Inside a small dojo atop a small mountain, an old man wearing a black gi with a golden sword design on the upper left, sat in front of a group of about 20 students ranging from their early teens to mid-twenties with his braided white beard resting in his lap. He was talking to them with a stern voice that obviously carried wisdom and many years of hardships: “You must remember, my students, in these tumultuous times it is important to stay focused and level-headed. You must be prepared for anything.”
At that moment one of the students, a young girl with black hair pulled back into a short ponytail, spoke up. With her sweet, innocent smile that could light up any room she asked in a curious tone, “Why, Sensei?”
The old man began to open his mouth to answer, but a loud explosion from outside shook the room and interrupted him.
At the same time one of the older boys stood up and grabbed a nearby sword. “What was that?”
[Moments earlier- Off the coast of the island]
A large marine battleship was rapidly moving towards its destination as a young marine wearing the standard issue uniforms for low ranking members rushed onto the front deck. “Vice Admiral Tokage” the marine panted, out of breath from rushing up to deliver the news. “We are nearing Todai Island. The main lighthouse is nearly in sight.”
The Vice Admiral just stood there for a moment, face covered in shadows and his marine coat hung from his shoulders waving in the breeze exposing his black suit and blood red shirt and tie before responding. “Good; fire a round at the lighthouse as soon as we’re in range. Then prepare all cannons for a full scale bombardment.” As the young marine ran off to relay instructions, Vice Admiral Tokage looked over his shoulder to his left at another marine: “Contact Commodore Kristoff!” He then turned over his right shoulder to another marine: “Contact Captain Kite!” Looking straight ahead he spoke in a commanding voice to the two marines. “Tell them to make sure their men are ready to charge once we land” he lowered his voice as he continued, “and make sure they leave the line open.
Shortly afterwards, the massive battleship released a single cannon shot. Upon impact, the lighthouse of the island could be seen toppling and crashing to the ground followed by a complete volley of cannonfire along the coast from the front triple cannon of the battleship. As the cannon blasts continued to assault the coast and villages of the island the marines assigned with charging the island stood at the ready on the decks of the battleship and the two accompanying ships: smaller, standard marine vessels.
Vice Admiral Tokage cleared his throat and spoke in a resounding, forceful tone into the Den Den Mushi he was holding in his hands. Speaking to the 300 or so commissioned marine officers on his battleship and the 100 or so each on Commodore Kristoff’s and Captain Kite’s ships, Tokage proclaimed, “Men we are here to rid the world of a great evil and mark a victory in the name of Justice.” The men cheered and Tokage continued. “This island is harboring a number of dangerous individuals, but none more noteworthy than former captain of the Last Light pirates, Zande Ming, a man worth 250 million beli. From this point on, proceed with utmost prejudice. Our target may have aged, but I assure you, he is still worth every beli of his bounty. Do not worry however, men, for we have the burning fury of Justice and Right on our side and on this day, JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL!” The ships shook with the fervor and passion of the various men onboard just as the three ships arrived at the coast and the marines prepared for their onslaught.
[At the Dojo]
“What?!” shouted a young man who looked to be just over 20.
“I said…the Marines are attacking the island.” came the stern reply from a dark-skinned young man who looked to be slightly younger than the one before and had a neat, trimmed mustache and goatee combination. His brown eyes shown with a boiling fury as his black hair rested in neat cornrows with the red tips lying on the back of his neck. He was dressed similarly to the rest of the class in martial arts clothing, except he wore black karate pants and a red sleeveless karate jacket with a black belt and black fingerless gloves.
Various grumblings and mumbles came from the students:
“Why are they attacking us?”
“Don’t worry, everything will be fine.”
“Aargh! The pirates on this island haven’t been active for years! Why now?”
“Calm down my students.” The old man stated while standing up, his authoritative voice quieting the noise with no need to be raised. “They came for me.”
“But why Sensei,” came the tear-filled cry of the black-haired young girl “you saved this village… and you’ve protected it ever since.”
The old man, Zande Ming, didn’t respond and instead spoke to the young man that initially told them what was happening: “Bo, where are they?”
“They’re at the village, but even with the resistance, they’re moving throughout the island quickly.”
Pondering this, Ming continued, “How many are there?”
After a few minutes, Bo answered, “There’s too many to count, but there are three ships- two standard and a battleship.”
Ming’s face held back some surprise as he let out a sigh before he spoke again. He started out softly, “I was afraid this day would come, but even killing innocent villagers… the Marines truly have no shame.” His voice returned to normal as he continued. “There’re most likely over 500 soldiers down there. Bo, Jason, Trey… lead the other students and escape this place with as many other people as you can save.” He surveyed the entire room and spoke softly: “Be careful. NOW GO!”
Bo was the first to speak up. He spoke with some trepidation and even a hint of fear: “But Master, what about you?”
“They want me, they can have me. A pirate never runs from a fight.” He finished with a slight smirk at the fact that he hadn’t referred to himself as a pirate in years.
[Flashback- Seven years ago]
A small boat arrived at the coast of Todai Island with a lone a man standing in the middle. The man appeared to be fairly aged with pulled back white hair atop his head and a long braided beard falling past his waist. As he stepped off of the boat, you could clearly see that he was wearing an all-black hakama with a wooden sword by his side and a Jolly Roger, of a normal skull and crossbones with a golden sword going through the top of the skull, on the back.
On the docks looking at the odd newcomer were three rough looking figures-a big, burly man full of muscles holding a giant wooden club, a man almost as tall as the first, but with a bushy beard, a beer gut, and a hefty axe, and a shorter, lean man with a rat face holding a gun standing in between them- all similarly dressed in torn, dark brown pants and red muscle shirts, that quickly went to address the man. They were waiting for him as soon as he stepped of off his boat and shared a mischievous grin as the shorter man began to speak in a false welcoming tone. “Hello sir, may I ask why you have come here?” he said while motioning his arms to the town behind him.
“I’ve finally decided to end my lifelong journey and settle down in this quiet village.” responded the old man in a tired voice not actually paying much attention to the group.
The rat- faced man stepped forward with an annoyed look and spread his arms wide while raising his voice to the old man: “We are members of the elite Strong Arm mountain bandits that run this village. From now on, you must pay us a monthly toll of 20,000 beli if you wish to live here.”
The old man lifted his head to look at the trio for the first time and simply responded, “And if I refuse?”
At this the smile returned to the small man’s face as he menacingly responded, “Why, we kill you of course.” He then motioned for his two companions to move forward. “Friends give this stranger a taste of what the Strong Arm bandits are capable of, but… don’t kill him” he added in a creepy tone, “he may have some sense and pay us yet.” Turning his attention back to the old man he added, “Or, we could always just take it off your corpse if you prefer.”
As the two larger men charged at him, the old man simply took a step forward in between the two men that had their weapons raised and without any additional movement- or so it seemed- the two men dropped their weapons and immediately toppled to the ground unconscious.
Unsure of what had just occurred in front of him the remaining bandit lifted the gun in his shaking hand, but before he could lift it all the way, the old man was in front holding the barrel of the gun and speaking in a stern voice, “Tell your boss, I would like to have a word with him. I’ll be in town, probably at the bar.” The old man then crushed the barrel of the gun in his bare hand and smiled at the bandit as he walked off.
Sometime later, while the old man was sitting quietly in the town’s bar drinking some tea and hearing about all the pain and suffering the villagers had suffered, and how they lived in a state of perpetual fear, since the bandits took over, he heard a commotion start up outside, so he stepped up from the stool he was seated on and finished up his tea before stepping outside to confront the bandit leader and his thugs.
He was quickly spotted by the bandits as many of them quickly flanked him and raised their guns ready to kill him as their leader, a massive man probably ten feet tall and bursting with thick muscles with scraggly black hair falling to his shoulders wearing only a pair of khaki cutoff cargo pants, stepped between some of them and towards the old man holding a massive sword befitting of his size, with a jagged, worn out looking blade that had obviously seen more than its fair share of action. The towering bandit leader bellowed to the old man in a deep voice, “I am the Leader of the Strong Arm bandits, Samson Braun, with an immense bounty of 50 million beli, and this is my island. Anyone who messes with my men shall...” He was cutoff as a rock hit him squarely in the back of the head. Braun turned his head around and glared at a group of teenage kids-a lean built boy with shoulder length black hair, a fairly tall boy with grayish white hair going all the way down his back, an overweight boy with spiky dark blonde hair, two identical boys (one with red hair, the other with dark pink), and a tomboyish girl with long black hair tied up into a baseball cap- standing on top of a roof a few houses away, the black haired boy standing out front tossing another rock in his hand.
As Braun growled in anger and yelled a myriad of curses at everyone, the overweight boy on the roof yelled something that couldn’t be heard over the commotion. With a growl, he started to turn around and head towards the kids, but was interrupted by the old man stating, “Your fights with me not some kids.” prompting Braun to turn around with a smile and tell his men, “Shoot him.” while waving a dismissive hand towards the old man.
While the bandits attempted to refocus their guns on their target, the old man dropped into a fighting stance reaching for his wooden sword. He quickly drew it and swiped twice- a horizontal slash, followed by a downward one. Before anyone even knew what happened the thugs’ guns fell apart followed by an unseen gust blowing all of the men, except the leader, to the ground and knocking them unconscious.
Braun, now even angrier, stared in momentary disbelief before lifting his sword above his head and growling before bringing it down upon the old man. But, before it reached him, the man hit Braun in the side with his wooden sword, breaking a few ribs, and as Braun stumbled, the old man brought the wooden sword down with both hands on Braun’s neck with so much force it broke numerous bones and caused Braun to crumple to the ground.
After this happened, the black haired kid from before ran to the unconscious form of the bandit leader, kicked him and said, “Hmph! All brawn and no brain.” Before the rest of the kids could pile on to the man, the old man spoke up to the entire town which was crowded around, “My name is Zande Ming, a pirate” Ming paused as the villagers let out a collective gasp then continued, “I would like to retire here on your island. I will protect this land and even start a dojo to train any kids who wish to learn the ways of the warrior until the day I am no longer able to do so.”
As a number of mumbles came from the younger students, Bo turned back to the group with a hardened resolve and spoke with a forceful tone: “You heard him. We will escape. We will not let our Master’s actions be in vain.”
With that the group led by the three older boys exited the dojo, some rather begrudgingly, most of them carrying a weapon of some sort- primarily swords or pole-arm type weapons, but most noticeable was that Bo only carried a crimson bow with a quiver full of arrows- and started down the side of the mountain in an attempt to go around all of the chaos taking place down in the town and make it to a boat so they could escape.