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Allen Roland looked at the figure in front of him. This Rink Kazai, someone he had just met under quite unlikely circumstances, had just taken out - he assumed - at least five Marine soldiers on her own just to free him. She certainly wasn't a normal person...
"Not bad," Allen replied. "How did you..."
"It wasn't so hard," Rink replied as she walked up to him and lowered the match towards his hands, which were bound by a thick pair of handcuffs. "Well, let's get these off you first."
"That would help," Allen said as Rink, now holding the match between her teeth, flipped through keys on the keyring, eventually finding one that looked like it would fit in the small lock on the cuffs.
"This one, I think," she said between gritted teeth and put a hand on the cuffs to insert the key. As soon as she touched them, she shuddered, her knees got weak, and she dropped the match with a gasp before pulling her hand back. "Wh- what the..."
"Oh, now I get it," Allen said. "You're a devil fruit user."
"...yes, I am," Rink said. "How did you know?"
"These are seastone cuffs," Allen replied. "You know about seastone?"
"I've never come into... well, contact with it personally before," Rink said. "But I know it's a substance that weakens those that have eaten a devil fruit... you, too? That explains a few things."
"I have a power, yes," Allen answered. "So what can you do?"
"I'm a sound devil," Rink replied. "I ate the Sound Fruit... and you?"
"Why don't you get these cuffs off of me, and I'll show you what I can do..."
"You seem to have been pretty functional with them on," Rink noted.
"Heh... when you've worn them for as long as I have, you kind of get used to it... you know how much you can do, and... well, it's not like I've been exhausting myself sitting here either. But as long as I have them on, it's impossible for me to use my power..."
"Right," Rink said and made another attempt, this time holding her Marine cap in between her skin and the cuffs as she put the key in the lock and twisted it, unlocking them. Allen shook his arms, opening them further, before throwing them to the side. They struck the wall before falling to the ground as Allen cracked his knuckles and started raising his arms.
"Finally," he said as Rink lit another match to see what was going to happen. She noted that he was already hairy and muscular, but both those qualities seemed to improve - and the sinister grin on his face was made into an even more sinister one through the addition of some sharp fangs. Soon, his body was covered in brown fur, and he let out a deep howl as he started pulling on his shackles. They gave some way - but he didn't manage to break them.
"So... what was that supposed to be?" Rink asked.
"Heh... guess I need to get back into shape," Allen said and reverted to his human appearance. "I've eaten the Cat Fruit... Hyena type. But, uh... if you'll please..."
"Right," Rink said and unlocked the rest of his shackles. "Better?"
"Better," Allen said and started standing up, but stumbled a bit. "Just- hold on a little..."
"I've been sitting like that for months, my legs are... still a bit asleep," Allen said as he was shaking his legs to get the blood flowing again. "I'll be right with you..."
"You do that, I'll go collect those guards," Rink said.
"I figure we'll lock them in your cell for the time being," Rink said. "Anything against that?"
"Sounds good to me," Allen said. Rink dragged the other two bodies in front the cell before looking around.
"And move the snails out. Let them figure this out later."
"Yeah, good idea," Allen replied.
"Speaking of the snails... were those guys in the guard room the only ones watching the feed?"
"Probably the only ones actively watching, yes, but everything gets recorded for later review..."
"Once they look at that - help me reach up here - we're already gone," Rink said before Allen raised her up so she could pick the surveillance snails inside the cell off the walls. "By the way, if you've been down here all this time... how do you know so much about the base?"
"I wasn't taken here right away," Allen replied as he did some quick stretching for his legs. "I've seen more of it... Roth showed me off for a bit, and even down here, I've picked up information from just talking to the guards. Some of them like talking about things... even if it's with someone like me."
"Roth?" Rink asked, now with both snails in her hands.
"You don't know of the oh-so-famous Marine Commander Roth of W4?" Allen asked in response, in a mocking tone, as he carried the three unconscious bodies of the Marine soldiers into the corner of what had until now been his cell and closed the door.
"Can't say I do," Rink replied as she locked the cell door before the two of them started heading towards the guard room, putting the snails on another wall along the way.
"Well, you're going to be making him very mad today!"
Inside the guard room on the level, three Marine soldiers sat bound, gagged and knocked out cold against one of the walls. The table had been knocked over, leaving playing cards and loose beli all over the floor. Rink's bag was next to the door on the inside, and she grabbed it as the two of them entered. Allen looked over at the Marines.
"Well, that explains what you did, but I think I had figured it out already..."
"It was the easiest thing," Rink said. "I just made sure that the snails didn't see more than two of the others that came to you, and marched over here... they didn't suspect anything, and having the initiative was enough to take the both of them out before they could sound any alarm. And the guy who came here afterwards was even easier."
"So... now what?"
"Now you help me locate my friend."
"Alright... I'll do what I can. What's his name?"
"Never heard of. Bounty?"
"Twenty-five million beli."
Allen gave off a small whistle. "That's not bad for a no-name... what did he do?"
"Kill a guy."
"Twenty-five mil for just popping one off?"
"A mayor... who was also a retired Marine."
"That makes more sense, but... I've still never heard of that. When did it happen?"
"Couple days ago."
"Wait... when was he taken in?"
"This afternoon. We came here today, and his wanted poster went live yesterday."
"This after- so he's just been here a few hours, if that?"
"Oh, for- then he's not even in the prison proper, he'll still be in processing!"
"It's on the top floor of this tower... floor under it is the entry level, and one floor below that is the first prison level. Each new prisoner spends at least forty-eight hours in processing while they figure out where to put them, and if they should even be here or transferred to another facility. It's like... pre-prison."
"You sat there, too? Despite... what they took you in for?"
"Protocol is protocol, all prisoners go through processing," Allen replied. "But I sat in processing for almost three weeks. I think it was partly that Roth wanted to show everyone that he had caught me before stashing me in the basement... but most of the soldiers were also too scared to do anything with me, even though I didn't make myself a threat at all while I was there."
"Alright, so that explains where we'll find him," Rink said. "Now, then..."
"Now we raise some hell, get him out, and then we leave this place forever?" Allen asked.
"Well, no... I'd certainly have nothing against that, but I'm the one who told my companion that there'd be no playing the hero on your own," Rink said. "I have to meet up with her first."
"You said she was investigating the other tower?"
"Yeah," Rink said. "If they store prisoners in this one, I guess they store the Marines in the other."
"That's the gist of it."
"So I guess I'm going to have to go over there," Rink said and looked towards the door on the other end of the guard room. "So... what's the layout here?"
"Well, the staircases are on the first layer from the outer wall, but you have to go through each prison level to reach the stairs to the next one," Allen replied. "Then the entry level and processing have their own separate entrances. There's guards on every floor... they're going to spot us. Me. And that's when it's going to get wild around here, because nobody would believe that I was being moved without Roth taking the lead and without any further escort, much less by just one low-ranked Marine..."
"And going back out the sewers won't be an option," Rink said. "I had to squeeze through the hole to get up here... no way you'd fit."
"So what do you propose?"
"You're just going to have to hang out here for a bit," Rink replied and grabbed a rifle in one hand and her bag in another. "You'll know when it's time... and make sure you don't die when it is."
Muse collected her arrows from the target once more and put them back in her quiver. This had definitely gone on for long enough, she figured... be it by force or not, she'd have to resume looking for Markus.
"More, more!" the crowd around her shouted. It had grown a little more, and people had started betting on if she'd hit the target or not. She didn't want to entertain them any more, though.
"No more," she said and folded her bow back up. "I don't... I'm tired."
"Aw, come on!" came the reactions from the audience. "One more shot!"
"No," Muse said.
"Well then..." one of the larger and more drunk soldiers in the crowd said and walked up to her. "Let me keep you company!"
"Wha-" Muse said as he put his arm around her shoulders. In the space of a few eye blinks, Muse had wriggled free and had an arrow nocked in her bow again, aimed at the chest of her admirer.
"Whoa, whoa!" he uttered as Muse realized what she was doing and lowered her weapon again.
"S... sorry, reflex..." she mumbled and put it back into the quiver again. "I... just let me be alone, I need to sleep..."
"Well, alright, I'll... see you around," the Marine said and turned around. Muse wondered what she had ever done to deserve this when she heard a familiar voice.
"Morrigan!" it spoke.
"Ri- um, Sonya?" Muse said as she turned around. The crowd parted as a person familiar to Muse, dressed in a Marine uniform and with thick glasses, walked towards her.
"There you are! I've been looking all over for you," Rink said and turned to the other Marines. "What were you up to with my sister?"
"Um, we just..."
"Nothing! Honestly!" the soldier that had almost gotten an arrow through him said and quickly slipped away, the crowd following him.
"So... for real, what the hell was that?" Rink asked.
"I tried to find something out, and... they wanted to see what I could do with the bow," Muse replied.
"Seriously?" Rink said with a chuckle. "And you just... went along with it?"
"I figured I'd try to get some information from them, but... it's not like I could just ask, and..."
"Well, never mind... I've had more luck, if you can call it that," Rink half-whispered. "I know where Markus is."
"He's... up there," Rink said and pointed towards the top of the prison tower. "Top floor, and it's going to take some work to get him out. I ran into some, well... complications on the way, but I got the information... and ended up making a promise to break someone else out..."
"He's called Allen Roland," Rink said. "They kept him in the basement. Maximum security, and all that."
"You're sure he's not dangerous?"
"No, but he knows a lot about this base... I wouldn't have gotten as far as I did without him, and that there hasn't been any alarms yet means he's still where I left him. So, we're going to split their attention..."
"What's the plan?"
"Nobody paid any attention to me when I walked through the prison tower, and nobody seems to have suspected you of anything, either... so we have the advantage to begin with. First of all, we're going back to the prison."
"Well, I guess it's actually a good thing that you've warmed up... 'cause then it's time to rumble."