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Laurel O’Halloran
Tracker

Name : Laurel O'Halloran
Epithet : Hundred-Faced O’Halloran
Age : 48
Height : 6’8”
Weight : 174 lbs.
Species : Human
Faction : Pirates
World Position : Supernova
Crew : Apollo’s Pompokolin
Ship : Xu Fu
Crew Position : Captain
Devil Fruit : Inu Inu no Mi, Model: Bake-Danuki
Haki Specialization : Kenbunshoku
Haki Level : 6
Hitpoints (HP) : 285
Attack (ATK) : 300
Defense (DEF) : 120
Reflex (RX) : 420
Willpower (WP) : 370
Level : 50
Experience Points : 5000
Bounty : 177,000,000
Shop Discount : -10%
Berries Berries : 50,000
[[dragonheart]]
Posts : 59
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Laurel O’Halloran Empty Laurel O’Halloran

on Thu Dec 15, 2016 2:31 pm

Laurel O’Halloran


Laurel O’Halloran 55737707_p20_small



Basic Character Information


Starting Bonus: Jackpot | [Starting Bonus Roll] (Traded for [Soar, Phoenix])

First Name: Laurel
Middle Name/Initial: -
Last Name: O’Halloran
Epithet: “Hundred-Faced O’Halloran”
Age: 48
Gender: Female
Race: Human
Faction: Pirate
Affiliation: Apollo’s Pompokolin (a.k.a. “Pompoko Pirates”)
Position: Captain
Profession: Captain | Scholar | Spy

Captain: Simply put, Laurel has over two decades of experience in an administrative role over her crew; she founded Apollo’s Pompokolin as a group of like-minded intellects, watched and helped it evolve into the crew of pirates they’re now known to be, and kept her position as an active overseer through it all. Besides this, she is also the acting “quartermaster,” being responsible for supervising and keeping open the crew’s supply lines.

Scholar: Laurel’s greatest weapon is her mind. She carries an appetite to learn all that she can, and share her knowledge and findings freely. She has working knowledge on a variety of subject, although experienced veterans of their respective fields will invariably outperform her. Her preferred studies revolve around history and culture; while not an expert, she also knows of ancient languages and can decipher them to a rudimentary level of understanding. Laurel fancies her knowledge as being second only to the Oharan Scholars’ Association. She aims to correct that.

Spy: Laurel’s oldest vocation is that of a self-taught spook who can infiltrate and egress from enemy (or, “enemy”) lines well before her mark becomes aware of the fact, even without her Devil Fruit powers. Her crew also contains similarly-trained “accomplices” who can assist their captain as sleeper agents and informants, keeping communications flowing even when Laurel is incarcerated and assisting in her escapes. Unlike professional assassins, however, Laurel has little experience – or comfort – with actually killing people, and considers herself fortunate in this regard.



Physical Appearance


Height: 6’8” (204 cm)
Weight: 178 lbs. (81 kg)

Hair Style: Laurel, while gifted with shapeshifting, nevertheless favors two particular styles for her hair to accommodate her fashion: the first being voluminous and bushy, but not coarse, resting on her shoulders and dusting across the clavicle and scapula; the second being mid-thigh-length, notably more thinly layered and straightened, and curled inwardly at the ends.
Hair Color: Dusky brown
Eye Color: Amber
Scars: Has the Hoof of the Soaring Dragon on her back as well as the sole of her left foot.
Clothing and Accessories: Her wardrobe of disguises aside, Laurel is almost never seen without her kiseru, nor pince-nez glasses with gold frames, held by a fine chain around her neck when not in use. She is seen just as often is a leaf-shaped jade barrette fastened to her bangs on the upper left corner of her face, a flask of sake strapped to her hip, and loosely-fitting golden bangles on each of her wrists.

As for a preferred manner of dress, her tastes are low-key, quaint, and homey, often consisting of billowy robes, light chemises, and pleated mid-calf-length skirts, with the occasional scarf. Footwear often consists of white tabi and two-teethed 6 cm-tall geta (or, sometimes, 14 cm-tall, black-lacquered okobo). Supposedly, though, she would look smashing in more formal attire, and as it happens, she does have a bartending suit tucked away somewhere. . . .

Detailed Description: Laurel is a strikingly tall and svelte woman whose figure is further emphasized by a relaxed yet confident posture and a faint smile fixed to her face at seemingly all times. Though well into her middle-ages, she has aged well enough that, despite being notably older than most of her crew thus far, there’s hardly a wrinkle on her skin, and her only physiological sign of her age is her tendency to narrow her eyes when trying to better examine something, and the subtle limp in her gait with every step of the left foot.

Bizarrely among Zoan Devil Fruits, Laurel’s carries the perk where her Human Form still possesses some of the fruit’s animalistic features unless she makes the conscious effort to suppress them: her ears are those of a tanuki (atop her head, small and rounded with a slight point at their tips), and she sports an extremely large and fluffy tail that can be as long as she is tall. While Laurel can suppress these features to appear almost completely human, changing their size and color, it actually requires some effort to do so, and when transforming into something or someone else, the ears and tail never completely disappear; sometimes, it’s more efficient to hide these features through specific clothes.



The Past


Main Traits: Playful, Calm, Ascetic | Trenchant, Hardened, Skeptic

Likes: Proverbs, Fig Tarts, Messing With People, Having the Mental High Ground, Corny Lines, Udon With Tenkasu
Dislikes: Achievements through Ignorance, Debts (Both Owing and Being Owed), Bringing Up her Age, Shichibukai, Inarizushi
Hometown: Lvneel, North Blue
Personality: In most cases, Laurel is gregarious and good-natured, if not above thinking of ways to catch a person off-guard or subvert their expectations of her. Her linguistics and vocabulary often teeter between old-fashioned and mildly antiquated, making her way of talking seem like both a noblewoman and an old lady. Despite (or perhaps because of) her ability to counterfeit, she is actually skilled at handling real money; at the same time, she also possesses a charitable streak, giving money to the poor and destitute on occasion with no strings attached. Apart from that, she can be goofy, and doesn’t take herself very seriously, which can cause people to underestimate her. She is, in a way, addicted to the spirit of mischief.

Other than these eccentricities, Laurel could be described as fairly level-headed and tactically-minded. From a supervisory perspective, Laurel’s though process can be boiled down to, “how can this situation enrich Apollo’s Pompokolin?” Determined to keep her crew’s endeavors apolitical and let them, and herself, pick and choose what to invest in, and not averse to more pragmatic solutions to maintain this, Laurel can be described as either a staunch defender of neutrality and balance, or an avatar of apathy and “fair-weather friends”, depending on one’s opinion. As an example – as if defying conventional logic – she appears indifferent to the plight of slavery despite having suffered from it herself, seeming to only address the issue when it arrives at her doorstep. Part of it is from her knowledge of just how deep the issue runs, and the rest, if you were to hear it from her, is an almost Darwinian justification that the strong will always subjugate the weak, no matter the method.

While she may be in favor of taking a more pragmatic approach to life, she is unlikely to turn down an opportunity to listen to people who come to talk to her (or, sometimes, do hidden favors for them), and sincerely invests herself to others’ well-being, particularly when it comes to her own crew. She is loath to leave others in trouble, even when her more analytical mind tells her that doing so seems wiser, and she has a knack for finding those in trouble as well. She puts the long-term welfare of her crew first and foremost in priority, and can be extremely callous and vindictive, often channeled through passive-aggression, growing steadily to true hostility, to whatever poses a tenable threat towards them.

Overall, those who know of Laurel are wont to see a figure simultaneously eccentric and playful, yet also pragmatic and blasé, looking out solely for her own interests. While such a view is not unjustified, to her closer circle of friends, and to her own crew by extension, she is kind and caring, almost motherly in her disposition. Whatever mischief she cooks up for them rarely has any ulterior motive besides seeing a flustered reaction, and her laissez-faire stems from both a mixture of her personal views and her desire to see those who joined her crew to pursue the goals they reached out for when they stepped onboard the ship, unburdened by other worldly agendas – as if to compensate for the enlightenment she never had in her youth.

History:
When asked about her past, Laurel smiles coyly through the veil of smoke coming from her tobacco pipe and comments that, as one who delights in savoring visions and memories in all their ephemeral beauty—more attractive still when preserved in archives, artifacts, or aught else—she can understand the curiosity; that is, after all, why she has taken up anthropology as a side hobby. She gestures towards a small library consisting of ancient writings, mixed with apocryphal stories, inviting you to peruse them at your leisure and hear her story that way. Provided you can find the book actually discussing it, of course.

Act I:
Among the people of Lvneel, few could be considered so down on their luck as the O’Halloran family. The head of the household was a sailor with fire in his belly, once, all lost to an ill encounter with a stray Sea King across the North Blue, along with the legs it took from him. His wife was the proprietor of a hat shop in Lvneel’s market square, only to have the merchants who supplied her with textiles cut all ties when they met with more prosperous investors. Laurel was the eldest of three sisters, a truth she considered a misfortune. To be the eldest meant everyone knew she would be the one to fail first, and worst, even in the most benign seeking of fortunes. And she did: where other stores would turn down the help of a child, either from the distaste of putting her to work, or not wanting her poor luck to rub off on them, her sisters took to stealing to slow their fall into poverty, and their heists always succeeded—some were even lucrative. At the very least, Laurel was old enough to understand that a once peaceful way of life was slowly crumbling around her.

In the absence of any other possible employment, the family lost everything. At nine years old, Laurel finally decided to resort to stealing along with her sisters, but sure enough, her first attempt ended in catastrophic failure that ended up exposing her sisters as well—and they, fearing retribution, made the hasty story that Laurel, all this time, had been bullying them into not only stealing but being given the lion’s share of spoils. Times were hard, and the merchants victimized for so long were outraged, but only a few souls recognized the girls’ circumstances weren’t entirely their fault. Some such people included a crew of merchants making their rounds across the Blues before they returned to their trading post in Jaya. The girls had done wrong, to be sure, but if they could do honest work, they would—if their parents had jobs again, that was far better. The merchants promised to take the O’Halloran family out of Lvneel, and help them find their fortune on a new island.

At least, that was the story maintained until the outline of Lvneel was well out of sight. Once the O’Hallorans eagerly climbed aboard and Lvneel’s outline was out of sight, the family was greeted with chains and shackles, and the ship’s course made straight for a slave auction house in Sabaody Archipelago. Even as the ship pulled into one mangrove-covered harbor, the smugglers ceaselessly reminded the family that, if they attempted to steal from anyone here now, losing a hand would be the least of their worries.

Separated until put on the auction house’s stage, and even then forbidden to speak unless spoken to by a bidder, Laurel was kept silent, unable to speak to her parents, let alone her sisters whom she felt betrayed by, even as they all shared the floor. Even if she could, it was all too soon before a corpulent man in a white jumpsuit and clear orb surrounding his balding head simply cut to the chase and bought Laurel at stock price, ushering her away barely minutes after she was first presented. The man called himself Saint Tanas, and proudly explained his position as one that held great power as a so-called World Noble, and at the same time, a researcher and self-proclaimed protector of beauty. All Laurel naively wished to know was whether she would be able to work, as the smugglers “promised”— Saint Tanas cheerily confirmed that, yes she would, bringing forward a glowing iron prod and jabbing it against her back as soon as they climbed aboard his ship.

Act II:
For the next nine years, Laurel’s living conditions were scarce better as a slave than they were as a failing eldest child. In those nine years, her way of life was as follows: work, sleep, hope no one caught her not working, eat quickly if food was given, endure the beatings that accompanied the slightest wrongdoing, more work. Being accustomed to that poor fortune beforehand, in a way, helped keep Laurel sane through it all, but it also meant that she hoped for little more than for Saint Tanas to deign to give her table scraps to keep her stomach from shriveling.

A more recent slave, however, hoped for more. A feline Mink called Mordecai, he was much older than Laurel—old enough to remember the joys of seeing a sparkling ocean horizon, of tasting food that could melt in your mouth, of the warmth a fine lady brought to his bedside. Mordecai was a pirate who fell into bad luck, just as Laurel had, but he had no intention of resigning himself to it. His hands were constantly at work, nabbing ostensibly useless junk as part of cleaning Saint Tanas’ gardens, and working into making it something bigger, promising better times would come. Laurel fought with him constantly to be thankful for everything he had in the present, which he was able to riposte with the comeback that being grateful didn’t mean idleness—that one shouldn’t be content with squander pickings set immediately before him, especially with the knowledge that things far greater awaited. At first, she didn’t understand what he meant, and she was even more confused when, out of the blue, he asked her when her birthday was coming. A few weeks later, as soon as it came, following the clock’s strike of midnight, Mordecai gleefully produced the shoddy-looking key he had been working on ever since he had been in Mariejois, and undid his bomb collar—then hers.

“Little bit of advice when ya get in a jam—always memorize the keys,” he said, whiskers dancing on his face with every word. “These candy-arse Nobles crave convenience, so they never think about switching up the locks. The chains and the collars—they’re all the same. Could’ve bailed out sooner, but forget about that—Happy Birthday.”

Before she could scream, Laurel’s mouth was held muffled by a furry palm and lifted up by the other as the two leapt up to the top of the white marble walls and back down to the other side. Under the cover of darkness, it was simple to pass through the city streets without trouble; for people who could summon the mightiest keepers of Justice of the sea on a whim, their security was all too lax, convinced none would dare disturb their perch, or that slaves would dream of escaping. More so, when they would find escape upon a ship of well-to-do Marines that should never have let the runaways on board, much less guide them through Mariejois. As it turned out, these Marines consisted of self-styled freedom fighters opposing the corruption of the World Government—some of whom Mordecai knew by name. Even as they were leaving to the other side of the Red Line into Paradise, his accomplices could barely hold back their celebrations. Mordecai, for his part, gave a stupefied Laurel his toothiest grin yet.

“Life lesson number two! The world’s too big to tackle alone. It may hurt sometimes, but it’s good to have friends. When you lose yer pals, and it hurts, that just means they meant somethin’ after all. You and yer sisters, you were all too young to get that then, so you had to play it strong, by yerself, and got backstabbed when the goin’ got tough. Shame there’s a bunch of us old folks who think the same way. Zechs, tell me that one pub in Dressrosa is still around—I’ve almost forgotten what good food tastes like, and I’m pretty sure this li’l lady never knew to start with!”

Act III:
When Laurel and Mordecai were escorted to the harbors of Dressrosa, and paid a visit to Mordecai’s favorite pub, she would learn how right the Mink was. Just as he bragged, the steak cuts had a perfect balance of marbling, tender enough that serving a knife was just a formality; the alcohol was as crisp as a winter’s morning, and strong enough to put her under the table after her first-ever glass. And as if to make the whole experience feel more like a dream—for being food that her family had long lost the ability to come across, it was all dirt cheap by Mordecai’s standards. “That dreamy taste is the flavor of freedom!” Mordecai slurred out, too drunk himself to know or care how corny the line sounded.

“We do what we like because we are free,” Mordecai would say after regaining his senses, “so they call us pirates, scoundrels of the seas, and so on. In their defense, most real pirates are. Lots of ‘em kill, burn down helpless villages, and even make other people their slaves. When given freedom, a lot of folks like to step on others to get what they want—you saw for yerself in Mariejois. It’s ugly, aye, but when I think of the people who’ll use their freedom to help others instead, I tell meself, ‘Cai, my boy, that’s what freedom is really about.’ People who can do whatever they want, and choose freely to help others! That’s the kind’ve bloke a pirate should be!”

In his barely-coherent ramblings to cope with the hangover (whilst exacerbating Laurel’s own), Laurel had difficulty understanding what Mordecai meant. “Freedom”—a strange word; the rogue Marines mentioned it often, too, and even aged 18, with Mordecai’s descriptive telling and retelling of stories when they were still slaves pounded into Laurel until she could recite them herself by memory, she had difficulty understanding the deeper meaning behind it all. Every good experience she had was accompanied by a sense of unease, confusion. She felt she might fall through the very ground she stood on at any moment.

Then Mordecai asked a question as their migraines began to fade: “So what do you want to do for yerself, lass?”

And something clicked in her mind, even though she hadn’t realized it. “I don’t know,” was her answer.

Mordecai began to cackle like a hen laying a square egg, making the receding headache come back as soon as it left.

“Then let’s see what there is to do! Knowledge is power! And one of the best places to picking up knowledge is—damn, Ohara’s on the other side of the Red Line. Zechs won’t be happy to hear I need a lift again!”

And he continued laughing, even as Zechs responded to his letter requesting transport to the West Blue with flush red anger.

But in just a few weeks – all the while visiting new islands and learning of the world, little by little – the freedom fighters took their charge where they wanted to go, and Laurel soon found herself on the doorsteps to one of Ohara’s esteemed libraries. Years may have known more than books, as Mordecai would quote another obscure proverb, but books, in turn, were a stepping stone and incentive for experience. If there was any subject Laurel could find striking her fancy, it would be here.

As it turned out, Laurel had a great capacity for learning and recalling. There were indeed books on every conceivable subject. History, folklore, law, culture—it wasn’t long before she could even beat Mordecai to the punch on a proverb by quoting the exact stories he took them from. He had a cheeky, smug look on his face that she had been eager to wipe off, and when she did, it took an almost forlorn, yet proud, expression instead that almost made her miss the first. Confident Laurel could do well for herself, and ensuring she had honest work and a roof over her head, a new life helping the library’s proprietor, Mordecai and Zechs set off from Ohara, coming back every few months then to check on her. And for what felt like the first time in her life, Laurel had gained a sense of inner peace.

Unfortunately, one of Mordecai’s favorite proverbs would become prophetic: the things one inch ahead are dark.

Five years later, as Laurel became educated enough for the Oharan Scholars’ Association to consider giving her a position amongst their ranks, Mordecai and Zechs came to pay her a final visit. They brought her news—the infamous pirate, Hoard Marsh – no, Hoar D. Marsh – made a discovery that would change the future. At some point in time, he had discovered a treasure known as One Piece, and his discovery soon reached the World Government’s ears, and they sought to take the treasure for themselves, most likely by force. Somehow, Mordecai, Zechs, and the rest of the self-styled freedom fighters were aware of where Marsh and the World Government, backed by the Marines and the Shichibukai, would set the stage for their war—in the New World. As proud pirates themselves, they felt honorbound to assist Marsh in any way they could, but knew their prospects of coming back alive were grim. They wanted to see the little girl they helped free from the clutches of the Government’s underworld one last time. Laurel, naturally, argued vehemently that their self-imposed mission was suicide, but more than that, she was terrified of the closest thing she had to a family disappearing from her life once again. And they, naturally, smiled and took her beatings, both verbal and physical, with a sad, knowing smile, and a final proverb she had no retort to:

“When poisoned, you might as well swallow the plate!”

And just as soon as they arrived, they left for the New World.

Only days later, and the newspaper came by. “Justice! Hoard Marsh & His Accomplices Captured and Executed at Marineford! Other Pirates Remain in Hiding!” The headline alone was enough to make Laurel’s heart sink, but she felt compelled to read the story nonetheless. A list of the pirate accomplices besides Marsh’s own crew, those executed by Marines or hunted down by the Shichibukai, was compiled, giving a brief synopsis of the “villains” who took their pride to their graves. Mordecai’s and Zech’s names were among them.

They were barely worth calling pirates of the traditional sense at all—the vast majority of their crimes consisted of dine-and-dashing and other petty misdemeanors. They didn’t even have a crew, or a name for one. When it came to navigating the sea, or making a name, they did so by themselves for decades, and only when they ran out of people to mooch off of.

So, just who was Mordecai trying to convince with his so-called second pearl of wisdom on the night they escaped from Saint Tanas’ manor?

Tears blotted the ink of the newspaper as Laurel struggled to accept she’d never find the answer.

Act IV:
Laurel’s offer to join the Oharan Scholars’ Association was soon rescinded; the locals remembered Mordecai’s face from the newspapers as well, and remembered he and a friend were seen talking with the woman. She could have been a sleeper agent meant to feed information to other pirates in hiding. Laurel attempted to defend herself, but made the mistake of telling her accusers of her past as a World Noble’s slave, now set free. In the village’s panic, they threw her in prison and called for a small patrol of Marines to take her away—before the World Government’s wrath came down on them.

In her outrage, Laurel felt herself reliving her past—betrayed by her own sisters, tricked by smugglers posing as merchants, her abuse at the hands of Saint Tanas. She remembered the incessant threats made by those smugglers, and Saint Tanas, what might happen if she misbehaved. Losing a hand would be the least of her worries. Losing her life would seem merciful in comparison. What life she did feel in five years did not last long enough. . . .

She remembered the amazing stories Mordecai used to tell her as they worked in the gardens— the joys of seeing a sparkling ocean horizon, of tasting food that could melt in your mouth, of the warmth a fine lady brought to the bedside. Actually, she could live without that last one.

But she remembered the first piece of advice he had given—memorize the keys. Sure enough, they were left hanging on the wall opposite of her cell. With no guards present, but still in possession of many of her belongings in the rush, she had the tools she needed to turn her junk into a passable excuse for the key’s imitation, with a visual reference right in front of her. Undoing the lock to her cell was simplicity itself.

Of course, it wouldn’t help solve her next obstacle: how to leave Ohara. But she was in luck: with the locals thinking she was still in her cell, and the Marine patrol being few in number, Laurel actually realized it was possible to steal their dinghy and commandeer it for herself. With everyone’s attention overly focused, no one suspected anything was amiss until after the dinghy left the harbor. Her books couldn’t replace true experience, but they did suffice in allowing her to take control of the boat and leave Ohara—albeit with a bounty now placed on her head for the crime of escaping lawful custody, and thievery.

She’d almost forgotten what good food, the “flavor of freedom,” tasted like. It was . . . thrilling.

Laurel soon discovered that she did in fact have a knack for the same skill as her sisters, but better—mayhap the “curse of the eldest sister” was only effective for the first attempt at seeking fortune. Between her ability to sail a boat with ease on her first try, and her re-emerging talent, Laurel couldn’t help but find the coincidence of her skills and her family’s amusing—as if they were all passed down to her. She had to abandon the dinghy, as it would later be identified and traced, but it did carry spare Marine uniforms she was able to wear to conceal her identity as she hopped from island to island. When that began to fail, she learned to sew her own clothes and grew out her hair—no doubt a skill passed down from her mother, if there was any stock in this “inheritance” theory she had sprouted in her mind. While in hiding, she was able to make acquaintances and friends with common ground in the pubs of larger cities, or openly in the smaller hamlets. She had her share of unsavory figures to deal with, too, but as she slowly gathered a following that was willing to get into a scrap alongside her, she began to understand what Mordecai meant concerning the value of – as he called them – “nakama.” She had people she cared about, and people who cared about her in turn. She recalled what Mordecai asked her in the Dressrosa pub: “What do you want to do for yerself, lass?”

She wanted to learn more about the world, and share the joy of the enlightenment that knowledge brought, just as Mordecai had done for her.

And so, when Laurel O’Halloran was 28 years old, she founded her own – if you will – pirate’s crew dedicated to unearthing every bit of truth there was, and giving it to even the lowliest souls with a festive flair, Apollo’s Pompokolin. The skeleton crew celebrated the founding by “stealing” a sorry merchant vessel that begged for retirement, christening it with all the stale grog the pub had to offer.

Act V:
Like her predecessor, Laurel spent much of her time as a petty career criminal, favoring small establishments like local libraries, or making off after a meal without paying. Compared to the epic of Hoar D. Marsh and his Soaring Pirates in the New World, Apollo’s Pompokolin’s exploits across the Blues were hardly worth remembering at all. At most, their ruddy ship had its own little library’s worth of “free knowledge” to share, from stolen books to self-published titles, enough to keep Marine patrols routinely sent after them.

What would become infamous, however, was Laurel’s acquired taste for the mischief of it all. It wasn’t so much the act of stealing that thrilled her, but the idea of being chased, escaping with the clothes on her back, or even getting caught, then running away to filch another day. She remembered Mordecai’s advice in these cases, too, and made sport of ideas to escape that could be crazy enough to work. The Marines who made the mistake of revealing the keys would soon find an abandoned copy of it in the cell she used to be in. If she needed to “use” the bathroom, she lured her guards into a stall, pushed them in with the help of a disguised accomplice, and locked them in with a padlock. She used lip balm to grease her wrists out of handcuffs, sometimes in mid-escort. If she had to be brutal, she arranged for her crew to set fire to all but one of the Marine dinghies. By far her favorite escape involved leaving a hint—and they still couldn’t find her. She left a note scrawled on toilet paper stating her intention to “appeal to a higher court,” then went into hiding in Skypiea. They never noticed, and Laurel, growing bored, returned down below after almost a year of no progress. Once, she even used a silver tongue to convince the law to force her into community service responsible for handling a merchant’s cargo, only to take one of the boxes and use it to ship herself out of the island once the merchant set sail.

As it turned out, that was partially intentional on the “merchant’s” part—he was a fellow just slightly younger than her, impressed with the name and reputation Laurel created for herself. He was an itinerant “salesman” called Sinbad. Sinbad’s trade concerned Devil Fruits—that is to say, while some of his wares were real, to keep up an illusion of integrity, most were just very convincing fakes that let Sinbad scurry off with ludicrous amounts of money before anyone became aware of the scam. Despite this, he carried a disposition that was eerily like Mordecai’s—a grinning idiot, it seemed, with far more wisdom and experience than he let on. The two made fast friends, and while they couldn’t combine their forces as captains of their respective pirate crews, Sinbad and Laurel would often help each other out, a favor for a favor. In fact, as the years went on, few would remain as steadfast an ally to Laurel as Sinbad would.

Between Laurel’s years of bouncing in and out of prison along with the collaborations made with Sinbad, her crimes of escaping eventually outweighed the crimes that warranted her arrests in the first place. Between this, her creative methods of conducting a prison break, and her ability to stay hidden until seemingly willingly turning herself in, earned her the epithet of “Hundred-Faced O’Halloran.”

Unfortunately, her methods would catch the attention of slave traders once again, and some posing as Marines were eventually able to find her, capture her, and take the next ship headed to Sabaody Archipelago before Laurel realized her blunder. The process of presenting her to prospecting buyers was much the same as it was over twenty seven years ago—only the clientele had changed. And again, within minutes, she would be sent off to the highest bidder—another World Noble by the name of Saint Valtome.

It wasn’t long before Valtome noticed the old mark on her back—unequivocal proof that she had escaped a Celestial Dragon’s custody in the past, and could do it again. Instead of outrage, however, he reacted as if it were a challenge: a bellowing laugh, posturing in having “recaptured” a fugitive for himself, and daring Laurel to do it again. Not entirely devoid of sense, however, Valtome did throw in a caveat, and produced a branding iron only slightly smaller than the one used on her back. All Laurel could remember in the following minutes was being shackled in the dungeons, a searing, white-hot, ineffable pain shooting up from her left sole, and blacking out soon after. Her foot would recall what her brain could not, with grim detail, in the following months.

The experience may not have broken her mind, but reliving the trauma did instill in her a malice she didn’t think she had. As soon as Laurel was able to walk somewhat properly again – and that was time enough to concoct an escape plan and lay out its blueprints – after undoing her bomb collar and chains, she snuck into Saint Valtome’s mansion for the sole purpose of slitting his throat in his sleep, thereby making her escape – and vengeance – as official as it could be. Once it was done, and the horror of the act began to set in, she dashed out of the manor, staying hidden in the cover of nightfall, only to remember that her only way out was by ship. She had to hope a Marine ship was feeling merciful.

At least, that’s how it felt until she reached the port, only to be greeted by Sinbad as his usual beaming self. To put it simply, he was just passing through—why pass through Reverse Mountain when there was a nice, calm path through Mariejois waiting for the lawfully-abiding, or at least people who could pass as such with a bit of luck? When he heard the news from her panicking subordinates, he wasn’t sure what to think—he was a lucky sod, sure, but he wasn’t ready to raid Mariejois. Instead, he just happened to pass through as often as he could—and he, and Laurel by extension, got lucky in meeting each other at the same time. With Sinbad’s track record, Laurel was perfectly willingly to believe in sheer dumb luck, just this once.

They made haste with their getaway, and took refuge in Fishman Island. Laurel’s old crew had scattered, their ruddy ship obviously absent, out of fear at the prospect of opposing the World Government. Laurel, reluctantly, explained her experience in Mariejois to Sinbad, and how, despite it, she intended to soldier on as captain of Apollo’s Pompokolin—even if she had become its one and last member.

Sinbad’s answer was to grin, again, only wider than he usually would, and answer, “When poisoned, you might as well swallow the plate! Let’s see what Paradise has to offer!”

Act VI:
By Paradise, Sinbad meant Water 7—if Laurel was to become a respectable pirate like him, nothing could instill new life in a crew quite as a new ship! Moreover, this side of the Red Line was far more accommodating to pirates—a new ship aside, Sinbad could think of a few friends of his other friends, and their friends who knew some people who could help Laurel start again. Laurel, for her part, was flabbergasted; she refused to believe this in itself wasn’t some stupidly elaborate way to make her feel indebted. Even if it wasn’t, she did, and demanded to know what he expected in return. Sinbad just shrugged and batted the topic away with the comment he heard of a great place to gather new Devil Fruits, some crazy treasure, and maybe an island full of beautiful women—as a pirate captain he couldn’t ignore these rumors, but he’d think of something for Laurel in the meantime. By then, she would be well adjusted to her new ship, and have a robust crew of hellions eager to work for her.

Laurel was unsatisfied with the answer, but before she could pin Sinbad down, he was already off and away on his latest adventure. Fortunately, he had the sense to pay for her ship’s construction ahead of time, and she had financial sense enough to worry about the rest. Thinking of the story of a man who set out to find an elixir of immortality, she named her new ship “Xu Fu,” and took to following Sinbad’s advice to rebuild Apollo’s Pompokolin from the ground up whilst exploring Paradise. Sure enough, her way of life was much the same as before; stockpiling information, from everyday trivia to obscure, local myths, gave Laurel a certain joy, more so when she could experience it all firsthand. Her way of life, both her intellectual and risk-taking sides, attracted followers again, as well as larger Marine patrols, bounty hunters, and the like. One thing she did learn was that escaping slavery’s clutches twice meant she had to be far more prudent about when she could get caught; her bounty and reputation were becoming large enough that many would prefer her “dead” over “alive,” even if some of Sinbad’s luck rubbed off and the death of Saint Valtome was pinned on another slave in his possession.

Then, five years ago, she had caught wind that the Yonkou Gray Starks was launching a conquest against the World Government. Once she did some digging it was easy to see why; he had been a crewmate of the former Pirate King, whose wife was recently captured and sent to be executed. Seeking vengeance for the late master, as it were. Starks’ battle against the World Government’s forces turned more or less how Laurel predicted: the former, defeated. It was strange news for her informant passing the news to seem so jubilant about—but he kept talking, and Laurel soon learned why, quoting Starks’ words almost verbatim. “One Piece is real! The Pirate King wasn’t defeated; he surrendered to keep its location a secret! The Will of the D. still lives! It all awaits the one who will take it all to reshape the world—at Raftel!”

The revelations were to Laurel as an old wound being picked at. She found herself coveting One Piece alongside the rest of Apollo’s Pompokolin, now united toward the goal to find it and learn what it truly is, but their captain had a more personal stake. For years, she accepted that her old nakama, Mordecai and Zechs, had given their lives pointlessly fighting for a man they probably never even met, who himself vouched for the authenticity for something almost no one alive even knew existed outside of fairy tales. To discover that the Pirate King had surrendered, rather than fight on bitterly to the end as was the commonly accepted, and far more romantic, theory—just what was at stake? And what sort of gambit were Marsh, and now Starks, trying to play? Had her nakama truly died for nothing?

Then, after over a decade without contact, Sinbad had sent her a letter, albeit tersely written, requesting her aid on “Clockwork Island,” giving her its coordinates, and promising he’d be in her debt for the assistance. He could keep whatever reward he had cooked up, as far as she cared. She charted the course with her crew to see what sort of trouble Sinbad had gotten into that would make them even if she helped. Along the way, her path crossed with a dispatch from the New Revolutionary Army, whose leader had the same destination in mind. Reluctantly, Laurel and the NRA leader, Bach “Black Mage” Garland, stayed the course, leaving her all the more perplexed as to what sort of trouble Sinbad had gotten himself into.

With Sinbad’s letter so scantily worded, Laurel was in no way prepared to witness what Clockwork Island had to offer. There was so much to see! The technology was unlike anything she had ever seen before—not even the libraries of Ohara hinted at its existence! She saw the husks of the people who inhabited the island, though, and realized that with the surreal revelations that, with yet another of Sinbad’s tall tales proving accurate, the inevitable result was that at least one of them had gone wrong. Even when she looked in the eyes of the people who seemed most alive, all she was met with were empty stares that told no tales.

As she and the “Black Mage” forged ahead, they soon met with Sinbad and his crew, as well as the culprits behind Clockwork Island’s robotic state: a man calling himself the “Overseer” and his “Enforcers,” and a Shichibukai. In truth, Laurel and Bach’s arrival could not have been timed better. A fierce battle ensued, by far the greatest Laurel had been involved in yet, and the three groups held their own against the Overseer and Shichibukai. Thankfully, the “Black Mage” and his NRA group were powerful enough to face the Overseer singlehandedly; this gave Laurel, Sinbad, and a child at his side the opportunity to face their Shichibukai enemy, in turn. With teamwork and tactics, the battle eventually ended in the Shichibukai’s defeat.

Laurel, for her part, recognized the Shichibukai easily—not out of the deeds that earned him his bounty, but from the newspaper article she had remembered since the time of Hoar D. Marsh’s execution at Marineford, and the “obituary” of pirates who were hunted down for aiding the Pirate King. Chrome “Brightray” Billon had been lauded as being particularly “helpful” to the cause—and it was his name and face credited for killing her old “nakama,” Mordecai and Zechs. With their names being long forgotten to all besides herself, Laurel saw it an easy task to list some new crimes to Brightray’s bounty; taking advantage of the chaos over twenty-five years ago to slaughter innocent civilians, and using Clockwork Island’s technology to conspire against the World Government. It would be easy to forge the evidence, too, and once that was done his arrest and deposition were inevitable.

Once the three crews went their separate ways, (and Laurel had stolen some of Clockwork Island’s more portable technology before the locals became coherent,) Laurel wrote a letter in response to Sinbad’s to meet at an old favorite pub on the Sky Islands. She intended to settle the matter of “debt” with him before it truly got out of hand. Instead – once again – Sinbad had the upper hand. He was intent on keeping true to his word, and to show his sincerity sent a negotiator between their ships in the form of the same young boy who assisted them back on Clockwork Island, carrying a strange swirled fruit in his hands. Laurel didn’t even care if it was a fake—she ordered her own negotiator to foist Sinbad’s discussed price onto his ship and get the hell away before he could give it back.

In the commotion of these deals, Laurel noticed Sinbad had leaned forward slightly, and a boot landed on the boy’s back to launch him onto the Xu Fu before Laurel could take the fruit off the poor lad’s hands. She had to groan—she knew what was coming next.

“Don’t worry, boyo, we’ll be meeting again! For now I’ll be leaving you in her care to learn about the real world! Here’s lesson two: Try to avoid debts!”

And another groan left her mouth. He was enjoying putting her on the spot. He had to be. No sane man would effectively “maroon” his own trusted crewmate onto another pirate’s ship. And Mazin, as she would later discover his name to be, was made a pawn in their game of debts to keep Sinbad in the lead. As Laurel helped Mazin back up, Sinbad had already set sail and made himself out of reach.

Life for Apollo’s Pompokolin onboard the Xu Fu gradually returned to normal. Laurel stayed true to her mind’s words and maintained she didn’t care if the Devil Fruit she was given was a fake; she’d almost prefer it. After orienting Mazin to the workings of the crew, she would test the fruit’s authenticity.

Serving it as a parfait, Laurel took a spoonful of the fruit, and just one bite took her far away . . . to a place where flavors go to die. That alone was the undeniable proof it was real. Even if it wasn’t, the fact her ears began to shift up to the top of her head and sprout a coat of silky fur, along with a tail growing underneath her clothes, would cast away all doubt.

Laurel shook her head, and decided to focus the rest of her year up to now and finding out just what sort of power she was dealing with.


Last edited by Laurel O’Halloran on Sat Aug 19, 2017 2:26 pm; edited 4 times in total
Gray
Laurel O’Halloran Cool-t10
Tracker

Name : Gray Starks
Epithet : The Conqueror (Formerly "Black Fist")
Age : 49
Height : 10'1"/ 307 cm
Weight : 1043 lbs / 473 kg
Species : Human Cyborg
Faction : Pirate
World Position : Super Veteran (Former Yonkou)
Crew : Black Fist Pirates (Destroyed)
Ship : Sangria's Vane (Destroyed)
Crew Position : Captain (Former)
Devil Fruit : Pressure-Pressure Fruit
Haki Specialization : All
Haki Level : 9
Hitpoints (HP) : 700
Attack (ATK) : 750
Defense (DEF) : 600
Reflex (RX) : 655
Willpower (WP) : 600
Level : 100
Experience Points : 10000
Bounty : 5,000,000,000
Income Multiplier : +10%
Shop Discount : -20%
Berries Berries : 25,000,000,000
[[strollingdeath]][[baneoftheweak]][[freakofnature]][[childofdestiny]]
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Posts : 1913
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Laurel O’Halloran Empty Re: Laurel O’Halloran

on Sun Dec 25, 2016 9:13 pm
11/10 Will never play Fire Emblem again without thinking of Laurel's mentor. (No promises.)

Approved!

@Laurel O’Halloran wrote:

Laurel O’Halloran


Laurel O’Halloran 55737707_p20_small



Basic Character Information


Starting Bonus: Jackpot | [Starting Bonus Roll] (Traded for [Soar, Phoenix] )

First Name: Laurel
Middle Name/Initial: -
Last Name: O’Halloran
Epithet: “Hundred-Faced O’Halloran”
Age: 48
Gender: Female
Race: Human
Faction: Pirate
Affiliation: Apollo’s Pompokolin (a.k.a. “Pompoko Pirates”)
Position: Captain
Profession: Captain | Scholar | Spy

Captain: Simply put, Laurel has over a decade of experience in an administrative role over her crew; she founded Apollo’s Pompokolin as a group of like-minded intellects, watched and helped it evolve into the crew of pirates they’re now known to be, and kept her position as an active overseer through it all. Besides this, she is also the acting “quartermaster,” being responsible for supervising and keeping open the crew’s supply lines.

Scholar: Laurel’s greatest weapon is her mind. She carries an appetite to learn all that she can, and share her knowledge and findings freely. She has working knowledge on a variety of subject, although experienced veterans of their respective fields will invariably outperform her. Her preferred studies revolve around history and culture; while not an expert, she also knows of ancient languages and can decipher them to a rudimentary level of understanding. Laurel fancies her knowledge as being second only to the Oharan Scholars’ Association. She aims to correct that.

Spy: Laurel’s oldest vocation is that of a self-taught spook who can infiltrate and egress from enemy (or, “enemy”) lines well before her mark becomes aware of the fact, even without her Devil Fruit powers. Her crew also contains similarly-trained “accomplices” who can assist their captain as sleeper agents and informants, keeping communications flowing even when Laurel is incarcerated and assisting in her escapes. Unlike professional assassins, however, Laurel has little experience – or comfort – with actually killing people, and considers herself fortunate in this regard.



Physical Appearance


Height: 6’8” (204 cm)
Weight: 156 lbs. (71 kg)

Hair Style: Laurel favors two styles:  one being neck-length, voluminous and bushy without appearing coarse; the second waist-length, notably more thinly-layered and straightened, with curls at the ends.
Hair Color: Dusky brown
Eye Color: Amber
Scars: Has the Hoof of the Soaring Dragon on her back as well as the sole of her left foot.
Clothing and Accessories: Her wardrobe of disguises aside, Laurel is almost never seen without her kiseru, nor pince-nez glasses with gold frames, held by a fine chain around her neck when not in use. She is seen just as often is a leaf-shaped jade barrette fastened to her bangs on the upper left corner of her face, a flask of sake strapped to her hip, and loosely-fitting golden bangles on each of her wrists. As for a preferred manner of dress, her tastes are low-key, sylvan, and homey. As an example of this fashion sense, one of her favorite sets of clothes is a billowy, dark green robe with a multitude of pockets for carrying her personal effects, along with an ecru undershirt, a dark red hakama with ochre spiral patterns, white tabi, and two-teethed 6 cm-tall geta (or, sometimes, 14 cm-tall, black-lacquered okobo). Depending on the clothes she’s already wearing, or the weather, she may also don a checkered scarf.

Detailed Description: Laurel is a strikingly tall and svelte woman with a sort of relaxed, yet confident posture, and a faint smile fixed to her face at seemingly all times. Though well into her middle-ages, she has aged well enough that, despite being notably older than most of her crew thus far, there’s hardly a wrinkle on her skin, and her only physiological sign of her age is her tendency to narrow her eyes when trying to better examine something, and the subtle limp in her gait with every step of the left foot.

Bizarrely among Zoan Devil Fruits, Laurel’s carries the perk where her Human Form still possesses some of the fruit’s animalistic features unless she makes the conscious effort to suppress them: her ears are those of a tanuki (atop her head, small and rounded with a slight point at their tips), and she sports an extremely large and fluffy tail that can be as long as she is tall. While Laurel can suppress these features to appear almost completely human, changing their size and color, it actually requires some effort to do so, and when transforming into something or someone else, the ears and tail never completely disappear; sometimes, it’s more efficient to hide these features through specific clothes.



The Past


Main Traits: Playful, Calm, Ascetic | Trenchant, Hardened, Skeptic

Likes: Proverbs, Fig Tarts, Messing With People, Having the Mental Higher Ground, Corny Lines, Udon With Tenkasu
Dislikes: Achievements Through Ignorance, Debts (Both Owing and Being Owed), Shichibukai, Sinbad(?), Inarizushi
Hometown: Lvneel, North Blue
Personality: In most cases, Laurel is gregarious and good-natured, if not above thinking of ways to catch a person off-guard or subvert their expectations of her. Her linguistics and vocabulary often teeter between old-fashioned and mildly antiquated, making her way of talking seem like both a noblewoman and an old lady. Despite her ability to counterfeit, she is actually skilled at handling real money, as she is responsible for managing her crew’s finances, but also possesses a charitable streak, giving money to the poor and destitute on occasion with no strings attached. Apart from that, she can be goofy, and doesn’t take herself very seriously, which can cause people to underestimate her. She is, in a way, addicted to the spirit of mischief.

From a supervisory perspective, Laurel’s though process can be boiled down to, “how can this situation enrich Apollo’s Pompokolin?” Determined to keep her nakama’s endeavors apolitical, and not averse to more pragmatic solutions to maintain this, Laurel can be described as either a staunch defender of neutrality and balance, or an avatar of apathy and “fair-weather friends”, depending on one’s opinion. As an example – as if defying conventional logic – she appears indifferent to the plight of slavery despite having suffered from it herself, seeming to only address the issue when it arrives at her doorstep. Part of it is from her knowledge of just how deep the issue runs, and the rest, if you were to hear it from her, is an almost Darwinian justification that the strong will always subjugate the weak, no matter the method.

Other than these eccentricities, Laurel could be described as fairly level-headed and tactically-minded; while she may be in favor of taking a more pragmatic approach to life, she is unlikely to turn down an opportunity to listen to people who come to talk to her (or, sometimes, do hidden favors for them), and sincerely invests herself to others’ well-being, particularly when it comes to her own crew. She is loath to leave others in trouble, even when her more analytical mind tells her that doing so seems wiser, and she has a knack for finding those in trouble as well. Conversely, she puts the long-term welfare of her nakama first and foremost in priority, and can be extremely callous and vindictive, often channeled through passive-aggression, growing steadily to true hostility, to whatever poses a tenable threat towards them.

Overall, those who know of Laurel are wont to see a figure simultaneously eccentric and playful, yet also pragmatic and blasé, looking out solely for her own interests. While such a view is not unjustified, to her closer circle of friends, and to her own nakama by extension, she is kind and caring, almost motherly in her disposition. Whatever mischief she cooks up for them rarely has any ulterior motive besides seeing a flustered reaction, and her laissez-faire stems from both a mixture of her personal views and her desire to see those who joined her crew to pursue the goals they reached out for when they stepped onboard the ship, unburdened by other worldly agendas – as if to compensate for the enlightenment she never had in her youth.

History:
Act I:
Among the people of Lvneel, few could be considered so down on their luck as the O’Halloran family. The head of the household was a sailor with fire in his belly, once, all lost to an ill encounter with a stray Sea King across the North Blue, along with the legs it took from him. His wife was the proprietor of a hat shop in Lvneel’s market square, only to have the merchants who supplied her with textiles cut all ties when they met with more prosperous investors. Laurel was the eldest of three sisters, a truth she considered a misfortune. To be the eldest meant everyone knew she would be the one to fail first, and worst, even in the most benign seeking of fortunes. And she did: where other stores would turn down the help of a child, either from the distaste of putting her to work, or not wanting her poor luck to rub off on them, her sisters took to stealing to slow their fall into poverty, and their heists always succeeded—some were even lucrative. At the very least, Laurel was old enough to understand that a once peaceful way of life was slowly crumbling around her.

In the absence of any other possible employment, the family lost everything. At nine years old, Laurel finally decided to resort to stealing along with her sisters, but sure enough, her first attempt ended in catastrophic failure that ended up exposing her sisters as well—and they, fearing retribution, made the hasty story that Laurel, all this time, had been bullying them into not only stealing but being given the lion’s share of spoils. Times were hard, and the merchants victimized for so long were outraged, but only a few souls recognized the girls’ circumstances weren’t entirely their fault. Some such people included a crew of merchants making their rounds across the Blues before they returned to their trading post in Jaya. The girls had done wrong, to be sure, but if they could do honest work, they would—if their parents had jobs again, that was far better. The merchants promised to take the O’Halloran family out of Lvneel, and help them find their fortune on a new island.

At least, that was the story maintained until the outline of Lvneel was well out of sight. Once the O’Hallorans eagerly climbed aboard and Lvneel’s outline was out of sight, the family was greeted with chains and shackles, and the ship’s course made straight for a slave auction house in Sabaody Archipelago. Even as the ship pulled into one mangrove-covered harbor, the smugglers ceaselessly reminded the family that, if they attempted to steal from anyone here now, losing a hand would be the least of their worries.

Separated until put on the auction house’s stage, and even then forbidden to speak unless spoken to by a bidder, Laurel was kept silent, unable to speak to her parents, let alone her sisters whom she felt betrayed by, even as they all shared the floor. Even if she could, it was all too soon before a corpulent man in a white jumpsuit and clear orb surrounding his balding head simply cut to the chase and bought Laurel at stock price, ushering her away barely minutes after she was first presented. The man called himself Saint Tanas, and proudly explained his position as one that held great power as a so-called World Noble, and at the same time, a researcher and self-proclaimed protector of beauty. All Laurel naively wished to know was whether she would be able to work, as the smugglers “promised”— Saint Tanas cheerily confirmed that, yes she would, bringing forward a glowing iron prod and jabbing it against her back as soon as they climbed aboard his ship.

Act II:
For the next nine years, Laurel’s living conditions were scarce better as a slave than they were as a failing eldest child. In those nine years, her way of life was as follows: work, sleep, hope no one caught her not working, eat quickly if food was given, endure the beatings that accompanied the slightest wrongdoing, more work. Being accustomed to that poor fortune beforehand, in a way, helped keep Laurel sane through it all, but it also meant that she hoped for little more than for Saint Tanas to deign to give her table scraps to keep her stomach from shriveling.

A more recent slave, however, hoped for more. A feline Mink called Mordecai, he was much older than Laurel—old enough to remember the joys of seeing a sparkling ocean horizon, of tasting food that could melt in your mouth, of the warmth a fine lady brought to his bedside. Mordecai was a pirate who fell into bad luck, just as Laurel had, but he had no intention of resigning himself to it. His hands were constantly at work, nabbing ostensibly useless junk as part of cleaning Saint Tanas’ gardens, and working into making it something bigger, promising better times would come. Laurel fought with him constantly to be thankful for everything he had in the present, which he was able to riposte with the comeback that being grateful didn’t mean idleness—that one shouldn’t be content with squander pickings set immediately before him, especially with the knowledge that things far greater awaited. At first, she didn’t understand what he meant, and she was even more confused when, out of the blue, he asked her when her birthday was coming. A few weeks later, as soon as it came, following the clock’s strike of midnight, Mordecai gleefully produced the shoddy-looking key he had been working on ever since he had been in Mariejois, and undid his bomb collar—then hers.

“Little bit of advice when ya get in a jam—always memorize the keys,” he said, whiskers dancing on his face with every word. “These candy-arse Nobles crave convenience, so they never think about switching up the locks. The chains and the collars—they’re all the same. Could’ve bailed out sooner, but forget about that—Happy Birthday.”

Before she could scream, Laurel’s mouth was held muffled by a furry palm and lifted up by the other as the two leapt up to the top of the white marble walls and back down to the other side. Under the cover of darkness, it was simple to pass through the city streets without trouble; for people who could summon the mightiest keepers of Justice of the sea on a whim, their security was all too lax, convinced none would dare disturb their perch, or that slaves would dream of escaping. More so, when they would find escape upon a ship of well-to-do Marines that should never have let the runaways on board, much less guide them through Mariejois. As it turned out, these Marines consisted of self-styled freedom fighters opposing the corruption of the World Government—some of whom Mordecai knew by name. Even as they were leaving to the other side of the Red Line into Paradise, his accomplices could barely hold back their celebrations. Mordecai, for his part, gave a stupefied Laurel his toothiest grin yet.

“Life lesson number two! The world’s too big to tackle alone. It may hurt sometimes, but it’s good to have friends. When you lose yer pals, and it hurts, that just means they meant somethin’ after all. You and yer sisters, you were all too young to get that then, so you had to play it strong, by yerself, and got backstabbed when the goin’ got tough. Shame there’s a bunch of us old folks who think the same way. Zechs, tell me that one pub in Dressrosa is still around—I’ve almost forgotten what good food tastes like, and I’m pretty sure this li’l lady never knew to start with!”

Act III:
When Laurel and Mordecai were escorted to the harbors of Dressrosa, and paid a visit to Mordecai’s favorite pub, she would learn how right the Mink was. Just as he bragged, the steak cuts had a perfect balance of marbling, tender enough that serving a knife was just a formality; the alcohol was as crisp as a winter’s morning, and strong enough to put her under the table after her first-ever glass. And as if to make the whole experience feel more like a dream—for being food that her family had long lost the ability to come across, it was all dirt cheap by Mordecai’s standards. “That dreamy taste is the flavor of freedom!” Mordecai slurred out, too drunk himself to know or care how corny the line sounded.

“We do what we like because we are free,” Mordecai would say after regaining his senses, “so they call us pirates, scoundrels of the seas, and so on. In their defense, most real pirates are. Lots of ‘em kill, burn down helpless villages, and even make other people their slaves. When given freedom, a lot of folks like to step on others to get what they want—you saw for yerself in Mariejois. It’s ugly, aye, but when I think of the people who’ll use their freedom to help others instead, I tell meself, ‘Cai, my boy, that’s what freedom is really about.’ People who can do whatever they want, and choose freely to help others! That’s the kind’ve bloke a pirate should be!”

In his barely-coherent ramblings to cope with the hangover (whilst exacerbating Laurel’s own), Laurel had difficulty understanding what Mordecai meant. “Freedom”—a strange word; the rogue Marines mentioned it often, too, and even aged 18, with Mordecai’s descriptive telling and retelling of stories when they were still slaves pounded into Laurel until she could recite them herself by memory, she had difficulty understanding the deeper meaning behind it all. Every good experience she had was accompanied by a sense of unease, confusion. She felt she might fall through the very ground she stood on at any moment.

Then Mordecai asked a question as their migraines began to fade: “So what do you want to do for yerself, lass?”

And something clicked in her mind, even though she hadn’t realized it. “I don’t know,” was her answer.

Mordecai began to cackle like a hen laying a square egg, making the receding headache come back as soon as it left.

“Then let’s see what there is to do! Knowledge is power! And one of the best places to picking up knowledge is—damn, Ohara’s on the other side of the Red Line. Zechs won’t be happy to hear I need a lift again!”

And he continued laughing, even as Zechs responded to his letter requesting transport to the West Blue with flush red anger.

But in just a few weeks – all the while visiting new islands and learning of the world, little by little – the freedom fighters took their charge where they wanted to go, and Laurel soon found herself on the doorsteps to one of Ohara’s esteemed libraries. Years may have known more than books, as Mordecai would quote another obscure proverb, but books, in turn, were a stepping stone and incentive for experience. If there was any subject Laurel could find striking her fancy, it would be here.

As it turned out, Laurel had a great capacity for learning and recalling. There were indeed books on every conceivable subject. History, folklore, law, culture—it wasn’t long before she could even beat Mordecai to the punch on a proverb by quoting the exact stories he took them from. He had a cheeky, smug look on his face that she had been eager to wipe off, and when she did, it took an almost forlorn, yet proud, expression instead that almost made her miss the first. Confident Laurel could do well for herself, and ensuring she had honest work and a roof over her head, a new life helping the library’s proprietor, Mordecai and Zechs set off from Ohara, coming back every few months then to check on her. And for what felt like the first time in her life, Laurel had gained a sense of inner peace.

Unfortunately, one of Mordecai’s favorite proverbs would become prophetic: the things one inch ahead are dark.

Five years later, as Laurel became educated enough for the Oharan Scholars’ Association to consider giving her a position amongst their ranks, Mordecai and Zechs came to pay her a final visit. They brought her news—the infamous pirate, Hoard Marsh – no, Hoar D. Marsh – made a discovery that would change the future. At some point in time, he had discovered a treasure known as One Piece, and his discovery soon reached the World Government’s ears, and they sought to take the treasure for themselves, most likely by force. Somehow, Mordecai, Zechs, and the rest of the self-styled freedom fighters were aware of where Marsh and the World Government, backed by the Marines and the Shichibukai, would set the stage for their war—in the New World. As proud pirates themselves, they felt honorbound to assist Marsh in any way they could, but knew their prospects of coming back alive were grim. They wanted to see the little girl they helped free from the clutches of the Government’s underworld one last time. Laurel, naturally, argued vehemently that their self-imposed mission was suicide, but more than that, she was terrified of the closest thing she had to a family disappearing from her life once again. And they, naturally, smiled and took her beatings, both verbal and physical, with a sad, knowing smile, and a final proverb she had no retort to:

“When poisoned, you might as well swallow the plate!”

And just as soon as they arrived, they left for the New World.

Only days later, and the newspaper came by. “Justice! Hoard Marsh & His Accomplices Captured and Executed at Marineford! Other Pirates Remain in Hiding!” The headline alone was enough to make Laurel’s heart sink, but she felt compelled to read the story nonetheless. A list of the pirate accomplices besides Marsh’s own crew, those executed by Marines or hunted down by the Shichibukai, was compiled, giving a brief synopsis of the “villains” who took their pride to their graves. Mordecai’s and Zech’s names were among them.

They were barely worth calling pirates of the traditional sense at all—the vast majority of their crimes consisted of dine-and-dashing and other petty misdemeanors. They didn’t even have a crew, or a name for one. When it came to navigating the sea, or making a name, they did so by themselves for decades, and only when they ran out of people to mooch off of.

So, just who was Mordecai trying to convince with his so-called second pearl of wisdom on the night they escaped from Saint Tanas’ manor?

Tears blotted the ink of the newspaper as Laurel struggled to accept she’d never find the answer.

Act IV:
Laurel’s offer to join the Oharan Scholars’ Association was soon rescinded; the locals remembered Mordecai’s face from the newspapers as well, and remembered he and a friend were seen talking with the woman. She could have been a sleeper agent meant to feed information to other pirates in hiding. Laurel attempted to defend herself, but made the mistake of telling her accusers of her past as a World Noble’s slave, now set free. In the village’s panic, they threw her in prison and called for a small patrol of Marines to take her away—before the World Government’s wrath came down on them.

In her outrage, Laurel felt herself reliving her past—betrayed by her own sisters, tricked by smugglers posing as merchants, her abuse at the hands of Saint Tanas. She remembered the incessant threats made by those smugglers, and Saint Tanas, what might happen if she misbehaved. Losing a hand would be the least of her worries. Losing her life would seem merciful in comparison. What life she did feel in five years did not last long enough. . . .

She remembered the amazing stories Mordecai used to tell her as they worked in the gardens— the joys of seeing a sparkling ocean horizon, of tasting food that could melt in your mouth, of the warmth a fine lady brought to the bedside. Actually, she could live without that last one.

But she remembered the first piece of advice he had given—memorize the keys. Sure enough, they were left hanging on the wall opposite of her cell. With no guards present, but still in possession of many of her belongings in the rush, she had the tools she needed to turn her junk into a passable excuse for the key’s imitation, with a visual reference right in front of her. Undoing the lock to her cell was simplicity itself.

Of course, it wouldn’t help solve her next obstacle: how to leave Ohara. But she was in luck: with the locals thinking she was still in her cell, and the Marine patrol being few in number, Laurel actually realized it was possible to steal their dinghy and commandeer it for herself. With everyone’s attention overly focused, no one suspected anything was amiss until after the dinghy left the harbor. Her books couldn’t replace true experience, but they did suffice in allowing her to take control of the boat and leave Ohara—albeit with a bounty now placed on her head for the crime of escaping lawful custody, and thievery.

She’d almost forgotten what good food, the “flavor of freedom,” tasted like. It was . . . thrilling.

Laurel soon discovered that she did in fact have a knack for the same skill as her sisters, but better—mayhap the “curse of the eldest sister” was only effective for the first attempt at seeking fortune. Between her ability to sail a boat with ease on her first try, and her re-emerging talent, Laurel couldn’t help but find the coincidence of her skills and her family’s amusing—as if they were all passed down to her. She had to abandon the dinghy, as it would later be identified and traced, but it did carry spare Marine uniforms she was able to wear to conceal her identity as she hopped from island to island. When that began to fail, she learned to sew her own clothes and grew out her hair—no doubt a skill passed down from her mother, if there was any stock in this “inheritance” theory she had sprouted in her mind. While in hiding, she was able to make acquaintances and friends with common ground in the pubs of larger cities, or openly in the smaller hamlets. She had her share of unsavory figures to deal with, too, but as she slowly gathered a following that was willing to get into a scrap alongside her, she began to understand what Mordecai meant concerning the value of – as he called them – “nakama.” She had people she cared about, and people who cared about her in turn. She recalled what Mordecai asked her in the Dressrosa pub: “What do you want to do for yerself, lass?”

She wanted to learn more about the world, and share the joy of the enlightenment that knowledge brought, just as Mordecai had done for her.

And so, when Laurel O’Halloran was 28 years old, she founded her own – if you will – pirate’s crew dedicated to unearthing every bit of truth there was, and giving it to even the lowliest souls with a festive flair, Apollo’s Pompokolin. The skeleton crew celebrated the founding by “stealing” a sorry merchant vessel that begged for retirement, christening it with all the stale grog the pub had to offer.

Act V:
Like her predecessor, Laurel spent much of her time as a petty career criminal, favoring small establishments like local libraries, or making off after a meal without paying. Compared to the epic of Hoar D. Marsh and his Soaring Pirates in the New World, Apollo’s Pompokolin’s exploits across the Blues were hardly worth remembering at all. At most, their ruddy ship had its own little library’s worth of “free knowledge” to share, from stolen books to self-published titles, enough to keep Marine patrols routinely sent after them.

What would become infamous, however, was Laurel’s acquired taste for the mischief of it all. It wasn’t so much the act of stealing that thrilled her, but the idea of being chased, escaping with the clothes on her back, or even getting caught, then running away to filch another day. She remembered Mordecai’s advice in these cases, too, and made sport of ideas to escape that could be crazy enough to work. The Marines who made the mistake of revealing the keys would soon find an abandoned copy of it in the cell she used to be in. If she needed to “use” the bathroom, she lured her guards into a stall, pushed them in with the help of a disguised accomplice, and locked them in with a padlock. She used lip balm to grease her wrists out of handcuffs, sometimes in mid-escort. If she had to be brutal, she arranged for her crew to set fire to all but one of the Marine dinghies. By far her favorite escape involved leaving a hint—and they still couldn’t find her. She left a note scrawled on toilet paper stating her intention to “appeal to a higher court,” then went into hiding in Skypiea. They never noticed, and Laurel, growing bored, returned down below after almost a year of no progress. Once, she even used a silver tongue to convince the law to force her into community service responsible for handling a merchant’s cargo, only to take one of the boxes and use it to ship herself out of the island once the merchant set sail.

As it turned out, that was partially intentional on the “merchant’s” part—he was a fellow just slightly younger than her, impressed with the name and reputation Laurel created for herself. He was an itinerant “salesman” called Sinbad. Sinbad’s trade concerned Devil Fruits—that is to say, while some of his wares were real, to keep up an illusion of integrity, most were just very convincing fakes that let Sinbad scurry off with ludicrous amounts of money before anyone became aware of the scam. Despite this, he carried a disposition that was eerily like Mordecai’s—a grinning idiot, it seemed, with far more wisdom and experience than he let on. The two made fast friends, and while they couldn’t combine their forces as captains of their respective pirate crews, Sinbad and Laurel would often help each other out, a favor for a favor. In fact, as the years went on, few would remain as steadfast an ally to Laurel as Sinbad would.

Between Laurel’s years of bouncing in and out of prison along with the collaborations made with Sinbad, her crimes of escaping eventually outweighed the crimes that warranted her arrests in the first place. Between this, her creative methods of conducting a prison break, and her ability to stay hidden until seemingly willingly turning herself in, earned her the epithet of “Hundred-Faced O’Halloran.”

Unfortunately, her methods would catch the attention of slave traders once again, and some posing as Marines were eventually able to find her, capture her, and take the next ship headed to Sabaody Archipelago before Laurel realized her blunder. The process of presenting her to prospecting buyers was much the same as it was over twenty seven years ago—only the clientele had changed. And again, within minutes, she would be sent off to the highest bidder—another World Noble by the name of Saint Valtome.

It wasn’t long before Valtome noticed the old mark on her back—unequivocal proof that she had escaped a Celestial Dragon’s custody in the past, and could do it again. Instead of outrage, however, he reacted as if it were a challenge: a bellowing laugh, posturing in having “recaptured” a fugitive for himself, and daring Laurel to do it again. Not entirely devoid of sense, however, Valtome did throw in a caveat, and produced a branding iron only slightly smaller than the one used on her back. All Laurel could remember in the following minutes was being shackled in the dungeons, a searing, white-hot, ineffable pain shooting up from her left sole, and blacking out soon after. Her foot would recall what her brain could not, with grim detail, in the following months.

The experience may not have broken her mind, but reliving the trauma did instill in her a malice she didn’t think she had. As soon as Laurel was able to walk somewhat properly again – and that was time enough to concoct an escape plan and lay out its blueprints – after undoing her bomb collar and chains, she snuck into Saint Valtome’s mansion for the sole purpose of slitting his throat in his sleep, thereby making her escape – and vengeance – as official as it could be. Once it was done, and the horror of the act began to set in, she dashed out of the manor, staying hidden in the cover of nightfall, only to remember that her only way out was by ship. She had to hope a Marine ship was feeling merciful.

At least, that’s how it felt until she reached the port, only to be greeted by Sinbad as his usual beaming self. To put it simply, he was just passing through—why pass through Reverse Mountain when there was a nice, calm path through Mariejois waiting for the lawfully-abiding, or at least people who could pass as such with a bit of luck? When he heard the news from her panicking subordinates, he wasn’t sure what to think—he was a lucky sod, sure, but he wasn’t ready to raid Mariejois. Instead, he just happened to pass through as often as he could—and he, and Laurel by extension, got lucky in meeting each other at the same time. With Sinbad’s track record, Laurel was perfectly willingly to believe in sheer dumb luck, just this once.

They made haste with their getaway, and took refuge in Fishman Island. Laurel’s old crew had scattered, their ruddy ship obviously absent, out of fear at the prospect of opposing the World Government. Laurel, reluctantly, explained her experience in Mariejois to Sinbad, and how, despite it, she intended to soldier on as captain of Apollo’s Pompokolin—even if she had become its one and last member.

Sinbad’s answer was to grin, again, only wider than he usually would, and answer, “When poisoned, you might as well swallow the plate! Let’s see what Paradise has to offer!”

Act VI:
By Paradise, Sinbad meant Water 7—if Laurel was to become a respectable pirate like him, nothing could instill new life in a crew quite as a new ship! Moreover, this side of the Red Line was far more accommodating to pirates—a new ship aside, Sinbad could think of a few friends of his other friends, and their friends who knew some people who could help Laurel start again. Laurel, for her part, was flabbergasted; she refused to believe this in itself wasn’t some stupidly elaborate way to make her feel indebted. Even if it wasn’t, she did, and demanded to know what he expected in return. Sinbad just shrugged and batted the topic away with the comment he heard of a great place to gather new Devil Fruits, some crazy treasure, and maybe an island full of beautiful women—as a pirate captain he couldn’t ignore these rumors, but he’d think of something for Laurel in the meantime. By then, she would be well adjusted to her new ship, and have a robust crew of hellions eager to work for her.

Laurel was unsatisfied with the answer, but before she could pin Sinbad down, he was already off and away on his latest adventure. Fortunately, he had the sense to pay for her ship’s construction ahead of time, and she had financial sense enough to worry about the rest. Thinking of the story of a man who set out to find an elixir of immortality, she named her new ship “Xu Fu,” and took to following Sinbad’s advice to rebuild Apollo’s Pompokolin from the ground up whilst exploring Paradise. Sure enough, her way of life was much the same as before; stockpiling information, from everyday trivia to obscure, local myths, gave Laurel a certain joy, more so when she could experience it all firsthand. Her way of life, both her intellectual and risk-taking sides, attracted followers again, as well as larger Marine patrols, bounty hunters, and the like. One thing she did learn was that escaping slavery’s clutches twice meant she had to be far more prudent about when she could get caught; her bounty and reputation were becoming large enough that many would prefer her “dead” over “alive,” even if some of Sinbad’s luck rubbed off and the death of Saint Valtome was pinned on another slave in his possession.

Then, five years ago, she had caught wind that the Yonkou Gray Starks was launching a conquest against the World Government. Once she did some digging it was easy to see why; he had been a crewmate of the former Pirate King, whose wife was recently captured and sent to be executed. Seeking vengeance for the late master, as it were. Starks’ battle against the World Government’s forces turned more or less how Laurel predicted: the former, defeated. It was strange news for her informant passing the news to seem so jubilant about—but he kept talking, and Laurel soon learned why, quoting Starks’ words almost verbatim. “One Piece is real! The Pirate King wasn’t defeated; he surrendered to keep its location a secret! The Will of the D. still lives! It all awaits the one who will take it all to reshape the world—at Raftel!”

The revelations were to Laurel as an old wound being picked at. She found herself coveting One Piece alongside the rest of Apollo’s Pompokolin, now united toward the goal to find it and learn what it truly is, but their captain had a more personal stake. For years, she accepted that her old nakama, Mordecai and Zechs, had given their lives pointlessly fighting for a man they probably never even met, who himself vouched for the authenticity for something almost no one alive even knew existed outside of fairy tales. To discover that the Pirate King had surrendered, rather than fight on bitterly to the end as was the commonly accepted, and far more romantic, theory—just what was at stake? And what sort of gambit were Marsh, and now Starks, trying to play? Had her nakama truly died for nothing?

Then, after over a decade without contact, Sinbad had sent her a letter, albeit tersely written, requesting her aid on “Clockwork Island,” giving her its coordinates, and promising he’d be in her debt for the assistance. He could keep whatever reward he had cooked up, as far as she cared. She charted the course with her crew to see what sort of trouble Sinbad had gotten into that would make them even if she helped. Along the way, her path crossed with a dispatch from the New Revolutionary Army, whose leader had the same destination in mind. Reluctantly, Laurel and the NRA leader, Bach “Black Mage” Garland, stayed the course, leaving her all the more perplexed as to what sort of trouble Sinbad had gotten himself into.

With Sinbad’s letter so scantily worded, Laurel was in no way prepared to witness what Clockwork Island had to offer. There was so much to see! The technology was unlike anything she had ever seen before—not even the libraries of Ohara hinted at its existence! She saw the husks of the people who inhabited the island, though, and realized that with the surreal revelations that, with yet another of Sinbad’s tall tales proving accurate, the inevitable result was that at least one of them had gone wrong. Even when she looked in the eyes of the people who seemed most alive, all she was met with were empty stares that told no tales.

As she and the “Black Mage” forged ahead, they soon met with Sinbad and his crew, as well as the culprits behind Clockwork Island’s robotic state: a man calling himself the “Overseer” and his “Enforcers,” and a Shichibukai. In truth, Laurel and Bach’s arrival could not have been timed better. A fierce battle ensued, by far the greatest Laurel had been involved in yet, and the three groups held their own against the Overseer and Shichibukai. Thankfully, the “Black Mage” and his NRA group were powerful enough to face the Overseer singlehandedly; this gave Laurel, Sinbad, and a child at his side the opportunity to face their Shichibukai enemy, in turn. With teamwork and tactics, the battle eventually ended in the Shichibukai’s defeat.

Laurel, for her part, recognized the Shichibukai easily—not out of the deeds that earned him his bounty, but from the newspaper article she had remembered since the time of Hoar D. Marsh’s execution at Marineford, and the “obituary” of pirates who were hunted down for aiding the Pirate King. Chrome “Brightray” Billon had been lauded as being particularly “helpful” to the cause—and it was his name and face credited for killing her old “nakama,” Mordecai and Zechs. With their names being long forgotten to all besides herself, Laurel saw it an easy task to list some new crimes to Brightray’s bounty; taking advantage of the chaos over twenty-five years ago to slaughter innocent civilians, and using Clockwork Island’s technology to conspire against the World Government. It would be easy to forge the evidence, too, and once that was done his arrest and deposition were inevitable.

Once the three crews went their separate ways, (and Laurel had stolen some of Clockwork Island’s more portable technology before the locals became coherent,) Laurel wrote a letter in response to Sinbad’s to meet at an old favorite pub on the Sky Islands. She intended to settle the matter of “debt” with him before it truly got out of hand. Instead – once again – Sinbad had the upper hand. He was intent on keeping true to his word, and to show his sincerity sent a negotiator between their ships in the form of the same young boy who assisted them back on Clockwork Island, carrying a strange swirled fruit in his hands. Laurel didn’t even care if it was a fake—she ordered her own negotiator to foist Sinbad’s discussed price onto his ship and get the hell away before he could give it back.

In the commotion of these deals, Laurel noticed Sinbad had leaned forward slightly, and a boot landed on the boy’s back to launch him onto the Xu Fu before Laurel could take the fruit off the poor lad’s hands. She had to groan—she knew what was coming next.

“Don’t worry, boyo, we’ll be meeting again! For now I’ll be leaving you in her care to learn about the real world! Here’s lesson two: Try to avoid debts!”

And another groan left her mouth. He was enjoying putting her on the spot. He had to be. No sane man would effectively “maroon” his own trusted crewmate onto another pirate’s ship. And Mazin, as she would later discover his name to be, was made a pawn in their game of debts to keep Sinbad in the lead. As Laurel helped Mazin back up, Sinbad had already set sail and made himself out of reach.

Life for Apollo’s Pompokolin onboard the Xu Fu gradually returned to normal. Laurel stayed true to her mind’s words and maintained she didn’t care if the Devil Fruit she was given was a fake; she’d almost prefer it. After orienting Mazin to the workings of the crew, she would test the fruit’s authenticity.

Serving it as a parfait, Laurel took a spoonful of the fruit, and just one bite took her far away . . . to a place where flavors go to die. That alone was the undeniable proof it was real. Even if it wasn’t, the fact her ears began to shift up to the top of her head and sprout a coat of silky fur, along with a tail growing underneath her clothes, would cast away all doubt.

Laurel shook her head, and decided to focus the rest of her year up to now and finding out just what sort of power she was dealing with.


Last edited by Gray on Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:53 pm; edited 1 time in total

________________________________________________________


Gray
Laurel O’Halloran Cool-t10
Tracker

Name : Gray Starks
Epithet : The Conqueror (Formerly "Black Fist")
Age : 49
Height : 10'1"/ 307 cm
Weight : 1043 lbs / 473 kg
Species : Human Cyborg
Faction : Pirate
World Position : Super Veteran (Former Yonkou)
Crew : Black Fist Pirates (Destroyed)
Ship : Sangria's Vane (Destroyed)
Crew Position : Captain (Former)
Devil Fruit : Pressure-Pressure Fruit
Haki Specialization : All
Haki Level : 9
Hitpoints (HP) : 700
Attack (ATK) : 750
Defense (DEF) : 600
Reflex (RX) : 655
Willpower (WP) : 600
Level : 100
Experience Points : 10000
Bounty : 5,000,000,000
Income Multiplier : +10%
Shop Discount : -20%
Berries Berries : 25,000,000,000
[[strollingdeath]][[baneoftheweak]][[freakofnature]][[childofdestiny]]
[[punchoutguru]][[windcaller]]
Posts : 1913
View user profile

Laurel O’Halloran Empty Re: Laurel O’Halloran

on Sat Aug 19, 2017 8:27 am
unlocked for edits!

________________________________________________________


Gray
Laurel O’Halloran Cool-t10
Tracker

Name : Gray Starks
Epithet : The Conqueror (Formerly "Black Fist")
Age : 49
Height : 10'1"/ 307 cm
Weight : 1043 lbs / 473 kg
Species : Human Cyborg
Faction : Pirate
World Position : Super Veteran (Former Yonkou)
Crew : Black Fist Pirates (Destroyed)
Ship : Sangria's Vane (Destroyed)
Crew Position : Captain (Former)
Devil Fruit : Pressure-Pressure Fruit
Haki Specialization : All
Haki Level : 9
Hitpoints (HP) : 700
Attack (ATK) : 750
Defense (DEF) : 600
Reflex (RX) : 655
Willpower (WP) : 600
Level : 100
Experience Points : 10000
Bounty : 5,000,000,000
Income Multiplier : +10%
Shop Discount : -20%
Berries Berries : 25,000,000,000
[[strollingdeath]][[baneoftheweak]][[freakofnature]][[childofdestiny]]
[[punchoutguru]][[windcaller]]
Posts : 1913
View user profile

Laurel O’Halloran Empty Re: Laurel O’Halloran

on Sat Aug 19, 2017 4:52 pm
Approved!
@Laurel O’Halloran wrote:

Laurel O’Halloran


Laurel O’Halloran 55737707_p20_small



Basic Character Information


Starting Bonus: Jackpot | [Starting Bonus Roll] (Traded for [Soar, Phoenix] )

First Name: Laurel
Middle Name/Initial: -
Last Name: O’Halloran
Epithet: “Hundred-Faced O’Halloran”
Age: 48
Gender: Female
Race: Human
Faction: Pirate
Affiliation: Apollo’s Pompokolin (a.k.a. “Pompoko Pirates”)
Position: Captain
Profession: Captain | Scholar | Spy

Captain: Simply put, Laurel has over two decades of experience in an administrative role over her crew; she founded Apollo’s Pompokolin as a group of like-minded intellects, watched and helped it evolve into the crew of pirates they’re now known to be, and kept her position as an active overseer through it all. Besides this, she is also the acting “quartermaster,” being responsible for supervising and keeping open the crew’s supply lines.

Scholar: Laurel’s greatest weapon is her mind. She carries an appetite to learn all that she can, and share her knowledge and findings freely. She has working knowledge on a variety of subject, although experienced veterans of their respective fields will invariably outperform her. Her preferred studies revolve around history and culture; while not an expert, she also knows of ancient languages and can decipher them to a rudimentary level of understanding. Laurel fancies her knowledge as being second only to the Oharan Scholars’ Association. She aims to correct that.

Spy: Laurel’s oldest vocation is that of a self-taught spook who can infiltrate and egress from enemy (or, “enemy”) lines well before her mark becomes aware of the fact, even without her Devil Fruit powers. Her crew also contains similarly-trained “accomplices” who can assist their captain as sleeper agents and informants, keeping communications flowing even when Laurel is incarcerated and assisting in her escapes. Unlike professional assassins, however, Laurel has little experience – or comfort – with actually killing people, and considers herself fortunate in this regard.



Physical Appearance


Height: 6’8” (204 cm)
Weight: 178 lbs. (81 kg)

Hair Style: Laurel, while gifted with shapeshifting, nevertheless favors two particular styles for her hair to accommodate her fashion: the first being voluminous and bushy, but not coarse, resting on her shoulders and dusting across the clavicle and scapula; the second being mid-thigh-length, notably more thinly layered and straightened, and curled inwardly at the ends.
Hair Color: Dusky brown
Eye Color: Amber
Scars: Has the Hoof of the Soaring Dragon on her back as well as the sole of her left foot.
Clothing and Accessories: Her wardrobe of disguises aside, Laurel is almost never seen without her kiseru, nor pince-nez glasses with gold frames, held by a fine chain around her neck when not in use. She is seen just as often is a leaf-shaped jade barrette fastened to her bangs on the upper left corner of her face, a flask of sake strapped to her hip, and loosely-fitting golden bangles on each of her wrists.

As for a preferred manner of dress, her tastes are low-key, quaint, and homey, often consisting of billowy robes, light chemises, and pleated mid-calf-length skirts, with the occasional scarf. Footwear often consists of white tabi and two-teethed 6 cm-tall geta (or, sometimes, 14 cm-tall, black-lacquered okobo). Supposedly, though, she would look smashing in more formal attire, and as it happens, she does have a bartending suit tucked away somewhere. . . .

Detailed Description: Laurel is a strikingly tall and svelte woman whose figure is further emphasized by a relaxed yet confident posture and a faint smile fixed to her face at seemingly all times. Though well into her middle-ages, she has aged well enough that, despite being notably older than most of her crew thus far, there’s hardly a wrinkle on her skin, and her only physiological sign of her age is her tendency to narrow her eyes when trying to better examine something, and the subtle limp in her gait with every step of the left foot.

Bizarrely among Zoan Devil Fruits, Laurel’s carries the perk where her Human Form still possesses some of the fruit’s animalistic features unless she makes the conscious effort to suppress them: her ears are those of a tanuki (atop her head, small and rounded with a slight point at their tips), and she sports an extremely large and fluffy tail that can be as long as she is tall. While Laurel can suppress these features to appear almost completely human, changing their size and color, it actually requires some effort to do so, and when transforming into something or someone else, the ears and tail never completely disappear; sometimes, it’s more efficient to hide these features through specific clothes.



The Past


Main Traits: Playful, Calm, Ascetic | Trenchant, Hardened, Skeptic

Likes: Proverbs, Fig Tarts, Messing With People, Having the Mental High Ground, Corny Lines, Udon With Tenkasu
Dislikes: Achievements through Ignorance, Debts (Both Owing and Being Owed), Bringing Up her Age, Shichibukai, Inarizushi
Hometown: Lvneel, North Blue
Personality: In most cases, Laurel is gregarious and good-natured, if not above thinking of ways to catch a person off-guard or subvert their expectations of her. Her linguistics and vocabulary often teeter between old-fashioned and mildly antiquated, making her way of talking seem like both a noblewoman and an old lady. Despite (or perhaps because of) her ability to counterfeit, she is actually skilled at handling real money; at the same time, she also possesses a charitable streak, giving money to the poor and destitute on occasion with no strings attached. Apart from that, she can be goofy, and doesn’t take herself very seriously, which can cause people to underestimate her. She is, in a way, addicted to the spirit of mischief.

Other than these eccentricities, Laurel could be described as fairly level-headed and tactically-minded. From a supervisory perspective, Laurel’s though process can be boiled down to, “how can this situation enrich Apollo’s Pompokolin?” Determined to keep her crew’s endeavors apolitical and let them, and herself, pick and choose what to invest in, and not averse to more pragmatic solutions to maintain this, Laurel can be described as either a staunch defender of neutrality and balance, or an avatar of apathy and “fair-weather friends”, depending on one’s opinion. As an example – as if defying conventional logic – she appears indifferent to the plight of slavery despite having suffered from it herself, seeming to only address the issue when it arrives at her doorstep. Part of it is from her knowledge of just how deep the issue runs, and the rest, if you were to hear it from her, is an almost Darwinian justification that the strong will always subjugate the weak, no matter the method.

While she may be in favor of taking a more pragmatic approach to life, she is unlikely to turn down an opportunity to listen to people who come to talk to her (or, sometimes, do hidden favors for them), and sincerely invests herself to others’ well-being, particularly when it comes to her own crew. She is loath to leave others in trouble, even when her more analytical mind tells her that doing so seems wiser, and she has a knack for finding those in trouble as well. She puts the long-term welfare of her crew first and foremost in priority, and can be extremely callous and vindictive, often channeled through passive-aggression, growing steadily to true hostility, to whatever poses a tenable threat towards them.

Overall, those who know of Laurel are wont to see a figure simultaneously eccentric and playful, yet also pragmatic and blasé, looking out solely for her own interests. While such a view is not unjustified, to her closer circle of friends, and to her own crew by extension, she is kind and caring, almost motherly in her disposition. Whatever mischief she cooks up for them rarely has any ulterior motive besides seeing a flustered reaction, and her laissez-faire stems from both a mixture of her personal views and her desire to see those who joined her crew to pursue the goals they reached out for when they stepped onboard the ship, unburdened by other worldly agendas – as if to compensate for the enlightenment she never had in her youth.

History:
When asked about her past, Laurel smiles coyly through the veil of smoke coming from her tobacco pipe and comments that, as one who delights in savoring visions and memories in all their ephemeral beauty—more attractive still when preserved in archives, artifacts, or aught else—she can understand the curiosity; that is, after all, why she has taken up anthropology as a side hobby. She gestures towards a small library consisting of ancient writings, mixed with apocryphal stories, inviting you to peruse them at your leisure and hear her story that way. Provided you can find the book actually discussing it, of course.

Act I:
Among the people of Lvneel, few could be considered so down on their luck as the O’Halloran family. The head of the household was a sailor with fire in his belly, once, all lost to an ill encounter with a stray Sea King across the North Blue, along with the legs it took from him. His wife was the proprietor of a hat shop in Lvneel’s market square, only to have the merchants who supplied her with textiles cut all ties when they met with more prosperous investors. Laurel was the eldest of three sisters, a truth she considered a misfortune. To be the eldest meant everyone knew she would be the one to fail first, and worst, even in the most benign seeking of fortunes. And she did: where other stores would turn down the help of a child, either from the distaste of putting her to work, or not wanting her poor luck to rub off on them, her sisters took to stealing to slow their fall into poverty, and their heists always succeeded—some were even lucrative. At the very least, Laurel was old enough to understand that a once peaceful way of life was slowly crumbling around her.

In the absence of any other possible employment, the family lost everything. At nine years old, Laurel finally decided to resort to stealing along with her sisters, but sure enough, her first attempt ended in catastrophic failure that ended up exposing her sisters as well—and they, fearing retribution, made the hasty story that Laurel, all this time, had been bullying them into not only stealing but being given the lion’s share of spoils. Times were hard, and the merchants victimized for so long were outraged, but only a few souls recognized the girls’ circumstances weren’t entirely their fault. Some such people included a crew of merchants making their rounds across the Blues before they returned to their trading post in Jaya. The girls had done wrong, to be sure, but if they could do honest work, they would—if their parents had jobs again, that was far better. The merchants promised to take the O’Halloran family out of Lvneel, and help them find their fortune on a new island.

At least, that was the story maintained until the outline of Lvneel was well out of sight. Once the O’Hallorans eagerly climbed aboard and Lvneel’s outline was out of sight, the family was greeted with chains and shackles, and the ship’s course made straight for a slave auction house in Sabaody Archipelago. Even as the ship pulled into one mangrove-covered harbor, the smugglers ceaselessly reminded the family that, if they attempted to steal from anyone here now, losing a hand would be the least of their worries.

Separated until put on the auction house’s stage, and even then forbidden to speak unless spoken to by a bidder, Laurel was kept silent, unable to speak to her parents, let alone her sisters whom she felt betrayed by, even as they all shared the floor. Even if she could, it was all too soon before a corpulent man in a white jumpsuit and clear orb surrounding his balding head simply cut to the chase and bought Laurel at stock price, ushering her away barely minutes after she was first presented. The man called himself Saint Tanas, and proudly explained his position as one that held great power as a so-called World Noble, and at the same time, a researcher and self-proclaimed protector of beauty. All Laurel naively wished to know was whether she would be able to work, as the smugglers “promised”— Saint Tanas cheerily confirmed that, yes she would, bringing forward a glowing iron prod and jabbing it against her back as soon as they climbed aboard his ship.

Act II:
For the next nine years, Laurel’s living conditions were scarce better as a slave than they were as a failing eldest child. In those nine years, her way of life was as follows: work, sleep, hope no one caught her not working, eat quickly if food was given, endure the beatings that accompanied the slightest wrongdoing, more work. Being accustomed to that poor fortune beforehand, in a way, helped keep Laurel sane through it all, but it also meant that she hoped for little more than for Saint Tanas to deign to give her table scraps to keep her stomach from shriveling.

A more recent slave, however, hoped for more. A feline Mink called Mordecai, he was much older than Laurel—old enough to remember the joys of seeing a sparkling ocean horizon, of tasting food that could melt in your mouth, of the warmth a fine lady brought to his bedside. Mordecai was a pirate who fell into bad luck, just as Laurel had, but he had no intention of resigning himself to it. His hands were constantly at work, nabbing ostensibly useless junk as part of cleaning Saint Tanas’ gardens, and working into making it something bigger, promising better times would come. Laurel fought with him constantly to be thankful for everything he had in the present, which he was able to riposte with the comeback that being grateful didn’t mean idleness—that one shouldn’t be content with squander pickings set immediately before him, especially with the knowledge that things far greater awaited. At first, she didn’t understand what he meant, and she was even more confused when, out of the blue, he asked her when her birthday was coming. A few weeks later, as soon as it came, following the clock’s strike of midnight, Mordecai gleefully produced the shoddy-looking key he had been working on ever since he had been in Mariejois, and undid his bomb collar—then hers.

“Little bit of advice when ya get in a jam—always memorize the keys,” he said, whiskers dancing on his face with every word. “These candy-arse Nobles crave convenience, so they never think about switching up the locks. The chains and the collars—they’re all the same. Could’ve bailed out sooner, but forget about that—Happy Birthday.”

Before she could scream, Laurel’s mouth was held muffled by a furry palm and lifted up by the other as the two leapt up to the top of the white marble walls and back down to the other side. Under the cover of darkness, it was simple to pass through the city streets without trouble; for people who could summon the mightiest keepers of Justice of the sea on a whim, their security was all too lax, convinced none would dare disturb their perch, or that slaves would dream of escaping. More so, when they would find escape upon a ship of well-to-do Marines that should never have let the runaways on board, much less guide them through Mariejois. As it turned out, these Marines consisted of self-styled freedom fighters opposing the corruption of the World Government—some of whom Mordecai knew by name. Even as they were leaving to the other side of the Red Line into Paradise, his accomplices could barely hold back their celebrations. Mordecai, for his part, gave a stupefied Laurel his toothiest grin yet.

“Life lesson number two! The world’s too big to tackle alone. It may hurt sometimes, but it’s good to have friends. When you lose yer pals, and it hurts, that just means they meant somethin’ after all. You and yer sisters, you were all too young to get that then, so you had to play it strong, by yerself, and got backstabbed when the goin’ got tough. Shame there’s a bunch of us old folks who think the same way. Zechs, tell me that one pub in Dressrosa is still around—I’ve almost forgotten what good food tastes like, and I’m pretty sure this li’l lady never knew to start with!”

Act III:
When Laurel and Mordecai were escorted to the harbors of Dressrosa, and paid a visit to Mordecai’s favorite pub, she would learn how right the Mink was. Just as he bragged, the steak cuts had a perfect balance of marbling, tender enough that serving a knife was just a formality; the alcohol was as crisp as a winter’s morning, and strong enough to put her under the table after her first-ever glass. And as if to make the whole experience feel more like a dream—for being food that her family had long lost the ability to come across, it was all dirt cheap by Mordecai’s standards. “That dreamy taste is the flavor of freedom!” Mordecai slurred out, too drunk himself to know or care how corny the line sounded.

“We do what we like because we are free,” Mordecai would say after regaining his senses, “so they call us pirates, scoundrels of the seas, and so on. In their defense, most real pirates are. Lots of ‘em kill, burn down helpless villages, and even make other people their slaves. When given freedom, a lot of folks like to step on others to get what they want—you saw for yerself in Mariejois. It’s ugly, aye, but when I think of the people who’ll use their freedom to help others instead, I tell meself, ‘Cai, my boy, that’s what freedom is really about.’ People who can do whatever they want, and choose freely to help others! That’s the kind’ve bloke a pirate should be!”

In his barely-coherent ramblings to cope with the hangover (whilst exacerbating Laurel’s own), Laurel had difficulty understanding what Mordecai meant. “Freedom”—a strange word; the rogue Marines mentioned it often, too, and even aged 18, with Mordecai’s descriptive telling and retelling of stories when they were still slaves pounded into Laurel until she could recite them herself by memory, she had difficulty understanding the deeper meaning behind it all. Every good experience she had was accompanied by a sense of unease, confusion. She felt she might fall through the very ground she stood on at any moment.

Then Mordecai asked a question as their migraines began to fade: “So what do you want to do for yerself, lass?”

And something clicked in her mind, even though she hadn’t realized it. “I don’t know,” was her answer.

Mordecai began to cackle like a hen laying a square egg, making the receding headache come back as soon as it left.

“Then let’s see what there is to do! Knowledge is power! And one of the best places to picking up knowledge is—damn, Ohara’s on the other side of the Red Line. Zechs won’t be happy to hear I need a lift again!”

And he continued laughing, even as Zechs responded to his letter requesting transport to the West Blue with flush red anger.

But in just a few weeks – all the while visiting new islands and learning of the world, little by little – the freedom fighters took their charge where they wanted to go, and Laurel soon found herself on the doorsteps to one of Ohara’s esteemed libraries. Years may have known more than books, as Mordecai would quote another obscure proverb, but books, in turn, were a stepping stone and incentive for experience. If there was any subject Laurel could find striking her fancy, it would be here.

As it turned out, Laurel had a great capacity for learning and recalling. There were indeed books on every conceivable subject. History, folklore, law, culture—it wasn’t long before she could even beat Mordecai to the punch on a proverb by quoting the exact stories he took them from. He had a cheeky, smug look on his face that she had been eager to wipe off, and when she did, it took an almost forlorn, yet proud, expression instead that almost made her miss the first. Confident Laurel could do well for herself, and ensuring she had honest work and a roof over her head, a new life helping the library’s proprietor, Mordecai and Zechs set off from Ohara, coming back every few months then to check on her. And for what felt like the first time in her life, Laurel had gained a sense of inner peace.

Unfortunately, one of Mordecai’s favorite proverbs would become prophetic: the things one inch ahead are dark.

Five years later, as Laurel became educated enough for the Oharan Scholars’ Association to consider giving her a position amongst their ranks, Mordecai and Zechs came to pay her a final visit. They brought her news—the infamous pirate, Hoard Marsh – no, Hoar D. Marsh – made a discovery that would change the future. At some point in time, he had discovered a treasure known as One Piece, and his discovery soon reached the World Government’s ears, and they sought to take the treasure for themselves, most likely by force. Somehow, Mordecai, Zechs, and the rest of the self-styled freedom fighters were aware of where Marsh and the World Government, backed by the Marines and the Shichibukai, would set the stage for their war—in the New World. As proud pirates themselves, they felt honorbound to assist Marsh in any way they could, but knew their prospects of coming back alive were grim. They wanted to see the little girl they helped free from the clutches of the Government’s underworld one last time. Laurel, naturally, argued vehemently that their self-imposed mission was suicide, but more than that, she was terrified of the closest thing she had to a family disappearing from her life once again. And they, naturally, smiled and took her beatings, both verbal and physical, with a sad, knowing smile, and a final proverb she had no retort to:

“When poisoned, you might as well swallow the plate!”

And just as soon as they arrived, they left for the New World.

Only days later, and the newspaper came by. “Justice! Hoard Marsh & His Accomplices Captured and Executed at Marineford! Other Pirates Remain in Hiding!” The headline alone was enough to make Laurel’s heart sink, but she felt compelled to read the story nonetheless. A list of the pirate accomplices besides Marsh’s own crew, those executed by Marines or hunted down by the Shichibukai, was compiled, giving a brief synopsis of the “villains” who took their pride to their graves. Mordecai’s and Zech’s names were among them.

They were barely worth calling pirates of the traditional sense at all—the vast majority of their crimes consisted of dine-and-dashing and other petty misdemeanors. They didn’t even have a crew, or a name for one. When it came to navigating the sea, or making a name, they did so by themselves for decades, and only when they ran out of people to mooch off of.

So, just who was Mordecai trying to convince with his so-called second pearl of wisdom on the night they escaped from Saint Tanas’ manor?

Tears blotted the ink of the newspaper as Laurel struggled to accept she’d never find the answer.

Act IV:
Laurel’s offer to join the Oharan Scholars’ Association was soon rescinded; the locals remembered Mordecai’s face from the newspapers as well, and remembered he and a friend were seen talking with the woman. She could have been a sleeper agent meant to feed information to other pirates in hiding. Laurel attempted to defend herself, but made the mistake of telling her accusers of her past as a World Noble’s slave, now set free. In the village’s panic, they threw her in prison and called for a small patrol of Marines to take her away—before the World Government’s wrath came down on them.

In her outrage, Laurel felt herself reliving her past—betrayed by her own sisters, tricked by smugglers posing as merchants, her abuse at the hands of Saint Tanas. She remembered the incessant threats made by those smugglers, and Saint Tanas, what might happen if she misbehaved. Losing a hand would be the least of her worries. Losing her life would seem merciful in comparison. What life she did feel in five years did not last long enough. . . .

She remembered the amazing stories Mordecai used to tell her as they worked in the gardens— the joys of seeing a sparkling ocean horizon, of tasting food that could melt in your mouth, of the warmth a fine lady brought to the bedside. Actually, she could live without that last one.

But she remembered the first piece of advice he had given—memorize the keys. Sure enough, they were left hanging on the wall opposite of her cell. With no guards present, but still in possession of many of her belongings in the rush, she had the tools she needed to turn her junk into a passable excuse for the key’s imitation, with a visual reference right in front of her. Undoing the lock to her cell was simplicity itself.

Of course, it wouldn’t help solve her next obstacle: how to leave Ohara. But she was in luck: with the locals thinking she was still in her cell, and the Marine patrol being few in number, Laurel actually realized it was possible to steal their dinghy and commandeer it for herself. With everyone’s attention overly focused, no one suspected anything was amiss until after the dinghy left the harbor. Her books couldn’t replace true experience, but they did suffice in allowing her to take control of the boat and leave Ohara—albeit with a bounty now placed on her head for the crime of escaping lawful custody, and thievery.

She’d almost forgotten what good food, the “flavor of freedom,” tasted like. It was . . . thrilling.

Laurel soon discovered that she did in fact have a knack for the same skill as her sisters, but better—mayhap the “curse of the eldest sister” was only effective for the first attempt at seeking fortune. Between her ability to sail a boat with ease on her first try, and her re-emerging talent, Laurel couldn’t help but find the coincidence of her skills and her family’s amusing—as if they were all passed down to her. She had to abandon the dinghy, as it would later be identified and traced, but it did carry spare Marine uniforms she was able to wear to conceal her identity as she hopped from island to island. When that began to fail, she learned to sew her own clothes and grew out her hair—no doubt a skill passed down from her mother, if there was any stock in this “inheritance” theory she had sprouted in her mind. While in hiding, she was able to make acquaintances and friends with common ground in the pubs of larger cities, or openly in the smaller hamlets. She had her share of unsavory figures to deal with, too, but as she slowly gathered a following that was willing to get into a scrap alongside her, she began to understand what Mordecai meant concerning the value of – as he called them – “nakama.” She had people she cared about, and people who cared about her in turn. She recalled what Mordecai asked her in the Dressrosa pub: “What do you want to do for yerself, lass?”

She wanted to learn more about the world, and share the joy of the enlightenment that knowledge brought, just as Mordecai had done for her.

And so, when Laurel O’Halloran was 28 years old, she founded her own – if you will – pirate’s crew dedicated to unearthing every bit of truth there was, and giving it to even the lowliest souls with a festive flair, Apollo’s Pompokolin. The skeleton crew celebrated the founding by “stealing” a sorry merchant vessel that begged for retirement, christening it with all the stale grog the pub had to offer.

Act V:
Like her predecessor, Laurel spent much of her time as a petty career criminal, favoring small establishments like local libraries, or making off after a meal without paying. Compared to the epic of Hoar D. Marsh and his Soaring Pirates in the New World, Apollo’s Pompokolin’s exploits across the Blues were hardly worth remembering at all. At most, their ruddy ship had its own little library’s worth of “free knowledge” to share, from stolen books to self-published titles, enough to keep Marine patrols routinely sent after them.

What would become infamous, however, was Laurel’s acquired taste for the mischief of it all. It wasn’t so much the act of stealing that thrilled her, but the idea of being chased, escaping with the clothes on her back, or even getting caught, then running away to filch another day. She remembered Mordecai’s advice in these cases, too, and made sport of ideas to escape that could be crazy enough to work. The Marines who made the mistake of revealing the keys would soon find an abandoned copy of it in the cell she used to be in. If she needed to “use” the bathroom, she lured her guards into a stall, pushed them in with the help of a disguised accomplice, and locked them in with a padlock. She used lip balm to grease her wrists out of handcuffs, sometimes in mid-escort. If she had to be brutal, she arranged for her crew to set fire to all but one of the Marine dinghies. By far her favorite escape involved leaving a hint—and they still couldn’t find her. She left a note scrawled on toilet paper stating her intention to “appeal to a higher court,” then went into hiding in Skypiea. They never noticed, and Laurel, growing bored, returned down below after almost a year of no progress. Once, she even used a silver tongue to convince the law to force her into community service responsible for handling a merchant’s cargo, only to take one of the boxes and use it to ship herself out of the island once the merchant set sail.

As it turned out, that was partially intentional on the “merchant’s” part—he was a fellow just slightly younger than her, impressed with the name and reputation Laurel created for herself. He was an itinerant “salesman” called Sinbad. Sinbad’s trade concerned Devil Fruits—that is to say, while some of his wares were real, to keep up an illusion of integrity, most were just very convincing fakes that let Sinbad scurry off with ludicrous amounts of money before anyone became aware of the scam. Despite this, he carried a disposition that was eerily like Mordecai’s—a grinning idiot, it seemed, with far more wisdom and experience than he let on. The two made fast friends, and while they couldn’t combine their forces as captains of their respective pirate crews, Sinbad and Laurel would often help each other out, a favor for a favor. In fact, as the years went on, few would remain as steadfast an ally to Laurel as Sinbad would.

Between Laurel’s years of bouncing in and out of prison along with the collaborations made with Sinbad, her crimes of escaping eventually outweighed the crimes that warranted her arrests in the first place. Between this, her creative methods of conducting a prison break, and her ability to stay hidden until seemingly willingly turning herself in, earned her the epithet of “Hundred-Faced O’Halloran.”

Unfortunately, her methods would catch the attention of slave traders once again, and some posing as Marines were eventually able to find her, capture her, and take the next ship headed to Sabaody Archipelago before Laurel realized her blunder. The process of presenting her to prospecting buyers was much the same as it was over twenty seven years ago—only the clientele had changed. And again, within minutes, she would be sent off to the highest bidder—another World Noble by the name of Saint Valtome.

It wasn’t long before Valtome noticed the old mark on her back—unequivocal proof that she had escaped a Celestial Dragon’s custody in the past, and could do it again. Instead of outrage, however, he reacted as if it were a challenge: a bellowing laugh, posturing in having “recaptured” a fugitive for himself, and daring Laurel to do it again. Not entirely devoid of sense, however, Valtome did throw in a caveat, and produced a branding iron only slightly smaller than the one used on her back. All Laurel could remember in the following minutes was being shackled in the dungeons, a searing, white-hot, ineffable pain shooting up from her left sole, and blacking out soon after. Her foot would recall what her brain could not, with grim detail, in the following months.

The experience may not have broken her mind, but reliving the trauma did instill in her a malice she didn’t think she had. As soon as Laurel was able to walk somewhat properly again – and that was time enough to concoct an escape plan and lay out its blueprints – after undoing her bomb collar and chains, she snuck into Saint Valtome’s mansion for the sole purpose of slitting his throat in his sleep, thereby making her escape – and vengeance – as official as it could be. Once it was done, and the horror of the act began to set in, she dashed out of the manor, staying hidden in the cover of nightfall, only to remember that her only way out was by ship. She had to hope a Marine ship was feeling merciful.

At least, that’s how it felt until she reached the port, only to be greeted by Sinbad as his usual beaming self. To put it simply, he was just passing through—why pass through Reverse Mountain when there was a nice, calm path through Mariejois waiting for the lawfully-abiding, or at least people who could pass as such with a bit of luck? When he heard the news from her panicking subordinates, he wasn’t sure what to think—he was a lucky sod, sure, but he wasn’t ready to raid Mariejois. Instead, he just happened to pass through as often as he could—and he, and Laurel by extension, got lucky in meeting each other at the same time. With Sinbad’s track record, Laurel was perfectly willingly to believe in sheer dumb luck, just this once.

They made haste with their getaway, and took refuge in Fishman Island. Laurel’s old crew had scattered, their ruddy ship obviously absent, out of fear at the prospect of opposing the World Government. Laurel, reluctantly, explained her experience in Mariejois to Sinbad, and how, despite it, she intended to soldier on as captain of Apollo’s Pompokolin—even if she had become its one and last member.

Sinbad’s answer was to grin, again, only wider than he usually would, and answer, “When poisoned, you might as well swallow the plate! Let’s see what Paradise has to offer!”

Act VI:
By Paradise, Sinbad meant Water 7—if Laurel was to become a respectable pirate like him, nothing could instill new life in a crew quite as a new ship! Moreover, this side of the Red Line was far more accommodating to pirates—a new ship aside, Sinbad could think of a few friends of his other friends, and their friends who knew some people who could help Laurel start again. Laurel, for her part, was flabbergasted; she refused to believe this in itself wasn’t some stupidly elaborate way to make her feel indebted. Even if it wasn’t, she did, and demanded to know what he expected in return. Sinbad just shrugged and batted the topic away with the comment he heard of a great place to gather new Devil Fruits, some crazy treasure, and maybe an island full of beautiful women—as a pirate captain he couldn’t ignore these rumors, but he’d think of something for Laurel in the meantime. By then, she would be well adjusted to her new ship, and have a robust crew of hellions eager to work for her.

Laurel was unsatisfied with the answer, but before she could pin Sinbad down, he was already off and away on his latest adventure. Fortunately, he had the sense to pay for her ship’s construction ahead of time, and she had financial sense enough to worry about the rest. Thinking of the story of a man who set out to find an elixir of immortality, she named her new ship “Xu Fu,” and took to following Sinbad’s advice to rebuild Apollo’s Pompokolin from the ground up whilst exploring Paradise. Sure enough, her way of life was much the same as before; stockpiling information, from everyday trivia to obscure, local myths, gave Laurel a certain joy, more so when she could experience it all firsthand. Her way of life, both her intellectual and risk-taking sides, attracted followers again, as well as larger Marine patrols, bounty hunters, and the like. One thing she did learn was that escaping slavery’s clutches twice meant she had to be far more prudent about when she could get caught; her bounty and reputation were becoming large enough that many would prefer her “dead” over “alive,” even if some of Sinbad’s luck rubbed off and the death of Saint Valtome was pinned on another slave in his possession.

Then, five years ago, she had caught wind that the Yonkou Gray Starks was launching a conquest against the World Government. Once she did some digging it was easy to see why; he had been a crewmate of the former Pirate King, whose wife was recently captured and sent to be executed. Seeking vengeance for the late master, as it were. Starks’ battle against the World Government’s forces turned more or less how Laurel predicted: the former, defeated. It was strange news for her informant passing the news to seem so jubilant about—but he kept talking, and Laurel soon learned why, quoting Starks’ words almost verbatim. “One Piece is real! The Pirate King wasn’t defeated; he surrendered to keep its location a secret! The Will of the D. still lives! It all awaits the one who will take it all to reshape the world—at Raftel!”

The revelations were to Laurel as an old wound being picked at. She found herself coveting One Piece alongside the rest of Apollo’s Pompokolin, now united toward the goal to find it and learn what it truly is, but their captain had a more personal stake. For years, she accepted that her old nakama, Mordecai and Zechs, had given their lives pointlessly fighting for a man they probably never even met, who himself vouched for the authenticity for something almost no one alive even knew existed outside of fairy tales. To discover that the Pirate King had surrendered, rather than fight on bitterly to the end as was the commonly accepted, and far more romantic, theory—just what was at stake? And what sort of gambit were Marsh, and now Starks, trying to play? Had her nakama truly died for nothing?

Then, after over a decade without contact, Sinbad had sent her a letter, albeit tersely written, requesting her aid on “Clockwork Island,” giving her its coordinates, and promising he’d be in her debt for the assistance. He could keep whatever reward he had cooked up, as far as she cared. She charted the course with her crew to see what sort of trouble Sinbad had gotten into that would make them even if she helped. Along the way, her path crossed with a dispatch from the New Revolutionary Army, whose leader had the same destination in mind. Reluctantly, Laurel and the NRA leader, Bach “Black Mage” Garland, stayed the course, leaving her all the more perplexed as to what sort of trouble Sinbad had gotten himself into.

With Sinbad’s letter so scantily worded, Laurel was in no way prepared to witness what Clockwork Island had to offer. There was so much to see! The technology was unlike anything she had ever seen before—not even the libraries of Ohara hinted at its existence! She saw the husks of the people who inhabited the island, though, and realized that with the surreal revelations that, with yet another of Sinbad’s tall tales proving accurate, the inevitable result was that at least one of them had gone wrong. Even when she looked in the eyes of the people who seemed most alive, all she was met with were empty stares that told no tales.

As she and the “Black Mage” forged ahead, they soon met with Sinbad and his crew, as well as the culprits behind Clockwork Island’s robotic state: a man calling himself the “Overseer” and his “Enforcers,” and a Shichibukai. In truth, Laurel and Bach’s arrival could not have been timed better. A fierce battle ensued, by far the greatest Laurel had been involved in yet, and the three groups held their own against the Overseer and Shichibukai. Thankfully, the “Black Mage” and his NRA group were powerful enough to face the Overseer singlehandedly; this gave Laurel, Sinbad, and a child at his side the opportunity to face their Shichibukai enemy, in turn. With teamwork and tactics, the battle eventually ended in the Shichibukai’s defeat.

Laurel, for her part, recognized the Shichibukai easily—not out of the deeds that earned him his bounty, but from the newspaper article she had remembered since the time of Hoar D. Marsh’s execution at Marineford, and the “obituary” of pirates who were hunted down for aiding the Pirate King. Chrome “Brightray” Billon had been lauded as being particularly “helpful” to the cause—and it was his name and face credited for killing her old “nakama,” Mordecai and Zechs. With their names being long forgotten to all besides herself, Laurel saw it an easy task to list some new crimes to Brightray’s bounty; taking advantage of the chaos over twenty-five years ago to slaughter innocent civilians, and using Clockwork Island’s technology to conspire against the World Government. It would be easy to forge the evidence, too, and once that was done his arrest and deposition were inevitable.

Once the three crews went their separate ways, (and Laurel had stolen some of Clockwork Island’s more portable technology before the locals became coherent,) Laurel wrote a letter in response to Sinbad’s to meet at an old favorite pub on the Sky Islands. She intended to settle the matter of “debt” with him before it truly got out of hand. Instead – once again – Sinbad had the upper hand. He was intent on keeping true to his word, and to show his sincerity sent a negotiator between their ships in the form of the same young boy who assisted them back on Clockwork Island, carrying a strange swirled fruit in his hands. Laurel didn’t even care if it was a fake—she ordered her own negotiator to foist Sinbad’s discussed price onto his ship and get the hell away before he could give it back.

In the commotion of these deals, Laurel noticed Sinbad had leaned forward slightly, and a boot landed on the boy’s back to launch him onto the Xu Fu before Laurel could take the fruit off the poor lad’s hands. She had to groan—she knew what was coming next.

“Don’t worry, boyo, we’ll be meeting again! For now I’ll be leaving you in her care to learn about the real world! Here’s lesson two: Try to avoid debts!”

And another groan left her mouth. He was enjoying putting her on the spot. He had to be. No sane man would effectively “maroon” his own trusted crewmate onto another pirate’s ship. And Mazin, as she would later discover his name to be, was made a pawn in their game of debts to keep Sinbad in the lead. As Laurel helped Mazin back up, Sinbad had already set sail and made himself out of reach.

Life for Apollo’s Pompokolin onboard the Xu Fu gradually returned to normal. Laurel stayed true to her mind’s words and maintained she didn’t care if the Devil Fruit she was given was a fake; she’d almost prefer it. After orienting Mazin to the workings of the crew, she would test the fruit’s authenticity.

Serving it as a parfait, Laurel took a spoonful of the fruit, and just one bite took her far away . . . to a place where flavors go to die. That alone was the undeniable proof it was real. Even if it wasn’t, the fact her ears began to shift up to the top of her head and sprout a coat of silky fur, along with a tail growing underneath her clothes, would cast away all doubt.

Laurel shook her head, and decided to focus the rest of her year up to now and finding out just what sort of power she was dealing with.

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