All Hakku could do was shake in his uniform, sweating bullets like crazy by what was in front of him.
As far as the eye could see, ships filled the harbor of Deli Port, a special port located in the Human World tasked with delivering meats to specific regions. The atmosphere was like a cloud of beef and sweat from all the people working, making Hakku hold his nose in disgust.
"A-and who are we waiting for... again? And when are they arriving?" he asked, trying to ignore the smells around him. It was odd, he had never really had a problem with bad odors before... this particular smell was... unique. That's all he could really think of it.
Looking around, he saw a lot of high quality Meats and a great many he couldn't remember ever having seen before. Some looked like massive versions of everyday meats while others appeared to be mutated in some form or another. He felt himself drawn towards something that appeared to be labeled "Aurex", but he couldn't for the life of him figure out why.
Right when she said that, a roar came from out of nowhere, causing everyone to stop what they were doing and turn towards the direction of the noise, which included Michelle and Hakku.
Walking through the crowd was a Hannya Panda, nearly standing about the size of an average elephant, making it's way through the clear path many of the dock workers made.
After clearing through, it was showed that it was not only the panda, but a pink-haired human male walking down the same path as well.
"Geez, always gotta make an entrance, don't ya?" Michelle retorted, making Deker chuckle as he stopped in front of the two.
"You know me, always punctual," he replied, looking over to the man next to her. "Who's this?"
"Hakku, recently was hired to work at Hobble. He'll be coming with us," she added.
Deker focused his attention on the man, looking him over and trying to figure him out and understand what made the guy tick. His animal partner did the same as he got closer, sniffing him before he breath out a hot gust of air from his nostrils.
"See? Zeke likes him," Michelle chuckled.
I really hope that by "likes" it doesn't mean tasting me... Hakku thought as he stared, in fear, at the massive bear.
"I-it's n-n-nice t-to m-meet y-you." he managed to stammer out, holding a shaking arm out to shake hands with Deker.
Deker took Hakku's hand in a firm shake, causing the white-haired young man to experience some pain. Deker, on the other hand, felt an almost immediate wave of nausea.
Michelle noticed his face turn slightly green as he let go, almost falling but managing to keep himself up, though by that time, Zeke now had a look of warning on his face.
He sensed something was wrong and was getting ready to pounce.
"Zeke, no!" Michelle yelled, making the beast stop and look over to see the woman already grabbing one of the knifes she had on her back. Zeke knew that she was gonna get serious and stopped.
"Deker? Everything okay?" She inquired with worry, quickly going over to find that the color of his face was returning to normal.
"Yeah...I'm fine..Just a little fatigue from hunting before I got here, no biggie," Deker lied, giving the new guy a narrow look.
This guy...Even if it was just by one touch I can tell, he's got gourmet cells.. He thought in his mind.
Hakku was about to panic when he saw Zeke looking a little more hostile and was really on the verge of it when Michelle shouted. He then shrank a little at the look he got from Deker.
He doesn't like me... he thought. I've seen that look before...
"S-so..." he stammered. "W-what Ingredients are w-we here to b-buy?"
"Buying? This stuff isn't fresh, they preserve it and it loses it's flavor," Deker replied, leading the small group to a boat that fit the four of them. "We're going straight to the source."
Hakku started getting sweaty palms when Deker declared that, realizing the only thing it could mean.
"We're going to the Wul Continent, Hakku," Michelle revealed, making Zeke roar in response, slightly drooling. The beast was excited and wanted to eat the delicious food it had to offer.
Oh no... Hakku thought. "Wh-what are w-we h-h-h-hunt-t-ting?"
"We always go and see what we can find and try to get plenty. Not just for us or the restaurant, but for others who still need food." Michelle replied.
Deker nodded in agreement. Then with a smirk, and some drool, said: "Though, eating with friends makes things taste better."
Zeke roared in agreement, making Hakku stop shaking as he could feel the warmth in the atmosphere. From that moment, Hakku started to see things in a different light.
With their gear and transportation ready, they boarded the boat that was captained by someone that they hired to take them to the Wul Continent. The start of the engines blended in with the other ships that were near them, making it easier for them to pull out and begin the long sail to their destination.
Notes on the VoyageEdit
While they did not capture any Ingredients along their way, they did see several amazing Beasts that set Deker and Zeke drooling. Was it the memory of having eaten these Ingredients or the thought of eating these Ingredients? It wasn't clear to anyone other than those two.
Some of the notable Ingredients they saw were a Rocle that was carrying away some prey. There was a lack of consensus about what the massive Bird Beast was hauling off. Deker insisted that it was a Warner Shark while Michelle was sure it was Black Soil Snake from an Islandhorse. There was some comment made about making a detour to look for a Watiger, but the idea was vetoed due to time constraints.
At another point, the sea all around them turned a rich blue-black color. When Hakku asked why, it was explained that it was caused by a Killermari spraying ink to escape some predator, or to flee from them. Deker then teased Hakku, saying that they had better hope that it wasn't mating season or they could be in trouble. Michelle promptly punished Deker for it.
After what had felt like years for them, the small group finally arrived on the continent, jumping off to feel the soft texture of land once more. Especially Zeke, who found himself rolling around on it like he was a kitten. The Wul Plains, the current location they had arrived, had a large flower bed that grew as far as the eye could see.
"I"ll be sure to arrive in three days. Be careful you three, the Wul Continent's gotten a bit more rough these days," the captain remarked. With that last statement, he began to turn around and head off into the distance.
Hakku started sweating the further the boat seemed to disappear. In his mind, all he could hope for was that they would find his dreaded remains afterwords, if he survived.
"Alright then! So Michelle, any ideas where we're heading to?" Deker inquired, making both Michelle and Zeke stare in shock.
That soon followed by a swift chop to the head, causing a bump to grow.
"How am I suppose to know?! You're the one who brought us here!" She yelled out.
"Yeah, but you can hear the Voice of the Ingredients right? Can't you hear them?"
"It doesn't work like that, dumbass!"
Zeke didn't seem to pay too much attention as he continued his activity, leaving Hakku to look on in confusion.
"W-what d-do you want to get f-first?" Hakku asked, unsure of anything else to say.
The question stopped the argument between Deker and Michelle and seemed to have caught Zeke's attention as well.
"Hm..." Deker thought.
"There's rumored to be an orchard of Chomb Trees on this continent." Michelle replied, pointing towards the Jungle. "So, I suppose we'll capture whatever we come across along the way."
"Chombs?" Deker repeated. "Those are really good! But don't the trees usually grow alone?"
"I know, and that's why the rumor of a natural orchard of them is so intriguing." Michelle said.
"A-and... where are Ch-chombs?" Hakku asked.
Michelle simply pointed towards the massive jungle that covered much of the mainland.
"Well, let's get going!" Deker proclaimed, smiling and starting to walk with the three of them following, though Zeke found himself grabbing Michelle and Hakku and carrying them on his shoulders.
The walk started without any hitch, allowing them to enjoy the calm scenery and the silence of mother nature, minus a few miniature creatures that popped up from time to time. Deker's stomach began to growl, feeling the need for something to eat.
Before he could ask Michelle to cook them something, opportunity came for him.
"Ooo, check it out!" He remarked, pointing at a tree a few feet from him.
His finger directed at a tree with fruit that looked like Japanese lanterns, with small flowers at the base of it.
Michelle jumped off of Zeke, drawing one of her knives from the wrappings she had on her back, revealing a black-blade that was dark as night. Walking up to the tree, she gently moved it down, easily cutting off three pieces of fruit off of it.
"They're really heavy too, meaning there must be some tasty sake inside of them," She added before cutting two of them open.
Deker managed to pick three of the plants, passing one to Michelle before throwing the other to Hakku, who was let down to the ground by Zeke.
After giving one of the fruits to her partner, she took the remaining one and went over to her employee. She handed it to him, making him move back a bit.
"Hey, no need to be scared. This is really good, unless you're under age?" She inquired.
"I-I'm 17." Hakku responded as he quietly ate the String Cheese Plant that Deker had tossed him.
"Ah, well, then I guess you can't have this yet." she said, gently taking back the Sakeyashi Fruit.
The small group finished their snack break and then continued on. Plunging into the jungle, heading further and further South, they searched for any sign of the rumored Chomb Orchard. Deker and Zeke continued to snack as they moved.
After a good long walk, the group soon found themselves getting closer to their next destination, the Wul Jungle. Much of it grew nearly three times the size of an ordinary jungle, making them look like ants coming to a regular home.
Zeke started sniffing around, getting a sense of where they were and if there was anything dangerous in the general area. His snort indicated that they were ok.
"Alright, looks like we'll be going in. Michelle, you sure it's a good idea to bring in the kid? I mean I'm glad you got faith, but this isn't just a normal stroll," Deker inquired, making Hakku look away in shame.
He then heard a hard smack, making Hakku look over to see his boss chopping her partner right on the head.
"Geez, blunt as always," She retorted, looking over to her employee.
She could sense his fear.
"M-maybe he's right...I-I should just g-go..." he remarked with sadness.
Michelle was about to say something, but her voice was drowned out by a piercing cry from above. They all looked towards the source of the cry, seeing a massive bird with purple plumage.
"A Picante Eagle?!?" Michelle exclaimed.
"It must've been blown here by a storm!" Deker shouted, trying to be heard over the racket the Bird Beast was making. "We're not close enough to the Sky Plant or Vegetable Sky to be coming across them naturally!"
The Picante Eagle belched fire, then seemed to have caught sight of them and dove. Deker shouted and Zeke threw his body over Michelle and Hakku, while Deker rolled off in the opposite direction.
Hakku, still underneath the Panda, saw Deker on one knee staring after the Picante Eagle as it shot back up into the sky to make another pass. Seeing the Bishokuya, Hakku could swear he saw the pink haired man wiping drool away.
Are they all like this? Hakku wondered. He then heard movement near him and saw Michelle getting back on her feet and pulling out a pitch-black knife. What have I gotten myself into?
Focusing his Appetite Energy, Deker summoned up what looked like a metal skewer that lined up perfectly with his right hand, and sent it forward.
The construct flew forward and hit it's mark right in the chest of the eagle, causing it to shriek out in pain, though it wasn't down just yet. Shaking it off, the bird released another heavy fire shot that was twice the size of it's previous one at Deker's direction.
Knowing that he wouldn't be able to dodge it, he brought his arm forward and a construct soon emerged, this time taking on the shape of a spatula that was twice the size.
Fire soon found itself erupting over the sides, making it miss it's intial target and instead land on the ground bellow.
While Deker continued the fight, Michelle knew that she had to do something in order to keep the Plains from burning down, "Zeke! Keep Hakku safe, I'm gonna take care of the fire!"
With that single statement, she went running while pulling out both of her knifes that she held on her back, swinging downward to slash the ground and spread the dirt onto the fires. Her movement was so fast that Hakku couldn't even see her swing.
His attention then turned back to another large shriek that came from the eagle, seeing that it was trapped between two large spatula's, struggling to escape. Though with that lock it was in, there was no escape as Deker was right at the base of it's neck, calling up what looked like a dragon, which held the eagle in between it's hands.
Pulling his arm back, Deker hit it right at the back, causing the eagle's neck to snap, ending the struggle.
The pink-haired hunter gently placed the beast on the floor, putting his hands together and bowing in respect.
All Hakku could do was look in awe at what he just witnessed, wondering if any of it was real.
A few moments laterEdit
With all the fires dealt with, Michelle had Deker building a cooking fire. While he was doing that, she had Hakku helping her select appropriate branches to build a rotisserie spit. Zeke was helping by carrying the cut branches, while Michelle kept her eyes open for side items to accompany the meat.
Once everything was gathered and the rotisserie spit was built, Michelle set to work preparing the Picante Eagle for cooking. Deker and Zeke sat, less than patiently, waiting for the food to be cooked. Hakku found himself being directed by Michelle on what she needed done. Michelle's Food Luck was strong enough to overturn the bad luck that seemed to follow Hakku constantly and the food was successfully prepared without incident.
Right in front of them was the now prepared Picante Eagle, fully sized and skinned, the meat had been cooking for almost an hour and now had a golden brown texture with some of the juices from the meat dripping down and sizziling in the fires bellow it.
"Wow! This is one hot bird!" Deker admitted, making the group whiten with shame at the lame joke he attempted to do.
"Well, let's bow then," Michelle replied as the group put their hands together and thanked nature for it's bounty, allowing them to finally dig into the meal they worked hard for.
Michelle managed to give a big piece to Deker and Zeke, who started on it and begin to enjoy the now almost crunchy texture that the eagle had to it.
"Amazing! It's like taking a bite into a fresh apple or pear, the texture itself is so crispy that the more you chew, the more you don't want to lose it," the pink-haired hunter admitted.
"Plus the spicy center of it all. Even if it has a little kick, it just adds to the flavor, making you want to eat more and more of it until you get drenched in sweat," Michelle added, eating some for herself.
Hakku was on the verge of tears. It had been a long time since he was able to enjoy a meal in this manner, with friendly faces and happy conversation. At the same time, the heat from the bird probably had something to do with his watery eyes. In the back of his head, he wondered if the fighting he witnessed had anything to do with the emotions he was feeling as well.
"It's so good..." he managed to choke out, sniffling and trying to keep himself from actually crying.
"I know right, it's nice to eat together. Really makes the food taste better," the pink-haired hunter added, making his animal partner purr in response, taking a huge bite of his portion.
"Oh before I forget, these should help," Michelle inquired, passing what looked like a fruit of sorts, hollowed and filled with what look like a pink smoothie. "It's a very good cold smoothie made from some of the wild fruit, plus a little bit of Milk Whale milk to allow you guys to enjoy it properly."
The two grabbed it and drank it, feeling the rich creamy drink merging together with the hot spicy chicken and creating a brand-new experience.
"The way the creaminess of the smoothie combines with the heat of the Picante Eagle," Deker said, after finally coming up for some air. "It's almost like the texture of high quality ice cream, it's so smooth and cools the mouth wonderfully."
"Yet, the heat is still there." Michelle added. "Creating a great dichotomy of hot and cold, it's almost addicting."
Everyone let out contented sighs as they finished their meal, all feeling refreshed and refueled and ready to continue their search for the Chomb Orchard that lay hidden somewhere in the Jungle.
"Psht, please! We took care of a Picante Eagle, a couple of Aero Serpents won't be a problem," the pink-haired man boasted, making Deker snarl in agreement. Michelle couldn't help but chuckle at her partners ambition, looking over to Hakku as he still continued to drink the smoothie.
"Are you enjoying yourself Hakku? I know you were expecting to just do dishes and sharpen, but I thought maybe if you got to see the ingredients, you'd start to see what it really meant to be a chef," she inquired.
Hakku looked at her with a surprised look on his face, never expecting that she'd take someone like him to this all to help him, especially given it was his first day.
Any pleasant feelings any of them had from their meal were now gone. Why? They had managed to get themselves completely lost. The heat of the jungle was starting to feel oppressive to all of them and tempers were starting to run just as high.
"I'm telling you! Listen for the Voice of the Ingredients and we'll be right on track!" Deker shouted, mopping sweat from his brow.
"And I'm telling you!" Michelle yelled back. "It doesn't work that way!"
Hakku was starting to look like he would actually melt, but remained silent. He did not want to get in the middle of their fight. Zeke had already tried to break it up, and he got smacked and was now moping in the back of the group.
"Come on! You managed to find all the other stuff before, how come you can't now?!" He remarked with an irritated voice, starting to lose what little patience he had.
"I'm only gonna say this one more time you pink-haired brainless monkey," she retorted, stopped and looking straight into the eyes of her combo partner with discontent. "IT DOES NOT WORK LIKE THAT!"
The two continued to growl at each other until eventually the small group just fell down in a shaded area, exhausted and lacking water.
"We..We need to find something to drink..." Hakku inquired, shaking his Gourmet Bottle and noticing that it was nearly empty.
As they sat there, silent for the first time in almost an hour, the sound of water reached their ears. A soft lapping sound. Like that you might here at a lake.
"WATER!" they all shouted. Relief evident in all of their voices.
They charged through the trees, towards the sound of the water. Finally, they came to a clearing and saw the lake. Massive. Beautiful. Gleaming. The water shone in their eyes like a jewel. Silently, they all prayed that it wasn't a mirage or a hallucination brought on by the heat.
Without another second's hesitation, Deker, Zeke and Michelle all leapt into the lake, cheering.
All three couldn't help but take in as much water as possible, filling their bellies and making them want to continue drinking even more. To them, that single lake was better than all the drinks in the world.
Although soon enough, their peaceful time would be disturbed.
Right out of the forest, a large Aero Serpent found itself crashing right into one of the trees close by, breaking it down and causing it to tumble down to the ground. Deker and the others quickly managed to escape from the water and see what had caused the beast to crash through the tree.
A man with light blue hair came walking in with a black cloak that covered his body, leaving only his head visible.
Deker couldn't help but focus on the Serpent, seeing how bad it's wounds were and how it was in pain from the brutal attacks that it endured. When the man finally stopped at the beast's neck, all he did was chop down, cutting it off without any hesitation, spitting on the corpse.
Hakku, having fallen when the giant winged snake crashed into the trees, propping himself up with both hands planted on the ground and knees brought half-way to his chest, found himself staring up at the cloaked man. Tears welled up in the young man's eyes. Fear. That's what the cause was and it felt instinctual. Like the fear a rabbit feels when confronted by a wolf.
I'm going to die here... those words kept running through Hakku's head. He didn't notice the grass around him quickly turning from rich green to a sickly yellow-brown as it died around him.
Michelle looked on in shock by what she witnessed, to her, even if someone was trying to survive, they'd at least have the respect to knock the ingredient out. What the man did was nothing more than barbaric to a chef like her.
The man walked to the back of the body, easily cutting off the section between the wings and the tail and picking it up. Leaving the rest to rot away.
"HEY!!!" Deker yelled out, making him stop in his tracks and turn to reveal his face with unusual blue marks on his face.
"Well, ain't this a surprise? Didn't expect to find kids in these woods," The man retorted with a cocky tone, making the pink-haired man tighten his fists in rage.
Knowing that her partner was about to completely lose it, and not being too far behind him, Michelle began trying to force herself to remain calm for the time being. Someone needed to keep a level head. Her partner clearly wasn't about to, her newest employee looked like her was frozen with fear and the panda would likely follow Deker into battle.
"Who are you and what do you think you're doing here?" she asked, polite enough to not come across completely antagonistic but forceful enough to warrant a reply. She just hoped it would be a verbal one.
"Much as I would love to explain my actions, you're all just trash so really it's beneth me," he remarked and attempt to leave once again. Though the presence of darkness soon emerged as he could feel a dragon hovering over him, waiting to rip him to shreds.
He turned over to see the aura produced from the pink-haired man.
"Aren't you goning to at least eat the entire thing?! You killed it, it deserves respect."
"Why would I care about some worthless target? I was just after it's meat, nothing more."
That straw soon broke the camel's back.
Deker, in a near blind rage, launched himself at the blue haired man. He planned to hit the other man in the face with his favored Mallet Punch. However, before he could hurl his fist, Deker found himself flying backwards over the lake. He skipped on the surface like a stone. Once. Twice. Thrice. Then he lost enough momentum to simply splash and sink into the lake. Quickly surfacing, he discovered he was only a few meters away from the shore on the opposite side of the body of water.
Shock hit him like a ton of bricks. He never saw the other man move to hit him, he didn't feel the hit and he was sent this far away. Doubt cloaked his mind for a moment, then anger took over again and Deker rushed back to the Aero Serpent carcass where the others still were.
Before he'd even have a chance to get close, another impact hit him again, causing him to tumble down right into the lake again, which slowly started to fill with blood.
Michelle and Hakku looked on in shock by what they saw, but felt relief when Deker erupted from the water, breathing heavily as there was a wound right on the side of his stomach.
"That was just a warning shot kid, try that crap again and I'll make sure you stay down," the blue-haired man threatened, starting to get annoyed by the pink-haired mage.
Deker, angered even more by the threat, began channeling Appetite Energy into his arm. He kept his arm, and hand, completely straight as he gathered more and more energy. Finally, having charged all his strength into this one attack, a massive skewer appeared over his arm. He then pulled his arm back and thrust forward. The skewer took off towards the blue haired man. The Appetite Construct almost looked like a missile as it flew through the air, disturbing the surface of the lake.
The force of the impact resonated through the entire area, scaring some of the smaller creatures that were across the jungle.
Both his teammates smiled with joy, thinking that the attack he did would've dealt more than enough damage to have made some kind of impression on the man. The smiles on their faces soon disappeared when the smoke cleared.
Deker found himself touching the man's body, managing to hit, but only seem to have tapped it instead of piercing through his body, leaving him shocked by it and breathing heavily in fear.
"Alright, not bad rookie. Maybe in a few years you might actually become an insect to me," he admitted, revealing his gloved arm and him pulling it back.
" Ocean Bullet ".
The punch sent out a horrible sound of breaking that caused the others to cover their ears.
Deker found himself losing consiousness and feeling the familiar feeling of flight that sent him crashing right into one of the nearby trees, slamming against it before he fell to the ground.
All the man did was spit on the ground and take his bounty, walking into the forest before disappearing.