Trial by Error

BY : Demonized
Category: +M to R > One Piece
Dragon prints: 1819
Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece, nor do I make any money off of this work.

Looming ahead of the Thousand Sunny was most definitely a large eye, one so large that it matched the size of the ship they were on, fixed into the side of a fish so massive that the scope of their light source showed only a small portion of it. Part of its jaw, which was indeed gaping open, was also visible, along with some incredibly sharp teeth.

A shrill scream pierced the air and reverberated within the space of the coating surrounding the Sunny, making Sabo grit his teeth at the sudden pain that felt like it was stabbing at his ears. He quickly reverted his partial transformation and spun to glare in the direction of the scream, only for his mouth to drop open at the sight of more massive deep sea creatures surrounding the Sunny and eyeing them as though they were on the menu.

Usopp and Chopper were holding on to each other for dear life, identical expressions of fear on their faces. Nami, pale and shivering, had a death grip on the helm while she stared up at one of the massive, Sea King sized creatures surrounding them. Robin was looking around at the deep sea creatures with a faint, amused smile on her face while Brook cowered behind Franky.

Ace, who was unperturbed by the presence of the deep sea creatures, still stood by his side at the railing, scanned the near pitch black depths surrounding them for any sign of Luffy.

"Keep the ship moving!" Sabo called out, stirring Franky into action. The towering cyborg of a shipwright lumbered from his spot over to the helm and nudged the fear-stricken Nami aside. "And if you have some other light source, now would be the time to use it." Because ingenuity aside, nipple lights weren't going to be of much help seeing ahead of them.

"I gotcha covered," Franky responded and fiddled with the helm. There came a dull hum, and Franky must have pressed some sort of button, because the darkness ahead of Sunny's figurehead lit up for a small distance. Now that was purely brilliant.

The Sunny moved forward at what could only be described as a slow crawl, the numerous Sea King creatures having all vanished back into the pitch black darkness. While this relieved the younger members of the crew, namely Chopper and Usopp, those who had experienced these depths before knew all too well that the Sea Kings were looking at the Sunny as a next potential meal and had gone into hunting mode. This became evident enough when a jellyfish glided overhead and slipped a tentacle through the coating.

"Whoa!" Chopper exclaimed in awe, approaching the tentacle of the bioluminescent jellyfish. "It's a tentacle! Does it want to be friends?" He began to reach for the seemingly friendly tentacle stretching down towards the Sunny's deck.

Before Robin could even open her mouth to utter what would likely be a reprimand of some sort, Sabo darted over to Chopper and hit the tentacle away with his length of pipe. "We need to get out of here now!" He called out to Franky as more tentacles came through the coating.

"Shit!" Franky spun the wheel, and the Sunny slowly turned, the bow now aimed for a gap between two of the sea king-sized creatures surrounding them. "Time for a little Coup de Burst!" The crew barely had time to brace themselves as the Sunny shot forward, just in time for a very large fish to swim in and chomp down on the jellyfish that had been testing their edibility.

"It seems like some of the air was used up," Ace commented, and indeed the bubble coating had shrunk some.

"The Coup de Burst and Gaon-Hou both use large quantities of air so I wanted to avoid using them at all costs since we're underwater," Franky explained while Chopper watched as the fish that had attempted to eat the jellyfish went belly up and said jellyfish emerged from its mouth unscathed.

"I-i-it's dead!" He squeaked out in shock and slowly lifted his hooved hand to stare at it numbly. After a few seconds he turned his attention to Sabo and gave the Revolutionary a grateful smile. "Thank you."

"Anything for one of Luffy's nakama," Sabo returned gently with a smile of his own. His expression changed after a few seconds, shifting to one of grim determination as he slid his gaze back to the pitch black depths surrounding them in search of the wayward rubber user once more.

"We're nakama now too," Chopper whispered firmly as he stood at Sabo's side to look out for their three missing comrades.

"Where are they?" Ace bit out from across the deck as he gripped at the railing, the lines of his form rigid. Sabo glanced towards Ace right as the air around them seemed to warp and grow hot and for a moment the Revolutionary thought that it was Ace's doing.

Beyond the coating, mostly where the lights from Sunny shone, rose black plumes of smoke. The massive fish and creatures hoping to prey on them were nowhere to be seen but there were more threats, specifically from the creatures that lived in this deep-sea volcanic region.

"So hot," Chopper complained as he sank down to the deck, overcome by the sudden and drastic increase of heat.

"T-these are hydrothermal mineral deposits!" Nami exclaimed once she managed to overcome her fear. Her voice still quavered a little but that was to be expected. "And there's signs of activity!"

"If they erupt then we'll be goners!" Franky spun the helm and modified their course, taking them around the plumes of underwater smoke. "We need to get out of here!"

"Something's after us!" Usopp alerted them as he peered down into the darkness below. "Carnivorous tube worms!"

Sabo glanced down into the darkness himself and could just barely make out the creatures stretching up towards them. The ship rocked violently as Franky maneuvered it past a claw that shot up in front of them, belonging to a faceless crab, leaving Sabo to cling to the railing with one hand. He and Usopp both reached out for Chopper to keep the reindeer from sliding across the deck, at which they both received a faint smile from Chopper.

Chopper's smile vanished quickly enough as he let himself be pulled up onto his feet and looked out at the depths. "Luffy and them could never survive down here… I'm so sad. We finally reunited after two years and now this…"

"Hey, now. They're not that easy to kill," Usopp stated firmly with a pat to Chopper's hat.

"Those little Coup de Bursts have really used up the air in here," Franky called out, drawing their attention to the coating that had shrunk considerably. No one really got a chance to respond because in the distance ahead of them a bright light appeared.

"What's that? Something's shining really brightly!" Chopper exclaimed as he peered at it in wonder.

The steadiness of this light had a sense of dread curling in Sabo's gut and he shifted his gaze away from it to Franky. "We're not close enough to Fishman Island to be seeing any sort of light from them."

"He's right! We're still three thousand meters out," Nami confirmed for Sabo.

Franky gave them both a nod then adjusted the Sunny's course to give the unknown light source a wide a berth. This didn't seem to matter because it drifted in their path and once they were close enough everyone, save for Ace who was still scouring the dark depths for Luffy, could see that it was an anglerfish. Before a true panic could an absolutely gigantic and humanoid figure appeared behind the anglerfish.

"Ankoro," this figure boomed out and the anglerfish seemed to pause.

"Th-there's only one humanoid sea monster," Usopp whispered tightly as he ducked down to hide behind Chopper.

"Wadatsumi, a tiger blowfish fishman," Sabo stated gravely. "He's part of a crew known as the Flying Pirates, captained by another fishman by the name of Vander Decken IX. They hunt down coated ships on their way to Fishman Island for their treasure."

"Well they've got another thing coming if they think they're gonna get their hands on our treasure," Nami gritted out and she moved closer to Franky and the helm.

"I'd like to say that you're right but we're out of fuel for the Coup de Burst and the Gaon Cannon, and even if we did have the fuel for it then using even a Coup de Burst now would use up the rest of the air in the coating," Franky informed them just as a somewhat haunting sort of song became audible for them.

From behind Wadatsumi appeared a ship just as large as him and displayed across the ragged and torn bottom sail is the words Flying Dutchman. The massive fluyt didn't have a resin coating that any of them could see but her hull was littered with holes of varying size, making a coating useless in the end.

"Then we will do whatever needs to be done to keep the Sunny safe until Luffy, Sanji and Zoro return," Robin called out over the warped singing and she prepared to use one of her new techniques.

The warped singing gave way to a voice shouting out orders for the Sunny to be taken for its treasure but before anyone could react a large tentacle seemed to come out of nowhere and punched Ankoro. The anglerfish was sent careening into Wadatsumi as the Kraken appeared, putting itself between the Sunny and Vander Decken's ship, Wadatsumi and the stunned Ankoro.

"It's the Kraken!" Usopp wheezed out just as the colossal creature whipped out another tentacle and punched Wadatsumi this time.

It seemed like it was going to go on a full on assault of Wadatsumi, and Ankoro who was trapped between them, but an all to familiar voice rang out, "Hey! That's enough! Stop!"

The Kraken gave a start then turned to look at a single bubble of Instant Flutter Kick Coating delicately held by in one of its other tentacles. It gave the center-most figure a sheepish smile then positively glowed with a softly spoken, "Good job."

Everyone on the Sunny moved to the port railing as they called out to Luffy, Sanji and Zoro, though Ace was noticeably silent. He hung back as the Kraken returned them to the Sunny's deck then carefully gripped the Sunny.

"You three certainly made us worry, getting lost like that," Sabo chided in a gentle and with a pat to Luffy's shoulder. "Some more than others."

"Yeah, I thought we were goners when me and Sanji's bubbles burst but we managed to make it to Zoro's!" Luffy exclaimed almost nonchalantly and with a grin on his face as he flopped down onto the deck. "It's great to be back home! There's so much room!"

"Jeez, you guys really can live through anything," Franky commented with a touch of pride.

"I can't believe it… You really tamed that monster octopus." Nami looked at them with awe then at the tentacles that were carefully holding on to the ship.

"Yeah! And he's gonna be a first-rate navigator some day! Right, Surume?" Luffy called out to the Kraken, lifting his head up off of the deck just a tiny bit.

"And you named him like he's a squid!?" Nami gave a shake of her head at Luffy's choice in name for the Kraken then stood back a little.

"Regardless of his name, if he's gonna pull our ship then we'd better watch out so that he doesn't squish us," Usopp stated worriedly despite the fact that Surume was already carrying the ship.

"We'll be fine, right Surume?" Luffy asked as he sat up but barely even a second later came an ominous rumbling. "What's that?"

"The undersea volcano is going to erupt!" Nami exclaimed and raced for the helm.

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