Suspicions Running High!
Grand Line: Grandioso Spettacolo; Berserker Pirates' Ship
"How are they feeling, Nori?" Ray asked after watching Nori leave her room. Ever since the fourth event of the pirate games had been concluded, Ray had spent the entire time pacing back and forth on the deck of the ship, cleary he was worried about their wellbeing.
"Their injuries weren't as serious as I thought. But I would suggest letting Jynx and Shiro sit out on a few events. Their injuries will take more time to heal than Jaw's." Nori replied.
"That's good to hear I guess. As long as they all can get back up on their feet soon, I fine with these results." Ray sighed in relief before he continued to pace back and forth on the ship.
"Will you quit pacing back and forth now? You're making everyone else nervous when you do that." Charlotte spoke up to her Captain while setting down a book that she was reading.
"I'm sorry, I'm not trying to make anyone nervous. I'm just kind of restless after seeing what happened to three of our crew mates earlier on today." Ray nervously laughed while rubbing the back of his neck. "Winning these games is going to be quite the chore for us after all." He finally admitted.
"I could have told you that from the beginning. But it's too late to back down now. We're already four events deep in these games." Charlotte stated.
"Hmph, I never said that we were backing down. After witnessing the strength of the other pirate crews, I'm even more pumped to showcase our strength to the people on this island and to the people watching around the world." Ray balled his hands into tight fists, a red aura soon began to surround him.
"Save your strength, Captain. We can't afford to have you getting yourself injured just yet. Let me handle the next event. I'll surely land myself in first place." Magnathas spoke with much confidence as he gripped the hilt of his sword.
"Oh please, if anyone is going to land first place, it's going to be me." Ray scoffed at Magnathas' proposal, immediately receiving a fierce glare from the now offended swordsman.
"Oh...are you trying to say that I'm not strong enough to get first place within these games?" Magnathas walked over to his Captain and pressed his forehead against his, scowling fiercely with an aura of fire surrounding him.
"I'm not saying that at all. I'm just saying that you won't be the one to get in first place during the next event because I'll be the one getting first place." Ray replied smugly.
"Those two are actually fighting over which one of them will participate in the next event?" Charlotte sweatdropped at the sight of Ray and Magnathas breaking out into a fight on the ship.
"It's good to see that their spirits are up now. I was actually kind of worried that they would do something drastic after what happened to the others." Nori sighed in relief.
"This is what you consider them having their spirits up? They're practically killing each other over something so trivial." Charlotte sighed.
"That's a good thing thing, Charlotte." Mitsuno looked up from her book that she was reading. She then glanced over to the fighting crew mates and giggled lightly as she returned to the book. "If they're not fighting each other like this, then there must be something wrong with them."
"I'm glad that I'm not like them though. They really look like they enjoy beating the hell out of each other." Frederick sweatdropped.
"No matter, I'm going to put a stop to this right now." Charlotte walked over to Ray and Magnathas and stopped them from fighting each other by punching them across their faces, sending them crashing face first onto the deck of the ship. Before the two had any time to react, they soon found themselves being lifted from the deck from the back of their shirts. "Stop it right now you two. You're simply wasting your energy away by fighting each other like this. If you two want to decide in which one of you participates in the next event, then hurry up and decide by playing rock, paper, scissors or something." She told her crew mates sternly before she released her hold on them and allowed the two to collapse back onto the deck with a hard thud.
Ray and Magnathas groaned in pain as they slowly made their way back onto their feet. After taking the time to listen to their Chronicler's words of "wisdom", they slowly backed away from each other to put some space in between the two. The two men then placed their right hands behind their backs and prepared to play their game of rock, paper, scissors. There was a long silence on board the pirate ship as the other crew members watched in mild interest as to which one of them would arise victorious. Both Ray and Magnathas had confident grins plastered onto their faces, they both had some sort of ace in the hole in which they victories would be assured to them.
"This is going to be so easy. Thanks to all the training concerning how to use haki, I'll be able to predict Magnathas' move before he even makes it." Ray thought confidently.
"Captain is going to be in for a huge surprise once I wind up winning this game." Magnathas thought confidently as well. Once the two were confident enough with their strategies, the two pirates roared loudly and swung their right arms forward, shaping their hands into their chosen objects in the game. Ray had chosen rock while Magnathas on the other hand had chosen paper, thus obtaining him the right to take part in the next event tomorrow.
"No fucking way!" Ray cried in horror as he dropped down onto his knees and stared at his right hand in disbelief while Magnathas pumped his fist into the air in victory. "That's not fair! My Kenbunshoku Haki wasn't working! I demand a rematch!"
"Thanks but no thanks, Captain! I won the game fair and square!" Magnathas stated arrogantly as he made his way into the kitchen to grab some food.
"Aw man...how did I lose?" Ray hung his head.
"Your Kenbunshoku Haki is pathetic." Charlotte stated. "I guess you're still at the stage at when you can only predict someone's movements if there's killing intent."
"I figured that it was still at the stage." Magnathas grinned, obviously enjoying the fact that he beat his Captain in such a childish game.
"That's not fair! I demand a rematch! And this time no using Haki!" Ray ordered.
"No thanks, Captain. I beat you fair and square." Magnathas refused the offer to the rematch. "I'll be participating in the next event while you watch from the sidelines."
"Better luck next time, Ray." Mitsuno tried to cheer up her Captain.
"Whatever. If the both of us come in first place in the next two events, the Berserker pirates will definitely be in the lead." Ray shrugged off his defeat and began to focus on the positives. After everything that had been happening to him and his crew the past few days, landing in first place would boost their morale and increase their chances in winning the games once and for all.
"That would be nice for a change since this whole thing was your idea, Raymond." Charlotte sighed as she shook her head. "Now that your childish game is over and done with. Can we please focus on more important matters like the fact that Neo knows about Berserker?"
"Are you still on about that, Charlotte? Who cares if he knows about Berserker? A bunch of people know about him considering he's a rampaging psychopath." Ray rolled his eyes.
"The fact that he knows about Berserker doesn't concern me." Charlotte shook her head. "The fact that he knows that you are technically Berserker is what concerns me. He knows something and I want to find out what he knows."
"Charlotte, I think you're a little paranoid. Perhaps you should sit down and have Nori examine you." Ray suggested, only managing to piss off Charlotte even further.
"Damn it Raymond! If you're not going to take this seriously, then I'll deal with this Neo person by myself!" Charlotte got fed up with her captain's attitude and left the ship.
"Ray, Charlotte really seems to be upset about this Neo person. Perhaps you should have considered her feelings a little more." Nori said.
"I don't have time to be messing around over a hunch that Charlotte has. Three of our crew mates have been injured and I should really focus on my training for the future events." Ray said sternly.
"But what if something happens to her? Shouldn't you follow her or something?" Nori asked.
"Charlotte's a big girl. She can handle herself." Mitsuno replied, not even bothering to look up from her book.
"But I'm still worried." Nori continued to voice her concern for the newest crew member. Though she didn't know Charlotte that well, she was part of the crew and she wanted to help in any way she could.
"What's the worst that could happen, Nori? Physical violence isn't allowed outside of the coliseum remember? If Charlotte did try something, then she would get disqualified." Ray said before he dropped down onto the deck and began performing push-ups, not worrying about the situation anymore. But once the thought of Charlotte getting disqualified crossed his mind once again, a flashback from what happened the first day on the island came to his mind.
The thought of seeing Charlotte get frozen to death by the Shichibukai, Ohama Shirahama, didn't set too well with him. And now that he took the time to think things through some more, if Charlotte were to be disqualified, then the entire crew would be disqualified as well. This obviously meant that they would all be killed; and with their numbers dwindled down and the marine fleets surrounding the island, the chances of their survival were very slim.
"You know what; perhaps I should go on after her." Ray stopped performing his pushups and stood back up onto his feet.
"That's a smart idea, Captain. Charlotte hasn't been in our crew for that long and she's pretty unpredictable." Frederick stated. "If she were to do anything, you're the only one that can stop her since you're a Possession devil fruit user as well."
"Fine then, I'll go and make sure she doesn't do anything stupid." Ray smirked to himself, never before had he ever imagined that he would be saying that about Charlotte. "Mitsuno, while I'm out you're in charge here to keep things under control." He told the crew's Navigator before he left the ship to go and find Charlotte.
"What are you doing here, Kraal?" Ray immediately stopped in his tracks upon hearing a familiar feminine voice call out a familiar name. He then looked off into the distance to see that the familiar feminine voice belonged to Haruhi Tekai. The female advisor of the pirate games was currently standing in front of the steel gates of the marine base, preventing the captain of the Demolition pirates, Kraal, from entering the grounds.
"What do you mean advisor?" Kraal asked in a mocking tone as he tried to get past Haruhi, but to no avail. "I'm just taking a little stroll throughout the island."
"Have you forgotten the rules again? You're not allowed to enter the marine base." Haruhi pushed the pirate captain back, putting up a strong front. "This is the second time you've broken the rules, Kraal. I'm not going to let you undermine the rules of this island any longer."
"Now hold on a second. The rule stated that I'm not allowed to enter the marine base. And as you can clearly see, I'm not inside the marine base." Kraal sneered, he felt confident that Haruhi couldn't do anything to him since he hadn't broken any rules.
"That's only because I didn't let you enter the base. If I hadn't been here, who knows what you would have done." Haruhi frowned.
"I was only going to explore the grounds of the base." Kraal chuckled as he leaned forward, pressing his forehead against hers. "I don't understand why you're being so protective. There's no rule against entering the grounds of the base."
"I don't care about that. I'm not letting you near the base." Haruhi pushed Kraal back once again, feeling disgusted that the pirate captain had gotten so close to her like that.
"Oh come on. What are you hiding in there?" Kraal asked as he took a step closer, preparing to get past Haruhi by any means necessary. But before he could do so, he felt a hand tightly grip his shoulder. He slowly turned around to see Ray's cold, glaring red eyes, instilling fear in him for a brief moment before he regained his composure.
"Are you hard of hearing or something? I believe that Haruhi ordered you to leave the area." Ray told Kraal.
"Ah, if it isn't the Captain of the Berserker pirates. Have you come here to pay the advisor back from last time?" Kraal teased Ray. He then immediately cringed in pain once Ray suddenly tightened his grip on his shoulder in response to the previous comment. "A-Advisor! He's breaking a rule! He's using physical violence outside of the coliseum!" He cried out to Haruhi, using the opportunity to try and get Ray disqualified from the pirate games.
"Physical violence? I don't see any physical violence being displayed here." Haruhi grinned. "All I see is someone grabbing your shoulder. Are you so weak that you can't take someone grabbing your shoulder?"
"Oh I'm sorry, Kraal. If I had known that you were that weak, I wouldn't have touched you." Ray laughed at the pirate captain as he released his grip, assisting Haruhi in humiliating him even further.
"Don't you dare fuck with me." Kraal growled through his clenched teeth. His plans just weren't going his way. And he believed that it was because of those two. If he wanted things to go his way from now on, he would have to get rid of them. With a brilliant plan immediately coming together on how to get rid of them once and for all, a mischievous grin appeared on his face.
"What are you suddenly grinning about, Kraal?" Haruhi asked while arching an eyebrow. She now felt uneasy upon seeing the sudden grin.
"Oh nothing that you two need to be concerned about…yet…" Kraal said menacingly before he walked away from the area while whistling a catchy tune, leaving Ray and Haruhi to ponder on his sudden change of behavior.
"What do you think that was all about?" Ray asked.
"He's most likely planning on doing something." Haruhi replied as she shrugged her shoulders. "No matter. If he tries to break the rules again, I'll kick him out of the games myself."
"I'd be happy to see that happen." Ray laughed before he suddenly remembered as to why he came into the urban area. "Oh shit! I'm suppose to be looking for Charlotte! Damn it, I got distracted!"
"Charlotte?" Haruhi asked before she looked off into space while rubbing her chin. "Oh right, Charlotte Flameheart, she's part of your crew right?"
"Yes she is. And I need to hurry up and find her before she does something stupid like get us all disqualified." Ray replied with a sigh.
"What does she plan on doing?" Haruhi frowned, not liking the sound of Ray's reply. As one of the advisers to the pirate games, it was her job to make sure no one broke any rules on the island. Now that she had been technically warned about the potentially threat, she was now on high alert.
"Recently she's been obsessed with the Captain of the Annihilation pirates. I believe his name is Neo. Anyway, I think she's going to try and confront him and try and interrogate him on a few things." Ray said nervously while scratching the back of his neck. Now that he had told Haruhi all of this, he felt even more worried about his crew's safety.
"Confronting someone on this island isn't much of a big deal. As long as it doesn't physical and it's inside of the coliseum, then everything is okay for the most part." Haruhi informed Ray and before she started walking off, returning to her usual duties as an adviser.
"Yeah, the physical violence thing is the part that's worrying me the most." Ray said softly before he took off in a random direction in search for his crew mate.
"Come on, you son of a bitch. Go somewhere less populated already." Charlotte muttered as she silently stalked the Captain of the Annihilation pirates, Neo, through the crowded streets of the town. Ever since their first encounter yesterday, she had grown suspicious of him…well even more suspicious considering she's practically suspicious of everybody. But regardless, Neo had to know something about Berserker and the others, and she was determined to do anything to get the information out of him; even if it meant using violence.
"Perhaps things would go faster if you were to just confront this person now, Charlotte." A feminine voice echoed through Charlotte's head as she continued to follow Neo. "Ask him to have a conference with you in a more secluded area."
"That's a fine suggestion, Kára. But I doubt he'd be dumb enough to do that." Charlotte immediately dismissed her idea.
"Have you even made an attempt to try it?" Kára asked.
"Why are you even bothering to ask me? Have you even been paying atten…" Charlotte stopped abruptly once she looked up to see that Neo had disappeared from her line of sight. Her eyes immediately widened as she frantically scanned the area in hopes of finding the missing target. A small scowl made its way onto her face; she couldn't believe that she actually allowed Neo to escape from her yet again.
"Excuse me, are you looking for someone?" Charlotte quickly whipped around and then jumped back upon seeing Neo standing there with a bright smile.
"Y-You! How did you? When did you?" Charlotte stammered.
"I noticed you following me a while ago and decided to give you a small scare. I'm sorry. I have a habit of suddenly disappearing from the face of the earth like that." Neo sheepishly laughed while rubbing the back of his neck, leaving Charlotte at a loss for words. "Oh, by the way, did you manage to get your crew's autographs? Is that why you've been following me?"
"No, I uhh…I just wanted to…" Charlotte still found it hard to communicate with the man. She couldn't quite explain it. Neo was standing right there in front of her and yet it felt like he wasn't there at all. She couldn't sense him no matter how hard she tried.
"Are you okay?" Neo suddenly placed his hand on Charlotte's forehead to check if she had some kind of fever. He then blinked in confusion once the young woman pushed him back away from her.
"Charlotte, compose yourself." Kára ordered. Charlotte quickly took a few deep breaths, eventually regaining her composure.
"No, I don't have the autographs. You won't get them until you answer a few questions of mine." Charlotte said before she looked around the area, trying to find a decent place to ask her questions. Upon spotting an alleyway nearby, Charlotte had directed Neo down into it where the two could be alone for some time.
"This is quite the particular location to ask a few questions." Neo noted as he stared at the dead end before him. While the pirate captain was distracted with his surroundings, Charlotte used the opportunity to grab hold of her spear, preparing to strike the unsuspecting pirate captain while his back was still turned. As she went for a neutralizing blow with her spear, Neo suddenly jumped into the air and quickly landed on her spear, preventing her from raising it again.
"I knew that there was something off about you." Charlotte's eyes narrowed as she glared fixedly at the smiling pirate captain before him. "There just had to be something more to someone like you. Now how about you quit fooling around tell me who you are."
"What are you talking about, Miss Charlotte? You know who I am. My name is Neo; I'm the Captain of the Annihilation pirates." Neo introduced himself with a nervous tone of voice. Unfortunately this only made Charlotte even angrier at him since she figured that he was now messing with her.
"Quit fucking around with me!" Charlotte barked as she swung her leg outward and landed a shift quick across Neo's torso, sending the pirate captain crashing into the large brick wall behind him. Following up with her attack, she gripped her spear tightly and then she lodged it straight into the brick wall, inches away from Neo's face. "There's more to you than you're letting on! And it's pissing me off that I'm the only one that can see it even though you're making it clearly obvious! Now you better answer my questions or else I'm going to drive this spear through your skull! Who are you? And what do you know about "us"?"
Before Neo could answer any of her questions, Ray had made his way down into the alleyway and forced his chronicler to release him. A small sigh of relief soon escaped from his mouth now that he was no longer in any immediate danger. He then looked up and watched as the two pirates argued amongst each other.
"Are you crazy, Charlotte? What do you think you're doing confronting him in a place like this?" Ray frowned as Charlotte, making sure to keep his voice levels down to a minimum so that no one from the main streets could overhear them.
"What do you think you're doing stopping me from confronting him? This man here has some important information about us and I want to know what he knows." Charlotte growled. She wasn't expecting her captain to follow her let alone actually find and stop her.
"There are other ways to do that though. If anyone else were to catch you like this, we could have all been disqualified and killed." Ray informed her.
"Well since you're here. How about you make yourself useful and make sure that no one else comes back here while I continue to interrogate…" Charlotte stopped in mid-sentence once she looked back to see that Neo had disappeared once again. "Fuck! He disappeared again!"
"Whoa…how the hell did he do that?" Ray looked around the area.
"Nice going Raymond! Thanks to your interference, Neo managed to get away!" Charlotte blamed her Captain.
"I'm not really worried about that Charlotte." Ray rolled his eyes and sighed. "I'm more worried about you considering you nearly put the entire crew in danger over some kind of unconfirmed suspicion."
"That suspicion would have been confirmed if you hadn't gotten in my way." Charlotte pushed past Ray and headed back towards the main street, wanting to try and search for Neo one more time before it got too dark.
"I don't think so." Ray reached out and grabbed Charlotte's wrist, preventing her from leaving the alleyway just yet. "We really need to talk about your attitude, Charlotte. You could have really gotten everyone killed today if Haruhi or anyone else found you two instead of me."
"Let go of me." Charlotte said sternly before she pushed Ray away from her. "If that were to happen, then I would have taken care of it. You don't need to worry about me."
"I don't think you understand that I wasn't just worried about you. I'm worried about the whole crew." Ray stated.
"If you were truly worried about the whole crew, then you wouldn't have stopped me from finding out what that man knows about us." Charlotte frowned.
"Who cares about what that man knows about us? We have other things to worry about than him." Ray frowned as well. "Like how we need to win these games and fulfill Nori's wish."
"Oh please, don't even try and be mister self-righteous here. I know that you don't want Nori to go home." Charlotte shook her head.
"Regardless of what I want, these games are important to us and I need to know that you're with us on this. Don't get sidetracked from our goal just because this guy is trying to psych you out." Ray told her.
"I'm not getting sidetracked. I know that our main objective is to win the pirate games and grant Nori's wish." Charlotte stated. "I'm leaving that up to you guys since you're the most motivated to win this game. I'll deal with Neo."
"If nearly getting us killed is your way of dealing with it, then I'm beginning to question you more than ever." Ray folded his arms over his chest.
"You can question me all you want. But in the end, I am on your side here, whether you believe it or not." Charlotte told him before she finally left the alleyway.
"Son of a bitch. This is really going to be difficult." Ray sighed while rubbing the back of his neck. After taking a few moments to scan around the area one more time, he finally left the alleyway and returned to the ship and spent the remainder of the day resting for the next day. Eventually the next day arrived and all of the participants were once again standing in the center of the ring, waiting for the announcer to reveal today's next event.
"Good morning everyone! Did you all get a good night's sleep? Well even if you didn't, you'll all be wide awake once you see which event you'll be participating in today!" Uso announced happily before he spun the roulette wheel, watching in anticipation as it continued to spin and spin. After watching it spin for about a minute or so, the needle eventually stopped on the picture of stick figures fighting over a flag. "Ladies and gentlemen! Today's fifth event will be Capture the Flag!" The crowds cheered loudly in excitement while all of the participants exchanged glances with each other, most of them weren't too sure about this event.
"Capture the flag now is it? This sounds like fun. I think I'll participate in this event." Neo smiled. The moment Charlotte heard this; she walked over to Magnathas and ordered him to stand aside and let her compete in the match. At first Magnathas refused the order since he had won the rock, paper, and scissors match against Ray yesterday. But the moment he stared into Charlotte's purple glaring eyes and witnessed the purple colored aura surrounding her, the swordsman simply backed away and allowed the Chronicler to do as she pleased.
"Geez, what's wrong with her?" Magnathas made sure to whisper to Ray, not wanting to upset Charlotte even more.
"She has some kind of beef with the Captain of the Annihilation pirates." Ray whispered back as well.
"Do you think it's a good idea to let her take on this event the way she is now?" Magnathas inquired.
"It should be alright. I believe that Charlotte can kill two birds with one stone in this event." Ray said sternly, having no other choice but to put his faith into his chronicler.
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