Cross-Brain AN: Ladies and gentlemen, as we have stated several times in the past, we of the Cross-Brain have busy schedules. As a result of that, we find ourselves unable to put down certain events in the story in favor of progressing the plot line. So…we decided to ask for help from some of our most talented fans, whose works you may have seen in our Omake Collection posted under Superego's profile.
The following two stories are the result of the selfless dedication of user TheRealEvanSG. Consider these less like omakes, and more like mini-arcs; they are 100% canon. We hope you enjoy, and we are extremely grateful to Evan for bringing them to life.
Omake: The Battle of Kinpaku Island
Some two months ago, had Lieutenant Tashigi of the Marines been asked what her weirdest Transponder Snail call had composed of, she would've probably answered something along the lines of, "That one call with the monkey chorus and Garp trying to be a composer in the background." Now, that list had grown considerably longer. However, that didn't necessarily mean choosing weird Transponder Snail calls had gotten any harder. No, if anything, it had just gotten much, much easier, especially at noon a good two weeks after the Straw Hats had waged war upon Enies Lobby.
The day had started out innocently enough. After she'd retrieved Shigure from a pissed Smoker and tired of throwing many darts into a certain blond's new picture, tacked to her wall, she had finished getting ready for the day and gone out to eat breakfast with the rest of the crew. Then she had trained with her sword some more in a secluded part of the ship, running through the various katas that had been ingrained within her mind from the moment she'd began swordsmanship. Nobody bothered asking her afterwards why pieces of a picture, which appeared to have previously been pinned to a training dummy, were strewn about the floor.
She had been in the middle of a very important discussion with Captain Hina when the Transponder Snail rang.
"Look, Hina," Tashigi sighed wearily, "all I'm saying is that ship metal expenses would be lessened considerably if you would form some cages that we could melt down."
"And as Hina keeps reminding you," the pink-haired woman said stubbornly, shifting through piles of paperwork from the aftermath of Enies Lobby, "it is not Hina's duty to be a human steel quarry."
"But we could pour much more time and money into renewing our troops' training if we didn't have to—"
Puru puru puru puru. Puru puru puru puru. Puru puru puru puru.
Both Tashigi and Hina jumped and swiveled around as a certain special Transponder Snail picked up a signal, looking bored out of its mind. The two women turned slowly back to each other, surprise evident in both of their countenances. Hina's eyebrows had shot up, and Tashigi's mouth had involuntarily begun to form an o. For a moment, neither of them moved to pick up the receiver.
"Ophiuchus never said anything about a group call coming today, did he?" Tashigi asked, frowning in thought.
Hina shook her head. "Hina does not recall. It may be someone calling us back about joining, however."
Puru puru puru puru — ka-lick.
"Kaku of CP9," said the now-familiar voice of Zoro's opponent from the absolute chaos that had recently transpired. "We were told to call this number for work by Cross. I doubt I need to explain who Cross is at this point."
Tashigi and Hina sat staring, dumbfounded, at the snail.
"...Capricorn should be more surprised by this," muttered the pink-haired rebel, "but somehow Capricorn just can't bring herself to be."
"I'm beginning to know the feeling myself..." Tashigi deadpanned. She rose her voice and looked down at the snail. "This is Pisces, with Capricorn listening. So, Kaku, I assume the rest of CP9 is there with you as well?"
"Indeed," came her answer from the other side of the snail. "Blueno, Kalifa, Fukuro, Kumadori, and Jabra are all listening beside me. Lucci is still getting treated for his injuries in his hospital room. We need work to be able to survive, but as Cross predicted, we have been unable to find anyone willing to take us in now that the World Government has... for lack of a better term, 'burned' us. Cross claimed we would be able to find work with you, however. Who exactly are you all?"
Feeling the beginnings of a headache throbbing at the front of her skull, she rubbed her forehead tiredly. "You can think of us as... acquaintances of the Straw Hat Pirates. For safety reasons, we cannot reveal our true identities to you unless you swear your loyalty to our cause."
"Which would be...?"
"Rebuilding the Marines into a force of actual justice and ensuring proper peace for the world as we know it."
Silence reigned on the other end for several moments. At last, Kaku's dry voice came over the receiver.
"I really should've expected this from the Straw Hats by now, shouldn't I have?" groaned Kaku, and Tashigi and Hina could only exchange knowing winces. The ex-assassin's voice grew more distant, as if he had moved away from the receiver, as he said, "Do we all accept this?"
"I'm willing to join," drawled Kalifa, "as long as there's no sexual harassment."
"Any work is good work at this point," grunted Jabra.
"I suppose we never were meant to have peaceful lives," deadpanned Blueno. "I'm in."
Kumadori sniffed. "I'm running out of hair-softening conditioner," he whined. "I'll join as long as I can keep my hair like this."
"Then we're all in agreement except Lucci, who can eat a bag of catnip for all I care at this point," Kaku grunted. "We're in."
"Very well. Where exactly are you?"
"Several islands down from the Sea Train's Blue Station, a Fall Island called Kinpaku Island. We're recuperating in Hallow's Bar and Grille."
Tashigi's eyebrows rose. "That's actually not too far from where we are now. In fact, Capricorn, what island is our Log Pose pointing to?"
Hina glanced at one of said instrument that was currently strapped to her wrist, and then rummaged through the drawers of the desk and withdrew a map. She examined it for a few moments, comparing it with the direction of the Log Pose, and at last relayed, "It appears that Kinpaku Island is next in line for us. It seems like we shall arrive within the next couple of days."
"That... works out surprisingly well. Kaku, we will save our introductions for when we meet you all in person. Sit tight for a while and wait, alright? We'll introduce ourselves as Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio, who is another of our friends. That's how you'll know it's us."
"Sounds fine to us," Kaku said, the Transponder Snail nodding its head. "We have to wait for Lucci to heal up some more anyway; Doctor's orders says he still can't move."
"Very well, then. We'll meet up in about two days. Good-bye."
The cabin was so soundless a pin drop would've seemed like an elephant's stomp. Tashigi and Hina stared at the Transponder Snail through which they had just signed off on the newest piece of insanity in their lives. When she could at last stand the silence no longer, Tashigi groaned and leaned back in her chair.
"Did we actually just include CP9 in our group?"
Hina's expression was completely flat. "Hina blames it all on you."
The mooks of the ship didn't bother questioning why the sound of a certain lieutenant's head repeatedly slamming against a wall suddenly started echoing throughout the ship. At this point, it had become such a frequent occurrence that they didn't even have to stock up on Aspirin anymore.
Hallow's Bar and Grille was not a usual confluence, a word which here means 'a place at which two vastly freaking different parties come together to intensify the world's insanity.' It was a quaint enough bar, built mostly of spruce and stone, with a sharp, v-shaped roof and a stone floor that was often freezing in the mornings. It had been built to resemble times before the average house sported entirely carpeted floors, and before the average restaurant sported comfortable seating. It was, in actuality, more of a bed and breakfast than a bar, although they certainly had a bar at which they served booze, sake, and other various alcohols from all across the Blue Seas and Grand Line. However, the bedrooms offered little more comfort than the seating and the floor, which was likely why despite it being one of two bars on the island, it was often empty except for the old, grizzled bartender.
This was also, however, why it served as the perfect confluence of two vastly freaking different parties for the first time in its career.
Seated at a wooden booth in the far right corner, CP9 (minus Lucci) huddled over cups of the finest sake that Hallow's offered.
"Today's the day that Pisces said they'd be arriving," Blueno said, swirling his sake nervously. "What do you think they're like?"
"Sexual harassers," offered Kalifa flatly.
Jabra snorted. "Is that your answer to everything?"
"Yes. Are you really just realizing that now?"
"Whoever they are," said Kaku, "I just hope they don't turn us down after all. They still have time, and they might not be as forgiving as the Straw Hats. Our wallets are so empty now we honestly need to do anything we can... Although preferably, if we could use our current skillset, it would be best, of course."
"Agreed." Kumadori nodded, his pink hair waving about the table like thousands of little snakes. It had always creeped out Kaku, but he didn't say anything about it, and instead took a somewhat disturbed sip of his sake.
"Well, then," said a voice that CP9 (minus Lucci) had only heard once before, "that's perfect. Because we happen to have several openings for those willing to do dirty work without a second thought."
CP9 (minus Lucci) swiveled around in their chairs quickly. Jabra moved so fast he almost doused himself in his drink, and he cursed under his breath. When the ex-agents realized who exactly it was standing in front of them, they at first couldn't quite believe their eyes.
"I am Pisces," said Lieutenant Tashigi with an unreadable expression. She motioned to two very familiar people standing beside her - - 'White Hunter' Smoker and 'Ship-Cutter' T-Bone. "These are Cancer and Scorpio. Your new boss will be Scorpio himself, who will be receiving advice from another acquaintance of ours, Aquarius, though she couldn't make it here today due to... complicated matters. She will be helping you, Kalifa, develop your powers, due to the similarities of your Devil Fruits."
"But you... you're Marines," Jabra choked, his wolf eyes widening. "Even I can't create a lie this bad."
"And that's saying something," Kaku muttered.
"Shut up, giraffe!"
"I assure you this is no lie," Tashigi said solemnly. The young woman's eyes were solemn and full of regret. "We do not feel as though justice is being truly served and wish to fix this."
"So, what?" asked Blueno, tilting his head suspiciously. "You all just went vigilante?"
"In a manner of speaking." T-Bone rubbed his chin. "I suppose that's the most accurate description for us. As I'm sure Pisces mentioned to you, we're an organization affiliated with the Straw Hats, created for the purpose of bringing true justice to the world. However, as we are too heavily tied with the Marines, if we tried to start pulling strings, we would risk being found out and thrown in Impel Down to rot."
Kalifa narrowed her eyes. "And that's where we come in."
"That's right," agreed Smoker, who put two cigars in his mouth and started puffing at them carelessly. "You, who have been completely thrown into the trash by the Marines, have no connections, which is crucial to our plans. Add to that your superb skills as assassins, and it's quite obvious how useful you'd be to us. We would be willing to pay quite handsomely for your services, of course." He blinked. "I never thought I'd be saying those words to assassins..." he said under his breath, only loud enough for Tashigi and T-Bone to hear.
For a few seconds, CP9 (minus Lucci) glanced at themselves, discussing it with just their eyes. They had undergone so many fragile missions together that doing so had become a necessary skill.
"Very well," agreed Kaku. "We'll do your dirty work for you in exchange for reliable sleeping quarters and pay."
The Zodiac of the Divine all unintentionally released relieved breaths. "Thank you, CP9," said T-Bone gratefully. "The entire world thanks you."
"If you'd like, we already have a list of things we need you to do here," Smoker said, withdrawing a folded piece of paper from his white coat. He laid it on the table in the middle of CP9 (minus Lucci) and smoothed it out for them. Kaku quickly picked it up, skimmed over its contents, and failed to hold back a breath of surprise. He then handed it to a curious Kumadori, whose actions were much the same.
"Are you sure about this?" Kaku asked the vigilantes, his eyes wide.
Tashigi nodded solemnly. "You all are the only ones suitable for the job."
"Well, well," Kumadori said, impressed, as he passed the paper to Blueno, "Cross was right after all. It really is like we've hardly left our old job."
"There's just one catch, chapa," Fukuro said, and everyone looked at him, surprised. "We haven't gotten the chance to tell Lucci about all of this yet... and I don't know if he'd like this, chapa."
Tashigi and Smoker exchanged glances, though the agents couldn't quite tell the emotion behind them. However, a second later, T-Bone bowed his head and placed his hand on the sword which hung sheathed at his waist. "Allow me to handle that, if I may," he said, his face tense. "I'm afraid I acted in an unforgivable manner during the unfortunate Enies Lobby affair, and I would like to make this up to Cross and to myself by convincing Lucci to join us."
Even Smoker couldn't hide his surprise at this information. "Really? How do you plan to convince someone as... unpredictable as Lucci, Scorpio?"
"If there's one thing I learned on this fantastic, terrible sea, it's that money is not the greatest persuasion — the sword is."
All of CP9's (minus Lucci's) jaws dropped, as did the other two rebellious Marines'.
"What!?" sputtered Tashigi in disbelief. "You can't be serious! Even Luffy, one of the strongest people this half of the Grand Line, was brought almost to the brink of death by fighting him! You can't possibly expect to —"
"I've been training," growled T-Bone in response, "nearly every second since I joined you, and I redoubled that training after my fight with that dugong. If I haven't improved at least this much, then I don't deserve to be a part of this Zodiac, much less to kill Vergo."
"He's a Zoan," warned Jabra, "and take it from a fellow Zoan: we can take a lot of abuse. If you're really going to try this, do not attempt to outlast him."
T-Bone's sharp gaze brought recent memories of steel-willed pirates to mind. "We shall see," he intoned gravelly.
"Why... won't... you... just... FALL!?" snarled a bloody, exhausted Lucci, swaying on his feet.
Ten feet ahead, an even bloodier and more exhausted T-Bone shook on his own feet. Sheer willpower was the only thing keeping him standing; every bone, muscle, and inch of his body screamed in agony. "I could say... the same to you..." rasped the vice-captain, his voice like that of the dead.
Every spot of ground in a seven-foot radius from the fighters was stained red with blood, peppered with stray Finger Pistol holes like Swiss cheese, and otherwise appeared as though seven World Wars had been waged simultaneously over it.
Three days after the monumental conversation, Lucci finally woke up from his injuries, and was declared healed enough to be dismissed from the hospital. The Zodiac of the Divine paid for his bills, and met with him outside the hospital doors. At this point, they'd told him everything that they'd told the rest of CP9. Lucci had accepted T-Bone's challenge, sure it was going to be an easy win, and they'd chosen the highest hilltop on the island to fight at...
It was too bad for him that Cross's Murphy's Law seminar hadn't yet aired.
Staggering across the bloodied ground in his leopard form like a zombie, Lucci bent his knees and powered into the sky with Moon Walk. Combining it with Shave, he dashed through midair behind T-Bone, roared in pure frustration, and put every ounce of his strength into a Six King Gun. The compressed air shot towards T-Bone with impressive speed, but before it hit him, the Marine turned on a dime and slashed the attack apart.
"This shouldn't be this hard!" howled Lucci, and not even bothering to waste the precious air he had left, he immediately combined Moon Walk with Tempest Kick to create a hailstorm of cutting attacks. The flashes of blue tore through the air, but they did not apparently have sufficient velocity. T-Bone's eyes flicked to each one as he threw powerful slashes of his sword at them, dissipating each one. The movements of his arm were so fast that Lucci's eyes couldn't even follow them.
"Damn it!" the leopard-man snarled, and he kicked off the air at an angle. He flashed into view at T-Bone's side, stabbing rapidly with his finger, and managed to actually get the hits in. Ten, twenty, thirty Finger Pistols slammed into T-Bone's pale skin, bloody and cold, in the space of only four seconds. The force of the brutal attack invoked a heavy dose of Newton's First Law, and T-Bone didn't hit the ground until he was more than fifty feet away. Even then, he bounced hard and rolled several more feet, before finally losing momentum.
Lucci stood, panting, glaring down at the lying form so far away from him.
"Have you finally had enough, T-Bone!?" he said, his eyes narrowed.
The question hung in the breeze, the wind whistling across the hilltop being the only sound save for Lucci's extremely heavy, ragged breathing. Despite the fact that his senses increased fivefold in leopard form, he could not hear anything from T-Bone. Lucci drew in deep, precious breaths. Was the man dead? Had his body finally been pushed past the brink?
There was only one fight in Lucci's entire life that had been quite as tough as this one, and even then, it nearly surpassed it. The proud opponent to claim that fight was one Monkey D. Luffy, whose strength was simply undeniable. The toughness from that fight had been trying to overpower Luffy, however. Lucci was quite sure if that had come to a battle of endurance, Luffy would've fallen. But that wasn't the case with T-Bone. Two full days and almost two full nights - - that was how long they'd been locked in combat.
Twenty Six King Guns. Two hundred and fifty Tempest Kicks. Four hundred Finger Pistols. No food, no water, and no sleep. All of this had T-Bone endured so far, and it was only this last attack that had finally brought him to his knees. The man had simply refused to give up. Lucci couldn't help but feel a rising amount of respect for him. It was really too bad that T-Bone was now dead - - the ex-CP9 agent would've liked to share a drink with the man who had given him the battle of an eon.
Lucci turned around, making to set off down the hillside and preferably fall unconscious in a bed, when his animal ears picked up an unbelievable sound.
The crunch of blood-soaked leaves as T-Bone staggered to his feet.
"You..." he rasped, his voice almost too weak to make out. "How are you still alive!?"
T-Bone's voice strained so badly one would've believed it to be the voice of a zombie. "I have a duty... to uphold..." he choked out, slumping into a fighting stance, holding his sword straight out at Lucci. "A good man... will never bow on his word. I... I promised my friends... that I would defeat you, and that... you would enter our group, and that is n-not something... that any simple, physical pain can stop m-me from accomplishing!"
Lucci knew he might not remain conscious himself for another attack. As it was, his vision was starting to swim before his eyes. He had left the hospital the same as he had been before he had ever crossed fists with Monkey D. Luffy, but now he was in ten times more agony than he had been after that fight.
"V-Very well..." croaked Lucci. He drew in a shaky breath, lifted his arms so they were perpendicular to him but parallel to each other, and pointed them directly at T-Bone. "S-Scorpio... we're both on our last l-legs... what do you say to ending this in one final blow?"
"That... is more than fine... with me..." said T-Bone.
The cold wind picked up a little as the opponents allowed a moment's pause. It howled in their ears, the sheer power of their fight filling the countryside with awe, and then the men opened their mouths and shouted in unison.
"ULTIMATE SIX KING GUN!" roared Lucci, kicking off the ground and flashing through the air at mach speeds.
T-Bone gripped his sword tightly and steeled his protesting muscles. "ONE-SWORD STYLE... SILK SONG!" His body twisted, his legs moving with a will of their own, and he thrust all his might into one final swing of his arms. His entire body moved as fluidly as a piece of silk flapping in the breeze.
Time itself froze as the attacks clashed in midair.
For several moments, it seemed as though Lucci's shaking arms, firing several unbelievably powerful Six King Guns at once, were pushing over T-Bone's steel-wall strength. A desperate battle cry rumbled up from Lucci's gut as he pushed forward. T-Bone let loose a howl of utter refusal in reply, his feet digging into the red ground. His sword sang a song of will, clear and sharp, high in tone and unbelievably beautiful, and finally, the blade broke past Lucci's guard and sliced down his chest.
The blood splattering onto the stained grass was indistinguishable from the rest of the hilltop.
Lucci's unwilled transformation back into a human completed itself before he even touched the ground. The thump that his fall made resonated into the air. His eyes, almost fully closed, shone with both frustration and respect.
"That..." rasped Lucci before his consciousness fully faded, "that was... an unbelievable fight. You... are truly a worthy opponent. You would be even if you'd lost."
T-Bone was nearly inaudible. "Th-thank you..."
Sweet unconsciousness tapped Lucci on the shoulder and beckoned for him, but even as he took its hand and his vision faded away, he made out, "S-Scorpio... I'm a man of my word. From this day, forth... I and the rest of CP9 will work faithfully for you."
"I do not doubt it," T-Bone said. He spun his sword, the quick motion flinging the dripping blood off it, and stabbed it into his sheath with finality.
Lucci barked one short laugh, and then unconsciousness claimed him. It wouldn't release its grasp on him for another week to come.
Xomniac AN: Just to head off anyone crying foul over T-Bone overpowering Lucci, let me stop you right there: T-Bone didn't 'overpower' Lucci, he outlasted him. T-Bone was getting batted around left and right, but no matter how hard Lucci hit him, he just wouldn't stay down. Didn't matter that his whole body was practically broken, he just kept getting back up and coming for more. While T-Bone's level wasn't above Lucci's, it managed to remain consistent throughout the whole of the fight, whereas Lucci's eventually flagged and faltered due to his energy running out. And where does T-Bone's sheer resilience and stamina come from you ask? Simple: On the first, he's already been half-dead once thanks to Akainu, so he has practice at hanging on at the edge of death's door, and on the second, he has the souls of his entire flotilla at his back, pushing him on to get Justice.
T-Bone's gonna die one day, just finish on his feet without so much as a word... but he'll be damned if it's even a day before his brothers get their justice.
Patient AN: I will admit that even I found it unrealistic at first, but the above explanation is sufficient for me. I hope that it is so for you.
Cross-Brain AN: And as for those orders that CP9 received from the Masons? Well…let's just say that Evan was made privy to one of our future plot twists, and it's one that's going to have significant effect further down the line.
And with that said, let's move on.
Omake: Warm Front
There were many things that could piss off a certain, overheated pirate flag (and pirate) collector. Included in this list were such items as Cross talking, the Hirunos, messing with his children, and those annoying little Brussels sprouts that always seemed to unravel in his throat. None of these rose to the top, however. No, the thing that pissed Don Accino off as much as possible?
Stealing anything in his flag collection.
To say that Don Accino was steaming while he looked at his notably emptier trophy room was like saying that Nagasaki and Hiroshima had only a little radiation after the war. To be fair, though, the patriarch was literally steaming, literally being a term which here means 'steam rose from his skin and escaped into the atmosphere due to the pure rage incensing his body.' His children had done the best they could to distract him from entering the trophy room since the Straw Hats had left with their—and many other crews'—flags, but this proved to be a task impossible to uphold longer than a couple days. Now the very floor was threatening to melt into a gooey mess under the enraged Don's feet.
"Why—did my children—agree to give a quarter—of my collection—away!?" he hissed venomously, steam whistling in the hellishly hot atmosphere around him.
Lil, the sole Accino child brave enough to currently be in the same room as him, observed the molten chaos from her safe perch on a chandelier which hung from the top of the room (how she'd gotten up there in the first place was anyone's guess). "Because the Straw Hats agreed to royally screw up the wedding?" she reminded him. "Also because Princess Vivi offered you an endless stream of pirates to capture?" The petite girl slurped loudly on a cherry-flavored lollipop as she watched her father's budding temper tantrum with something between amusement and concern for their house.
Don staggered backward, blinking, like Madam Hiruno had slammed her icy palm into his face at Kizaru-worthy speeds. "Vivi's deal…" he murmured, his eyes widening. His growing temper had almost caused him to forget about that little detail altogether. The air grew noticeably cooler, as if an Antarctica-sized refrigerator had been opened in a volcano. The floor's bubbling slowed to a stop as the patriarch of the Accinos considered the idea. "Ah, yes, that… I still haven't decided whether to accept it, haven't I?"
"Nope," said Lil after taking a slight pause to lick her lollipop.
"Hm... it certainly is true that a lot of pirates in the early islands of Paradise really are quite stupid, and would no doubt wage constant war on Alabasta now that the threat of Crocodile retaliating is destroyed… And it is equally true that we've been having a disturbing lack of prey to capture lately…"
The blue-haired girl raised her hand helpfully and kicked her legs in midair. "I've heard that Alabastans make really good candy!" she added.
And considered some more.
"…This is going to take a lot of Hiruno-antagonizing," he decided, shrugging his broad shoulders and starting to make his way out of the room. Although the Wedding Incident (capitalized to differentiate it from any other incidents that might happen to occur at weddings) had ended in a net victory for the Accinos, relations between the two bounty hunter families had devolved back into their normal state of affairs, with the one notable difference being that Burrato Hiruno had become the Accinos' friend. In any case, Don always found that messing with the Hirunos helped calm his mind when it overheated.
"That's great and all," said Lil casually, taking another lick of her lollipop, "but if you're done thinking, can you get me down from here? My apathy is only going to hold my universal little-kid fear of heights back for so long."
Don froze—shit, he used that word!—erm, halted in his tracks, and slooooowly turned around to glare up at Lil. "And just how did you get up there in the first place, anyway?" he growled in exasperation.
[Man!] laughed Skipper, cracking open a large bottle of West Blue sake and roughly slapping the freezing surface of the iceberg the four penguins sat on. [I don't know how Lil always finds out where Don keeps moving the booze around to, but I am not going to question it!]
[And also keep doing whatever she tells you in exchange for the new locations?] Kowalski deadpanned. [Even if it involves tossing us up into the air in a Straw Hats-at-Alabasta style chain to get her to the top of the highest chandelier in the collection room?]
Skipper took a long swig of the bottle. [And that too!] he said, his voice twinging with a hint of drunkenness.
[Uh tust tuh Lil?] suggested a flat-out hammered Rico, his head swimming.
[Sure thing, dude!] cheered Private, thoroughly drunk despite having barely gotten a fourth of the way through his bottle. [To Lil!]
The penguins clinked their bottles of sake against each other. [KANPAI!]
The Don's eye twitched. For one moment, he was disturbingly silent, glaring up at his youngest daughter with trembling fists.
"…DAMMIT, LIL, IF YOU WEREN'T MY FAVORITE, I'D MELT YOU!" roared Don.
Unconcernedly, Lil licked her lollipop. "Love you, too, Papa."
And so it was that a grumbling Accino patriarch stomped out of his enormous flag collection room to look for a ladder, grumbling, "Alright, I don't even need to antagonize any Hirunos to come to a decision this time. At least in Alabasta I won't have to retrieve adorable daughters from my chandeliers. But first…" He paused and turned to Lil. "Can you find all your brothers and sisters and have everyone gather in the hall? I want to be sure you're all on board with that."
Lil's hand froze on its way to bring the lollipop up to her outstretched tongue, and then she grinned. "Sure, Papa!" she chirped, and dashed away in a flash. Don Accino watched her run off with a proud smile; she was a beautiful, strong-willed girl, very respecting of her father and yet not afraid to get everyone back on the right track if they happened to stray off of it. She was going to grow up to make an amazing warrior, he knew, but until then, there were things to discuss and preparations to be made.
Once Lil had found where everyone had wandered off to, they all gathered together in the same room where, such a short time ago, Cross and Vivi had stood before the Accinos and negotiated their crew's freedom. Campacino and Brindo were engaging in some sort of brotherly headlock, with Brindo desperately attempting to pat out, and Arbell and Salchow were casting ceaseless gooey eyes at each other—not that that was a surprise. Hockera was waxing his hockey stick, and Lil was crunching on what little remained of her lollipop. When Don entered the grand room, they all dropped their current activities and looked up, blinking.
"Hey, Papa," said Salchow, raising an eyebrow, "what did you call us all here for? Lil said it was something about a discussion for the future."
Campacino raised an eyebrow. "Is it about Princess Vivi's deal?"
"And whether we're accepting it?" added Brindo.
"You kids pick up on things fast," muttered Don with a fond shake of his head. "Yes, it is. I called you here to hold a vote on this decision. It is a matter that will change our family for years, and after my horrible mistake in assuming that Lil would be fine with marrying Burrato, I want to be sure that every one of you is alright with moving to Alabasta. I personally have decided that it would be far more profitable for our family to hunt in its waters than next to that damned Triangle, and the Straw Hats did do us a favor; but that's beside the point. What are your thoughts about it?"
His children exchanged glances.
"We're fine with it," said Campacino and Brindo in tandem.
Hockera shrugged nonchalantly. "As long as there's enough space for me to play hockey, it's alright with me, ke." He blinked, then raised an eyebrow. "Do you think that there's such a thing as sand-hockey?"
"It's the Grand Line," said Campacino pointedly. "I'd be more surprised if there isn't sand-hockey."
Arbell's arms swooped over Salchow, and he flushed a proud red. "I'm up for living anywhere as long as it's with my sweetheart!" she cooed, staring lovingly into his eyes while Lil made fake gagging sounds.
"It's the same with me," confirmed Salchow. "As long as Arbell-honey's by my side, I'll go to the ends of the planet."
"Then it's decided," declared Don with a proud smile, standing tall and throwing his arms out grandly. "Pack everything we have, and let's set a course… for the desert kingdom, Alabasta!"
-Two Weeks Later-
The Giant Squad was bored.
Boredom was not something that giants knew how to deal with very well. People pointing guns at their faces? Easy; just punch them 'round the head, ask questions later. Huge walls blocking their path? A simple kick was all it took to send those crumbling to their foundations. But boredom? That was an age-old enemy giant doctors were still trying to cure, with little to no progress in over 900 years.
Why was the Giant Squad bored?
Curiously, despite having been assigned the seemingly monumental task of blocking off all access to and from the famed desert kingdom, Alabasta, no one was trying to enter or leave the thrice-damned country. Anytime anyone who didn't have a Devil Fruit user as one of their main fighters came anywhere close to sighting the enormous Marines, they turned tail and sailed as fast as they could away. And even crews of both pirates and civilians alike who did enjoy access to Devil Fruit users seemed to find the task of taking down Marine-affiliated giants far too daunting to even consider. And it seemed as though, currently, Alabasta was entirely self-sufficient, so there was no reason for anyone to leave. Sure, there were your oddball idiots here and there who actually believed they had even a smidgen of a chance and attempted to attack them, but long story short, the Giant Squad was seriously battle-deprived, and a battle-deprived giant is not a happy camper.
"I'M… SO… BORED!" bellowed Vice Admiral Maginot, the usually tranquil giant restless with unused energy. His huge black afro bounced on his head as he stomped the ship in frustration, an action that would have sent any other sea vessel rocking; but ships made for giants were built of sterner stuff.
"Calm down, Maginot," soothed De Lis, though the only female member of the group was equally antsy if her unconsciously tapping fingers were anything to go by. "I'm sure we'll get our fight soon enough. And if we don't, we can always look for some Sea Kings to use as punching bags."
Vice Admiral Vercingetroix (called Vin by literally everyone who knew him), grunted and took a swig of his most recent bottle of beer. His sharp teeth cut a slight scratch in the thick glass of the bottle as he released it from his lips with a satisfied grunt. "Ah, put a can in it, Maginot," he snorted at his contemporary's obvious discomfort. "You're gonna pop a blood vessel if you let your stupidity take over more than it already has."
Maginot fixated a glare on Vin that would send any human running for the hills. "What was that, you damned Long-Name!?"
"My name's not that long!" huffed Vin, who was quite sensitive to jokes about his name.
"When your name's bigger than you are," grunted Maginot with a smirk, "there are serious problems. You know, I think you might be compensating for something with it."
"Why, YOU LITTLE—"
The two giants slammed their heads into each other, growling ferociously, and the gunner, Louis, perked up from swabbing his guns at the sound of a budding fight. His sharklike face was twisted into a wide grin that made it look even more sharklike, his mohawk perking up on his head like a mountain range. As Maginot and Vin began to grapple, pushing their hands against each other in a test to see who could overpower the other, he whooped and hollered, cheering on their fight.
"Yeah, PUSH!" he roared, grinning savagely. "Kick his ass, Vin!"
"DON'T EGG THEM ON!" roared a pissed-off De Lis, slamming her fist into Louis's nose and knocking him down flat on the ship's deck. "IN-FIGHTING WON'T HELP SHIT!"
"Saysh da woman who just bwoke mah noshe," groaned Louis bitterly, picking himself off the floor, disgruntled.
The door to the bathroom opened, and Vice Admiral Lacroix emerged from it, making his way down to the deck and frowning at the two brawling Marines. "Vin, Maginot, what is the meaning of this?" he asked sternly, and the giants in question froze at the sound of his voice.
Vin turned to Lacroix, his face red with Maginot-induced ire. "That bastard was making fun of my name, so I decided to teach him a lesson," growled the swordsman, casting a dark glare at Maginot.
The other giant shrugged. "I was just bored, and Vin's easy to rile up, so I riled him up" admitted Maginot.
Lacroix considered the statements. "I see. Vice Admiral Maginot, please refrain from pissing off your fellow Marines to cure your own boredom, and Vin?"
"Yes, sir?" said Vin, somewhat confused as to why the squad's de facto leader was addressing him when this really wasn't his fault.
"…Your name is pretty damn long."
"DAMN IT, LACROIX!"
The swordsman started to stomp across the deck to the de facto leader, his hand inching toward his sword, which was more of a sign of the Giant Squad's intense boredom than anything else. They might have commonly picked fights among each other, but under normal circumstances, none of them ever picked one with Lacroix, out of respect for his leadership. It was a matter of honor, something giants as a race prided themselves for following extremely well. A giant without honor was like a vertebrate without a spine. As it was, however, Vin's own boredom fueled his aggravation, which in turn made him think far less than normal, and he made a move to unleash his enormous sword upon the de facto leader. Just as Vice Admiral Lacroix started to coat his fist in Haki to block the oncoming attack, however, a shout from Corse, who was officially the doctor but was currently acting as lookout, froze both giants stiff.
"SHIP SIGHTED ON THE HORIZON, HEADING INTO ALABASTA AT ONE O'CLOCK!" bellowed Corse, his cat-eared hood appearing over the edge of the crow's nest before the rest of head. "WE MIGHT NOT WANT TO INTERFERE WITH THIS ONE, THOUGH. IT'S THE ACCINOS. WE MIGHT BE BITING OFF MORE THAN WE CAN CHEW."
"The Accinos?" De Lis repeated. "Aren't they some of the Marines' most favored bounty hunters? What are they doing here?"
"I don't know, but I hope they're up for a fight!" declared Maginot, cracking his knuckles in anticipation. "I haven't punched a single person this week, and my fists miss slamming into people's faces!"
"What should we do, Lacroix?" asked Ostro, the crew's cook, coming out of the kitchen at Corse's announcement. His shirt was conspicuously missing again, and although he seemed to be aware of this fact, he was either too bored to care or just simply didn't. Going by prior knowledge, the other Squad members guessed it was the latter. "Should we attack, or wait for them to make a move?"
"It is strange for the Accinos to have come over here clear from their home near the Florian Triangle," mused Lacroix, narrowing his eyes at the approaching ship. "How did they make it here? What do you think, De Lis?"
De Lis, the crew's strategist, rubbed her chin in thought, despite the fact that she didn't have a beard. "The only answer must be that they came across an Eternal Log Pose pointing to this island. That raises the question, however, as to how exactly they came across such a thing in the first place. If pirates gave it to them, then I would say that the Accinos currently stand a threat to us. This is also the case if they were given one by a member of the Nefertari family or an ambassador of theirs. If they stole it from someone, however, their current alignment would be hard to tell outright."
"So what would you suggest?"
"Flag them down and demand an explanation as to how they've acquired an Eternal Pose to Alabasta," decided De Lis thoughtfully. She blinked, then added, "And of course, should their intentions be contrary to ours, sink them to Davy Jones' locker."
"Bullshit!" groaned Maginot. "Why can't we just attack them right off the bat!?"
Ostro rolled his eyes. "Because they might be backing us up, or delivering information to us, or any number of other things, Maginot," he said. "Honestly, if you used half the brain cells you have in that big head of yours, you'd come to the conclusion very easily."
The bazooka wielder's eye twitched. "You're lucky Lacroix said not to fight among ourselves; otherwise you'd be out cold by now."
"I'd like to see you try to lay me down."
"I may just take you up on that offer."
"BOYS!" snapped De Lis, and the two giants jumped into attention. She smiled serenely at them as they grinned fearfully back; they were very conscious of Louis' broken nose. Pleased with their ceasefire, she nodded. "Good."
The two let out large breaths of relief… and glared at each other the moment her back was turned to them.
Ronse, the acting helmsman of the crew, changed course to pull up alongside the Accino family ship, their own enormous battleship cutting through the waves like a knife through butter. It took about half an hour for them to reach each other, and by the time they finally did, Ostro had a black eye, Maginot was rubbing his side tenderly, Louis was laughing his ass off, and De Lis' frustration was so high she was practically steaming. Lacroix chose to ignore the three less mature members of the crew, instead opting to gauge the bounty hunters' expressions and actions, trying to determine their alignment just by looking at them. Sadly, he had never possessed much skill in this department.
"ACCINO FAMILY!" he bellowed over to their ship once they were within hearing range. "WHAT BRINGS YOU TO THESE WATERS? FOR WHAT PURPOSE HAVE YOU COME HERE?"
Over on the Accino ship, the bounty hunters were gathered at the side of the ship, all save for Hockera, who was currently commanding the helm. Don nodded at Campacino, the signal for him to respond to their interrogators.
"We're here to claim a pair of high-profile bounties," the eldest Accino sibling shouted back through a megaphone. "Chaka the Jackal and Pell the Falcon are worth 115 million together."
"And aside from that," Brindo continued once said megaphone was passed to him, "the good favor we would gain from the Government by stripping a Revolutionary country of its two Devil Fruit users would likely be even more beneficial for us."
Lacroix's eyebrows rose. This… This seemed almost too good to be true. Exchanging surprised glances with his comrades, the mountainous Vice-Admiral raised an eyebrow and leaned out over the railing. "REALLY?" he boomed, his voice rumbling across the waters. "AND HOW HAVE YOU RUN ACROSS AN ETERNAL POSE TO TAKE YOU HERE?"
"Spoke to Marine HQ," deadpanned the youngest Accino, Lil, upon receiving their megaphone. "Received permission directly from the top, along with the Eternal Pose."
Stunned short of speech, and more than a little disappointed, the Giant Squad all slumped where they stood.
"Uh… okay…" De Lis managed at last, blinking rapidly. "I suppose you're free to go past…"
"IT'S MUCH APPRECIATED!" shouted Salchow with a large salute. "BUT NOT AS APPRECIATED AS MY ARBELL-HONEY…"
"Oh, Salchow!" swooned said woman, wrapping him up in a large hug, and the giants' eyes twitched as one as the couple began smooching heavily, right before everyone's eyes. Ronse made faux gagging sounds, which prompted Vin into loud snickers.
With no further opposition from the Giant Squad, the bounty hunters freely sailed across the Alabastan waves until they could no longer be seen. Once they were out of the Marines' vision, the rogue bounty hunters let out a collective breath of relief. They hadn't expected that to actually work; they'd been sure that the Marine group would see right through their lies and attack them. That would've been more than a little annoying, not to mention worrying.
It was smooth sailing the rest of the way into Alabasta. A Sea King rose up to try and chomp on their ship half way, but the Don killed it with a super-heated flurry of punches, and no damage to them was incurred. No one tried to oppose them from landing at Nanohana, either, although they were met with quite a few curious stares; this made sense, though, since no one had been making land at the ports lately. Both Lil and Salchow complained about the heat the entire way to Alubarna, however, and Arbell might have followed suit had Don not bought her some "gorgeous, cultural clothing" before they set off on their trek.
Thanks to the forethought of purchasing some camels, it only took them a day to reach the capital, Alubarna. It was a beautiful city, and even the Don had to admit that his breath was taken away with his first sight of it. He could definitely see why Vivi was so pissed at the Government for depriving her of a peaceful life in a country like this. By one o'clock the day after their meeting with Giant Squadron, the bounty hunter family found themselves staring up at the famous palace of the royal family of Alabasta. By one thirty, they found themselves kneeling in the throne room before the king and his royal guards, Pell and Chaka, as well as men whom the SBS-informed bounty hunters identified as Igaram and Kohza.
"Your royal highness," said Don Accino respectfully, head bowed before the vaguely amused king. "We come by request of her highness Nefertari Vivi, seeking to become this country's naval protection."
King Cobra snorted and sighed. "Kohza," he groaned, glancing to the young man standing at attention in line with the royal guards and Igaram, "when do you think will people ever learn that they don't have to be formal with me?"
"Probably never, sir," said the ex-rebel, grinning knowingly.
The aging man heaved his eyes up to the heavens. "That's what I was afraid of…" He sighed and shook his head. "Stand up, Don Accino of the Accino Family. Everyone in this country is equal, and the King is no exception. There is no need to bow in my presence." Surprised, but somewhat pleased, the powerful man nodded and rose, his family following suit. Cobra smiled. "That's better. Now, if Vivi asked you to come here, I trust her decision full-heartedly. You shall be appointed as Alabasta's official naval forces, and paid accordingly. I must ask, though, why exactly did Vivi choose you?"
Don frowned and sighed. "Well, you see, years ago, I ate a certain Devil Fruit that Vivi was greatly interested in." At this, King Cobra leaned forward, eyes widening. The bounty hunter nodded, sensing the question in the old man's gaze. He lifted his arms out, and the temperature in the room increased greatly. Don was a little surprised at just how much easier it was to use his powers in this country; it seemed he could raise temperatures much more quickly in this hot environment. "Your highness, I ate the Hot-Hot Fruit, and was asked to come to Alabasta so that whenever my time is meant to end, the Devil Fruit might return to its origins."
"The Rage…" Cobra's jaw slackened in awe. "I… never thought I'd see another of our missing treasures in my life… And here Vivi already found one…" His features softened, and a proud smile spread across his face, the picture of a father proud of his daughter. "She certainly would've made a fantastic queen. Welcome to Alabasta, Don Accino. I am now extremely glad you have stepped foot on our soil."
Two days after the meeting between the Accinos and the Giant Squad, Corse sat on the railing of their ship near the figurehead, something itching at the back of his mind. There was something wrong, something he couldn't quite tell…
"I NEED TO FIGHT SOMETHING!" roared Maginot, and something hard, knuckle-y, and pointedly fist-like struck the pondering giant 'round the back of his head. Corse nearly fell off the ship, but he regained his balance, arms wheeling, legs flailing. With a pissed roar, the punched Marine swiveled around and leaped to his feet, preparing to fire a punch back -
And blinked as that elusive thing suddenly flashed into his mind.
"Ah… D'you think we should call HQ, just in case they might have been lying?" At Maginot's questioning look, Corse elaborated. "About their reason for coming into Alabasta, I mean."
All of the other squad members froze on their oversized feet.
"...Goddammit!" De Lis howled from the crow's nest. She smacked her head with an exasperated groan even as she rushed to the nearest Transponder Snail and began dialing Marineford's number. Her foot tapped impatiently. "Come on, pick up," she groaned restlessly.
At last, the nervous snail made the relieving katcha and the call went through. A low, carefree voice rang through the on the other end.
"Marine Headquarters, Garp speaking. Get to it and tell me what do you want so I can start the paperwork and forget to fill it out."
"Ah, Garp!" the strategist breathed, relief evident in her voice. "This is De Lis of the Giant Squadron. Everything's clear on our end, but just out of curiosity, might the Accinos have ordered an Eternal Pose from HQ for the purpose of hunting several Alabastan bounties?"
The lazy Vice Admiral hummed, and the snail's eyes went half-lidded. It looked like it was picking its nose without any fingers to do so with. Quite the spectacle indeed. "Hmm, not that I recall. I might've slept through it, though. Hold on, let me check." De Lis rolled her eyes and sighed as the echo of Garp's footsteps reached her ears alongside the clank of his receiver dropping. After a few minutes of dead air, his voice again filtered through the receiver. "Nope. I just spoke to Sengoku, and I can't say that they have. Why, did they trick you into letting them into Alabasta or something?" His booming laughter at his joke shook the transceiver, and De Lis' eye twitching reached a new fervor.
"Um… well…" she ground out, unsure of how to phrase it in a way that didn't seem bad.
Garp's laughter froze.
"...You did, didn't you," he deadpanned, and De Lis' awkwardness suddenly transformed into outright fury.
"I DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT FROM YOU, MR. I-REVEALED-THAT-THE-REVOLUTIONARY-HAD-A-SON-WHO'S-THE-STRONGEST-ROOKIE-ON-THE-SEAS!"
With that outburst, she slammed the receiver back down on the poor snail, which choked and scuttled away as fast as it could move. Which wasn't that fast at all, since it was a snail.
The ship was silent for several moments; the other Marines had gotten more than enough bruises to know to shut up during a bout of De Lis' anger. She stood silently, fists clenching and unclenching, and the other giants waited nervously. At last, Lacroix judged her to have calmed down enough to be reasonable. He took a deep breath, opened his mouth, and spoke.
"So, I guess now would be as good a time as ever to revolt, eh?"
Everyone stared at him with wide eyes.
Lacroix glared. "What!? We've been talking about mutiny since the fiasco at Enies Lobby. Garp himself won't care that we let the Accinos into Alabasta, but when he tells the higher-ups what happened, we'll have everyone breathing down our necks anywhere we go. And let's be real; the Marines were always suspicious of us revolting from the get-go. We might as well get a jump start on things and go rejoin the Giant Warrior Pirates before shit hits the fan, as a certain blond pirate might say."
"That… makes a lot of sense," admitted Ostro. The pot-bellied cook rubbed the side of his backwards baseball cap sheepishly.
"So, then," Maginot spoke up, raising an eyebrow, "who's going to issue the declaration of mutiny?"
"…Not it!" said many of the Giant Squad at once, with Vin's voice echoing a tad behind the rest.
"…Shit," said Vin.
Cross-Brain AN: And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Mind you, this won't be the last time that we post an omake(s) that we requested from a fan, but it will be the last time for a while. For now, we return to the work of the Cross-Brain, and the good news is that we're making good progress on our next post!
…The bad news is that it's another omake, but it's one that we've been planning on posting at this point in the story from the start. We think you'll like it.