You know, I really like that. That's a good ship's name. And the design? Oh, fantastic. The two crows nests being shaped like drums? The colossal tower-like metronome that's built between the aft and foremast? A great big musical horn as the figurehead? Bravo. Chef's kiss. 9.5 out of 10 really.
Makes me feel kinda bad for absolutely wrecking it.
The blue sickle of energy carves through the wood, knocking screaming pirates aside as it travels. Snapping wrenching sounds echo out from the base of the foremast as it slowly loses the fight to stay upright. An overweight pirate with a Fu Manchu moustache tries to get an attack in, but a [Tobu Shigan] to his Adam's apple only sees him clutching his throat while collapsing to his knees instead.
Overall I'm pretty disappointed by the rank and file aboard the vessel. No surprise Zoan's or Paramecia's. No discernible officers of any kind really. The average seems to be around Lv.24 and while that's not bad for the Blue's or perhaps the entrance of Paradise it's really not enough this close to the New World. 'Just another group who've been riding their Captain's coattails'.
Interesting enough my Observation Haki doesn't so much as whisper that the attack is coming. It's curious. Intellectually I know what's about to happen. My cheaty cheat meta-knowledge lets me know exactly what that fist pounding against his chest leads to. And yet my spiritual sense is totally quiet. Actually, now that I'm thinking of it, people in canon were never warned in advance either. It must be a peculiarity of the Tone-Tone Fru-
The explosion goes off point-blank against my skin, scorching my clothes and throwing me backward into a slide that briefly has one knee touch the deck.
But I suppose we're getting a little ahead of ourselves aren't we?
Allow me to back up a moment.
An often overlooked detail of the Post-Marineford wrap up is a small series of cutaways that reveals eight of the eleven Supernovas had been anchored offshore, observing the conflict from afar. They weren't terribly important scenes. I think most of the crews only got one panel a piece in the manga. In the anime, where things are stretched and padded out, it still only took about two minutes to go through the whole roster. In both cases, the largest amount of screen time was given to the Kid Pirates, highlighting them as the most important of the group.
Well I think it can probably go without saying -for obvious reasons-, that the Kid Pirates were not present this time around. Combine that with the fact that the other Supernovas had been on the opposite side of Marineford that I had originally approached from, and I think I can be forgiven for momentarily forgetting they were there.
With my negotiations with the Marines now past though, and my head sufficiently cleared, I was free to whip out Jack Sparrow's Compass and seek out a sufficiently appropriate target.
I'll admit I wasn't 100% sure which hotshot rookie The Compass was leading me toward. The arrow wobbled quite a bit. All I needed was someone adequate enough to start my Warlord career off with a proper bang. Get a little good favor in with the top brass right off the block y'know? I even thought for a little while that perhaps the tool wasn't leading me to a Supernova at all. The Decalvan Brothers, 'Bohemian Knight' Doma, or any other New World captains who fled Marineford after the Marines won would likely work just as fine.
I hold no enmity towards Whitebeard's crew -what's left of them that is-, but his allies? My feelings there are a bit more grey. I know some of those captain's used to be under the Emperor's personal flag and there's a halfway decent chance they continue to carry on his values. However, I'm also willing to wager that a larger number of the group are simply those that chose to bow their heads in defeat rather than face destruction. Without daddy around to keep them in check, they could potentially revert to behaviors that made them dreaded New World Pirates in the first place.
Regardless, it's a moot point for the moment anyhow as the good ol' "Roar of the Sea" was our lucky winner. I suppose deep down in my heart of hearts, The Compass said I wanted him dealt with just a little bit more.
'Roar Of The Sea' Scratchmen Apoo, Lv. 84
I rose from the kneeling position and audibly popped a crack in my neck. The explosion was a little stronger than I thought it'd be. I can certainly see why a trained up Post-Timeskip version of it was able to make even Luffy blank out for a minute.
Unfortunately for Apoo though, I came prepared for hitters much stronger than him.
Skill Lv up! [Physical Endurance] Lv. (11/30) → (16/30)
-Your body's durability to damage from physical sources. Resistance increased from (32.5%) → (45%)
Skill Lv up! Unarmed Combat (Tekkai Kenpo) Lv. (19/50) → (27/50)
-A mixture of instinctive fighting knowledge using your bare hands with the Rokushiki technique: [Tekkai].
Note: At current [Skill] level the strength of your [Tekkai] while in motion is reduced to 54% effectiveness.
Note 2: At current [Skill] level your DEX will be reduced by 46% while attempting to move with [Tekkai] sustained.
Five Lv. 2 [Skill Disk]'s from attaining my new title plus the three Lv. 1's that I had earned from defeating the Pacifista. While there was a part of me that insisted on being a proper [Gamer] and keeping them in reserve for later, or perhaps only using some but not all of the things, a larger part of my mind decided that such thinking is for the past. I've said it before and I'll say it again.
We're on the World Stage now.
Apoo takes a half-step back at seeing me so lightly harmed but then gathers himself and scowls. His waist stretches upward as it morphs into an extended accordion. Tambourines take the place of his shoulders and the fingers of his right hand all morph into little castanets.
I've no idea what this frankly bizarre combination of instruments does for him. From canon all I recall is the cymbal jaws, the drum torso, and the flute arm. Unfortunately for the music man it matters little. I know his critical weakness. His Fruit may be able to launch attacks undetectable to even Haki,
-I drop [Tekkai Kenpo] and vanish with my fastest [Soru]-
But they can only land so long as Apoo maintains line of sight.
The 198,000,000 bounty hesitates as I disappear in a blur of lines. His eyes dart around rapidly, searching every angle of his broken ship. The heavily damaged foremast finally gives in and topples, distracting him for just a second too long to see me coming down from overhead, my new Meito pulled back and ready.
His neck snaps upward at the last moment, the castanets of his hand click-clacking violently causing a slew of sharp dart-like stabs to strike against me...but it's too little.
Fragarach demonstrates its supernatural sharpness as it sinks past the meat of Apoo's shoulder and doesn't stop until it's embedded deep in the center of his abdomen.
A sad little whine sounds from the accordion as it deflates and the nearly bisected body slumps as his eyes go foggy and blank. A small 'Ding!' has me look at the Exp gain in the corner and I 'tsk' beneath my teeth.
Enough for Lv. 99 but not quite 100 eh?
I suppose that would've been too lucky wouldn't it?
We're not doing that.
Special Event: Deep Diving for Dials.
Can you say 'salvage some seashells' five times fast? Look alive matey! You're passing over a maritime graveyard that's been hundreds of years in the making! A congregation of deep sea currents at this very spot has made the ocean floor here a veritable hotbed of sunken ships, empty hulks and derelict wreckages. Gold, silver, and jewels can all be reclaimed from these lost vessels true, but a select few have something even more rare within their holds. Dials. Magical shells that can't normally be found down here on the waters of the Blue Sea. Flame, Flash, Impact, and so many more. They're yours for the taking. If you can get past the wildlife that is.
Event: Salvage as many Dials from the wrecks that you can!
Reward: +1 LUK for each Dial recovered.
Bonus 1: Collect 20 for 5,000 Exp.
Bonus 2: Collect 50 for 10,000 Exp.
Time Remaining: 1 Hour, 29 minutes
It's hard to keep my laughter in. The absurdity of this [Game] sometimes. No! I'm what, just a couple miles from The Calm Belt right now? The place where Sea King mothers nest? And we're not talking little baby ones like the juvenile I killed in South Blue. No, we're talking massive Brobdingnagian leviathans that don't swallow people in one bite, but entire ships.
And you want me to dive into the darkness, hundreds -if not thousands- of meters down where the sunlight don't reach?
Damn [Game]. I know LUK's hard to come by, but I ain't that fuckin' stupid.
The prospect of obtaining more Dials is an interesting thought though. Admittedly most of their uses would be relatively niche. None of the cloud generating variants would work down here on the lower sea due to atmosphere conditions and a lot of the 'household' stuff like Flavor, Vision, and Tone is kinda whatever.
Breath or Jet Dials though...now I could do something with those. Even just one or two might significantly increase my glider's performance. Island hopping with only [Geppo] as my propulsion is feasible but it's also annoying. I'd happily explore alternative methods if available. And magical lightweight seashells certainly hit all the right wickets.
I turn my gaze skyward, away from the dark blue sea full of monsters, and begin scanning the skyline. Nothing..immediately.. pops out as a potential location for a Sky Island. Certainly no 'Imperial Cumulonimbi' or whatever the hell it was Nami called those hyper-dense cloud structures.
And yet, all these sunken ships had to have gotten their goods from somewhere.
I palm Jack Sparrow's Compass and watch it totter back and forth, the arrow sometimes pointing southwest, switching briefly to wobble in another direction -usually one at random-, and then assuredly moving itself back to southwest.
I've noticed it does this whenever I'm not sufficiently focused. I've not investigated what it is precisely that's southwest of here that The Compass thinks my heart wants so deeply...but..it's not lost on me that that's roughly the direction Kivuruk is in.
My fingers subtly tighten as I focus on the mission at hand. We can visit home later. Right now there's work that needs doing. I slowly exhale a long breath and let my eyes drift shut.
Tricking The Compass into pointing elsewhere is always an involved process. I'm actually a little jealous of how easily the original Jack Sparrow could use it. He could just pop it open, take a few seconds glance, and have his heading. For me, I need to visualize what I want. Focus on it. Obsess on it. Fixate it as the most important thing I need right now.
It takes a minute, perhaps a little more, but sure enough the arrow swings sharply to the north-northwest and I kick off sharply! A mild 12 degree up angle sees my altitude slowly rising as the miles go by and I strap on some goggles. Things turn wispy and white when I pass through layers of stratus clouds but I pay them no heed. A few drops of water never hurt anybody.
Some Time Later, 7,000 Meters above Sea Level
I allow my glider to coast down as I near the edges of the floating isle. It's...definitely a much smaller place than I was imagining. Reaching out with my senses I can feel there's only around a hundred -no no it's closer to about 80- presences in the quaint little settlement.
Something tells me this isn't quite the trading hub I was looking for.
'Well I suppose that's what I get for not being specific enough with The Compass'. My boots touch down on the island-cloud and...whoa that is weird! Solid but also spongy? Or maybe 'springy' is a better word. There's no risk of me falling in but the 'ground' definitely has some give to it. Like walking across a hard mattress. That'll take some getting used to.
Turning my eyes away from my feet, I see my arrival definitely hasn't gone unnoticed by the locals. I wouldn't label any of the looks as hostile but they're definitely not of the welcoming sort. The majority of them are just kind of...frozen. Staring at me with wide eyes, and tensed up shoulders.
Taking a look over them they're definitely all native sky-people. Though, unlike Towa -the only other sky islander I've personally met- these people's wings all turn downward rather than stick straight out. There was something significant about that wasn't there? Shoot. I never really explored that part of the wiki. Didn't all of Enel's people have wings like that?
"Heso!" I render the Skypiean greeting from the series. "Apologies if I startled anyone. I'm wondering if-"
"We don't do that here." A wrinkled old woman speaks as she shuffles her way to the head of the crowd. She's perhaps no more than three-feet high and walking with a cane taller than she is. "What's your business here blue sea dweller?"
Corbella, Birkan Refugee, Lv. 3
I let my expression fall to neutral, keeping my mental frown tucked away inside. 'Well that's a little curt. I didn't even get a sentence out.' My eyes flick behind the village matron and see the rest of the populace is moving again, even if they're all doing so with a tightness in their frames. 'Who, now that I'm looking at it, all have 'refugee' as some part of their titles. I guess some wariness of strangers is to be expected.'
I focus back on the elder, meeting her scrutinizing face with a business one of my own. "I'm looking for Breath or Jet Dials." I speak simply. "Doesn't matter what size. Some other Dial types too if you have them, but that's lower priority."
The woman scoffs. "We've no use for your blue sea currency here."
"Barter then." With a slow hand I make a brief show of pulling an item from storage. "I'm carrying far more than it looks like I assure you. There has to be something you all are in short supply of up here."
The Birkan's eyes narrow further at the power use. It's obvious she recognizes Devil Fruit powers -or rather what seems like them- and she distinctively doesn't like it. There's a second emotion that makes up her frown though. One of contemplation. Looking around, I'm noticing more than a few signs that these people are using subsistence farming to get by. There's little else up here in the realm of 'natural resources'.
Coming to a decision, the woman turns towards one of the larger structures on the cloud, -A building slightly bigger than its neighbors that I suppose could pass for a general store. Or perhaps a town pantry or something- and gestures for me to follow with a small jerk.
It's a rather slow shuffle with granny moving at a top speed of half a meter per second and I can feel more than one pair of eyes stare distrustingly at my back as I pass them by. There's even an instance of a parent shooing their children inside and away from the 'stranger'. 'Geez. What is it that happened to these people.' The mood is downright oppressive over here.
Which makes it so much more jarring when, we get to our destination, and the most bubbly, smile-happy, drop-dead gorgeous blonde in a tight sweater was running the counter.
Gabriella, Birkan Refugee, Lv. 5
"Ohmygosh! Sebastian! Sebastian wake up! Grammy brought a guest! Sebastian look! Look! Wake up and say hello!"
At the edge of the counter an old withered kingsnake raised his head and sampled at the air with his tongue. Foggy gray cataracts covered the lenses of the ancient reptile and his scales were a long gone faded red. Not sensing anything of concern the snake lowered his neck back down and clicked the lamp part of his torso back on before curling back up to sleep.
No, you read that right. The lamp part of his torso.
'What the fu-'
"Oh don't mind him!" Gabriella waved off with a laugh. "He's harmless I promise! Old sourpuss has been with our family since before I was even born! Hi, I'm Gabby, nice to meet you!" she leans over the counter to offer a hand. "Can't remember the last time we saw a new face!" she bounces back up after the handshake -causing a fair bit of jiggling- and puts a finger to her chin. "Say now, how exactly did you get all the way up here anyw-"
"Gabriella!" her grandmother snaps. "Comport yourself!"
The shopkeep pouts heavily, her arms sagging way way down. "But Grammy! I just wanna know! It's not like we get new people everyday! And look at him! He's so-"
I tune the pair of them out. Captivating as a bubbly girl in a tight sweater may be, I'm a little too fascinated by my [Observe] of the snake. 'Remarkable. I hadn't even considered...'
So many fan theories out there about how inanimate objects can eat Devil Fruits. Some well thought out, others really quite silly. 'The Elephant Fruit's lineage factor was extracted and used as part of the sword's forging process! That's how we got Funkfreed!' some asserted, slapping their whiteboards full of evidence. 'Caesar Clown was able to reduce the Axolotl Fruit from a solid into a gas!' others cried. 'Lol what if they like put the Dachshund Fruit in the bazooka and then just like dropped a cannon ball on it lmao.' another would say.
What all of them have in common though...is that man was the prime mover. I'd never even heard of a proposal saying the Fruit itself could be the one to make the decision.
Because that's what this is telling me.
'Sebastian', Kingsnake-Lamp, Lv. 6
Although his family typically describes him to others as "He's a lamp who ate the Snake-Snake Fruit" it would be more accurate to say 'Sebastian' is the Snake-Snake Fruit, Model: Kingsnake who chose to be eaten by a heating lamp he had found himself boxed alongside 63 years ago. Although he was fairly mischievous in his youth, now in his twilight years he much prefers just to spend each day snoozing away. Basking in the light he himself produces.
'I knew that Zoan Fruit's have an inherent Will inside them. An inner-animal as it were. The Impel Down jailers who had failed Awakenings taught us that. But I always assumed they weren't 'aware' while still uneaten.' I mean, HOW would that even work? What is it exactly that they can perceive? And how would an immobile, no-eyes, no-ears, no physical senses of any kind piece of Fruit be able to willingly transfer itself into an object?
For only the second time since I obtained it, I pulled the Bird-Bird Fruit, Model: Toucan out of my [Inventory]. "What is it you can perceive?" I whispered to myself, turning the discolored Fruit over in my hand.
Now that it's in my palm, the thought train runs away. 'Do I even 'need' this thing anymore?' I've kept it mostly as a secret trump card against other Fruit users. 'But I've access to Haki now. Logia's aren't inherently unbeatable anymore. And I doubt I'd be able to get this down the throat of anyone above say, Rear-Admiral Tier. Hell, I failed at getting it in the mouth of a Lv.7 piece of garbage nobleman.'
"Grammy you always do this! I am 21 years old and you can't talk to me like that anymore!"
"I'll talk to you however I damn please! Now go in the back and pull the boxes I told you! We'll be discussing this more later!" The old woman sighs heavily as her granddaughter stomps away in a huff. "I apologize." she turns to me. "Having you witness that was..unseemly. Pray that if you ever have to raise children yourself that they won't behave as such. Now," her face shifts. "we're fine on things like cloth or rope. But metal, glass, anything that requires real industry to make, we've been forced to constantly reuse what little we have. What do you have for trade? Breath Dials are fairly common but I've only got three Jet's and two are already in use. I won't give them up unless you can make it worth my while."
One Flame Dial, three Flavor's, six Breath Dials, one Jet, and a pair of Thunder's. 'Not a bad haul if I do say so myself'. Already I'm cooking up some designs for how to modify the glider. Gonna have to do a little experimentation first obviously. Figure out exactly the strength and recharge rate of these things. It's not like with the Impact shell I once had where all I had to do was hit the thing. The non-air related dials I picked up as a bonus. I'm sure a use will strike me for them someday. Perhaps I can fill the Flavor one's with explosive gas or something.
That's all for later though. Right now...I'm still thinking about that damn snake.
I take a seat on the building's porch steps and pull out the Toucan Fruit once more. Stretching out my Observation...I don't really feel anything from it. Nothing I would classify as its own presence. I guess it feels a little different from a mundane item but it's hella faint though. I definitely wouldn't notice if I wasn't staring it in the face. Then again, I am literally only one step above a complete novice at this Haki thing so maybe I just need a higher proficiency before I can make anything out.
I thought I might be able to get a sense of what the animal trapped inside might want...but clearly that's a bust. 'So what to do with it then?' I could keep saving it and give it to a friend one day? Mori might want a Zoan Fruit at some point, and while not the best, this one's certainly not the worst out there. It does let you fly after all.
'We could make a Zoan weapon.' A stray thought puts forward but I wave it away just as quickly. The secret to doing that is still unknown. I'd have to encounter Vegapunk or Caesar Clown to learn that method and I doubt they'd feel like disclosing. Shit, I don't even know where I'd look for Vegapunk. If he's made an appearance yet in the manga, I'm certainly not privy to it.
The thought hits me like a truck. '...but what if the weapon could make the choice? What if it could be the prime mover?' Reaching into my [Inventory] once more I pull out a different item. One I've only used sparingly.
Yatagarasu. The Meito with a 'spirit' in its blade.
I regard the ceremonial violet color of its hilt and feel its balanced weight resting in my hand. If I do this -if it even works- it offers me no tactical advantage. No benefit in combat or relationships. If anything, another companion -or I suppose this is more likely to be a pet- would actually be more of a vulnerability than an asset. But goddamnit. I'm just so curious.
"Don't worry mate." I reassure as I bring the swirly blue guava close to the metal's edge. Just above where the blade connects to the hilt. "We're just testing something."
A single wedge, no more than a few millimeters deep, is cut into the side of the Fruit, allowing a few rivulets of pink juice to drip down over the blade and onto its collar just above the guard.
The effect is immediate. Black wings flare out from above the hilt, ripping the blade from my startled grasp! The blade clatters onto the porch steps and begins to flail in sharp, jerky motions that have me stepping away from the thing. Slowly, very slowly, the tip of the Meito begins to curve downward and shape itself into a beak.
Which to my very much surprise...is capable of speech.
"Oh you absolute DICK!"
"A Toucan!? A fucking Toucan!?" The body begins to take shape as a pair of talons uncurl from the sword's base. "Do you not know what 'Yatagarasu' means you ignorant ape? My hand-guard was a crow's foot! Does that not ring any fuckin' bells for you!?"
A crowd is gathering again, watching the show unfold. "Well you didn't have to eat it!" I find myself objecting, lacking anything better to say.
"You think I could tell what Fruit it was!? As a sword I can barely tell the position of the goddamn sun! I should get a fuckin' prize for sensing it was a bird Fruit at all!" The animal-weapon hybrid finishes its transformation and rears back. "Holy fuck look at my beak! What the fuck is that! It's nearly the size of the rest of me!" Yatagarasu swivels around and narrows its eyes at me. "You."
The toucan flies straight at me, it's beak as sharp as a legendary blade, and I veer to the left in a hasty dodge! "Oh no! You owe me at least one! Stay still!" The bird zooms in for another pass and '[Kami-e]!I'm forced to rely on the paper drawing technique just to avoid. 'Holy crap this little bugger's fast!'
Off in the crowd, a Birkan child giggles at the impromptu comedy act, getting me to sigh in annoyance as the bird comes around for a third time.
I regret my decision already.
A/N: Jack's status page along with story discussion is available in the discord. Invite Code: .gg/BckzUAX5AV