~Sammy~

Cross hurriedly wrapped a strip of cloth around Sammy's head in an effort to suppress the blood flow. He saddened as he looked down on his ruined shirt. "Well, it's for a good cause…I suppose," he murmured to himself.

"Cross-oooo! Where are you?" he heard Aquario yell.

"Shush! He's going to hear you!" Cross shrieked back. He quickly clasped his hands over his mouth, realizing how hypocritical he sounded, but it was a bit too late for such thoughts.

Carefully, but quickly, Cross unclasped the chain connecting his cross to his wrist. He stowed away his weapon behind a dumpster, knowing it would only weigh him down in his escape, especially since he had to carry Sammy. The suicidal teen was heavier than he looked.

As Cross hefted Sammy's dead-weight body under his arm, something slipped out from Sammy's pocket. Instantly, Sammy was awake, shouting, "STEGGY! NOOOO!"

Before Cross could even wonder what 'Steggy' was, a shadow-clad figure appeared in the entrance of the alleyway they had been hiding in. Slowly, he advanced towards the frantic Cross and disoriented Sammy. Each of his steps was accompanied by his ragged, shallow breathing, which echoed off the brick walls of the alley.

"Steggy? Steggy, where are you?" Sammy mumbled, only partially conscious. "Hey, who's carrying me? I don't like being carried."

"Never mind that, Suicide Guy! We've got to go!"

"SUE IS A GUY? I had no idea!" exclaimed Sammy. His brow then creased as he frowned, thinking deeply. "Wait, who's Sue?"

Cross took one good look at the kid nearing with an enormous killing intent and decided enough was enough. He was the doctor of the Constellar Pirates, the infamous 'Crimson' Cross! He wasn't going to let some weird, crazy person push him around.

As Cross reached to retrieve his cross, Aquario popped out from nowhere and pushed him to the side. She poked him in the nose and said, "What are you doing, Cross-oooo? We've got to ruuuun!"

Cross realized he had just let some weird, crazy person push him around. He hung his head in shame. "Aquario, we should just beat him up," he mumbled.

"What about Suicide Guy?"

"He'll be fine without intervention for another five to ten minutes."

Aquario stamped her foot angrily. "You should have told me that earlier, Cross-oooo! I'm all tiiiired now!" she complained.

"Well, you're the one who wanted to run!" Cross replied, rather hurt by his crewmate's accusatory tone.

"But Suicide Guy was injuuuured! We needed to—" Aquario broke off when she realized their attacker was only about two yards away. She pointed at him and let out a high-pitched scream, hugging Cross, who had dropped Sammy and was also screaming his head off.

You can imagine how Sammy felt about the whole situation. Being dropped on his head was not a pleasant experience. Also, he wanted to know just what was going on. He wasn't sure where he was, who he was with, or how those two people could scream for such a long time without pausing to take a breath. He did know, however, that Steggy was missing from his pocket, and that was enough to send him into full-panic mode.

"EVERYBODY, STOP MOVING!" commanded the spiky-haired pirate captain, a frenzied undertone in his voice. Without waiting for anyone to actually obey his orders, he began to run his fingers along the ground. Blood from the cut on his forehead flowed into his eyes, blinding him so that he could not locate his beloved stegosaurus. His present state of mind would not allow him to come up with a better plan.

"S-S-Suicide Guy!" Cross whimpered. Both he and Aquario had managed to squeeze into the space behind the dumpsters. They cowered there, afraid of the dangers that lay outside.

Sammy did not like being interrupted in his desperate search for Steggy. "What do you want?" he snapped.

"H-he's right in front of you."

Sammy lifted his head. He finally found the sense to wipe his eyes. With his newfound sight, he stared up at a fair-haired boy. Wordlessly, the pirate captain raised a fist, and then his middle finger. "I'm busy, you bastard! Stop standing there and help me find Steggy!" With that, he continued in his search.

"What did you do to Jem?"

"Shh! I told you I'm busy!"

"WHAT DID YOU DO TO JEM?"

"SHUT UP!"

A bare fist slammed into the ground only inches away from where Sammy crouched. Shouting profanity, Sammy leapt backwards, bits of concrete biting into his flesh. Cross and Aquario gasped, but decided to stay out of the conflict in fear of their own safety.

"Good luck, Suicide Guy," Cross whispered.

Of course, Sammy didn't hear Cross's quiet wishes. It wouldn't have mattered anyways.

"Hidangan!" Sammy growled, clasping his hands together and thrusting them towards his foe.

The small figure was blown backwards by an invisible, concentrated force that hit him square in the chest. He performed a backwards summersault to reduce the impact with the ground, springing to his feet in one connected motion. He was prepared for another attack, but found his opponent occupied with other things.

"Steggy! I'm so glad you're okay!" squealed an elated Sammy. He hugged Steggy close, not wanting to part with his friend ever again.

"What did you do to Jem?" hissed the boy, beginning to walk forward again.

Sammy frowned as his reunion with Steggy was interrupted. "Hey, I don't know who 'Jem' is, alright?" he said. He hid Steggy in his pocket, slightly unsure of whether it was safe enough for the stegosaurus.

"What did you do to Jem?"

"I told you! I don't know anything about Jem!"

"WHAT DID YOU DO TO JEM?"

Sammy's eyes widened as the boy hurtled towards him. Surprise quickly turned into anger. "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?"

The kid didn't even see it coming. Sammy punched him smack dab in the middle of his face. A disgruntled cry escaped from the boy's lips, accompanied by the telltale crack of a nose breaking. He landed on his butt and sat there dazedly for a few moments.

"That's what you get for messing with me, the next Pirate King!" Sammy shouted. "And I don't know who Jem is!"

The boy blinked a few times. "Hmm? Where am I?" he asked in a much more nasal voice. He cautiously felt his nose. It was bleeding profusely.

"I don't know where we are, but you attacked me for no reason. Apologize!" demanded Sammy.

"I attacked you?" Bright, hazel eyes widened in shock and horror. "You mean, I actually attacked you?"

Sammy sniffed indignantly. He gestured to the wound on his forehead. "Obviously! And you also attacked those two hiding behind the dumpsters."

Cross and Aquario waved jovially at being mentioned.

The boy immediately shrunk back, scrunching his eyes shut and hiding his head in his arms. "I…I'm so sorry. Something must have interrupted my meditation! I would never do such a thing on purpose!" he said.

Sammy laughed. "Oh, so that's what you were doing," he said with a small, sheepish smile. "I thought you were hurt or something because you were sitting so still. Turns out you were just meditating."

"Soooo…" began the boy, dragging out the word much like Aquario would. "It's your fault I attacked you."

"What? No way! It's all your fault."

"No, I don't think so."

"I don't give a damn about what you think!"

The boy opened his mouth to utter a reply, but only a terrified yelp escaped through his lips as Sammy suddenly collapsed.

Cross whistled quietly. "Twelve minutes. That's more than my estimate," he remarked to Aquario.

"You suck at es-ti-ma-tiiiing!" Aquario squealed in a jeering tone. She laughed hysterically at this, making Cross feel very bad about himself.

The doctor did his best to hang his head in shame, though it was a tough action to perform while squished behind a smelly dumpster with a laughing blond-haired woman trying to punch him in the shoulder. He wasn't sure why he had decided to hide in the first place. He was more than capable of taking on some kid with a problem of repeating the same question over and over again.

"We're stuck," Cross suddenly said. He had tried to move his arm, but it was wedged firmly between wall and dumpster.

"Huh?"

Cross squirmed without avail. "We're stuck," he repeated. The dread in his voice was not well concealed.

Aquario paled. "This is baaaad, right?"

"Yes, this is very bad."

The two looked at each other, then looked to where Sammy lay facedown on the ground. Then, they looked back at each other and began to panic.

"We'll be stuck here forever!" Cross howled.

"FOOOOREEEEVEEEER!" Aquario wailed, as if the world was ending and the store had run out of frozen burritos.

And then, a miracle happened. Well actually, the boy just pushed the dumpster away from the brick wall, but it seemed like a miracle to Cross and Aquario.

"We're saved!"

"We're saaaaved!"

They hugged the poor kid and danced a happy dance together. Of course, all this enthusiasm woke Sammy up. He managed to smile dreamily before slipping back into unconsciousness.

~at the restaurant~

"Candy," Skorpio whispered, his voice hoarse. "I…need…candy."

The pirate captain lay sprawled across a table, his face pressed against the hard wood. His hand twitched every six seconds or so. Next to him, Kanser sat upright in a chair, sporting an empty monocle frame over his left eye.

"I see," murmured the pimple-faced first mate. "And how does that make you feel?"

"Like I'm going to die," Skorpio groaned miserably.

Kanser nodded. "I see," he said again. He used a fancy fountain pen to scribble something down on a notepad.

The door opened. Four people walked in with a fifth lying on a stretcher.

Noelle had somehow been recruited to help carry Sammy back to the restaurant. She wasn't sure how she had ended up in that particular dark alley, but she had arrived just in time to help move her 'captain'. She had locked eyes with an unfamiliar boy, who had looked back with just as much bewilderment.

Skorpio was not too happy to see Aquario and Cross. "What are you two doing here? I thought you had gone off to make Joker the Pirate King," he sneered, still planted facedown on the table.

"Suicide Guy got beaten up," Cross explained.

Skorpio snorted. "Typical," he muttered bitterly. He pushed himself off the table and stood up straight. "You didn't bring any candy back, did you?"

"No waaaay!" shouted Aquario, snickering at Skorpio's misery. "But we escaped from a dumpster thanks to that kid!" She pointed to the kid in question.

"Oh? And who might this be?" Skorpio asked. He cocked his head to the side, icy blue eyes scrutinizing the small figure. There was quite a lot of blood on the boy's shirt and a roll of tissue had been stuffed into each of his nostrils.

"I'm Nai," answered the fair-haired child, meeting Skorpio's gaze with mismatched eyes.

Kanser spoke up, still in psychologist mode. "And how does that make you feel?"

Confused, Nai frowned. "I'm not sure what you're talking about," he said. He accidentally let go of his corner of the stretcher, causing Sammy to tumble to the ground.

"This is the SECOND time I've been dropped!" Sammy howled with a shaking fist. He then proceeded to black out again.

"What's his problem?" Skorpio growled. "Can't even take a few bruises? Lame!"

"Lame!" agreed Kanser.

"Lame!" agreed Tauris.

"Lame!" agreed Aquario and Cross.

Skorpio blinked in surprise. "Ah? I thought you two were on his side," he said, his eyebrows arched.

"Yeah, well, Suicide Guy is cool…" began Cross.

"But that was LAAAAME!" finished Aquario. She and Cross high-fived before shouting 'LAME!' once again at the top of their lungs.

A wicked grin spread across Skorpio's face. "I see, I see. And does this mean you'll make me Pirate King now?" he asked.

Aquario eyed Skorpio skeptically. "I duuuunnoooo. What do you think, Cross-oooo?"

Cross struck a cool thinking pose with chin resting between his outstretched index finger and thumb. "Well, Aquario, I think we both know the answer," he said in a mysterious tone.

Skorpio threw his head back and laughed. "Stop messing around! Spit it out already!" he yelled playfully.

Cross and Aquario broke into massive grins.

"Aw, Skorp! You know we'd never really abandon you!"

"Yeah, SKOR-PI-OOOO! We're totally on your side!"

The auburn-haired captain held a hand to his forehead, laughter bubbling out of him in a strong, continuous stream. He slung an arm around each of their shoulders. "Oh, you guys! What would I do without you? You're the best crew ever!" He howled to the sky. "This calls for a GROUP HUG!"

Kanser rushed over and tackled them all with a massive hug. Tauris also joined the fray, flattening his crewmates by jumping on top of them. Then, it somehow turned into a wrestling match.

"Are they really…pirates?" Nai asked Noelle hesitantly.

"Yes," Noelle grumbled.

Nai stared at the rambunctious crew battling it out in the restaurant. "And you? You aren't a pirate, are you?"

"I wish I wasn't."

"Oh, so you were forced?"

"Not really."

"Then I don't really understand."

"Well that's too bad for you, isn't it?"

Nai recoiled slightly. He realized he had found company with some very strange people.

"I'm…still…here!" Sammy gasped. He flailed his arms around before falling back into unconsciousness.

No one paid him much attention, though Nai's brow furrowed with worry. "Doesn't he need help?" he said.

Noelle nodded. "He needs a lot of help," she confirmed. With that, she proceeded to do nothing except stand there.

Nai decided to take action. He had received some basic medical training before, so he knew what to do. Carefully, he tended to the wound on Sammy's forehead. Cross eventually came over and unraveled all the bandages Nai had wrapped around Sammy's head, replacing them with his own. With the task done, the pirate doctor pranced off to do other, more worthwhile things.

And then someone burst into the restaurant. It was a man in his late thirties with large, frightened eyes and sparse stubble on his chin. "HELP!" he cried, stumbling towards the closest person, who just happened to be Nai. "Help me, please!"

The whole party came to a shuddering halt.

"I'm…I'm the cap'n of a pirate crew. We ran out of supplies, so we docked here! You've gotta help! They're after me! They already got my crew!" continued the man, clawing at Nai's feet.

"Who's after you?" Nai asked. He began to back away from the panicking man. Alarm was evident in his expression.

The man shivered. His eyes darted about as if he was surrounded by thousands of glaring eyes. "The devil! He wants our bounties!"

Skorpio walked over calmly. The only sounds in the room came from his geta clacking on the floor and the ragged breathing of the terrified newcomer. "And what happened to your crew?" His voice was even and betrayed no emotion, contrasting greatly with the hysterics he had been in moments earlier.

The man buried his head in his arms. "They're pro'ly all dead! I just managed to get away. Just managed to get away before that devil came!" he sobbed.

Nai's face displayed pure horror. The devil. The devil that ruined everything was now on this island.

Skorpio was affected in another way by the man's words. "You ran away?" he asked, anger seeping into his voice. "You left your crew?"

Tauris tensed and landed a hand on his captain's shoulder. "Skorpio, he's scared," he murmured. He tried to pull Skorpio back by his arm, but the auburn-haired teen yanked free of his grasp.

Skorpio stood above the older pirate captain, staring downwards with his enraged, cold eyes. Below, the man squirmed with terror. "Hey. Don't you know? A captain is nothing without his crew." Skorpio squatted down and took out a small knife from within the sleeves of his kimono. He regarded coolly it before grasping it firmly in his hand. "And if the crew dies…"

"Stop it!" yelled Nai.

"Then so does the captain!" Skorpio stabbed down. Blood splattered onto his cheek. Eyes narrowed, he let go of his knife.

"Ow," Sammy muttered. He lay on the ground, arm extended. Gingerly, he unclenched his hand and let the knife fall to the ground, its blade slick with blood.

The man's eyes were screwed shut. He didn't look as if he would open them any time soon. To the side, Nai stood, shocked, yet also relieved.

Skorpio chuckled. "You didn't really think I was going to kill him, did you, Joker? Hnn?" He smiled, rising to his full height.

"It sure looked like it to me," Sammy answered. He got to his feet rather unsteadily.

Skorpio shrugged. "Someone like him isn't even worth killing," he said, walking to the door. He opened it and stepped outside.

"Wait, Skorp! Where are you going?" Cross asked.

"Isn't it obvious?" asked Skorpio, turning around with raised eyebrows. "I'm going to avenge his crew. After all, it's not their fault they had such an awful captain."

"WHAAAAT? Then we're coming tooooo!" yelled Aquario.

"Yeah! Let's all go hunt a devil!" Cross shouted in agreement.

"Devil hunt! Devil hunt!" Kanser chanted.

Tauris hid his face in his hands. "Oh no," he groaned. "Not again."

Sammy turned to Noelle. "Hey, Noelle! Let's go hunt a devil!" he said, grinning from ear to ear. He was beginning to look like a mummy with his head and hand wrapped in strips of cheap tablecloth.

For once, Noelle could see something behind the cheery attitude of her 'captain'. The spiky-haired pirate was determined to get to the bottom of this situation. Noelle could tell Sammy was still unnerved by the amount of blood that had been spilled in this town. In fact, she had her own fears about what else was going happen on this island.

"Devil hunt! Devil hunt! Devil hunt!"


I bet you thought I died. You did, didn't you? Don't try to deny it. Anyways, I know this is a really lame chapter to follow up a hiatus, and you'll have to forgive me for that. This semester of school has been unexpectedly rough on me and of course, there's a whole bunch of personal problems.

So! The Constellar Pirates and the Joker Pirates are joining forces to hunt a devil! And what does the devil have to do with Nai, the weird meditating kid? Well, you'll have to stay tuned to find out!