Don't Sleep On Me
After almost a week traveling together, in between training Rose, Bo and Shaad worked out some of the conditions under which Shaad would be a passenger on the ship. Shaad made it clear that he was not a member of Bo's pirate crew, but they both agreed that he should carry his own weight. Since it became clear that Shaad had almost no technical skills, they mutually decided he would do random odd jobs on the ship and take over some of the lookout duties, and though Shaad weakly whined that he wasn't some cabin boy, he accepted without significant protest.
Meanwhile, Rose spent almost as much time recovering from injuries as she did training. Bo taught her how to move, attack, and defend, but in order for her to really get it and develop her own style, he had her spar with him over and over. While he held back to avoid both hurting her too badly and straining his own injuries before they finished healing, he made sure to 'teach' the importance of defense. Admirably though, through it all, she kept coming back and took as few breaks as possible, though at points, her body just couldn't continue and she was forced to stop. On two separate occasions, she pushed past her limits and her Devil Fruit tried to take over, but Bo neutralized her at the first sign of transformation and she'd just wake up a few hours later with a few new bruises and no idea how she got them.
In a recent sparring session, she jumped and tried to punch Bo from behind, but he caught and wrapped up her arm. He twisted it back into a standing kimura, so that her shoulder was stretched past its limit and she struggled to move, only serving to get a knee to the gut and put her in an even worse state as her arm was forcefully pushed into an unnatural position past her head and held above her back when she tried to fight her way out despite Bo's pleas for her to give up. Eventually, she made another wrong move from that position and her arm was ripped from its socket, tearing muscles in her left shoulder and straining others around the elbow. After that, Bo ordered her to rest and recuperate, but she still tried to practice whatever moves she could without hampering her recovery time.
"How close are we to the first island now?" Bo asked Alexander. After almost a week at sea, he was growing tired and wanted an update.
Alexander called to Mino and relayed Bo's question. He'd left their current course in her hands so he was mainly just watching the weather for any sudden changes. After looking at the log pose, Mino answered: "It's still a couple of days, captain."
"Thank you, Mino. That is all for now." Alexander dismissed her.
"Yes, my liege." she bowed and went back to her previous activities. Come nighttime, everyone went on to bed, except Shaad who had lookout duty. Since they'd come to an agreement, Bo no longer felt it necessary to have someone else watch Shaad overnight so he was the lone lookout.
It had been a rather peaceful few days: no adverse weather, no attacking wild animals, and not even any ships had been seen. Overall, the Grand Line had been very boring so far. So boring in fact that Shaad fell asleep in the crow's nest.
Everyone on board, except Leon who was snoring loudly in a deep sleep, awoke when the ship jerked violently and suddenly had an exponential increase in speed. In the face of dizzying speeds everyone stepped out on deck to see what was going on, Rose trailed behind due to having to function with one arm, and was met with pelting rain and fierce winds.
Alexander studied the scene for a moment and deduced, "A massive storm hit, likely out of nowhere, and one of the typhoons created by it pushed the ship onto this dangerous current. We can only ride it out now." They were lucky that the typhoon to the left, rapidly fading into the background, had only blown the ship off course and not hit the ship directly or they might have sunk to the bottom of the ocean without ever waking up.
Even in the Grand Line where storms occur at the drop of a hat, Bo figured there should have been a warning before things advanced this far. He shouted into the night sky to get the attention of Shaad, who was supposed to be on the lookout, but the howling winds canceled out his voice. Bo started to get upset when there was still no answer after several more failed attempts and even after Ray, Alexander, and Rose joined in too. As his frustration grew to a tipping point, he let out a deep, irritated growl. At the same time a flash of lightning sparked behind him and a loud crash could just barely be made out past the deafening crack of thunder. Bo looked over his shoulder and saw a figure rising up behind a hazy mist.
Shaad stood up rubbing a growing bump on his head and spoke in a drowsy voice, a sleepy look on his face. "Huh? Whoa, what's going on?" he asked as he looked at the storm around him.
"What were you doing!? You were supposed to be keeping watch!" Bo screamed.
"Uhh; it was so boring I fell asleep. Sorry." Shaad answered, further enraging Bo. When Bo stepped forward with clenched fist, Shaad took a step back and held his hands up in a placating manner. Unfortunately, he stepped right on a puddle that had formed on deck just when a wave tipped the ship slightly. The combined events sent him sprawling overboard into the rough seas below.
The crew immediately ran to the rail and looked over, but the waters were too vicious and the current had left Shaad behind. Rose spoke up first: "We have to save him."
"Why? I say we jus' let him drown." Leon voiced his opinion as he walked on deck having been woken up by all the commotion.
"I'm not sure that would be wise; it could come back to haunt us." Mage surprisingly offered up his opinion.
"Either way, it is too late now; the sea has taken him. All we can do is wish him luck at this point." Alexander stated.
"We're not going to let him die." Bo declared. "He could prove a very useful asset in the future. But, Alexander, I'm surprised by you, especially when it's your friend who has the power to save him." he said, shifting his eyes to Mino as he finished.
"What are you talking about? She can't call Yuda in this weather." Alexander protested.
"You know that's not what I'm talking about. Now, how about we stop wasting time before even Mino can't catch him."
Mino looked hesitantly to Alexander, who pensively pondered the situation. After a minute, he nodded his head to her and she immediately jumped into the water.
Mino underwent a transformation in the water: from meek, timid servant to confident, graceful champion. She swam through every obstacle, powering her way through opposing currents and rough waters alike. Within minutes, Mino had located Shaad and was closing in. By the time she reached him, he had already lost consciousness and was sinking fast so she just grabbed the back of the collar of his shirt and headed straight back to the ship, Shaad's added weight barely slowing her down. She barreled towards the surface with such astonishing speed that she essentially jumped out of the water, body glistening with water droplets as she landed back on the ship's deck, Shaad in hand.
Everyone besides Bo and Alexander was shocked at what they saw, although Mage and Ray just showed a single raised eyebrow between them and Leon held an intrigued smirk on his face, but Mino ignored their stares and proceeded to give Shaad mouth to mouth resuscitation. Once he regained consciousness and some air had gotten into his lungs to replace the water, he sat up and spoke in a raspy voice once he turned and got a good look at Mino. Gawking, he said, "Wow, you're beautiful." Before coughing up a bit more water, causing Mino to blush. Not many people called her beautiful before when she looked like this. "I've never seen a mermaid before. Will you marry me?"
Mino sat on the deck- the sun coming from behind clouds to make her sparkle- a beautiful mermaid with a shimmering blue scaled tail and long blue hair, but now everyone's jaw was dropped not at the sight of such a rare, magnificent creature, but due to the suddenness and supposed absurdity of Shaad's question. Mino herself was also stunned. While she had to admit it was flattering, she hadn't even known him for a week and she knew nothing about him as a person aside from the fact that he was extremely strong, not to mention clumsy, lazy, and apparently impulsive. Not knowing how to respond, she screamed, "No!" to him and accidentally knocked him flat on his back with her tail before profusely apologizing for the abrupt action: "Oh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry."
Shaad just laughed. When Mino and everyone else looked at him confused, he explained, "No, it's nothing. It's just that that's the first time I've seen you flustered since I've been here. You're usually calm and composed, if not rather meek. It's cute." When Mino blushed again, Shaad just said, "Well, I'm gonna go take a nap." and got up and walked off.
Bo followed after him, screaming the whole time: "Wait! I still have something to say to you!" But, Shaad went inside the ship and closed the door after him. No matter how hard he tried, Bo couldn't get the door to budge.
"Rashaad, get out here! I know you hear me! You had one simple task, and you couldn't even do that; now get out here and face the consequences, you coward."
Suddenly, the door opened and a strong hand shot around Bo's throat. "I'm no coward." Shaad snarled. His voice then softened and he added, "Bye, now." before removing his hand from Bo's throat and closing the door again.
Bo resumed shouting after rubbing his throat a few times, now truly furious, but the door still wouldn't open. After a while, Bo decided to stop screaming and prepared to shoot an explosive arrow at the door. "I'm going to kill you, then make your corpse answer my questions!" Bo screamed, now getting hysterical in his rage.
Before he released the shot, though, Alexander called out, "Captain."
"What!?" Bo snapped, looking over his shoulder at the former prince.
"I have an update to report."
Meanwhile, Rose asked a flurry of questions to Mino covering almost every aspect about being a mermaid (minus 'do mermaids poop', of course). Mage, Leon, and Ray ignored Rose's questioning of Mino, each more preoccupied by the scene between Bo and Shaad. When a break in Rose's questioning finally came, due to shortness of breath, Mino took the opportunity to ask something she'd been wondering since Bo decided to save Shaad from drowning. "How did he know? How did Bo know I was a mermaid?"
Ray, Leon, and Mage all turned back to her when she asked that. Leon wasn't surprised Bo knew something he wasn't supposed to, but Mage also wanted to know how Bo knew, as he had no clue. Even Rose stopped asking any questions because she was also interested in how he knew while no one else besides Alexander, who had the longest history with her by far, even suspected her of being anything other than a full-blooded human. Ray, though, was the one to answer her question. He explained, "You do an excellent job of hiding it, but when you bow, the tips of the fins you have instead of ears can just barely be seen. Most people wouldn't notice it even if they were looking for it since the fins are basically the same color (they're only a shade lighter) as your hair and less than a square centimeter is exposed for that split second. Plus, we learned that a mermaid's tail splits after a certain age, so that explained why you didn't have a tail, though you still look quite young. But, he's probably had his suspicions since he first saw you talking to Yuda. We also learned mermaids have the unique ability to talk to all kinds of fish. While he probably wasn't sure, at the very least, at that time, he presumed you have the very unique ability to communicate with yuda. That simply left how you and Alexander became so close; we know you were a servant for his family, but you don't dress like the other servants. Your clothes are of a much higher quality, and that could be due to a multitude of reasons." Ray stated, implication clearly present in his closing words before asking if his explanation was clear. "Understand?"
"So, what's this update about?" Bo asked Alexander with a serious look in his eyes. He was ready to kill Shaad, and wanted to know why Alexander chose to stop him.
"I checked the map and the surrounding area. The storm took us a long way off course, but there is good news. There is an island just a couple of hours away directly ahead of us." was Alexander's response.
Just then, Shaad peeked out from behind the door. "See, everything worked out in the end." Shaad had to quickly duck back behind the door to avoid an arrow through the head, though. Luckily for him, Bo had swapped out the explosive one for a normal one.
Mino covered the area where her ear fins were, even though her hair was already covering them, and said in a defeated, sad tone, "My mother told me I was different. Most mermaids don't show any fish signs above the waist, and I don't think other mermaids are capable of talking to anything other than fish (which yuda don't classify as)."
"Why do you sound so scared?" Rose compassionately asked.
Mino then broke down crying. "I'm a freak. Now that you know, you'll either shun me or enslave me as some sort of sideshow." she heaved between sobs. "That's what everyone else has done, even the other slaves."
"We'd never do something so horrible and heartless." Rose assured her.
"'Sides, who cares if da wench ain't human." Leon added. "Now stop ya whinin'; yer annoyin' me."
Leon's words actually made Mino feel better in an odd way, and Ray's words brought a smile to her face. "Shaad obviously doesn't think you're a freak, and he surely wouldn't let us do any harm to his love."
"You will be fine, Mino; you know I will not ever let anyone enslave you again." Mino looked over her shoulder and was relieved to see Alexander.
Bo, who was standing next to Alexander, added, "Plus, if we let Leon stay, we're obviously willing to let anyone on." Everyone, except Leon, smirked at that. "You're a member of this crew. The only person who can say otherwise is you and me, and I say you stay as long as you so choose. So, do you want to be a member of this crew? All you have to do is say yes, and you're one of us." Mino flashed a wide smile and nodded her head enthusiastically. Bo just smiled and walked away, as did almost everyone else, leaving Rose and Alexander there to comfort her and make sure she was okay.
Two hours later, the ship arrived at a land mass covered in layer upon layer of steel and metallic materials. The crew gathered at the railing of the ship, but Shaad stayed in his room taking a nap, to look over the island.
"Dis island's puny." Leon voiced.
"And it seems to be deserted." Mage added.
"I'm not even sure it could sustain life." Alexander chimed in.
But, as they continued to discuss the finer points of the island, a stranger approached the ship. When Alexander stated that the main thing they needed to do was 'find out how long it takes the pose to set', everyone agreed, and the stranger spoke up. "I think I can help with that." The stranger was a muscular-bodied man with distinctive metal arms and severe scarring where they connected to his chiseled, yet scarred, torso. He wore a pair of torn pants with thick chains hanging from them and a tool belt around his waist, a worn pair of sandals, and no shirt. His hair had grown out indicating he'd been on the island for a while. "Name's Zabra Hageshi, by the way."
"Okay Zabra," Alexander began, "how long does the log take to set from this island?"
"Just a day, but this isn't actually an island."
"Then, what is it?"
"Where is the island?"
"This land mass, along with three others similar to it, were sent out by the heads of the actual island to fool travelers. They work because they share the same magnetic wavelength as the main island, so the log can set from here. And, I'd recommend you all just stay here and wait for the log to set anyway, as a matter of fact." Zabra explained.
"Does the island have any good shipwrights?" Bo asked, ignoring Zabra's suggestion.
"I think it has a few skilled ones, but that patchwork on the side of the ship should hold up for the next island or two- even though it's a shoddy job to say the least- unless the ship gets submerged to that level, which is highly doubtful.
"Are you a shipwright?" Bo questioned. "If so, then would you like to join my crew?"
"As a matter of fact, I am, and thank you for the offer, but I'm already a member of a crew." Zabra answered.
Bo didn't sense any signs of other people, nor did he see a ship or some other form of transportation, so the man's words made little sense. But, he ignored that and moved on: "Then, we'll be going; I'd rather get the ship fixed up as soon as possible. Thanks for the info, though." And with that, the crew headed for the main island.