Previous: A Door that Opens Part 6
There he was, splayed across the most gigantic stairs ever seen by a man. Chio woke up and rolled over, only to fall off the step and land very harshly on the flat stone.
Chio: Gah! Ow... [Slowly got up from the ground, rubbing his arm] What the...
He looked out toward the landscape around him, and his eyes went huge, seeing that he was atop the side of a mountain, by a quick estimation, probably around thirty thousand feet high. The cold mountain wind blew into his face, causing him to shutter, his arms clamping onto one another and rubbing. He suddenly started to shiver, his clothes not at all meant to cover such temperatures. He looked downward, seeing he must have covered seven hundred steps, each of them about half as steep as he was tall. Then he looked up, and to his surprise, he may have been a little more than half way to the top.
Chio: Well, that answers that question. [Began jumping toward the very top of the mountain, his foot catching halfway onto the edge of each step, quickly leaping with his powerful legs. As he leapt, his legs began to warm up with the extra blood flow, but then he suddenly stopped as he heard a very quiet, whispering voice.]
Voice: Hurry, time is waiting.
His eyes looked around, seeing that snowflakes were starting to blow in, this time harder than before, once again making all of his muscles clench up at the sudden rush of cold air. That was when he saw the wolf...man? A wolf man guy sat cross-legged near a fire that seemed to be doing rather well at such an altitude. He was dressed in a rather fluffy parka, his white snout was close to the fire, and his hands rubbed together, blowing into them as he brought them to his snout.
Wolf: Hm? [Looked at Chio] Cold one, eh? You don't look like you're from around here. Guess it kind of frightens you to see a wolf, sitting up and talking eh?
Chio: [Thought for a moment] No... But hey, do you have another parka?
Wolf: Nope, sorry stranger, just the one. So, what brings you to see the Queen?
Chio: Queen? What Queen? I'm just wanting to get to some shelter, I'll die in this cold. By the way, were you the one who was whispering a second ago?
The wolf's face turned to surprise, or so it seemed. Chio really wasn't familiar with the canine facial expression, but then he saw that he tail was wagging, so at least it must have been somewhat of a good surprise.
Wolf: You need to keep going, stranger. She wants to speak with you, and that is an honour I wouldn't miss for the fifty worlds as we know them. Now go, happy hunting.
Chio started to wonder what he meant by fifty worlds, but the chill that overtook him told him that the wolf was right, he needed to keep trudging. He waved to the wolf, and then bolted to the next step, and the next, and so on. They seemed to go on forever, but that was when he started to see something in the distance, something bright in all of the darkness around him, but it was too vague with all of the snow flowing around him. He couldn't give up now, he must have been close, and the wind seemed to be calming down, he must have been at a good elevation.
That was when he slipped. He quickly faceplanted onto the step, and slid down one, rubbing part of his skin off from the side of his stomach, along with part of his shirt.
Voice: Well well, if it isn't Mr. CuteButt.
He recognized the voice, and he looked at his foot to see that he had slipped in tar. He cursed his luck and rolled over, standing up to face the Vice Admiral. What little wind was left blew across her Justice Coat, though it was a bit torn up from her endeavours in whatever world they were in.
Rise: I was hoping for the catman, but it looks like I found me a fine lookin' cat instead. [Tipping her sunglasses down a little to get a good look at him.] Lieutenant Runagai Chio, when was it that you decided that the Marines weren't good nuff and blew to the jive turkey brigade?
Chio: I have my reasons, Rise. Why don't you check with Captain Jossu? Ask him what operation: prologue is all about.
She only smiled, for some reason, Captain Jossu sounded especially familiar, and not in a good way. Rise couldn't think about that right at that moment, though.
Rise: Well, it don't matter. First thing's first, you on my ship with a nice tight little rope around that bod.
Chio tried his best to concentrate but that was proving to be very difficult. It wasn't as windy, but it was still cold enough that his torn shirt could be kind of a problem.
Rise: HAWW! [Making a very sudden first move, she launched herself forward, and initiated a flying kick straight toward Chio.]
Seeing her skill before was an advantage Chio was going to take. Her flying kick left her vulnerable in midair. This gave him the chance to concentrate his Busoshoku haki, knowing that her logia prevented physical harm from normal attacks. He jumped straight up, his leg extending and kicking Rise straight into the jaw, causing her to flip once, and land on her back.
Chio: Chio Joutou Handou! [He landed on his feet and spun around to face her.]
Rise kipped up and got to one knee rubbing the blood from her lip and looking at it. She looked at him with a grim face at first, but then it turned into a grin.
Rise: Nice one, kid. [She got into a fighting stance] My turn.