho, Elbaf...what exactly happened there?"
"About that, I know most of what happened..." Yan fixed himself on the chair once again, increasing his voice "I...interrogated one of the Pirates there. Having gone to Elbaf due to that secret mission, you do remember, right? The mission involving Veno's schemes- Ahem, well, from what this pirate knew as Barney Kettle told me...he and many others helped a young lady who had ties with this organization-" He frowned, scratching the right side of his face.
"One second" Using his right hand, Yan completely shifted his left hand into paper and seemingly unfolded it, revealing several annotations "RIIIGHT, Kakakaka! Blacklist is the name" His left hand went back to its normal form "Continuing, they had to deal some...Rum to this lady, she would use it on some kind of Wedding..."
"Do they usually serve rum at weddings? It seems like a strange drink for that." Jack quietly asked. Considering the monastery he lived at was isolated, he had never actually attended one. He just shrugged after that. "But then again who am I to judge. I dedicated my life to my craft over anything. So who was this young lady if I may ask?"
"Oh, if I'm not mistaken, her name was Ashley...and about the rum, the pirate said it wasn't Rum at all" Yan's face was serious this time "...I don't know about other weddings though, never have been to one."
"So I take it that the rum was the source of the explosions." Jack questioned, "If it wasn't actually rum."
"Rum doesn't explode, as a faithful drinker of it, I have yet to explode. And let's talk about the Blacklist a little more in depth, do any of you have any inclination of who exactly is running the Blacklist. In fact, all we know is that their bounty is well over 5 billion berries and that's something to be a bit concerned about. With bounties acting as a reference of estimating a person's power, they would be on the levels of people like Wolfgang or Isshin. It's a bit problematic to have people of that kind of power and no information on them." Ralph paced back and forth behind his chair with his hands behind his back awaiting responses from the Shichibukai.
"Beyond their stated goal of non-human extermination, I've heard nothing about them, unfortunately. Not all of my contacts have responded back yet, but I doubt the few that are left will know anything more." Jack responded before taking another sip of his tea. "I also can't vouch for their strength since I've never run into one one of these supposed war-priests myself."
Yan sighed "I don't have much information about them either, as Mr. Admiral said, I just know some of their bounties are extremely high..." He turned to look at Ralph "Rum doesn't really explode, but, for all we know this woman could have a Devil Fruit power which allowed her to trick the pirates."
"Right, I want us all to keep our ears open to the actions of the Blacklist. And if any of us somehow come into contact with a member I purpose we take action against them. In fact because of our weakened state, I propose that any and every pirate we come across we attempt to capture or kill. We simply do not have the manpower to let people go, and until we do anyone opposed to the world government needs to be taken care of. Speaking of manpower, do any of you all have suggestions as to who could be recruited in as a Shichibukai? Admiral Fuyuki has been attempting to recruit people to the ranks and Jack here has been his only success so far. If any of you know of worthy people to take this position let me know. The ones I have on my list so far are a bit of a long shot."
"We could probably ask the Elbafian King, since he's now a pirate, but I doubt he'd want to after he was declared one." Jack responded, "The giants aren't weak." He paused a moment before continuing, "But other than that I don't particularly have any worthy candidates in mind."