The End

Search & Rescue

"Who does he think he is? 'Stay on the ship.' I was stationed at Marine HQ before joining this stupid crew. Even if he won't actually teach me anything, I can take care of myself." Rose pouted as she ventured further into the mysterious forest after sneaking off the ship, but eventually the shadows, playing tricks on her mind, started getting to her. The constantly sinking sun yielded its protection for the eerie glow of the moon. "This island is deserted anyway. What; are the trees going to attack me?" she said, trying to make herself feel better, but a ghastly gust of wind blowing through the trees sounding like a phantom's howl, unnerved her. A wild, unknown forest was rarely a good place to be alone and this proved especially true at night. "Hello." she called out when she thought she heard something, mentally cursing herself afterwards. What would she have done if something actually responded? But, it didn't matter now. "You better back off. I'm a former marine of Marine Headquarters and a member of a dangerous pirate crew." she threatened the menacing... trees around her.

With the howling wind the only sound, the gathered crew prepared to move out. "We don't know the source of that scream or if it is anything at all, but what we do know is that Rose snuck off and has not returned. Leon and Bo have also not returned even after the sun has set." Alexander reviewed the situation with the rest of the crew present. "Now, I don't care about the barbarian, but a crew cannot make it through the Grand Line without its Captain or Doctor. It would be best if we could wait for the morning sun, but time is of the essence; we set out at once and use the moon to try and find them. Mino, you watch the ship; you two, follow me. We are going to stay together this time just in case." he then ordered in a commanding tone.

The trio of Alexander, Ray, and Mage then moved towards the forest's edge, but Ray spoke up before they entered. "If I may suggest something. We should enter the way Bo did and try to follow the path he took."

'Well, that is better than just walking forward.' Alexander mused. He didn't know why Bo's path was the best choice, but Ray surely knew something. "Good idea. Let us hurry; we do not have time to waste."

Leon arrived at the location where he presumed the scream to have originated without much hassle. Three people had attacked him, but he killed them all effortlessly without breaking stride. Unfortunately, even at the scene, Leon couldn't find anything of real use. However, from what he did see, it was clear there had been a struggle and the loser had been dragged at least a short ways, giving him a clue as to which way to head. 'There betta be somebody strong at da end o' dis.' Leon thought as he ran off in the indicated direction.

Around the same time, Bo was searching a small, makeshift village that had apparently been abandoned. Turning to the battered body of one of the members from the group that attacked him, he saw that the man was already unconscious. 'Damn, he lost too much blood. And after lying to me. I thought I could learn some good information through interrogation, but no luck. Nothing left to do now but head up; good thing I already know where they are.' With that, he headed toward the center of the island, which was also the highest point since the island itself was a large, but not high reaching, dormant volcano.

Alexander's group used Ray's superior tracking ability to follow Bo's slight foot imprints, and other hidden signs, under the dim moonlight, but the wind made the task more difficult by covering up many of the minor tracks left behind until the group came upon a section where the number of natural accidents increased significantly. Moving past the mounds of fallen leaves and over the fallen trees, Mage was the first to notice blood in the area thanks to the distinctive smell, which he'd grown accustomed to in the past several years. Looking around, the group noticed there were four dead bodies, all killed by arrows or stab wounds in fatal spots, around them including one pinned to a tree by an arrow. The group didn't linger long, but they did notice the tribal style markings on each of the bodies. Each marking was placed with the express purpose of adding to their menacing ferocity, as were the accessories made of teeth and bones. Aside from that, they were grotesque beings, each bearing pronounced canines and sharpened teeth as well as one, or a number, of a myriad of apparent birth defects.

The group then proceeded to follow a trail of smeared blood that Alexander had noticed before. Even after the blood trail let up, it was still fairly simple to follow Bo's path based on the crushed earth and broken twigs caused by the body Bo was apparently dragging along with him. After a while, they came to an abandoned village, where they found the body Bo had been dragging, but they still weren't sure if they were gaining ground on Bo or not.

Leon had gotten frustrated at not finding anyone yet. After just over three hours of searching since the scream broke through the silent night, he'd only come across a few recently emptied temporary hunting settlements and marsh swampland near small creaks.

This whole ordeal was getting on his nerves, and if he didn't find someone strong to fight soon, he'd pull Ray into a fight so he could vent some anger over the next couple of days. Once a few more minutes had elapsed, Leon was at his breaking point, having found no sign of a worthy opponent. To make matters worse, Leon realized he was lost as he passed a tree he'd punched in two about a half hour ago. With a roar of frustration, he swung his sword out in an arc around him, releasing a dark red wave of energy in a full circle around him. The power was lessened since he hadn't bothered to remove the sword from his sheath, but it was still enough to raze everything in a five yard radius. Had there been any living creatures around him, they would have either died or have been injured and running away. 'Damn. This sword mixes well with me, but I still need to work on that move.'

By this time, each of the crew would have already left under normal circumstances, but the fact that this island obviously had people living on it with no apparent food source made each of them aware that continuing to search was not an option, but a requirement. Plus, at this point, Leon was lost in the midst of the forest and if he left, he'd probably destroy half the forest on his way out.

As tensions mounted and frustrations grew, everyone out searching was at the end of their rope when just about an hour before midnight a flickering light could be seen coming from the very center of the forest before a large fire was clearly visible for all to see. With no other leads to follow, everyone turned their attention to the fire and proceeded straight for it at full speed.

Bo was already there when the fire was lit- waiting in the shadows- and based on the ritualistic scene before him, centered around a stone altar surrounded by high flames, he was able to piece together most of what was happening. "Let her go." he demanded upon seeing Rose strapped to the altar, alerting everyone to his presence for the first time.

A large, round man then stepped forward chanting something intelligible. Once he stopped chanting, he spoke: "We're glad you could make it. We figured the fire would draw you out." The man's words initially confused Bo, but he was able to understand their meaning fairly quickly, and from the way the man spoke, Bo assumed him to be the leader, so he decided to ask more questions while waiting for backup.

After a while, Leon barged through a mass of bushes and walked over to Bo. Having seen Rose tied down on the stone altar, his first comment was, "I take it since ya ain't killed all deez assholes to save yo lil' girlfriend yet, dat means da brat's already dead?" But when Bo shot him an angry look, he grinned more: "Oh, so she just unconscious. Whateva; les just slaughta deez fools so we can leave. I'm tired o' dis damn island."

"In our condition, it's not advisable we fight them all by ourselves. Besides, they've got us surrounded." Bo stated, referring to the numerous unseen enemies hiding out in the surrounding trees and bushes. "Let's just wait for the others; there almost here."

Leon sighed as he pulled his sword out of its sheath. He then threw the sheath at the rotund man in front of them. It just missed cutting his arm before getting stuck in the stone altar behind the leader. Tapping the blade on his shoulder, Leon asked, "So what's goin' on. May as well tell me since we jus' waitin'."

The islanders resumed their ritual dancing and chanting and the chief scanned the surrounding trees and kept an eye on Bo and Leon while they talked. "This island is inhabited by a tribe of cannibals." Bo began. "Apparently they wanted to use Rose as a sacrifice and bait to lure the rest of us here so they could eat us all."

"Dey really shoulda been happy with da little girl. Dey greed gon get 'em killed." Leon remarked. "But, you say they cannibals?" he questioned while looking at the tribe's chief. "Dat's da fattest cannibal I eva seen."

"These are the only cannibals you've ever seen."

"So."

Bo rubbed his temples at Leon's ignorance, but stood straight up with a smirk soon afterwards. "They're here; it's time to get started."

Leon's grip on his sword tightened as right on cue, the rest of their crew, minus Mino, burst into the clearing. Once the crew was all together, the tribal warriors that had been waiting in the treeline moved forward, bone and stone weapons in hand, and encircled the group, prompting Leon to remark, "'Ey, ya'll don't wanna eat me; I'm all muscle. Ya should stick to da rest of dese fools; dey bound ta be mo tenda and chewy." with a smirk.

"Thanks a lot." Ray casually commented. "But, I can certainly prepare you in a way that you're easier to digest if you'd like."

Bo paid neither them nor the cannibals surrounding the crew any mind as he shot two barbed arrows over the chief's shoulder. The arrows were perfectly placed so that each one cut one of the ropes tying Rose's wrists down, although they did nick the skin enough that Rose was slowly awakened by the stinging pain. Without even bothering to explain, Bo rushed the chief, ready to slit the large man's throat with the bladed tips of his bow and end this.

In response to Alexander's questioning look, Leon yelled out a single word, "Fight!" before rushing into the crowd surrounding them and sparking an all-out battle royale.

Bo fired a single arrow at the chief, but the chief pulled a large, slightly curved blade hunting knife, with a weighted tip and a nasty hook at the end, from behind him and blocked it. In response, Bo slowed his approach and fired three more arrows, this time with barbed shafts. Two of them were knocked out of the air by a knife swing while the final one was caught before hitting the chief's thigh, the barbs digging into his meaty palms not seeming to bother him in the least. Taking on a new approach, Bo fired a single arrow head on then used his quickness to move to the chief's left and fire another one before jumping over his head and charging in with a sudden burst of speed. The chief deflected the first arrow, but had to let the second hit him in order to stop Bo's thrust with the flat of his blade. Using his strength to overpower Bo, the chief pushed the pirate back and pulled the arrow from a fat flap on his side before moving in for his own attack.

Leon gleefully rushed the nearest mass of bodies and began wildly swinging his sword while Mage did the same with his poison covered daggers, and Alexander took a more cautious approach. Meanwhile, Ray just stood there as the chaos around him escalated before finally beginning to walk towards where Bo's fight with the tribe's chief was taking place.

Leon madly swung at everything moving, some of his opponents dodging a strike or two due to their agility, but rarely more than that. Mage was holding his own as the poison did its part, disabling many of the warriors and making them easy prey. Alexander, however, was struggling more than anticipated. Their speed made them hard for him to hit, and his style, while suited for one on many, didn't fare so well when the user was being attacked from all sides.

After cutting down a dozen or so warriors, Leon's blade was suddenly stopped. Looking to the end of his blade, Leon saw an imposing warrior with muscle bound arms, oversized for his slender, agile physique, holding two large wooden mallets embedded with bone spikes on one side and a spiked bone grip for a handle. Once he appeared, the other warriors started to move away and towards Alexander since Mage had been confronted by a similarly agile bodied man with longer than normal arms and long, sharp nails that were sturdier than normal.

'I don't know how his nails can stand up to my daggers, but one cut is all I need.' Mage pondered while thinking back on how the man had first attacked him: he'd rushed in with a single finger thrust; Mage instinctively blocked it but was still somehow pushed back.

Alexander's troubles were also mounting as every able bodied warrior converged on his position, putting him up against a wall figuratively, but, unfortunately for him, not literally. Alexander was managing to hold them off and incapacitate some of them, but they were too fast and too numerous for even him to make significant headway. The warriors, on the other hand, were using their numbers and years of experience hunting together to gradually gain ground on the former prince. That is until a number of them started being taken out by arrows, doing an effective job of thinning their numbers and distracting their attention until they were to a point where Alexander could easily deal with the rest of them.

Ray had taken over Bo's fight with the chief since Bo still hadn't recovered enough to combat someone of the chief's skill without risk. Despite his rotund physique, the chief had admirable speed to go along with his superhuman raw strength, so Ray pushed Bo to go ahead and free Rose before she was cooked in the midst of the rising flames. Bo did just that, leaving the fight to his long time trusted friend and ally while he freed Rose and proceeded to help Alexander from a distance.

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