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The Thundering Gusto docked a mile or so off the shore of the island shrouded in white smoke which appeared for all the world to be a cloud of mist. Oliver grinned as his far beyond human sight picked out the three night watchmen atop the high dark stone wall of the World Government's most secure insane asylum, which was effectively a fortress. He raised a hand with three musket balls in it. He grinned and they rose to float above his palm before casually gliding through the air towards the three sentries. A few moments later, they hovered along behind the sentries, following through the air silently.
Then Oliver whispered, "Accelerator tunnel Mach 1." The musket balls suddenly shot through the skulls of the sentries at the speed of sound, their progress accelerated by the power of Oliver's Tik-Tik abilities. Oliver caught them as they slowed back to their casual drift a few feet outside the accelerator tunnel, which while only a few inches long could still provide devastating results, as would have been proven by the almost simultaneous thuds of the now dead sentries had Oliver not stopped time and caught them.
He grinned over his shoulder at Kuina and Ryori and jerked his head towards the stairs. They nodded and the three of them headed for the stairs. They were being quiet because Oliver wasn't using his Tik-Tik abilities to stop time. They were all three very visible, and while Oliver knew they could have easily stormed the Asylum and burned it to the ground, he wanted a quiet grab. All the better to unnerve the Marines he thought with a smile as he dissolved into a puff of wind and slit the throat of the sentry coming up the stairs as Kuina and Ryori entered the staircase.
He rematerialized at the bottom of the stairs and peered around the corner. He motioned for Kuina and Ryori to wait at the bottom of the stairs and dissolved into wind again before ghosting down the corridor as a barely noticeable stirring of air hunting for further sentries. A surveillance transponder snail sighed contentedly as Oliver brushed past it, then yawned and fell promptly asleep as Oliver gently gassed it with the power of his Cackle-Form's Death Smoke. Normally Oliver's Death Smoke would kill or at least leave a victim on the brink of death after a mere moment of exposure. Oliver liked animals though, especially small harmless ones, and instead simply left the little snail comatose.
He drafted through the entire facility, searching for the man he had come to spring from the asylum and rematerializing to beckon Kuina and Ryori forward after dealing with any surveillance in the corridors. After a few moments they found him. Oliver grinned and rapped on the bars, "Hey Chifu. You awake in there?"
Kuina and Ryori started slightly as a truly wild looking man flew out of the darkness at the back of the cell and flattened himself against the bars, his eyes bulging and his grin massive, "Orchard! Is that you?" Oliver smiled, "It is indeed. I told you I'd spring you." The wild man, Chifu's grin broadened, "Yes you did! How wonderful of you to remember me!" Oliver smiled, "You're kinda hard to forget my friend." Chifu laughed, "Thanks! But enough pleasantries, its stunk in here for so long I'm about to get used to the smell. Could you please let me out?" Oliver grinned and stepped back, "Of course." He waved a hand and the thick metal door crumpled.
Out of the cell sprang Chifu, wrapped in a straightjacket. The number on his straight jacket was 0001. One of Oliver's knives flashed and the sleeves of Chifu's straightjacket were severed so that he could move. Oliver grinned, "Brought ya something." He reached into his coat and pulled out an umbrella and a black fedora. "My hat and umbrella!" Chifu exclaimed excitedly as Oliver handed them to him. He closed his eyes and bowed his head as he placed the hat on his head.
Before he opened them back he twirled the umbrella in his hand around him like a pair of nun-chucks with incredible speed and skill before setting the tip on the ground with a smile. As he raised his head, a cunning grin on his face, it was almost as though he had become an entirely different person. The wild grin and crazy eyes had become the cool calculating features of a cold blooded assassin, and the wild spark in his eye had become a cold vicious glint.
He exhaled a slightly raspy breath and said in a voice as frightening as his expression, "Good to be back. Thank you my friend. This place was really starting to make me crazy." "Good to have you back Chifu. I'm gathering a crew. You in?" The smile on Chifu's face grew, "Sounds like fun." An alarm suddenly began to wail and Chifu closed his eyes, beginning to chuckle. It was a terrifying sound that made the hairs on the back of Kuina and Ryori's necks stand on end as Chifu opened his eyes, "Party time."
Huge iron plates slammed down over the cell doors as the siren wailed. Anyone inside the cells would have been trapped. A door slammed open at the end of the corridor and prison guards rushed through, rifles in hand. Chifu bowed his head and tucked his arms close before leaping backwards towards them. In an instant he was upon them, dissolving into a cyclone of furious motion, his umbrella lashing out almost too fast to see as he systematically dismantled the crowd of guards. The tip of his umbrella was revealed to be remarkably sharp as the deep stab wounds in several of the guards attested.
He continued to advance down the corridor, guards falling with his every step. One guard, half buried beneath his fallen comrades activated a transponder snail watch, "Control! Chifu's loose! AAAH!" Oliver brought his foot down on the guard's forearm so hard it snapped like a twig. Oliver crouched and lifted the transponder snail watch, "This is Captain Orchard Gray of the Orchard Pirates. We've come to retrieve our gunner. Chifu's coming with us. Keep your men out of our way if you want them to see dawn."
The man on the other end of the link in the control room replied, "You'll never leave this place alive!" "We'll see about that," Oliver replied. He stood and activated his own transponder snail, "Kuma! Bring down the front gate and clear us a path." "You got it," Kuma replied. A moment later there was a thunderous crash as Kuma knocked the huge front gate from its hinges. Oliver grinned as he picked his way down the staircase, Kuina and Ryori on his heels as they followed Chifu's trail of carnage through the asylum towards the front gate.
When they reached the courtyard, they found Kuma and Chifu engaging a massive crowd of guards. Control had obviously not heeded Oliver's warning and Kuma and Chifu were both busily slaughtering the guards. Chifu was certainly fighting with more lethal intent, as Oliver watched he saw that every one of Chifu's lightning quick strikes was a surgically precise killing stroke. Even when he simply ripped the feet from beneath his opponent, they fell perfectly on their weapon and died almost instantly.
Chifu was a genius, and a master assassin being a former member of the infamous CP9, but he had gone rather mad after a mission gone wrong which Oliver had yet to discover the details of. They had met sometime after that mission and become friends, but after they parted ways, Oliver's attention had been drawn to a newspaper article reporting that he had turned himself in. He had journeyed to the site of Chifu's supposed surrender and found his trademark hat and umbrella, lying dusty and abandoned in the middle of a battlefield. Oliver had sent Chifu a coded message promising to spring him. "And tonight," he thought, "I'm making good on that promise."
Chifu may have had more lethal intent, Oliver thought with a wry grin, but Kuma was every bit as dangerous. Even though he didn't intend to do severe damage, every blow he landed shattered bones, and several of his enemies had had sizeable holes punched in them. Oliver looked at Ryori and Kuina, "Snipers on the gate wall in about sixty seconds. Take 'em out." Kuina raised an eyebrow, "How?" Ryori grinned and stepped forward as the snipers Oliver had predicted streamed onto the wall, drawing his blade an inch from its sheathe, "Like this."
He drew his sword in the blink of an eye and in doing so performed a slashing attack so powerful it launched a blade of air that flew and neatly decapitated the snipers on the wall he had been aiming for. Kuina stared, her jaw slightly slack, "Whoa." Ryori grinned and sheathed his sword, "Oliver-san is not the Thundering Gusto's only sword master."
Oliver grinned, "True, but then again, I really do prefer my knives." As they turned to him, they saw that his knives were in his hands. He grinned, "My turn." He turned to the crowd of guards which had noticed them and apparently decided they might be slightly easier targets than the two hurricanes of death demolishing their comrades, only to pull up short when Ryori cut down over half a dozen men from over a thousand feet away. Oliver grinned wickedly at them, and an instant later, he was on the other side of them.
His knives were dripping blood, and the guards were all lying on the ground, something carved into each of them. Kuina and Ryori stepped closer and saw the Oliver had carved his Jolly Roger into the guards, every cut lethally deep. Oliver grinned wickedly over his shoulder at them, "I always like to sign my work when I do something big." Kuina and Ryori stared as they realized how gruesome their captain could be.
Oliver's smile shrank as he realized they weren't comfortable with his signing of his work. He sighed, "Fine, from now on I'll just paint it on. Happy?" Kuina nodded slightly. Oliver's grin returned, "Good." He turned to Kuma and Chifu, "Kuma! Chifu! Wrap it up! We've got places to be!"
The Next DayEdit
Oliver and the crew sat on the deck and Oliver spotted a newspaper delivery bird gliding overhead. It dropped a paper as Oliver smacked it with a gust of wind, and attempted to retrieve its fallen cargo until Oliver batted it away with another wind gust. He detached his hand somehow and it flew over the water to catch the paper before sailing back to him and reattaching perfectly. The others stared at him, "How did you do that?" Chifu asked.
Oliver smiled as he opened the paper, "One of my Devil Fruit powers. The Chop-Chop fruit makes me immune to any cutting attack and lets me separate any part of myself from any other part of myself. You could cut me into itty bitty ribbons and I'd still reform good as new." He suddenly reached up, caught himself by the head and pulled his head off. He set it on the table as his crew reared back in shock with shrieks and cries of surprise.
His head kept talking, "As you can see, it has its advantages. No matter how good a swordsman my opponent is, they can't beat me with a bladed weapon." He chuckled, "I used to drive Hawkeye utterly mad like this. He's a hard guy to rile, but he hates fighting someone with the Chop-Chop fruit." Chifu blinked, "There's more than one? How?" Oliver laughed, "Well, I didn't actually eat the Chop-Chop fruit. My friend Buggy did. I can absorb Devil Fruit abilities through contact, or in my later forms just by being near them."
"Forms?" Kuina asked. "You mean your Zoan forms?" Maria asked. Oliver put his head back on and shook it with a grin, "Nope. I have more than just Devil Fruit powers. Observe, this is Cackle Form." He was suddenly wrapped in a cocoon of light, which after a moment shattered and flew apart to reveal a huge terrifying being where Oliver had been sitting, his clothes the only real indication that it was still Oliver.
He was huge, nearly eight feet tall, and his bodily proportions had bent out of shape, in addition to the growth of two antennae which were probably two feet long. His grin stretched almost all the way back to his ears, his eyes were bigger, his hair was ash gray and his skin had tuned a bluish gray. His hands were massive, he could have wrapped one all the way around a big person's head easily. He smiled even more broadly at them, "This is the form I go to when my human form just isn't tough enough."
He unfolded the newspaper, "I have more forms, which get steadily more powerful as I go through them, but I save those for emergencies." He was wrapped in the cocoon of light again and then he shrugged it off and was himself again smiling at the front page of the paper, "And it looks like we made the headlines." He turned it around and the crew saw that the headline in big bold letters read, "Mysterious Pirates Free Dangerous Madman!"