by Kaline Reine
Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece or any of the characters/settings. This is just a fanfiction story. I do own Shiori, she is my character. I also own a few other original characters in this story (not affiliated with One Piece), which will be introduced as they are needed.
WARNINGS: This story contains (or may contain) graphic adult content and language, explicit sex scenes, possible violence, gore, cursing, adult themes, etc. I do not censor my writing, but I do my best to warn people about the subject matter and potential subject matter. So if you don't like that kind of thing or can't handle it, then I suggest not reading this story. You have been warned. Also, I know this doesn't follow canon but it doesn't have to, that's why it's a fanfic. xD
Also... The beautiful cover image for this story is by my friend, EzariaUmiko on DeviantArt. All credit for the image goes to her. c:
Chapter 50: Seawater And Sweat
She watched as the Spade Pirates dispersed into the crowd, many of them watching the girls on stage excitedly. Others were already trying to pick out dancers for private dances. Ace just looked straight ahead. He went to sit in a black leather padded chair that looked rather comfortable. There were many of them littered around the room and some couches too.
Shiori's stomach knotted up when a girl with blonde hair tied into a loose a ponytail sauntered over to him right away. She was sort of plain looking, but she had a sleek hourglass figure that was to die for. When she smiled at him, dimples became apparent on her cheeks. She was wearing what looked like a yellow striped bikini, the back of which showed off plenty of her... Other cheeks.
"Ooh, are you a cowboy?" The blonde giggled at him joyfully, although it was pretty obvious that she was partially phoning it in. She tapped his bright orange hat, tilting it to one side on his head. It was definitely eye-catching.
"Nope," He shook his head, a devilish grin splaying out across his features while he straightened his hat. "Pirate, actually."
"Are you for real? Pirates are way cool! Hahahaha! I see you're a VIP. Is there anything I can do for you, sailor?"
"Actually yeah..." He didn't seem to notice the way Shiori held her breath as they both awaited his answer. She was definitely close enough to overhear everything. "Could you be a doll and get me a drink from the bar? Maybe some nice champagne if you got it? I'm here to party tonight."
The girl actually looked somewhat disappointed, but she bowed lightly to him and turned away in a huff to comply with his request. She returned a moment later, with two drinks in hand. At first, Shiori naively thought that maybe she'd seen her with him and gotten her one as well. That would have been nice.
"Here are your drinks, cute pirate cowboy guy~!" She handed him one and downed nearly half of the other in one go before staring him down.
Oh no. She thought he was cute.
"I only asked for one. Thanks though."
"Sorry, I could really use one too and I thought since you have a wristband-"
"You assumed I wouldn't mind? And you couldn't have offered one to my friend here?" He gestured to Shiori, his first indication that he knew the albino girl was even there. "Well? Get going."
The Valkyrie had taken notice of the fact that he'd only referred to her as his 'friend' and nothing more... But it was still a sweet gesture, and that part didn't go unnoticed. They were supposed to be somewhat undercover anyway.
She held up one hand dismissively, blushing. "Oh th-thank you... I'm fine though, really." What was he playing at anyway? She had her own wristband, she could have easily gotten her own. And if he was trying to stick to the plan, she didn't want to hinder his progress.
At the moment, she was still somewhat soaked from her magical journey through filthy seawater on the way down here. All she wanted was a chance to dry off and maybe get into another change of clothes. Unfortunately, that didn't seem to be an option, given their current circumstances.
She looked around to see what the rest of their crew were up to... Zetsui, the rockfish man, was currently getting a lap dance from a pretty blonde white tiger shark girl with a strip of pink running through her hair. She had a similar body type as Artemis, and a cute face too. It was easy to see why he'd chosen her. If you can't have what you want, sometimes the next best thing is better, if it's within reach.
Shockingly, Rex was chatting up one of the male strippers. He was probably just trying to befriend him to get information about Lena's sister. It reminded her of why they were here in the first place... Until she saw the cook placing a single Beri into the guy's G-string when he turned around.
"She your pregnant girlfriend or something?" The stripper spat nastily, pointing at her stomach, where Vanora was hiding, making her sweater stick out in the front. "Or is she just fat? If she's pregnant, she really shouldn't be drinking at all. So that only leaves one option."
"Wow. Get lost." Ace told her right away.
But it seems she wasn't done yet. "Oh no, that's fine... I'll get one for you as well. But just so you know, guys don't like fat girls, honey. That's why he pays us for attention and not you." The blonde girl laughed snidely.
Shiori had no idea what to do. She just kind of stood there awkwardly, wishing that she were almost anywhere else. She wanted to tell her off but she knew they weren't supposed to make a scene. It did bother her that Ace was chatting this random girl up. Was he doing it just to get a rise out of her?
The blonde hesitated for a moment on her way back to the bar, and turned back toward her newest potential patron. "When I get back, maybe we'll go into the VIP room for a special lap dance, ne?" She then proceeded to down her drink in one long gulp.
"I don't think so," Ace remarked dryly, leaning back in his chair like he was totally bored. "You don't suit my taste." He yawned, further driving the point home.
"Hmph! Well fine then, the fat whale can get her own drink then!" She wandered off, mixing back in with the crowd, seemingly unaware that she'd said 'then' twice in the same sentence. She was probably too angry to notice or care.
Shiori was glad she was gone, but the encounter still didn't sit right with her. She knew she was anything but fat. If only that girl knew it was because she'd smuggled an adorable kitten in with her... A stranger's opinion didn't matter, especially when said stranger was a stripper at an underwater strip club where gross fishmen probably felt her up on a daily basis. She had won that fight without even really trying. But they had a job to do here, and she didn't want to get too caught up in anything. If her presence was going to throw off their plan, then she couldn't linger around Ace right now. Besides, it wasn't like she was going to just stand there and watch while he got a lap dance anyway. O'Hara had already practically done that back on board the Eyphah Maura, and it pissed her off to think about it. Reminders weren't fun.
"Thank you for sticking up for me," She told him, her iridescent hair falling into her face shyly. "But you really didn't have to. I feel like I'm scaring away our potential information sources here."
"Eh it's whatever, she was a cunt anyway!" Leave it to Ace to be so blunt. "Why not just roll with it? I don't mind having you around. You might even have some fun while we're here if you aren't careful." He winked, bringing a fresh blush to the meek girl's face.
"Don't worry about me. Just stick to the plan and do what Artemis-chan said, okay?" She was determined not to screw up this time.
Without even waiting for his reply, she walked up to the stage and watched some of the higher ranking strippers perform. One of them flashed a pretty smile at her. It made her wonder if she was nicer than the last girl she'd spoken with. Knowing she could easily pull any of them aside to go do dirty things whenever she wanted was kind of nice. Not because she wanted to do things like that, but because she had power over them. As a VIP, she could order any of these women to go into the back with her, and maybe even interrogate them or something. But she couldn't bring herself to be that bold and she knew it.
Watching them dance was actually pretty nice, although she didn't view them in a sexual way like most of the guys did, she was able to admire the beauty in what they did. Some of the dancers were quite beautiful and so were their dances. There was no rule stating that she couldn't admire them for different reasons, so she did exactly that. She could easily get lost in the rhythm of their swaying bodies and gyrating hips.
After being lost in the crowd for a few minutes, she was feeling a little more brave. Maybe she should tip one of them? She hadn't brought any money with her though...
Suddenly, two hands snaked up from behind her to grab her breasts. Shiori let out a pitiful little squeak. She tried to turn around to see who it was, surprised at the random action. It had come out of nowhere and it quite startled her. No one who knew her would have dared to be brave enough to do a thing like that.
"Ace-kun?" She asked, when the hands moved up from her breasts, boldly tweaking her nipples on their way past, before coming up to her face to caress her cheeks, and finally covering her eyes.
"Nope," To her shock, the voice was feminine. "Guess again."
'Wait, I know that voice!'
"Shhh... We don't want anyone to overhear you, now do we?" Her hips pressed Shiori's legs against the stage, bending her top half over it like a lover might. Brown and pink ringlets fell onto the back of her head, hanging down from either side, indicating exactly who it was. "I've got some important information for you..."
"Why are you here? D-do you work here?" The helpless albino girl wanted to fight back, but she hadn't even managed to completely get her land legs back yet, and she was too stunned to do much of anything. And she supposed her friend's actions did help to cover up their conversation quite well. It was all she could do just to put her hands down on the polished wooden stage in front of her to keep the kitten hidden in her sweater from being squished.
"Hmmm, sort of... I'm undercover, just like you."
"How do you know about that?" Pink eyes widened in alarm.
"I know lots of things. And it's time you did too. Anyway..." The last word was whispered breathily into Shiori's ear. The rest of what she said also came in a quiet whisper. "You know... Alvida is working for the World Government. And they not only allow but fully condone her operating aslave ship. She's been making alliances right and left these days. Doesn't that just tick you off?"
She thrust her hips forward against Shiori's rear lewdly, just as she said the word 'tick'. She knew how to drive the point home.
"Well yes, but I don't see-"
"No. You don't. Not yet... But you will."
"What is that supposed to mean?" She tried to turn around to look at her the other girl who was getting way too fresh with her, but Nischela grabbed a fistful of her hair, using it to direct her gaze forward. She leaned in close again.
"I have to go before I blow my cover. We'll be in... touch." A hand squeezed her boob one last time and then petted Vanora playfully before the weight was lifted off of her.
Once the weight was off of her, Shiori whipped around so fast that it made her head spin... But her assailant was gone. Just like that, she'd disappeared. Had she gone into the crowd? There still shouldn't have been time for her to vanish so quickly. She should still be close by. The Valkyrie wanted to chase her, but she couldn't figure out which direction Nischela had even gone. By the time she turned around, she simply wasn't there. It was like she was a ghost.
The whole thing had completely freaked her out. 'I have to get out of here... Now!'
The unpleasant reminder of her past as a slave was not something that she wanted to deal with in the present. Especially not in a place like this. It was cruel to expect her not to be curious about Alvida's fate though. She needed more information.
"Umm... E-excuse me, but..." She tried talking to a stripper who was currently serving drinks on a tray, only to be ignored. She kept trying to talk to people but was repeatedly ignored and she wasn't sure how she should go about getting anyone's attention.
"You look distressed," One of the bouncers finally came to her aide. He looked almost identical to the other two barracuda fishmen that she'd seen, only he sported long dark gray hair. She'd spotted him earlier, standing against the wall with his arms crossed and a machine gun strapped to his back just like the rest. "Can I help you, miss?"
"Did you see a stripper with pink and brown hair go through here? She had metal framed glasses and gray-blue eyes? She would have walked right past you."
"No. Sorry, but I didn't see anyone like that, and I definitely would've noticed. Why? Is she bothering you?"
"Uhhh... No! N-not at all! Nevermind, I just... Forget it okay? Thank you very much for your help anyway." She bowed politely before walking briskly away.
She'd tried to keep an eye on the rest of her crew mates too... She didn't want to lose track of anyone. Even if she couldn't help in any other way, at least she could make sure that everything went okay with the plan and no one got in trouble. Most of her Nakama were very busy, however. Even Lena, who was getting a dance lesson from one of the strippers. That wasn't good.
She spotted Artemis, already grinding against one of the poles lewdly. Customers were throwing Beri at her, both coins and bills. She did not appear to be in a hurry to pick any of it up. She had to work that part into her dance somehow to make every movement appear natural as she scraped up every last bill and coin that were tossed her way. Shiori could only admire her work in silent awe from a distance, but it was very clear that she knew exactly what she was doing.
When her eyes locked with Shiori's own, she suddenly jumped down onto the floor. She danced her way over to her, only pausing long enough for various men- and the occasional woman- to stuff Beri into the straps in her fluffy bikini as she passed them. Humans, fishmen, it didn't matter who paid her as long as someone did.
"Hey," The beautiful shark girl called to her. "You look fucking pissed! Did something happen? Whose ass do I need to kick?"
"Oh, no one's... I mean, there was this one girl, but I guess the trash took itself out." She almost giggled, but had to stop herself. This was serious.
"Yeah, I told you the girls here can be kind of mean sometimes..."
"That's not the problem. I ran into an old friend but then she disappeared on me. I was trying to find her, but I'm really tired and I'm going to grab a drink."
"Sounds good. Mind if I have one with you?"
Shiori smiled then. It was nice having a friend with her who wasn't shady and wouldn't just disappear on her suddenly. "Sure, I'd like that."
The two made their way over to the bar and ordered two martinis. They didn't have to pay. A simple flash of their neon wristbands was enough. After she'd finished her first drink, the albino immediately ordered another one. Once that was down, she felt a little more like talking.
"Are you sure this plan is going to work?" She asked suddenly.
Artemis laughed lazily. "Of course it's going to. I've got you guys on my side. Nothing can go wrong now. Even if it does, I'm sure we'll adapt or some shit..." She knocked back another drink and signaled to the bartender for her third one.
"Is it okay for you to be drinking like this at work?"
"Of course. Haven't you ever been to a strip club before? The more fun it looks like you're having, the better the tips usually are."
"Actually I haven't. And I'm..." Screw it. They were friends, after all. And the alcohol was surging through her system now, rendering any efforts to hold back useless. "I'm actually really uncomfortable being here. I'm not like these girls. I have nothing to offer."
"Judging from our Captain's point of view, you've got plenty..." Artemis chuckled, now toying with the olive in her drink and not really drinking it. "Don't look, but he's staring you down right now. But you do look like you could use a shower and a good change of clothes."
Initially, Shiori almost wanted to get offended, but... It was true. She reeked of seawater and sweat. Her hair was a mess too, having been coated with the salty spray from the ocean, before only having a chance to halfway dry. Her clothes were in the same shape. She had never felt more awkward standing next to such beautiful confident women. She wasn't even wearing any makeup, aside from the bit of black mascara that she always wore to cover up her strange white eyelashes.
"You're right. It's not like I had any choice though."
"Why don't you come with me to my room and I can let you borrow a change of clothes?" There it was. The shark-like grin that she was famous for. "If you're really tired, I can show you where the VIP bedrooms are. They're much nicer than where the strippers get to stay."
"That's horrible!" Shiori hated the way they were treated here.
"Ehh, I dunno... It gives us more incentive to give some of the more persistent patrons what they really want, if you catch my drift. Some of us don't live here and just come in for our shifts, but they keep accommodations just in case we have nowhere else to go. It is a long way down here, after all. It's a pain in the ass."
"Oh my..." Her face was rapidly reddening yet again. "Well, you can always stay in my room if you-"
"Oh no, I couldn't!" Artemis shook her hair, her flawless cotton candy locks swaying with the motion. "You have a... Another guest you'll be bunking with. I'm sure you can guess who."
"What?! Not Ace again..."
"Oh yes. He requested a favor from me before we entered the whirlpool, and I changed some things around on the books while Zephyr wasn't looking. Now you'll have all the privacy in the world to talk things out."
"WHAT?! I, I'm not- I mean, I can't! I'm not ready." She just knew her face was bright red. Again.
"Oh, sure you can! It's not like anyone will even be paying attention. No one cares. You'll be fine. He's your Nakama, riiiiiiiiight?" It was clear from her voice that she was teasing the other girl. "For now just come with me. I promise you'll feel better once we're done, okay?"
"Alright. I guess."
'Ohhhh what did I just get myself roped into?'
'Well,' Vanora replied, always ready to be a smartass. 'You should go with her. You will need a new outfit for tonight, if I understand this correctly.'
'Kyaaaahhhh shut up!'
The two girls were giggling drunkenly by the time they made it to Artemis' bedroom. Her living quarters were ridiculously small even when compared to the brig where she'd been staying on board their ship. There were lots of rooms with only paper-thin shoji screen walls separating them.
"So you share this room with someone? I'm assuming, since there are two beds."
"Yep," The shark girl grinned, almost proud. "Remember Zephyr from the front desk? She's my bunk mate too."
"That explains a lot..."
"Whatever. Let's find something for you to wear... I'm sure I have a few things that might fit you, but you'll have to try them on first." She'd already started digging through piles of clothes looking.
Shiori yelped when something came out from under the wooden bunk bed. Something alive? It was pretty big and had dark pink eyes, much brighter and more sinister than her own. Light blue fur in several different tones covered a creature that she was convinced had to have come straight out of a horror book! It looked as if it had a permanent grin etched onto it's face. Two large nostrils flared from the creature's snout and a long pink spade tongue came out. Little painted claws on four large paws clacked along the floor while a shark-like tail swished back and forth.
"Eeeeee?! What is that thing?!"
"Oh, that's just Hexal... He's my pet and he likes to play fetch. Zephyr was keeping an eye on him for me but I was planning to come back for him one day. Don't be so loud, alright? The walls are paper thin and no one else is supposed to know he's here. They're usually too drunk to notice, but we don't need to call attention to it. Patrons are allowed to bring in pets but not employees."
"What the hell is he?!" She pointed at the creature until it opened it's mouth and attempted to chomp down onto her finger. She'd managed to pull it away just in time. "And those teeth! That can't be normal!"
"It's normal for him," Artemis chuckled, shaking her head as she pulled up a lacy black thong and bra ensemble that was extremely revealing. "He's actually one of the reasons I decided I had to come back to this fucking dump. I couldn't leave him here forever. You should've seen him when he first realized I was back. He loves me so much."
The animal... Beast... Thing growled at her. Lovingly?
"Sure, okay, y-yeah..."
"When I escaped from the Celestial Dragons, I had to bring him with me. Hexal is a wolfshark... The result of feeding a Samé Samé no Mi to a wolf. It's a shark Devil Fruit but it was a precursor to something else that was being developed, I think. Some type of SMILE Fruit?"
"I'm not sure what that is, but I'll take your word for it. So this thing is a Devil Fruit user?"
"Yep, so you have something in common." She beamed happily, oblivious to how terrifying her 'pet' would have looked to anyone else. "You'll get used to him, don't worry."
Shiori began to look at the animal in an entirely different light. She had heard of people sometimes feeding Devil Fruits to animals or even to weapons or inanimate objects somehow, but she had no clue how it even worked, and she'd never seen the end result. Never in her life had she witnessed something so bizarre... And she'd seen a lot of strange things, so that was saying something.
"How is this?" Artemis tossed a tiny outfit to Shiori, who just looked at it.
The oddly blue creature just stood there, staring down the newcomer but not really doing much. Then he plopped his butt down. His shark-like tail started wagging just like a dog.
"I'll pass." She answered her friend about the outfit distractedly.
Vanora seemed to tense up the moment the wolfshark or sharkwolf or whatever it was came closer. She sniffed the air once, twice... Then she bolted out of the pocket that had been her hiding place for the past few hours. An angry ball of white fluff came out, all puffed up with her fur standing on end as Shiori held her in her arms.
'No dogs! Stay away!' She hissed at him. Hexal didn't make a sound, he just sat there looking at her. Then he leaned in to give her a sniff. Vanora climbed up to the Valkyrie's shoulder, doing whatever she could to get away from 'Gah! Leave me alone you drooling murder machine!'
'Just behave, please? I promise I won't let him get you.' Shiori couldn't resist the urge to be a little mean though... After all, Vanora had been teasing her about Ace for days. 'And he's not a dog, he's a wolfshark.'
'GAAAHHHH NOOOO!' The kitten shook in terror, trying to hide herself in Shiori's hair.
'What's the matter? It's just a wolfshark.'
"She'll be fine once she realizes he's harmless." Artemis mumbled, while she was busy digging through the hundreds of outfits that were strewn across the room. Trying to find a single one that matched was the hard part.
"Say, Artemis-chan... I've been meaning to ask you... Are the bouncers here really as dangerous as they seem? Their guns make me nervous."
"They're probably even fucking worse than you're thinking," The shark girl admitted. "You should avoid them as much as possible and try not to give them too much information about anything. They have direct links to the boss."
"Oh..." She would just have to avoid any further mentions of Nischela and hope that one fishman forgot about the incident before blabbing about it to his boss. "I wish I had my sword with me. Are we allowed to go back outside once we're in this place or-"
"No. If you go outside, it will render your VIP wristband null and void. And I'm afraid I don't have any more. So you'd be stuck."
"That sucks. I meant to grab it before anything went down, but... I left it in the back of the ship's infirmary."
"Hexal could get it for you."
"Mhmm... I told you, he likes to play fetch. It's perfect because he's small enough to sneak out past the guards and Zephyr knows him, so she'll let him back in." Artemis petted him for a minute before giving him simple instructions. "Hexal! Go fetch Shiori's sword and bring it back here. Go to the big ship outside and get it from the doctor room. Got that?"
He made a noise halfway between a bark and a growl before darting off. It sounded like a rolling trill. Then the strange creature was out of the room in a flash, his claws clacking across the floor as he ran. Shiori still had her doubts about whether or not it would actually work, but it couldn't hurt to try... And she had much bigger problems to worry about.
"Do you m-mind if I get cleaned up a bit? I feel like I need a shower but that can wait if I can just rinse some of the salt out of my hair and maybe wash up a little."
"Not at all," Artemis pointed to the door. "There's a bathroom that we all share, a door at the very end of the hall, you can't fucking miss it."
"Thanks!" She chirped happily, depositing Vanora onto the bed before leaving.
'Don't worry, I'll be back before he comes back.'
'Easier said than done.' Although she didn't like it, the small cat curled up in the corner of Artemis' bed, trying to make herself as small and unnoticeable as possible. 'Hurry back!'
Several minutes later, Shiori returned looking refreshed. She'd found a clean dry towel by the sink and some soap. Her hair was now neatly brushed and she'd touched up her makeup as well. That was all she needed to make herself look at least somewhat presentable. It would definitely help her feel more confident.
"Okay, how about this one?" This time it was a fairly simple bikini type deal, similar to what most of the strippers had been wearing. She had a few other things lined up by the time her friend had returned, so it wasn't the only option.
"No way! That's way too d-dirty..."
"This one?" Artemis held up an equally skimpy maid outfit. "There has to be something here that you fucking like! At least try it on?"
"F-fine, let me see it." No one moved or even averted their eyes. "Aren't you going to turn around or something?"
"You don't have anything I haven't seen before, don't worry. And I want to see how it fits. Hurry up. I need to get back to dancing soon."
Shiori muttered, as she got undressed and attempted to change into the ridiculous clothing. It was black and white, and would have obviously looked fabulous on Artemis, but it hung off of her hips and chest in awkward places. It did nothing to flatter her figure. In fact, it had the opposite effect. It reminded her of when she'd tried on some of the older Nuns' habits when she was a kid.
"Ridiculous. This is way too big for me..."
"Heeee... That's what she said!" The two both had to laugh about that for a minute before they could continue. "But yeah, we need something smaller. Most of my clothes are going to fit you like that, I think. I have a few things stashed away that were too small for me. What about a sweater? Those seem to be your style."
"Oh yes! That sounds wonderful!" Her rose pink eyes lit up with hope for a moment.
"Great, because I'm all out of patience. Enjoy."
Artemis handed her a sweater that was... Barely a scrap of cloth, really. It was beyond tiny and looked like it wouldn't even cover up everything that most basic clothing did. At least the color suited her though, it was a very light gray, almost white.
"Wh-what?! I can't wear this!"
"Sure you fucking can. We're running out of time, so you're out of options. I don't think I have anything else that'll fit you. It's this or put back on what you were wearing before. Your call."
"Ugh, fine..." She made an attempt to squeeze into the intimidatingly scanty outfit. "Don't you have to tie it or... Or something?"
Artemis tied some strings into a bow behind the back of her neck, before standing back to admire her work. "Hey, not fucking bad! Let me get you some cute stockings to go with that... Zephyr won't mind."
"Umm, where are the sleeves?"
A toothy grin spread lazily across the shark girl's face. "There aren't any."
Shiori could feel the heat spread across her cheeks. "How am I even going to do this? I can't face him like this..."
"Oooh, so now there's a 'him'!" Her friend giggled in a conspiratorial way. "Which 'him' did you have in mind? Obviously there's someone special that just popped into your head. Who would that be, I wonder?"
"Sh-shut up!" The albino girl wanted to pelt her with a pillow or something, but she didn't want to deal with the resulting backlash of having her own hair and outfit messed up in retaliation. She just thought about it, eyeing the single lone pillow on her friend's bed thoughtfully.
The sound of something sharp clicking across the floor right behind her startled her, causing Shiori to jump. Hexal had returned and he was dragging Arashikari in his mouth. The sword dangled haphazardly from his mouth, until he dropped it at her feet. The very moment that Shiori touched the hilt, she could already feel the anger rippling off of it in waves. Arashi was not happy.
The fanged lioness growled, full of ferocity. 'How could you allow me to be dragged around by that... That filthy mongrel?!' She could see her telling in her mind's eye.
'Sorry,' Shiori directed her thoughts back at her sincerely. 'But the only way we could get you in here was if Hexal fetched you.'
'Hmm... Alright then.' Although her tone was still rather snippy, she seemed to accept the girl's reasoning. 'But do not forget me again.'
'I won't. I am very sorry. Gomenasai, Arashi-sama...'
'At least we're together. I should be close by your side, in case anything happens.'
She hated to admit fault so readily, but it was the truth... Shiori really had forgotten her sword. The sword that she had come all this way for, even dragging other people into a battle that probably should have been hers alone. Yet, there was a reason she hadn't remembered to grab her treasured sword before leaving the ship. She had been increasingly distracted lately.
Every time she thought about Ace, it was like everything else ceased to even exist. Sometimes he ticked her off to no end. And now here she was dressing up for him. But hey, apparently that was what he liked, wasn't it? They were here and he had already been awfully chatty with one of the strippers. She had to find some way to outshine all of them. There were some really pretty girls here, so that definitely wouldn't be easy.
"You'll never be able to hide such a big sword in that outfit," Artemis lifted up the edge of her mattress. "The VIP rooms won't be ready just yet. Want to hide it in here for now?"
The offer was tempting. Their navigator was probably the only person she could trust in this place, aside from the rest of their crew. She hated herself for doing it, but she placed her sword under the mattress as carefully as she could.
With a sigh, she directed her thoughts to the lioness spirit once more. 'I will need you to stay here, hidden, for just a little while though. I'll come back for you.'
This was met with only a growl, echoing through her subconscious mind. Great.
"Here we go, put these on and that outfit will really shine..." Artemis handed her a pair of sheer white thigh-high stockings with frilly lace accenting each leg.
"You're a great friend." She blurted, out of nowhere.
"Thanks, you're alright yourself." Artemis patted her on the top of her head, leaning over her shoulder as they both looked at her reflection in the mirror. "Hmm... Not too damn bad. Oh, and take these!"
She handed Shiori a pair of high heels. They were white but had an iridescent shine to them. It suited her well. When she slipped her feet into them, they fit almost perfectly.
Hexal had taken to pawing at Vanora's tail as she swished it in annoyance. A low growl could be heard from the lower bunk. Shiori took that as her cue to scoop the kitten up before things could escalate.
"Even though I'm still nervous, I guess I should get going," The albino girl took one last look in the mirror before heading for the door. "Thank you for everything!"
"Oh it's no problem. That one will dazzle him for sure... It's almost time for the big reveal, hehehe..." She giggled, sweeping her long strawberry locks to one side before adjusting her boobs in the mirror too. "I need to get back to work myself. Have fun!"
A/N: I know I keep saying I'm going to update this more often, but then things keep happening and getting in the way. I know I say that every time but ths time it was really bad. My computer got broken, thanks to my cats knocking it into the floor and smashing it, so I thought I'd lost all of the plans for this story and the progress that I'd made with this chapter... Luckily I was able to recover everything. My apologies for any errors, as this chapter was written and edited almost entirely on my phone. Funnnnn... I am determined though. And don't worry, I've replaced my computer already. I'll do my best to work on this more.
This wasn't quite as spectacular as I'd hoped the 50th chapter would be... I hope it's fitting anyway. I can't spoil too much but the plot is about to get crazy soon. Things are about to get very fun. Huge thanks to everyone for sticking with this fic for so long. My readers are the best. :3