Almost a year in the making, I present the final instalment of Strays!
Haruta was bored.
No, she was past bored.
She was 'mind about to melt out of her skull' type bored.
Their two-month long stint at sea had been their longest time without stopping at port. Being stuck on board with nowhere to go wasn't fun. Particularly when there was only so much training she could do with Vista, only so much swimming practise she could do with Namur, and when there wasn't anywhere new to hide on board, there were only so many pranks she could pull with Thatch. Pops, may have been willing to indulge her with a story, but she felt bad continually pestering her father to keep her amused. It was nearing the point where Haruta was wishing that the marines would try and attack them, just to give them something to do. It had been weeks since their last encounter and they hadn't seen any since.
So in short, Haruta was very, very, bored.
Spying Marco going over his maps, a glimpse of hope sparked in Haruta's chest. Bouncing over to him, Haruta flopped over Marco's back, her head resting on his shoulder as her arms hung loosely around his neck.
"Marcooooo! Are we there yet?"
Leaning away slightly so he could meet his sister's eyes, Marco raised an eyebrow, his arm sweeping out to gesture at the expanse of ocean.
"Can you see land yoi?"
"Marcooo!" Haruta whined in his ear.
"When will we get there?"
Releasing a sigh, Marco looked at the log pose strapped to wrist, wishing (not for the first time) that is could give him more information than just their heading.
The maps they had found in the Marine base they had sprung Blenheim from had long outlived their usefulness. The information they had contained had been outdated, as proven by the swamp lands they had found, and nearly run over, Atmos in. And whilst the maps had provided a vague point of reference for the small islands they had come across, they were now off the edge of the map. The only indication of what was to come was an arrow pointing in the direction their log pose was taking them and a name, 'Sabaody'.
"Well get there, when we get there yoi."
"But Marco!" Haruta whined again, "When will that be?!"
Closing his eyes, Marco desperately hoped the answer was soon.
Whitebeard rubbed his forearm along his brow, collecting the droplets of sweat that had formed under the blaring mid-day sun. Taking a swig of his rapidly warming drink, a smile tugged on the corner of his lips as he watched Haruta pepper Marco with her questions. His youngest had grown since they'd first found her, just a few inches, but she was taller. Thatch's meticulous cooking wasn't the only thing that had contributed to her growth spurt though. The shaky walls she'd built up around herself had faded day by day as she embraced her place as a younger sibling. She now stood taller, her head held high, knowing that if she needed them, she'd always have a brother beside her, and himself not far away.
As Marco's head fell back with closed eyes, a soft snort of amusement escaped Whitebeard. His first son, his first brat, was still a bit of a brat from time to time, and the kid still stressed way too much over things beyond his control, but he could see the beginnings of the man Marco would be come. Marco's patience had increased from dealing with Haruta, or Thatch, or both, he couldn't tell, but they'd also helped him ease up and stop looking over his shoulder every five seconds. Marco's defensiveness had not disappeared, but had merely taken another form, shaping into a fiercely protective attitude towards their family. There would never be anyone who would fight so fiercely to protect his family, if there ever came a time where he couldn't do it himself, as Marco.
The calm that had settled over the deck, leaving Whitebeard to his thoughts, was never meant to last though. The peace shattered by Izo's voice ringing out from below deck, the volume increasing as every second passed.
"Curiel! Where's my gun powder?! You had better not been messing around with my supplies again, or so help me!"
The gun fanatic in question fumbled the bazooka he'd been cleaning in panic. Tossing the modified weapon onto his shoulder, Curiel bolted down the deck, ducking into the hallway leading to the kitchen in his attempt to avoid Izo's wrath. The door stopped swinging behind him just as said kimono wearer burst through the door at the opposite end of the ship, where the bunks were located.
Failing to spot Curiel, Izo switched his attention to his father, in a futile attempt of asking him to give up his brother's location. Pops had long since claimed his spot of neutrality when it came to disagreements, preferring the boys and Haruta to sort their squabbles out amongst themselves. Issues that couldn't, often went to Marco or Jozu if a third party was needed, only coming to him if the issue was beyond solving themselves. He'd call out the brats if they needed it, but for the most part, Pops was happy giving his sons the freedom to make their own calls.
Kingdew, who had been leaning against the side of Pops' chair sketching, had no such compulsions. Whilst he loved Curiel dearly, Curiel's lack of boundaries, and habitual raiding of Izo's stores, were earning him no favours. Lifting his pen, Kingdew used it to point in the direction his cousin had momentarily escaped to.
"He went that way."
With a stiff nod in thanks, Izo swept along the deck, the demand for retribution clear in his eyes. Reaching for the door handle, Izo's air of revenge slipped as Thatch nearly collided with him as the chef backed though the door.
"Woah! My bad! Sorry Izo."
Ignoring his brother's apology, Izo quickly regained his momentum, skirting around Thatch to hunt down the bazooka wielding bastard.
Twisting around to face the others, Thatch's face was riddled with confusion at Izo's abrupt manner. Putting it aside for the moment, Thatch resumed his initial mission of getting answers from his brothers and father that were scattered around the deck.
"Sooo…. Does anyone know why Curiel's hiding in the galley? 'Cause I really don't want whatever's going on, to go on in my kitchen."
Whitebeard loved all of his children dearly, but sometimes it took a bit longer for the beli to drop with Thatch. Choosing not to answer, Whitebeard raised his eyebrow at where his most dramatic son had made his exit to. Thatch still had a lot to learn when it came to situational awareness, but he was definitely improving. With a few subtle hints, he was picking up on cues much faster, in fact, the beli would be dropping in 5... 4... 3... 2...
"Aw man." Thatch whined, "Izo! Curiel! Not in my kitchen!"
Faster each time. Whitebeard leant back in his chair a pleased smile stretching across his face as Thatch speed back to the galley, after all, a lively ship was good ship.
Haruta leapt off the ship, her arms spread wide as she laid face down on the grass, breathing in the scent of the earth beneath her. She loved her brothers dearly but another month on board with them and nothing to do, and she'd go back to 'falling' into the ocean just to find some form of entertainment.
Jozu snorted at the scene Haruta was making as he stepped around her sprawled form.
"You're acting like a landlubber after their maiden voyage."
Rolling onto her back, Haruta half-heartedly glared at Jozu's smirking face. Thrusting a pointed finger into the sky, Haruta denied the accusations.
"I'm not a landlubber! I just happen to have a healthy appreciation of not being on a rocking object all the time."
Stepping off the boat Jiru offered his hand to Haruta, after her own hand had remained dangling in the air, waving about in an invitation for someone to pull her to her feet. Thanking the doctor with a brief hug, Haruta shifted back, only to sway slightly.
"Aw man. The ground's moving."
Rakuyo was the next to disembark from the ship, pausing to stand by his younger sister, as he too felt the earth shift when it really shouldn't have been.
"I guess the more we walk around, the faster it will disappear."
Pursing his lips to release a sharp whistle, Rakuyo waited momentarily as the thud of Macy's eager approach grew louder.
"Want to play some fetch with me n' Mace? She'll want to play around for a bit before she'll get back on board. We won't go far."
"Yeah! Jiru you wanna come play?"
"Maybe later, I need to see if I can get my hands on some ginger. It should help ease the rocking." Turning back to the ship, Jiru lifted his arm to block the morning sun that was streaming down from behind the boat, "Thatch, didn't you want to get supplies as well?"
"Yeah, we're pretty much out of everything unless you guys want fi–"
"No! Please! No more fish!"
Thatch frowned at Atmos' outburst as he folded his arms over his chest.
"Are you saying something about my cooking?"
Atmos shifted his weight side to side guiltily. Thatch's food was always delicious, and whilst he did personally eat beef of any description, Atmos was longing for any other type of meat that wasn't fish. Before Atmos could deny Thatch's accusations though, Vista came to his rescue.
"You know that's not true Thatch. We all love your cooking. But perhaps something different wouldn't go astray hmm?"
Thatch's stern exterior dropped as his usual grin resumed its place on his face.
"Aww… Vista. You say the sweetest things."
Striding past Thatch, Izo cuffed him over the back of his head, "Stop fishing for compliments. Your hair is big enough already."
"Isn't the expression head?"
"Alright, alright. I was planning to cook chicken or pork tonight anyway. I know a couple of recipes that I can add ginger into… if it's alright for us to hit the shops, Pops?"
Whitebeard nodded as he nudged Thatch towards the gangplank, "As long as you take Izo with you."
Whitebeard grinned as Thatch pouted half-heartedly at the jab. But Whitebeard knew he was going to lose all of his hair before he turned fifty if he kept letting Thatch and Marco loose on their own. At least if he left Thatch under Izo's supervision, there was a 45% chance that Thatch wouldn't end up doing something that would raise his bounty.
"Don't worry Pops, I'll go with them too." Jiru offered as he clamped a friendly hand on Thatch's shoulder.
Vista and Atmos similarly offered their willingness to tag along, Atmos wanting to make up for offending Thatch (although he knew Thatch wasn't truly upset), whilst Vista was happy to use any excuse to stretch his legs.
"Namur, would you like to come with us?"
Namur clenched his jaw at Vista's offer. His eyes flickering into the depths of the archipelago, as if searching for a threat.
"No. We're told about Sabaody as kids. It's about the last place a mermaid or fishman should ever go."
"Not welcoming huh?" Fossa inquired.
"For you guys it should be fine. It's just the slave traders. They're said to be all over the island, and fishmen fetch some of the highest prices in the auction houses. I'd just rather stay here."
Marco's face paled as Namur talked. The closest he'd ever been to slave traders was when he, Thatch, and Pop's had freed Namur, and that was the closest he ever wanted to be. He had absolutely zero interest in checking out an auction house either. Helping give Macy a run-around was sounding particularly appealing.
"I'll hang out here with you, Namur. You guys will be a pretty big group as it is."
"Yep. Six of you is a pretty big group. No need to–" Curiel's rambling excuses cut off as Kingdew placed a hand on his shoulder.
"We'll stay as well."
Izo still hadn't forgiven Curiel, and wasn't likely to, until he'd restocked the ammunition that Curiel had messed with. Keeping them apart was a necessary precaution in Kingdew's eyes. Not to mention Curiel's habit of finding a way to piss off every marine in the vicinity if he wasn't watched. They could always go later, when Curiel was less likely to force them from the island before the log pose had set.
Namur redirected the conversation as Curiel descended into increasingly erratic movements in an attempt to shake off Kingdew's tightening grip, "We'll need a coater to get the ship down to Fishman Island. Fishmen and mermaid's can swim at that depth, but an uncoated ship or submarine won't make it that far."
"I'll go have a look around. Does anyone else want to come?" Whitebeard asked as he made his way onto the shore. Whilst the ocean was, and always would be his home, it was nice to have his feet on the ground once more.
Blenheim, not wanting just anyone doing such an important job for this ship, gave an affirmative nod, Jozu and Fossa doing the same, as they made their way closer to Pops' side.
"We'll be back in a few hours." Pops said to Marco, who nodded in understanding that he was in charge until then.
Whitebeard strolled casually through the archipelago's shipping district, his hands tucked into his pockets as he let the bustling crowds duck and weave around him. Blenheim and Fossa, flanked him on his left and right hand sides respectively, parting the crowds further onto the edges of the pathways. Jozu was bringing up the rear, his fingers flexing as he fought down the anger that was slowly abating from his system.
They'd had two busts so far.
The first man had been decidedly unhelpful, launching into a spiel about how they wouldn't make it to Fishman Island alive, and pirates should all give up as there was no hope left in this world. The second seemed to be equally chatty, informing them that if they did make it, chances were they'd be killed on sight by the blood thirsty locals at best, eaten alive at worse. Jozu punched him through a stack of crates for his trouble. People like him made his blood boil. No wonder Namur hadn't wanted to come with them. Since his outburst, Jozu had retreated to the back of their group to avoid his father's knowing gaze.
Fossa broke the silence that had fallen over the group as they walked, talking around his ever present cigar, "10 o'clock, guy with the brush looks like he knows what he's doing."
As the others locked onto the man Fossa had singled out, Pops nodded his head at the assessment. "Let's go see."
Unfortunately, third time wasn't the charm, with the man already having a job lined up that he wasn't going to give up. However, he did point them in the direction of one of his 'buddies' that was looking for work, and was apparently good enough that they 'should' get there. Which was reassuring. Completely reassuring.
Reaching the scrap-yard they'd been directed to, Whitebeard was quick to match the physical description they'd be given, 'round, purple overalls, missing a front tooth', with a jolly looking man who was humming to himself as he lugged remnants of a ship onto an existing pile.
With the situation finally looking like it was going to make progress, Fossa called out to the man, "S'cuse us, but you the ship coater?"
The man startled slightly at being spoken to, lost in his own thoughts, his mind working to catch up with what he'd heard.
"That'd be me!" He offered with a grin. "Name's Blamenco."
Jumping down the pile of boat parts, Blamenco landed with a heavy thud as he came towards the group that each offered their name in turn.
"Onto Fishman Island then?" Blamenco powered on without waiting for an answer, because really, why else would they have tracked him down? "I've got everything I'll need on me, so we can head straight to your ship if it suits…?"
"That'd be fine." Whitebeard answered, tilting his head back the way they came, "We're over at archipelago 28."
"Easy enough. We'll cut back through the teen mangroves. It's a bit lawless, but it's the fastest route."
Following Blamenco's lead, the group made their way back to the ship, Blamenco happily filling in the silence that the Whitebeard Pirate's present normally walked in with only minimal input from the others. As they walked, and Blamenco talked, Jozu caught a glimpse of his father's eyes which were trained on the rather talkative ship-coater.
At least this one didn't make him want to punch anything.
"This is her." Whitebeard announced as he raised his hand in greeting to Kingdew and Curiel that had waved at their arrival.
Blamenco released a low whistle as he stepped forward to get a closer look at what he had to work with.
"She's a beauty."
A repetitive thud, thud, was the first warning that Blamenco's whistle had done more than show his respect towards the Whitebeard Pirate's current vessel. As the thuds grew louder, Whitebeard stepped forward to intercept Macy as she burst into the clearing, her chain whipping around behind her. Slipping his fingers deftly around Macy's spikes, Whitebeard redirected the weapon away from Blamenco, into Jozu's awaiting diamond arms.
Rakuyo was the first in sight, with Marco and Haruta hot on his heels as the barrelled in from the same direction Macy had come from. The trio slowed as they realised that Macy hadn't run off beyond wanting to greet the man Pops and the others had brought back with them. Rakuyo sheepishly relieved Jozu of a squirming Macy, apologising to the newcomer.
"Sorry about that. Macy's normally well-behaved, she just gets upset when there's people she doesn't recognise though. I'll go settle her down inside."
Blamenco blinked as the weapon and its master(?) trailed onto the ship and into the cabins.
"That was a machine?" Blamenco questioned uncertainly.
Marco, ran his hand up the back of his head, ruffling through his hair, as he offered a half-shrug.
"To be honest, we're not really sure."
Fossa released an amused huff at the whole thing. Normal was an expectation that he'd left behind in the forge. It simply didn't exist in the presence of a Whitebeard Pirate. Blamenco would learn that soon if he hung around for any length of time.
Having worked on a number of pirate ships, Blamenco was relatively accustomed to the idiosyncrasies of pirate's and managed to rebound to his normal grinning self at the prompting of the ship's Captain.
"How long will you need to do the job?"
"Hmm… It'll probably take me four or five days and will come to 95,000,000 beli."
"That's fine, we're in no rush. Did you need any of that upfront?"
Blamenco found himself blinking in surprise for the second time that day. Pirates were notorious cheapskates. Balking at the price was frequently followed by haggling down the cost, or throwing out death threats. Neither of which seemed to be forth coming. Odd. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Blamenco shook his head in the negative, and pulled out his supplies.
Time to get to work.
Jiru shifted the bags he was carrying to his other arm to sling them over his shoulder. He was setting a rather sedate pace, with Atmos and Vista matching their own pace to his shorter strides, rather than trying to keep up with Thatch who was bounding ahead. Izo, adhering to Pops' instructions, was setting a rather brisk pace to keep up with Thatch as the pair gradually pulled further ahead.
Not being in any hurry though, the three strolled casually as they discussed weapons. Atmos had been contemplating changing from using a single sword to wielding dual blades in battle. Vista of course had leapt on the bandwagon of encouraging the switch.
"For you though, two swords makes sense, you'll have a far better range. Especially if you're not going to carry a shield of any description. It just depends on what you want to take advantage of though." Vista remarked, pulling Jiru back into their conversation with his next comment, "It wouldn't make sense for Jiru to carry two swords as it would hamper the speed of his attacks."
Jiru tilted his head left then right as he hummed at the comparison which wasn't exactly accurate.
"You're assuming that based on if I swapped my lance for a sword though. My lance is far heavier than two swords, it's just that I don't have to worry about directional changes, I simply charge forward. Doing that with two swords isn't very practical."
"I have my helmet for when I want to charge forward faster though." Atmos countered.
Vista grinned as Atmos began leaning towards picking up a second sword.
"Exactly! And just think–"
Vista fell silent as his eyes narrowed on his brothers that had been stopped by a group of men up ahead. The dozen men were wearing matching red jackets, embroidered with an insignia on their shoulder marking them as 'The Hunters'.
"We should catch up."
Jiru and Atmos nodded, as they lengthened their strides, quickly coming up to stop behind their brothers. Faster than anyone present had been able to comprehend, Izo fired a warning shot. A black lock of the burly man's hair drifted to the ground. His friends gaped at him, each one competing in giving the best impression of an ugly fish.
"That was your warning. The next one goes between your eyes."
Bumping Izo's shoulder lightly, Thatch scooped up Izo's discarded bags, edging him away from the subdued group, "Come on Izo. We should be getting back."
Atmos, Vista, and Jiru drew themselves to their full height behind their brothers, creating an imposing fortress of muscle, as they shadowed Izo and Thatch away from the gang.
"Yeah! Run away! You listen to your boyfriend, bitch! Otherwise Getty Joe's gonna get y–"
Almost in sync Vista and Jiru spun away from one another, clearing a path for Izo's bullet that hurtled past them. Hitting precisely where Izo said it would. Getty Joe's body crumpled to the floor. Dumping the bags of food back on the ground, Thatch cracked his knuckles as he stepped back towards the group.
"Not cool guys."
As rage and adrenaline kicked into The Hunter's system's, they drew their weapons, a mixture of bats, staffs and swords. Not threatened by the thug's intimidation tactics, Atmos and Vista drew their swords, lunging into the brewing fight as Jiru and Izo followed Thatch's lead of relieving The Hunters of their weapons and engaging them in hand to hand.
Catching an incoming staff on his crossed swords, Vista pushed the pole back before slicing through the man's unprotected stomach. Twisting around, Vista cut through two more men with precision, downing them quickly. Vista was soon put on the defensive as a fourth man came swinging at him wildly.
Thatch meanwhile sent an uppercut into his target's jaw, sweeping his leg out down low to knock him to the ground with a thud. Thatch winced at the sound, watching in morbid fascination as the blood began to leak along the grass.
"Thatch watch out!"
Kicking his opponent back, Izo gained enough space to shoot down a bat wielding Hunter that had been aiming for Thatch's head. Offering a jaunty salute in thanks, Thatch's body tensed as Izo's opponent came back for him. Throwing himself at the man, Thatch barrelled the man down to the ground, rolling himself off and onto his feet rapidly.
Atmos pulled his sword out of his second victim, shuffling backwards to cover Thatch as he regained his breath. The man on the ground didn't rise though, as the body of his final comrade fell to the ground from Jiru's elbow being slammed into the back of his neck. Atmos watched the flicked of pain and defeat flash through the last Hunter's eyes and did nothing to stop the man plunging a fallen sword into his own chest.
The five Whitebeard Pirate's stood amongst the carnage of their creation, each gathering their thoughts to try and find the words to speak.
"Aww man! The bag of peanuts exploded."
Atmos let out a snort as Thatch hastily went through the shopping bag checking on all of the food. Hoisting his own allotment of bags back into his arm, Atmos tilted his head towards the archipelagos that they still had to cross.
"We should probably get back."
Collecting their supplies, they made their way back to the boat sticking closer together. By the time they could see the boat, Thatch had regained his joyful demeanour, a wide grin stretched across his face.
"Why are you so peppy?" Izo inquired with a raised brow.
Electing not to answer, Thatch bounded towards the ship, his grin not dimming even as Pops took in his blood speckled cuff and loosened neck tie.
"Hey Pops! Guess what?! Guess what?! It wasn't me this time either!"
Pops shook his head in resignation as Thatch launched into a somewhat exaggerated recount of events. Stepping up to his brother, Marco lightened Thatch's load by half, giving him greater freedom to wave his hands in emphasise as he habitually did. As Thatch wound the story up (having ignored the other's token protests that a retelling wasn't necessary), Marco placed his free hand on his hip.
"So he wasn't as lucky as the last guy who offended Izo then?"
Thatch's grin fell at Marco's question, genuinely upset and confused at the thought that someone had bad mouthed Izo and not received retribution.
"Wait. what? Who offended Izo?"
Ditching the shopping onto the deck, Marco snuck up beside Thatch. Leaping onto his back, Marco forced Thatch into a head lock, messing up his hair.
"You, you idiot. Remember?"
Blenheim sat with Namur as they watched Blamenco apply the coating, listening as he discussed his profession with them.
"There are a lot of inexperienced coaters out there. People want to bypass how expensive it is by hiring a novice, but they end up paying the price for it. Usually with their lives."
"So coating's a full time job then?"
Blamenco paused to examine the next area that needed coating. Making the decision to swap to his finer brush, Blamenco tucked his broader brush into his pocket space before answering.
"Not really. Most civilian folk or the Navy, cross over the Red Line, so none of their ships need coating. Very few civilians have any interest in visiting Fishman Island. Ah. No offence." Blamenco nodded towards Namur.
Namur shook his head with no ill-will. It wasn't news to him, and it certainly wasn't offensive when compared to any number of other things he'd been told in the past. It was scary to think that after all these months he was finally going to be back at Fishman Island. Back to the one place he'd been running from. Whilst his journey hadn't been anything like he'd thought it would be, getting lost, kidnapped, freed... he wouldn't change any of it. Not if it meant missing out on meeting the weird little band of humans that called themselves the Whitebeard Pirate's.
Namur was quickly drawn out of his thoughts and back to his surroundings as he realised the coater had fallen silent, obviously upset about causing imagined offence.
"So what do you do when you're not coating ships?" Namur prompted.
Blenheim offered Namur a thumbs up behind Blamenco's back as the coater resumed talking about his career.
"Well, it's mostly ship demolition. If the coating's going to fail, it doesn't take long for it to go. Some of the ships float back to the surface, so there's debris that needs to pulled out of the ocean and then broken apart."
As Blamenco continued to talk, Blenheim's gaze drifted towards his father's golden eyes, glinting with something he'd seen before.
Another island, another brother.
Lying back against the mangrove roots, Blenheim crossed one leg over the other, his mind drifting to ship schematics. If things kept going this way, it wouldn't be long until they were going to need a bigger boat.
Fossa whistled appreciatively, slapping Blamenco on the back as he lumbered pass the coater to get a closer look at the ship.
"It's strange to think that such a fragile looking thing, will get us to the bottom of the ocean." Rakuyo commented as he too stepped in to get a closer look, Macy's chain taunt as he held her at heel position. It wouldn't do to have her undo all of Blamenco's hard work after all. It was going to be a nightmare keeping her below deck whilst the travelled, by Rakuyo knew that it would be safer for everyone if he kept her, and her spiky exterior, far away from what would be keeping them alive.
Atmos pushed himself up from where he'd been seated against a mangrove, offering a hand to Blenheim as the pair ambled over to the others. Being on land was nice, but the call of the sea was a powerful one, and the six days on land was starting to chafe at the pirate's nerves.
Blenheim came to a stop beside Blamenco, who was tucking his finer paint brush into his pocket space.
"Are you still coming with us?"
The initial offer had been unexpected when it was made three days ago. Blamenco wasn't a native to Sabaody, but it had been his home since he'd been apprenticed under an old coating mechanic. He'd never really thought about leaving until his mentor had died, and even then he'd been more inclined to stay then go. However, the Whitebeard Pirate's had grown on him rapidly.
So when he'd been asked, he'd said he'd think about it.
That had proven to be the wrong response, with the youngest members of the crew, coming up with multiple methods of persuasion, including some of the best meals he'd ever tasted from Thatch, and stories about how amazing their 'father' was, and wouldn't he just like to be part of the family already? The older members of the crew were perhaps subtler in their approach, but no less invested in convincing him to take a place amongst them. Yesterday, he'd caved, agreeing to join them on their adventure, even if he didn't really see a need for a coater to join them.
"Yes." Blamenco reaffirmed, even though his belongings had already been brought aboard late last night, "I'm coming."
Haruta let out a whoop of excitement as she ran loops around Blamenco, Blenheim and Atmos.
"Come on! What are we waiting for? Let's gooo!"
At Haruta's exclamation, the Whitebeard Pirate's that were onshore boarded their home to finish off the last of the preparations so they could set sail at their father's command. Having done what they could, Marco and Thatch nudged each other playfully as they looked out to the water they'd soon be submerged under.
"Ready to set sail?"
The pair looked up to meet their father's gaze as he placed a hand on each of their shoulders. Grins lighting up their faces, this was it, their next step into the unknown.
"Ready when you are, Pops."
"Then let's go see what the New World has to offer."
Thank you so much to everyone who has supported Strays, especially to everyone who has left a review, you guys are all amazing!
In particular, Akage987 and Lady Audentium, thank you. You guys never gave up on me, or Strays, and have been patiently prodding me in the right direction, and giving me the inspiration I needed to finish. I really couldn't have done it without either of you, so this chapter is definitely dedicated to both of you.
At the moment I don't have any plans to continue Strays, although I may look into posting an epilogue set later into the Whitebeard Pirate's journey.