"Nothing yet…" Jin uttered, as he looked at the massive pillar that constituted Kiritsu Island's lower mass. As it turned out, he and KC had gone around the island several times, creating several paths of ice around it, but sadly, they hadn't seen any trace after Chris or Maria. "I'm beginning to doubt that these Marines even have Chris and Maria locked up here."

"But they've got to be around here, somewhere!" KC said, as he was the only one standing on one of the ice paths; Jin was still hovering in the air with his water jets. "Why would that Marine leave us an Eternal Pose here, if not to put us on a right track?"

"Maybe it's a ploy to make us go on the wrong track?" Jin mused, as he rubbed his chin. "I'm not saying that they're definitely not on the island, but we've got to be open for any outcome."

Sighing, KC looked at the pillar, before looking up at the plateau it supported. "This is a strange way to shape an island… it looks like some sort of mushroom when you look at it from this angle!" he said, just as Jin looked up as well.

"Yeah, it kind of does…" Jin said, when he suddenly noticed something. Intrigued, he flew up towards the bottom of the plateau, where it diverged down into the pillar. "Why is the rock…" he uttered, as when he got up to that point, he felt the rock and eyed it curiously.

"Hey, Jin! What do you-" KC began, when he suddenly slipped and lost his footing, sending him falling towards the ocean. "Oh, crap! I'm gonna need some footing!" he exclaimed, before he whipped out one of his falcatas, sending a wave of ice shooting out below him, in order to create some footing. However, as he tried making it connect to the pillar, the wave of ice passed through the pillar, rather than stopping the moment it struck the rock. "Wait, what!?"

Before he could fathom what was going on, he felt that someone grabbed him, slowing his descent. "You should be more careful, KC; even with my powers, I can't help you if you fall too deep into the ocean." Jin said, as he had flown down and grabbed KC the moment he heard the swordsman slip, as the two now landed on the ice bridge KC had made. "But… what's going on with the pillar?"

As the two noticed, the ice bridge was going into the pillar, and where it entered, they could see the pillar ripple and distort itself, as if it was a surface of water. "Weird…" KC muttered, as he approached the pillar, making sure not to slip on the ice. "Why would the pillar do something like this?" he said, before he placed his hand by it, but instead of touching the solid surface, it went through, with nothing blocking him from pushing ahead. "An illusion?"

"This looks like it's important. We should get back to the Howling Moon and tell Zugai about this." Jin said, when he suddenly heard something. Then, all of a sudden, something flew down right next to them, narrowly missing them, and when it struck the water's surface, it exploded. "What the-"

Just then, several of these projectiles began raining down on KC and Jin, some of them striking some of the ice paths, shattering them and sending shards of ice raining down, but thankfully, none of them striking the bridge KC and Jin stood on. "Wait a minute…" KC said, as he noticed something headed directly towards them. "Those are cannonballs! Who the hell is able to shoot cannons from this angle?!"

"We can figure that out later!" Jin said, as he suddenly grabbed KC, before looking at the pillar. "…right now, we gotta get out of here!" Then, in a quick move, he ran towards the pillar, both him and KC vanishing into it, just as the cannonball made contact with the bridge of ice, shattering it, though whether or not this affected Jin and KC, no one could tell.

"Aw, man! You almost had them, Greg!" a voice said, as high up above where the two pirates had been, both Rand and Allenton were standing, or rather floating, as Rand made sure to warp the two of them so that whenever they began descending, they'd return to the top. "C'mon, if we follow them, we can still kill 'em!"

"Don't be ridiculous, Albert." Allenton said, as he shook his head, before hiding a few cards on his person. "Those pirates just gave us a massive lead. I'm sure that Westfall would be pleased to learn of such an entrance."

"Hey, we don't even know if that's really it!" Rand protested, as he looked down. "Besides, I'd like to see if they'd outrun my explosions!" However, before he could think further on this, Allenton smacked him upside his head. "Hey! What was that for?!"

"You do realize that if we do not tell Westfall of this immediately, he'll have us executed on the spot for withholding information." Allenton replied, as he looked down. "You do remember that incident not too long ago? With the ninja trio attacking some of our squad members?"

"Oh, yeah…" Rand nodded, as he snapped his fingers. "I still remember how pissed off Westfall was when the officer in charge reported it. And we all know what happened to that officer, am I right?" he added with a chuckle.

"Let's not joke around here, Rand. Take us to Westfall, on the double." Allenton sighed, and with a nod from Rand, the two of them vanished, leaving the area completely empty.

Back on the Howling Moon, the main sail had been removed from the mast it once hung on, as Shin was sitting on the main deck, manually sewing and stitching the sail together, using differently colored rags to make up for the damage the sail had suffered. "Shouldn't take me more than a day…" she said to herself, as she reached for some white rags, when she noticed that the door leading in to Zugai's workshop was partly open, with steam flowing out from the room. "Huh. He must be working on something extraordinary."

As if that was a cue, the door opened fully, but due to the steam flowing out, it made it impossible for Shin to make out anything that was going on in there. At that moment, Zugai stepped out, his hoodie-jacket removed, which only showed his even more tattered white T-shirt. He was also holding what seemed to be two large, white buckets missing handles in his hands. "That should do it! Now, I've just got to find Honehakaisha, and-"

"Zugai!" Hearing Shin made Zugai flinch a bit, as he looked over at the chef, who was tapping her foot against the deck in annoyance. "What do you think you're wearing? Let me tell you something: That shirt's not going to stay that ruined for long!"

"H-hey, relax, Shin, I'm comfortable with this on, alright?" Zugai retorted in defense, before he placed a hand over one of the bigger rifts, which showed a large part of his scar. "It serves as a reminder to me to not do too stupid things, or I could pay for it with more than a tattered T-shirt."

"Isn't the scar and jacket a good reminder by itself?" Shin sighed, before she noticed the two buckets Zugai held. "Hey, what are those for?"

"What, these?" Zugai said, as he held the buckets up for Shin to see. "I figured that I could build something to make Honehakaisha a bit more powerful, in terms of raw force. You know, in case we find that Chris and Maria are behind Seastone bars or something…"

"Really, now?" Shin asked, as she tilted her head. "But what are a pair of buckets gonna be able to do that the blade of your axe can't do on its own?"

"Well, smash through solid rock, for one thing." Zugai said, as he put the two buckets together by their open ends. "We'll just have to wait and see if this really works." However, all of a sudden, he dropped the buckets he held and turned his head to the left, and quickly lightening the bones in his left arm, he moved his arm so that he grabbed something that had been thrown at him; as it turned out, the object was a shuriken, with six points, rather than the standard four.

Of course, upon seeing the shuriken, Shin was surprised. "What the… where did that come from?" she asked, but she didn't get any time for an answer, as several more shuriken were flung at Zugai, who was forced to remove his left arm's bones out of his arm, letting the projectiles harmlessly bounce off his hardened skeleton.

"I see you're not as slow as I anticipated." a female voice said, as suddenly, Zugai and Shin noticed someone standing on the shore; it was someone completely clothed in black garbs, save for a small area on this character's face which showed a pair of deep, blue eyes. There was also a red sheath for a katana with some form of flame design on it by her hip. "'Demon's Orthopedic', Zugai Hibiware. This island's secrets will not fall in your hands!"

Zugai blinked, as he looked at this girl dressed as a ninja. "…secrets?" he asked, as he scratched his head. "What are you talking about?" However, the ninja didn't answer, as she suddenly threw another shuriken at him, but he was quick to grab it between the fingers of his left hand. "And why are you attacking me?"

"It should be obvious, Orthopedic!" the ninja said, as she suddenly drew the katana, which was relatively short, compared to other katana, out from its sheath, pointing it at Zugai. "You are a pirate, and pirates are evil! You would go hand in hand with that damned Marine captain who has taken residence on this island… maybe he'll leave if I hand you to him!"

Hearing that, Zugai cracked his neck, before approaching the railing, dropping the shuriken he had just grabbed. "So, you're supposed to be a protector of the island, or a bounty hunter?" he said, before removing the glove off his left hand, looking over at Shin. "Do you think you can get Honehakaisha out from the boy's room, Shin? I've got a feeling that this girl isn't going away without a fight." Then, before Shin could answer, he leapt off the ship onto the shore, eyeing the girl with caution.

"But… I can't lift that thing!" Shin finally protested, as Zugai began approaching the girl, without noticing Shin's complaint. "Geez… well, I'd best get going. Maybe if I drag it after me…" Then, quickly getting up, she ran into the boy's bedroom, intent on getting Honehakaisha out somehow.

"So, you've decided to face me." the ninja said, as she took a good grip on her katana, whilst Zugai simply cracked his joints as he approached her. "I should warn you; my skill is unchallenged on this entire island. Do not assume that I'll go easy on you, just because you've got a 25 million Beri bounty, pirate! I'll defeat you here, and-"

"Irakei!" Suddenly, the ninja was interrupted by something slamming right into her face, sending her tumbling to the ground, leaving her lying in the sand. "Were you going to fight me, or just drone on?" Zugai sighed, as he was holding his spinal cord in his right hand, leaving his body's upper half to sway from side to side, lashing the ivory whip about.

Quickly getting up, the ninja growled, before rushing at Zugai. "Stampede!" she called when she got closer to Zugai, before she began thrusting her sword forward multiple times, at a ludicrous speed to boot. However, without a spine in his body, Zugai could easily let his body sway about to avoid this attack. With a growl, she suddenly leapt back a bit, before pulling out a set of shuriken, which she threw at Zugai.

However, the pirate merely swung his spine so that the projectiles bounced away from him, and before the ninja could counter, Zugai lashed it around her legs, constricting them. "Alright, maybe you'd feel up to giving me some answers, now? Maybe like who you are."

However, instead of giving an answer to this, the ninja quickly pulled out several more shuriken from behind her back. "Blizzard!" she yelled, before quickly throwing those shuriken, along with hundreds of shuriken she pulled from behind her back, at Zugai. Quickly, Zugai responded by letting the skeleton of his arms loose from his body, before quickly moving them to swat away or grab any shuriken that looked like they would strike him, and with his actual right hand still holding the whip, it left the ninja back at square one.

Or at least, that's what it looked like, as whilst she hurled the storm of shuriken at Zugai, she suddenly unfurled the spinal cord around her legs, before suddenly grabbing it and throwing it towards Zugai, which threw him off, leading to him having to lash it back into his back. However, as he retracted the whip, the ninja rushed towards him, holding her katana so that the blade pointed away from Zugai. "Flower Arrangement!" Then, she suddenly began twirling the katana around in a circular motion, in an attempt to slice through Zugai whilst he recovered from her sudden move.

"Farankutsume!" However, her attack was repelled by Zugai suddenly crossing his hands, leaving the blade to struggle against six claws protruding out from Zugai's knuckles. "I've got to ask; you've eaten a Devil Fruit, haven't you?" he said, before he aimed a kick at the ninja, though she was quick to simply leap away from it, rather than taking it.

"Yeah. I ate the Dokyo Dokyo no Mi." she said, as she grabbed the handle of the katana with both her hands. "It gives me reflexes beyond any normal human. Observe!" Then, she rushed towards Zugai again, ready to slash at him, though he was ready, holding his left arm up so that his face was being hid behind it, whilst his right arm was raised so that the claws pointed at the ninja.

However, the ninja suddenly vanished, which surprised Zugai, though he didn't lose his stance; instead, he looked around the area, keeping himself locked in position. "Where'd she go?"

"Cliff Drop!" The sudden voice alerted Zugai to the girl's location, but he didn't quite make it in time, as he felt something cut him from behind; as it turned out, the ninja had reappeared behind Zugai in mid-air, attempting a slash at his unprotected back. Fortunately, Zugai had hardened the bones in his back, so whilst it did leave a cut on his back, it didn't do as much damage as it could have done. "Tsch… what form of Devil Fruit have you eaten?" she asked, as she vanished and reappeared in front of Zugai again, who retracted his claws back into his hands.

"The Hone Hone no Mi." Zugai replied, as he grabbed his right arm with his skeletal, left hand, looking at the ninja with a cocky look. "It allows me to harden the bones in my body to a point where I can't feel damage. And, as you've seen, I can remove the bones in my body, as well!" Then, he suddenly pulled out his humerus, as he saw that the ninja got a surprised look on her face. "Now, how much do you know about the human skeleton?" he said, before he placed the humerus in his mouth, as he grabbed his right leg, before pulling out his femur, which forced him down on one knee.

"Tsch… what the hell are you doing?!" the ninja exclaimed, as she suddenly pulled out several more shuriken from behind her. "No matter; I'll finish you off right now!" Then, she leapt into the air, before she began spinning around. "Rain of Blades!" Then, a rain of shuriken emerged from the spinning figure of the ninja, all of them aimed towards Zugai.

However, Zugai had just placed his humerus into his leg where his femur was supposed to be, and grabbing the femur with both his hands (though it took some effort with his right hand), he leapt towards the incoming rain of shuriken, striking away those shuriken that would have struck him, which startled the ninja even more. "Momogachan!" Zugai yelled, as when he got in range, he slammed the femur into the ninja with all his might, hardening the bone to increase the damage of the impact.

The blow was more than enough to send the ninja propelling up in the air, and a few moments after Zugai got back on the ground, she crashed into the shore at full speed, a dazed look visible in her eyes. "Phew… guess that's that." Zugai sighed, as he quickly switched the humerus in his leg with the femur, before placing the humerus where it belonged. "Now, time for questioning…" he muttered, as he moved towards the ninja.

"Finally!" A sudden call from Shin, however, distracted Zugai from the ninja, forcing him to look back towards the Howling Moon, where Shin finally had gotten Honehakaisha out on deck. "This thing weighs a hell of a lot, I'll have to say! Devil Fruit or not, lifting this thing just seems impossible to me!"

With a small sigh, Zugai turned back to face the ninja, but instead of seeing her, he got a flashbang detonating right in front of him, forcing him to block his eyes from the sudden flash. "This won't be the last you see of me, Orthopedic!" the ninja said, and when Zugai could finally see again, she was gone.

"Hmm… what was up with her, anyway?" Zugai said, before he went back towards the Howling Moon, closing his eyes in thought. The island's secrets… what did she mean by that? he thought, just as he climbed back on deck, where Shin was heaving for her breath, with Honehakaisha next to her. "Oh… sorry for making you drag that out here for nothing." he said somewhat sheepishly, before he picked up Honehakaisha, easily swinging it over his shoulder.

"Urgh…" Shin groaned, as she sat down on deck, looking up at Zugai. "Nah, I suppose I should be sorry; if not for me, we could have asked the young lady what she was up to."

"Maybe so." Zugai said with a nod, before he looked at the two buckets he had dropped. "…somehow, I don't think that we're going to be done here after rescuing Chris and Maria from the Marines." he said, before sitting down next to the buckets, placing Honehakaisha by them.

This comment made Shin eye her captain with curiosity for a bit. "What makes you say that?" she asked, before she went back to sewing the flag back together.

"Just a hunch, Shin." Zugai replied, as he picked up the buckets, before looking down at the blade of his labrys. "Just a hunch…"

"Wow, this place is big!" At the moment, Krystal, Nampu and Craigmirra had caught up to Wong, and where they had caught up with her was practically a mansion, if only because of the general size of it; at least three times greater than the average building size back in the village. "And that Takashi-guy lives here? Where does he get all the moola from?" Craigmirra asked, as Wong looked at the mansion along with the three pirates.

"Actually, this was a gift to him from a guy from North Blue, according to Master Takeda." Wong replied, as she placed her hands on the back of her head. "I forget his name, but Takeda always mentioned that he didn't look too rich... but looks can be deceiving, as they say."

"But why does he need such a large mansion?" Nampu asked, as he held his chin in thought whilst he looked at the building. "I mean, if I'm not mistaken, the only ones living there are him, his daughter and granddaughter, so where does all the extra space go?"

Wong chuckled a bit, before patting Nampu's back. "It's simple, Upman! This is the school Hinaku mentioned earlier! Not only does he live here, but he tutors those who come here in various subjects! Now, let's go inside, shall we?"

However, before they could move towards the mansion, the doors suddenly blasted open, as a bunch of dogs and cats ran out of the building, followed by a woman who looked like she was in her early 40s, with brown hair and glasses, wearing a blue apron over a red shirt and blue pants, wielding a broomstick in her hands. "Come on, you pesky animals! Go on and raid my kitchen again, I dare you!" she yelled, as the animals ran right past the quartet, who the woman didn't seem to notice just yet.

Blinking at this phenomenon, Craigmirra looked up at Krystal with slightly frightened eyes. "Are you sure that this is such a good idea?" she whispered, as Krystal only shrugged in reply. It was at that moment, however, that the woman noticed them.

"Oh, if it isn't Wong!" she said in a friendlier tone, as she placed the broomstick over her shoulder. "And I see that you've brought some new friends with you. Or did dad force them into the school he's got going, as well?"

"No, nothing of the sort, ma'am!" Wong replied, as she motioned towards the three. "These guys just happened to be coerced into a meal by Master Takeda. They're called Meg, Mira and Upman!" Then, she looked towards the woman. "And you three, please say hello to Mistress Nakano, who we usually refer to as the vice-headmaster of the school."

Nakano laughed at this title, before shaking her head. "I just take care of the mess my dad's students leave after them. But, if you were invited for a meal, I don't see why I shouldn't allow you inside. Just come on right in!"

Before the pirates could move, however, someone suddenly appeared in front of them, which naturally startled the pirates, but not Nakano and Wong, the latter who was surprised at how this newcomer looked, and the former looking discontent. "A-Atsumi!" Wong exclaimed, as it became clear who stood there; it was a girl with short, black hair, wearing skin-tight shorts, a black T-shirt and sandals, and most notably, deep blue eyes and a red sheath with flaming designs containing a katana. Also, she was bruised over her body.

"Atsumi." Nanako replied, before she grabbed the girl's ear, wagging her finger in front of her. "Where have you been, young lady?! If you've been out training again, and neglecting your studies, then you're going straight to bed without supper!" she said angrily, which earned her a look from Atsumi.

"Sorry… mom." she replied, before helplessly yanking her head in an attempt to break free from Nanako's grip. "But, you've got to hear me out! There's pirates at the shore, and-" she began, though Nanako stopped her before she could continue by pulling her ear. However, what Atsumi had said surprised the pirates, who were unaware of anyone watching them.

"No excuses, young lady! If there were pirates here, don't you think the Marines would have taken them in? I've got half a mind to share with you, Atsumi…" Nanako said, and she only continued raving and ranting to the girl as the two of them vanished inside, leaving Krystal, Nampu, Craigmirra and Wong behind.

"…so… she's Takashi's granddaughter?" Craigmirra finally said, as she looked up at Wong. "What's her deal?"

"It's not something we talk about here." Wong replied, as she sighed. "You could say that Atsumi's… a bit of a rebel."

"And that's putting it lightly." an older voice said, which made the quartet look behind them, only to see both Tak and Hinaku standing there, with Tak chuckling to himself. "It's a good thing that she got back before we did; otherwise, I'd really start getting worried." he said, before he and Hinaku moved past the pirates, as they, along with Wong, entered the mansion. "Come on, you three, and we'll see what my daughter can cook up!" Though the three were uncertain about this, they eventually entered the mansion.

The sound of cell doors opening caused both Chris and Maria to look up from where they were sitting, as three people walked into the cell, and those three were Rand, Allenton and Westfall, the latter keeping a frown on his face, though with his Glasgow Grin, it was made creepier than it should have been, especially with the lighting in the cell. "I hope you two are ready for some exploration." he said, before motioning for Rand and Allenton to get Chris on her feet. While they did that, Westfall moved towards Maria, who tried not looking him in the eyes, before he undid the chains hanging her on the wall.

Then, he grabbed her by the wrists, making her wince in pain a little, though as he lifted her up, she finally looked him in the eyes. "Why…?" she uttered, as he only raised an eyebrow at this question. "Why… do you hate fishmen? What have they ever done to you?"

Westfall hummed, ignoring the fact that Chris looked over at Maria and Westfall with a shocked expression, before he suddenly broke into a laugh. "Do I need a reason to hate your race?" he said snidely, before bringing Maria a bit closer to his face, letting his piercing eyes really glare at her. "I fail to see why someone like yourself would even ask of that. I would be glad to kill you right here and now, to end your miserable suffering, you pathetic little fish!" he spat, the intensity of his glare actually making Maria whimper a bit.

"YOU SON OF A BITCH!" Chris suddenly yelled, as she suddenly tackled Rand and Allenton away from her, before rushing at Westfall, grabbing his leg in an attempt to make him fall. "If you dare think about hurting her, then I swear to God that-"

With a swift motion, Westfall kicked Chris away from him, before dropping Maria. "You should be careful of what you say, Hopkins!" he said, before he suddenly drew his shotgun from his waist, aiming it at Chris, which startled Maria. "I could kill you as well just as easily…" he began, before he looked at Maria, a smile slowly creeping over his lips. "…but judging from your reaction, maybe I'll spare you." he said, before putting the shotgun back in place. "And maybe I'll simply kill your crew before your eyes." he added snidely, just as Rand and Allenton grabbed a hold of Chris, chaining her arms together.

"Damnit… don't think that I'll let you get away with this." Chris grunted, as Westfall grabbed Maria's arms again, dragging her out of the cell, just as Rand and Allenton began dragging Chris out as well. "DO YOU HEAR ME?! If you harm even a strand of hair on any of my crewmates, you are a dead man!"

"Hmph… empty threats." Westfall said with a sneer, without bothering to look at Chris. "The secrets of this island, and the perfect payback… truly, this is my time to shine."

A/N: Sorry for taking so long to actually update this, but… well, I'll be honest; I'm lazy. XD In seriousness, working on both this, the actual Piracy and a third story at the same time tends to blow some steam out of you, so keep in mind; the actual Piracy story is the major priority around here, so this won't be updated as much as both you and I'd like. Well, just remember to read and review, and I'll try to get the next one out faster, but I can't promise anything!