Lia was holding on to me. Her body trying to get as close to me as possible. “Don't leave again, never!” She whispered into my chest.
I tried to draw comforting circles on her back while hugging her closely. “I try not to,” I answer. I realize now how much the separation has worried or even hurt her. I didn't feel it as such, couldn't feel it.
But Lia was never separated from me. Not since the last couple of thousand years. We were always close, either with her inside me or both of us working closely together. Being separated for longer than a day or two was unknown to her and the added possibility of my death must have scared her.
“Glad to have you back, Lara. Some stuff happened, but the raid itself was successful. Herbert is on the sick bay and sleeping. His body is malnourished and weak, Mrs Chicken Wing is watching over him,” reported Jo. He was looking down at me with a fond smile and began to explain what happened while I was gone. Lia was not really able to do that right now.
That Nami suddenly appeared on our ship, that they had a short run in with Blackbeard, that Herbert is safe, if weak, and that they had picked up Bon Kurei. The later was twirling and dancing around. A bright smile on his face, with tears streaming down. He was happy for the reunion of Lia and me.
I changed position and pulled Lia into my lap, that way I could look up into the faces of the rest of the crew, while still hugging her. With the exception of Mrs Chicken Wing, they were all present and without wounds.
“Nice to see that you are all fine,” I began. They smiled in return, also glad that I am not dead or wounded. “The war is almost coming to an end. When I flew up the Whitebeard Pirates were in full retreat and the Marines were busy hunting them or fighting Blackbeard.
I think we should make our exit known, we don't need for it to be flashy. We don't have to attack, just show them that I did not flee. So Fiara, please man the console. I want to swoop down over their heads and say my farewell.”
Fiara jumped down from Nojiko's shoulder, a place she likes a lot, and over to the console that holds all the electronics for our ship. We have a second inside the ship, but that one is only for emergencies.
I gently nudged Lia and kissed her forehead. “Lia, could we stand up. I'd like to leave and going without telling goodbye would be terribly rude.” She nodded and stood up, while still holding my hand. She might not let go for a day or so.
Xarver the Dancing Blade, Allied Pirate to the Whitebeards, POV:
What a mess. We came to the Marine HQ to free Ace. We all knew that this would be a hard, bloody fight. We knew that many of us wouldn't survive. And we knew that success was not guaranteed. But none of us could have imagined that it would become such a mess.
I hastily sliced the throat of an attacking Marine, before ducking under the swing of another one, before piercing his heart through with my dagger and then continued to run back to the ships.
The Marines are in full pursuit and even leaving their wounded comrades behind to kill us. They are like mad and attacking without any thought about their own.
I had just ducked around a piece of debris, from the looks of it it might have once been a warship. The once mighty vessel of war was now laying frozen and destroyed on the battlefield. But a warship means that I am close to the shore. I just hope that my men have been as lucky as I, times after the war will be chaotic and dangerous.
I stop dead in my track. In front of me stood Akainu, the Red Dog. The man that killed Ace and was the main reason for Father's wounds.
He saw me and activated his Devil Fruit. I knew that I was a dead man standing. I may be a New World pirate captain, but there is no way for me to defeat an Admiral.
I shut my eyes, not eager to see the smiling grin of this Dog of the World Government. But the pain of getting my insides burned never came. I cracked one eye open and saw that a young Marine has jumped in front of me. He had his arms spread wide and was shouting at Akainu for him to stop the pursuit.
It didn't work. The mad dog was about to kill him. I myself was just about to jump forward and pull the kid back. There's no way in hell that I would allow a child saving me. And especially not a Marine kid.
And yet I was not fast enough. The burning magma fist of Akainu raced at the poor kid and I will be not fast enough to pull him away. However, it turned out that I didn't have to. Someone else blocked the attack with his sword.
Wide-eyed and with a gaping mouth I realized who had just blocked the attack. It was no one other than the Yonko Red Hair Shanks. What is he doing here? Wasn't he in a small war with Kaido?
The kid got knocked out from the clash of Haki, but he would survive. And with Shanks here I too had a chance at coming out alive.
The fighting almost instantly stopped. No one wanted to fight them. Not when we all were tired from the war. And Shanks didn't look tired at all. As if the fight against Kaido hasn't been a struggle.
“I've come to end this war!” This single sentence.., I do not know when I have ever felt as relieved as I did at that moment.
The Yonko threw a straw hat into the air and then turned back to the snarling and angry Akainu. Both Kizaru and Aokiji did one more attack at the bay, but it was unknown to me if they succeded. I certainly hoped that they didn't.
Now Akainu and Shanks were staring each other down, however, before either could speak something else happened. A loud roaring noise filled the air. It became louder and from above.
I, as well as many others, looked up and saw how a cloud parted. A ship came flying out of the clouds. It's galleons figure looked like the head of an eagle and the strange pontoons on its underside made it resemble one even more.
It stopped above the battlefield and hovered there, steam streamed out from under it. And then suddenly the loud noise of the steam was gone and someone came to the front of the ship, no two people came to the front.
They looked the same, even their clothes were similar. Clothes that made both of them look like Death incarnate. Slicer Lara was back and now she had a flying ship.
“Oh, seems like it's coming to an end,” spoke Slicer down to us. Her voice clear and easy to understand even with the height difference to us. Is she manipulating the sound? How much else can she do? An Angel Fruit, the Fruit of Father and then her control over the sound. She is a monster.
“And who might you be?” Asked Shanks, his tone was confident, easy and without worry.
“I'm Lara, some call me Slicer Lara. My crew was picking me up and I thought it might have been disrespectful to not say my farewell. I know who you are, Red Hair Shanks, one of the four Yonko,” replied the monster in female form with a sweet smile.
Slicer Lara had played all of us today. First the Marines with her betrayal from the Seven Warlords and then us by incinerating Father and eating his fruit. I also think that the music she has played, and which allowed us to fight the Kumas, has done more harm than good to us.
“I have heard of you Slicer Lara, my question is what you want to do now?” Asked Shanks, he had an easy smile on his face, but I felt how he was ready to act if Slicer was going to continue the fight.
“We just came down to tell our farewell. Would have been rude not to, I mean I worked for the World Government once. Even if was for all of a few days and ended with some bad blood on their side.” Slicer was speaking as if her massive betrayal was only a minor thing and nothing to worry about.
The Dogs from the World Government lost hundreds if not thousands of their soldiers with her betrayal and emotional attack. Add the beating she gave Akainu and she has pretty much done everything in her power to piss them off.
I have never seen a so-called Rookie do so much damage, be this strong or such a monster. Even now she wasn't showing any sign of stress or nervousness and she is speaking to a Yonko. That takes balls or you are not right in the mind.
Akainu was almost frothing from the mouth by the looks of it. Slicer has gotten herself an enemy for life within him. “I see, and how does your parting gift look like?”
Slicer smiled brightly, a way too pretty face that hid strength and strangeness. “Oh, it's nothing dangerous. I just wanted to tell them that my modus operandi hasn't changed. I don't plan on going on a rampage from now on. My crew and I still have no intention of suppressing the weak. Akainu will know if we do, he has experience with it.”
The barb at Akainu at the end was intentionally said, he was looking at the furious Admiral with a mocking grin and dared him to act, to attack or move. She knew that Shanks wouldn't allow that.
“With that said we are off.” On Slicer's unseen command the ship began to move. It glided through the air without a sound and quickly began to gain a speed that no normal ship could ever hope to have. That it didn't make any sound was scary, how can you evade or spot such a ship? It can fly, is fast and silent. The cloud it was producing was also hiding the ship.
I turned back to the pressing matter of having a Marine Admiral a few meters away from me and hoped that nothing more strange stuff will happen today.
I turned back around and searched for Nami and Bon Kurei, both were not part of the crew and we need to decide what we will do with them. The first was standing close to her sister, while the other stood to the side and was looking back to the Marine HQ. An island that was almost destroyed from the war.
“Nami, Kurei, could you please follow me to our dining room, we need to speak,” I began, before walking inside the ship. Both Lia and I can enhance the ship without much focus by now, speaking will not endanger our flight.
Lia didn't let go of my hand and followed me inside, behind her were Nami, Nojiko and Jo. We sat down around the table and they waited for me to start.
“Okay, I have roughly heard what happened to you. Tell me what you want from us and I will think about it,” I then began and looked at Kurei, his request will be faster. For Nami I already have an idea.
“Thank you for taking me with you, Lara-chan. I thought I wouldn't survive the day, but your lovely sister and crew saved me from Impel Down. And now I find myself in the need of a ride. I'd like to ask of you to bring me to an island I have long since sought out to see, Mormoiro Island. The Kamabakka Kingdom resides on this island and I always wished to see it. Would you grant my request and bring me there?”
That would be the island Sanji is currently on. I'd need a way for Kurei to drop off, but not having Sanji with us. I won't have him on my ship for a prolonged time. His character isn't to my liking, his constant hitting on my Lia is annoying.
“We can drop you off, no worry,” I assured nonetheless. Worst case scenario I simply decline Sanji voyage, stating that I don't feel well with him on board and his attitude. It might even force him to change.
Bon Kurei jumped out of his seat, twirled and danced around the table and kneeled down at the side of my chair. “I'm forever in your and your crew's debt.” I nodded in agreement, not really feeling as if I could voice a thank you without sounding not thankful.
After a moment he stood back up got back to his chair. I turned and looked at Nami, she was fidgeting and looking nervous. “I'd like to get back to my friends, but I don't know where they are. They, like me, must have been sent away by Kuma. Do you have an idea where I can find some of them or Luffy?”
I thought about it, not about their whereabouts, that could be easily found out. But if I should tell her about Luffy being at Amazon Lily and that they will need to train if they want to survive.
In the end, I decided to tell her some parts, “I don't know where Luffy is right now. I have seen him in the war, he was not in the best condition, but alive. We could ask Hancock, she helped him before, maybe she does so now as well. Her Island is Amazon Lily and is placed in the Calm Belt. After dropping Kurei we will go there and ask if they know about Luffy.” That way we have some time and hopefully, Luffy's stunt with the bell will have happened before we reach Amazon Lily.
Nami smiled brightly and nodded in thanks, while Nojiko squeezed her shoulder with an equally bright smile.
“Great, now Jo, do you have something as well? I hope you don't want to leave us as well. I understand that with me being able to heal wounds you have less work now, but I hope that it wasn't so much that you feel the need to leave.” He chuckled at my joke and shook his head in no.
“Don't worry, you won't get lost of me this easily. I appreciate the off time, stitching Noa, Jonny and Yosaku up has never been fun, they whine too much. But I have something to tell. It's about Herbert, he is weak and needs rest. I also think that he and Mrs Chicken Wing will want to get home, now that they are reunited again.”
“That would mean that Mrs Chicken Wing will leave the crew,” whispered Nojiko in slight shock and worry. The rest understood the dilemma as well. Leaving a pirate crew is almost never done and even if, only with the consent of the captain. Otherwise, the leaving member is seen as a betrayer and hunted down.
Lia and I knew that Mrs Chicken Wing wouldn't stay with us forever, it was something we knew from the first day on. But then we didn't like the hen as much as we do now. I dare say that I think of her as a friend. That I would like a chicken enough to not want to eat it... What has the world become?
“I know, I will speak to her in the near future. Lia and I have known that this might happen once we have found her husband.” I didn't like it one bit, but I wouldn't force her to stay with us. She has searched for Herbert for years, declining her him now would be cruel and I don't think possible. And having Herbert with us as well is also not likely, they have a responsibility to their people and need to get back.
Jo nodded and stood up. “I am happy to see that you don't want her to go, but at the same time will allow it. It shows great strength in your character and proves that I was right in joining your crew.” I didn't feel like smiling but accepted the praise with a small nod.
“Okay, now, I think Lia is only a short few seconds away from dragging me to bed, which means that you won't see us for a few hours. Anything else you want to ask or tell me?” When neither said anything I found myself pulled up and thrown over the shoulder of Lia. Now that she has practically my consent she didn't see the need to wait any longer.
With quick steps, she marched down to our room, kicked the door open and threw me on our bed. She looked at me with a hungry glint in her eyes and closed the door without looking away from me. I would have feared for my chastity if she hadn't already taken that long ago. The next second she threw herself at me like a starved wolf.