The Phantom Pirate

Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece; all characters belong to their creators.

The tattered ship sailed next to the ruined cargo ship and the crew began to disembark. Soon Russell and his friends were surrounded by men with pale skin whose clothes were tatted and faded. One of the men, a tall figure dressed in dark blue jacket over a white dress shirt and pants stepped forward. He had long black hair and grey eyes, and he wore two long steel gauntlets with claw like fingers over his arms. He had a twisted smirk on his face when he saw Russell's crew.

"Well, well, well, what do we have here?" he asked. "A couple of would-be heroes trying to save a dead ship? Erahahaha. That is perfect, absolutely perfect,"

"Hey! We aren't 'would-be heroes'!" Russell yelled. "We're pirates!"

"Oh really?" the man asked. "What is the name of your crew then?" Russell paused for a moment thinking. "You don't even have a name yet? Now I just feel bad about taking down a few beginners,"

"No, you'll feel bad after I cut you in half!" Zen said as he dashed towards him. He turned his hand into a bone ax and swung it at the man, hoping to end this quick before a prolonged fight would began. He knew that his nakama were strong, but these were veteran pirates, they had years of experience behind them, and Zen wasn't eager to risk the lives of his weaker crew members. To his surprise though, the bone ax cut straight through the man's side and Zen smirked. Until he realized that the ax hadn't cut through the man, it had passed through. "What the…" Zen was caught off when the man lashed out with his gauntlets. Zen hit the deck and rolled back a bit, but he leapt back up as soon as he stopped. "What the heck was that!"

"Erahaha," the man laughed. "That was my Devil Fruit power! The Ghost Ghost fruit lets me become completely intangible at will. You should give up now while you still can,"

"Aha! I got it! We're the Grim Pirates!" Russell yelled suddenly catching everyone off guard and they all turned to face him. "What? It's like the Grim Reaper. Do you not like it?" he asked.

"Can't you see that you're in the middle of a fight!" the man yelled. "I am Phantasm the captain of the Phantom pirates,"

"Oh, so you're the captain," Russell said. "Well in that case, I'll fight you too. Zen let's go!" Russell and Zen rushed forward, but Clara intercepted them.

"If you want to get to the captain, you'll have to…" Clara began before Zen interrupted her by swinging his bone ax at her.

"You go on ahead and take care of ghost boy, Russ. I've got a score to settle with her," Zen said, smirking.

"Alright, just don't take too long alright," Russell called back as he jumped over Clara's head and renewed his charge against Phantasm.

As Russell ran towards him, Phantasm didn't move, as a matter of fact he didn't look too interested in what was going on around him. Russell launched a punch straight at his face, only for it to pass through, leaving Phantasm completely unharmed. Russell jumped back looking confused. "Hey, how the heck did you do that?" he asked.

"Weren't you paying attention when you're friend attacked me?" Phantasm asked, irritably.

"Uh, not really. I was too busy thinking of a cool name for my crew," Russell said, grinning. "By the way, you never did say if it was a good name or not,"

"Hmm, well, it's not the best name, but I have heard far worse ones," Phantasm said. "Once, I met a man who named his crew the… wait we're fighting, why am I critiquing you're crew name!" he yelled.

"I don't know, because I asked?" Russell guessed.

"Never mind that, can we just get back to fighting?" Phantasm sighed.

"OK, but only because you asked so nicely," Russell said as he charged again. This time he dropped down, and swiped his leg at Phantasm, trying to knock him down, but once again his attack phased right through his opponent. Still, Russell didn't let that stop him; he jumped up and launched a flurry of punches and kicks, all of them simply passing through his body. "This is really getting old. Stop using you're powers and fight like a man, will ya?"

"Okay, but only because you asked so nicely," Phantasm said mockingly. He solidified his hand and struck out with the claws. Russell jumped backwards, but the claws still grazed his chest. Russell smirked as he got an idea.

"Come on. This that all you got?" Russell taunted, sticking his tongue out to further anger his opponent. Phantasm growled and lunged forward again aiming his clawed gauntlet right at Russell's head. This time, however, Russell was ready and he dropped down and grabbed the arm as it passed over his head. Russell rolled back and pulled the surprised pirate captain into the air, then Russell planted his feet on Phantasm's chest and launched him up into the air. Russell jumped back up and readied himself for when his opponent landed. As soon as Phantasm landed, Russell charged forward ready to strike, but just as his fist was about to connect with the back of his head it sank into the ship and Russell's fist smashed through the wooden boards.

Phantasm pulled himself upright and smirked at Russell, who pulled his hand up from the hole he made. "I must commend you, you're the first person to land a blow on me since I ate my Devil Fruit,"

"Really?" Russell asked. "It has a pretty obvious weakness if you ask me,"

"Oh? And what would that be?"

"Hmph, you have to solidify yourself in order to land a blow on your target, meaning if they're quick enough they can counter your attack,"

"And you realized that if a tried to soften the blow by becoming intangible, I would sink into the ocean," Phantasm concluded. " Erahahaha, you really aren't half-bad. Why don't you join me, I'll even let your crew come as well if you like,"

"Thanks for the offer," Russell smirked. "But, I'm going fulfill my dreams and become a legendary pirate captain, not a legendary pirate lackey,"

"Are you sure?" Phantasm asked, to which Russell simply nodded, still grinning. "Very well, I'll try to make your death quick then!" Phantasm charged this time and began to swipe his gauntlets in wide arcs, forcing Russell to back up quickly. Russell continued to smirk as he saw in opening in his enemy's attacks, he jumped and launched a kick straight at Phantasm's head, hoping to knock him out with a quick hit, but to his surprise his kick went straight through his head. Before he could retreat, Phantasm slashed his claws into Russell's side, throwing him back.

"You were correct in your assumption that I had to solidify in order to attack you, but I only have to make my arm solid. When you caught my arm last time I was surprised and dropped my guard. That won't happen again," Phantasm explained.

Still, Russell refused to let that piece of information deter him. "So, only your arms have to be solid, huh? Fine then, I'll just have to break them then," Russell said rushing forward. I hope the others are doing okay.

~With Zen~

Zen wasn't having any luck with his target either. He gasped for air as his attacks continued to do nothing against Clara. "Did I mention that I REALLY hate Logia Devil Fruit users?" he asked.

Clara chuckled. "What's the matter?" She asked mockingly. "Can't keep up with my Fog Fog fruit powers?"

"Please, I just don't like cowards who hide behind their powers. Mine may make me tough, but I'm not invincible," Zen said as he straightened up and prepared to continue the fight.

"That's exactly your problem, though. I AM invincible with my powers!" Clara said smirking. However, that statement just made Zen laugh.

"Hah! You really think that Devil Fruit will guarantee that you'll win?" Zen said as he formed large bone claws over his hands. "That will just make this fight all the more enjoyable when I beat you and sorry excuse for a captain!" This time Clara rushed in, angered at Zen's words. Zen simply prepared himself, waiting for the right moment to strike.

~With the others~

"These weaklings are just getting on my nerves!" Sarah yelled as she swatted another pirate away. After Russell and Zen started to take on the captain and first mate, the rest tried to finish off Reinhart and Pearl, and that left Sarah to protect them. She was surprised when Hiro-Shu joined in as well, whether it was pay back for what the pirates did, or to help them she couldn't tell, she didn't really care either as long as he helped.

What surprised her even more was how well he fought. She thought that he looked tough, and she knew that he could take a hit, a hit from her no less, but nothing the pirates did seemed to bother him. Their swords and daggers just didn't seem to be able to cut him, and very few of the pirates could get a second attack, as soon as they struck the first time, Hiro-Shu would give them a devastating punch that would seed them flying back.

Sarah shook these thoughts from her head as she heard someone moan from behind her. She punched another pirate back away before turning her head to see Pearl sitting up. "It's about time you got up from your beauty rest. Not that it did any good," Sarah teased.

"You?" Pearl growled. "Why'd it have to be you who came?"

"Your other friends are here to," Hiro-Shu said battering away another group of enemies. "They're fighting the captain and first mate,"

"Uh okay" Pearl said unsure. "Hey, Sarah, whose this guy?"

"Oh, that's Hiro-Shu he's sorta my personal bodyguard now," Sarah replied.

"No, I'm not," Hiro-Shu retorted not taking his eyes off of the pirates.

"Oh, you're no fun," Sarah said. She looked over at Pearl "So, are you going to help or just sit there?"

Perl stood up and drew her sword and moved forward to help hold off the pirates. She clashed swords with several of them and was able to disarm or injure them enough to make them pull back. "Hey, I have a question," Pearl said as she parried an incoming sword and then trusted her blade at her attacker. "Why are just standing here?"

"Duh, because Reinhart is still unconscious," Sarah replied rolling her eyes, as she tossed a pirate into an oncoming wave of them.

"But, Reinhart's not here," Pearl said confused.

"Huh?" Sarah turned around and sure enough Reinhart was gone! "Okay, when the heck did he leave!"

"I don't know, it's not like him to just leave us here…is it?" Pearl asked.

"How should I know I barely knew the guy," Sarah answered turning back around to fight.

"It doesn't pay to have a coward in your group, oh, no, no, no," a voice said. Immediately, all of the pirates stopped attacking and let a tall man through. He had bright spikey red hair, and wore a long white coat over a bright yellow shirt and blue pants; he had a large grin on his face as well. He stood in stark contrast when compared to the other pirates, who wore dull clothing and had grim expressions. "I am Art, the second mate of this depressing crew," he said bowing.

"Great," Pearl said rolling her eyes. "A clown, this is just what we need right now,"

"Ah, but it is," Art said, still grinning. "After all, if you're going to die, you might as well die smiling," with that he rushed forward straight at Pearl, who thrust her sword towards him. To her surprise however, he leaned back, making a perfect ninety degree angle, allowing the blade to pass harmlessly over him. He then grabbed her sword and tossed her to the side. "Come now, is that all you can do? Tut, tut," he said mockingly.

Sarah launched a punch straight at his side but he twisted out of the way and elbowed the back of her head. But, before he could move, Hiro-Shu wrapped his arms around him from behind trapping him in a vice like grip. "What, no comment or smart remark?" Hiro-Shu asked.

"No, I believe that action speaks louder than words," Art replied. He began to twist and writhe, with a final turn he slipped free from Hiro-Shu's grasp and launched a kick at his side; of course the kick did little to Hiro-Shu.

"That was a weak hit," Hiro-Shu commented as he dropped into a fighting stance.

"Yes, well, I'll admit that physically I'm not that strong," Art said. "But, you see there are different types of fighters, you're clearly a bruiser, someone who uses their strength to their advantage. There are others who use speed to win fights, and some who use tricks, and then there are people like me who use their flexibility to fight. I move my body in ways that can't predict, so no matter how strong you are, it won't do you any good if you can't hit me,"

"Well," Hiro-Shu said, we'll just have to see about that won't we,"

~With Russell~

Russell was still having trouble with Phantasm, the man was constantly on guard and as soon as his attacks either hit or missed he'd make his arms intangible to avoid them getting damaged. "Don't you ever get tired?" Russell asked panting.

"Not when I have to do so little work," Phantasm replied. "Look at you, you're practically defeating yourself," he laughed.

Man, he's right. If I don't end this soon, I'll be too tired to fight, but he's not making it easy. He keeps is arms intangible as often as he can and it's not like he has anything else solid…or does he? Russell grinned as he thought up a plan. He readied his scythe and rushed forward.

"Do you really think that you're weapon will help things?" Phantasm asked as he prepared to finish Russell off.

"Yes I do," Russell said as he approached his target. Before Phantasm could strike at him with his claws, Russell slammed his scythe into his foot. Phantasm's eyes widened in pain, and he dropped his guard. Russell wasn't going to waste a second. He brought his scythe back around and slashed Phantasm's side, then he punched him in the stomach and finished with a kick to the head; knocking the pirate captain down.

All of the fighting stopped as everyone turned to see the outcome of the fight. Phantasm's men were shocked, they didn't believe their captain could be touched let alone be beaten. "Ha, he wasn't so tough once you figured out a way around his powers," Russell said grinning. He started to walk towards his crew when Zen called out to him.

"Russ behind you!"

Before he could turn around he saw Phantasm's clawed gauntlet sticking through his chest. Only he didn't feel any pain. "Allow me to be the first to congratulate you on your near victory over me. Not only did you realize that my arms needed to be solid to hurt you, but you also realized that my feet needed to be solid to stand on the ship, most impressive. But, this is where it ends for you, all I have to do is solidify my arm, and you'll die. Now tell you're crew to surrender and I may let you live," Phantasm said.

Russell looked over at his crew, all of them fought so hard, could he really just ask them to give so that he might have a chance to live? "What kind of captain would I be if I put my crew in danger so that I could live?"

"Russ, think about this alright?" Zen said. "We're going to be fine; you have an arm sticking in your chest, that won't end well,"

"Don't worry about me Zen, remember, something always happens and everything works out fine in the end," Russell said trying to comfort his friends.

"So you won't surrender?" Phantasm asked surprised.

"Heh, nope," Russell said. Good luck you guys, sorry that I couldn't see you complete your dreams.

"Very well then," Phantasm said. "NOW DIE!"

Russell was ready for the pain, he was ready to feel the cold steel of the gauntlet inside his chest, and he was also ready to launch one last attack. Once the arm solidified, he would punch with every last bit of strength he had left; at the very least it would help the others when they fought him. But, none of those things came to pass. Instead he felt a push against his side and he fell to floor of the deck. When he looked up he was shocked to see his savior. It was Reinhart. But, what shocked him even more was that the gauntlet meant for him was now in Reinhart.

"I'd …appreciate it… if you kept… your hands… off… of…my…captain," Reinhart gasped before collapsing to the ground.

"REINHART!" Russell and his crew yelled. Russell rushed to his down nakama, he was breathing but barely, and pool of blood forming underneath him did not bode well.

"I'm sorry…captain…it looks like I…wasn't much help…in the end…but I'm… glad…that I could…help in this fight," Reinhart said.

"Hey, hey Reinhart, I'm your captain remember. I didn't give you permission to die," Russell said. Don't you have a dream you want to accomplish, you can't die until that's done,"

However, Reinhart didn't answer he passed out from the blood loss. "What are you so upset about?" Phantasm asked. "Crew members are just tools; tools that help us captains fulfill our destinies. Your crewmate understood that and like a good tool sacrificed himself to save you; too bad that in the end, it will have been for nothing,"

"Is that what you think?" Russell asked as he stood up. "Reinhart didn't take that blow because he thought he was a tool, he took that blow because he was my friend, my nakama," Russell turned to face Phantasm, his eyes hardened. "Pearl, take care of Reinhart, okay,"

Pearl ran to her crewmate's side to try to save him. Several pirates tried to intercept her, but they were cut down with bone knives from Zen. "You punks stay out of this," he said in a cold voice.

"Erahah, do you really think you can save him, how pathetic," Phantasm said.

"Shut up," Russell said, glaring at him. "You like your precious ghost abilities huh? Well how about I turn you into a REAL ghost!"

AN: Wow, it took me a looooooong time to update and I apologize for that. Part of the reason is because things like work came up, but it was mostly laziness on my part, so again I apologize.