Well, it looks like I'm not getting paid from Roger. Ugh... Crassi rolled over, clutching her stomach. The second impact hurt just as much as the first, and she felt sick just getting up. Of course everyone's going to be wanting to have a lifeboat. She lashed out at the next pirate that ran by, slashing his midsection. Less of them, more for me.
She tried to hurry back to the ship. With any luck, she'd get away without getting caught by Marines, and with a nice bonus to boot. Damn Devil Fruit users. If we cross paths again I swear... Crassi took one last glance back at Lasklee, before disappearing into the retreating mass.
Peter was about to speak up when one of them seemed to appear in front of them. He had very short reddish-brown hair, was dressed in the usual shirt, but had a long blue scarf around his neck, and was carrying what seemed to be two long hooks in his hands. "Oh boy..." he said, a small smirk spreading. "Easy meat..." He made a gesture like he was about to attack, but was stopped when a voice familiar to Yoje called out "Gezora! Stay your hand!"
A swarm of Marines began heading down the east and west streets, not nearly as large as Harligold's crew, but better equipped, and began trying to catch up with them. And heading to the north was a slender man, his pale white skin and white hair highlighted by his red eyes. His coat seemed more like a lab coat, but with a pair of cuff-links. There was a small group of men behind him as well.
"But sir, they're right there! And they're injured! We could take them!" Gezora said, not taking his eyes off the crew.
"We have more than enough right here. Getting all of these men together on one ship and trying to get back without incident is not possible. Plus..." the captain gestured to the crowd of citizens behind them. "We're dealing with local heroes here... and I'm sure we don't want to ruin this moment of celebration... we'll just take Harligold and his men, take some time to get all the details of what has occurred here... and we'll be on our way. Does that sound fair?" He said to Peter.
"I guess that's fair." Peter replied, hoping the others wouldn't start something. "Who are you, anyway?"
"Oh yes, where are my manners, I forgot to introduce myself. I am Hippocrates. Captain of the Marines, and one of the commanding officers of Porte Carlo. Imagine my surprise, arriving back to my station after working another area to here that the infamous Roger Harligold was on his way... and then imagine my surprise to find out he had been defeated."
"Well, I'm sure you and your men can take care of this. Assuming your friend here doesn't want to harm anybody here, that is..." Peter said, gesturing to Gezora. Hippocrates snapped his finger, and in a flash, Gezora was behind him.
Hippocrates then spoke to the crew "I give you my word that nobody who fought for Lasklee will be in any danger tonight. Still, don't push your luck, and don't expect any future transgression to be met with such mercy." The group started heading back to the ship, waiting for their men to round up as many of Harligold's men as they could.
Marielle looked up at Grana, confused. Why did he think she needed help, when all she really thought she needed was a rest? In time she would get her strength back, and she could just put a bandage over her leg or something later; it wasn't worth fussing over. She shook her head in response to Grana's offer, saying, "No thanks... I'll be fine, in time," as she did so.
Apparently Marines were storming the city... led by a guy in a lab coat? That was an interesting choice of attire for an officer. Hippocrates, he called himself. The guy was probably a medic or something. After a brief exchange with Peter, he led his Marines away with a final note:
"I give you my word that nobody who fought for Lasklee will be in any danger tonight. Still, don't push your luck, and don't expect any future transgression to be met with such mercy."
What did that mean? Was it something to do with the people she had joined up with? Sure, she could easily guess that they were a bunch of pirates, but was she guilty by association? Marielle didn't know, in her fatigued state.
The idea of running away before the Marines could get her ran through Alaena's thoughts as she was told by the crew that they were in no need of immediate care. For some reason though she felt like she shouldn't run once some of the Marines started to show up. She felt like it would mean abandoning the people who had helped her and the citizens in a time of need. 'I don't think I could deal with that and not feel guilty,' she thought, watching as the leader of the Marines came forth and started to talk.
The Marine Captain was recognizable with his red eyes and white hair, though Alaena hoped that she didn't prove to be the same. Even without the cloak and with the bandages on she still had her unique bow and other dressings that could be identified as something the 'Night Archer' wore. 'And I do not need to be captured ever again.'
Her fear was put at slight ease when Hippocrates told the crew that they had his word that they would not be in danger that night; though his next sentence brought it right back. 'Being safe tonight doesn't carry over to tomorrow. Should probably try to leave before then,' she reasoned, watching as the Marines left.
"I think leaving would be the best idea at this point," Alaena stated once the Marines had left, standing up and looking at the others.
Back on Jingo, Captain Hippocrates had weaseled his way out of a fight with Yoje, Jacque and Smithy, and sent a mob of pirates after them. Now the Captain had been right in his face again, and Yoje couldn't do a thing. While it was a relief to not have to fight another army, Yoje couldn't help but feel frustrated at missing another crack at the Marine. I have to admit though, hes not all bad. Plenty of other captains would have tried to arrest us today. Still, its better we don't push our luck.
"Leaving sounds pretty good right now. Lasklee is safe, and the Marines won't be showing us mercy for long. Our ship has to be ready by now, right Peter?"
Hal barely even noticed the Marine's approach until some weird one with two hooks appeared right in front of Peter. That one was followed by a creepy looking bigwig who introduced himself as Hippocrates and plenty of back up. Hal's first instinct was to shave the hell out of there, but that would just make him look more suspicious. No, he wasn't even that high of a bounty so they probably wouldn't even recognize him unless they were actively looking for him. And his assumption paid off as Hippocrates didn't arrest them and even gave them a head start to get away and rest up while he took Harligold and his crew.
Hal let out a sigh of relief as the Marines left and lit up a cigarette to calm his nerves. He was even more thankful that Yoje and Alaena shared his desire to get out while the getting was good. "Yeah, I'm sure this isn't gonna be a big shocker to anyone but I'm all for leaving while we've got the chance." Hal said with a wry grin as he took a drag and exhaled. "I'd love to stick around and celebrate our victory and all but we can party once we're not in the Marine's backyard."
Peter sighed as the Marines left the crew alone. He turned to them and said "Ok, everyone get back to the inn, and I can discuss things with the people working on the ship. Hopefully we can get out of here soon..." He got up, limping off to try and find someone in the town he could talk to.
A few hours passed. The crew was now at the room at the inn as Peter walked back in. "Ok, I got somewhat bad news, good news, more good news and then more bad news. The somewhat bad news is that the whole business with Harligold put the work on the ship to a halt. The good news is that enough people who are able to work on it are here, and enough people are grateful that they can have the ship ready by tomorrow. The other piece of good news is that from what I've gathered, the Marines have finished rounding up whatever amount of Harligold's men that couldn't run fast enough. They're just going to get some testimony from the citizens to get an account of what's happened here, and they'll be gone by tonight, on their way back to Porte Carlo."
Back at the Marine ship, a man walked up to Hippocrates. "Sir, we managed to get a head count on those with bounties we were able to get. We managed to get "Twitching" Yedaj from the center of town, "Smokestack" Mottso from the wreckage of the Great White, Inshi Yarrakona from the center of town, Mog Gossen in the remnants of the Great White, paralyzed from a sort of poison, apparently shortly before someone took the last lifeboat, and of course Harligold himself. However, the two fishmen managed to escape into the sea, and Gossen confirmed that Crassi Cauda had managed to get away on one lifeboat. A good portion of his men managed to get away, but once all the lifeboats were gone, they all surrendered."
Hippocrates nodded, looking through a large stack of files. Behind him stood the Marine who was stationed on the island before, Yezeku. On the opposite side near the door sat a large man in dark blue armor, who was fast asleep. Yezeku turned to the one giving the report. "Thanks for that. However we're busy now. Give us the full-detailed report once you get the details from the citizens. We want to know what we'll be dealing with soon..."
Hippocrates nodded, completely absorbed in his work. There were various files from all sorts of incidents, seemingly unrelated to the recent events, but he seemed to be trying to find a link.
Marielle had managed to collect her pack full of possessions from where she had stashed it. Thankfully nothing was missing, though the building it had been in had been hit by something and it had been a bit tough to find in its hiding place. Still, she had what she wanted... which was everything.
The injuries that she had received during the fighting had become less of a concern for her now: she was fairly certain that there were no lingering effects of the poison that had been on the fishman's spines, and thankfully that tailed woman hadn't gotten anything into her system. Marielle was of the mind that had she been subjected to anything that that poisoner had carried, she would most likely be dead or crippled.
While waiting for Peter to return, she had been mulling over her situation and absent-mindedly fiddling with one of the trinkets she possessed. The object in question was a small wooden bird, in fine enough detail to pick out things like feathers and distinguish between individual claws and the rest of the foot. Some of its detail was a little worn down from constant handling, but Marielle didn't really care about that. What mattered a bit more was what she was going to do now. Lasklee, her home for the three years of her life that she remembered, was now little more than a broken ruin.
"And the other piece of bad news?" she asked quietly from the corner in which she had seated herself.
Peter opened his mouth to speak, but then turned to Marielle. "And why exactly are you asking this? Come to think of it, what are you even doing here? And who let her in here?" He turned to the others. "Look, miss, I appreciate what you did for us. But you do know we're pirates, right? Associating with us is gonna get you in some serious trouble."
As soon as the crew got back to the inn, Hal made a beeline for his room and made sure his briefcase hadn't been stolen. Thankfully, it was right where he had left it. Despite how tired he was, he didn't feel like sleeping so he grabbed the briefcase and returned downstairs to take inventory and figure out just how much what he had obtained on Lasklee was worth. Everyone else was there doing their own thing already while they waited for Peter to come back, so Hal took the closest empty seat he could find, stretched out his sore legs, and got to counting.
After a couple hours of deep thought and calculating, Hal had finally finished tallying it all up. "Alrighty then, that'll be about 700,000 in the jewels and gold I got outta the Yarrakona safe... I already proved I can get at least 200,000 for this sword. Spears probably worth about the same... This'll be more than enough to get my business back on it's feet. Hell, I'm way better off than before!" Hal said to himself with a broad grin as he tucked everything that would fit back in his briefcase.
It was around this time that Peter came back and gave them all the news. Being stuck here until tomorrow wasn't all that great, but with Harligold's crew taken care of and the Marine's leaving soon that wasn't the end of the world. Like Marielle though, Hal was wondering what the other bad news was. He wasn't expecting Peter to tell her off like that though. Well.... He's got a point. Hell, even I'm in over my head here sometimes. She's gonna ruin her new peaceful life on Lasklee if she keeps hanging around us.
"Uh, sorry 'bout that Cap'n... I think we're all pretty beat here and I, at least, didn't even notice her following us. I guess I didn't think much of it since she was fighting with us." Hal said with a sheepish grin and adjusted his shades nervously before turning to Marielle. "He's right, ya know. You won't be able to enjoy the peace you worked so hard for if people think you're a pirate like us."
After the Marines had left Alaena had gone back into the town center and started to help some of the injured civilians after she mended her own wounds. It was a relief that the number of casualties were much lower than had been anticipated; though the amount of injured civilians was still high. It was a few hours before Alaena headed back to the inn to rest, coming in just in time to join in on Peter's speech to his crew.
She lounged in the back and listened to him. There was a part of her that wasn't sure why she was here with them; she wasn't a member and didn't plan on being one. At the same time this was the best way for her to get out of here safely before the Marines came. The sea was dangerous, and she had not boat of her own to take out. 'Not that I'd want to though. One person on a boat out at sea would find a disaster sooner than an island. And if I were to go on one of the public boats there is a chance of the Marines finding out,' Alaena thought to herself, listening as the others were wondering about how the young girl had gotten inside.
Alaena cleared her throat to get Peter's attention before stating she wanted to talk to him. "In private of course, once this speech of yours is over," she added, gesturing to his crew.
Marielle was a little taken aback. Having had nowhere else to go, she had simply followed along with the rest of the people she had met. Perhaps she was in the wrong crowd... that was highly likely.
"Um... I'm sorry for intruding. But I didn't think I had anywhere else to go. I found a burning wreck where my house used to be," she explained. "I don't know where I'm gonna go now, or what to do. Lasklee is the only home I've known... sure, people might come back, but there's a lot of damage. Destroyed buildings and stuff... I dunno. It all seems like a bit much."
It seemed that Marielle had ended up fighting alongside pirates... that was why the guy in the lab coat, Hippocrates, had said that no-one would be in any danger just for that night. Her guess from earlier had been correct: she would be guilty by association if she stuck around. With that in mind, she had no idea where she would go now. She hadn't seen many people on her wanderings before absent-mindedly entering the inn with the rest of the... pirates.
With that in mind she stood, tucking the wooden figurine into a pocket as she did so. "I, uh... I'm gonna go. Again, sorry for intruding," she mumbled to no-one in particular. Embarrassed, she wasted no more time and left the room, and subsequently the inn. There she began to wander aimlessly, taking in the carnage and destruction that the battle had caused... a few people lay dead in the streets. Marielle averted her eyes each time she saw a body.
Soon she tired of walking, and sat down at the corner of an intersection. There was too much death and destruction in the city that had been her home. The realisation of such things caused Marielle to bury her head in her hands, on the verge of crying a little but not entirely there yet.
Sammi had regained consciousness about a couple hours after the Marines showed up to take Harligold away. While pissed that she had let herself get knocked out during the fight, the fact that it led to the overall victory soothed this pain somewhat. She was still a little sore after the various hits she took, that blow to the gut from Harligold comes to mind, but it was nothing a little drink couldn't fix.
Peter had called a crew meeting at the inn, Marielle had tagged along, which Sammi didn't see a problem with, but during the talk, Peter seemed to take umbrage with her being there. Marielle was visibly shaken and soon bolted out into the streets.
Sammi was surprised by this turn of events from the Captain. When she initially met him, he was more than welcoming, taking her in without a mention of a back story, though the fact that he was alone and she had axes probably helped. Still, the one that roared at the younger girl was not the one she had met in those days of old. She took a long sip from the mug of rum she was able to procure for this meeting and set it down on the table. "Jeez Peter, that was a bit rough, don't you think?" she asked him. "I mean, she did help out big time during the fight. Without her I'd be squirming back in that alley way thanks to that tail bitch's slice and dice act. Why'd you have to go off on her?"
Peter shook his head and sighed. "I didn't mean to be so harsh, but I was telling her the facts. I heard her out, and I think she had a good reason for staying around, but once she finished, she just up and left." he shrugged "Perhaps she did realize that sticking with us was going to lead to her getting a bounty on her head. She's displayed some powers today, but as long as she's still a civilian, she'd have nothing to worry about. If she wants to talk to any of us, I'm more than willing to listen. These days, piracy isn't exactly the safest thing to start." He then turned back to the others
"And speaking of not being safe, that brings us to the next bit of bad news: our next stop is Porte Carlo. To get to the Grand Line, we still need a couple essentials. First and foremost being a Log Pose, a compass that can help us navigate the Grand Line. The Marines have taken to confiscating any that are sold in the West Blue, meaning Porte Carlo is the only place that is guaranteed to have any. Part of their latest way to crack down on pirates. But beyond that, we'll be needing medical supplies, food, containers and other junk. And not only is Lasklee in no condition to be offering any of those, but Porte Carlo usually has some of the best quality stuff."
He then spoke up "Now I know most of you are going to come with me, and I appreciate that. Jacque said he'd be remaining here to help the citizens here rebuild." He turned back to Hal and Alaena "Like I said, you two are more than welcome on board my ship if you want. Be sure to think about it."
He got up, heading to the door "I'm gonna go check up on the ship. You guys all rest and focus on recovery. Alaena, you said you wanted to talk with me?"
The sun was setting, and the Marines had managed to get back to the ship. They were getting ready to sail off. Gezora stood behind Hippocrates, still a little cross about what had transpired earlier in the town. "I don't get it... those other pirates were right there. Why not try and get them now? It's not like pirates are ones to keep their word, why should we?"
Hippocrates observed his men getting ready to set sail. "You lack foresight, Gezora. We have some of the most powerful criminals in the West Blue deep in our decks. As well as the most cunning. Those other pirates there were opposing them then, but the last thing we'd need is giving them a common enemy. Never underestimate the resourcefulness of your opponent. Between all of them, there could be the chance they could have found a way to escape their cells. And such a chance would be inexcusable. We've gotten more than enough to send an extremely powerful message. And that message would have been diminished if we had gotten into a fight with civilians."
"Well what are we going to do about all of them? Considering the Blue Vortex members escaped, the scorpion girl got away, and the people who were strong enough to beat them are still going free, we still have a lot of work to do..." Gezora said, the tone of his voice almost making it sound like he was whining.
"Be patient. Considering the route this lot has been taking, their next stop is Porte Carlo. We know their faces, and in order to deal with the threat of Harligold, we managed to assemble some of our best men in the West Blue." Hippocrates had a hint of pride in that voice, but for the entire conversations was speaking in an eerily calm manner. "But even if they do managed to arrive and slip out before we notice them, I've already gotten the reports and sent them to HQ. They can all expect a sudden bounty increase tomorrow morning."
The anchor was raised, and the ship began to move. "Porte Carlo is the gate to the Grand Line, Gezora. We have a reputation to uphold. You'll get your chance... but just make sure you don't fail."
Alaena listened as Peter explained where they would be heading and why they needed to go there, waiting until he was finished talking to his crew before walking up to him. "I did. Privately," she added, heading out into the hallway with him while everyone else was still inside. There was silence as she tried to figure out exactly what she wanted to say, even then she wasn't sure whether she was making the right decision or not.
"Look...I'm not going to be a pirate. I never will be, and that's just the way it is. I do need to get off this island though, and you're the best way for that to happen. So while I won't join your crew I'm willing to at least travel for a brief time, perhaps even help out your crew at times until I leave. If there are injuries of your crew that need to be mended I can do that as a sort of payment for being on the ship should you want that to be the case," Alaena explained, pacing a few times before she continued.
"I will not participate in any form of piracy though. Again, I am not a pirate and have no plans to be one. Should you battle certain people I am opposed to I will help you out in what ways I can. Sometimes I'll have my own things to do when we land, and at any point I might leave permanently with no notice," she stated, taking a moment to think if she had anything else to cover, "That should be about it. Anything you wish to say?"
"Well, today was a successful day" Yoje said with a grin. "Now, I'm going to eat dinner, and then rest for a while." He walked out the room they were gathered in and headed for the inn's dining room. He saw Alaena and Peter talking outside, but she had said she wanted to talk in private, so he didn't listen in. If any of the others wanted to join him, they would catch up.
I hope there's some good meat in this inn. Yoje thought. And that the chefs weren't hurt in the battle. His stomach rumbled, reminding him of the large bruise on his gut from Higaldo's last attack. Once I recover, the first thing I'm doing is training my Iron Body technique. It should be able to withstand much stronger attacks than it does right now.
Hal watched Marielle leave with a slight pang of guilt. Hmmm... It doesn't feel right chasin' her off like that if she has nowhere to go. I oughta know how that feels after all. Although I was a lot younger than she was when I had to figure out how to deal with it. He had only been 14 when those pirates had attacked his family's merchant ship. Traveling alone was a dumb move, but they had been too poor to hire anyone to protect them. Once they realized they were done for, Hal's mother packed what little money they had and some rations into a bag and gave it to him while his father put him onto their only lifeboat. Hal rowed to the nearest island, not daring to look back at the ship for fear of what he might see.
Once he landed, he did the only thing he really knew how. He used his funds to buy and sell goods for maximum profit. The skills he had picked up from watching his parents helped, but for the most part people found themselves caught off guard by the shrewd negotiating skills of such a young boy. And of course, he ripped off pirates as best he could at every turn. It wasn't even close to what they had taken from him was the reasoning he used to justify it.
And here he was today, being asked to join a group of pirates. If hadn't been for that little flashback, he probably would have gone ahead with it without giving it much though. If he was going to prevent the misfortunes that befell him on Lasklee in the future, he'd need strong people like these guys after all. Of course, hanging around them had only put him in more danger lately but he couldn't deny that he had ended up better off for it with all the loot he'd gotten. Besides, they didn't seem like the kind of people that would murder his parents. Still, he couldn't ever see him calling himself a pirate.
"Tch! This ain't getting me anywhere." He muttered as he stood up from his seat and grabbed his briefcase off the table. "I need a drink... Hopefully there's a bar around here somewhere that hasn't been blown to hell." He said a little louder to no one in particular before walking out of the room and out of the inn. He had gotten to know the streets of Lasklee pretty well during his stay, but with many of the landmarks ruined and the streets he used covered in debris he was having a hard time finding his way around. He found a tavern he used to visit every once in awhile, but it wasn't open due to how wrecked it had been.
Growling angrily, Hal turned and went to go try and find another one that would actually be in good condition. Eventually, he came to an intersection that looked vaguely familiar and stopped to take a look around. He didn't see a place that looked like it served alcohol, but he did spot Marielle sitting on a nearby corner. With her head in her hands like that, she seemed to be having an even rougher time of it than she was when she left the inn. Oh boy... I can't just leave her sitting there after seeing her like that. I don't know what to say though. I'm a salesman, not some kind of councilor. Aw hell, here goes nothing.
Taking a deep breath, he walked over to the corner where Marielle sat. "Hey, Marielle. You gonna be alright?" He asked, cursing himself internally as he did so. It was a really dumb way to start off the conversation. "Look, uh sorry if it felt like we were chasing you off earlier. We all appreciate your help here, so if you need anything just say the word. I know it ain't easy having no home left to go to." Hal told her with what he hoped was a reassuring smile. The whole 'I know how you feel thing' felt a little overused to him but in this case it was the truth.
Grana sighed as he stood up, buckled on his sword, and walked out the door. He had noticed a nice little park on the way to the inn, and he figured it would be completely deserted: perfect for what he was planning. He arrived at the grotto and slowly unsheathed his blade, facing a few of the bamboo stalks. Grana exhaled as he raised his katana to split his vision. "The ability to cut the very spirit of the world...I must learn it, in order to bring the crew to the World's End. I shouldn't be bother by such peons of Harligold's class- not if we are to survive on the Grand Line. I must do better." Grana flicked his blade sideways, aiming to cut a stalk. The sword passed through, but Grana saw the curved edges and knew the result was from strength alone. "No! That's wrong! Find that-that sound, or whatever it was!" Grana began to hack through the bamboo, desperately trying to find what came so easily in desperation. Exhausted, he sank to the ground, a mob of decapitated bamboo accusing him.
Grana winced and pressed his good hand to his chest, feeling the blood start to seep through his shirt due to his exertions. He stared at his hand and wiped the minute amount of blood onto the grass. "I've had worse. I'll be fine." Fingers shaking with adrenaline, Grana reached into his hat and pulled out a letter. It was the last one from his brother before Grana was forced to leave the island. Grana read over the letter proudly, still amazed that his brother was able to survive on the Grand Line. "And since I've received this letter, he's had five whole years to train and become stronger. Heh, my brother must be a monster by now." Grana gently placed the letter back into his hat before looking back at his mangled arm. Perhaps it was only the aftereffect of adrenaline, but Grana could feel pain surging through his arm, and his arm twitching in response. Both were good as far as Grana was concerned: they meant the nerve still had some life left in it, and that meant it would heal. Grana slowly stood back up, using a stalk for support. He sheathed his blade and began to slowly walk back to the inn, ravenous in his hunger. As Grana stepped back inside the inn, he noticed Yoje heading the same direction, with presumably the same idea. "Hey! Yoje!" Grana called put, catching up to his shipmate as quickly as he could. "How are you feeling, Yoje? A little better than I do, I hope." Grana grinned. "We just seem to shine a beacon for trouble, don't we?"
Marielle looked up at the sound of a familiar voice. "It's... it's fine," she answered Hal hesitantly. Yes, that was his name. She had heard it mentioned once or twice. "I've only had one place I could call home, and it's right here. But you already know that; I said it earlier." She turned her gaze back to the streets, a slight feeling of sickness beginning to form in her stomach. Briefly she contemplated telling Hal about her history - or rather, a lack thereof - but quickly reminded herself that it was personal and she barely knew this person.
"I could stay here, sure, but... I don't know. It's surprising how much can change in a single day. Some things I did today are going to haunt me, that's for sure... even if Sammi told me to just push past them and move on. Not everyone can do that. Dunno if I can."
Yoje shrugged. "We did what we had to do here. Lasklee should be better off now." He gave Grana a quick once over. "You look worse than you did back at the inn. What happened, did a wound open up?"
Grana winced at Yoje's perceptiveness. "Yeah, I suppose. More like I ripped it open." Grana shook his head in anger, both at his idiotic recklessness and his inability to grasp the concept of resonance. "I was remembering the sword style my sensei taught me so long ago. Apparently, all I remember about it is that I forgot everything." Grana gave a short, barking laugh. "I was completely helpless by the end of that fight. If Hal hadn't convinced that last fishman to leave, I would've been crushed." Grana shook his head and shrugged. "I've become too reliant on my Devil's Fruit, and have neglected my basic swordsmanship. I need to become stronger." Grana pushed open the doors to the cafeteria and, lo and whole, there was a chef serving food to the uninjured. Grana then looked at Yoje. "Though you're one to talk, buddy. You look like you're going to be a human bruise come morning. What happened to that Iron Body of yours?" Grana nudged Yoje slightly, to drive home his point.
Hal nodded slowly as listened to Marielle, mostly to give himself time to think. He wasn't entirely sure what some of the things she did today that would haunt her were, but it was a pretty brutal battle so he had a pretty good guess. "Yeah, that sounds like something Sammi would say. She's got the right idea I think. Just try not to think about it too much. Can't be haunted by it that way." He suggested since that was how he dealt with things like taking lives. It was effective for the most part.
Having said that, Hal tried to steer away from that subject since he probably wasn't the best person to be talking to about it. The fact that she had lost her home seemed to be weighing more heavily on her anyway. "Look, I ain't gonna bore you with the details, but I found myself sitting in more or less the same situation as you a while back. Here's what I eventually figured out: This is an opportunity for you. I know it doesn't seem that way, but it is. If there was ever something you wanted to do or something in your life that you weren't entirely satisfied with, you can change that now that you don't have anything to lose. If you want to get outta here, I bet if you talked to Peter again he'd let you tag along. You already proved can handle yourself, and it seemed like he felt kinda bad about what he said." Hal said with a passion in his voice that usually wasn't there. It wasn't often that he had experience that was worth sharing after all.
"And even if you do decide to stay here, the same thing applies. A house can be rebuilt even better than before. The same goes for this whole city. Give it some time and this place will be back to normal. Even better with the gangs gone I'll bet." He finished. After a pause, he realized that maybe this whole speech of his wasn't exactly what she wanted to hear right now. "Uh, anyway that's just how I see it. Sorry for getting all preachy on ya there." He added afterwards with a slight chuckle.
After Peter had finished talking and gone off with Alaena off to somewhere, Sammi was growing bored being left to he own devices in the inn. There was really only one person who she felt needed to be talked to anyway. The one who was probably the least equipped to be dealing with the situation. The one who dashed out. Sammi took the rest of her rum to go and walked out of the inn.
It took less time then she thought before she spotted the girl with the baby blue nails sitting on one of the intersections not far from the inn. The merchant was already there, which was a bit surprising, given that he was agreeing with Peter back at the inn, but no matter. Marielle seemed to be feeling a bit better.
"Hey," she said, greeting the two. "Didn't expect to find both of you here. You feeling all right there, Blue? I know that was a really rough trip you were given in there by Peter."
Marielle listened closely to Hal. An opportunity... that made sense, sort of. His words after that did not. "If there was ever something you wanted to do or something in your life that you weren't entirely satisfied with, you can change that." She didn't have anything that she wasn't satisfied with, and there wasn't anything that she could think of that she wanted to do. Perhaps it was confession time, she thought as Sammi joined the two of them.
"Honestly, Sammi... I don't know. It's not just Peter's words. I know I messed up there by wandering in when I shouldn't have. But there are other things on my mind. You know what I did, you know I had no choice, but just the idea of it makes me sick," she said, the words seeming to spill from her tongue in a rush before she fell silent for a moment to collect her thoughts. Hal's little speech needed answering as well.
"And then there's Lasklee itself. Hal, to answer what you said just now, the thing about the whole 'opportunity' bit is... I only remember the last three years of my life. The three years I spent here before Harligold and his horde showed up. That's why it's the only home I know. I don't know where I could have been before, why I'm here, or how I even got here. Odds are that Marielle Avacin Villeneuve isn't even my real name. It was given to me because I told my family that I didn't have one." As Marielle explained this, she averted her eyes, looking back down to the ground where she felt she belonged. Down in the dirt with the rats and scavengers. That was the way she had lived before Ainha and Lilliena took her in and gave her a home.
Marielle didn't like to tell people that she had no past, but in this case it was necessary. They needed to know, to fully understand what she was thinking.
My visible bruises don't look that bad, do they? Yoje quickly examined his arms. There clearly were bruises, but nothing serious. The worst looking bruise was on his stomach. Maybe Grana was trying to make himself feel better. "I need to improve that technique, I know. The fishman I had fought was stronger than I thought he would be." He sat down at the nearest table. The cafeteria wasn't very crowded, so the waiter would probably get to them soon.
"By the way, what fishman are you talking about? The guy Hal convinced to leave was big, but he was definitely human. Was there somebody else?"
Sammi thought about what Marielle was saying, about not really having a past and having her present all but destroyed. It was a rough go to be sure. Sammi looked down at the poor girl and thought for a moment, sneaking a sip of her rum as she did so. Finally she spoke.
"You know what Mari? I can't really say anything about what you've lived through. I can't say anything about your past except this. It is just that. It's past. What's done is done. Can't change it. The only thing you can control is the future. You can use the future to find out about the past, maybe even right the wrongs of the past. But dwelling on it isn't going to fix any of it.
Now, I dunno if the answers you're looking for are going to be found here, or in Porte Carlo, or at the bottom of the Grand Line. Who knows? All I know is, it's better to make a move to try and figure things out rather than just sitting around moping on how you got to this spot in the first place, you get what I'm saying?"
Grana sat down across from Yoje, visibly confused. "There was the spiky fishman someone told me about, the annoying Dolphin Fishman that warned Twitchy about my power, and...the...gate...breaker...damn. He was human, now that I think of it. I was so out of breath by the end that he just got swallowed up by a dark spot. I guess I just assumed from his size and perceived color that he was a fishman. Still, what kind of normal human tries to break down a wall with his fists?" Grana shook his head in wonder. "There are some interesting people in this world."
A new thought sprang into Grana's head then, and he decided to give voice to it. "Say, how many techniques does that martial art of yours have? I've seen the sword leg technique, that you're so fond of, that sky-runner technique I asked you to teach me, and that high speed dash that you and Hal both know. You also have that Iron Body technique. Is that all? It seems that the style is very long-ranged, but it could be a hassle if the opponent comes in close and you can't kick or run away. You also have the problem where an opponent could simply cut through or overpower your Iron Body, like today. For such a powerful fighting style, I would be surprised if there aren't any remedies to these situations."
"There are six techniques. Besides the four you mentioned, there's the Finger Pistol, which allows a single finger to pierce skin and bone, and the Paper Art, which makes you extremely flexible. It can even change your size. I'm bad at the Finger Pistol, and can't use the Paper art at all, but they would help in close ranged combat."
"And there's more to Rokushiki than just the six techniques" Yoje said in a somewhat annoyed tone. "The six powers are what makes it special, but we learn regular hand to hand combat skills as well. Only the weaker users rely entirely on the powers they know. It's like how you were saying that you feel you're too reliant on your devil fruit. The best Rokushiki users are the ones who naturally adopt the Powers into their fighting style, combining skills, and making it their own. So-"
A waiter came over then, asking for their orders. Yoje asked for a hamburger and sake, and turned back to Grana. "So no, close range isn't truly a weakness of the martial art."
"So you just want a ride? Shame... you seem nice enough. Extremely violent, but you seem to have your heart in the right place." He said, practically not paying attention to most of what she said. "Still, we don't do that much piracy stuff. Or at least I don't. Can't speak for the rest of them. Still, you can leave whenever you want. I just strongly advise against leaving at Porte Carlo."
"I have some things I plan on doing at Porte Carlo, but I certainly won't stay there. I have a feeling that there will be some sort of trouble on that island when we get there; perhaps even caused by the crew. Just call it a hunch," Alaena replied with a smirk, somewhat surprised that Peter was completely fine with all that she had said. "I have some things to do, and I assume you do to. I'll head on out then. Thank you for letting me aboard," she added before heading into her room.
Fletch had gone straight to the inn after his owner had told him to stay out of the fights to keep him safe, and was now perched at the window when his owner came in. He loudly shrieked as if mad at her, getting told to calm down and not be so loud. "I know you've been waiting for a bit, but I wanted to keep you from harm. Who knows what could have happened? If you want to fly around now you can; I'll be heading out in a minute anyways," Alaena told him, watching as he flew off the window's ledge in a huff.
There was a second where she considered telling him to not get into trouble, but she had trained him well enough to trust in him. She reached into one of her satchels and grabbed out a wad of Beri; carefully counting it and putting it into her pocket before heading on out of her room.
Hal was a bit surprised to hear about Marielle's lack of a past. He had been wrong to compare her situation to his own it seemed, which explained why she had been less than receptive. He was at a loss as to what he could say next, but thankfully Sammi stepped in with some advice of her own. Hal was thankful for that since he didn't have anything useful to contribute and he would feel weird saying stuff like that. He did agree with Sammi though, and it seemed to tie in rather well with what he had been saying earlier.
"Uh, yeah. Pretty much what she said." Hal added, not having much else useful to contribute. "What I said before still holds up. If you want to find out who you were, someone out there has to know. 'Course, it's up to you really. Do whatever you want." He finished with a shrug. Not the most inspiring thing he'd ever said, but it was the truth.
The pirates' words made sense to Marielle. While she didn't know who she really was, she could find out. And she wasn't going to do so by moping around, or putting herself down. No-one had known who she was in Lasklee, even though she was a citizen with a home and suchlike. The gifts her adoptive family had given her were not things that she could overlook. Her Devil Fruit ability in particular: it was a weapon, she knew. And one that she could put to good use.
She got up from her spot on the ground, a determined look on her face. "Thank you, both of you. I have an idea of what I could do now... but before I explain it, I have one question. You guys are pirates, aren't you? So what exactly do you, well, do?" If there was questionable activity in their answers - raiding, looting and suchlike - then perhaps Marielle's idea wasn't such a good one. It was one of the two options she believed that she had to choose between, though.
One or the other, not both. One cannot live on the fence one's whole life, she remembered Ainha telling her. If you do not make a decision, you ultimately lose both choices.
The question was a surprising one, one that Sammi thought she would have a ready answer for. Well what else do we do? We steal, we go for treasure and we stick it to those bastard Marines. But there wasn't much of that done since she joined with Peter. Hell they had been a damn near benevolent force in her time with them. There's definitely been a moral shift. I mean with Bob we pretty much took on whoever got in our way, good or bad. With Peter though, it just seems like we're playing the wondering avenger role. Stealing from the corrupted rich to give to the poor. Hell, we were the good guys on the island. I don't think that was the case ever with Bob...
Sammi then decided to answer Marielle as best she could. "Well, lately Mari, I don't know if you could call us true pirates or not. I mean, compared to my old crew, this one is pretty righteous. Still, if you're thinking what I think you are, you're going to be entering a whole new world. There isn't going to be any kind of safe haven you can turn to, you're going to have to be on your guard at all times. And I know you weren't too hot about taking people out earlier, but that's another fact of life in our given work. You're going to have to be able to do that. So I guess what I'm going to tell you is that this is going to be a major life shift. You gotta think about it to make sure this is a step you're ready and willing to take."
And if you are, I'll at least make sure you're more prepared then I was...
Hal paused at Marielle's question, not entirely sure how to answer that. It was only natural that she would assume he was a member of Peter's crew, even though it was actually just an offer on the table that he was considering. What Sammi said confirmed his suspicions that the crew was much more benevolent than most other pirates. That was going to weigh into his decision. "Yeah, I'm not an official member of Peter's crew but he has offered to have me along. I don't like pirates much so the only reason I'm even considering it is because they don't seem like your average pirates."
"Well, that and they saved my ass when I got on the wrong side of the gangs around here." He continued with a small laugh. That had been a rough situation but he had really lucked out by running into Peter when he did. "I've just sorta been tagging along with them since then. Maybe I'll keep on doing that. Traveling alone just isn't very safe for a merchant nowadays..."
Aww, who the hell am I kidding with this maybe crap? This is the my best bet to get around without any more incidents. Guess I'll talk to Peter about it when I get back.
"Is there anything else that you need today, ma'am?" asked the older merchant to Alaena, trying to get the woman's attention. The question was repeated, and this time he received an answer.
"No. Thank you. Sorry about that...battle fatigue," Alaena explained, hoping that was a good enough excuse for the man. It seemingly was as he didn't question her, instead giving her the price for everything as he finished tallying it up. "That will come to about...oh 14,100 Beri," the man calculated after pressing a few buttons on a small calculator, looking up after a few seconds of Alaena not taking out any money, "Is there a problem, ma'am?"
"The amount. It's less than three times what it should be. Is it because you figure that you won't be getting as many customers while Lasklee is being rebuilt so you'll keep prices down for now to undercut competition?" Alaena asked, watching the merchant nod his head slightly.
"That's a reason for it. Another is that you helped fight off the pirates that came here to take this city; I figured a bit of a discount was in order," the old merchant explained, surprised when Alaena counted out 43,000 Beri and placed it on the counter. "That's about the amount it would be at full price. Keep it; you'll be needing it," Alaena explained, shushing the old man as soon as he started to speak.
She grabbed the bag on the counter and walked out of the beaten up shop before the merchant could try to give some of the money back. 'That should be all I need before we go. I'll have to definitely restock medical supplies at Porte Carlo...I wonder what I'd be able to find at the base,' she wondered as she walked down the streets; most of the debris and wreckage from the fights having already been moved to the sides so people could walk safely.