Looming Bundle of Doom Edit
"Haki?" a young Veno pondered, sitting about a lone tree stump situated about a forest.
"Aye, Haki. It's what makes the job for carpenters like us much easier," barked Bernard, "pay close attention now; as you should know by now, I dislike having to repeat myself."
Taking in a deep breath, the large grizzly wolf mink stood motionless, focusing his energies toward enhancing his perception. His eyes turned red, and after a brief twitch of his lids, he turned his head in the direction of the forest. "There. I've found just the right one."
Though confused beyond belief, Veno opted to follow the wolf nonetheless. Much to his surprise, Bernard had led him to an oak; one which was noticeably smaller than the others around.
"This is it," Bernard explained, touching his hand to the bark, "all living things, even trees such as this one possess haki. With a little training, you'll be able to pick the good ones from the bad."
"What's so good about this one?"
"You won't be able to tell just yet for yourself, but this tree has a certain energy emanating from within. It may look smaller than the others, and perhaps to you much less worthy of constructing a hull with; but in actuality, it's far more durable than the others."
Bernard proceeded to chopping his arm through the other trees, causing them to fall over. When he applied the same to the smaller oak, it managed but a simple cut. "See?"
Veno was at a loss for words.
"We'll take this one back with us." Coating the bulk of his right arm with haki, Bernard offered more force into his swing, enabling him to sever the oak from the ground.
With his hand shaped into an axe, Veno ran it through a tree, severing it cleanly from the beach. He began to carve and shape the log into a plank immediately afterward. The Nimbus was docked upon the coast of an unnamed island; the Veno Pirates had made an abrupt stop to gather resources, namely in the form of food. While the other members of the crew were out doing their thing, it was Veno's responsibility as the crew's shipwright to ensure that the Nimbus was in tiptop form, especially after all the damage she had sustained in recent battles. Still, most would have considered the amount of work he had achieved in the past hour quite worthy of praise, given he was the only one working on the ship.
Taking the planks under his arm, Veno walked them over to a pile he had been working on, when suddenly, he broke into a series of coughs. Unable to withstand them, he turned his head in the opposite direction, so that the blood spewing from his throat would fail to reach the wood. Instead, it fell in large sums into the sand.
Although Yosef was not doing any particular work on the ship, he was organizing his recently purchased supplies following his trip to Silk Bay. However, he had heard a severe coughing noise from closer to the ship, leading him to quickly approach the source of the sound with herbs in hand.
Much to his surprise, Veno was the source of the noise. Taking a brief look before approaching him further, he noted that blood was spilled on the sand. It was undoubted this was a severe case. "Veno!" Yosef shouted, irrespective of the supposed hierarchy he was meant to follow. "You're in a terrible condition. Lie down immediately, I need to diagnose you and prevent these symptoms from getting worse!"
"Oi, piss off, Doc. I got work ta do," Veno coughed, spitting more blood into the sand. Shaking it off, he went to walk off, yet something within his chest gave way and he found himself falling onto his knees. Admitting defeat, the Public Enemy sat with his arse to the sand, rummaging a thick cigar to his mouth and lightning it with the flicker of his thumb and index finger, which provided him with ample enough a flame to spew smoke from.
"Fuckin' 'ell, alright fine, just make this quick." He relished the sweet flavor of tobacco as it traversed his senses.
Promptly removing the tobacco from his mouth, he sighed. "I can't have you interrupting my diagnosis with tobacco." He placed his palms around Veno's lungs, pressing downwards. He noticed that Veno reacted with pain. Combined with his coughing, and the blood being released from said coughing, he could only come to one conclusion.
"Veno, while I cannot confirm it as of yet, I believe you possess Lung cancer." Yosef said with a grim tone.
"Cancer?" Veno repeated, attempting to make reason out of the words. But he simply couldn't get himself to care. Not now, at least. "Fuck that, I don't got the time to worry about somethin' like that." Wiping the trace of blood from his lip, Veno stood up, lacing another cigar to his mouth like nothing had ever happened. And off to work on the Nimbus he went.
"V-Ve...No, nevermind." Yosef sighed, he knew that despite his words Veno wouldn't listen. He was too far in this dangerous game to buck out now. The problem was something else. Though he wouldn't dare speak it to anyone.
The Pillar of Autumn Edit
A man took a deep breath, followed by a yawn, rubbing his eyes in a struggle to keep himself awake. His bait stayed in the waters of an enormous pond, as he adjusted his placement on the seat, lazily placing the fishing rod on his lap and holding it with little effort with his hand. And when he least expected it, the bait was a success! A fish had taken a bite, and began dragging the bait down with it, and the entire rod with it, sinking it into the pond. "M-...My bait! My rod!" The man screamed, panicking as he saw his fishing rod slowly sink deeper, and so he quickly jumped after it, hoping to retrieve his fishing rod and get the fish, even if it means doing so bare-handed.
In the meantime, the people passing by only took a second glance at him, before continuing on their way, choosing to ignore the man as he rose back up from the pond, drenched from top to bottom, gasping for air after being underwater for approximately five minutes, getting back his fishing rod, but also returning with the dreaded fish who dragged it down, carrying the dog-sized fish with menacing fangs on his shoulder, as it continued moving, attempting to escape "Phew..." The man let out a sigh of relief, applying pressure with his arm around the fish's neck, shattering its spine and killing it, placing it on the ground, removing his top and squeezing the water out of him, revealing a row of vicious scars on his back and chest, looking akin to claws, but also very old, atleast a decade so.
The man, Alfred Alvar, put his shirt back on, and carried the fish with his equipment back home, successfully catching another meal. He passed through the streets, the houses almost identical in the neighborhood, with only subtle differences between one another, but Alvar found his residence with ease, identifying it by the worn out door's damages, seeming as if it was repaired hastily, but was more than enough.
"Dear, you jumped in the pond again?" A woman, Millia, asked her husband, making it clear this was a recurring event.
"They always go for the bait when I let my guard down, I can't do anything about it!" Alvar replied, attempting to justify his actions "But don't worry, this one was wanted for eating all the smaller fish! Apparantly it snuck somehow from the ocean. I'll get a nice price for it.".
Millia sighed "One of those days you're going to lose your arm, I swear...".
"That only means more excuses to get pampered!" Alvar said, sporting a proud grin, as if his own laziness was a source of inspiration for himself. But it was ironic, he refused to join his father in the Marines, and even refused an entire life of fighting, reducing himself to simply taking any task available on the Tariland Island, becoming essentially everyone's errand boy, and still, he kept and valued what his father taught him and finds himself getting into physical confrontation, be it with people or beasts.
"Dad's home!" A child cried out, running from inside the house, followed by his younger sister, running and wrapping the arms around their father's legs, despite his pants still being wet "What did you get today?" The boy enthusiastically asked his father.
"Well, Jacky, I punched a sea beast today." Alvar proudly told his son of his ventures, showing off his catch "Look, it's teeth are like knives!".
And finally, an old dog exited the house, walking up to Alvar and resting down near him. The canine, being of a breed resembling wolves, was missing its right eye and ear, as if some attack simultaneously took both out, in addition to a limp in its front, right leg, forcing the dog to walk slowly.
"Ah, how are you today, boy?" Alvar said to his pet, giving it the attention it wanted and petting it on the head "Good job guarding the place again.".
And that was when the warning bell within the center of town suddenly began to chime.
"The Public Enemy is coming!"
Chaos erupted. What was once a closely knit community became a free-for-all, all within a matter of seconds. Men and women ran every which way, seeking shelter under the insanity of the pressure. Pushing commenced; children were left behind, homes made instantly vacant. But they quickly realized their efforts were in vain --for the sighting of the Veno Pirates' jolly roger grew nearer by the second.
All hope was lost. Deranged decisions were taken, the likes of which could not be judged by those whom were not present within the center of the mayhem. Suicide became the most profound alternative to happiness; many a civilian took the life of a loved one for their own betterment.
"A quick death is most favorable!" a man screeched, his sobbing nearing the uncontrollable, "compared to what that man'll do to you, it's the better option!" Time playing against him, the man chased around his own son, slitting him by the throat before putting the blade to his own neck. With a single glance toward the sky, he took the final course of action of his life.
Aboard the Nimbus, the emerald mane of the tyrant who beckoned by the notoriety of the "Public Enemy" flocked with the ensuing breeze. Den Den Mushi in hand, Veno gazed toward the island before him with golden eyes. Eyes that were still, eyes that held within them no mercy.
"She's in sight-" he exclaimed, before his words were cut off by a devilish cough, "d-don't nobody else git off 'round 'ere. Ye ain't needed!" In a manner of speech only his crewmates would comprehend, Veno expressed his intent on stepping foot upon the island alone.
Alvar himself was overcome with intense fear and dread at the news "Millia, take the kids and hide in the bunker!".
"You're not honestly going to fight them are you?!".
"Of course not! I'm distraction." Alvar said "There's nothing valuable on this island of ours. Even if they stole all our belonging and money, it'll be nothing compared to grander places. Especially for the likes of them. They're here for me, I'm sure of it.".
"Oh, no..." Millia said, realizing what he meant "It's all your father's fault...".
"We aren't discussing this further!" Alvar said "Go, now!" He yelled, making his point clear, grabbing the deadly fish he caught and equipment "Take care of 'em, boy." Alvar said to his dog, who could only yell out a whimper in response, before Alvar dashed away, and his family hid beneath the house, in a steel bunker, hidden behind the wall of their basement, where they would hopefully remain safe.
As the bottom of his boot met with the soft soil of the island, Veno was met instantaneously by cannon fire. Multiple rounds of it, arranged in a never ending chain of explosions that sounded off one after the other. Yet as the smoke slowly dissipated, the silhouette of his large frame was still visible, his every step causing the very earth beneath to tremble in fear.
Smoke from his cigar streamed out from his mouth, and he plainly admired his opposers with tired, golden eyes. He caught the next round of cannon fire with his chest, putting on display the fact that it essentially had no effect on him.
Stopping as he neared the center of town, he caught a cannon ball with his bare hand and held it there for several seconds. "I'm lookin' fer a man by the name of Glave," he chimed, throwing his arm back, "Glave Alvar."
Veno hurled the ball toward a house in the distance, watching as an explosion sounded off and caused it to topple over, forcing many civilians to scurry and flee as a result. "Bringem' 'ere to me now and I'll spare the rest of ya! Drag one of yer own to me and I promise I won't even bother touchin' any of ya!"
"G-...Glave?" The people began to whisper amongst themselves. They haven't heard that name in years, even from Alvar himself, but they knew what Veno wanted. "He wants Alfred Alvar! The son of Glave!" One of the citizens shouted "If we bring him, they'll let us live!" Soon the people riled up, agreeing on sacrificing Alvar for the sake of everyone's lives.
"Where's Alvar?!" The people began yelling, frantically looking around for Alvar, their voices and fears growing as they could not find him.
"I'm here!" However, they all stopped at once, looking over as the man chose to reveal himself, walking among the people as they cleared a path for him, panting from the panicked run he gave to reach the pirates' location "You...want me don't you? Well, here I am! But, if it's my father, then I'm sorry to tell you, he's not here, so you can leave if that's the case!" He shouted, and despite his stern look, his body sweat and shivered, showing he wasn't completely composed.
Veno looked plainly as his target revealed himself out in the open. He hadn't expected it to be so easy, to say the least. Hell, he expected much more of a fight; thinking about all the buildings he was prepared to crush, all the lives he was willing to take... the sheer thought made him feel somehow cheated.
"What the fuck?" he finally said aloud, "yer just gonna show yerself to me like that, huh? Where's the fun in that?"
He walked forward, until he stood before Alvar and so that he was consumed by his shadow. Looking down at him, he went to touch Alvar's chin as if he were a little boy, and tilt it to examine his face.
"How the fuck am I supposed to know yer really the one I'm after, eh?"
Alvar's eyes widened in shock, realizing Veno had a point "I-...I..." Alvar quickly tried thinking of some kind of evidence to show this man, otherwise the island and everyone would still be in trouble, if not worse. However, in a blink, Alvar vanished "Soru!" He declared, using one of the Rokushiki techniques, the only one he succeeded with when trained by his father using it to get behind Veno.
Still holding the fish in his hand, quickly dug his hand into the fish's head, rummaging through its insides, pulling out the fish's skull, and using his hand, openned its gaping maw, intending on using the knife-like fangs of the fish on Veno. The fish's teeth can easily make their way through human flesh, so he could hope to cause significant damage to Veno with this one flanking move.
Without a hint of hesitation on his behalf, Veno took on Alvar's improvised attack and though the teeth of the fish made contact with his arm, his flesh remained very much intact, without a single trace of damage being visible. Had the man not witnessed his resistance to cannon fire from earlier before? Compared to that, this was nothing.
Going to grab Alvar by his head, the large man that was Veno went to raise him high into the air before proceeding to walk again. "Someone show me where this guy lives," he spat, "I want to meet his folks.
"And if yer already out here," he said, turning to the crowd of spectators to see which of them bore resemblance to Alvar, "then come out now before I get angry."
"N-...No!" Alvar cried out, trying to resist Veno's vice grip, gritting his teeth. He closed his hand into a fist, and outstretching his index finger "Shigan!" Alvar cried out, attempting to employ one of the Rokushiki techniques he could never quite grasp, but it proved futile, only breaking his finger against the man's skin "Gah...!" He cried out in pain.
"Y-...Yes, we'll show you his residence!" One of the citizens responded to Veno "Just please, spare the rest!".
The citizens lead Veno and his crew to the house "T-...There is a chance he...he is no longer married however." A citizen hesitantly said "He is always alone after all..." It was as if they had regretted their choice, but were too late for second thoughts. "The house with the damaged door. That's...that's the one...".
"A chance he isn't married no more?" Veno didn't like being lied to. Clearly, he could sense and even see the aura of a woman and a boy hiding within the bunker through his usage of Kenbunshoku Haki. Playing to his anger, he cut down the very man who had led him to the house in cold blood.
"Ye did well showin' me to this place. But then ye fucked it all up." He coughed suddenly, blood spewing from the side of his lip. Spitting a wallop to the floor, he tossed Alvar down on top of it. "I know they're here. Go get 'em, and bring 'em here."
"He...has Haki...? He could tell?!" Alvar thought to himself, standing up, and forcefully relocated his broken finger in place, staring down Veno "Why should I? Just kill me! You want me! You don't need...If it's because of something my father did, then fine!" He yelled, trying to atleast take the brunt of Veno's wrath and save his family from such any horrible fate.
"Either you bring 'em," he spat, pausing suddenly, "or I bring 'em." Veno coughed again, his hand tending to his left ribcage. "What's it gonna be?"
Sweat ran down Alvar's brow, gulping before coming to a conclusion "F-...Fine..." Alvar reluctantly agreed, walking into his house "I can't...beat him...My father left a Den Den Mushi for us! But he's never picked up...Maybe today, when we most need him, he'll answer...?" Alvar thought to himself. On the way to getting his family, he grabbed a Den Den Mushi, one that had an injured eye, and was grey in color. The Den Den Mushi he hasn't touched in years, the one his father gave him, but he never answered.
"H-...Here..." Alvar's body shook all over, answering to Veno. His family huddled together in fear, while their pet dog simply stood infront of them, as if trying to act as a shield.
Veno studied the dog hard for a moment; it oddly reminded him of his past, something he longed to forget. Raising his foot, he sent the dog hurdling through the walls of the house and into the outside world with a powerful kick. Disgusting mutt. Though it bore resemblance to a wolf in some small form, Veno wasn't the type to be so easily deceived.
On the subject, he found Alvar's latest antics to be incredibly disrespectful, if not blasphemous in their entirety. "Do ye take me for an idiot?" he spat, bringing his body to hover over Alvar and his family, "that fuckin' snail in yer pocket, do ye think I don't know about it?!"
He brought his foot to stomp hard against the wood of the floor, causing it to wither away under the might. Veno had been taught to separate whole trees by their quality amongst entire forests; to tell a man from a snail was of no challenge to his skill in Haki. Flipping on his own Den Den Mushi, Veno began to live stream whatever it was he was seeing to the world, such was the power that had been afforded to him by the Celestial Dragons themselves. In every major facet of the world --Sabaody Archipelago, Mariejois, Fishman Island-- Veno's stream took priority, replacing all screens with its footage.
"Welcome back to another show," Veno spat, staring the Den Den Mushi in the eye so that his mug overtook the various screens across the world, "in today's episode, we'll be featurin' Kairō's beloved son!
"Why don't ye say 'ello to the camera?" He shoved the Den Den Mushi in the way of Alvar and his family. "Lookie 'ere, he brought me his wife and kid too! Ereyone say 'ello, come on now!" Seeing as though there was no reaction from the family to his command, Veno took his anger out on the child.
"I said say 'ello!" He brought his foot to stop against the little boy's skull, many a times until he grew a third nostril in between the ones nature had allowed him and until the entire top row of his teeth sprawled onto the floor. "As you can see," he continued, informing the world at large, "Admiral Glave's got a real fucker for a grandchild. I feel for the lad, really, I do."
He turned his attention toward Alvar's wife, next. "And this whore... what the fuck should I do to her?" He took his cigar from his mouth, blowing a long and hard puff of smoke until the tinge in his lungs forced him into a flurry of coughs. "Yer watchin', ain't ye, Glave-sama? Yous got somethin' that I want, but I didn't know of any other way of reachin' ya!"
Veno proceeded to sticking the flaring half of his cigar into the eye of Alvar's wife, ensuring that the Den Den Mushi had a proper angle so that the entire world could be treated to proper entertainment. "Glave-sama, where are youuu~?" he chimed sarcastically, "yer family needs ye! I need ye!
In the far reaches of Marineford, the base of the Marines, the Admiral known as Alfred Glave sat in his lonesome, killing time by reading the newspaper and drinking coffee, having no major duties at the moment. However, this silence and peace was quickly interrupted when a Marine barged into the room "G-...Glave-sama! Admiral Glave-sama!" The Marine shouted, sweating, as if he had ran a marathon "You must...the broadcast of the Den Den Mushi!".
"Calm down, what is the matter?" Glave asked, neatly folding the newspaper and placing it on the table as he stood up.
"Y-...You're family...!" Upon hearing the Marine, Glave quickly rushed outside, going to see what the commotion was about. And there it was, a live broadcast of Glave's son and his family, held captive by the Pirate Captain Veno, and with two of his family members already in pain.
Glave's expression quickly shifted to shock and horror, before quickly turning to the Marines around him "Prepare a ship to the island!".
"Glave-sama...?" One of the Marines said, still in shock at the events.
"A ship, to my home island, this. Instant!" He shouted, and the Admiral lost his cool in the first time in years, in decades. However, he quickly breathed out, calming himself.
Back at the island, Alvar himself gritted his death, but was too overwhelmed by fear in this situation, simply staring at the towering Veno "What...What did my father possibly do to you...?" He asked Veno, his whole body shaking, but trying to maintain a stern position and look.
"Nay, the more appropriate question is what he did to you," Veno plainly retorted, a smug grin playing on his lip, "and the answer to that, is...
"Well, yer seein' it for yerself now, aren't ye? By workin' his ass off n' becomin' a damn admiral in the navy, he became an enemy to all pirates across the seven seas; he ain't done nothin' to me personally. But then again, he don't need to.
"Yer old man has somethin' I'd like to take for me self, and I don't know any other way of goin' about gettin' his attention. So I figured, why not kill the guy's son, eh? Then, he'd come after me for sure, right?"
Veno shook his head appraisingly. "And some guys got the nerve to call me an idiot! I got ereything all planned out, I tell ye. Ereything."
The nation of promise once revered as Tariland was in complete and utter ruin. Not a single building in sight was left intact; not a single specimen of life was left breathing. A steady cloud of dust overlapped where the proud town had once been, looming over like a residue of lost hope.
A lone shadow appeared suddenly on the tattered ground, growing larger by the second. Descending from what appeared to be the heavens themselves, it rounded out into a spherical shape, until offering its services as a platform for a darkened silhouette, which itself took the form of an animalistic entity.
Contracting into the shape of a human, upon traversing away from the ensuing fog, its figure was made much more evident, though there were no survivors left to awe in the face of such a charming visage. Draped from head to toe in the traditional black suited attire of a CP9 agent, stood tall and proud a man who was recognized by the World Government by the name of Roo Jackson.
Snail phone in hand, he loitered about the devastated terrain for a moment longer before reporting back to his higher and more respected authorities. "Everything here is in ruin," he explained bluntly, "I'm not able to sense a single living organism. Everything is completely dead."
Receiving word to continue his investigation of the area, Jackson stayed back, beginning his search for anything of interest.
Breaking Dawn Edit
A draft came through the open window of an office that was empty, the only soul was that of the admiral that occupied the office; Admiral Warren D. Ralph. Although empty, the presence of Ralph filled the room like smoke in a building. Anyone who came to see the admiral knew exactly where he was even if it was their first time setting foot on office building Ralph was in. On the desk to his right was nothing but a stack of files that he had finished filling out. On the files was Ralph's signature of recommendation for thousands of marines to be promoted to their next rank. Ralph was finishing up on this work when he decided to take a small break. Reaching over to the left of him to grab a piece of meat prepared specially for him. Chomping down on the hunk of meat, Ralph leaned back in his chair and propped his legs up on the edge of his desk with his other hand behind his head. Taking a deep breath Ralph stared at the ceiling of his office with a slight smirk on his face. Then another draft came through his window, more like the gust of the wind traveling behind something. Ralph's slight smirk turned into a frown as his eyes diverted.
Standing with his feet planted on the ground floor and his face creeping through the window of Ralph's office --which of course was several stories high-- was the man who received word from the likes of the Gorosei under the alias of the "Maverick". Reaching into his coat pocket, he unveiled a newly appointed bounty poster, one which featured an emerald haired convict that Ralph knew oh-too well.
"I take it this is the first you've heard about it, meep?" With aid of his long limbs, Merchant brought the bounty poster inches away from the admiral's face without budging from his earlier position. Numbers indicated Veno's updated value of capture: 405,000,000.
"He's eclipsed the 400-mark, meep. I can't help but think this is your doing. If you hadn't allowed him to live... thousands more would still be alive right this moment, meep!"
The bounty poster crumpled under Merchant's tightened fist. "The Gorosei are furious with your lack of proper service as of late. From this moment on, you are to take the blame for every one of Public Enemy's endeavors. Your position is in jeopardy; do you understand that, meep?"
Easing his own temper, the Maverick laid down the poster onto Ralph's desk and retrieved his hand to rest inside of his trouser pocket. His goggles caught Ralph's reflection within them. "You underestimated him. The comfort you felt in your being an admiral may ultimately be your downfall, meep. You plainly underestimated him.
"Yes, by consideration of piracy, the Public Enemy is but a Rookie. But not to these seas; nay, meep. He has over two decades of experience as a privateer under the service of Wrusha." He paused a moment. "Do not underestimate Cipher Pol's information gathering capabilities. I was there that day... the day that man became a Pirate."
Veno, the famed privateer, stood before the entrance of a renown tavern within the country of Wrusha, and one of the largest scrapers on the entire island. To such an extent, it was one of the first sights witnessed by coming sailors. Cigar in mouth, he awaited the arrival of the casino owner, who came to him clad in fashionable attire.
"Yes, may I help you?" the man questioned, taking on a tone that suggested he had never met Veno prior. His expression was what angered Veno the most.
"The fuck's with the act, huh? Don't ferget I was the one who built this goddamn place for ye in the first place. And ye still ain't paid me for it neither."
"Yes, I'm still working on that, Veno. So if you'll just be a bit more patient-"
"Cut the bullshit! Don't stand before me dressed in stars and tell me you ain't got the money when there's hundreds who visit that damn casino erey day!" He grumbled. He snickered. He roared. "I want my fuckin' money. Now."
There was a long silence. "Please, if you'll give me just another week... I promise, I'll have your money then. I... I truly am greatful for how you built this for me, really, I am, it's just..-"
There was no further need for words. Veno was already on the move. He approached the tower, which easily climbed into the skies, and put his hand against its surface. He felt the smooth texture of the bricks he had used, and identified a single brick --one specifically which held greater responsibility than all the rest.
He plucked it from the tower with his brute strength, and in a matter of seconds, the entire foundation of the casino crumbled, collapsing entirely after a mere lone brick had been extracted from its blueprint. The casino's owner watched with horror.
"Nooo! I... I was just about to pay you!!"
Veno tugged the man by his collar and hurled him into the air, sending him flying many a ways. The man kept soaring until he was lost into the blue masses of the sky.
"Oi, Veno," a voice chirped from yonder, belonging to a fellow crew mate of Veno's, "was all that really... nevermind. The captain wanted to see you. He's waiting over by the docks."
When Veno arrived, his captain drew a long expression. "Take a seat, lad. There's something I need to tell you."
Veno plainly took his seat. Words surfaced to his ears. His eyes widened.
"Our nation has been bought out; our entire island, as a matter of fact. Now, to the rest of us, that'll make little to no difference. We'll remain privateers, eh? But, I do feel the need to tell you..."
Veno sat still. He could feel the blood within his veins begin to boil.
"Given your past... there's no easy way to say this..."
"Just tell me, cap'n', who bought us out?"
The captain swallowed. "It was one of the Celestial Dragons."
Veno stood from his seat.
Looking dead at the face of the Cipher Pol agent, Ralph glared into the eyes of Merchant knowing all to well of the reputation of the man in front of him. Ralph knew of Veno's bounty already, he knew that it had grown immensely in the one month time frame since their encounter however Ralph felt that he wasn't fully at fault for the handling of Veno. "I didn't allow him to live, he simply escaped my attack. Last time I remember giant balls of Haki coated water were dropping on him and his crews head like a goddamn flock of birds shitting on a deck." Ralph's teeth were locked tight as he uttered that sentence to Merchant getting just as angry because of the Gorosei's antics as to who was responsible for Veno's escape. "Maybe I did underestimate him. Or did I? If you had giant balls of Haki dropping on you I doubt come out unscathed which means someone somehow saved them after they were dropped on their head." Ralph said taking another bite of his meat without so much as moving his glare at Merchant.
"That damn nipple-sucker got lucky. He simply escaped like numerous of other pirates have. If you wanna pin me up against the wall because I've let pirates go in the past then go pin the Fleet Admiral up first because he's let plenty go in the past as well. And the Gorosei make my left ass cheek itch. If they know about me and how I handle things as an Admiral why not just send someone like you to handle the nipple-sucker? If I'm not mistaken isn't it your Cipher Pol organization that handles the care of World Nobles. You're just as responsible as you say I am."
"Nay, meep," Merchant chimed, "if only you'd allow me to finish telling my story, you'd have known that it was none other than myself who captured him previously." He took a long pause, his eyes creeping around the office. "Do not compare your shortcomings to the nature of my work. You laud glory through your face and sit here dining while your obligations remain stiff. I've merely been told to inform you of the dangers that befall a man of your character. Take your work more seriously, Ralph!
"As they say, Kairō has extracted a personal vendetta against this man. He has sheered your responsibility from you, and will likely meet Public Enemy in battle in coming days. What is to happen from there, only time will tell.
"Nevertheless, meep, do not consider yourself exempt from fault. For the next mission you fail may very well be your last as Admiral."
The shadow of an enormous vessel in the distance consumed the better part of Wrusha, leaving all but one to ponder in awe. His emerald mane blitzing with the wind, Veno the privateer stood upon the waters between the ship and the island, awaiting the arrival of the ship.
"S-Sir! There's... a man standing on the surface of the ocean between us and the island!" The lookout jousted, telescope in hand.
Menu Merchant, clad in the vanilla attire of his fellow CP0 brethren, whose head was equivalent to that of the crow's nest, merely hummed. "I can see that, meep. Charge forth."
Contracting the orders given to him, the man responsible for piloting the ship simply proceeded forth. But as the ship pressed on, Veno placed forth his hands, stopping it in its place.
"We've been stopped!"
Merchant remained ever poised. "I can see that, meep." With regard to his towering range of vision, Merchant peered down at the waters, examining the green haired monstrosity who stood in their way. "What is your objective, meep? What do you achieve from doing all of this?"
Returning the Maverick's averted gaze with a look of anger, Veno clawed his fingers through the hull of the ship. "I won't let no fuckin' World Noble step foot onto this island ever again!"
Merchant narrowed his brow. "Oh? It is known to you by now that this island is property of Saint MacMharais, is it not, meep?"
"Like hell it does," Veno spat, "I ain't lettin' a guy like that rule over me!"
Large streaks of spiked roots surfaced instantly from the waters beneath Veno, sweeping at him with vigorous speed and power. With little time to react, he was shredded plainly and sent toppling backward, blood spewing from his arms and legs.
"A Devil Fruit eater," Veno pondered aloud, bringing himself to recover from the previous assault. He stepped onto the water like it was a solid pavement, only to be met by an endless throttle of roots and weeds that estranged him, twirling around his limbs to constrict his movements.
The man who had been capable of pushing back an entire ship was unable to tear apart simple plants.
"What the fuckin' hell-" the last thing Veno saw were spores falling into place before him. His eyes betrayed him, and before he knew it, he fell into a deep slumber.
"After that, he was sent by ship in the direction of Impel Down, meep. I later received notice that he somehow managed to not only pry himself of his prison, but sink the very ship that was meant to transport him. And so began his trifling as a pirate."
Merchant scraped his chin against the surface of the window panel. "Pray Kairō is able to rescue your career." With that, the Maverick vanished into thin air.
Docked along the shore of an unfamiliar island, the Nimbus' sails hailed glory to the Public Enemy, who, despite his recent diagnosis of potential lung cancer, paid no dividends; as a matter of fact, three fat cigars were held between his lips, even now. Since its last encounters about the sea, the ship had gone through some very necessary repairs, including one very nifty addition: it now sported wings, and were it not for such a festivity, the ship would have most certainly not made it onto the island.
"Welcome," Veno began, leading the members of his crew onto the island, "to Nassau."
A plain vegetated mass of land it was, springing with little means of interest. That is, until the cry of a savage beast was heard in the distance, emanating from the island's jungles themselves. "We're within the calm belts of the fuckin' New World," he spat again, taking a moment to puff his cigars before continuing, "without them wings on the Nimbus, we'd have been swallowed whole by Urthuros."
Urthuros? The crew likely had no idea what in the world their captain was talking about now. He was probably high. Based on the size of those cigars... yep, most definitely high.
"There's a fuckin' Sea King 'round here that don't let no one enter the island. It's a real pisser; the first time I swam here on my own, it gave me a real stern up the ass." He shook his head plainly, smoke pouring from his mouth and nose. "Anyway, this is what I was tellin' ye about. From this day forward, this island will be our new home; here, we can live in peace without them pests of the World Gov' comin' flyin' 'round our business."
Veno began to walk forward yet again, then stopped suddenly. "...Just, keep in mind we're sharin' the place with a bunch of naked elves. If ye see one, run, don't fight." With that said, the Public Enemy began to lead his crew through the jungles of Nassau.
Erin marveled at the beauty of the place. Tropical islands were everywhere in the world but nothing he'd seen quite compared to this. He looked back at his ship one last time as they moved farther and farther away. With the wings Veno added their ship could fly with his help. "Damn Veno this place is stunning." Erin laughed as he walked beside his captain. "Wait there's sea kings here? Can I hunt some, I got a friend who loves em." Erin stated, patting the flute clipped to his belt. They continued along the route until Veno stopped. He then warned them about some sort of naked elves. "Wait what? Are they dangerous or something? Are they gonna go after my ship?" He questioned.
As if on cue, members of the elven tribe emerged from behind shrubs and bushes, longing to cling with their nudity to the monstrosity with the emerald mane. "Fuckin' 'ell, do it with them, not me!" Immediately pardoned, the naked elves, being of both genders, swarmed around the rest of his crewmates. This was definitely going to take some time to get used to.
Veno's cough returned in full, tainting the nearby tall grass with blood. He ignored it, however, as he did most of his troubles. "Help yerselves if ye please. All these guys do is fuck 'round with each other. I couldn't give any less of a shit either way."
Yosef, the crew's bespectacled Doctor, had retained relatively silent in this new discovery. He couldn't help but focus on the coughing and smoking of his Captain, clenching his fists in silence. He observed the elves, but refused to acquaint himself with them, making his peace as he simply thought in silence.
Veno continued through the jungle until reaching the end of a cliff, over which a large clearing was visible. Large bulks of floating clouds were seen all around, many assorted near one another in a manner not unlike a staircase. "This is the dawn of a free world," he proudly exclaimed, his hands curling into fists at his side, "and I promise I won't let nothin' get in the way of it."
The green haired man turned abruptly to his crew. He studied the each of them for a long moment. "A storm is approachin'. By way of sayin', it's time we make things around 'ere a bit more... official." Smoke poured from his mouth. "Yosef, I don't know what it is about ye, but ever since ye came 'round, nothin' but success has followed. From this day forward, I'm appointin' ye as this crew's First Mate."
Complete silence followed the captain's words. The lower ranking members of the crew couldn't help but disagree more within the back of their minds. They had always thought of Erin as the captain's right-hand man --how had things escalated so far beyond that point? Certainly there had to have been a mistake. This newcomer, Yosef... how could the captain trust him so much already?
"Erin, ye'll be the Second Mate, and Luhr, yer the Third." More smoke. Another series of coughs. "I don't think I need any more than three fuckin' mates on this ship, so that'll be it." Without another formal indication, Veno began to walk off yet again, back toward the ship.
"It ain't in my interest to 'ide anythin' from ye, but things'll make more sense in the coming days. There're still things I need accomplished before we can get started on things over 'ere. Erin, ye'll tag along with me to fetch a few more supplies I'll be needin', and Yousef, I'm leavin' ya in charge 'round 'ere 'till I get back."
As Veno continued to walk, he did something most peculiar. Something that no other person, not even those amongst his crew, had ever seen before. Pressing his thumb against his left forearm, he clicked open a compartment. In a literal sense, his flesh rose for a brief moment, and the void beneath was where he began to store rounds of bullets that he retrieved from his pocket.
"I don't got all day now, Erin. We got places ta be. Hurry the fuck up."
Giving Veno a disgruntled look and Snorting in clear displeasure Luhr turns to His Captain. "While I don't fucking care about what position I have in the Crew I have to have ask Veno, Are ya Really that fucking stupid to essentially make that guy Fist Mate of the crew when he is essentially a recent walk on, just because of some luck he appearrly brings to the crew Fer all we know he could possibly be a Fucking Marine Lap-Dog. Grunted out Luhr as he glances at Yosef.
Veno's veins shot ablaze as Luhr's words rang loud in his ears. When he turned around to confront his subordinate, his right arm was already black with haki. "The fuck ye say?"
He swung his arm at vicious speeds toward Luhr's direction, meaning to send the Fishman flying many a ways through the jungle. "Are ye questionin' my damn authority?!" To Veno, the captain's words were absolute. They were never meant to be challenged, no matter what. He was a man who always led by example, and so, naturally, he had to make sure that Luhr knew better than to speak out against his own captain.
Yosef's eyes followed his Captain's movements. They had become more sluggish than previous, as expected for someone in the midst of such a disease. He knew very well preventing this physical attack would do no more than cause further anger, which he could not afford in this instance. Aggravating Veno's symptoms is counter-intuitive to all three of Yosef's professions, so he stood still.
However he knew that in order to cement his position in this crew, he had to somehow get along with the crew's entirety. So he steadily prepared himself, picking up his briefcase and awaiting for the culmination of this confrontation.
Watching a Veno swung his Haki covered hat in his direction with his intent clear Luhr growled as he swung up his arm grasping the Haki covered creating a small shockwave that blew most of the crew off their feets. "Did it sound like I stuttered Veno, I'm Gonna make something straight just because I threw in my lot with ya doesn't mean I'll follow you blindly.
Casting their interlocked arms aside Luhr Snorts in disgust as he notices Veno's sluggish movement. "Remember this Public Enemy, I may have decided to follow ya but I ain't gonna let a humans Stupidity get me killed." Spat Luhr as his eyes turn sharp while he bears his fanged mouth.
Seeing his attack be deflected so easily only made Veno that much angrier. This had become a battle against his pride; he'd never allow himself to be degraded in front of his own men. As he inched to move a second time, however, a jolting pain emanated from his lungs to the rest of his body, and within seconds, blood was spewing from his mouth between coughs.
He was no longer the same man. Not the one who had gained infamy across the seas for being a physical specimen. Not the one who had led them in battle against a Navy Admiral. Not the one who had rescued them from the depths of a Shichibukai. At this point, his skills had depleted so very much that for him, standing upright had suddenly become a challenge.
Brought down to his knees from the effects of his cancer, Veno only saw one way to counter attack. He thrusted his arm forward, opening his hand so that his palm faced in Luhr's direction --the time to debut the most recent addition to his repertoire had finally arrived.
In a matter of seconds, the flesh and bone of his forearm retreated into his elbow, leaving only a stub. His shoulder quaked, and, in the next ensuing moment, a metallic mechanism shot out from the stub, taking the form of a machine gun. "Rot in hell!!!"
For a moment, Veno had forgotten everything. The Fishman in front of him was no longer an ally, but rather, an insignificant being who dared to challenge his authority. Whether or not he'd regret it, for now he didn't care. All he could think of was the best way to kill him.
In a flash, the machine gun spun to life, releasing a countless rain of bullets that could very easily penetrate the flesh of even a Fishman many times over.
Yosef's observations could no longer be kept up. His patient was dying, and if this kept up, his facade would had been for naught. His body became weightless for a moment as he charged towards the scene. His hand outstretched for the metallic apparition on Veno's hand. "Stack: Mass — Tenfold!"
Within the instant of his firing, his arm had suddenly been shot towards the ground. "Captain, don't act foolish! You are in no condition to fight, and killing one of your vital crewmen is even more idiotic! Think for a moment first!"
Was Erin upset, yes definitely, though he didn't show it. He was the first to join and had been a constant help in their teams endeavors, even saving them from certain doom from an admiral. However if Veno truly wished that of him them he would accept. Thought his mind still wondered why Veno would choose such a man over him. Despite Luhr's outburst he agreed with him in a way. This man had saved them sure but they knew little to nothing about him. He'd definitely get some info on him somehow. For now though more urgent matters were to be attended to Erin broke out of thought as Yosef caused Veno to crash to the ground. He should have acted faster, he could have stopped it himself. If only he wasn't in his own head. "Why do you two need to bicker about insignificant things. I'm rank two now, I'm still gonna drive the ship and I'm still gonna snipe so who gives a damn." He addressed Veno and Luhr in clam tone. He sounded perfect it was as if he truly didn't care but in his mind it was another story. "So you wanted to get some supplies captain?"
Grunting out in disgust Luhr turns and walks towards the path that leads to the sea before sending a heated glare towards Yousef and Veno "I don't even know why I bothered you'd never listen to anyone other than yourself anyways Veno, but just remember when he stabs ya in the back and leaves ya for dead taking all yer fucking dreams away Just remember I was right to be suspicious, I won't abandon ya crew but don't expect me to play nice with any of ya especially Him" growled out Luhr before he walks off hopes off towards the sea in hopes of cooling himself off.
Lugging his arm from the ground, Veno stood slowly to his feet and turned himself around, utterly humiliated. The one thing a captain had before his crew was respect --if he hadn't that, then what did he have? Forfeiting any further attempt at chaos, the spiritually exhausted Public Enemy began to march his way back toward the ship, without uttering a single word.
The Land Before Time Edit
The Nimbus, rather appropriately, looked to have descended from the clouds themselves as it lowered onto the snow infested terrain of Karakuri. And despite the peculiarity surrounding a flying ship, it was not at all unusual in the eyes of the citizens --rather the opposite, it was entirely common, if not outdated. For the scientists of the island had accomplished far greater feats than the likes of a mere ship with wings.
Snow fell all around as two members of the Veno Pirates disembarked from the Nimbus. Surprise to none, the cold weather had little to no effect on the Public Enemy as he stepped into the snow with a hard plant of his boot. A cigar, as always, was held firmly between his lips. "So this is it, eh? The famed 'Future Island'." He gave a hard stare all around. "I don't see nothin' out of the ordinary just yet. Is we not lookin' in the right place, Erin?"
Erin hopped off their ship to land beside Veno, he'd felt colder wind. "Yeah it's grow a lot since I was last here." Erin responded, stretching his arm above his head. "Yeah we're here we just need to travel further. It's not like we're gonna be able to land right in front of it." The man responded.
As they progressed through the island, there were many sights to beheld. Animals equipped with futuristic technology, robots living amongst humans, and most of everything appeared to be levitating in the air. Veno was, however, for the most part disinterested; for the jolting pain in his lungs kept him from enjoying much of anything.
The snow beneath his feet was made red with his blood every which way he walked. There were times where the large man simply fell over, leaving large craters in the ground, and needed assistance in order to get back to his feet. While he was here to study the advancements of the famed Vegapunk, he was also here in the hopes of furthering his research on becoming a Cyborg. As much as he despised to think of it, the way his lungs were, at this point, he had very little time left to live. The only way to fix his problem --or so he thought-- was to get his lungs technologically modified.
"F-fuck the b-b-blueprints," he gasped, falling over into the cold snow once more, "what I need is my goddamn lungs fixed. I.. I can't carry on... n-not like this." He lay there at the foot of the mountain, which housed the cave they were aiming to reach, groaning in pain. The man who didn't so much as yelp at being cut up by a Shichibukai and thrown through innumerable buildings was on the ground, cowering as if in defeat.
Erin rushed to his captain's side, pulling his massive frame from the ground. "Dammit Veno we aren't giving up after all this. Come on you punched a fucking Admiral in the face and now you're gonna fall before your goal." Erin didn't care if Veno hated being called by his name at this point. He needed to get the hell off the ground and to the damn cave. With the help of his devil fruit Erin began pumping air through Veno's lungs and body himself. "We're getting you to that damn cave."
And that was how Erin spent the next half hour of his life: gorging air through Veno's lungs to keep them momentarily cleansed, while straining himself to keep his Devil Fruit powers active enough to help him lift the monstrosity of a man that Veno was. Luckily for him, Erin at the very least had the advantage in height. Something which Veno wasn't exactly too fond of.
They continued along until reaching a rather incredulous bridge, one that was charred in between, yet previously served the purpose of leading to a futuristic looking building. Without a doubt, the place they had been searching for all this time.
Erin stared at the building in awe. It was still marvelous even after being abandoned for so long. "So you ready to get yourself a new body Veno?" Erin questioned. Still holding his captain upright. Soon enough he wouldn't need to manually pump his lungs and they would be back on the high seas.
Before the pirates could cross the bridge, a canine stood on the other side of the bridge. Its fur was a brilliant white, blending perfectly with the snow, the only indication that it was there being its clear golden eyes, staring at the Veno Pirates, simply standing like a stiff statue. When the wind got stronger, the wolf moved, running off and following the direction of the wind, vanishing from sight. To the Veno Pirates, it would only seem like a predator hunting for its next meal, but the wolf that glared at them was the Admiral, Alfred Glave, in his complete Zoan form, getting a good look at the enemy forces before he would attack.
Veno blinked hard at the sudden sighting of the wolf. Was he seeing things? His health had deteriorated to such an extent that he really wasn't sure of himself anymore. Most certainly not the way he was in times past.
His vision struggled in and out of focus, his head hanging low as Erin pulled him into a stand. Every time he saw a wolf or anything close to it, he was reminded of Bernard. And when he was reminded of Bernard, he was reminded of that day. That awful day.
Between catching his breath, Veno spoke out to his subordinate. "D-did you s-s-see that?" he stuttered, "th-that wolf... did you see that wolf?"
From within the woods, Glave still wondered around, using the white snow as fitting camouflage, using Soru in his wolf form to quickly move around, arriving behind the pirates, hiding among the withering trees. His footsteps were barely heard from the soft snow he stepped on, yet he had a clear view on the pirates. Suddenly, a rabbit popped from a hiding spot, attempting to escape Glave, and at that moment, Glave, still in his complete wolf form, rushed at the rabbit, sinking his fangs into it, wailing the creature around, releasing it from his fangs, tossing it against a nearby rock. While he revealed himself to the pirates, Glave kept the ruse of just being a predator looking for its next meal. turning his back to the Veno Pirates as he carried the rabbit in his mouth, turning once more to stare at the pirates once last time before walking away. The closer inspection gave him a better idea of what he's up against.
"Yeah it's a white wolf." Erin replied. "A bit large huh, maybe it's been eating good recently." Erin chuckled. It was then that he heard a sound behind him, a crack on bones. He whirled around to lay eyes on the wolf once again. His eyes peered deeply at it, analyzing it. How had it moved behind them so quickly, not to mention without any sound. Erin was on edge currently and this wolf wasn't helping. He pressed forward with Veno on his arm, glancing back to see if the wolf came towards them.
Veno didn't have the luxury of keeping his senses sharp enough to worry about what he assumed was only a stray wolf. It was enough of a challenge as it was to keep walking, let alone keep his eyes open at this point. But he could see it; the distance between them and the secret laboratory was growing smaller by the second. There was a large risk in coming all this way; whether he'd be able to find a cure for his disease within was yet to be seen. All he had to risk at this point, was his life.
Glave ran down the hill, as the two pirates ignored his presence, assuming him to be a mere wolf. Upon going downhill, Glave walked towards the bridge's supports, observing all of them, and going by memory and scent on where Veno and Erin were on the bridge. Using his Devil Fruit's power, his form shifted and changed, becoming a bipedal wolfman, towering over most men in this form. Glave cocked his arm back, clenching his hand into a fist, and pulling out his index finger "Shigan." He uttered, striking the bridge's pillar, the stone beginning to crack and break. "Soru!" Glave said, vanishing in a flash, appearing before another pillar "Shigan!" He said once more, striking the second pillar. And so, he continued, quickly going through every pillar keeping the bridge up and supporting it, which would eventually lead to the bridge itself collapsing, and Veno and Erin along with it.
As the bridge began to collapse, it was almost as if the entire world had begun to quake in Veno's eyes. He nearly puked from the ensuing concussion, and was unable to so much as speak as he and Erin began their bituminous descent unto a frozen lake. The cause for such concern he simply knew not, and he prepared his tarnished body to break through the ice and plunge far and deep into the cold waters that lay beneath, his hopes and dreams of ever recovering slowly but surely dying along with the falling bridge.
Erin gasped as the bridge began to tumble. Why couldn't they just have a nice brisk walk to the lab. With a quick movement Erin willed the wind to carry them swiftly to the other side of the bridge and away from their deathly plummet. As they landed Erin put Veno down and scanned the area. The bridge felt extremely sturdy to him while he stood on it, why did it fall now. Their weight would never be enough and the timing was too perfect. Erin suspected foul play. "Veno snap out of your fucking hole of darkness and get on guard. Someone's hunting us." Erin commanded. Roles were nothing now, Veno needed to snap out of it. If he did decide to stand and fight Erin's wind would aid him. Erin himself stood on guard, his eyes fully activated.
And the captain, whether he looked the part or not, stood up to his feet, muffling a series of groans. "T-the fuck is goin' on," he grumbled, awestruck if not perplexed by the sudden turn of events, "how could a fuckin' bridge like that just fall apart. Somethin' ain't right..."
A skilled shipwright, even in his dying hour, Veno knew exactly what it'd have took to bring such a massive construct to collapse in the manner that it did. Most certainly it was anything but a natural cause. "I can't even fuckin' stand on me own toes, Erin. Whoever the fuck's tryna mess with us, he's all yers."
Glave was still not spotted, a fact he took advantage of. Still in his wolfman form, Glave dug his claws into a nearby boulder, carrying the enormous rock with his two arms. Basing his aim on smell and sounds, he raised the boulder upwards upwards and bent back, he threw the boulders with all his might, causing it to fly forward at incredible speeds, its size hopefully being enough to hit atleast one of the pirates.
Quickly after the first attack, Glave uttered "Hyōsō." He channeled all of his strength in his feet, using Soru repeatedly. Glave began catching up to the boulder, and with his technique, it appeared to be many of him, afterimages created using the incredibly fast movement of Soru, which was only further augmented with this human-beast body. His plan was simple. The boulder, easy to block and even destroy to any skilled pirate, is a mere distraction to give him an opening, while the afterimages are meant to further confuse his enemies, ensuring he gets the first hit.
Erin's eyes immediately saw the boulder as it jetted over the hill, he grabbed Veno and dashed out of the boulder's path. He then eyes the multiple wolfs and without hesitation created a storm of wind that exploded outwards, pushing everything away from them. Them with another movement he caused Veno's hands to clash together creating a large flame that was pulled into the storm, creating a massive blast of fire and wind in all directions. "It was that damn wolf huh. Must be a Zoan user." He called to Veno.
Veno didn't like the idea of being used as a puppet. He knew he was out of commission, but damn. Erin would pay for this later. But now, the focus was averted to taking down whoever dared to oppose them.
"Erin..." The wolfman's afterimages surrounded Erin and Veno, before suddenly halting, a fair distance from the two, the earth breaking into a small crater underneath his feet "So...you have been busy I see..." Glave said, reverting back to a human form. He kept his guard, his Haki and techniques ready to aid him. Glave held both hands behind his back, giving off an air of relaxation, hopefully lowering his enemy's guard, seeming like a typical old man "Good to see you again." Glave said to Erin, his tone not being particulary menacing, but not being exactly happy either. It mostly seemed out to be out of habit that he would greet his former ally.
It was Veno's timely coughing that interrupted the touching reunion. He gagged until blood spilled from his mouth, but somehow found enough composure to continue speaking. "W-who the fuck is this guy? Do you know him?"
An old man? Veno would laugh if it didn't hurt him to do so. Of all things he'd seen since arriving on Karakuri, this was the most absurd. An old man was challenging the two of them to a battle?
It took Erin a moment but he finally remembered who he was staring at. "Glave.." He responded. His old captain in the marines, back when he was a navigator. Way back before he decided it was too much for him. "You've gotten old man heh, been a while huh." He laughed, he was obviously a little shaken to see him though. "He was my Captain in the Marines Veno, The Admiral Alfred Glave." He stopped once again, considering what to say. "You know you were always good to me and I respect that, even when the others were being less like marines and more like savages you we're always a moral one. You were the one who encouraged me to leave and I thank you for that." Erin stopped once more. "I know I'm a pirate now and that's probably not the best grounds for us to be meeting on. But why here? Why now?" He asked.
Glave sighed, eyeing the coughing Veno. He would think of him as pathetic in this state, if he hadn't thought of him as just worthless. However, Glave quickly sported a comforting smile to Erin "Why indeed." He straightened his back, letting loose his arms in a relax position "I assume you weren't present, otherwise you would have heard of your captain's attack on my home island, and the murder of my son and his family." Glave said, his smile fading "So...that begs the question, Erin, will you stand the way of my revenge, knowing what your captain has done? What I am going to do?" He sternly asked Erin, almost as if he was addressing him as his subordinate still.
Erin had a decision to make. Both sides favored him, but one was noticeably more detrimental than the other. Choosing Glave was the safer choice, seeing as though he possessed the most sound moral and reasoning in his words, not to mention the clear advantage in the situation. All Veno truly had to offer Erin at this point was the inevitable: death.
Veno wasn't going to be fighting again any time soon. But if Erin stupidly chose to side with the Public Enemy, then that would pit him against a Marine Admiral. He knew it wasn't a fight he could win. So then, what would he decide on doing? Was he truly going to throw his life away for a man who didn't even appreciate him enough to be considered his First Mate? Despite everything he had done for him?
Veno held silent. He reached into his trousers and unveiled a thick cigar, and lit it with a spark infused by his bare hand. He puffed it loud and proud, potentially as if it were the last of his life. He dared not utter a single word to sway Erin in his direction; he knew it was better left to the man to come to his own decision.
But boy was he surprised! To think an old geyser like that would have turned out to be the admiral he was searching for all along. Things were looking grim. Erin had every right, every reason to betray him now. And most of all, there wasn't a thing he could do to prevent it. He was an easy target at this point. There was no way he would ever emerge so much as alive if Erin elected to side with his former marine ally.
Erin sighed it was a hard decision to make even though everything leaned one way. Veno was a complete and utter asshole who was probably more childlike than any kids Erin knew. He was a total wrecker of the peace and killed innocence like flies. He was Erin's captain but what goods was a captain with little respect for his crew to this day Erin still hadn't heard one word of thanks from him no matter how many times he saved his ass. Erin joined his crew because he thought it would be a fun adventure, a distraction. However it clouded his view from what he truly was now, a monster just like those marines. Just like the ones that made him leave, he was no better. "Veno this is goodbye. I'm done supporting you and your ways, they're the reason I quit being a marine and I should've seen it sooner. As far as I'm concerned Glave is the reaper here to collect for what you've done." Erin dropped his body and walked away, now an equal distance from the two. "I'm sure you understand this and if you don't well then maybe I did overestimate you." He then turned to Glave. "Just to be clear I'm not going with you either but you helped me see the light once again so I thank you for that. Neither side is fit for me so I think I'll take a look around and maybe just sail for fun once again." He then walked into the large building, turing back only once more. "I guess I'll see one of you when I come out of here."
As he saw the very first member of his crew walk away from him, Veno's eyes played a trick on him. For Erin's body was replaced by a man Veno had known and respected long ago: his father. The memory came scorching back into his mind.
"Wh-where're we goin', dad?" a young Veno questioned. Was this another one of his father's surprises? In the past, that is, before Zabaco had taken everything from them that they had ever known, Veno's father, Bogle, had surprised him with many gifts.
"Y-yes, something like that, my son." Veno had never seen that look in his father's eyes before. There was an uneasy feeling in the air as Veno and his father walked through the torn streets of Wrusha's slums. Hand in hand they went, into what became an utter nightmare for the emerald haired boy.
The two appeared before a suspicious looking man, one whose tone was equally as suspicious. As he and Bogle discussed, the man ran his eyes down Veno's body several times. At that very moment, Veno had never felt more... uncomfortable.
The man took out a wallop of cash from his jacket, handing it over to Bogle. Veno's eyes lit up. Finally, some money! They would be able to eat tonight!
Bogle had begun to walk away. He didn't glance back a single time to look back at his son. The man cupped Veno's cheeks, and put his arm around the child's waist, pulling him in the opposite direction. But the boy, with tears streaming down his cheeks, began to resist.
"Dad! Where are you going, dad? Dad!"
There was no response. Veno socked the man in his face, enabling him with time to run off and catch up to his father. But what he encountered was simply more sorrow.
"Go away! Don't you understand?!" Bogle exclaimed, "I don't want anything to do with you! Everything that has happened to me... the loss of my business, the abrupt end to my marriage... everything was because of you!"
Veno had never been struck by his father ever before. Not until that day. He lay down on his rump, blood gushing from his forehead. He didn't bother to budge an inch, not even when his father began to kick his face into the ground.
"You good for nothing son of a bitch! Just you watch, you rotten wench! I'll start my business back up from the bottom up with the money I made off of selling you!" Bogle's eyes lit up, and he began to twitch maniacally. "Y-yes! Yes of course! Heh heh, I... I will return! I will become a huge success once again! Just you wait, Hess! Zabaco, you bastard! Heh heh! You think you've seen the last of me?!" With each kick, Veno felt the weight of the world drop down onto his body. But it was an odd sensation; he found more comfort in his father's abuse than he did in the moment he was with the other man. He would be a good kid; why wouldn't his father let him tag along for the ride?
But no. The damage had been done. Bogle's abuse had allowed enough time for the other man to catch up. Bruised and beaten, Veno was left defenseless this time around as the man came and collected him.
Veno did not utter another word.
Betrayal. A feeling Veno was all too familiar with. Though admittedly, Veno had never completely trusted Erin to begin with, this had quite the impact on him nonetheless. After all, Erin had been there from the very beginning. He was the first member of the crew and Veno's sidekick through it all.
But if Erin was no longer an ally, then he was an enemy. Lifting himself onto his knee, Veno aimed the palm of his left hand at Erin's back as he walked away from him. "Ye fuckin' traitor! I shoulda known better!"
His forearm snapped, shuffling into his elbow. In its place appeared a machine gun, one infused with innumerable barrels. "Rot in hell!!!" From his arm, Veno began to unleash a massive torrent of bullets. If he was going to go down, then he was going to take down this traitor along with him.
Instinctively, the moment Glave laid eyes on the machine gun appearing out of the man's body, he bent his knees, using Soru to close the distance between him and Veno as fast as possible, however, once the bullets began firing, he planted his feet in the ground, still a fair distance from Veno, extending his arms to the sides "Tekkai!" Glave exclaimed, his body morphing into a beast-man once more, as it also became incredibly tough at the expense of his movement being impaired. He stood in the way of the bullets, using his large frame as a wolfman to block them with the use of Tekkai to deflect them, assuring Erin will be safe from atleast the majority of them "Erin! Get away from here, and do not return, lest I arrest you!" Glave shouted at Erin, the urgency in his tone being clear "Take care.".
Erin turned back to see his captain yell one last thing, that he was a traitor. He then saw Glave jump in front of the bullets Veno fired from his hand-gun. He turned back a gust of wind blew and Erin stood a couple feet from Glave. "Veno I'm going to say one last thing to you. You are garbage personified, you kill thousands of people for nothing." Erin shook with anger. "You don't appreciate anything you trust suspicious people and make spur of the moment decisions. The only reason you're fucking alive is cause I saved you and do I hear one word of thanks from you at all? No I hear nagging bitch sitting on MY SHIP smoking himself to death. You tried to shoot me just like you did Luhr when he was concerned for the crew. You making the man who ran the show while you were away a complete stranger. You haven't the slightest idea how to even be a captain. But you know what I am a traitor so you got that right just not to you. I'm a traitor for myself for even joining your crew. I'm a traitor to everything I believed in." Erin stopped for a second before turing back to the building. "Everything in there is getting destroyed so even if you possibly crawl out of this fight somehow you'll have nothing. I'm going to tell the crew you died and we'll disband. So as my finals words to you I hope you get everything you deserve." He then looked to Glave. "Best of luck to you and my apologies for you family. I say with my best wishes that I hope we never meet again once we both leave this island." With that Erin disappeared, deep into the building Veno sought so much.
Glave couldn't waste anymore time with parting words. He switched his Tekkai with Busoshoku, the defense not being quite on the same level, resulting in the bullets grazing and leaving scratches as they bounced off his body, yet his movement returned, using Soru to rush through the bullets, closing the distance between them further with one more push. He kicked the air, exclaiming "Geppo" moving to the side, stopping right next to Veno, pulling out his index finger "Busoshoku: Koka." He said, his finger blackening from the Haki, assuring it will hit hard and stab through Veno's flesh "Shigan!" Glave's hand shot forth, he aimed at Veno's arm, intending on stabbing through that machine gun and tearing his arm off.
The words Erin had spoke had little effect on the emotionally unstable Veno. What bothered him, however, was the fact that Erin was bent on destroying the laboratory; he simply couldn't allow that to happen.
Being heavily worn down by the effects of his disease, Veno was made into nothing more than a common bystander as Glave displayed his rather ironic explosiveness. However, as Glave fended off the bullets, shifting gears from Tekkai to Haki, Veno knew better than to let the opportunity go to waste. So in the moment, he did the only one thing he was truly capable of doing; he put his hefty weight to use, issuing a subtle stomp onto the ice that formed a large series of cracks across its surface. This was meant to throw Glave slightly off balance, enough to throw the trajectory of his attack off enough for Veno to keep his arm.
If successful, Veno would have been struck directly into his bicep, with Glave's finger literally piercing through flesh. However, using the admiral's attack against him, Veno concentrated his own haki into the given area, hardening his arm enough so that Glave couldn't simply pull away from him. Indeed, though his finger was well placed inside Veno's arm, through his usage of haki, Veno had locked him in place.
Blood spewed from Veno's mouth as he grumbled a few words. "I can't fuckin' die just yet, especially not to an old fucker like ye. If I die 'ere, everythin' I've done until now would've been for nothin'!"
He lifted his foot, doing his best to channel as much haki as he could manage into it. "I lured ye all the way 'ere by design! Ye ain't got me c-cornered for shit! It's on ye right now, ain't it? That precious Devil Fruit..." he nearly began to chuckle, despite the horrid circumstances which he found himself within, "it's my life's work to get my hands on it. And it will be mine!"
Stomping his foot hard onto the very ice that was holding the two of them up, Veno caused it to shatter, sending both he and Glave into the cold waters beneath.
Glave sunk into the water along with Veno, his Shigan pierced into his arm, but not in the way he intended, and as the water touched his feet, he took a deep breathe, before his whole body submerged with Veno. His body's movement slowed down, feeling as if every inch of his was being held by an invisible force, and every will and whim he put into body movement became null. "N-...No! I've fallen...! Wait, that's not the issue! He knows...of the fruit?! Why would he...know?!" Glave kept his breathe held, his eyes only squinted as his thoughts became fearful, a void of dread consuming his thought process.
Veno's blood seeped into the cold waters, but it was far too dark to make out any change in coloration. When they met the water, Veno defused the haki from his arm, allowing the admiral to slip away slowly; with his life on the line, Veno swam after him, and, extending out his arm, tugged at the admiral's most prized and respectable possession: his jacket.
Tearing it off the body of the sinking admiral, Veno rummaged through the pockets until he had what he had been looking for all along: the Seki Seki no Mi. His intent was to consume the fruit under the impression that his life was beyond repair. In the event that he was to die inevitably, he longed to, at the very least, satisfy his final demand. However, little did he know that by fulfilling this deed, he would be doing far more than just that.
Tainted Waters Edit
Gripping the fruit with all his might, Veno opened his mouth wide and stuffed it down his throat. He nearly gagged himself to death on his own, and the second it slid down the passageway and entered his stomach, it was digested instantaneously.
What ensued was a horrifying turn of events. For Veno shrieked as if for a moment he truly were about to die. The oils of the fruit polluted the insides of his body, creeping into every one of his veins and vessels. He was a dead man by all accounts. Yet when the pollution reached his lungs, the opposite occurred.
More than just an Oil Human, consuming the Seki Seki no Mi had converted Veno into a Pollution Human. The effects of his lung cancer, the pollution he had suffered from years upon years of smoking cigarettes was swiftly corrected by the presence of the various other pollutants that had since entered and become apart of his body. His cancer had been rendered null, imaginary as if it never existed!
The pirate roared with vigor, as oil from his body spread out and quickly encased the water. Due to its rivalry with the raw natural element, the oils that he released began to counter the water on its own, floating Veno and even Glave, two Devil Fruit users who should have been made powerless in the water, back onto the surface where they could quickly roll onto icebergs and the like.
And Veno did just that. Crawling ashore onto a nearby mass of land, he lifted himself to his feet in the snow and pondered openly upon the events that had transpired. There was no pain? There was... no pain! That horrible pain in his gut that had kept him from standing, it was no longer there! Veno stood fully erect, his spine stretching and snapping into straightened posture for the first time in weeks. It was far too good to be true. Was it all a dream?
Like a beast, Veno roared out into the cold air. He knew nothing of how to control his new powers, and so oil continued to drip from every pore of his body. It filled the insides of his clothes, fountained from his nostrils like snot, and even crept around in his hair. It took the form of an inky black substance, the oil from the Seki Seki no Mi.
The Public Enemy had returned, perhaps far greater than he was ever before.
Erin had already reached the inner labs with his wind like speed and pinpointed a couple locations to burn. Within moments his rife was slung off his back and into his hands. He aimed down the sites and fired round after round into various items and flammable surfaces. His special dragon fire bullets did their magic and set the room ablaze. Erin didn't want to burn it all but he figured that it was for the best. The with a crackle brutal black winds shot through the area fanning the flames through the halls and creating sparks as they did, soon electrical fires began to burn. Then the winds receded back to him and the building danced with flames. It all happened so fast and it would be over so soon. Behind him stood a ladder, leading to what seemed to be an attic in the building. Erin flew upwards into it before readying himself to leave. Then with precision he created a blade of wind to carve through the steel roofing and emerge from the top. He stood on the roof shielded from the eyes of the ground. "I might as well check on Glave" he thought to himself.
Glave quickly springed back to life, landing on a piece of land, digging the claws of his feet into the ground to keep himself afoot. "Curses..." Glave gritted his teeth, not acknowledging the black substance over his white fur, being too focused on the fact that Veno, a man so vile and monstrous, got his hands on a fruit, a fruit whose powers he can't truly comprehend. "You...This was your goal?" Glave bent his knees, as if preparing to sprint "You have risen in the ranks now. No longer is this a matter of petty vengeance, or your arrest even! This is a matter of the world. This is a national crisis, and I, Admiral of the Marines, will not leave under you are dust!" Glave exclaimed, the ground shaking from his intensity.
"Tossaikaku!" An intense sound screeched through the surrounding, as Glave used the full might of Soru, covering every inch of his body in Busoshoku Haki, the sound barrier shattering as Glave leapt forth, rushing at Veno at the maximum speed he can, the shockwave cracking and shattering the ice around them, even stone being broken. Glave's attack and intentions were obvious. He would strike Veno, and with his body surrounded by Busoshoku Haki, he would be able to hit him. The sheer force of the impact will shatter and create a shockwave to sink them both into a crater, and Veno's body and bones would shatter. Even if it won't be a sure-kill, the damage will do enough to reduce the threat level.
There was much damage to be done. The whole world had yet to learn of Veno's ascension. There was absolutely no way he was going to let it all come to an end right here; his reign had only just begun!
The admiral was incredibly quick, even in his old age. Seeing him in his hybrid wolf form ushered a memory of the late Bernard within Veno's mind. There was a time when he had sought the very fruit Glave had consumed; he wanted to be just like Bernard, in every way possible. But his life had taken much too many curves. Would Bernard have been proud of the man Veno had become? Of this, Veno was uncertain. But he lost no sleep over it. For in the end, he had made Bernard only a single promise; that he would realize his potential, no matter the cost.
Veno was much too large to evade a full throttle attack such as the one Glave had unleashed. He gritted his teeth in pain as the admiral collided into his chest, coughing blood even when his body had been fortified with the aid of Busoshoku. His feet began to skid backward and he very quickly began to lose ground; Veno was pushed further and further back, until his back smashed into the mountain that was behind him.
But even as it were, all he could do in this moment was laugh.
What might have been so funny? What in the world was there to even laugh about? Had he finally gone mad? Nay, he was much too proud of his newfound powers. The thrill of battle; he had gone much too long without it. Being able to fight after so long, the sudden rush of adrenaline, it was a feeling so very dear to him!
Crude oil, blacker than even coal, began to ooze out of Veno's body. In fact, it had been there, seeping out from within him prior to Glave having attacked him. For Veno had no idea how to control his powers yet, and so the oil continued to fountain out of him like he were an open volcano.
"Yer confused, aren't ye? I'll let ye in on a lil' secret... ye see old man, it's all thanks to that imbecile you just let leave alive that I even knew about this damn fruit in the first place. It's all 'cause a him that I came after ye, it's all 'cause a him that I killed yer family, and all 'cause a him that I even had all the information that I do."
He laughed manically. "How's that make ye feel? Knowin' that I ain't even ye true enemy! It's Erin! He's the reason for all yer losses! Grababababa!" Oil continued to ooze out of Veno, and because Glave had rushed head first into him yet again, it was likely that the stickiness had left the admiral trapped yet again.
"Yer caught like a fly in a web." Veno began to rub his hands together furiously, the friction sparking a flame. And, thanks to the presence of the oil that was spread all around, his Fire Fist Kenpo was more fierce than ever before. Dipping his hands into the oil on his stomach, where Glave himself lay, Veno set the both of them on fire, reaping forth a massive explosion.
"Ah, but would Erin know? He's still a child! A child with a ridiculous mindset!" Glave declared, his entire body catching fire, the Haki covering his body stopping any severe burns from happening to his actual flesh, however, the following explosion broke through his Haki. His body suffered severe damages and burns, but were mitigated by a last minute Tekkai on top of his Haki, resulting in a double layered defense. Quickly, Glave pushed through the pain, freeing one of his arms "Life Return! Ooinuza!" He exclaimed, his body mass and size increasing, becoming larger and bulkier.
The now towering Glave cocked his arm back, opening his hand into an open palm, and curling his fingers onto themselves "Shiryuki!" Glave thrusted his arm forth, intending on striking Veno with a Busoshoku: Koka covered arm. The intended effect upon impact is a shockwave powerful enough to rend steel, and with the addition of Haki, his Devil Fruit would not defend him. Even at the expense of being stuck again, Glave could only hope to kill Veno as quickly as possible.
Erin watched from the rooftops for a few moments before an explosion occurred. Veno had the fruit now and this had to end. In a flash he shot towards his ship arriving there in seconds however he did shout one thing as he flew over them. With Galve's enhanced body he was sure he would hear him while he didn't know about Veno. However it didn't matter if he head as only Glave would understand him. He spoke in the code they used specifically on Glave's old admiral ship long ago, something he'd never shared with anyone. "Code:90" was all that was heard but that would probably be all Glave needed to hear. Erin was going to bring this island to ruin.
He quickly landed on his ship and lifted it without hesitation, casting it into the air. In moments his eyes located Glave's own ship and he landed next to it. He then jumped onto the ship. "Who are you?" The marines shouted, their guns at ready. However quick as the wind, Erin had already entered and exited the captain's cabin and back in the air before they could even ready their cannons. Erin landed his ship in the waters upon the other side of the island, pretty far out into the sea. He then flew once again, landing on the island before placing the device down, it shined golden in the light. Without hesitation he pressed the button. A buster call was made.
It mattered naught if Glave reinforced his attacks with Haki, for the powers of the Seki Seki no Mi were not of Logia origins; but rather, the fruit that Veno had consumed was indeed a Paramecia. Haki only allowed one to bypass the intangibility factor of a Logia, not nullify the fruit's powers. No matter the level of concentration Glave infused within his limbs, he would be unable to simply ignore the sheer stickiness that was presented by the oil seeping through from Veno's body.
Further and further into the mountain Veno went, welcoming each of Glave's attacks through several layers of oil. He had summoned a literal sea in preparation of the admiral's incoming assault, though whether he had managed to do so on his own or if it were simply a lack of control of his part was relatively unknown. Regardless, what was most important was the fact that the near endless pool of oil separating Veno from Glave took the form of a defense; each time the admiral had thought himself to have broken through the oil, more and more oozed out to repair the wall.
"Yer a close range fighter, aren't ye? Grabababa! Yer at an obvious disadvantage in this case!" Veno laughed maniacally as Glave's furious attacks formed a tunnel into the mountain. Flexing his chest forth, Veno generated even more oil from his being, until what appeared to be a black tidal wave gushed out from him and flooded the passageway Glave had created by continuously backing Veno into the mountain.
Veno's motive was simple: to catch Glave in his oil and leave him to be stuck within it. With each punch the admiral managed against the oil that was coming from Veno's body, he would find that his hands and limbs became more and more gooey, to the point where it became increasingly more difficult for him to function as per his ordinary fundamentals. The oil was sticky, yet also very slippery; it would feel heavy upon Glave's body and render the action of curling a fist awkward, for his own fingers would begin to slip against his palm.
"Troublesome...!!!" Glave thought to himself, everything going through his mind. First Veno consumed a fruit he was charged with keeping, leading to a national catastrophe, and now, Erin, the fool, initiated a Buster Call. But, in the end, this would be the best option. And so, what remained for Glave was simple; kill Veno, or keep him on the island until the Buster Call reduces everything to rubble, erasing it from the map.
"How good are your insides?" Glave breathed, roaring as he pushed forward, the weight of the oil doing nothing to heed his colossal body "I will do what the villain does, and rip apart your insides. I will let you see your beating heart." Glave's fangs became pronounced, sporting a grin "Let my revenge be done!" His goal was clear. Glave was at a clear disadvantage, he is a close-ranged combatant, with next to no long-ranged attacks. That is the weakness of someone like him, and this foe, whose very element weighs him down. But, Veno himself had something he couldn't deny.
Paramecia users are still physical beings. And so, Glave will dig his claws as deep into Veno's body as possible, going for the immediate kill. No arrest, no trial, no judge or jury. Only an executioner driven by revenge and a pseudo-justified excuse being the national crisis of a pirate consuming the Seki Seki no Mi. "Soru!" Glave said, pushing himself and Veno deeper into the ground "Soru!" He exclaimed once more, pushing through the oozing oil, and hoping to corner Veno in an artificial, man-made tunnel.
Veno hadn't anticipated for Glave to be able to swim through the oil the way he did. It was a feat that could only be accomplished through years and years of hard work and devotion; that darn "Soru" technique... Veno was surely beginning to despise it if he hadn't already. As Glave swam through and jabbed his claws into his stomach, Veno grimaced in pain. Yet what came out of his mouth was not blood, but rather, more oil.
Being pushed downward, Veno found himself buried in the ground before long, with nothing more than his head being visible above the surface. No matter his struggle, it appeared the Public Enemy could not budge so much as an inch. He was trapped.
And would that not have made for a truly resentful death? To be made powerless to a point of being allowed no breathing room, being forced to lay still and wait until his demise at the hands of the buster call. The siren was ringing louder than ever before, and the various marine vessels could already be spotted in the distance.
The man who had consumed the Seki Seki no Mi just moments before, the man who, as a result, had looked to be such a promising villain, now found himself with the tables turned yet again, so entirely against his favor. He could do nothing more than glare in the direction of the admiral.
"Ye bastard... what do ye get outta pryin' the youth of their freedom? Stickin' yer dick where it don't belong... why don't ye just die and leave this era to the next generation, eh?!".
"I will do so when I see fit!" Glave exclaimed, bearing his fangs like a true beast. The Marine vessels drew closer over the seas, preparing their cannons "The maps will be redone after today, for this island, Karakuri, shall not longer exist. And you...you and I will go down with it. The Battle of Karakuri. Yes. Would they call it that?" Glave dug his claws deeper into Veno's stomach, hearing his grunts of pain "Hm...You don't deserve a fine death however." Glave pulled out his right hand from stabbing Veno, placing it above Veno's head "Should I poke out your eye first? Tear out your tongue? Maybe...maybe scalp your head and expose your skull?" Glave spoke, wondering what sort of torture to inflict on this man when he was in his clutches.
"In years...I've seen how the world functions, even the more...vulgar side. I have experience in this dark buisness." The sound of cannon fire deafened everything, as the mountain standing proud was beginning to be reduced down from the cannon fire. "I'll start...with your blasted heart. Your ribcage is in the way though..." Glave said, raising his arm. He planned on digging his arm through Veno's chest, grab his ribcage and begin to pull it out, breaking the ribs in the process most likely, avoiding the heart, just to prolong the pain.
Gagging as his only response, Veno coated his every being in Busoshoku to prevent the admiral from entering his body as best he could. From the top of his head down all the way to his feet, beyond where the eye could even see at this moment in time, Veno became but a black stallion with a shining emerald mane.
Glave's jab would go on to cause permanent scarring upon Veno's chest, which was an impressive feat nonetheless, considering the fact that Veno had offered his most formidable of defenses in preparation of the attack. But no more. He couldn't allow for this happen. Moreover, he wouldn't allow for this madness to continue.
Nearly choking on his own blood, Veno vomited over the ground, drenching Glave's oily boots with a cherry coating. The pain could be felt by him through his body, but this was nothing to what he had sustained earlier in the day. It was not the pain of the cancer he was alluding to within his mind, but rather, the pain of losing everything he had built up until now. The pain of being made irrelevant, the pain and fear of being branded a loser.
"Nay, I ain't gonna die 'ere to a fuckin' old man!!" Opening his mouth wide, the Public Enemy roared aloud, blitzing past even the ringing of the canon fire. "GRAAHHH!!!!!!!"
An earth rattling quake commenced, turning the entire world around. A massive crater formed in the ground beside Veno, and the enclave that the two of them had built through their battle began to collapse, infused and crumbled by cracks. This was undoubtedly the spirit of a king, so valiant that even the mountain could not hope to withstand its divine prowess.
What would have taken the canon fire several hours was accomplished by Veno in a matter of a few measly seconds; the entire mountain erupted from within, torn apart and shackled by a massive shockwave invoked by Veno's kingly spirit. All of Karakuri rumbled, sending a powerful surge toward the ocean and lifting massive tidal waves that began to fight off the firing ships all on their own accord. Many of them were sunk, placing the effects of the buster call on a dramatic decline. Reinforcements would have to be summoned.
Standing tall in the rubble of the mountain with smoke scattered about and large boulders still falling around him was Veno, poised for another round with the admiral. He was still infused with his Busoshoku armor, ready to tackle on Glave with all his might, even at the expense of the world around them being made into a living hell.
Fire had consumed the better part of Karakuri, bred and born from endless canon fire. Snow was hardly visible now, having melted away from the intense heat. Still was Veno unphased, his only concern being the battle with Glave. A battle which during the very midst of, he had become stronger.
"I've ascended countless times during the midst of our battle," Veno chuckled eerily, "ye got my thanks for that." He curled his right arm into a fist. "But it's time ta end this."
Glave spit on the ground, cancelling his Ooinuza, taking a deep breathe. "Rankyaku!" He exclaimed, kicking the air twice, sending two slashes of air at Veno "Koinuza!" His body shrunk, becoming slender, sacrificing his offense for speed "Soru!" His voice grew fiercer with each consecutive technique, as he vanished in a blitz.
"Hyoso." He said, as many a Glaves appeared surrounding Veno. The increased speed thanks to Koinuza allowing him to move at unspeakable speeds. Glave made sure to keep a fair distance, and using the afterimages to make his true location difficult to pinpoint. The initial double Rankyaku was but a mere distraction, all he wanted was an opening, all he needed was one. Just one, and he would immediately slash open the man's throat, slitting it clean with his claws and letting him choke on his own blood. There was no more time for fooling around.
Even in the face of danger, the citizens of Karakuri did not waver. For, they were in a separate echelon than the rest of the world; they were, by all accounts, the foremost practitioners of science that it bordered on the likes of sorcery. There was no need to panic, as the incredible scientists of the island had long since prepared the island to ward off evil; while it had taken some time in order to appear, in the next ensuing moments, a transparent green barrier in the shape of a dome surrounded the entire island, which not even fire from the ship's greatest of canons could ever hope to penetrate.
However, this left Veno and Glave trapped within, leaving them without the ability to expand beyond its border any longer. As for the inhabitants of the island, they had begun their evacuation long ago; through an unidentified means of teleportation, each and every living being on the island of Karakuri began to transport themselves elsewhere, rendering Karakuri nothing more than a bare mass of land which was, in part thanks to the fire made by the canon balls, barely even covered in snow.
Thrusting his arms in front of his body, Veno quickly shielded himself from Glave's Rankyaku, deflecting them away in the very next moment. This left him susceptible to the admiral's next attack, giving Glave just the opening he had wanted; but if the old man truly believed that he'd be so easily able to kill a pirate as notorious as Veno in such a manner so simple as slitting his throat, then he truly had another thing coming for him. Glave's claws clang against the hard exterior of Veno's Haki infused throat, but they managed little in the way of damage.
With Glave within close proximity of him for the time being, Veno looked to grab the advantage: from his legs, he summoned another ocean of oil, which very swiftly took control of the battlefield by rendering it nothing more than a black sea. It was incredibly sticky, making it very difficult to tread upon, even for a masterful user of the Soru technique. But, because Glave had access to Geppo as well, as per his mastery of Rokushiki, there was still a way for him to avoid being drowned.
His body made black with Haki and squirming ever yet with oil, Veno openly welcomed the flames onto his being, harnessing them to fortify his Fire Fist Kenpo. He literally became a man greased in fire, just like a flaming torch. Punching toward the air, he began to shoot out balls of oil that were coated in fire at Glave, who was likely doing the best he could to stay out of the oil.
By the time the force field rose Erin's ship was already beneath the waves. Using an the same strategy he had used to escape an admiral's rage not long ago Erin now created and air bubble around his ships before piloting it through the depths. The explosions and screams of above were muffled by the silence of the water. Erin didn't know if he made the right choice but it was over. He'd destroyed the lab and by now it was burned to nothing but he hadn't let everything burn. He'd taken a few items from the destroyed scientist's lab and gained a new path. He would leave the marines and pirates behind, forging a path of his own. He hoped for Glave's victory and Veno's defeat but nothing was certain. However a smile lay on his face as he shot through the depths.
"...!" As per the laws of gravity, Glave landed on the ground, his feet drenched in the sticky oil, and the moment he did, he exclaimed "Geppo!" Kicking the air to try and escape, and he did, but was too late, as multiple fireballs struck him, burning him, and due to the oil that was already on him, burnt with greater ferocity. Pushing through however, he kicked the air again, launching himself upward, getting to higher ground "I can keep this up for a bit...so...".
Glave took a deep breathe, as he began unleashing a storm of Rankyaku kicks at Veno, sending the barrage to rain down on him. When the ground is compromised and posed a threat to him, his best option was above the ground. As temporary as he could, he took advantage of it, ready to rip apart Veno to shreds with the rain of blades.
Unable to deflect all of them as he was previously, Veno absorbed much of the damage unto his being, roaring wild upon being struck. Staying on Karakuri as it were was suicide; there were innumerable marine ships located outside the force field that had generated, and even if he did somehow manage to defeat a Marine Admiral in combat, there was a very small chance of him being able to make it out of there alive.
Still, there was absolutely no chance Glave would let him walk out of this. Even if in battle he was starting to lose his advantage, spread across the land and overall situation, the fight was still truly within his favor. And Veno understood that. Erin had really screwed him over.
Looking around the island, Veno thought up an idea. Maybe he could use the force field to his advantage. Maybe, just maybe. He had yet to grasp a better understanding of his Devil Fruit powers, seeing as though he had only consumed it moments ago, but from what he was able to make out, and what he had researched many a month ago, was that this fruit was highly versatile. It was not limited to a single type of oil, nor a single form.
Applying the properties of his fire onto the oil he was generating, Veno began to heat it at a rapid pace, turning the liquid into a thick, black smog that began to spread over the surrounding environment. It contained toxic properties, being highly poisonous to the human body; much like tear gas, it brought great irritation to a person's body, causing them to cry tears of blood until they passed out from its effects.
Dipping his flaming hand into the sea of oil beneath his feet, Veno set the entire battlefield ablaze, generating more and more of the smog at a quicker pace.
As the smog began to spread, Glave prepared himself, and soon the blaze followed "Geppo! Tekkai!" Glave exclaimed, kicking the air with such intensity that he shot like cannon ball, and with Tekkai on his body, he crashed onto the ground with great force, creating a shockwave that spread the smog away from him with the force of the wind. Some of the smog and blaze still got to him as he landed back however, and it began to close back as well "Busoshoku: Koka!" Haki began spreading onto Glave's body, covering his arms first, and leading up to his head and the rest of his body.
Glave's plan was clear. He took a deep breathe, and his Kenbunshoku Haki allowed him to pinpoint Veno. He bent his knees, and fired himself like a bullet "Tossaikaku!" The force of his feet kicking the ground send further shockwaves that spread the smog away further. With a full-body of armoured Haki, Glave intended on striking Veno with greater force than he had up until now. Even if his claws don't tear his stomach open into a glorious shower of gore and viscera, the shockwave would have its own effect and advantages, first and foremost being the damage it could inflict on Veno's insides, as well as the shockwave pushing the smog further away, and maybe even the oil off Veno's body.
The impressively large man was sent toppling backward, his frame crashing into mounds of snow and boulders alike. Blood and bruises covered his battered body, and he simply lay on his back side, exhausted. He lacked the appropriate experience to be of a proper challenge in this fight, that much was clear. Perhaps if he had still been in practice, never having been sidelined due to cancer, then he may have stood more of a chance. But as it were now, it was foolish to stick around and see how it would play out. It was bluntly visible: if he stayed to duke it out, Veno would lose.
His breath heavy, Veno thought back to the earlier phases of the battle. A single escape method came to mind. It carried its fair share of risks, but at this point, Veno didn't really have much to lose. He smashed at the ground relentlessly, until forging a hole big enough to accommodate for his size. Coating the entirety of his body in Haki, and then, overlapping it with another layer of oil, the Public Enemy rolled into the hole, diving into the depths of the ocean that lay directly beneath the island.
Because he was dressed within a jacket of oil, the water of the sea rejected him, but because of the additional weight of his Haki infused body, it was unable to lift him back to the surface as water normally would oil. And so the massive man sank deeper and deeper into the ocean, until he reached the ocean floor. At which point he began to crawl about, trying his best to navigate around.
Glave saw as the man who killed his son and family escaped into the ocean. He stood, with only the sound of cannon fires hitting the force field around the island, the sound of fire, his breathing, and the animals, yet these sounds soon became deaf to his ears, as the only thing he heard was his breathing. "Ah...what a waste of time..." Glave's ship he used to arrive was gone, either the other battleships took it out to make sure no pirate escapes, or someone stole it. Either way, he had no method of escape. So he had but two choices, and fortunately for him, he did not plan to die on an island.
"40 years...? Or was it 50? Hm. I've lost track." Glave said to himself, pondering how long he's been doing this job, putting his hands behind his back, walking through the smog and fires, being unhinged by them, despite what may appear on his body. "I wonder...do you know what it feels like to love? Or be loved?" Glave followed tracks, extending his focus on Kenbunshoku as far as he could "I'm sure you must have. It would be absurd for someone to never experience it, romantic, familial, or otherwise." He stood at a spot, raising his fist above the ground, transforming into a beastman once more.
"I'll leave a scar in your life, even beyond the grave." Using full-body Bushoshoku Haki once more, Glave struck the ground with incredible force, shattering the ground into a giant crater. Using Geppo, he rose up into the sky, reaching the force field, turning around, his head facing the earth beneath him "Hm, what's a good name for this? Ah. I know." As if the world itself reacted to his presence, the ocean waves became harsher, and the clouds spread, revealing the sun clearly, shinning on the island and the battleships surrounding it.
"My final salute..." Glave entire muscle mass expanded, using Life Return, but a more extreme version of Koinuza, putting in much more power into it. "Spear of Justice." Glave kicked the air, putting in all of his strength in his legs' kicking power, the power shattering the force field's top, cracks extending over the entire shield, as his legs erupted into a bloody mess, nearly shattering his bones, the shockwave extending outside the island's radius and causing the tides to rise.
The first strike hit the ground, breaking through the island's floor and into the ocean, yet that didn't slow him down. Infact, the ocean made him go down faster, and with as much strength as he could muster under the sea, his other arm extended forth, an open palm with his claws ready to stab into Veno. He pinpointed Veno's crawling, and predicted his movement. With every ounce of his body's strength, Glave made one final attempt on Veno's life.
Crawling around on the ocean floor without a care in the world, believing himself to have escaped, Veno never knew what hit him. His body was crushed through several layers of the ground, and his eyes rolled back, almost losing consciousness. Never had he ever experienced such excruciating pain ever before.
His cries were deafened under the waters, and Veno himself had no real idea as to what had happened until he turned to look behind him. It was at that point his eyes widened, and he saw his own right arm floating in the water beside him, detached and severed from his shoulder. His Haki penetrated, it was made weaker than before, returning Veno to his usual weight. And then a struggle ensued, with Veno recalling it time and time again to remain as deep under water as he possibly could. But to no avail, as he had simply had it.
His golden eyes focused on the Marine Admiral floating around in the ocean near him, cursing him with all his might. It looked as though the two of them would die there together, plunging deeper and deeper into Davy Jones' locker.
Glave stared at Veno, his body began to fail him, his legs bleeding profousely from tearing themselves apart. He saw the man who turned him into a vengeful wolf glaring at him, more than likely cursing him in his mind. The waters around them became foul with blood and oil, mixing together "Ah...the sea is so quiet..." Glave thought to himself. His arm sunk deep into the seafloor, not that it mattered, being a Devil Fruit user made his sinking inevitable, yet around him, was what could be described as a hole, caused by his strike. On the outside, however, the impact caused something akin to a disaster.
The sea rumbled viciously, a large tidal wave almost sinking several battleships, washing over them and taking some unfortunate lacky marines with them into the ocean, some having the misfortune of being consumers of Devil Fruits as well, sinking right to the bottom. The so-called "Spear of Justice", in its attempt to kill the life of a single pirate, took the lives of several marines who were at the wrong place at the wrong time, all while Glave himself was blissfully unaware, ignorant even of Veno's fate.
For how can a dead man know what's going on in the world of the living?
At the surface, the world around Karakuri was in utter mayhem. Marines were tossed aboard at the wake of the storm, with whole ships being lost to the effects of battle. Ironically, in his final hour, Glave may have achieved more harm than good; the number of casualties suffered were staggering, an unprecedented statistic for the Navy considering this had amounted to a Buster Call.
In a battle that should have greatly favored them, the Marines found themselves incredibly devastated. For, the second the calm had seemingly arrived after the storm, another horrid event transpired: a Sea King fought its way through the string of ships that still remained. Its blue scales were forever etched into the minds of the marines as it tore through their defenses.
At first, they were at a loss for words, confused beyond belief as to why it had appeared despite their ships having been technologically advanced to repel its kind; but when they saw the emerald mane of a certain conqueror riding above the head of the Sea King, all the Marines could do was shake their heads in disbelief.
The Slender Slayer Fish, as it would go on to be known, had been conquered by Veno during his endeavors at the foot of the ocean. He had emerged, through some unfathomable method, the clear victor in the legendary battle. And it was he who led the Sea King to rampage through the surrounding waters of Karakuri, until there was not a single ship left in sight.
"The old man has died!" he proudly exclaimed, cheering his feat openly, despite having little to do with the passing of the Admiral. How could he have been so lucky? It should have been he who had died!
"Grabababababa! Fear me, world! Fear me!" The Slender Slayer Fish made off into the horizon, leaving the waters surrounding Karakuri littered with the wood of shattered ships and the corpses of loyal Navy soldiers. Oddly enough, Karakuri was still intact, at least, when taking into consideration that it had been the subject of a Buster Call. It was still very much afloat, and still very much "on the map". Sure, it was polluted with seas of oil and a jungle of fire, making the once profound snow island hardly recognizable, but for the sake of still being an island, well, it was most certainly still in one piece.
The Buster Call operation had ended in a failure. Stepping foot onto the island once more, thanks to Glave having destroyed the force field, Veno searched the deserted island to his content, taking with him whatever it was his heart so desired. He had come. He had saw. He had conquered.
Without a ship with which to escape, Veno used the Sea King for a means of transportation. It was time to return to Nassau, it was time to put the rest of the world on notice.
The Oracle Edit
Over the barren lands of Karakuri, snow has become a commodity. In memory of a legendary battle, an abnormally tall man adorned within white --and only white-- stood with his hands draped into his trouser pockets, his goggled eyes fixated upon the horizon. A steady breeze blew his way, and like the front doors of a mansion, his jacket welcomed it, opening wide and fluttering with the sound of the wind. Simply put, he was not pleased. Oh no. Quite the opposite.
It took staggering will power to retain composure. Under ordinary circumstances, Merchant was very detached from all of his assignments; but this one in particular was more akin to a personal vendetta. That is, because it involved him: the infamous and now notorious Public Enemy.
The history that befell the two men was much too rich. But even so, the Maverick couldn't help but place the blame upon the shoulders of a single man. "This is all your fault, Ralph," he mumbled under his breath, "it boggles my mind to think a buffoon such as yourself sits in the kind of position that you do, meep! Actions are not without consequences; do you see now what you have done?"
A sudden change in the brightness outside became noticeable, as if the sun had come out from behind the clouds. Merchant knew the cause was not natural without needing to investigate.
"I see you've found it on your own without any trouble," came a voice that sounded too cheery considering the scene around them. A man then peeked his head out from behind the tall man, maybe trying to determine what it is that he was looking at before giving up. This other man was not particularly tall himself, but he looked a child as he stepped out from behind Merchant to stand beside him. Wearing a white outfit that closely matched his compatriot and a plain white mask with two small eye holes and a thin red smile. "I've looked around, and it would appear that Public Enemy may have eaten the Devil Fruit that old mutt was carrying. There are pools of oil all over." As he spoke, he made exaggerated hand motions. Everything about the North Star was a front. You could almost feel the fake smile that was no doubt plastered on his face while he spoke, despite the mask covering any evidence. "There is also an unusual lack of bodies littering the grounds..." sounding genuinely confused for a brief moment, before putting his facade back up, "but this place here seems to be the spot of Glave-Sama's final attack. Based on the destroyed Marine ships in the water, I'd say that the Public Enemy probably survived. On the other hand, since we haven't heard from Glave-Sama, down there might be the best place to find him. Mind reaching in and seeing what you can find?"
To the average person, Hoshi's behavior would have undoubtedly seemed psychotic, and that was at the very least. But having worked alongside the man for the last few years, Merchant had grown accustomed to it. "If what you say is true and he has truly consumed such a formidable fruit, then we must report such findings immediately. The true power of the Seki Seki no Mi is not within how it may be employed within battle, meep, but rather, the fact that it may very well place the economy within the Public Enemy's hands."
That Veno. How could he have accomplished the impossible like so? Merchant knew the emerald haired phenom all too well; in fact, he was the very man to have captured Veno even before the latter had become a pirate. After that, things only got worse. And in Merchant's eyes, Veno only became luckier.
At Hoshi's request, Merchant opened his hand and aimed it toward the crater in the ground. A plant protruding spikes and the like across the entirety of its length shot out from Merchant's palm, poking through the opening created by Glave's final attack en route to snaking around the dark waters beneath Karakuri Island. Merchant could not only sense life through his plants, but furthermore, differentiate the forces by their exact species; so when he found that locating Glave was taking far longer than it should have, the Maverick was quite surprised.
There were many circumstances that had alluded to the Admiral's death even before Merchant managed to reel in his corpse. At which point the damage upon the dead body was made evident to he and Hoshi both; the injuries he had sustained were grievous. It was somehow a good thing that Veno had already killed all of Glave's relatives, because as he was now, there was no way even they would have been able to identify him.
"He's dead," Merchant confirmed, as if sensing the latter's lack of Haki wasn't enough on its own, "as a matter of fact, he's been dead, meep." He detached the vine from his hand and coiled it around the late Admiral. "It would seem this is also the Public Enemy's doing. But we must ensure that word of his victory does not spread beyond our intelligence gathering department. Learning of such an event would undoubtedly place the world into chaos. The last thing we need at the moment is for the people to lose their faith in our services. They must never doubt our power, meep."
"Yes, I suppose that is true. Justice must prevail," stated Hoshi, snickering behind his mask as he said it. "Then I shall send word to that Bishop kid, if you would excuse me." The North Star stepped away and grabbed a fellow agent, whose main job here was to carry around a cumbersome, proper Den Den Mushi that can make calls to other islands, with a White Den Den Mushi attached to keep the message from being intercepted. Hoshi called their sleeper agent, waiting for it to be picked up. "It is time. Begin the operation." That was all he said, before hanging up. Not even bothering to wait for a response. Hoshi then smiled a genuine smile to himself beneath his mask as he walked back to his ship, subconsciously ceasing his sunlight from shining, making it suddenly seem like a much darker world. Things were about to get fun.