The crew was back on the ship, but the vision hadn't stopped. Mikoto was still feeling his head being beaten, a strong underlying pulse blasting through his skull that told him what was going on. He could hear the it all and it wasn't stopping! He could hear the frantic voices of the villagers as they ran away from the scene of the fight as the attacks of the two titans were wide-spread and hazardous. He could feel the rage of Kraven's crew as they grabbed their weapons and charged down the line, eager to join their captain as soon. He could also hear Kraven's thoughts growing dim, slowing down, gradually approaching the point where they would disappear altogether.
"I'm fine!" barked Mikoto suddenly causing the crew to back away, making it obvious that not a single one of them had actually asked that question and that he was responding to what he was 'hearing'. The crew backed away and Shane through him a weird look as he guided the rest of his crew onto the ships. Mikoto shook his head and went further onto the ship...wait! Something was wrong...the voices of Kraven's crew was suddenly starting to dwindle. They were disappearing one-by-one, their screams of rage slowly being replaced by painful agonizing screams of death. "GET THIS SHIP MOVING!" shouted Mikoto trying to push those thoughts as far out of his head as possible and trying to get away as fast as possible.
"Mikoto?" asked a kind and familiar voice, Mikoto turned around and punched the air out of instinct...he was panicking, he was in pain...he wanted it to stop. He should just be happy that he didn't hit anyone this time. It was odd...not a single one of his crewmates were even around him at the moment. They were all busily trying to get the ship onto the water as fast as possible, sensing Mikoto's distress and wanting to help out in anyway they could. Zesiro was actually on the bottom of the boat, trying to push it a little bit further until the wind got a hold of their sails. Hiro-Shu was steering the ship, already pouring over the maps of the area in a quest to find the quickest way out. The entire crew was beginning to pull together in order to get their captain to safety. Mikoto grunted, the pangs of the voices were getting better...they were disappearing...he really hoped it just meant that he was losing this power and not what he thought (or knew) it meant.
Suddenly there was large spike in emotion and thoughts. All from one person, Twon Graco...he had solidified his fate and was preparing for something big. Graco stepped back, moving backwards and taking aim. He rested his blade on his waist for only an instant. His arm snapped forward, forcing the strength from his shoulder, elbow, and wrist out in an single horizontal slash. His sword cut through the air, instantly reducing anyone in its path to ashes. The cut was fast...bloody...and all encumbering. It mowed all signs of life down in an instant...or perhaps something close to all. Kraven had lived through, a gaping cut was in his chest now though, he was resting on his knee and one hand while the other tried to hold his blood into his chest. Graco looked surprised for a second...apparently he had suspected less from a Shichibukai...either way it would be over in the next two seconds.
"STOP!" Mikoto screamed causing the entire crew to freeze and look over at him. Mikoto's face was drenched in sweat, his eyes wide and his breathing fast and sharp. Mikoto paused for a second looking back at them, "not you!" he growled, "get back to work!" The crew hesitated for a second, but Mikoto was quick to respond, "I SAID GET BACK TO WORK!" The crew flinched for a split second before immediately dispersing back to their tasks.
"It looks like fate has been unkind to you today, allow me to apologize it is such a fickle thing," muttered Twon Graco as he gracefully descended from the skies. "However, it is still giving you a chance to redeem yourself," Graco pulled another random blade from its sheath and pointed it at Mikoto's neck.
A flash of steel appeared from above both of them as Zesiro came crashing in hoping to get the drop on Graco, but his full-body attack was simply swatted aside by Graco's own sword-play. "Sorry, but if you want to go waving that sword at my captain, you'll have to get through me first, pirate code and all that." Graco smiled as he turned to face him. "I suppose that you'd choose to believe it was our 'fate' to meet here?" Graco nodded. "Hmm, sorry, but I choose to believe I got here because of my own power not because some damn stars made me."
"That's the thing about fate no matter how much you try to dispute it or go against it, its true," muttered Graco as he returned his sword and brandished a new one. "You are already one cog in its grandeur. You are entwined in the greatest thing in the world, fate. Do you choose to challenge it? Or accept my sword?" laughed Graco lifting his sword up into the air. Mikoto paused for a second before moving forward and being immediately stopped by Zesiro. Zesiro hold out his arms, signaling him to stop in his tracks.
"Well, if I were to believe in fate then I'd say it could very well be my fate to mow you down without taking a single hit," Zesiro said drawing his blades and holding them wide open, revealing his chest to his opponent. "So, let's go at it and test my fate!" Zesiro stepped forward, rushing towards his opponent his swords already beginning their motions, smooth transition from quick slashes.
"Perhaps, but then again...I don't care for you, my only interest is in your captain. The rest of your guys probably aren't worth my time," Graco said with a smile as he focused behind Zesiro and at Mikoto. Mikoto froze again as the steady pulsing voice of Graco shot into him. It was steady and consistent. Graco really did intend to follow his fate all the way through...and right now he believed it was his fate to test Mikoto's. Earlier Mikoto had mentioned that Graco had managed to attack without hesitation and Mikoto was beginning to understand that it wasn't just in attacking, everything about this man was deadly serious. No hesitation, unencumbered confidence, he radiated sheer strength. Graco smirked as he turned his eyes away from Mikoto and back onto Zesiro focusing on the first obstacle in his path. Graco turned his blade around, like he said he had no interest in Zesiro...this barely even warranted the back of his blade in his opinion. Zesiro's movements still lacked some refinement. Of course, as someone who had had swordsmanship drilled into him and about 50 years under his belt spent perfecting it. The only possible hope Zesiro could have was faith...and he had already turned his back to that. Zesiro had no hopes against him.
Graco charged forward, stepping forward and quickly beginning to move like a monster. He swayed backwards, watching Zesiro's clunky swordplay screech above his body. Dodging to the left, then right, ducking beneath the next, jumping above the one after that...and finally screeching right behind Zesiro and ignoring his current opponent in favor his real target. Zesiro paused, turning around, but he was too slow. He couldn't believe it...he didn't even land a single blow. He supposed it was just a difference in current technique...he was just a little fish in a big pond. But he couldn't let that hold him back! Zesiro roared loudly, pivoting around and rushing for Graco. "Stop where you are! Your opponent is me!"
"No, your opponent is fate! And my target is Mikoto! So, as far as I'm concerned you are of no consequence to me!" Graco had closed the distance between him and Mikoto using a simplified form of Soru. He wasn't someone who specialized in those moves, but he still knew the basics and call upon them when he needed to. Especially when they managed to get the job done. Graco still had his sword-drawn, however, with a vicious flash of steel he cut though Mikoto and sheathed his blade all in one beautiful, highly refined slash.
"Mikoto!" screamed Zesiro as his captain disappeared before his eyes.
"Hmm, I suppose that's a surprise," muttered Graco as he tilted his head to the side and turned around preparing to leave, however, Zesiro cut him off with a monstrous cut straight through the air. Despite not meaning to Zesiro had unleashed a flying slash that marked their ship harshly. "Relax, pirate." However, such words coming from the enemy did nothing to calm Zesiro. Zesiro rushed forward again, ready to take the fight into close combat, however, just like before Graco showed off his superiority. A swift movement, knocking Zesiro to the ground and pinning him down. "Relax, fate has decided that you and your crew will get away for the day." Graco got up and walked away. "This sword," showed off Graco, "is Grace...an undeserving blade for pirates, but...even fate can be merciful any pirate struck with this blade is separated from us into a temporary pocket dimension for five minutes. However, once those five minutes are up, he'll be back...no worse for the wear." Graco looked over at the small spot and quickly drew a circle on the ship. "He'll come back straight into this circle...so don't be standing there when he does. Anyways, I have to go now."
"Wait!" shouted Zesiro growling as he stood up and aimed his swords at the Marine Vice Admiral, "what the hell makes you think we are just going to trust you? And more importantly than that why the hell should we? You are a Marine you came here to hunt us, right? I mean as a Marine you probably want us all dead, don't you?"
"I already gave you my answer," muttered Graco, "I believe in fate, I put my life on the line during my fights believing that fate will either protect me or punish me...either way whatever my swords decide is the fate I'll follow. Feel free to leave whenever you get the chance, but I suggest waiting for your captain to return." Zesiro grimaced, he still didn't like this man one bit, but he didn't want to say it out loud. Graco was definitely someone who was a fearsome being. Graco nodded and disappeared shortly after that.
"I wonder," pondered Graco as he moved out quickly, "The last time I encountered Kraven he, too received Grace and I let him go. I wonder what has changed in this short time that he would now deserve Justice. Perhaps it was becoming a Shichibukai? No, that makes no sense...what else has he done since we last met...perhaps it was just meeting that kid. Either way Mikoto receiving Grace definitely means something...maybe it was his fate for him to escape today and do this reckless action of fighting the remaining Shichibukais. Although I suppose in that case the question becomes for what possible reason could fate propel me to be here today...it seems like a mere coincidence I was just so happening to be vacationing up here on the same Sky Island as they were...I may not have a right or reason to challenge fate, but sometimes I sure wish I knew it was."
(-Five minutes later-)
Sure enough Mikoto had returned, plopping back down onto that spot and shaking his head. He was confused baffle and more importantly lost. The crew seemed happy to see him, however, after their initial reactions to seeing that their captain they all remembered they had a job to do so they went off and began to work, so Mikoto just shook his head and relaxed. Or tried to...he had forgotten that there were two people on his ship who weren't necessarily supposed to be there. "So...why are you two on here?" questioned Mikoto looking over at the other two.
"Oh, come on," laughed Aaron, a non-official Infinity Pirate, but for some reason he was insisting on sticking with them for some odd reason. "I need a crew and you guys need me!"
"Why do we need you?" asked Mikoto.
"Maybe cause I'm awesome?" Mikoto gave Aaron a completely stiff glare that didn't seem impressed with Aaron's reasoning, as a matter of fact, any Infinity Pirate within hearing distance shot him the same un-impressed look...hell, Aaron was fairly certain some of the 'Dark Knight' pirates from Shane's crew had the free time to look at him like that. "I got nothing better to do and figured you guys certainly seem to have some fun, I mean breaking into a prison and then fighting a Shichibukai, maybe if I hang out with guys long enough I'll be able to accomplish my dream as well. Wanna know what it is?"
"Not particularly," replied Mikoto with a stiff shrug. Aaron's face fell. "Anyways, I suppose that's a good enough reason for you tagging along with us, what about you?" Mikoto turned to their other unexpected visitor. The pirate from the bar, 'Square Jaw' Bando. Mikoto's chest still hurt from where he landed that punch.
"Don't worry about me, I just got caught up in the heat of the moment and ran to this ship along with the rest of your crew," he laughed, "I got my own ship back on the island." Bando turned around and looked back at the island already disappearing onto the horizon along with his ship. "Eh, who cares, it wasn't anything fancy anyways. Looks like I'm tagging along with you guys too!" He let out a boisterous laugh which was soon reciprocated by Mikoto.
However, soon both Aaron and Bando were pelted by two towels. "Don't think you two brats are getting a free ride," pointed out Maria as she glared at both of them, "this ship is like our home, if you are going to be intruding upon it you gotta pull your own weight. We don't have anyone designated to doing the laundry or washing the floors, so that'll be your twos jobs."
"ON IT! I promise to handle your freshly worn delicate with the finest of care," explained Aaron as he stuck his arm, palm up. He wiggled his fingers greedily, "so, go ahead and hand them over. You can trust me with them," he said, making it obvious that you could not, in fact, trust him with them.
"Okay, Bando you do laundry, Aaron you mop," Maria said matter-of-factually and crossing her arms, disappearing back into her room. She couldn't very well perform any ship-building tasks while the ship was at sea...it was shame too since this ship could really make do with some fixing up, however, she supposed she would just have to live with it and try to do it as soon as possible. However, with the rough seas ahead of them and challenging the Shichibukai she was beginning to wonder if there would ever be such a thing as 'as soon as possible'. More importantly...they had to get stronger. Her cheek still had a slight dull ache to it from when she and Shane fought.
Then again...Maria sighed. If she was feeling particularly weak the rest of the crew probably felt the same way. Some of them probably felt even worse. Maria didn't like to toot her own horn, but at this point in the fights she was fairly certain she had grown to become one of the strongest Infinity Pirate. While she wouldn't put herself above and past her captain (as his speed was definitely an annoying aspect for her to overcome just hitting him was becoming difficult), but that still meant it was entirely possible for her to become the second strongest Infinity Pirate. After her, she'd probably say that Enma deserved that spot his new 'drug' definitely seemed to be powerful. However, as with all extreme powers Maria had to worry if there were any backlashes...she supposed that Enma was one of the few Infinity Pirates that didn't need someone watching over him. He was somebody who could take care of himself. After that...perhaps Zesiro. Then Hiro-Shu and maybe Rosa bringing up the rear for their main fighters.
Of course, she knew she shouldn't be selling Ridley or Sage short as they were both capable individuals...but still sometimes she had to worry about them. No matter how she thought of it, those two just weren't Grand Line material. They were her crew mates though and up until the end she would defend them. Still it would be best if she didn't have to...
Duh-duh-duh! Finally that arc is over and we are moving straight on into another fight with another Shichibukai! But before that the crew all needs to get some training in and trust me I am planning to do some major overhauling to a lot of their skills! So you have that to look forward to!