The crew was surprised by the sight before them. There, sat their ship, bobbing gently along the water's surface while anchored a short ways off the coast. The hole in the side had even been patched up, however crudely it may have been done. Uncertain as to how this could have happened, Bo decided on the cautious approach. Handing Rose over to Ray, he commanded Leon, Mage, and Alexander to each board from a different side while he took the last side.
Leon was the first to board the ship followed by Mage, but Alexander stayed back to ask Bo "Should Leon not stay back with his injuries?"
"Leon's fine. His body adapted to him long ago; he's constantly overflowed with adrenaline and endorphins. He barely knows what pain is."
As Mage covertly moved to the far side of the ship under the cover of darkness, Bo and Leon readied themselves from their positions, at the near side and front of the ship respectively, while Alexander went below deck from the rear of the ship. Mage moved slowly, his black clothing making him one with the backdrop of the night sky while Alexander moved similarly cautiously in making sure below deck was clear. Bo, however, stood perfectly still, his bow trained on something in the distance, while Leon moved uncaring of being sensed or heard by possible intruders on the ship.
Suddenly, someone appeared behind Alexander, having followed him down below deck. Upon hearing movement behind him, Alexander spun around with his rapier, but he wasn't expecting what he saw in front of him.
Around the same time, Leon neared the main mast where a mysterious figure, cloaked in shadows, was sleeping, their face hidden by a black fedora. Leon unsheathed his sword and attacked with a powerful downward strike. A thunderous crack rang through the air as, like lightning, the mysterious figure brought out their own sword, in a reverse grip, to effortlessly stop the very powerful, larger Leon, while merely peeking at the attacker from under the brim of their hat. Leon continued pushing in an attempt to overpower the newcomer to no avail. Instead, the person sat calmly against the mast, showing no strain while holding off Leon's mighty strike, and began to take the offensive by pulling out a second sword while standing up, but was stopped from further action by an arrow being planted in the mast just behind their head. At this, the person lifted their head showing to be a rather young man.
"What are you doing Mino?" Alexander asked as he put his rapier away.
"I'm sorry, your Majesty. I went out to relax for a bit." she responded while bowing apologetically.
"Put away your weapons." Bo ordered as he approached the two with another arrow already nocked and trained on the stranger's head.
The stranger slowly put away his second sword, and after an impressive show of strength to knock Leon back, put his first sword in its sheath as well. With his hands up in surrender, he turned to Bo and said in a sort of joking, playful tone, "Hey, calm down. I ain't come here to fight nobody, but your friend here interrupted my sleep." with a wry smile gracing his lips.
"Okay," Bo said as he motioned for Leon to put his sword away, but kept his own bow at the ready. "What's your name, and why are you here?"
"Name's Cornelius Rashaad, but ya'll can call me Shaad. I just need a ride home." When he mentioned his name, Mage could barely be seen around the corner with a worried, almost fearful expression. Bo and Leon couldn't see him, but Shaad did, so he sent Mage a light smirk while wagging his finger and mouthing 'Nuh-uh' in response.
Not seeing the exchange, Bo continued, "Why should we let you ride along?"
"Well, I did get this ship back in the water and patched it up. Sorry it's not pretty; I'm no shipwright, far from it." he laughed before adding in a nonchalant voice, "And, if you don't, I'll just throw all of you overboard and take the ship. But, I'm no navigator either, so that would cause problems."
Bo couldn't tell whether that was a threat or if this guy was just overly honest. Either way, Rose had woken up and everyone was now gathering around Bo and the newcomer, Shaad. Tired of the situation at hand, Bo rapidly shot out orders to get everyone moving so he could think. Anyone who could hold off Leon so easily- even if Leon was already injured- was obviously a significant threat. "Rose, give Leon a quick check-up, then both of you get some rest." Leon grumbled, but complied when Ray showed up behind him and placed a firm hand on his shoulder. "Alexander, let up the anchor. Ray, get us back into the ocean. Mage and Rashaad, you two take watch for the rest of the night." As everyone went to their respective tasks, Bo turned his attention to Mino who was in the doorway leading below deck, out of immediate hearing range of everyone else- who'd either already gone below deck to attend to their duties or were busying themselves elsewhere on deck. "I presume Alexander left the ship in your care. So, why is it that the first thing I see when we get back is a stranger lounging on the deck?"
"Well, after he pushed the ship off the beach, he asked if he could wait here for the captain to return. He even said he'd watch the ship so I could just relax."
Bo was surprised by the statement 'pushed the ship', but having already seen what little of the stranger's strength he had, it seemed like a slightly more plausible feat. Pushing the skepticism, doubt, and questions aside for the moment, Bo focused on something else that bugged him about her answer. "So, you let some outsider on this ship because he asked." Bo almost shouted. All Mino could do was hesitantly nod, so he continued, in a softer tone, "It's okay this time- Rashaad seems genuine enough-, but don't ever do that again. Got it?" Mino nodded and gave a slight bow as she retreated below deck.
Bo just stood in the empty doorway, contemplating. 'He pushed the ship?' There was a lot he needed to do and questions he needed to ask, but right now he was tired, as was his crew, so he simply let out a light whistle to call Tala. When she didn't come, he turned around and yelled for her: "Tala, where are you?" Tala then flew to him and landed on his shoulder, but what surprised Bo was that Shaad was right behind her.
"Tala; So, that's her name. She's a lovely bird; a falcon if I'm right." Bo just looked intently on the new passenger, but his eyes gave away his confusion. "You're wondering why she's so calm." Shaad guessed. "Pets and kids love me, though I have neither, and actually find children quite annoying."
Bo shrugged his shoulder, signaling Tala to resume whatever she was doing and she obediently flew on top of the crow's nest where her nest was located. "I've got a lot of things to talk to you about. There's a lot I don't know about you." Bo said sternly to Shaad.
"I'm sure." was Shaad's simple response.
"I will find out everything about you."
Shaad smiled mischievously at that statement. "We'll see." was his simple response.
After everyone had gone to bed for the night, Shaad sat on top of the front sail, leaning against the mast. Mage walked below with a pensive expression replacing his normally calm demeanor.
Shaad jumped down and landed silently behind Mage with a wry smile. Mage almost jumped in surprise when Shaad spoke in a friendly voice: "What's on your mind?" When Mage looked at him with a confused look, he pointed to his ear and answered, "I got good ears; your heartbeat was off."
"What are you doing here?" Mage asked sternly. He obviously had some history with this fellow, and Shaad seemed to be one of the few people that he feared for whatever reason.
"I could ask you the same thing. Do they know your background?" Shaad's wide grin told that he was clearly enjoying this situation.
"No, and you won't tell them."
"Of course not; so long as they don't somehow find out about me." Shaad retorted, implicating something more. "They don't need to know who I am quite yet." He then moved back to the spot he was in before, as Mage turned around to look him in the eyes, just as quietly as he'd gotten down in the first place.
"You're better than some assassins at that." Mage remarked on Shaad's ability to move so fast so quietly.
"You would know wouldn't you?" Mage shot a fierce look up to Shaad for that comment before they both continued with night watch.
"Mmph, Bwish es gud." Shaad ill-manneredly complimented Ray's cooking with a full mouth while shoveling ever more in at the same time, for which he received a hard slap on the back of his head and a thank you from Ray.
"Sowwy." Shaad apologized, once again with a full mouth, but before Ray could scold him again, he swallowed all the food in his mouth and explained, "I haven't had any well cooked food in almost six months." The crew and Shaad were eating a freshly made breakfast in the ship's kitchen, and everyone was able to get their first good look at Shaad. He was wearing a pair of black dress pants and a white dress shirt, with the top two buttons undone revealing his toned chest, complemented by a pair of high quality black dress shoes. He wasn't wearing his fedora since he was indoors, but once he finished eating, he put a large toothpick (almost six inches in length) in his mouth.
"There was basically no life on that island; how did you survive for six months?" Alexander asked, not understanding how anybody, except for maybe the cannibals, could survive on that island.
"There was actually quite a bit of life on that island... Six months ago, anyway."
"So you are saying that in six months you killed and ate every animal and plant on that island."
"I only killed and ate the edible ones, the rest died out from natural selection… or they just didn't taste good." Shaad replied nonchalantly. Everyone looked at him with differing expressions. Mage and Mino fully believed what he said, while Alexander and Rose had a questioning look in their eyes. Ray and Leon looked on with differing levels of interest-Ray calmly observed the situation while Leon looked on with a threatening smirk- knowing how Bo felt about living as one with nature. Shaad noticed the expressions, and remarked, "What? I don't know anything about food storage." with complete innocence.
"But, how did you avoid that native tribe?" Rose asked in wonder.
"Oh, them? They agreed to leave me alone after I talked to them." came the reply. After a few more questions, Bo quietly learned that Shaad had in fact killed over half the cannibals after they tried to eat him before coming to an agreement with them. After answering Bo's brief grilling, Shaad leaned away and stated, "I'm impressed you all were able to survive, though. Their top fighters' use of Haki was fairly refined. You must have some strong people in your crew."
Shaad's statement was met by two differing responses: confused gazes from Rose, Mino, and Alexander, and intrigued stares from the rest. Alexander was the one that broke the tense scene, asking, "Haki? I have never heard of such a thing. What is it?"
Ray was actually the one that answered, responding, "Haki is a power that anyone can use since at its base it is not that different from the normal senses, but it's rare for most people to ever gain it as they either do not notice it or simply fail to awaken it. In simple terms, Haki is an ability to fully utilize and interact with the inner energies; there are two Forms of it: Armament Haki and Observation Haki."
"Almost word for word the way our Master explained it to us." Bo quietly commented.
"That's right. It's no surprise you've never heard of it; most people in the four Blues haven't. But, it becomes more prevalent the further into the Grand Line you go." Shaad exclaimed loudly enough to cover up Bo's remark, noting to himself Ray's exclusion of the third, special form of Haki, before adding, "Although, I wouldn't doubt if at least one of you knew how to use a minimum of one of the forms already." earning himself brief looks from Ray, Bo, Leon, and even Mage.
Some time later, the crew began filing out of the kitchen, leaving Ray alone to clean the dishes. Rose stayed back to say something to Bo in private. She began hesitantly: "I-I'm ready to resume tr-tr-training."
"What? I can't hear you; say it clearly." Bo prompted
"I want to resume training! I will become stronger; I'll do whatever it takes to not be a burden! I need to be able to take care of myself." she pleaded at the top of her lungs.
Bo placed a hand on top of her head and flashed a calming smile. "That's a good resolve, but you'll need more than words. If you want me to train you again, you'll need to be ready to suffer; I won't let you quit this time."
"I'm ready." Rose declared, the determination etched on her face as she clenched her fist in front of her.
"Good; now go warm up and make sure you're at a hundred percent. We've no time for anything less." With that, Rose ran out of the room towards the training area, a smile plastered on her face. She was determined to get stronger, but she had no idea what awaited her; the training she'd suffered through before paled in comparison to what Bo had in store.
"Are you really going to train her further?" Ray asked from behind Bo where he was drying a dish.
The smile on Bo's face faded, to be replaced by a serious expression, as he turned around to look his friend in the eyes. "What choice do I have? I said I'd teach her to control her Devil Fruit; for that she has to get stronger."
Ray put the plate and towel down and moved closer to Bo. He stopped just a few feet in front of him, looking upon the man he claimed to owe his life to with sorrowful eyes. "You need to forget about Emma; Rose is not her, no matter how hard you train her. I'm sorry to say, but it's time to move on."
This caused Bo's anger to boil over. He flipped the tables to each side of him over and pulled Ray closer by his shirt till they were nose to nose. Bo then growled at his friend, "I know that... I know all of that! Emma was the best of all of us." Bo took a few deep breaths to calm himself before releasing Ray's shirt and taking a step back. "I love you like a brother, Ray. You, me, and Leon are family; you keep me grounded. But, do not mistake yourself. I know Rose isn't Emma, but I will do anything to never lose anyone else. Emma was stronger than me, and when I tried to protect her I had to be saved by Master Ming. When Master Ming was in trouble, I ran. I ran, dammit! I will gather the strongest allies and destroy anyone who stands in the way of my revenge; I won't run again. Not when my friends' lives are in danger. Understood?"
Ray had a deject look as he answered Bo with a nod of his head. "So you fully intend to train her? Are you sure she's ready? It seems a bit soon for her to be at this stage."
Bo shared Ray's somber outlook at this point, apologetic for his outburst. "No; she's definitely not ready, but I don't think she'll be able to clear her mind enough to achieve 'calm'."
Ray looked at Bo, confused, and muttered, "Then why?"
"I went through the same thing she's going through. The rough life I'd led coupled with the losses I've suffered helped push me through the anguish."
Ray once again muttered, "I know."
"Rose hasn't suffered the same pain, the same loss. What she has suffered she's moved past. And, I'll do everything in my power to prevent her from having to deal with that type of torture again. If that means she can't make it through the first half of my training, then so be it. I'll take her as far as I can with just the basics of combat training and go from there. With control of her Devil Fruit, she'll become a formidable fighter nonetheless."
Ray then jokingly proposed an idea: "You could let Leon train her; he'd definitely push her to attaining 'calm'."
Bo couldn't help but imagine a scenario where Leon was in charge of training Rose. He could hear it clearly: 'Le' me at her. I'll tu'n that cowa'dly brat inta a killin' machine.'
Bo couldn't help but be both worried and amused at such a prospect. "I'd never let Leon be in charge of anyone's training." he managed through chuckles. "Besides, I like that she's soft hearted; it's what makes her a great doctor."
Ray also chuckled at the absurdity of the idea. "Yeah, that wouldn't be too nice."
Just then, Leon barged back into the kitchen "What you two ova here talkin' 'bout? It gon' be dinna time by da time ya'll get through whisperin' sweet nuthins ta each otha."
Even with the brash comment, Bo just laughed before stating, "Nothing; I'm going to continue Rose's training."
Leon turned to Ray as Bo walked past him. Once Bo left, Leon commented, "I swear he's up ta sumthin'."
Ray responded with a smirk and just a few words: "Isn't he always."