****A Battle Raged Island In Paradise (F!Character POV)****
'Run, just keep running'
"There she is!"
'Keep going don't stop running till you lose them, damn it...this wasn't what the plan was Chester!!!'
"She's heading for the docks! Don't let her get off the island with that Devil Fruit!!"
"She climbing the building! Shoot her down!"
My legs kicked off the walls as I launched myself up back and forth between the two buildings. Cold, numb, thin bleeding fingers scraped across the sharp broken edges as I scrambled for perchance to pull my body up and over to safety.
'Almost there! Just a bit more, have to reach the top then I can lose these damn marines.'
Pain shot through my leg, with gritted teeth I forced my body up, shot over the ledge and crouched on my knees to catch my breath. My lungs burned, body shaking and heart racing as my legs forced themselves upright; eyes darting around for the next path.
'Keep Running Damn It! There! I can hide down there, just gotta get out of their sights'
I dived into the other building across from me, rolling my body shoulder first on the rooftop like I was taught to spring back up. The stone was slick so the momentum made me slide further across the surface. There was a cluster of collapsed homes and shops to the right, I could hide inside the debris till the marines passed. Determined and focused I made a race for cover, leaping over two buildings, stumbling and sliding before reaching a side street I could shimmy down.
"Damn It!! Get some men on the roof! Scout the area, she cant get far"
"Sir, yes Sir!"
Once my feet hit the ground I was gone, running into the storm to my shelter.
****Collapsed Shopping District-East (3rd POV)****
Panting Chester stared at the small baby fist-sized object in her hand, lungs burning with every inhale as she tried to calm her racing heart. Tucked in a niche between two shops and hidden by a collapsed part of a wall, it was a good cover from the unit of marines. Tiredly she leaned her head back against the wall sinking deeper into the hood, body completely exhausted, shaking from the adrenaline finally leaving it. The long black sleeves of the hoodie soaked with blood and water feeling heavy as they drooped down to pale elbows, uncomfortable and clingy.
The rain outside this little hole came down in thick sheets, a small stream of it flowing to a dip in the ground from beyond cover.
Deftly tucking the fruit inside her hoodie pouch shifting her body towards the growing puddle intent to clean the blood off. A hand raised to flip back the hood revealing blond hair hanging limply, dripping water back into the puddle.
The blond flinched at the freezing water in the open cuts on her hands and fingers from climbing, kicking herself for leaving those damn gloves behind. Letting out a breath through the sting, carefully hands scooped the water gently washing the blood off her face and neck. The puddle grew quickly as the downpour increased; forming another stream along the cracks in the ground and out under the stones of the fallen wall to rejoin the rain outside.
"At least it'll keep the water clean enough, and wash the blood away." Blondie murmured quietly to herself, scrubbing the slick red from numb forearms. They were fine, light scrapes "Fuck this is cold...Ok Chess, now the leg, let's see the damage"
Gritting her teeth Chester slowly peeled the belled bottoms of her pants up and away from the bleeding calf to assess the damage. The feeling of the fabric detaching from the wound was painful until the thick fabric eased away and eyes caught a look at the injury.
"Ok...not that bad" Chester breathed with relief, thankful for the good fortune today. Scooping up some more water she poured it on the wound, lightly cleaning it with fingertips. A few more times cleaning the wound the young woman was satisfied with finding it was thankfully just a graze from a bullet skimming her leg; the water just made the wound look worse by mixing with the blood.
"Until I can get to where I left my duffle bag I cant do much to bandage it...I'll let it breathe, for now, hopefully, it won't get to infected until I can get my stuff," she mumbled sliding slowly way back to the dark spot in the corner bunking down to relax. With a flick of her hand, her hood flipped back up the motion pulling the hoods antenna over to rest lightly on her shoulders. Carefully ringing out the sleeves to ease some of the heavyweight and clinginess Chester settled them down on her arms properly.
"Now time for you Mr. Fruit" She reached into the front pouch, hand closing around the fruit and pulled it out gently turning it around to get a good look at it.
The fruit was the size of a newborns fist, if not a bit bigger, and looked like the love child of a strawberry and a peach. It had swirled textured skin and a strange pale purple color that got darker as it made its way to the bottom; the skin was lightly fuzzed.
Her stomach gurgled with hunger as she eyed the fruit, unsure if she should eat it, but curious at what type of fruit it could be.
'The marines seemed really upset I took this, is it powerful? The pirates seemed to want it too, is it famous or something? Maybe its a fruit that belonged to a pirate...or a marine that died? Or maybe it's a mythical one? Those seem to be worth a fight over. Or maybe I'll get a shitty ability and hate life after eating it...'
"Please let it not be a stupid power" Taking a deep breath and letting it out to prepare mentally. Chess opened her mouth wide, pinching her nose closed and popped the fruit in. She tried to chew quickly, body heaving and gagging, eye tearing at the horrible taste. The whole time her gag reflex fighting her as she held down the urge to puke. The horrific morsel slid down her throat, it almost felt like her body had no choice now but to swallow.
"Uugggh, oh man...so nasty..." The blond grimaced and tried to relax against the wall listening to the sound of the rain, stomach churning in the after nausea.
Tapping a long thin finger on the ground, her head fell back with a muffled thump cradled by her deep thick hood. Her eyes closed, breathing in and out slowly, mind left to wander for what felt like hours; waiting for any inkling of a newly acquired ability. The rain was soothing, making her sleepy as her finger tapped on the ground absently to a memory of a song. Nausea left, the heart had slowed from the ease of adrenalin, though the still bleeding wounds were throbbing slightly to her heartbeat, and the silence...
'wait...silence. It was just pouring'
Lurching forward she looked for a gap in the rubble, finding one big enough to look through she found it faced the street. Pushing her hood back a bit the blond peaked through a crack in the wall and stared wide-eyed, it was still down pouring but she didn't hear anything. Flinching back as a Marine came to a stop at the mouth of the ally she watched wide-eyed as his mouth moved, obviously barking orders. Holding her breath she waited for him to leave, but moments later 4 more men came. Their mouths too moved, reporting obviously, then the other man kicked a rock down the ally in anger, the stone hit the wall...
But not a single sound was heard.
'no fucking way'
Chess looked at her hands curiously and reached slowly out to tap on the wall with a finger. The grin that split across her face was wide and full of teeth as she marveled at the sudden thunder that cracked through the sky and rumbled in the little nook.
'Oh, this is definitely not a stupid power. I can see why they all wanted it so bad.'
Shadowed eyes peeked back to the crack to listen in on the men, mind racing to figure out what the next move was.
"I'm sorry to report the men still haven't found the girl, Sir."
"Tch, I want all men to report back to the ship, assist the wounded to the med bay for medical treatment. The girl must have stowed away on one of the outbound ships or was snatched up by the damn pirates. Unfortunately, we have orders to return to base and report the situation" The man was apparently the Marine in charge of this unit, the others saluted him before they filed out of sight into the streets of the town.
Finally letting out the breath she was holding, the blond decided it was best to wait a bit longer before moving from such a good hiding spot
'Better safe then sorry...'
****Sabaody Marine HQ Grove 60-69: Conference office****
A fist slammed on the thick table, the room going silent in response and all eyes locked on the fuming Marine. The man's other hand crumpled the file in anger before tossing it in the middle, papers sliding out across the wood for all eyes to see.
Atop the pile was a half focused cut off picture of a very tall female dressed in a *long knee length black hoodie with long hanging belled sleeves and large front pockets. The strange hood was very deep, the inside shadowed but you could see the peaking of blond hair. The large sewn solid gold eyes on the hood hung low where the females eyes should be, the mouth down visible. The long black antennas on the top of the hood hung to mid back in a lightning shaped spike. Anything from the thighs down was cut off from the image; so the photo was spotty at best with features mostly hidden from the view of the camera.
"Report, I want to know how exactly this happened!"
"Sir!" one of the captains stood at attention " Five Months ago the Nagi-Nagi no Mi was located near the edge of East Blue close to the Red Line. It was collected by the commanding officer of the nearest Marine HQ and transported from a small Island named Shimako Island with end destination being the Marine Ford to be received by Fleet Admiral Sengoku and Vice Admiral Garp. The Vessel was ambushed by pirate ships near an island in Paradise and the crew was forced to engage in battle on sea and eventually the island itself where the crew attempted to hid and protect the Devil Fruit from enemy hands."
"And now how exactly did The Nagi-Nagi no Mi end up in the hands of this girl?" The glare set on the poor man had him sweating in fear of the rolling anger coming off his commanding officer.
"E-Eh, T-The female in question was on the island when the battle began. B-based on eyewitness testimony from the native islanders, she had been there for a few weeks gathering supplies and working at the towns bar for extra beli. The owner of the bar stated she was looking for someone with information on her father and had been traveling with a merchant's vessel before the battle. The men protecting the fruit were killed in action and the fruit was taken. At some point in the confusion, it appears that she had found the fruit during a skirmish and taken it when our men found and chased her...unfortunately she managed to escape custody and the fruit disappeared with her. We can only assume she ate it or has it in her possession still. Her whereabouts are unknown as of now but she is still in Paradise we are sure."
The silence was heavy for a moment "Did any of the residence give a name with the description?"
"Well?" Came the impatient snap.
"Ah...well, Chester was the name provided but no last name was given"
"Print a bounty for this Chester, see if we can get Intel on her and her next possible destination. For now capture on sight, if she still has the fruit we need her alive, if she has eaten it we may be able to persuade her to join the Marines."
"Sir, yes Sir!"
****Sabaody Grove 13: Shakky's Rip-off Bar (3rd person POV)****
'I guess the fruit was important after all. A bounty huh, guess this is going to get complicated now...but seriously...one thing...'
[Wanted Alive: "Shadow Hood" Chester 800,000 Beli]
"Who comes up with these names? Seriously? Shadow Hood? I'm so done right now" Chester groused into her drink sulkily glaring at the paper hanging between the older woman's manicured fingers.
"Ahh, well that's what happens when you steal something from the Marines 'Shadow Hood'" Shakky laughed, leaning her head on her hand and gazing at the poster with an amused eye. "Though I will say that the picture is blurry, with that hood of yours you are still easy to spot Chess-chan"
Chester flipped her hood down, the thick feathered blond hair falling in her eyes making the glare she was sending look more like a pout. "This hoodie was a gift, and it's my treasure. Even if it gives me trouble I wouldn't give it up, even for One Piece!"
'Plus the fact I think the damn things alive, any damage to it heals itself'
The blond flinched when a large hand ruffled her hair startling her out of her thoughts. Her eyes looked up to find the amused face of a man with gray hair standing next to her. His eyes had mirth hidden behind his glasses as he slid into the bar seat to her right, a glass of alcohol instantly being placed before him.
"So" The man grinned at Shakky, who leaned against her bar in amusement, and nodded in thanks before turning back to the only other person in the bar "You don't want to find the One Piece?"
The girl eyed him warily, running her fingers through her hair to fix the ruffled mess to a somewhat presentable mess. "No, there is someone out there who is destined to be the next King of the Pirates. That person isn't me...I have my own dream to follow" Chester mumbled into her cup, swirling the contents with a contemplative face.
The two ex-pirates glanced at each other and Shakky tapped her finger on the poster resting on the bar, bringing the teens attention back from her thoughts. "So tell me, this dream of yours. Does it have anything to do with you stealing a certain devil fruit that was on its way to Marineford by chance? "
"HAHAHAHAHAHA! I like you kid" The man laughed patting her head, her hair sliding away from her vision as she stared with wide reddish-brown orbs "Names Rayleigh, why don't you tell us about this dream of yours over a few bottles of sake?"
Chester smiled at him, his easy going personality relaxing her. Shakky placed sake in front of them and lit herself a cig, her own drink next to her.
"Well, My main reason leaving home was to find my dad...or well what happened to him at least. Mom said he stopped contacting her when I was about 4, but we left East Blue for North Blue by then... so I don't remember too much about him." she shifted herself to sit when she was facing them both with a frown. "According to her he was a Marine, but mom was forgetting a lot of things by then so he could really have been a pirate for all I know. She only could remember basic things about his appearance, but she said I look like him more than anything. I've been chasing smoke trying to make a profile based on my own appearance, making it male, taller than"
The young blond female stood up and gestured to her 7'1 height before sitting back down. "What I am now. He was blond like me, mom was a brunette; My eyes and face structure are his, mom was more rounded with blue eyes. I didn't put much into what mom told me after the years went on, she stopped talking about him with consistent details by the time I was 13." Chester reached into the pocket of her hoodie and pulled out a pack of cigarettes and an old silver lighter. The tip glowed brightly, her lungs drawing deep from the stick, and letting out a slow exhale the smoke curling out before her. The young woman jerked in slight surprise when Shakky reached out to pat out the fire eating the fabric on her shoulder; giving the woman's raised brown look a sheepish one in return.
Rayleigh chuckled at the clumsy display til he noticed his sleeve was also on fire and he rapidly patted the growing flame out. Chester continued her story after a quick apology.
"She started forgetting things, where she put something, dates, she almost set the house on fire because she forgot she was cooking once, then it moved to people. Then one day I came home after gathering the herbs in our garden and...and she didn't know who I was. Just stared at me asked if she could help me with something, I was a complete stranger to her. I ran to the doctor in town, after he looked her over he said she had dementia..." She paused and put out her smoke in the ashtray on the bar top. "My aunt Olivia came over one day from Notice Island to take mom back with her, told me I should do what my heart wanted now since mom was going to be taken care of."
"So you left North Blue then? At 16?" Shakky asked, she picked up Chester's glass and mixed her something stronger noticing the younger female might need it.
The blond hummed, her hands tapping on the wood top before taking the full glass "Yea, I sold the house to my older friends in my village who were getting married. Figured I would take only the most important stuff, give them the rest and as soon as I could leave. Used some of the money I had from the house to get passage on a merchant ship leaving Swallow Island towards the edge of the North Blue sea. I had to get off and island hop for a while to make some more Beli, working at Bars and Inns, till I got to the Red Line and ended up in East Blue for a few years. I met some amazing people while I traveled there"
A fond nostalgic smile crept on her lips and she let out a laugh, her heart warm thinking of her friends. " Tagged along with a just starting out crew and met my best friend. He was a character, bit of a hot head but had a big heart and a serious brother complex. We stayed together til we hit the Grandline; by then he and his crew ended up being assimilated into a bigger crew under an amazing captain. When we went our separate ways I ended up joining a Thieves Guild and taking up contracts to make money and contacts. Started working in exchange for information and networking as I tried to make my way to Paradise...till I met this one pirate."
Chester laughed shaking her head fondly at the memory and took a drink of her alcohol. "He was an odd one, loved his sake and any chance to have a party he would take it. His crew was great, like a big family and always ribbed him in good fun."
Shakky smiled and poured her another drink, a new cig already in her hand having finished the last. "Oh? How did you meet this pirate, he seems to have left a great impression on you" She poured Rayleigh another as well and watched the smile grow on the young woman's face.
"Oh, he swooped in when I was having some issues with a handsy guy in a bar who wouldn't take a hint. I was about to knock his teeth out the here he comes; just walked over put his arm around my shoulders..." Chester let out a laugh and once again gestured to her height as she sat "Well he did it as best he could while I was sitting...and he said 'There you are lass, did you get lost? We started drinking without ya' and led me over to where his crew was sitting. This man acted like he knew me for years, all smiles and humor. It was awkward at first but his sharpshooter started picking on him, and he started whining to his first mate. I ended up having a lot of fun with them, left the bar with them when they invited me to continue the party on their ship. We partied all night, and when I woke up they asked if I wanted to sail with them."
"Sounds like a great crew, so did you travel with them?"
"Yes but not for long honestly, and sometimes I wish I took that idiots offer to stay but I had my mind made up to find my dad first. Maybe if I see him again after I get my answers and he asks me ill join his crew."
Rayleigh smiles thinking of his own Captain, it was a bittersweet smile but a smile none the less "So what's the name of this Captain"
"Shanks" Chester smile split her face wide, a truly happy smile. Shakky and Rayleigh shared a look of surprise and the laugh that bubbled out of the ex-first mate startled Chester for a moment.
"HAHAHAHAHA ol' Shanks huh? I'm not surprised he made you feel that way, Chester. He would be a good captain for you, kiddo." Rayleigh ruffled her hair, pride in his voice at the mention of the red-haired Captain.
"Hmm, like I said I didn't stay long with Shanks. They brought me halfway through Paradise with them on their way back to the New World. I wanted to go off on my own and so Shanks left me on an island not far from where I found this fruit. I continued my island hopping till I ended up here, and so here I am. Still leadless for the most part, and almost out of Beli so I can't leave yet"
"Sounds like an interesting journey you've had so far, and what do you plan to do from here? Since this is a neutral zone the Marines cant arrest you, but it's a great opportunity to get information if you know the right people" The older man motioned to his wife, Shakky blew a cloud of smoke above them looking at Chester with a critical eye. The blond stared back through her bangs, her eyes hopeful.
"Well, maybe we can help each other then. You can work for me running errands and getting supplies for the bar, and I'll help teach you how to get good information" The woman mused crossing her arms, she pointed a manicured finger at the girl with a serious expression "But you also need to train that ability of yours, you won't be able to survive in the New World as you are now. Pirates and Marines alike are stronger than the ones you probably have dealt with in the past, so.." She took a drag turning her eye to Rayleigh as he lifted his sake to his mouth "Rayleigh is going to help you train"
The man coughed and patted his chest with a fist. "Eh?" His eyes swept to the blond next to him who watched him with a determined but hopeful expression. He sighed and sent a side eye to his smug wife before relenting "I guess I can help you out, wouldn't want a young friend of Shanks to die out here after all." Chester grinned at him "But" His voice was serious as he stared her down "If you want to be strong, you have to train hard. To have the solid determination and will to learn so you can achieve your dream and protect those who become precious to you."
"I understand." Her face was determined and an easy smile slid back on his face, he nodded and turned back to his drink.
"Heh ok kid, we'll start tomorrow then"
"Oh by the way that's 100,000 beli per glass of sake, Chess-chan"
"EH? No Way! Shakky! NO DONT POUR SO MANY GLASSES! SHAKKY!"