"What's going on?" shouted Alexander into the Baby Den Den Mushi in his hands, a twinge of worry entering his voice.
"The insurgents are becoming active; they sent out a small squad earlier. I think they're preparing for a battle." replied the voice on the other end. Bo and Leon couldn't be sure because their seemed to be some sort of commotion in the background, but the voice seemed like that of a female.
"So they finally spotted us, huh?" inquired Leon, his typical grin never leaving his face.
"No, Hogg wouldn't worry about three people, even if one of them was me. It has to be something else." replied the Prince. He was shaking his head, brow furrowed in thought; Alexander simply couldn't think of what could be the issue.
After a moment of thought, Alexander lifted his head as if he'd figured it out, but before he could say anything Bo interjected: "The ship. There's no way they could miss a Marine battleship sitting in the bay."
"Do... you want to…?
"No, our friends can take care of them." Bo cut off Alexander's question.
Rose was standing on the railing of the ship looking over the coast humming a note and swaying from side to side along with the tune. She hated being left on board the ship because it got boring so quickly; first the Vice Admiral wouldn't let her off due to, as he said, medical personnel being essential and therefore remained away from the front lines, though in actuality her inability to control her DF created as much harm for her allies as it did good. Even though she was upset at being left behind, she had to admit that right now as the sun looked to be almost directly over the island since it was midday, the island looked beautiful. The houses and shops seemed to sparkle in the sunlight as the light reflected off of the fancy stone that some of the larger buildings were made out of. Even what could be seen of the palace over the horizon was almost shining. It was the most beautiful structure on the island. The way the light bounced off of the pristine white marble of the walls was immaculate, but the way it intertwined with the sunlight bouncing off of the multi-colored stones that decorated parts of the walls as well as the glossy lavender that colored the roof were what really made the palace glow and gave it its glamorous aura.
As much as it pained her, Rose had to admit that just standing there, humming to herself, while a light breeze blew by causing her hair to sway with the wind was extremely relaxing even if she did long to be on the front lines exploring the island with Bo, not so much Leon.
Rose remained leaning on the ship's edge thinking as she hummed her tune. She stopped swaying, though, as a slightly stronger wind blew past leaving her hair waving to the right of her like a flag flapping in the wind. At the same time, she felt something whiz right by her head and through her hair. Due to the object ripping through the air directly next to her ear, her eyes instinctively tracked it as if it were moving in slow motion as she fell down and landed on her butt on the deck of the ship.
Due to the stress of the situation Rose couldn't make out exactly what flew by her head even though she saw it clearly, but, as her gaze followed the item's trajectory, her eyes quickly came to rest on the spot where a lead ball had driven itself into the floorboards of the main deck.
As she proceeded to let out an ear-splitting yell, a man a fairly long distance away from the ship, presumably the same man that fired the shot, stood up from behind some shrubs and tall grass wearing a red and gold captain's coat along with a black tricorne and holding a rifle with a bazooka strapped to his back. He put down the rifle and flipped the bazooka into his hands to take aim. The man easily aimed the weapon in her direction and released a single arcing shot aimed straight for Rose that would take her out as well as a piece of the ship. Rose could do nothing but watch as the projectile came rapidly barreling towards her; she didn't possess any abilities or weapons to stop a cannon ball. All she could do was move out of the way, and with each of her legs feeling like a bag of bricks, that wasn't even a viable option, not to mention what damage the ship might receive.
As Rose closed her eyes in anticipation of the pain to come, she was surprised that it never came. Instead, she heard a loud explosion and felt the force rock the ship on top of the small waves the explosion triggered. She quickly opened her eyes to see Ray standing just outside the door holding the chain and one half of his segmented staff in his hand. He had used the chain hidden inside of his staff to launch one end of it and cause the blade to puncture and detonate the projectile headed their way.
As he pulled the chain back in order to reconnect his staff, Ray looked around on deck and upon seeing Rose still on the ground and the bullet embedded nearby, he was easily able to piece together that someone had fired a gun, he assumed it was the man standing up the hill because the angle matched, attempting to kill Rose. He was possibly one of the crew members from the ship they saw when they neared the island, though he was unsure if the man missed simply because he was a bad shot or some outside factor; he had even less idea as to why he was trying to kill her, though he could guess a few reasons. He was likely sent to take care of the unwelcome guests, but when his initial shot missed and Rose started screaming, he gave up on subtlety and was now simply trying to get rid of whoever was on the ship.
But even if that were the reason for such an unprovoked attack, Ray couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't right as he turned to Rose and commanded, "Go watch over the civilians... and tell Mage to come up here immediately." Rose set off for the door at the same time Ray's unasked question was answered when more people stood up in the same general area as the first man, some even producing mortar cannons to attack with. Ray estimated there were about thirty enemies and six mortars plus the leader and his bazooka.
All six of the mortar cannons fired at the same time the leader fired a second shot from his bazooka. The seven projectiles all headed in Ray's direction in a slightly curving line pattern with the center one figuratively leading the way.
Ray separated his bladed pole arm exposing the chain within as he eyed the incoming cannon balls. He then gripped an end of the wooden staff section in each hand and spread his arms wide. Stretching his arms behind him to gather strength, the chef flung both sides of his weapon at the approaching threat allowing the chain to stretch to its full length of ten yards when he immediately wrapped his right hand around the center of the chain and pulled, causing the bladed ends to swing in a pendulum arc. With another quick jerk of the chain, the half that went to the left returned to his right hand while the other half swung in a dangerous path towards his neck. But, Ray easily caught this end as well with his left hand as the blade stopped just an inch from the back of his neck. In its wake, the defensive maneuver had cut through each cannon ball causing them to explode near simultaneously and at a closer distance than the last one.
The resulting explosion did some damage to the outside hull of the ship, but nothing worth worrying about as the resultant waves also pushed the ship out towards sea, stretching the chain of the anchor taut threatening to break under the stress.
At the same time, Mage stepped on deck wearing a black trench coat over his regular attire and had to stick a foot out to steady himself as a particularly violent wave threatened to push him overboard. Once he had steadied himself, he looked to Ray and asked, "You call for me?" in his normal, calm voice as if what was going on around them didn't matter in the slightest.
Ray ignored his nonchalant attitude as he ordered Mage to help him take out the enemies who had already discarded their heavy weaponry in favor of a more direct approach as they charged the ship guns, swords, and spears drawn and at the ready.
Mage opened his coat to reveal a multitude of glistening, sharp throwing knives aligned in rows along the inner lining. He grabbed three in each hand, holding them between his fingers, before sending them hurtling into the incoming mass. Due to the slight rocking of the ship and the constant advancement of the horde, it was difficult to connect with a clean throw, though two of the knives found a home embedded into the heads of two separate attackers. Mage continued pulling knives from his jacket and throwing them at the mob in rapid succession, but more merely nicked arms or legs or even ended up on the ground than actually killed their target. Mage's aim was further thrown off when those carrying guns began shooting at both him and Ray.
Ray backed away to the far side of the ship content with clearing the enemy once they got on the ship since he had no effective way of dealing with a crowd of ranged opponents. Mage on the other hand continued to throw some knives as best he could while avoiding getting shot. He managed to kill seven and wound another three to the point that they could not continue before being pushed into cover by the oncoming horde leaving both him and Ray to wait even as they heard ladders being notched onto the ship's railing so the enemy could climb aboard.
The group moved efficiently- climbing up the three ladders they had positioned along the ship without wasting any time- verifying Ray's assumption they were pirates and had definitely done this before. Ray and Mage tried to prevent them from boarding by using the range of the segmented staff and throwing knives, respectively, but the pirates were obviously used to boarding under fire as they deftly avoided getting hit and didn't even let the few who did get hit hinder them in the slightest. After a short while, Ray and Mage were forced to back down and allow them to board. There they stood, on the deck of the ship, two against twenty. Though the supposed captain was not among them, they didn't falter in the slightest.
As Ray and Mage had no choice but to take the defensive, they stood back to back as the attackers surrounded them; Ray readied his bladed staff and Mage brandished two heavy-tipped daggers dripping with a light liquid from holsters on his hips.
The mob advanced on the duo attempting to overpower them through numbers.
Ray used his staff to block three incoming swords before kicking the man in the middle of the three in the gut and twisting his pole-arm to throw off the other two at the same time Mage rolled forward avoiding the strikes of two men before inflicting small cuts on the legs of those in front of him. As Mage stood up, the five men he'd cut fell to the ground unable to move their legs.
"It's a paralytic poison; very effective. You like?" Mage said coolly as he turned around.
His action caused the pirates to briefly pause as they looked at the scene. This gave Ray enough time to create separation using his staff and provided the duo the opportunity they needed to take the offensive.
Mage rushed forward, his daggers held high, but the pirates were ready and they now knew to avoid his daggers at all cost lest the battle be immediately lost. This led to no shortage of awkward positions as the attackers clumsily tumbled over each other as well as their downed comrades in their attempts to maneuver. Unfortunately, this didn't make things any easier for Mage as the men whose legs he paralyzed were actively trying to attack him from there prone position while he simultaneously avoided his standing attackers and get as many strikes in as he could in this poorly choreographed dance of a stalemate.
Meanwhile, Ray used an artful, rhythmic martial arts reminiscent of Bo's staff fighting, but unlike Bo, Ray rarely attacked, instead using his opponents attack momentum against them. After he'd managed to incapacitate half of them, Ray's remaining four opponents were slower to attack, but refused to back down. In response, Ray thrust one of the blades into the enemy standing slightly separate from the others leaving his back exposed. But knowing this, Ray sidestepped the inevitable strike and, in the process, trapped the spear using his own weapon to pin it against himself. Using a powerful side kick to disengage the wielder, Ray turned and tossed the spear at one of the remaining two as he knocked the other one twice upside the head with the staff section of his weapon. Ray then brought up his pole arm to block a sword strike over his left shoulder and in one fluid motion grabbed the back of his attacker's shirt with his left hand and slung him over his shoulder sending him crashing into the deck. With a quick elbow to the fallen man, all of Ray's opponents were down for the count and he was able to get a glimpse at how Mage was faring.
Mage had managed to take down his opponents by inflicting small cuts on their limbs. His poison was so effective that he only needed a small cut so that the poison could enter the blood stream and the limb would be useless shortly thereafter. Now, he had placed the daggers back into their sheaths and was using a small knife to kill his enemies one by one.
As he was about to slit the throat of another man, Ray called for him to stop. After looking up, Mage merely sent an elbow crashing down onto the man's face, breaking his nose and knocking him unconscious, before standing back up and lazily kicking the final man overboard.
Mage gave a curious look to Ray as a ringing sound came from the chest of one of the downed attackers. After searching the man, he pulled out a Baby Den Den Mushi from inside the dead man's jacket. Ray ignored it, leaving it out to continue ringing as he simply responded with a command: "Go back up Bo; he might need your help."
"You trust me enough to follow orders; why don't you go yourself?" Mage asked curiously.
"You're better suited for the front lines. As you may have noticed I'm a bit of a pacifist. If you choose to do nothing, I'm fairly sure they can handle whatever they face, but understand... this is the moment you choose whether you're a member of this crew or an unwanted passenger." Ray replied evenly. He paused for a moment before adding, "Hurry; they're likely near the castle by now."
Chills ran up Mage's spine when Ray spoke- something neither Leon's attempted execution nor Bo's threat had managed to do- and with that, Mage leapt off the ship and rushed in the direction of the castle in an amazingly fast full sprint just as Rose stepped out from behind the door leading below deck. She hesitantly approached Ray, visibly nervous as she kept her head low trying not to look at the scene that had unfolded on deck and spoke in a shaky voice: "R- Ray, can I talk to you?"