Title: Blood and Beli
Fandom: One Piece
Dramatis Personae: The Straw Hat Pirates(A Captain, a Cook, a Swordsman, a Navigator, a Sniper, an Archaeologist, and a Reindeer), another Cook, a Waitress, Seven Villains Most Foul
Rating: I'd like to say PG, but I'm going to say PG-13 just to be on the safe side.
Summary: The Straw Hat Pirates land on an island, only to find themselves beset by a mysterious group of villains after their bounties.
Status: This is the fifth chapter. The whole story can be read here.
A/N: Set post-Alabasta, pre-Jaya
Chopper leaped to one side as Cluran came down, ten vicious claws impaling the ground beneath where the humanoid reindeer had stood.
Chopper landed against the trunk of a tree, and pushed off, leaping from one tree to the next. Cluran took flight in Wing Form, beating his leathery wings furiously as he gave chase. Chopper continued racing forward, using his powerful legs to move from tree to tree, one step ahead of the flying Bat-Man.
As Chopper was about to leap forward towards a tree in front of him, some instinct warned him of imminent danger, and he twisted sideways, heading instead for a tree beyond that. This turned out to be a very good thing, as a cone of focused sound ripped across his intended trajectory.
Chopper glanced to his left, and barely managed to leap out of the way to avoid another sonic attack. Cluran was following in Wing Form, true, but he was shifting to Echo Form at the peak of his flight in order to send a blast of sound out after Chopper, and then shifting back to Wing Point before he impacted with the ground.
I don't have time to run like this, Chopper thought as he ducked under a third shot. I need to take the offensive if I'm going to take him out before my Rumble Ball runs out. He increased speed, sprinting forward to to put some distance between them, and then stopped and turned to face Cluran, crouching low to the ground.
Cluran's wings carried him closer to where Chopper lay in wait, and the reindeer's powerful legs unwound beneath him, rocketing him forward with blinding speed. Cluran shifted to Echo Form again, opened his mouth and emitted an ear-popping shriek. The sound coalesced into a rippling cone, headed for Chopper at just under the speed of sound.
“Guard Point!” Chopper shouted. His limbs shrunk into his body, and a thick layer of fur sprung up from his torso, insulating him. The sound waves rolled right off its surface, and succeeded only in slowing him down somewhat.
Chopper struck Cluran right in the gut, with all the force of a small furry cannonball. The bat-man gasped as the wind was knocked out of him, and the sonic attack faded. Chopper shifted up to Heavy Point, and clapped a hand over Cluran's mouth, preventing him from attacking again. With the other hand, he struck his opponent in the belly, causing him to grunt in pain.
Suddenly, Chopper felt a crippling pain in the hand he was using to keep Cluran silent. He looked down at it, and saw that Cluran had shifted into Fang Form, and then bitten down hard, piercing Chopper's hands with long, sharp teeth.
Chopper shouted out in pain and jerked his hand away violently. Cluran shifted back into Echo Form, and unleashed another sonic scream. Chopper flew backwards, screaming in pain.
Both of them landed roughly on the ground, kicking up huge clouds of dust. Chopper coughed as he sat up. He only had about thirty seconds of Rumble time left. He needed to figure out a way to take Cluran down, and he needed to figure it out quickly.
“Brain Point,” he said as he pulled himself to his feet. He reverted down to his usual diminutive size. He held both hooves out in front of him, forming a diamond shape. “Scope!” he called out, and his pupils began to swirl in his eyes.
Cluran brushed dust off of his jacket. He glanced around, scanning at ground level for his opponent. This was turning out to be a good deal more fun than he was expecting, but unfortunately all good things must come to an end. It was time for him to deliver the finishing blow. He caught sight of the tiny thing, and rolled his eyes.
“Oh for goodness' sake,” he said disdainfully. “You could at least let me enjoy the ending of our little skirmish.”
Chopper ignored him, staring resolutely at him through the tiny window created by his hooves. Numbers and shapes danced in front of his eyes as his brain analyzed and processed Cluran's body, trying to find a weakness Chopper could exploit.
Cluran took flight once more, his body lengthening into Wing Form. He flew high above Chopper, and then dived swiftly, heading for Chopper's unmoving form. He set himself into a spin, and when he was spinning so quickly that all detail had vanished into a blur of motion, he shifted into Claw Form. The blur of wings and fur transformed into a cyclone of points and sharp edges.
Panic seized the young doctor as Cluran bore down on him. His brain was processing information at great speed, but he could feel the Rumble Ball's effects wearing off already. He needed the solution, and he needed it-
There. In the moment before Cluran reached him, as the Rumble Ball's effects faded completely, Chopper saw the answer. It was so obvious, he was amazed he hadn't seen it before.
Shouting “Dark Knight Dervish!”, Cluran slammed into Chopper's vulnerable form. The force pushed the tiny reindeer backwards, the claws drilling into his flesh and drawing blood. Chopper screamed as the claws tore up his chest and send him flying backwards. He skipped across the ground and collided with a tree with a horrible crack.
Cluran reverted to human form, brushing the dirt off his hands. He stuck his hands in his pockets, and turned to walk away.
“It was fun while it lasted,” he lamented.
He reached the edge of the clearing before he heard the rustling sound behind him.
He turned to face it, and saw Chopper pushing himself unsteadily to his feet, leaning on the tree for support. He coughed violently, and a gob of red fluid fell out of his mouth, landing on the ground.
“Well,” Cluran said with a grin, “someone certainly can't tell when a fight's over.”
“No,” Chopper replied. “It's over. And I've won.”
Cluran laughed out loud. “You've won? That's funny, things look different from my perspective. You're tottering over there, barely alive, and I'm right here, relatively unscathed. You look like you couldn't walk, much less fight me.”
“Doesn't matter,” Chopper said, his eyes narrowing. “I know how to beat you. You've got no chance.”
Cluran chuckled as he shifted into Beast Form. “Come on then,” he said with a wicked grin, “Let's finish it.”
“Running Point!” Chopper shouted, slipping into full reindeer form. He ran forward at full speed, hooves clattering against the ground. Cluran ran forward to meet him. As they came together, Cluran lashed out with one clawed hand, but Chopper had already leaped high over it, leaped over Cluran altogether...
The bat-man wheeled about to attack again, but Chopper was nowhere in sight. Puzzled, Cluran looked back and forth, trying to figure out whee his opponent had gone, but could find no trace of him.
Then he realized that there was something small clinging to his back.
“This is your weakness,” Chopper said as he gripped the fur on Cluran's back desperately, “No matter what form you're in, your bone structure won't let you reach me here!”
Cluran thrashed about, hands reaching behind him, trying to dislodge his unwanted passenger, but no matter how he tried Chopper remained just out of reach.
“Get off of me, you little rodent!” he shouted as he twisted and turned. Chopper ignored him and focused on the anatomy textbooks that Doctorine had made him spend so many long hours memorizing. Ninth Vertebrae, Tenth, Eleventh...there! There was a small nerve cluster just below the eleventh vertebrae. Focusing his mind's eye on its position, he took a deep breath, drew his head backwards, and then head-butted Cluran hard on that exact spot.
Cluran let out a startled gasp as his lower body buckled beneath him, suddenly numb and unresponsive. As he fell to the ground, Chopper shifted to Heavy Point, bearing him to the dirt and pinning him down.
“Well played,” Cluran said as he tried vainly to move his legs. “You were right. You win.”
Chopper reached forward, gripped Cluran's hair, and slammed his face into the ground until unconsciousness finally claimed him.
Ergon reached over the lip of the crater, gripped the ground and pulled himself up until he could peer back onto the clearing. The orange-haired woman was lying on the ground a few feet away. From this angle, he could almost see up her skirt; Ergon blushed at the thought. That was an inappropriate thing for him to be thinking of, especially on such a nice young woman. It was truly a pity he had to kill her.
“My sincerest apologies,” he said as he pulled himself completely over the edge of the crater and began rolling forward. The girl moaned and tried to pull herself to her feet, but Ergon was far too quick for her. He was on top of her before she could react, kicking up dirt and grass as he bore down on her.
But again he was cheated, as the figure vanished as soon as he came into contact with it. He stopped his charge, and turned to face his surroundings.
He was suddenly surrounded by a score of Namis, each of them in a different position or pose, scattered through the clearing. He blinked in confusion. There was only supposed to be one of her!
“It took you a while to get out of that pit,”the Namis said at once, grinning. “I had all the time I needed to get this set up.”
Each of the illusory women pulled out a section of the Clima-Tact and began to spin it. Blue balls of cooled air popped out of the end with each rotation, floating upwards.
“Only one of us is real,” Nami said with a wicked grin. “Find me if you can.”
Ergon looked back and forth, trying to decide what to do next. For a moment his brow furrowed as he tried to puzzle out which one to attack. After a moment, he extended one stubby finger to point at the nearest Nami.
“Eenie,” he began, pointing at each one in sequence. “Meenie. Miney. Moe.”
No sooner had he completed the child's rhyme before he rocketed forward, bearing down on the one of the orange-haired women. She wavered in the air and vanished as he approached, and he leaned sharply to the left, performing a quick U-turn to run over another Nami, which also disappeared as he struck it.
“Good guess, but no,” the chorus of Namis stated mockingly.
“Ooh, almost had me that time,” she taunted as Ergon rolled over another illusion, which was leaning against a tree. The trunk split where he grazed it, and it toppled to the earth with a crack. Ergon ignored it and wheeled to run down the next Nami in line.
Around and around the field the Rock-man rolled, leaving deep treads in his wake. He rolled over illusion after illusion, making them fade and vanish, with the remaining ones taunting him every time he chose the wrong one.
But the trick could not last, and each illusion he destroyed made her more vulnerable. She seemed almost oblivious to the danger, standing still and continuing to spin her stupid stick, sending more and of the small blue balls into the air.
Nami dove to the side as Ergon finally guessed correctly. She almost managed to dodge, but his rocky hand closed around her ankle, and she was dragged along behind him, whirling around with each revolution of his hulking body.
Ergon rolled to a stop, and then held Nami in front of him, dangling her by her ankle. He frowned deeply.
“I want you to know that there's nothing personal about this,” he said sternly, “but your behavior thus far has been downright unladylike.”
Nami was so surprised by this final display of politesse that she almost forgot to scream when Ergon cocked his arm back and threw her across the clearing.
The living boulder braced its legs against the ground, and then leaped forward with incredible speed, placing him in the air above Nami. He spun like a drill as he fell towards her.
“Gravity Rocket!” he shouted as he approached her helpless form.
Nami grinned triumphantly. Finally, she thought as her hands assembled the Clima-Tact into the proper shape, I've been waiting ages for him to do this. She pointed one end of her staff between her legs, down at the ground, and gripped the handle she had formed with another section of the staff. She spun the handle quickly, and a blast of wind shot from the other end of Clima-Tact.
“Gale Tempo!” Nami called out as the force of the wind pushed her upwards and backwards, taking her out of Ergon's path. The rock-man hit the ground hard, sending up a cloud of dust and digging a deep impact crater, exactly as it had before. Nami flew through the cloud, arms shielding her eyes, and finally came to rest at the edge of the crater.
She propped herself up off of the ground and detached one section of the Clima-Tact, pointing it into the air above the crater. There was an enormous black cloud lurking there, the product of her earlier handiwork.
“Thunder Ball,” she shouted as her rod discharged a yellow burst of statically charged air. It floated up to the black cloud and crackled along the surface, and snowflakes began to fall. “Freezing Rain Tempo,” Nami finished with a triumphant tone.
The snow fell down from the cloud, and then melted in an area of warm air, becoming raindrops. They then fell through an area of cold air, which supercooled them. Then they fell, elongating as they did, until they struck the earth and froze again into ice.
Ergon tried to grip the side of the crater, tried to climb out, but his fingers could find no purchase on the suddenly icy surface. He slid down the slope over and over, and as the rain continued a layer of ice built up on his body, weighing him down.
His movements became slower and slower until finally he stopped moving altogether and simply allowed the ice to build up on top of him. Nami chuckled and put her weapon away.
“That ice won't melt for a couple of hours,” she said as she knelt at the edge of the crater. “By that time, I should be able to get Zoro or Sanji or someone down here to beat you up.”
She stood up and walked away, whistling a cheerful tune.
Zoro winced as Cortez slashed him across the right bicep. His three swords were flashing through the air, intercepting blow after blow, but Cortez's attack was just too fast, and it came from all directions at once. He needed breathing room if he was going to survive this.
Zoro took a deep breath, centering himself mentally and blocking out the pain. He flicked his blades outwards, lowered his stance and twisted.
“Dragon Coil!” he shouted as he cut the air itself, sending a wave of destruction outwards in a circle. Suddenly, there was no safe place around him on which to stand, forcing Cortez to disengage his attack and teleport to safety.
As the attack faded, Cortez teleported towards Zoro, bringing his sword down in a vicious chop, but the green-haired swordsman had predicted the attack. Zoro's left blade caught the blow and twisted it, leading it along the katana's edge until it caught against the guard. He brought the other sword around, down on top of the blade, and it flew out of Cortez's grip, landing in the dirt at Zoro's feet.
Cortez danced back out of his reach. Zoro pushed forward, slashing horizontally at the smaller man's neck. Cortez leaned backwards, allowing the tip of the blade to pass within inches of his flesh. Zoro attacked with his other sword, but Cortez grabbed him behind the wrist and pushed the sword aside before sinking a fist into his gut, doubling him over.
Cortez struck another pair of blows quickly, one to the chest and another to the face, sending Zoro reeling. He swept low, grabbing his sword where it lay in the dirt, and then teleported behind Zoro once more. The green-haired swordsman barely managed to dodge forward, avoiding another deadly cut to the abdomen.
Zoro turned to face his opponent, swords held in a guarded position. Much to his surprise, Cortez did not resume his attack, but instead stood in a similar defensive posture, watching Zoro for his next move.
“Incredible,” Cortez said after a few moments of staring at each other. “Nobody but Lord Ronas has ever broken that technique before. I had thought it almost unbeatable.”
Zoro snorted derisively. “Apparently not,” he said.
“True...you know, it will almost be a shame to kill you,” Cortez responded. “I'm clearly robbing the world of an extraordinary specimen. But,” he continued sadly, “orders are orders, after all.
“You still think you can beat me?” Zoro said, a laugh creeping its way around the edges of his voice. “Come on, then. Let's do this.”
Zoro shifted stances, bringing his three blades up into the correct alignment. Then he swept them forward, feeling once more for the very edge of the air that surrounded him. He found it and cut it.
“One hundred and eight pound cannon!” he shouted as a powerful blast of compressed air flew from his swords, spiraling through the air towards Cortez. There was a flare of light as if passed over him, and the shorter swordsman was gone.
Zoro looked around, trying to guess where the teleporter had gone now. There was no sign on him in any direction. Could he have retreated? Not likely, given his cocky speech a moment ago. So where...
Zoro didn't think to look up until it was nearly too late.
Cortez had teleported directly above him-several miles above him, if the speed of his fall was any indication-and was now plummeting towards him, sword held with the point facing downwards. Zoro dodged to the side, allowing Cortez to pass through the space he had occupied but a moment before. He struck out at him as he fell, but predictably enough Cortez teleported away, again directly over Zoro's head.
“Quantum Leap!” he shouted as he came down again. He was closer this time, and Zoro had to move quickly to deflect the blade before it could do him any harm. Cortez teleported again, directly up an even shorter distance.
Again and again he came down, coming closer each time. He was at terminal velocity now, and with each teleport Zoro had to move just a little faster to parry or dodge the attack, until he finally decided that he'd had enough. He set his feet firmly against the ground, and blocked the attack with all three blades. A ring of blades formed around Cortez's, holding it in place.
For a moment the air between them seemed to waver as Zoro's raw physical power met Cortez's downward momentum, each fighting to break past the other's guard.
In the end, Cortez won. His blade found a gap between Zoro's swords, and as it pushed down it forced them apart, allowing it access to Zoro's now undefended body.
Zoro screamed in pain as the sword raked across his chest, giving him a long, deep cut down the middle of his ribcage. Blood poured out from the wound, and he fell down to one knee, clutching at it. Cortez teleported several meters away, landing on the ground with a heavy thud. The ground cracked all around his feet, but his powerful legs absorbed most of the impact.
Zoro knelt on one knee, trying to catch his breath. The wound was deep. Possibly it would even scar. He briefly thought of the scar he'd gotten at the hands of Hawk-Eye Mihawk, and couldn't help laughing loudly.
“Is something humorous?” Cortez asked, looking down at his opponent, his eyes filled with curiosity.
“You are,” Zoro said, rising to his feet, “amateur.”
Cortez's eyes narrowed dangerously. “What did you just call me?” he asked, his voice suddenly icy and dangerous.
“Amateur,” Zoro repeated idly. “You have some skill with the blade, true, and your devil fruit ability caught me off guard. But that can't disguise the fact that you're a rookie. And like every rookie swordsman,” he continued, pulling the bandanna off of his arm, “you make two major mistakes.”
“The first,” Zoro said, as he tied the bandanna around his forehead, “is underestimating your opponent. And the second...”
There was a flare of light, and Cortez was gone, teleported behind Zoro again for an attack. But before he could bring his sword crashing down on his opponent, he felt a sharp pain in his gut. He looked down, and saw one of Zoro's katanas, the one he held in his mouth, sticking into his belly. Zoro had predicted where he would teleport, and struck there.
“...you fall into patterns,” Zoro concluded as Cortez fell to the ground, a bloody wound marring his white suit. He pulled himself painfully up to a sitting position, his breathing heavy. Zoro shifted positions again, bringing his blades up into an attack posture, and for the first time since the fight began really assumed the offensive.
The fight was already over at this point. Cortez just wasn't willing to admit to it yet.
Luffy flew through the air, the ocean spreading out below him. If he fell into the water, there would be no hope for him. He would lose all strength in his body, and sink to the ocean's floor, drowning. He would lose.
And he couldn't allow that. His nakama were depending on him to win, and more than that: If he lost here, even if he didn't die, he'd lose all chance of ever fulfilling his promise to Shanks. He would never get to be the Pirate King.
And so he threw out his arms and stretched. It was a very, very long way to the shore. Ronas had put a lot of momentum behind the throw, and he was still going at a good speed. But he stretched out, reaching as far as he'd ever reached before and further, until his fingertips made contact with the base of the cliff he'd just been thrown from.
Before Ronas could do anything but start in surprise at his return, Luffy yanked, hard, sending himself flying back towards the island. His arms began retracting, speeding him still further.
With a cry of “Gomu Gomu no Missile!”, Luffy crashed head-first into the cliff. The impact sent cracks through the stone before finally bursting it apart in a small explosion. Ronas tried to keep his footing, but it was impossible. The force of Luffy's attack sent him falling through the air.
A fist shot through the rubble, connecting solidly with his chest. He let out a lungful of air as the impact knocked the wind out of him. A second fist flew forward and hit him in the face, crushing his nose and sending him flying backwards.
Ronas landed roughly, skidding along the ground, and then regained his feet and ran back to where Luffy was currently landing. He struck Luffy with an open-handed blow, enhanced by his speed, which snapped the rubberman's neck back and caused him to let out a sharp cry. Ronas lashed out with a flurry of punches, traveling faster than the eye can see, pummeling Luffy's body and leaving fist-shaped imprints all over his body.
His next punch stopped suddenly, and his fist refused to move forward no matter how he pushed. He glanced down and saw that Luffy had somehow, impossibly, caught it. He gripped it tightly in his hand, gritting his teeth and kicked out, catching Ronas in the gut. He released Ronas' hand, allowing the assassin lord to be sent flying by the force of his blow.
Luffy ran forward, his sandals clapping on the ground, following the course that Ronas' hapless form had taken. Ronas, having regained his footing, ran at full speed towards him. Both men's fists came around, and they struck each other with enough force to shatter mountains.
Cross-posted to one_piece and onepiece_fics