|Bounty Hunter's Tale: From the West Blue|
|Date Started: June 1st, 2020|
Date Finished: August 2nd, 2020
Setting: West Blue
- Important Islands
Notable Characters Involved:
Kakure Island was burning. It was going perfectly, except for the fact that Yama hadn't been able to find it yet. He knew that the treasure was here, on this West Blue ghost island, but the residents would not tell him anything. It had taken him and his crew a whole month to find the island since it somehow moved within a great fog bank, and he would not allow himself to believe that he had wasted his precious time.
"Captain, would you be willing to let me eat that devil fruit we captured?" asked the pirate Gilford to his superior. All he received in reply was a glare that caused him to quickly scuttle off. He had been asking for the fruit for almost a month now. He knew that if he could gain devil fruit powers, then he might be strong enough to get a bounty higher than the captain's bounty. In his mind, he believed that he could usurp his boss if he also had powers. However, Corinthus G. Yama was not a pirate to be trifled with and had to be handled cautiously. Even now, the chief of the island they had invaded was whimpering at the feet of the mighty pirate captain.
"Please, I beg of you. There is nothing here. We are a poor island. I beg you. Please leave us alone," the old man cried. All he received for his efforts was a kick to the stomach. "Find it, you imbeciles! Find the hidden treasure!" yelled Yama. He would not leave empty-handed. If there was no treasure to be found, he'd just loot the village instead. Unbeknownst to the pirate, a small group had taken shelter in the shadow of his ship. This small group contained a handful of fighting men and one small 10-year-old child. They huddled around a long object wrapped in a dark cloth to hide it from enemy eyes.
"We can't all hide. It will be found. Give it to Neal," decided the chief's wife. The small package was given to the 10-year-old and he was told to hide. A small entourage broke off with the child and snuck onto the ship. They reached the hold and opened a barrel. The small boy squeezed inside with the wrapped object. He would need food, so the people searched the hold. They found some dried meat in a crate and a strange red, cube-shaped fruit that had been locked in a chest. These items were taken to the child and all were sealed within the barrel. The fighters left, praying for the child's safety as they returned to fight for their village. The child would not emerge for many days until the fighting was over.
Three days later...
He was hungry, but he had to conserve his food. he had no idea how long he would be trapped in the barrel. Although, the fruit would probably perish first so he should eat it quickly. When he took a bite, it tasted horrible. "Maybe it was already spoiled," he thought to himself. He ate it anyway because spoiled food is still food. It left a bitter taste in his mouth and did nothing more, or so he thought.
Five days later...
There is not a sound to be heard on the island. Everything lay dead or dying. The fighting had taken only eight days, but it had left devastation and many bodies in its wake. "There's nothing here captain. These fools have cost us enough. Let's just take their loot and leave," said one of the Wild Boar Pirates under Yama's command. "Very well. We set sail immediately!" he announced, "We've wasted enough time on this stupid island." As the pirate ship prepared to embark, a small shadow slipped out from under it clutching a dark package. This shadow searched the island for any survivors, but there were none to be found. He sat on the beach, with the water turning red, and cried out a river. Neal held the package close to his chest for many hours and let loose.
After many hours, he suddenly stopped. A new determination came into his eyes. A spark, of something red-hot and angry: revenge. One day, when he was stronger, he'd make those who hurt others suffer miserably. He unwrapped the object and beheld a great dark blade sealed within. The powerful weapon, Taiyō, was not a child's toy, but he would train with it for many years in order to bring his justice to the world.
Two days later...
"WHERE IS IT!!!" shrieked Yama. The pirate who had found the empty chest quivered in the face of his angry captain. The devil fruit that had been sealed in the hold was missing. He had been going to sell it for millions, but now it was missing. None of the islanders could have stolen it since they were all dead. One of his crew must have stolen it during the ruckus, and he knew just who would have done it.
"Get me Gilford. I need to set an example." The frightened crew member rushed to do as he was told. After that day, the pirate Gilford was no longer a member of the Wild Boar Pirates as they sailed towards the Grand Line.
7 years later...
He was just a day late to the village, but it had cost them everything. After tracking the Rolling Barrel Pirates for almost two weeks, he was only a day behind their course. If he was to deliver justice, he'd have to find a way to catch up. However, every time he saw a ruined village, Neal couldn't help but stop and assist the citizens.
Although he didn't look it, Neal was a powerful bounty hunter with both impressive sword skills and devil fruit powers. He was only 17, but after hunting bounties for two years, he had made a name for himself in the West Blue. Even the Mafia had his name on their list after he took down the right-hand man of one of the Dons. That had been his hardest fight yet and had destroyed five buildings. Through the course of his travels, Neal had been given the nickname "Quickdraw" due to the lightning speed at which he seemed to be able to draw his weapons. In fact, Neal was assisted by his devil fruit powers which he had received from the strange fruit that had been in the Wild Boar Pirates' hold. This gave him the ability to store an almost infinite number of items and summon them at will. The name "Quickdraw" D. Neal had many rumors and impostors in the West Blue due to its notoriety.
This time, his prey was a large crew of about 30 pirates that had been leaving destruction in their wake. The Rolling Barrel Pirates captain, Daz Brunner, had a bounty of 20,000,000. When he caught up, he was going to crush them Neal decided as he approached the village to offer his assistance. Repairing houses was a breeze with his Soko Soko no Mi powers. Then, he could begin the hunt once again.
2 days later...
A large ship was on the horizon. A red hull and large square sails indicated that the ship was a schooner, the black flag indicated it was a pirate ship, and the barrel on the jolly roger indicated that it was them, the Rolling Barrel Pirates. Neal's beloved caravel class ship, the Sea Dragon, could easily catch up to the large schooner. Once he got close enough, he'd unleash his ship's secret weapon, a grappling hook hidden in the mouth of his ship's dragon figurehead that could latch onto ships and allow him access to board them. He was almost in range now. They had to have spotted him by now and were probably wondering why a small, single-manned vessel was approaching a pirate ship. Their ignorance would spell their doom.
He was close enough now. They couldn't escape. The hook shot out of the front of the Sea Dragon and latched firmly into the planks on the edge of the opposing ship's deck. Neal swiftly ran across the thick chain that now linked the two watercraft and boarded the pirate ship. A motley crew of ragtag pirates was gathered around the connection point. Their swords were drawn and their teeth were bared. Every member of the 30-man crew was on the deck after feeling the shock that the hook's impact had caused. To their surprise, a fellow who looked like he was still a boy climbed aboard their ship.
"You are all under arrest for crimes of piracy, destruction of property, and stealing," declared Neal to the surprised pirates. There was a long pause as the crew looked at each other in disbelief. This kid was telling them that they were under arrest. The laughter started quietly in the back and then grew into a raucous uproar. It really ticked Neal off when people didn't take him seriously, but he had to wait until he could see the real prize, the captain.
A slow clap sounded from the second level of the ship and Daz, the captain of the Rolling Barrel Pirates, appeared. He was a stout man with a barrel-shaped chest. A bazooka was slung on his back and a pistol was holstered at his waist. Dark hair decorated both his head and arms and his face had the signature mustache that had been used to identify him from his bounty poster. The pirate captain was as mismatched as his crew, but he was strong and had escaped from many Navy ships.
"You are here to arrest us?" he asked. A loud laugh bellowed from his chest and his crew joined in. "You and what army?"
"Well, who's going to stop me?" Neal asked.
"We're going to kill you," cried a member of the crew. This roused a mutter of assent among the gathered pirates.
"With what weapons?" was Neal's reply. Suddenly, every sword and gun disappeared from the pirates' grasps. The captain reached to his hip, only to find an empty holster. His bazooka had vanished as well. A sudden flicker of fear passed across his face.
"Watch out fellows," he cried, "the kid's a devil fruit user!" The warning was of no use. The fight was over in an instant. Neal drew a gray sword from thin air and slashed with it. The blade clicked and extended, becoming a chain that wrapped around all the pirates and constricted to drag them towards each other around the ship's mast. The chain sword then seemed to transform into a nest of actual chains that bound the pirate crew members to tightly together. After watching his entire crew taken out in an instant, Daz, being a coward at heart, ran away to try escaping in the spare dinghy. he didn't make it very far before his own bazooka was shoved in his face by Neal. The whole ordeal took only a few minutes, but it spelled the end of the Rolling Barrel Pirates.
"Hmmm. Which way to go? Hey Daz," Neal called, "Where's the nearest Naval base?"
"You little bastard!" was Daz's reply, "I'll kill you and everyone you've ever l-" Daz's voice cut off abruptly as a gag was stuffed into his mouth. He mumbled and twisted in his restraints.
"Well, according to your map, the nearest base is on Chisana Kame," Neal stated. "I say we take a look there and if I'm right then I get your bounty. How's that sound?" Daz Brunner simply sighed in defeat and slumped to the deck. All he could do at this point was wait.
The Dragon Flagon Bar Fight
Chisana Kame was a large island in the West Blue with a large, industrialized city. The city limits had even stretched off of the island to dominate some areas of the water. A plateau towered over the center of the city and a Marine station was situated on top in full view of the ocean from every side. This magnificent presentation tended to dissuade pirates from coming anywhere near the island, but today was different.
The alarm bell began tolling as the red ship came into view of the port. The black flag on its mast caused panic as people rushed to hide. A pirate ship, in the Chisana Kame harbor? It was an almost impossible idea. In just a few minutes, the formerly busy port was almost deserted although a few curious eyes could be seen peeking around boxes or through closed curtains. A squadron of Marines rushed out of the port barracks to cover the dock that the ship was approaching. The lead officer on the scene barked out orders and assembled the men to point their guns at the disembarkment point.
The schooner slowly drifted next to the dock before coming to a shuddering halt. The sound of wood scraping against wood was unpleasant and harsh. A silence permeated the air as the ship bobbed in the harbor waves. A rope ladder was thrown over the side. It clattered hollowly against the hull before settling. A few guns tentatively pointed at the deck of the ship.
Suddenly, a mass of bodies appeared in the air and crashed down onto the dock, splintering it and creating a hole. The restrained pirates almost fell into the water but were jammed into the hole in the dock by their mass. The surprised Marines jumped back before pointing their guns at the heap of pirates. Two more shadows appeared on the deck causing a few muzzles to point in their direction. One was a rotund, barrel-chested man that was tied up and the other was a kid that had barely entered adulthood.
“Would you look at that Daz?” the boy declared, “There is a Navy base here. You owe me 20 million berries.” Neal jumped down from the high deck holding the defeated pirate captain in one hand and landed lightly on the wooden planks of the dock in the center of the ring of Marines. With the guns trained on him, he dropped his package and raised his hands.
“Hello, men. I’m just here to grab my money for these pirates and then I’ll be on my way.” The Marines looked at each other in confusion. Had this kid really taken down an entire crew of pirates? Their disbelief was interrupted by the commanding officer breaking the circle to stand in front of Neal.
“You’re a bounty hunter?” he asked with a hint of skepticism in his voice. Neal simply nodded in reply. The officer opened his bounty ledger and began flipping through to see if any of the posters matched the men before him. He eventually found one that matched.
“Daz Brunner. 20 million berry bounty.” His eyebrows flew up to his forehead in disbelief. 20 million was quite a sum of money which meant that this pirate must have been notorious, yet he had been caught by a boy. It was almost laughable, but there was no mistaking the pirate in front of him. He shook his head and signaled his men.
“Alright men, take these pirates to the main base for processing,” he ordered, “I’ll finish things up here.” He turned back to Neal. After placing his signature on the bounty poster for Daz Brunner, he ripped it out of the book and handed it to the young bounty hunter. “Take this to the main base sometime today and they’ll give you your payment,” he explained and then turned on his heel and strode back up the dock. As people began realizing that there was no crisis, they emerged from their hiding places to watch the procession of pirates. Some people jeered and others simply stared. After a little while, the procession disappeared and normalcy returned to the port. Neal looked at the paper in his hand and shrugged. “I’ll probably get more money out of the boat than the bounty,” he thought as he strode towards the harbor-wharf to meet up with some shipwrights.
After selling the massive ship for 50 million berries, Neal was quite content. A total income of 70 million berries was almost a small fortune. He couldn’t wait. He decided to head towards the plateau in the center of the city to receive the rest of his earnings. As he headed towards the city interior, he noticed a few oddities within the city. Many parts of the city were poor and disheveled even as the bountiful Marines passed by. Also, a hint of fear and distrust was etched into every citizen’s face. Something strange was happening on this island, but it wasn’t Neal’s place to interfere so he just headed farther into the city.
After a few minutes, Neal entered the main plaza of the city. The plaza was ringed by a number of shops and bars. Huge crowds of people traversed the plaza in a bustle of activity. Curiously, there was a gallows set up in the center of the square. The far end of the plaza was a checkpoint for entering the Marine base. A line of soldiers extended into the plaza and traffic was forced to go around it. Neal decided to find a place to kill time since the line was so long. A large bar caught his eye. The sign depicted a red dragon and reminded Neal of his ship. The name “The Dragon Flagon” was etched in gold letters on the sign. He headed inside.
The inside of the bar was modeled after an old medieval style. Stools were placed around wooden tables and the beams were revealed in the ceiling. Every wood face was etched with vine carvings. Every seat was filled except for a few at the bar itself. The reason for their emptiness was apparent. A small contingent of six Marines was seated at the bar in deep conversation. Anyone who attempted to approach the counter was dissuaded by the glares of the hulking soldiers. Eyes and muttered curses were silently sent towards the soldiers by every other bar denizen. Neal ignored the obvious tension in the room and approached an empty seat at the bar.
“Is this seat taken?” he asked a burly Marine who was glaring intensely at him.
“Yeah. You can’t sit th-” the Marine was dumbfounded as Neal sat down in the seat.
“Thank you,” Neal interrupted as he sat down. The rest of the room went silent for a few seconds as everyone looked to see who had dared to insult the Marines. The bartender quickly sidled up to the counter to defuse the situation.
“What’ll you have kid?” he asked the boy in front of him. A trickle of sweat ran down his forehead as he felt the palpable tension in the air.
“I’ll just have a cola. Thank you,” Neal replied as if oblivious of the room’s feel. The silence was broken by the largest Marine’s laugh and conversations resumed as the group of soldiers turned away from Neal and continued their conversation, dismissing him. The bartender wiped his face with a towel and handed the cola over the counter. Neal gladly accepted it and decided to listen to the conversations around him. The large Marine who had laughed at him was different from the others. His coat indicated that he was a senior officer of the base. Their whispered conversation piqued his interest.
“Sir, I heard that the Captain is raising taxes again,” one Marine whispered to the officer, “Won’t that mean more work for us again? The slums will riot.”
“Yeah, but that also means that we can have more goods,” another soldier replied. The whole group nodded in assent.
“Those bums from the red-light district had better stay quiet this time or we’ll have to execute another one. How many has it been already?” a third Marine asked the officer. The officer laughed loudly, drawing the attention of everyone in the room.
“We’ve hung 17 of those idiotic bastards. They should have known what was coming for them when they decided to fight the Marines,” he announced while flexing. The whole group laughed loudly again and the officer began relaxing until a shout from the back of the room caused him to turn around. A young woman in the back was shouting at him while being held back by her fellow citizens who were trying to calm her down.
“You bastard,” she screamed, “you bastards killed my fiance.” The Marines all stood up menacingly. “He went to the Marines for money because we were starving and you hanged him! You’re nothing but a bunch of murderers and cowards,” she cried. A dark shadow of anger flashed across the officer’s face and he and his posse crossed the room. They surrounded the girl and pushed away the people trying to help her.
“Do you want to say that again to my face?” the senior officer asked with his teeth clenched. His face was red from anger and his fists were balled.
“You lot are nothing but murderers and cowards,” she repeated. The officer reared back as if struck.
“You b***h,” he screamed, “If you miss your fiance so much, I’ll send you to join him!” The Marine drew his sword and held it above his head. Tears began streaming from the girl’s eyes as she huddled on the ground and closed her eyes. The silence in the room quickly became an uproar as people surged towards the Marines, attempting to stop the event that was unfolding before their eyes, but no one was able to make it past the wall of five Marines that had circled the hopeless wretch and their boss. The sword began whistling down. Suddenly, a quiet voice cut over the din and caused an abrupt silence.
"I would recommend against touching that girl. I'm on break right now, but if you do something like that, then I'll have to get involved, and you really don't want that," hissed Neal under his breath. The sword had stopped moving as the officer looked back at the bar in disbelief. He could not believe that this kid had just threatened him. He laughed humorlessly and left the heartbroken girl on the ground. He walked behind Neal who was still leaning over his cola and loomed over him.
“Did you just threaten me?” he asked putting his sword to Neal’s throat, “I don’t like threats.”
“It’s not a threat,” Neal replied. “It’s simply a promise of what will happen if you had continued.”
“Oh really,” the officer questioned, “Then what would happen if I do this?” The Marine quickly turned around walked back to the girl who was still on the floor in shock. She cried out as he lifted her off the floor by her hair. The crowd began fighting back again in an attempt to break the fight, but to no avail. The sword rose again, began falling, and the Marine officer was launched through the wall and into the plaza. He slid for a few meters before stopping before a startled crowd of people. Everything went dead silent as both the people outside and inside the bar turned to look at where the officer had been. Standing in the spot where the Marine had been only moments before was Neal with his fist still out in front of him. He had risen from his seat and punched the officer without anyone noticing.
“Who the hell was this kid?” everyone present wondered as Neal dusted himself off and headed back to his seat. The girl was back on the floor but was promptly picked up and secreted away by a group of people. Neal sat back in his seat in front of an astonished bartender.
“I did warn him,” was the only thing he said before he went back to sipping his cola. Abruptly, as if a spell had been broken, everything began moving at once. The remaining five marines surrounded the boy on the chair with their weapons drawn and another group of Marines rushed inside through the massive hole in the wall. A pair of cuffs were locked around Neal’s wrists and he was taken away without resisting. He wanted to head into the base anyways, it might as well be in cuffs. The story of the boy who beat a marine with one punch spread through Chisana Kame like wildfire and by the next day he was infamous in the streets.
The Tragedy of Chisana Kame
Neal had spent the last few hours in a dinky little holding cell waiting for an audience with the Captain of the Chisana Kame base. He was still cuffed but this small jail wouldn’t be able to hold him if he had wanted to get out. Two soldiers finally approached the cell door with a ring of keys. One of them flipped through each and jimmied them in the lock until he found the right one. The well-oiled cell door slid open almost soundlessly and the Marine beckoned for Neal to follow him.
“You better not give us any trouble,” the guard said as Neal passed through the doorway, “or Dave here will have to get rough.” The Marine, who Neal assumed to be Dave, moved his sword menacingly to emphasize his partner’s point. Even with their weapons drawn, Neal could sense their fear in their jerky movements and pointed stares. They had probably heard about what had happened in the bar and had been told to be extremely careful with the prisoner.
As they walked, Neal could hear loud noises and distant pops coming from outside the base. At one point, the small group reached an open-air walkway that allowed a view of the base of the plateau. A large mob of people was rioting in the plaza. Small fires and explosions could be spotted as the Marines attempted to subdue the angry citizens. As he headed back inside, Neal lost sight of the spectacle.
Further on, Neal was led within the base to a pair of large double doors, not unlike what one would see before entering a throne room. The doors slowly opened and Neal entered the room. The room was decorated with marble columns that led towards a gold throne. Everything was highly lavish and a banquet table piled with food was against one wall. Compared to the poverty in many parts of the city, the richness of Neal’s surroundings sickened him.
As he was led down the center aisle towards the throne, Neal observed the two people before him. One was an extremely obese man who was lounging on the golden throne with both legs on one arm of the chair and his head propped up on his hand on the other. A platter of food was balanced on his torso as he gobbled the food from it. A servant rushed to replace the platter as soon as it emptied. The other person was a stoic military man. He stood just to the left of the throne and looked down upon Neal as he was led forward. Both men wore the uniform of a Marine Captain. Once he was close enough, Neal was stopped.
“You’ve caused quite the problem for us,” the lounging Captain drawled as he ate another slab of meat. He lazily turned his gaze towards the boy in front of him. His eyes unexpectedly enlarged in anger. “Why aren’t you kneeling?” he demanded, “Do you know who I am.”
“I actually don’t know who you are,” Neal answered honestly. The fat man’s eyebrows creased together as if the idea of someone not knowing him was hard for him to process. The other man simply stood in place and silently observed the situation.
“Well, you must kneel anyways,” the lounging Marine concluded with a nod of his head. “I am Captain Demont,” he said to introduce himself, “I am the head of this Navy base and my word on this petty island is the law.” His voice rose as he became worked up, by the end of his statement he was positively screeching. The stoic Marine winced slightly at his comrade’s unorthodox behavior. “Now kneel,” Demont demanded, glaring at Neal. In order to avoid an escalation of the situation, Neal decided to kneel even though it went against his morals. Something about the silent captain was off-putting and had him on edge. He was definitely the far more dangerous of the pair.
“That’s better,” Demont conceded as he settled back in his seat, “Now what to do with you?” He put a hand to his undefined chin as he deliberated. The silent Marine to his left leaned over and whispered in Demont’s ear. Demont shook his head as he listened. “That simply won’t do, Willem,” Demont stated as he leaned back in his chair once again. Willem scowled at the further unprofessionalism that his colleague showed with his casual speech.
“Here’s my offer,” Demont began, “you’ve become quite popular with the locals because of your stunt yesterday. So, if you go deal with them right now, we may just let you go scott-free.” Stop a riot and go free? The offer sounded almost too good to be true. “Oh, also, we need you to bring us this man.” Demont held out a poster in a pudgy hand. A man with a light beard and dark brown hair stared back at Neal. “This rebel has given us a lot of trouble. If you’re a bounty hunter, then this should be right up your valley,” the Marine Captain added. The task didn’t sound too bad, but Neal had to make sure that he wouldn’t regret this.
“Can I have your word that no one will be hurt if I do this for you?” Neal asked. Demont frowned but smiled quickly and responded.
“Of course. What do you think we are? Hooligans?” Demont chuckled at his own wit. Then his face became serious. “Keep in mind that we don’t take betrayals lightly,” he mentioned, “Captain Kabuto S. Willem here has come straight from Marine Headquarters to observe this base. If you step out of line at all, I’ll send him to crush you.” Captain Kabuto gave a silent nod and glared menacingly at Neal to confirm Demont’s statement. A captain from headquarters? He might actually be a problem if things go south. Neal decided to accept the offer and see how things went. After all, he was just doing his job as a bounty hunter.
Neal’s escort followed him until he reached the entrance to the base at the bottom of the plateau. The mob surged on the other side of the fence, pushing against a wall of Marines that blocked them from the facility. He saw his prey immediately. The man in question was standing near the back of the mob, not participating but also not completely separate either. To the untrained eye, he would have been impossible to pick out from the crowd, but the way the crowd spiraled around him showed that he was the leader of this ragtag team. The gate squeaked open slightly and Neal surged forward silently. The man’s eyes widened in surprise as he noticed the hunter, but it was too late. Everything was over in an instant. Before anyone else had even processed what was happening, Neal had the man tied up and had shot his pistol into the sky. Everything went silent as the gunshot was heard. A hundred faces all turned towards the bounty hunter.
“Break this up guys,” Neal demanded with his pistol still raised, “I don’t want anyone to get hurt.” Some people broke off the mob to stand on the sidelines but the majority stayed where they were. Gaunt faces looked at Neal with malice. A cough caused Neal to look down at the man he had tied up.
“You don’t have the right to get involved foreigner,” the bearded man told Neal, “We’re starving and that pig is eating it up in his palace. This has gone on for too long. We deserve justice!” Neal sadly gazed down at the man.
“They’ve promised me that they won’t hurt you if I bring you in quietly,” Neal told him, “Please don’t resist ad I’ll make sure to fix things around here. I promise.” Neal knew that anything short of results would not satisfy this man so he did something that he had been trying not to do in order to keep an ace up his sleeve: he used his devil fruit powers. Closing his eyes and drawing from his storage, Neal summoned a cart of his reserve food supplies in the center of the plaza. A shocked crowd stared at the food in surprise before they descended upon it. “Can I have your word?” The man stared in awe at Neal before giving a reserved nod. Neal untied him and the man allowed himself to be cuffed by the Marines that ran up. As he was led away, Neal hoped that he wouldn’t regret this.
Neal stayed the night at a small hotel a few blocks from the main plaza. After a troubled night, Neal awoke to the sounds of a turbulent crowd. It was already past noon, the previous day had taken a lot of his energy. He got ready quickly and rushed outside. People were jam-packed in the streets all the way to the plaza. A hanging was taking place.
Neal watched in horror as the man he had arrested the night before was marched up to the gallows. The two captains were both in attendance on a raised platform behind the Marine base fence. Blood dripped down the doomed man’s face and bruises decorated every inch of exposed skin. Neal’s anger caused the people around him to shift away. Those bastards hadn’t kept their promise. They had promised him that no one would get hurt. He had to save that man.
Neal rushed forward, the crowd parting around him as some people either recognized him or were afraid. He pushed through the crowd until he reached the ring of Marines that surrounded the gallows. He gazed up with hatred at the two captains watching the scene.
“Hey! Stop this immediately!” Neal demanded as the noose was put over the man’s head. The bearded man looked up slightly at the sudden noise and his eyes lit up as he recognized the man who had captured him. He shook his head and bowed it in defeat, resolved to his fate.
“Haha! You really are an idiot,” announced Marine Base Captain Demont, “Did you really think that we wouldn’t execute a rebel like him? A child like you is too naive to understand how the world of men works. Just sit there and watch.” Neal couldn’t help it. He hadn’t joined the Marines when he was younger because he was a free spirit, but over the years he had heard tales of corruption. Those stories were nothing compared to what he was witnessing in front of him. These people hadn’t hurt anyone, they were just hungry and desperate. None of them deserved this, and the pig who was responsible for it all was just a lazy buffoon. He would not let this continue under his watch.
Just as the trapdoor opened to drop the bearded man to his death, the gallows fell apart as every nail that held it together was removed by Neal. The structure wobbled for a second before collapsing and knocking a hole in the wall of Marines around it. The crowd surged forward at the opportunity and swept the man away. The startled Marines could do nothing in the face of so many angry citizens.
“Now it’s your turn,” Neal said aloud as he turned towards the platform. Demont flinched back at the vehemence in Neal’s eyes. What could that little kid do from all the way over there? Neal decided to show him.
“Powerup withdrawal,” Neal muttered as a light smoke began drifting off of his body. His skin heated up as he began releasing his pent up energy to increase his physical abilities. A single jump was all it took for Neal to appear above the startled captain. His punch flew forward, ready to knock the fat man flying but a sudden wall appeared from his right side to block him. Neal’s fist sank into the soft wall before becoming stuck as the wall solidified around his embedded arm. Neal’s increased strength and reflexes allowed him to pull his arm out of the hardened substance and jump back before a large wad of the stuff covered the area he had just been. He looked to see where it had come from.
A light brown liquid flowed from Captain Kabuto S. Willem’s right side to form the wall and the Marine’s left hand was also dripping with the stuff. Neal was still flying backward through the air when Kabuto lifted his left hand again and the substance shot forward, morphing into a spike as it flew. Neal quickly withdrew a circular wooden shield from his storage to block the attack. The point of Kabuto’s attack emerged from the other side of the shield. This man was actually trying to kill him. Neal landed on the ground just in time for a gigantic ax of the hardened substance to fall from the sky. He rolled to the side and narrowly dodged. The ax shattered on impact with the ground into a bunch of pieces of shrapnel, one of which stabbed into Neal’s arm. What the hell was that stuff?
“You’re probably confused, aren’t you?” a deep voice asked. It took a second for Neal to realize that it was Captain Kabuto who was talking. The man had a voice that matched his stoic personality perfectly. “I ate the Nendo Nendo no Mi and became a clay human,” he explained with a calm disposition as he lifted his right arm to reveal a spiked clay club. “How dare you attack a member of the Marines?” he demanded, a hint of anger bleeding through his facade, “I wanted to execute you immediately, but that buffoon wouldn’t listen to me. Justice is absolute. Those who oppose justice must be crushed mercilessly,” he concluded as he swung the club down towards Neal’s head. Neal pushed himself between the Marine’s legs to avoid his attack and stood up behind him. He then used one of the swords he had confiscated from the Rolling Barrel Pirates to slice through Kabuto’s stomach. The sword traveled most of the way through Kabuto’s torso before becoming stuck in the goopy clay.
“You’re a logia,” Neal realized a second too late as a stream of liquid clay erupted from Kabuto’s back to cover the young bounty hunter. The liquid quickly solidified into a prison of clay that kept Neal’s limbs in place. He had to calm down or he couldn’t use his devil fruit powers. It was then that Neal realized Captain Kabuto was truly a force to be reckoned with. He needed to go all-out or he would most likely be executed. The plaza was now mostly empty. A few curious eyes peeked from stored or alleys at the fight taking place.
Neal used his powers to deposit the clay trapping him and escaped just before another clay club came whistling down at him. Since he was fighting a logia, he had to conserve his energy and use the technique that had been passed down in his family for generations: armament. He wouldn’t learn this until later, but this technique was actually called Busōshoku Haki. He knew that armament allowed his attacks to make contact with slippery opponents, including logia devil fruit users. His arm turned black as he reinforced it. As Kabuto turned towards his opponent, he felt an impact on his stomach and doubled over. He coughed and blood flew out of his mouth.
“Impossible,” he thought, “This kid knows how to use Busōshoku Haki?” He needed to be more careful. The second impact drove him to his knees. He was in serious trouble. “Clay battlefield!” Willem cried as he unleashed his ultimate attack. Waves of clay flowed out from his feet, covering the entire plaza in the gooey mixture. Kabuto sank within the liquid clay flowing around Neal to hide as he planned his attack.
This was tricky. Since Kabuto could transform his entire body into clay, he could emerge from any part of the now-submerged plaza. Neal used another sword to block a series of small clay spikes that had been flung from the goop. Suddenly, all the clay around him solidified into a single, solid mass that left him trapped in place.
“Clay golem,” Captain Kabuto uttered as he emerged from the pool of solid clay. His form was now that of a gigantic clay humanoid that was somewhere between solid and liquid. Glowing red eyes glared from the face of the clay monster. Kabuto pulled back his enlarged earthen fist for a finishing blow. The mass of clay swung towards Neal who was still trapped in the clay. It was all over as soon as the fist made contact.
“Full counter,” Neal said as he used his devil fruit to store the kinetic energy of the giant fist as it made contact and then returned it through his own enhanced counterpunch. The force of the blow blew apart the behemoth and the shockwave shattered all the solidified clay in the plaza causing it to fly in all directions. The impact was strong enough to hit the Marine inside the clay and send him flying. Kabuto crashed through a whole row of buildings before finally coming to a stop. The attack had left him unconscious.
Neal stood in the plaza as baffled Marines and citizens looked on in disbelief. A Marine Captain had been defeated by a kid. The perturbed citizens saw this as an opportunity and rushed the dumbfounded Marines. The bearded man who had been set to be executed had returned and was leading the rebels into the fight. Chisana Kame’s main plaza transformed from a duel arena to a battleground in an instant. With a little help from Neal, it wasn’t long before the rebels stood triumphant.
Over the next few days, Neal helped to repair the damage to the city and restore the many portions that had fallen into poverty. Seastone cuffs had been placed on Captain Kabuto and he had been put in the same holding cell that had held Neal. The corrupt Navy Captain Demont was ousted as well and placed in a cell adjacent to Kabuto. There were parties and festivals for many nights as the citizens relished in their newfound freedom. One day, Neal was awoken by the desperate innkeeper of the inn he had stayed at.
”You had better leave the island now,” the innkeeper advised him, “Reinforcements for the Marines have arrived, and there’s even a vice admiral.” They had sent a vice admiral to clean up the base? This was really bad. Neal had used a lot of energy fighting Kabuto and he definitely did not have enough to fight a vice admiral. He jumped out of bed, got ready quickly, and rode a horse that had been offered to him by the innkeeper towards the shore. One of the greatest aspects of his power was the ability to store his ship. This meant that he never had to worry about looters or going to the harbor in order to make his escape.
He soon reached the shore and looked in the direction of the harbor. A fleet of four Marine ships had arrived and was docking. Neal hoped that things would be okay as he withdrew his ship and sailed away from the island of Chisana Kame.
The Bounty Hunter with a Bounty
The day after he left Chisana Kame, Neal bought a West Blue newspaper from a passing News Coo. On the front page was the fate of the island of Chisana Kame. According to the paper, a fleet led by a vice admiral was sent to clean up the rebellion that had occurred on the island. However, after learning of the corruption and starvation that ran rampant on the island, the vice-admiral deposed the current captain of the base, Demont, and replaced him with a new, more honorable captain. After installing the new government, the vice admiral’s fleet left, taking the captains Demont and Kabuto with them back to Marine Headquarters. Demont was being faced with a court marshall for corruption and brutality to citizens while Kabuto was simply being reassigned to work in the Grand Line.
All in all, it seemed to Neal like a happy ending for everyone but Captain Demont. He smiled as he leaned against the Sea Dragon’s steering wheel. Perhaps he should head to the Grand Line too. He had spent far too much time here in the West Blue and he had just proven his strength by defeating a Marine Captain. It’s time he got closer to his goals and fought more dangerous foes.
A sheaf of papers fell out from the back of the newspaper as Neal closed it revealing all the new bounties. Neal shuffled through them but didn’t show much interest since all of these bounties were for West Blue criminals. The last poster caused Neal to slap his forehead in disbelief.
“Aw sh*t!” he yelled as he stared at his own face on the poster. The poster read “Sol D. Neal 50,000,000 berries.” This was going to be a real problem.