New World, Nameless Wilderness Island.
Lately, the various forces around this island felt that something was off in the wind. Despite being an uninhabited and desolate island, it had attracted a large number of government scouts.
Cloaked individuals, known as Black-Clothed Persons, wandered around the nearby islands and towns. If anything went awry, like a disturbance caused by someone, the next day that troublemaker would mysteriously disappear without a trace.
The atmosphere was heavy and eerie and it was as if a storm was brewing, much like the calm before a tempest.
Even pirates who were oblivious due to lack of information could sense that something was fishy.
Yerkes Island was an Allied Kingdom Member island adjacent to the territory of Yonko Kaido. Being an Allied Kingdom Member wasn’t easy for them, as they were sandwiched between the territories of Kaido and Whitebeard, acting as a buffer zone.
If conflict erupted between the two sides, Yerkes Island would be the first to bear the brunt of such a conflict!
However, Yonko Pirates wouldn’t engage in warfare that easily, so Yerkes Island remained mostly peaceful.
Because of its strategic position, Yerkes Island hosted a substantial Marine presence. It was one of the islands in the New World where Marines had the highest number of scouts. They monitored the movements of both Kaido and Whitebeard, and it was also Rowen’s current base of operation.
The steam whistle sounded as the war aircraft slowly docked on the vacant port ground under the watchful eyes of the crowd. The Plasma Cannon on the aircraft, now fully charged, emitted silvery-white glows along its barrel. The muzzle was aimed at the crowd of pirates that were undoubtedly lurking in the distance.
Colonel Warren, the Marine Dictate officer stationed at Yerkes Island, led a formation of Marine soldiers, spreading out along the port. When the hatch opened, Warren raised his hand to his forehead.
“Welcome, Vice Admiral Rowen, to Yerkes Island!”
Hua La La!
Hearing Colonel Warren’s loud proclamation, the onlookers erupted in excitement.
Rowen nowadays wasn’t the lucky fellow from before who had defeated Hell Island’s Crab and skyrocketed to fame. His reputation as the “Undying Vice Admiral” was on par with an Admiral, and as a Logia user, he was even considered by some to be the Marine’s destined Admiral and future Commander-in-Chief!
Furthermore, after the events of Dressrosa, Rowen’s fame had spread across the seas even more, making him a nearly ubiquitous figure.
In a mix of anticipation, resentment, and contemplation, two columns of Marine soldiers in slightly thicker uniforms stepped out of the pitch-black hatch. They marched in step to create a pathway, and then a towering figure with a robust and muscular build emerged from the hatch.
His nearly one-meter height advantage over ordinary people allowed him to look down on almost everyone present. His face was expressionless, calm, and confident. With just one glance, an intangible sense of imposing pressure overwhelmed those who looked at him.
With his indifferent gaze sweeping over the crowd, Rowen removed the cigar from his mouth and raised his hand in salute.
“Colonel Warren, is this also at his behest?”
“Yes… Yes, it is!”
Warren’s expression froze for a moment. He knew that welcoming Rowen should not involve allowing civilians to approach. However, there were orders from above, and he had to follow them.
He forced a bitter smile and gave a 90-degree bow. “I apologize deeply, Vice Admiral! That person said there’s no need for secrecy, so I can only follow his orders.”
“Tsk, I’m not blaming you. Stand up straight…”
Lirisk truly is an anomaly among the Celestial Dragons… It’s like he’s afraid that others don’t know he can beat me!
Rowen sighed and waved his hand.
“Let’s go, don’t block the way…”
After saying that, Rowen turned to the soldiers behind him and said, “The rest of you, First Grade combat readiness alert. If anyone dares to trespass onto the aircraft, execute them on the spot without notifying me. I’ll take responsibility for anything!”
Rowen shrugged and blew a smoke ring as he spoke. “As you all know, I don’t like prisoners. They’re a waste of resources…”
The sound of bolts being pulled echoed as the captain of the aircraft came before Rowen, standing at attention with killing intentions on his face. “Understood!”
Subsequently, his gaze swept over the crowd like a beast selecting its prey. It lingered momentarily on individuals whose appearances were repulsive and suspiciously pirate-like before moving on.
Witnessing this scene, the various pirates among the onlookers who had ulterior motives had no choice but to abandon their plans, muttering curses under their breath as they retreated.
Accompanied by Warren, Rowen arrived at the Marine outpost on Yerkes Island. Rowen sat confidently in the lead position, and Warren handed him a Log Pose.
“Vice Admiral Rowen, that person instructed me to deliver this to you, but there were no specific details.”
The New World had even more severe climate conditions than the first half of the Grand Line, and the magnetic fields were exceptionally chaotic. Regular Log Poses couldn’t function here.
Without an Eternal Pose, choosing a destination involved selecting the best route from three possible paths. Rowen’s maximum ‘Blink’ distance was even restricted under these magnetic conditions, let alone a Log Pose, which was an inanimate object.
The Log Pose before him was a New World-Special Log Pose with three magnetic needles. Currently, the three needles were constantly spinning, with only the leftmost one relatively stable.
“It’s not an Eternal Pose?”
Rowen frowned, and then his brow relaxed as he spoke, “I smell the scent of conspiracy!”
Before he could finish speaking…
“Vice Admiral Rowen, that person really only gave me this!”
In Rowen’s speechless gaze, Warren was on the verge of tears.
The other side was rumored to be a member of CP0!
The direct guards of the Celestial Dragons!
Even with ten thousand times his courage, he wouldn’t dare tamper with CP0’s orders!
“Don’t worry, like I said, I’m not blaming you!”
Rolling his eyes in exasperation, Rowen looked at Warren, who stood trembling and found it a bit strange, “Colonel Warren, you’ve been stationed on Yerkes Island for two years, right? Why are you still so timid?”
How could someone survive for so long with a small heart while being caught between the “World’s Strongest” Whitebeard and the “King Of Beast” Kaido?
Warren: “Vice Admiral Rowen, you might not know, but what do you think I was like before…”
Rowen blinked, “Huh?”
Warren: “I… I was a three-hundred-pound fat guy two years ago…”
Seeing the lean and agile lieutenant colonel before him, who couldn’t have weighed more than two hundred and twenty pounds, Rowen was taken aback.
And he’s terrifying like this?!
Just as Rowen arrived at Yerkes Island, a massive steel submarine appeared at the edge of the nameless wilderness island. Its steel body was thicker and sturdier than the land itself. Seen from a distance, it resembled a Sea King that had emerged from the water, towering like a mountain!
Kā zī… Sizzle…
The electric motors hummed to life, causing the hatch to slowly open. The opening was just wide enough for a person to pass through. A figure “whizzed” out from the gap, and faint cries were heard from within. Then, with a loud “bang,” the gate exploded into countless fragments!
“Lirisk-Sama, please wait for me!”
Zero wordlessly called out and rushed to Lirisk’s side, the door exploding into bits as he did so.
“Ah… Ah…! Sunbathing is still the best!”
Stretching with a long yawn, Lirisk warmed up his limbs and said to Zero, “Is this it? I feel like the area is a bit too small!”
A small island would suffice for around a hundred or so people to live and thrive, but at their level of power, this much space hardly seemed sufficient. Especially given Rowen’s Goro Goro no Mi (Thunder-Thunder Fruit), which could practically extend instantaneously on islands with limited range, this was not advantageous for him.
“Sir, this island can be seen as a massive cobblestone. Though it’s not very large, its hardness is definitely higher than many other islands. It’s perfect for battles!”
Zero absolutely wouldn’t reveal his own thoughts to Lirisk; otherwise, he might find himself in hot water.
“A cobblestone, you say?”
Lirisk paid no attention to Zero’s words whatsoever as he stared at the ground thoughtfully. Suddenly, he clenched his fist, and metallic, emerald-green scales appeared on his arm. His muscles swelled, becoming thicker than his waist!
With a shout, his fist imbued with Busoshoku Haki (Armament Haki) slammed heavily into the ground. The earth trembled violently, and the force spread through the rocks. A ring of waves rippled outward on the island’s periphery!
As he lifted his fist from the ground, the shattered stones scattered. Lirisk looked at the unyielding stone layer, which now had a spider-web-like pit measuring over a meter wide, and nodded with satisfaction.
“Not bad! This level is suitable for a stage!”
He preferred sturdiness over size. After all, if he ended up destroying the entire island in the heat of battle, that would be quite anticlimactic!
“Next, we just wait for that guy to come for the appointment. Show me around the terrain for now…”
“Of course, sir. This way, please!”
Zero breathed a sigh of relief, respectfully leading Lirisk. A fleeting smile appeared at the corner of his mouth behind the mask, quickly vanishing.
Hopefully, he arrives on time!
(End of this chapter)
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