The Library's cat-induced isolation had been ended. Several Agents had been stuck outside the Library while everybody else was busy being cats and doing cat things, but when the message went out that the Library was open again, they returned, most of them with captured Sues in tow.
Two people stepped out of one of the last Plotholes to arrive, Stephen and a blonde Sue with a Prohibitor around her ankle.
The Sue was walking under her own power. She was not bound in any way other than the Prohibitor.
"Well, I honestly never figured I'd ever come here," She said glumly. Stephen patted her on the back.
"Don't worry, Annie. I'll be sure to put in a good word for you for parole," He assured her. She smiled slightly.
Suddenly, a green shape dashed into the room, making a beeline for Stephen. It tackled him in the midsection at an incredibly high speed, knocking him against the wall.
"Mnkkkkkkk!" Lil' C squealed as it nuzzled against Stephen. Stephen laughed.
"Hey, there you are!" He said, pulling the young god off and hugging it. "Were you a good thing while I was gone? Huh? Were ya?"
Lil' C's tentacles drooped and its head fell. It started jabbering something in a small voice.
"What do you mean, I shouldn't believe what they tell me?" Stephen asked, conveniently explaining what Lil' C had just said to those listening who couldn't understand the Elder Tongue.
"It tried to eat some of us," Michael answered as he entered the room after Lil' C. He glanced at Annie, and the fact that she was not bound registered a second later. His hand flew to his sword reflexively.
Stephen quickly stepped between Annie and Michael. "Stephen, what are you doing? Don't let her escape!" Michael ordered.
"Michael, calm down! She's not going to run! Trust me!" Stephen assured Michael.
"Stephen, you do know who you're defending, right?" Michael asked, starting to draw his sword.
"Annalisa Andrea Annabeth Angelica Andromeda Anita Anisette Antoinette Anenome. Amenome. Anemone," Stephen answered, "And does it look like she's running?" Annie gave Michael a little wave from behind Stephen, trying her best to smile, but only making herself look even more frightened.
"And why are you trusting her?" Michael asked, still suspicious.
"I've been stuck with her for a few days. She's a nice girl, really," Stephen said.
"And he sucks at cards," Annie added amicably. Stephen sighed shamefully. Michael might make many muffins. Er, Michael was silent for a moment, his eyes glancing between the two.
"Alright, I'll trust your judgment," Michael said. He sheathed his sword, and clicked his fingers once. A darkling melted into existence in the nearby shadows.
"Yes, boss?" It said, lowering its head. Michael gestured to Annie.
"Take her to the Basement, please," Michael pointed at Stephen, "Stephen, I'd like to have a quick word with you." Stephen nodded, confused. The darkling loped through the shadows out of the room, not waiting for Annie to catch up.
"I'll talk to you later, Annie. And you might want to catch up with your guide," Stephen advised her. Annie nodded, and ran past Stephen after the darkling, being sure to give Michael a wide berth. She gave Stephen a quick wave as she left the room. As soon as she was gone, Michael visibly relaxed.
"Michael, as the responsible Agent for Annalisa Andrea Annabeth Angelica Andromeda Anita Anisette Antoinette Amenenomone, dammit I bit my tongue, I would like to recommend her for parole," Stephen said.
"I'll put that into consideration," Michael said.
"So, now that my third Level Four Sue is en route to the basement, I can do the interrogation, right?" Stephen asked, quickly changing the topic.
"Actually, no," Michael answered, "You won't be able to interrogate Vladimir."
In the history of the Library's time hosting the Society, there have been five screams that have been rated the most angered, the most loud.
This one got second place, being just slightly louder than Emotion Marcus after he stubbed his toe on a bookshelf (OH SWEET JESUS THE PAIN I NEVER IMAGINED THAT ANYTHING COULD HURT THIS BAD OH MY GOD IT HURTS), which knocked Adrian, after he had first discovered that Tyler was stealing his snacks (KAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHNN!), off the list. Of course, it still was incomparable to the current number one slot, which has the sole honor of actually having been heard in other universes: Ben, after Shirley had discovered the inherent weakness of the male crotch (KILL ME! KILL MEEEEEEEEEEEE!).
"We had a deal! I brought in the Sues, just like you said! Three, count 'em, THREE Level Four Sues! Fey Tale, Evelynn Lanseal, and now Annie Anememenome god dammit my tongue." Stephen started to rant, now standing toe to toe with Michael, whose sense of hearing had been dulled slightly. Thankfully, Stephen was shouting, so Michael was still able to hear him. "So what the hell do you MEAN I can't do the interrogation?"
"You didn't let me finish!" Michael shouted back. "What I was trying to say is that you don't have to do the interrogation!" He reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded up piece of paper, which he held out to Stephen. Stephen snatched it away from Michael and opened it up. It contained a long string of numbers.
"And… this is?" Stephen asked.
"Coordinates," Michael answered, "We found it tattooed to the underside of Vladimir's tongue."
"How did you…"
"Caught him trying to bite his tongue off and swallow it, probably trying to get rid of it. I don't think he wanted you to see it very much," Michael answered.
"So, what are the coordinates for?"
"It's for an exact location in a fandom. There haven't been any Sue energy readings from it for a long time, not since, um…" Michael paused, as if he had forgotten something. "Since, um…"
"It's… weird. I think there was a mission there once, but I can't remember…" Michael said, tapping his forehead. "Ah, forget it. Probably not important," He decided.
"So, what's the fandom?"
"One Piece," Michael answered.
If Michael had blinked at that moment, he would have missed Stephen's next few actions. Stephen's eyes had lit up, he had punched the coordinates into his Plothole Generator, tossed Lil' C at Michael, said "Okay I'll be back soon take care of Lil' C while I'm gone 'kay thanks bye," in rapid-fire speech, opened up a Plothole, and bounded through it, all in the space of about a second.
Michael stood in a daze for a moment. "I… but… that… what?" He looked down at the adorable little terror in his hands. Lil' C made a sound like a cross between a meow and an elephant with a toothache.
Michael sized up his priorities. Taking care of Lil' C, or finally going on that picnic with Claire that they'd been planning to have before they were turned into cats.
When his priorities were straightened so that taking care of the god wearing a diaper was the least of his concerns, a thought popped into his mind.
Fact: Michael and Claire's picnic was not going to be in the Library.
Fact: There was no chance that Lil' C was coming with them.
Fact: He'd wanted to let Combee make some friends in her age group. Lil' C was… close enough.
Fact: The amounts of chaos that a baby god and a hyperactive bee-type-thing could possibly bring about in the Library would be hilarious.
These were facts. Science had proved them.
Michael released Combee from her Pokéball, and was not budged by the tackle that he received a moment later.
"Daddy daddy daddy daddy you'll never guess what I just did I was just in my ball and it was dark so I started singing and it was still dark and I started having a race with myself and it was still kinda dark and I think the race was a tie and then you let me out and then I tackled you and ooh!" Combee's miserable attention span had already shifted targets. She started to buzz around Lil' C at Michael's feet, pestering it with questions.
"Hey hey hey hey hey who're you what's your name why are you wearing a Tentacool on your face I tried to wear a Tentacool like a hat once and then Daddy started screaming and he took my hat and he said that my hat was trying to eat me but I don't think so I think my hat was just being friendly," Combee took a deep breath, "Is your hat trying to eat you?"
"Oh hi daddy when did you get there?"
"Combee, I have an important job for you to do," Michael said, "Daddy and Mommy are going to go have a…" He stopped himself from saying 'picnic'; if he said that, Combee would want to come along, "…Boring grown-up party, and we need you to be a big girl and show Lil' C…"
"...Show Lil' C around the Library. Can you handle that?"
There was a moment of silence.
"You know what? Never mind. You two have fun, and I'll be back in a few hours," Michael said, backing out of the room. In a moment, Combee's attention was going to be centered on Lil' C, and Michael did not want to be around when that happened.
Combee was silent for a moment, processing this new information. Her thought process went like this:
Daddy is leaving - new friend - this friend has fingers - no parental supervision - fingerpaint.
Combee has a weird thought process.
All three of Combee's faces lit up and she turned on Lil' C. "We're gonna have so much fun! We can do fingerpainting and go on adventures and fingerpaint and steal grumpy-cat-man's candy and fingerpaint and I'VE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO DO FINGERPAINTING BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE ANY FINGERS BUT YOU HAVE FINGERS SO WE CAN DO FINGERPAINTING!" She squealed, place-where-a-nose-should-be to place-where-a-nose-should-be with Lil' C.
Lil' C, the Napping Lil' Lord of Lil' R'yleh (which currently existed under Stephen's bed), decided to take a step away from the crazy bee-thing.
Stephen shot up after the salt water splashed in his face, coughing madly. "What the fu-?"
He started coughing again, spitting up more saltwater onto the sand beneath him.
"Up an' at 'em, asshat. Brand new day, sun is shining, birds are singing, and there's a new hole in my boat," a decidedly unhappy sounding voice announced. Stephen turned around. Standing behind him was a man, a little older than Stephen, with gray-blue hair, green eyes, wearing simple clothing, and a now empty bucket in his hands. And he didn't look very happy.
"Where am I?" Stephen asked as soon as he stopped coughing. He looked at his surroundings. It was a little spit of an island, completely covered in sand. The only other thing in sight besides the ocean was a large double-masted boat off the shore and a rowboat not that far away on the beach.
"Not a clue, not important. What is important is that there's a hole in my boat."
"There's a what in your boat?" Stephen asked.
"A hole. A rather sizable hole that you made in my deck," The man said, a vein popping on his forehead.
"I did what?" Stephen said. He could remember going through the Plothole, and the next thing he knew, there was a bucketful of salt water in his face.
The man's angry vein grew larger. "You fell out of the sky onto my boat, waking me from a lovely afternoon nap, shouted 'we are on the cruuuuuiiiise' or some shit like that, then started screaming and flailing about until you punched a hole in my deck. Remember that?"
Stephen paused. Things were starting to come back, slowly. He had landed on the deck of a boat, but then things got… bluzzy. Kinda blurry, kinda fuzzy. The boat had just started to… melt. The wood turned into thick flesh, stretching, growing stocky, fat-covered arms and legs, and then the pelican figurehead had turned into a regular person's head, using only the loosest possible definition of 'regular', adorned with a handlebar mustache and not much else and then all aboard the fred express choo choo all aboard the fred express choo choo and then the folds of thick blubber drew him in choo choo and ate him up choo choo and there were things terrible choo choo things choo choo choo choo choo
"CHOO CHOO!" Stephen screamed abruptly. The strange man jumped back, dropping the bucket in his hands.
"What the hell?"
"CHOO CHOO! CHOO CHOO!" Stephen kept on screaming.
"Stop! Stop that!" The man ordered. Stephen closed his mouth.
"Choo choo," He said tamely. The strange man sighed. Stephen blinked at him. "What were we talking about?"
"You're every bit as mad as he said," The man lamented, rubbing his eyes. "You are Stephen, right?"
"Yeah, that's me. Who are you? And how do you know my name?"
"Oh, right. Forgot to introduce myself. Allen Mainchor, merchant and transporter, at your service," Allen said. "Although, considering what what's-his-face paid me to do, you probably won't like the service I'm about to offer."
"Who paid you to do what?" Stephen asked. He didn't know who this guy was; he definitely wasn't a canon character, so he was probably an original character that somebody had written and then forgotten about.
Allen shrugged. "He never told me his name. I met him in Roguetown a few weeks back. Looked just like you. Kinda an asshole, and more'n a little weird, but the money was good, so I took the job."
"So what was the job?" Stephen asked, certain that the man was talking about Nameless.
"He told me to weigh anchor in a certain location in the middle of the ocean and wait for you to show up. Of course, I assumed that you'd show up by boat. Silly me, I suppose."
"What was the job?" Stephen asked, irritated that Allen had avoided the question twice.
"Oh. He told me to fight you," Allen said casually. "So, let's get started."
Too late. Allen blurred in the air and vanished. A second later, Stephen found himself face down in the sand, the back of his head in pain from an unseen attack.
While Stephen is getting his ass kicked (that's new), let's take this opportunity to explain this fandom. The world of One Piece is covered in water, separated into four oceans by the Red Line, an impassable range of mountains on the y-axis, and the Grand Line, an incredibly dangerous section of the sea that wraps around the world on the x-axis. At the moment, Stephen is in East Blue, the northeast sea. East Blue is where the plot started, as a plucky, stretchy idiot named Monkey D. Luffy set out with his pirate crew (made up of Roronoa Zoro, the swordsman who uses three katanas, Nami, the genius navigator and thief, Usopp, sharpshooter and bad liar, and Sanji, expert cook and extreme womanizer. It was a small crew, but it'd get bigger) to travel to the end of the Grand Line, claim the titular One Piece, the massive treasure left behind by the legendary Pirate King, Gold Roger, and become the new Pirate King. Now, back to the plot.
"Now put your left hand down… no, my left. No, that's your left. The other left. Okay. Now, use fingers one and three and make wavy lines… too wavy! Too wavy! Okay, okay, problem-time averted. Okay, next…" Combee paused. Lil' C's hand hovered over the impromptu canvas. Combee sighed.
"Bored now," She decided. It was quite impressive: a single activity had managed to keep her attention for at least half an hour. Lil' C wiped its paint-covered hand on the ground, before looking at its work. Combee took a quick look at it.
"Aw, man, I didn't tell you to draw that!" She whined. The canvas was almost completely black, with blobs of dark purples and greens set throughout it, and a thousand pairs of tiny eyes, all seeming to meet the gaze of the beholder, and there were bones. Human bones.
"…It's a bunny?" Combee guessed. Lil' C shook its head.
"Are you sure? Cuz I'm seeing a bunny."
There was a soft thwack. Lil' C and Combee both looked to see what it was that made the sound. Sitting on the floor, not that far from the door, was a green, decaying hand with a piece of string tied to its thumb leading out the door. Lil' C's eyes lit up and it started to salivate.
Zombie hands. Lil' C loved zombie hands. Without thinking about where this treat had come from, Lil' C bounded forward, hooting in joy. It pounced on the hand, which scooted out of the way just in time. Lil' C lunged at it again, only for the same thing to happen. The hand vanished out the door, Lil' C streaking after it.
"Hey, are we playing tag? WAIT! You din't tell me who was 'it'!" Combee complained, giving chase.
Okay, sorry. My fault. Wrong plot. Let's try again.
Stephen reeled back from another punch that he couldn't see, collapsing onto the sand again.
"I am completely confused right now," Stephen said, spitting out a mouthful of sand. "What is happening? Why are we fighting? And most of all, where the hell did you go?"
"Can I answer?" Allen said from directly behind Stephen. By the time Stephen had swung his arm, however, he was gone.
"Number one!" Two nearly simultaneous hits to both sides of Stephen's face. "You're getting your ass kicked!" A knee to the back, then an elbow to the stomach. Allen stood in front of Stephen again, barely looking winded.
"Number two! We're fighting because that's what I'm being paid to do!" A kick in the chest, sending Stephen reeling backwards.
"Number three!" Palm to the back of the head. Punch to the gut. Uppercut to the chin. A finishing kick to the face, and Stephen dropped to the sand. Allen stood over him again. "I'm right here."
"I'd like you to know… I hate you so much."
"I can live with that," Allen said indifferently. Stephen forced himself up, the world seeming to spin around him.
"Why don't you just stay down?" Allen asked. He vanished again, throwing up sand where he had been standing. The trail of flying sand circled around Stephen at lightning fast speeds. The circle tightened rapidly, and then the attacking began. Dozens of hits from all sides, nearly simultaneously. If Stephen was hit back by a punch, he fell straight into a kick. After almost a full minute of pure punishment, Allen reappeared in front of Stephen, stood in front of the careening young man for a moment before slamming his fist into Stephen's gut, sending him back down to the sand.
"You can't beat the Zoom Zoom Fruit," Allen said, dusting off his hands. He didn't really care that eating the accursed fruit had taken away his ability to swim (which could be a considerable handicap considering the entire planet was almost completely covered in water), believing that the inhuman speed it had given him was worth the sacrifice.
Now, Stephen lay on the sand, covered in bruises and bleeding from several places.
It was a miracle he was still conscious.
"Not… fair," Stephen groaned. He tried to force himself up on his forearms, every part of his body telling him that it wasn't possible to stand up. Painfully.
"You're still getting up? Man, you? You're just a glutton for punishment, you know that?" Allen said. Stephen was on his knees now, trying not to fall over.
"Come on, come on, you're almost…" Allen said, clapping his hands like Stephen was a small child taking its first steps.
Allen never saw it coming. A fist to the face, nearly giving him whiplash and sending him flying across the islet. Stephen was standing up again, his fist still outstretched from striking Allen, the brim of his hat covering his eyes.
"NOT… FUCKING… FAIR!" Stephen screamed at the sky.
"I've got you now, you wascawy wabbit!" Gareth sang as he gathered up the net Lil' C was tangled up in.
"Is that really necessary?" Red asked, reclaiming the string she had used for the devious trap they had sprung. Lil' C was crying in the net, trying to poke its little arms through the net to grab the rotten hand just out of its reach.
"Yeah, actually. Tash told me that I had to make an Elmer Fudd joke at least once," Gareth said, slinging the net over his shoulder. "Now let's get back to the others."
"Alright, alright," Red said, shifting back to her cat form and following Gareth.
Suddenly, a wild Combee appeared in their path.
"HI!" She said cheerfully. Gareth and Red nearly jumped out of their skins. "Whatcha doin'?"
"Um… nothing?" Gareth suggested. Combee, being unable to shake her head due to the lack of a neck, shook her entire body.
"It looks like we're playing capture-the-flag! And what's-his-face is the flag, right?" She asked. Lil' C screamed something.
"Look, Combee, we're kind of in the middle of something here, so if you could just…"
Gareth didn't get to finish what he was saying.
COMBEE used SWIFT.
Dozens of bright star-shaped projectiles hit Gareth all over his body.
"NOBODY TAKES THE FLAG ON MY WATCH! WAAAAAAAGGGHHHH!" Combee wailed, and she charged straight at the duo.
The assembled WARGs stared, bewildered, at the two members standing in front of them. Gareth and Red, who was in her human form, sporting bruises all over their bodies.
"…What did you say happened?" Tash asked, convinced that she had misheard the two.
"I said, we ran into a… complication," Gareth repeated.
"What kind of 'complication'?" Alice asked.
"…There were fifty of 'em. I swear," Gareth said.
Tash sighed, already seeing where this was going. "What happened?"
"Um… Combee happened," Red said. The other WARGs just blinked at them.
"…Combee. As in Michael's Combee," Dave said.
"The same Combee that once tried to fight a doorknob."
"The one that can't count to three without getting distracted."
"That's the one."
"We have established that."
"Combee beat the crap out of you. Combee."
"She thought we were playing Capture the Flag and that Lil' C was the flag," Red said.
"That… that's actually kind of sad," Louise admitted.
"We know," Red and Gareth said.
"How on earth did Combee get the jump on you?"
"We're still trying to figure that one out. For now, though, we're going to need a new plan," Gareth said, trying to change the subject away from their no-holds barred butt-whoopin'.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, we're not done yet!" Dave laughed. "You got beaten up by Comb-"
"Combee is level eighty-three," Asuka noted from her place on the ground next to Dave.
The WARGs fell silent.
"Eighty… three," Tash repeated.
"From what she told me, she got into Michael's bags one day. She seemed rather proud of the fact that she ate every piece of 'candy' she found in it, which included several dozen Rare Candies, nutrients, and I believe an Everstone that she mistook for a piece of rock candy," Asuka explained, licking the back of her paw.
"So, if we want to get at our target, we have to deal with a hyperactive bee on steroids," Louise said, burying her face in her hands.
"I'm… still not sure what our target is," Robert noted. He'd been dragged to the meeting by Alice, who was intent on indoctrinating him as a WARG.
"MUSIC!" Tash shouted. Robert jumped out of his chair as 'Ride of the Valkyries' started playing from out of nowhere. Tash stood up, her head held high.
"We… are the WARGS! The least sane group of gamers you'll ever meet! And what is our mascot?"
"Cthulhu!" Came the response.
"And why is it our mascot?"
"Because it is cute in its own way!"
"And where is our Cthulhu plushie?"
The WARGS looked at Red. She raised her hands defensively. "I said I was sorry."
"NEVERTHELESS! WHAT IS OUR MISSION?"
"CAPTURE LIL' C BEFORE STEPHEN GETS BACK AND TRIES TO STOP US!"
"Couldn't you just… I don't know, ask him to let you borrow Lil' C?"
"Borrow?" Came the response.
"Oh. Oh, of course. Silly me," Robert said, covering his face.
'This… this is literally incapable of ending well. For all parties involved. Especially me,' He thought as the WARGS started to rally themselves for their next raid.
Allen Mainchor was a simple man. He'd wanted to join the Marines, once upon a time, but decided against it, instead opening up a transport company in East Blue. Besides the Devil Fruit-granted inhuman speed, he was a simple man. That really has to be stressed.
Because right now, he was getting the stuffing beaten out of him.
"NOT FAIR! NOT FAIR, NOT FAIR, NOT FAIR!" Stephen kept screaming, now swinging Allen through the air by his ankle. He slammed Allen to the ground, then picked him up by the collar and stared him in the face with eyes that didn't belong on a teenage boy. They were empty, devoid of all emotion but an all-encompassing rage.
"EVERY TIME! EVERY SINGLE TIME! ALWAYS WEAKER! ALWAYS A PUNCHING BAG! EVERY SINGLE TIME!" He screamed. Allen, who was at the moment flirting with unconsciousness, who was a bit of a bitch, couldn't really hear him.
"NOT ANYMORE!" And he threw Allen to the ground, preparing to deliver a crushing punch to the skull. Stephen didn't think about losing his only lead on Nameless. He was only holding onto consciousness by sheer anger.
Allen rolled away, narrowly avoiding the killing blow. He used the momentum to stand back up, hoping to put as much distance between himself and the berserk Stephen as possible. He didn't really have to worry much, though. Stephen was still punching the place where Allen's head had been, shouting obscenities and frothing at the mouth. It was hardly Stephen anymore. It was just an animal, running only on adrenaline.
Allen stood, panting heavily and staring at the berserker. After a few moments, his breathing slowed down, but Stephen was still attacking the sand with the same fury. Allen glanced down at his feet. There was the bucket that he'd used to wake Stephen up. He picked it up, carrying it over to the water and filling it halfway. Still carrying the bucket of water, he stood next to Stephen, who was still punching the ground like mad. He tapped Stephen with his foot, hopping back when he lashed out. Stephen lunged at Allen, snarling madly.
Allen calmly threw the water in Stephen's face.
Stephen recoiled, spluttering madly. He brought his hands to his face, wiping the water out of his eyes.
"What the hell?" He coughed out.
"You calm now?" Allen asked sarcastically.
"Wait, what happened? Weren't you just… wasn't I just… what?" Stephen stammered. He looked around, finally noticing how battered up Allen was.
"Did I do tha-"
Allen threw the bucket at his head.
"Get ready. I'm giving you three seconds to catch your breath, then I'll start fighting again," Allen said.
"Hold on, I'm still confused…"
Then, one of the last things Stephen or Allen would have expected to happen happened.
The island started to move, suddenly bucking upwards. Stephen and Allen lost their balance, shifting their feet to stay standing as the island continued to shake.
"What's happening?" Allen shouted.
"An earthquake?" Stephen suggested.
"On an island this small?" Allen responded.
"Hey, you never know," Stephen said. The island stopped moving, and the sand finally stopped moving. Stephen and Allen were quiet.
"Is it over?" Stephen asked.
In answer, dozens of massive gray tentacles shot out of the water all around the island as an angry, muffled roar filled the air.
"…Truce?" Allen asked. Stephen nodded.
"I'd just like to make it known that I think this is stupid. Literally, just completely stupid," Robert said again. He'd made that observation several times over the past few minutes, but the WARGS ignored him every time, too busy gathering every piece of candy they could find in the Library.
They had already hit about every last one of Adrian's caches (including the one in the Candy Land box that he thought was so clever), shaken Tyler down (no, literally. They just grabbed him by the ankles, held his mouth open, and shook out the contents of his bottomless stomach), and raided the kitchens. Their efforts had resulted in a ten pound bag of candy that they hoped would distract Combee long enough for them to swipe Lil' C.
"Is everyone ready?" Tash asked the WARGS standing around the door to the room Combee and Lil' C were holed up in. Combee wasn't exactly good at covering her tracks; they'd just followed the trail of honey and bits of zombie flesh.
"LEEEROOOY!" Gareth screamed, kicking down the door and running into the room, the bag of candy held above his head. He only ran in about three feet; their aim was diplomacy, not attack. The WARGS filed into the room after him. Tash smacked him on the back of the head.
"I wanted to do that."
"So…" A voice that was trying to be gravelly but failing miserably said.
"Why are the lights out?"
"Why didn't we notice that when we came in?"
"Aww, guys!" Combee's voice whined. "I'm tryin' to be dramatic!"
"Sorry, sweetie. Continue," Tash said.
"Okie-dokie!" Combee cleared her throat. "So… you think you can just waltz right in here and steal the flag right out from under my not-a-nose, do you? Well, I hate to have to tell you, but…" The lights clicked on, revealing Combee wearing a fedora and three pairs of sunglasses. "You're dead wrong."
She was also facing the wrong door.
"Combee? Sweetie? We're over here," Tash said after a moment of silence.
"Huh?" Combee said, turning to face the WARGS. It was at that moment that they noticed that the 'sunglasses' she was wearing were made out of black construction paper taped to her faces. Combee pouted when she realized what she'd done wrong.
"Aww! You guys were supposed to come out of that door! Can I get a do-over?" Combee pleaded, her eyes dampening the paper sunglasses.
"…Sorry, dumpling, but no. The thing is, we came here to talk to you about our game of… capture the flag. See, we're willing to offer this bag of candy…"
"Okay!" Combee said, zipping over and grabbing the bag from Gareth before zipping back to her original position, already rummaging through the bag.
"…That was easy," Louise noted.
"Not complaining. Let's just grab Lil' C and get back to… our…" Tash paused, realizing that the room was devoid of a certain Junior God. "…Combee? Where's Lil' C?" She asked politely. Combee looked up from the bag, a lollipop in each of her mouths.
The only sound in the room was Robert facepalming.
"…Lil' C. Small, green, has tentacles…" Tash said, hoping to jog Combee's memory.
"Can you be a bit more specific?" Combee asked.
"Um, it wears a diaper?"
"Oh, that guy!" Combee realized. "Yeah, he wandered off not long ago. Not sure where he went."
"Didn't you think that Lil' C was the flag?"
"Oh, for the love of…"
"Combee, why did Lil' C just wander off?" Tash asked, interrupting Robert's continued facepalming.
"I think he saw stick-lady an' started following her," Combee said after a moment of thought. "Welp, all this candy isn't gonna eat itself! Bye bye!" And she flew past the WARGS and out of the room, humming to herself.
"Please tell me that 'stick-lady' isn't who I think it is," Dave moaned.
"How are we supposed to get Lil' C now?" Alice grumbled.
"We're not," Tash said. "The mission's over. We failed. We're not risking our lives trying to get Lil' C from her."
"Why do you think she'd automatically try to kill us?" Gareth asked.
"Well, she probably heard you scream 'Leeroy', and I'll bet she won't be happy about that," Tash said.
"So… now what?" Robert asked.
"Now, we go to the next item on our agenda. What we do best," Tash said, pulling out a deck of cards. "We play a children's card game."
"So, you landed us on a Sea King?" Stephen said, jumping to the side as another tentacle slammed on the beach where he had been standing. The fact that the island must have been a Sea King, one of the enormous monsters that inhabited the sea, was pretty much the only explanation for what was happening. Granted, it wasn't exactly like the average Sea King; most were more like giant sea serpents in all shapes, sizes, and colors.
"How was I supposed to know? It looked like an island!" Allen responded, dodging the tentacles like it was the easiest thing in the world. "Hell, you're the one who woke it up!"
"How is it my fault?"
"Well, I'm guessing that giant sea monsters don't take kindly to being repeatedly punched in their sleep!"
"I punched it?"
"Is going nuts and then forgetting about it a habit of yours or something?"
"Can we talk about this later? Like, when we're off the island that's trying to kill us?"
"Fine, fine," Allen said. "Let's just get to my boat and get out of here."
"Good plan, except…" Stephen pointed at Allen's boat, "The fact that I apparently put a hole in it is about to become a smaller problem by comparison."
"What're you talking…" Allen looked at his boat. Several tentacles had wrapped themselves around it, and they were starting to squeeze. With a loud crack, the ship split in half and was dragged down into the sea by the tentacles. Allen just stared, his jaw dropped.
"My… my boat."
"Got another plan?"
"My beautiful, beautiful boat."
"Oh, come on, now?"
"I… I loved that boat," Allen muttered. Still shell-shocked, he easily sidestepped another tentacle.
"…Wait. Don't snap out of it yet. I've been waiting for so long for a chance to do this," Stephen said, making his way to where Allen was standing. He cleared his throat.
"LET'S SEE YA GRIT THOSE TEETH!" Stephen shouted, pulling his fist back to strike Allen.
Allen moved his head slightly, letting Stephen's fist fly past.
"I… I don't even care about this anymore," Allen said, walking past Stephen with a vacant expression on his face. Another tentacle tried to hit him, but he avoided it without a care in the world.
"Wait, where're you going?"
"I… am going to take my rowboat, get back to civilization, and then buy a new boat. With cannons. Lots and lots of cannons. And then, I'm going to come back here, and blow this stupid Sea King out of the water," Allen answered.
"But what about the fight?" Stephen asked.
"I don't care. I'm not being paid enough for this. You win. Congratulations," Allen said, dodging another tentacle.
"Well, I can live with that," Stephen said, kicking away a tentacle. "But how are you planning to get off the island in that?" He asked, pointing at the rowboat. Allen stopped walking, as if he had been struck by a sudden thought.
Stephen was right. The odds were slim that this Sea King would just let them go. All it would take was one hit to the rowboat and Allen would be sent overboard. As a Devil Fruit user, Allen would be completely incapacitated in the ocean, unable to move or even float. He'd just sink straight to the bottom.
"…You're going to help me," Allen said, turning to face Stephen with a glint in his eye.
"What? Why?" Stephen asked incredulously.
"Two reasons: One, your emo-looking buddy told me to tell you something if you won our fight. Help me get away from this thing…" He flashed out of the way of two more tentacles attacking at the same time. "…And I'll tell you."
"But you said I already won the fight!"
"Changed my mind. And two…" Allen pulled out a gun-like object. "He told me to take this from you, but I have no idea what it is. Is it important?" He asked, a triumphant smirk on his face.
"Oh, come on."
"It's yours if you help me out," Allen said.
"It's already mine," Stephen growled. "Fine. I'll draw this thing's attention as long as I can. You'd better not be lying to me, though," He warned, moving out of the way of another tentacle. Instead of just letting it slip away, however, Stephen grabbed onto it, digging his fingers into it and planting his feet in the sand. There was a roar of pain, shaking the island yet again. Stephen's captive tried to escape his grasp, but could neither get away or pull him into the water. All the tentacles started to focus on Stephen, reaching out for him all at once.
"Go! Now!" Stephen shouted. Allen complied, shoving his rowboat into the water and hopping into it, never getting his feet wet. He started to row madly away, watching Stephen to see what he would do.
As the tentacles were bearing down on him, Stephen pulled his fingers out of his captive, dashing away before the others hit him. The tentacles all piled on top of one another where Stephen had been standing. Stephen turned back to the mass of tentacles, moving as fast as he could and jumping on top of it. He grabbed the ends of two tentacles, and quickly tied them together. When that was done, he grabbed other tentacles and started to tangle them up. The tentacles that were pulled back before he could grab them returned quickly, as the Sea King again tried to hit him, not realizing what was going on. It was over in minutes. Stephen stood proudly on top of the squirming mass of tied up tentacles, his arms crossed and a smirk on his face. To add insult to injury, he had tied the tentacles in a bow at the very top.
"I CHANGE CTHULHU'S DIAPER!" He shouted. "THIS IS MINOR LEAGUE, BITCH!" With that, he jumped off the giant knot straight into the water, curling up into a cannonball as he did so. He swam over to Allen's rowboat, treading water next to it as he surveyed his handiwork.
There was a deep roar of annoyance as the island started to rise up out of the water. Stephen and Allen watched, dumbfounded, as a massive head breached the water just off the island, staring straight at them with its enormous eyes. Stephen and Allen both reacted to it in the same way.
The giant camel head lowed at them, let a glob of spit fly (which barely missed them), and then receded back into the water. The island, which was actually the camel-squid-thing's hump, followed it, vanishing from sight.
"That was… that was something, alright," Allen admitted.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the mind of Eiichiro Oda," Stephen said to nobody in particular.
"Nothing. Now, I believe you have something for me?" Stephen said, looking at Allen expectantly. Allen handed him the Plothole Generator.
"And?" Stephen said, cupping a hand around his ear.
Allen sighed. "'I'll meet you on the planet Pandora', is what he said."
"…Is that it?"
"Yeah. No idea what it means, but he said you would understand."
"Yeah, I get it," Stephen said, adjusting the settings on his Plothole Generator.
"What is that thing for, anyway?"
"You wouldn't understand. It does… stuff," Stephen said. "I've gotta go. Thanks for the tip." With that, he took a deep breath, prayed that Plothole Generators were waterproof, and dove under the water.
"How are you planning to…" Allen started to ask, but Stephen never resurfaced.
"Damn, that guy was weird," Allen decided, digging his oars into the water and starting to stroke.
It was a long way back to Roguetown.
Tom whistled to himself as he walked through the halls of the Library, a rare book on archaeology he had just found held under his arm. Nothing was going to stop him from getting back to his room and reading it. Nothing. Not even suddenly being drenched by the appearance of a Plothole that had been opened underwater.
Tom chastised himself for having such specific thoughts and tried to guard the book from what was about to happen.
A Plothole opened directly above him, instantly pouring out a huge amount of salt water and a single Agent. Tom and the book were drenched and then hit by falling Stephen.
"Well, whaddaya know! These things are waterproof!" Stephen marveled when he had regained his composure, looking at his Plothole Generator proudly. A second later, it sparked, fizzled, and died. Stephen shook it slightly, scowling when it produced a sloshing sound. "Okay, mostly waterproof."
"…Dammit, Stephen," Tom cried, flopping through the wet pages of his book. "Just… dammit."
"IRVIIIING!" came a loud screech. Tom and Stephen both paled when they recognized the voice. Tom, who had been trapped underneath Stephen, promptly vanished, moving away from the scene at speeds that would make Tash jealous. Stephen could only sit there as Shirley seemingly materialized nearby.
"Is this yours?" She spat, pointing to the Junior God hanging onto her hand. Lil' C cooed.
"…Yes?" Stephen said. Shirley promptly picked up Lil' C and threw it at him.
"Tell the damn thing to stop following me," She threatened before stomping off. Lil' C fought to try and get out of Stephen's arms, not wanting to be separated from Shirley for some reason.
"Aw, it thinks you're its mama!" Stephen realized. Shirley stopped dead.
"Say that again and you die."
"We're going to be great parents, sweetie…" Stephen continued, voice dripping with false enthusiasm. Shirley growled at him and held up a small reddish lump.
"Do you know what this is?" She asked. Stephen dropped the act, shaking his head.
"Neither do I," Shirley admitted. "I think it might be your pancreas, but I have no clue." She tossed it to him. "You'd better hope somebody knows what it is." And she was gone, leaving Stephen holding their only child and one of his internal organs.
Stephen lifted his shirt, looking over his stomach for any wounds. Nothing. Not even a scar.
"How did she do that?" He asked before passing out.
When Stephen woke up, he was greeted by a sight that had become distressingly familiar: the ceiling of the infirmary.
"How long was I out?" He groaned.
"Not long. Just a few hours," Valerie answered. She sat at her desk, leafing through a book of anatomy.
"What was it that Shirley pulled out?"
"To tell the truth, we have no idea," Valerie answered, "So we just taped it onto your stomach and called it a day."
"…You are the best doctor ever," Stephen said dryly. He sat up on his elbows, experimentally moving his legs to make sure they still worked. When he discovered that they did, he swung his legs over the side of the bed, standing up.
"I wouldn't try walking if I were you," Valerie said, not even looking at him.
"Why?" Stephen asked, trying to take a step forwards. He fell flat on his face.
"Need a hand?"
"No, I… I think I've got it," Stephen answered, slowly standing up again. He ended up losing his balance and plopping back down on the bed.
"You're still going to need a few days to recuperate," Valerie said.
"How many days?"
"Not sure. Why?"
"Because I need to finally meet Nameless again," Stephen answered. "On Pandora."
"A paralyzed hero on Pandora, huh," Valerie chuckled. "Figures."
Stephen only smirked.