Training

"What's going on so early in the morning?" asked Suzanne as she stretched out her arms, waking from her slumber. There was a continuous clatter coming from the downstairs, so she swiftly checked herself out in the mirror making sure nothing was out of place, just in case she bumped into Shane on the way down and from there she swiftly headed down the stairs and by following the noise found herself at the small gym they had on the ship...and apparently she wasn't the only one woken up by the noise as faithful Reymundo was stationed outside the door. Suzanne wasn't sure if he was trying to eavesdrop or if he was waiting for his turn. "What's going on in there?"

Reymundo picked his head up and looked at the woman before him, dressed in frilly pink pants and shirt. "I have my samurai code and you definitely need a dress code," he muttered, a little ashamed at his crew mate for traipsing around half-dressed like that. Suzanne stuck her tongue out at him and impatiently asked him again. Reymundo shrugged, figuring there was sense in dealing with a half-dressed woman who was up about two hours earlier than usual. "One of the Infinity Pirates came over today and wanted to train with Shane. And you know the captain, he's not one to turn down a fight."

Suzanne smiled, "let me guess its their captain, right? He seems like someone who would rush into a fight headlong without any concern for his well-being! And there's nothing more reckless or stupid then picking a fight with my Shaney-waney!" Reymundo lifted an eyebrow to that comment, but decided to let it pass. Even thinking the words 'Shaney-waney' made him feel sick to his stomach.

"Nope, not that captain, last I heard he holed himself up in the captain's quarters on their ship and was having the fits," Reymundo couldn't help, but chuckle to himself imagining what was going on in his head. "He's probably scared out of his mind after seeing the strength of a Marine Admiral...or is it Vice Admiral...I'll be honestly I didn't much care for his title. His swordsmanship was top class and that's all that matters to me." Suzanne thought back to Graco, she didn't really see him herself, but from the grapevine she could tell that he was definitely strong...at least a match for both Shane and Mikoto people had said, but she didn't want to believe. Shane was the strongest.

"Then probably the swordsman, right? His ego probably got bruised when Graco wiped the floor him," Suzanne laughed, once again more rumors she had heard through the grapevine and while she was sure they were greatly exaggerated...from the sounds of it, even if they were it meant that the Infinity's swordsman barely landed a hit on him. A sad, sad fact. She wondered if Reymundo would've stood a better chance. Reymundo was easily a topclass fighter on their side and like Shane he was always raring for a fight. It wouldn't surprise her if Reymundo did pick a fight with him.

"Wrong again, I got no idea what their swordsman is doing, but sure enough that's not him in there," Reymundo grunted, nodding towards the door. Suzanne's curiosity was piqued. Was it the iron golem? Or maybe that one running guy? The doctor? The cyborg? Then again just by guessing she'd eventually hit the nail on the head. Perhaps the quickest way would be to just barge in and see what's what. However, before she could barge in, Shane barged out. He had his large axe strapped to his back, however, what was most noticeable was that he didn't have a single drop of sweat on his brow. "Hey, boss," acknowledged Reymundo, "how did it go?"

Shane grunted and shook his head, "I suppose I shouldn't have expected too much. But it was only our first fight...maybe it'll be better tomorrow." Tomorrow? It looked like he was impressed enough that he would allow them to fight another round. Impressive to say the least as most people would've been beaten black and blue after a single match with him that they couldn't even sit by the next day. Suzanne just took this as a sign that whoever his opponent was...was just that good. "I don't really like the idea, though, but, hell, when somebody like that asks you to help them out...you kind of got to say yes. I still think it'd best if they just fought someone on their own level."

Well, of course, nobody was on Shane-waney's level, thought Suzanne as she kept smiling as she peered around the corner and into the room, interested in who he was in fact fighting. However, even she was amazed at who it was! Surely given all the guesses in the world she would never have said this one Infinity Pirate!

(-ten minutes later-)

"I don't get it," said Suzanne as she hurriedly prepared a quick tea pot, despite her personal dislike for the stuff. She passed it to her new 'friend'. "I mean, you got to know how strong Shane is and challenging him at your current level is just insane! I mean, he'd probably be able to beat your captain! I mean...uh, I'm sorry," said Suzanne as she looked to be wracking her brain for a few more seconds as she tried to place something, "yeah, but I kind of forgot your name."

"Its Sage," the young botanist introduced herself as she lightly sipped her tea. "I know I don't quite stand a chance against him, but...I feel so useless." She looked down at the ground...it wasn't particularly cold anymore around here, but still she felt depressed like she did back at the URA...ever since then she never seemed to be able to pick herself up and out of her funk. "I mean, I thought I'd be able to do something back at the URA when Mikoto was kidnapped, but I couldn't...I was in too bad of a funk. After that I was turned against my own crew by some weird mummy controlling freak! For those two journeys I wasn't in control of my body, but at the jail...I thought I could do some good as a matter of fact when Mikoto was kidnapped by tapirs I kind of felt relieved as it meant I could do what I couldn't do back at the URA, I could save Mikoto! I could finally repay him for all the kindness he showed me throughout our journey...but even though I found him I had to rely on Aaron to help me save him and then I couldn't even defeat one villain...

"Finally during our Davy Back Fight with Kraven I still couldn't actually do anything...I'm part of the reason why we lost the obstacle course since I couldn't maintain the momentum Aaron and Enma had snatched for us...and then when Mikoto had fallen and was feeling broken...I tried to pick him back up, but I couldn't, Ridley managed to do it, but I couldn't! I tried to help them out at every turn, but I keep failing! Everyone else is trying their hardest, steadily stepping forward, but not me...I felt like a broke a wall with my Pressure Ball, but even then I still can't accomplish what I need to do...I need to get stronger."

"But still fighting Shane isn't a way to get stronger, its a death sentence," shouted Suzanne, "he's the captain of our crew for a reason! He's strong! Stronger than anyone else I've ever met! In terms of charisma and strength he is on a whole other level from any other pirates in the sea. He probably easily could've taken down your captain if he wanted to."

"I've heard several times that you get stronger by fighting strong opponents," muttered Sage, "even if I have to push my body to the limits by fighting with someone as strong as Shane...I'll do it...as many times as I have to."

(-On the Infinity Pirate ship-)

"So? How was he?" asked Hiro-Shu as he sat down eying up Zesiro. Zesiro had just returned from a spar with their captain. It was odd considering Mikoto had been holed up in his room ever since they left Skypiea, but like half an hour ago he suddenly came out saying he wanted to test a new move or something and asked Zesiro to spar with him. Of course, anybody who had any kind of free time wanted to know how it went. They were concerned for Mikoto's well-being...as well as Zesiro's after that loss...it was like killing two birds with one stone with this spar.

"Damn, I was kind of hoping for some kind of confidence boost," muttered Zesiro as he walked out of their own gym, it was smaller than the one the 'Dark Knight' pirates had, but it still allowed them to get some exercise and hold a few spars.

"You mean Mikoto is back?" asked Hiro-Shu, a small smile creeping onto his face, "that's a relief to hear I was starting to get worried. What about this new 'technique' of his?" Hiro-Shu had to admit he was interested, the last time Mikoto had come up with a new technique it was the Rapid-Fire and the After-Image. Two high-class techniques that could probably propel Mikoto to the level of Shichibukais...hell, it was unlikely that he would've beaten either Shichibukai without those two moves. If he had created a third one to top it off...it was entirely possible Mikoto would be more than a match for the ones coming up.

"How the hell should I know?" complained Zesiro, "I don't think I even pushed him. I mean, in half an hour I couldn't even land a single blow on him!" Zesiro shrugged, "I was expecting to knock him around a bit, you know?"

"You wanted to hurt our captain?" asked Hiro-Shu.

"He's just so dang fast, I was planning on being able to catch up to him somehow, but with his blistering fast speed and reflexes, he is a force to be reckoned with. He was moving so fast I could swear he was dodging before I even attacked." Zesiro sighed, "but I suppose that's not a real reason. I guess he's just growing faster than I am. He's wanted by the World Government for a food reason." Hiro-Shu looked thoughtful for a second. Was Mikoto really moving before Zesiro attacked, Hiro-Shu supposed there was only one technique he could think of that would allow Mikoto to do such a thing. However, if it was what Hiro-Shu thought it was...Mikoto may quickly become one of the most dangerous pirates in the world. However, since Hiro-Shu didn't know much more about it...he just shrugged it off...it was entirely possible that Mikoto had just sped up another notch...that wouldn't surprise Hiro-Shu at all...that kid really was growing at a dangerously fast pace.

Mikoto picked himself off of the ground. He still didn't have the most complete control over his speed while focusing on those voices. His concentration would waver for a second when doing one or the other, but he was slowly nearing the perfect mixture. He found out that there was someone stronger than him out there, so he guessed for the first time he got a good motivation. Of course, he would just have to take it one step at a time. Forget about Graco for now...Mikoto had to focus on the current villain for the time being. Indeed a Shichibukai was just a stepping stone to his real dream, so he couldn't afford to get cocky and stumble here. Full steam ahead!

Mikoto stood up and he felt a sharp sting in his legs, he supposed he had been running around a lot. His entire body creaked with pain...yeah, he probably had been working a little bit too hard lately...fighting, running, maybe he should just take it easy for the next few days. Mikoto plopped back down. Taking things easy wasn't exactly his specialty, especially since right now. There was definitely a big fight on the horizon, trouble was definitely approaching them and fast. As he thought back on it, other than that, he wondered how the rest of his crew would do it. Mikoto spun his arm around, trying to stretch. He definitely felt like he got stronger, each battle definitely helped him rev his engine up another notch...the next fight though...Mikoto looked down at the ground and frowned...the next fight seemed like it would be on a whole other level. Shichibukais, not just one, but three...not only that, but he doubted the Marines would take it easily when they heard of their battle cry.

Mikoto paused as he caught sight of his bounty poster. He wondered what it would take to talk the World Government into changing his name on it. The 'Kid Coyote' definitely didn't fit him anymore. Maybe something more grown-up like 'Cool Coyote' or 'Captain Coyote' would fit him better nowadays. He definitely deserved it considering all the crazy things he has done to get this far...he wondered if while he was at it, he could talk them into giving him some cash too...they were rather broke.

The question was how much stronger could the rest of his crew become in the very little time they had left before they found themselves face-to-face with quite possibly the worst enemy they had faced yet?

(-One week later-)

The crew of both ships have gathered on one vessel again in the Blue Seas. They were stationed around each other and were busily talking. The final details of their fight still needed to be handled. This would not be some simple charge and attack as a matter of fact their opponents were every bit as sly and as cunning as they were. Chances are if they even got wind that they were the first targets of such a formidable alliance they would already be taking counter-measures to make sure that they wouldn't falter. "We move together!" declared Shane, "once we get into attacking range of the island they are currently stationed on we'll launch a simultaneous united attack on the front and the rest of the pirates we've hired will attack the back. Ordinarily such a simple attack wouldn't do much, but we've swapped flags with the other pirates for the time being, meaning the Fox Brothers will mistakenly believe that the pirates he should be worried about, in other words us, are attacking the back when in reality we'll be attacking the front and destroying his men slowly turning the odds in our favor and allowing us to plow deep into their island. This should work as neither me nor Mikoto are people who would ordinarily try such a sneaky and under-handed attack." Mikoto nodded, although in all honesty Mikoto didn't think he was above using such a sneaky attack nor did he dislike them...he just could never think of one that would work.

"Of course, this means we'll be going up against the full-front of their forces while the other pirates will more than likely just be handling the three brothers," Shane muttered, "me, Mikoto, and Bando shouldn't waste our energy heedlessly, in other words, it'll be up to the rest of you guys to blow a hole through their weakest crew members and keep plowing through." Zesiro, Maria, and Hiro-Shu all nodded along with almost everyone on Shane's crew. Beating up pirates was beginning to become their favorite past time after all.

"What makes you so certain that the Fox Brothers will be on that island?" asked Enma as he smashed his finger onto the map for emphasis. "They are Shichibukais right? Why would they be stationed on this one particular island?"

"I got friends in low places," grumbled Shane, more than a little upset that someone from the Infinity Pirates was questioning his plan or his sources. "The Fox Brothers regularly retreat to this island during times of panic or dire situations...I'm pretty sure hearing an army is coming for their heads would qualify as such...best case scenario would be only one or two of them considers this to be so and retreats to here and therefore the advantage would be firmly pushed into our hands and can pick off the remaining Brothers at a time of our pleasing." The crew nodded and looked back to Enma, if anybody could find another hole in his plan it would be him.

"In that case its entirely possible more Shichibukais would come with them as well."

"The Fox Brothers have their pride and secrecy as Kraven told us one of them very rarely ever showed up to Shichibukai meetings. In other words, they have stressed relationships with the opposing Shichibukais and in times like this they'd probably prefer to keep outsides to a minimum anyways."

"Why do you need to plow through the island anyways?" asked Enma, "wouldn't it be better to fight it out with them as faraway from their island as possible? I mean, why go to the heart of the enemy where it is the most dangerous?"

"Cause that's where the fun is," growled Shane, once again revealing his twisted personality and that he got his kicks off of doing insane things like this. Enma shrunk back a little bit, reasoning with people is his strong suit, but when its with people like Mikoto or Shane, who so far set in their ways that reasoning almost always fails...he just had to shrug it off and accept it. "Besides," Shane said as he relaxed again, "We need to dwindle their forces and split them up, if its a three-on-three fight the advantage is obviously in their favor...and if it becomes a one-hundred-on-one-hundred man fight then it would be too chaotic to tell who would win. Such a mess is not advantageous to us either...we need to split them up and do so quickly. This is all about divide-and-conquer."

Divide-And-Conquer

RUSHING RIGHT NOW! Can't talk!