This blog is going to cover two different topics because I don't feel like writing two separate blogs. The first has to do with Big Mom, the second has to do with the current situation in the story.
Devil Fruit Acquisition
The most intriguing part of chapter 868 is that Charlotte Linlin somehow acquired Carmel's Soul Soul power. She did not acquire the power through conventional means. We know this based on Streusen's reaction to her sudden ability to give things souls, as well as her own surprise, and most importantly, being seemingly completely ignorant of Devil Fruit powers at the time. She called the ability a trick and then said she could do it too now. Most of you have probably figured out what I'm getting at by now, especially if you read Attack On Titan, but bear with me anyway.
For the next step, we must operate under some assumptions. The first assumption is that Teach's unknown method of extracting Whitebeard's Devil Fruit power and regular oral consumption are not the only ways to potentially acquire Devil Fruit abilities. The second, and far more imporant assumption, is that Mother Carmel and the other children disappeared on that day because Linlin, in her blind famished mania, ate them along with the croquembouche they had so lovingly prepared for her. Delving into the grosser details, it is safe to conclude that every victim was alive at the time of their consumption. The strewn scraps of fabric and distinct lack of blood found at the scene indicate that every victim was consumed whole after attempting to escape and possibly putting up a stuggle. Thus, Carmel's powers would still have been active in her body and not reborn in the nearest equivalent fruit. It is clear that Linlin's new power either did not manifest right away or she was not immediately aware of it after acquisition. Going by standard human anatomy (I know One Piece is different than the real world, but do you have anything better to go on? Didn't think so. Sit down.), approximately 24 hours would have passed before Carmel's body would be completely broken down in the stomach and absorbed into Linlin's bloodstream. I should not have eaten before writing this.
So, I conclude that one possible way to acquire Devil Fruit powers is for the user to consume the previous host without killing them in the process. A feat nigh impossible for anyone besides Linlin. This theory could also provide some insight into how Teach acquired Whitebeard's power, though not how he could sustain it. Those of you still reading this, thank you for sticking with me. The second part will be a lot more fun. I promise.
The Creek In Which Our Heroes Find Themselves
For those unaware, things at the wedding did not go as planned for the guys we like. Their secret weapon failed to hit its mark, the escape route broke, and a crap ton of powerful fighters are able to move freely thanks to some mochi ear plugs, and all of whom seem very eager to blow off some steam too I should add. Things seem pretty bleak. However, there are still a few factors the good guys could use to their advantage. And by the way, I'm counting the Vinsmokes on the side of good for this. The first is the fact that all of their enemies have ear plugs on, meaning they can't communicate easily. Granted, neither can Luffy and co, but when was a fight ever coordinated with them? Close quarters team combat with no easy way to convey a plan means a high risk of collateral damage. Imagine fighting multiple sub-bosses in a dungeon with a raiding team in an MMO, only none of you have teamspeak. It's like that only this time they can still use hand gestures at least. And if someone in the family has an ESP fruit, I'm done.
The second advantage they have is hostages. A bunch of powerful rich folks out cold or immobilized make for great hostages. Not that I would know from personal experience, but uh...ahem. Anyway, they have plenty of priveliged meat shields to choose from. Separate from the bulk of the hostage fodder, though a bit more of a risk factor, is the Swamp Witch, I mean Belphegor, I mean Charlotte Brulee. Big Mom might not think twice about attacking her own kids, but I'll betcha her kids will think twice about attacking each other (unless one turned traitor, but that's neither here nor there). Brulee is their most valuable hostage, and readily on hand too I might add.
And we come to the meat and potatoes of the issue, the fighters themselves. For the sake of argument, I'm going to say that any of the... let's call them high profile fighters; Luffy, Sanji, Carrot (yeah I'm including her, deal with it), Jinbe, the rest of the Vinsmokes, could more or less go toe to toe in a one on one fight against any given member of the Charlotte family currently in attendance with only some difficulty. There isn't much in the way of fodder like on Fishman Island, so Nami, Brook, the Fire Tank Pirate peons, Chopper, and Pedro, are largely going to be support. I know what you're thinking and I left Caesar out that lineup for a reason, so keep your panties on and I'll get to him in a second .......................................... Caesar is arguably their greatest asset in this fight, as long as trust remains a two way street. Caesar and Nami are going to be important since they specialize in wide-range attacks, Nami with her weather and Caesar with his gas. Granted, the risk for collateral damage is higher, but hey, the same goes for the Big Mom Pirates, so that cancels out.
Now, I feel like there was something I forgot to add... What was it? Something about chess piece... oh yeah, the lifesize Howl's Moving Castle cosplayer. To be perfectly honest, I see Bege's castle golem thing as kind of a double-edged sword, or two muzzled gun, or whatever the firearm equivalent of that metaphor is. Yes, he'll be good for defense while they try to figure out what to do next, but he's too big for his own good and risks bringing the whole place crashing down. Remember they're at the top of a tower. Factor in the blowback and collateral from his guns and the fact that he's a giant target, and he's going to do more harm than good longterm. Besides, bringing a mobile gun fortress to a sword fight just takes all the sportsmanship out of the whole thing.
So, everything goes smoothly and the army is defeated and they're done, right? WRONG! They'll still have Big Mom to contend with because you know she's going to come out of her stupor at the worst possible time, fresh for the fight and madder than a bull market in a red china shop. I don't know why I made that simile, but it worked. Basically, Big Mom comes out swinging and they're back to square one. When you get down to brass tacks, my advice for the allied forces is to take things one step at a time while not losing sight of the big picture. Thank you for reading, and I'm placing 12:1 odds on a Nami-Smoothie cat-fight!