The first alarm sounded through W4 thirty-seven minutes after Rink and Muse had walked through the front gates. An alarm that announced that two people dressed as Marine soldiers had started attacking other Marines at the entrance to the prison tower, followed by another alarm that said that someone was causing trouble in the lower levels of the prison. And soon came the dreaded third alarm, which noted that they had confirmed the identity of that someone. Marines were flooding towards the prison tower to deal with the two problems - a rampaging hyena on the lower floors and two rampaging women on the upper floor, who were good at keeping anyone who came at them at a distance. One of them with a bow, the other one with... the Marines hadn't figured out exactly what they were dealing with there yet, but they had started suspecting a devil fruit.
And through all the alarms and commotion, the base's Commander, Roth, was sleeping soundly in his quarters, on the top floor of the western tower. He went to bed early and had a reputation for being able to sleep through literally any noise, and definitely did not like being disturbed when he was sleeping. But when the situation called for it, there was no choice - and this certainly was an unprecedented situation. He'd like it even less if he woke up to find his prized prisoner gone and the base in even more chaos than it already was.
"Okay... heads or tails?"
Two Marine privates were standing at the bottom of the stairs that led up to Commander Roth's room, one of them holding up a coin in his right hand.
"Heads," the other one replied.
"Okay..." the first one said and flipped the coin, catching it and putting it down on the back of his other hand. "Heads! So you do it."
"What? I won the flip, so it's you that's doing it!"
"It was to see who should go!"
"You have to say that first!"
"Okay, okay, I'll flip again. If you get what you pick, then you go. Okay?"
"Heads or tails?"
"It came up heads last time, so... heads."
"Here goes," the one with the coin said before flipping again. "Heads again. Sorry, man, it's you."
"How about best of three?"
"No, just do it!"
"Oh, alright," the loser of the game said and made the dreadful walk up the stairs to the door that was labeled 'COMMANDER' and adorned with the Marine insignia. He opened it and stepped into the room, taking a deep breath before reaching for the light switch, hitting it to illuminate the room.
While Roth wouldn't wake up from sound, he was sensitive to light (a fact that had given him the nickname "the snail" in certain groups of the Marines, from this similarity to the surveillance snails - a nickname everyone made sure he would never know about), and woke up in the mornings when the morning sun broke through the window above his bed. The room was large but quite modest, with a few paintings on the walls and some small glass sculptures here and there. Turning on the lights was thus the best way of waking him up before morning, but he had expressly forbidden anyone from doing so unless it was absolutely necessary, and he'd be the one to decide if it was.
The unlucky messenger saw Roth shifting around in his bed and start grumbling. He didn't say anything as he watched Roth sit up in his bed, face the visitor, squint in his direction, put on a pair of glasses that were lying on his nightstand, grab a glass of water from the same and drink a mouthful before shaking his head and fixating his eyes on the doorway. He had short black hair, a short black moustache and a short black beard, all immaculately trimmed.
"What, pray tell, is going on here? What is this infernal racket, and more importantly, why have I been woken up?" Roth asked in a - to his visitor - frightening tone.
"We..." he said and swallowed. "We have a problem at the entrance to the prison tower. Two individuals are attacking the guards..."
"Do you really have to wake me up for that?"
"And..." the messenger said and closed his eyes. "It's also Roland. He's... escaped, and is..."
"What. Did. You. Say?" Roth asked. "Because I thought I just heard you say 'Roland escaped'."
"He is... currently attacking the lower prison levels..."
"How?" Roth shouted and closed his fist with full force around the glass he was holding, breaking it into shards.
"We... don't know," the private said. "But..."
"When I find out who's fault this is, I will personally see them drawn and quartered," Roth said and stood up. "Wake up every soldier in the base! Have them stop Roland at any cost!"
"That is... already being done. But... we are having difficulties getting them through..."
"And then..." Roth said as he started getting dressed. "How many of the four are on base?"
"Only Carime and Cagizo, sir," the messenger said said. "They are already on their way to the prison tower. The others have been notified, but..."
"Very well... they know what to do," Roth said and kneeled down next to the bed to tie his shoes. "Roland... once I'm done with you, you'll never see the sun again for as long as you live..."
Roth stood up, put the empty glass back on the nightstand and grabbed a mace that was hanging over his bed before leaving his room. He wasn't going to let his most prized prisoner get out, not after all the work he had done to claim him...
Rink and Muse's plan to get into processing had, really, been remarkably simple. It consisted of two steps:
1. Ask to be allowed into the prison, and by extension, processing.
2. If denied, break in anyway.
Optimally they had wanted to reach Markus before blowing their cover, but step one had failed based on the guards being more suspicious of people trying to get in to the prison tower than out of it, even if they were wearing Marine uniforms. Since they had no identification, or any way to prove that they were who they said they were - especially since they weren't who they said they were - or anyone who could back them up, the rigid base protocol meant they weren't entering the prison today. Nobody had paid any notice to Rink wanting to leave, since someone who already was on the inside had obviously gone through the protocol for entry already and didn't need to be checked while going out, or so they at least thought.
Thus, step two was currently underway. They were situated in the walkway between the two towers, right in front of the entrance to the prison tower. On the other side of that door were the paths into the prison proper and to processing, and taking the fight at this point served the additional purpose of preventing reinforcements to reach the prison, giving Allen an easier time. Rink had taken care of all the Marines that came from behind them, and was now trying to force her way through the steel door into the prison. One of the keys she had taken from the basement guards actually seemed to work, but the door opened inwards and the Marines had barricaded it on the other side. Muse was keeping the forces coming from the western tower at a distance, having used her arrows to set up a barrier of fire. As the volume of Marines increased, however, that wasn't going to hold... they'd get through eventually, and hopefully they'd be further into the prison by then.
"Are you having any luck?" Muse asked Rink while planting an arrow in an approaching Marine soldier's knee.
"It's getting there," Rink replied and took another deep breath before screaming at the door in front of her. It was shaking, but still didn't give. "But part of me wishes I had actually played the hero and broken through from the inside with Allen..."
"Too late for that now," Muse replied and added another two burning arrows to the barrier. "I'm going to run out of arrows at this rate, though..."
"Tell me if you need backup or want to switch," Rink said before launching a high-pitched yell at the door. If nothing else, she was giving the guards on the other side quite the headache. "If nothing else, we'll get through when Allen..."
"If he makes it," Muse noted.
"Sometimes I find myself agreeing with James about you," Rink said.
Muse chose not to reply and kept firing her arrows into the oncoming crowd. Not much changed for a short while, until some sort of commotion - more than the expected one - was heard on the other side of the burning arrows. Before Muse or Rink had much time to react to it, something flew through the air in their direction, and a bunch of the flames were exhausted. Only moments later, the fire was almost entirely gone, but the Marines didn't start storming towards them. Instead, they were standing on the sides of the corridor, and in the middle...
"Watch out!" Rink said and threw herself at Muse, dragging her to the ground. A fraction of a second later, something passed over them and struck the metal door.
"What was-" Muse said as they quickly got on their feet again.
"I don't know, but it was fast, and would have hurt," Rink said and pointed down the corridor. "But I bet that it came from that one."
"Who, or... what is that?" Muse asked.
"I think we're going to find out whether we like it or not," Rink replied.
In between the lined up Marines, a figure was walking towards them. Muse sent an arrow in their direction, but the person raised their arm and the arrow harmlessly bounced off of... what appeared to be some sort of armour.
"This is all?" they said, their voice revealing them to be female before she came close enough for her appearance to confirm it. She had very short blue hair, and was wearing mainly blue shielding on her arms and legs. In her right hand, she was carrying a bottle.
"L-lady Cagizo!" one of the soldiers she was passing said. "They're... they're not normal!"
"I can see that they're not," she said and took a swig from the bottle. However, she didn't swallow it, instead just seemed to swirl it around in her mouth... before spitting three times towards Rink and Muse. Rink shoved Muse away, dodged two of whatever it was that came flying towards her and raised her arm guard to block a third. It made an audible impact, and the following splash told Rink what they were dealing with. Somehow, this Cagizo woman was spitting water at them with very high pressure, which would hurt quite a lot to get hit by.
"Cover your ears," Rink told Muse and took a few quick steps towards Cagizo and the other Marines. She took a deep breath and let out a long yell in their direction, and while practically all of the other soldiers were pushed back or fell over themselves, Cagizo crossed her shielded arms in front of her face and didn't seem bothered at all.
"I see," she said and lowered her arms before launching another barrage of water projectiles towards them. "Has my little brother shown his face yet?"
"We haven't seen sir Carime," one of the soldiers replied.
"Typical," Cagizo said and resumed her attack. Rink and Muse counterattacked to the best of their abilities, but Cagizo's defense was impressive. Not only did she have those shields on her arms and legs, but turned out to be wearing a thick one on her back as well that could defend against even stronger attacks. Rink and Muse found themselves pushed back, and were soon standing with their backs against the door.
"No... I can't die here... Markus..." Muse said.
"My only regret is that I didn't get to-" Rink started saying before falling silent and turning to Muse. "When I say now, fall to the floor! Not yet... not yet... NOW!"
Muse dropped down, followed by Rink doing the same a moment afterwards. Rink rolled around, faced the door and let out a scream. This time, it gave a little more way than usual, and as Muse saw Cagizo confidently walk towards them, the door swung open. Cagizo stopped for a moment, which the duo used to leap through the door, almost jumping onto a confused Allen in his half-beast form.
"Shut it, shut it!" Rink yelled. Allen looked out to see a blue figure heading towards him, and quickly closed the door. He placed himself with his back against it, soon feeling it shudder as a heavy impact was heard from the other side - obviously Cagizo trying to get through. Rink locked the door, but knew that wasn't going to hold. She looked around, spotting several knocked out and bleeding Marines scattered around the room. "You've been busy."
"Are you sure you thought this through?" Allen asked Rink.
"Not anymore, no," Rink replied. "So what's the status on this side?"
"Well, we have to get past the door into processing too, and that's the stairs, so..."
"Right. Also, who's that blue one?"
"Cagizo... one of the four knights of W4. I should've told you about them... four siblings, the strongest soldiers belonging to this base, after Roth..."
"Are you telling me we have to deal with four of those plus the guy who managed to capture you?"
"It's rare that all four of them are on base at once, so probably not," Allen said.
"She mentioned a... Carime, I think," Muse added.
"If Cagizo and Carime are the only ones here today then we dodged the worst of them," Allen said. "I did not want to run into Cabiru as well today."
"So, stairs to processing... door? Lock? Anything?" Rink asked.
"Locked but less of a door than this one," Allen replied as he pressed his back towards the door. "We should be able to break it down... and speaking of doors breaking down, I think we need to do something about this one."
"Right," Rink said and looked around. "Muse, help me drag that desk over here!"
"Okay," Muse replied. The two of them collected whatever heavy things they could find in the room - mostly desks - to barricade the door with.
"That should give us a few minutes," Rink said and looked towards a door on the other side of the room, the door she had passed through on her way up through the prison earlier. "And... no risk of anyone coming from there?"
"They won't be standing up for quite a while," Allen said as he shifted into full hyena form and rushed to another door on all fours. "Anyway, here's where we need to go up... there's a couple guards up there as well."
"If you can crack the door, then leave the next part to us," Rink said and looked at Muse. "Ready?"
"Ready," Muse said and readied an arrow in her bow. "Only a few more arrows to go, though..."
"It'll have to do," Rink said and nodded towards the door.
"Here goes," Allen said, took a few steps back and then charged towards the door, easily breaking it off its hinges. On the other side was a stairway leading upwards, and at the top of it was a makeshift barricade with a couple of rifles pointing out of it. Some gunfire started raining down towards the trio, but they easily sidestepped it.
"It's almost cute compared to the stuff outside," Rink said and struck her arm guard with a tuning fork. Peeking into the stairway, she swung it twice towards the barricade before letting out a yell in its direction, knocking over parts of it and disorienting most of the guards. Allen and Muse quickly joined her in the stairway, Muse utilizing one of her lightning arrows to knock out a few more as Allen charged upwards, attacking with full force. Some of the Marines started tumbling down the stairs, and those that were still standing were quickly dealt with by Allen. He started striking the door at the top, and it gave way shortly. At the same time, a loud crash was heard from the entrance - and in the now open doorway was Cagizo, sporting a sinister smile.
"You're going to regret ever coming here!" she yelled. Rink and Allen looked at each other and then at Muse, before Rink threw the bag with Markus's swords to Muse.
"You go on and find Markus! We'll keep her away!" she shouted at Muse.
"Are you... going to be fine?" Muse asked.
"Gonna be easier to deal with her in a large room than a corridor," Rink said. "And with Allen..."
"Just hurry up," Allen said and looked at Cagizo coming towards them.
"Alright... thanks," Muse said before continuing up the stairs.
"We'll be with you shortly, I hope..." Rink said.
Muse at first didn't say anything as she walked through the open door, but as she heard the first sound of battle behind her, she closed her eyes for a moment. "Don't die," she whispered - knowing that probably not even Rink would be able to hear it.