A/N: Finally done with this part... I had to research through so many medical stuff for the operation part that it made my head spin... I will admit that I'm especially squeamish about the human body and reading/watching all the surgery stuff made me queasy on several occations... I never knew there were so many different types of scalpels and so many different ways to cut someone up...
And I would also admit my stupidity of writing an especially detailed surgery to only realise that this probably shouldn't be read by minors and then promptly delete the entire thing afterwards... Yeah I'm dumb.
Anyway, this arc is turning out to be longer than I thought it would be. I initially thought I would be done with G8 in 2 chapters but there's quite a number of things that I'd like to do with them now *cough* H Chapter *cough*
As usual enjoy! :D
It was a new day at Navarone and most of the Marines stationed at the base were looking forward to the day ahead, many of them were eager to meet the new Marine heroes after all. Unknown to everyone else, said Marine crew were already amongst them within the base.
"So… Where did Luffy go?" Zoro asked, noticing the absence of their commander early in the morning.
The Straw Hats were gathered within one of the common rooms, having been requested to wait here for a meeting with the commander of G8 himself.
Robin took a moment to look up from her book, "Luffy said he couldn't wait and went ahead to find the base commander."
With her status as a Government sanctioned archaeologist, most of the clothes she wore now had a Marine insignia sewn somewhere on them, courtesy of Nami.
Sanji groaned, "Yeah right… He probably went somewhere to play around…"
Usopp shrugged, "Well, it's not like we don't know him already."
"And we're left to deal with everything else…" Nami sighed.
Just then, there was a knock on the door before a tall Marine with distinctive sideburns entered the room.
Spotting the Straw Hats, he saluted them respectfully, "Good morning Sirs and Madams. I am Lieutenant Commander Drake, I apologize for the lack of a proper reception for your arrival yesterday."
"Hmph, it's better that way, we never cared for all the ceremonial crap," Zoro muttered.
Drake nodded in understanding, "I understand that your ship will be left in our care, we still require your commander to fill in some paperwork so if he would just follow me."
He noticed the Straw Hats all cramped up at his words.
"Ummm… Is Vice Admiral Luffy not here?" he asked skeptically.
Nami raised her hand, "Ah… If you need someone to fill in paperwork, just pass it to me… I'm always the one who does the writing stuff."
"And me," Robin added without looking up from her book.
Drake sighed audibly, "And I thought I was the only one. My own commander does the exact same thing, leaving the troublesome things to his subordinates to do."
"I know right?!" Nami groaned. "Sometimes you just want to crumple those papers and make him eat it!"
"And that's not the worse part... When those papers need his signature or stamp he's nowhere to be found! If I had to guess, my commander's probably out fishing somewhere right now!"
"You're kidding… We were just guessing our Vice Admiral already found somewhere in your base to goof off at."
The two Marines shared a sympathetic smile at each other, glad to find a kindred spirit.
"But… I have to admit, he's still an expert strategist…" Drake sighed. "He's still reliable when the time calls for it."
"Same goes for mine too…" Nami admitted with a wry smile. "I wouldn't be here if it weren't for him… I think I can safely say that this fact applies to the entire crew."
The navigator glanced back at her crew mates, all of them nodding vigorously in agreement.
"Well then, could I trouble you all to come with me then, I'll just go through what I am able to and let our commanders handle the rest… Whenever they finally decide to do so," Drake ushered them towards the door.
"Well, not like we have a choice anyway," Nami shrugged, filing out of the room with the others.
Meanwhile, on the shore of a lake within Navarone, an orange haired man with distinctly thick eyebrows and moustache just sneezed.
He was currently wearing a white collared shirt and a fishing cap with the Marine symbol on it.
Scratching his nose, the commander of G8 wondered if Drake was bad-mouthing him again.
"Hey, hey! Uncle! You got a bite!" A voice yelled out enthusiastically from the side.
Jonathan grinned as he felt the tug from his fishing rod, reeling the line in as his catch tried to pull itself away from him.
"Woah! It looks like a big one! Need some help uncle?" The voice asked.
"Just sit right where you are, kiddo! I got his one!" Jonathan grunted, standing up on his feet.
His rod groaned from the effort as he pulled at it, his eyes locked on his prize as it slowly drifted closer and closer towards him.
With a final mighty heave, the Vice Admiral pulled his catch out of the water, catching it midair with a triumphant smile.
"Wow! That's a really big one! You're really awesome uncle!" Luffy clapped his hands.
As his crew had expected, Luffy had shrugged off the suit the first moment he could. Right now he was dressed in an unbuttoned white dress shirt with its sleeves rolled up and a pair of black pants that had its cuffs rolled up as well.
Jonathan posed triumphantly with his catch that was almost twice the length of his arm, "Heh! What did I tell you? I'm not all talk eh?"
The older Vice Admiral dropped his catch in a cooler box he had prepared earlier by the side.
"So what's your deal kiddo? New to the base?" Jonathan asked.
"Yeah! I just got here yesterday! I'm out here exploring right now! This base is huuuuuge!"
To emphasize his point, Luffy had spread his arms as wide as he could.
"Heh, heh, heh. Most of the new recruits always say the exact same thing," Jonathan laughed.
He packed up his fishing rod, slinging the bag over his shoulder before folding up his collapsible chair.
"I'm heading back to the base, hopefully the chefs can cook up something good with this fish. Want me to show you around?"
Luffy immediately leapt on his feet, "Let's go uncle!"
"Ha! Quite the energetic one aren't you? And I was afraid the new batch was lacking in the enthusiasm department!" Jonathan laughed, striding away with his equipment.
Luffy grinned, "Hey, if I don't enjoy my job, why stay? I need to find ways to entertain myself!"
"Ah… If only someone I knew shared that same thought. That damn Drake always trying to get me stuck in my damn office. Boring I say, that guy needs to live a little! You can't live if your life is too boring!"
"Shishishi! You're pretty cool, uncle!"
"Don't call me uncle boy! I'm still not that old!" Jonathan scoffed.
"You're older than me at least! So uncle it is!"
"Cocky brat! Hahaha!"
It did not take long for both of them to reach the base, both of them sharing small talk along the way. Somehow both had avoided the revelation of their real identities.
"So that straw hat, you a fan of the Straw Hat unit?" Jonathan asked, pointing to the object that hung on Luffy's back.
"Oh this? It's a proof of promise I made with someone a long time ago…" Luffy grinned, reaching behind to hold his hat with a hand.
"That man saved my life and inspired me to protect others in turn… I made a promise with him using this hat that I will become an Admiral in the future!"
Jonathan whistled, "Sounds like a respectable man, so he's a Marine too?"
Luffy laughed, releasing his hat to let it hang on his back again, "Actually, he was a pirate. Kind of funny isn't it?"
"A pirate saved your life which made you become a Marine? I can't even say where to begin on the irony," The older Vice Admiral smirked.
"He was a good guy…" Luffy shrugged. "He was willing to risk his life for me… I felt that becoming a Marine would let me do the same but for more people, save everyone I could, you know?"
Jonathan glanced at the youth behind him, his eyes scanning Luffy.
"Hm… Those words of yours are serious I see… I can already tell you'll be a great Marine in the future."
"Shishishi! I still have a long way to go, but thanks uncle!" Luffy grinned.
Jonathan nodded before turning back again, guiding the two of them into the base.
The base commander introduced the young Vice Admiral to notable parts of the fortress as they walked, pointing out the cannons with pride and the various docks scattered around the bay. Luffy listened with great interest as Jonathan boasted about the kitchen staff in particular, claiming that his wife was the head chef there.
They soon stopped at a set of double doors, a nameplate bolted to the side that read 'Vice Admiral Jonathan'.
Without hesitation, Jonathan pushed open the door and led the way in, raising an eyebrow when he saw Drake and the rest of the Straw Hats inside the room.
Both Nami and Drake were hunched over the desk, going through the paperwork with serious faces. Zoro had already fallen asleep in a corner of the room with Usopp and Chopper drawing pictures on his face. Sanji was busy serving a few snacks he had prepared beforehand to the two ladies. Robin took a moment to glance up from her book while seated on one of the couches before looking back down again.
"Commander! Did you go fishing again?! I told you the Straw Hats are already here!" Drake immediately berated his superior when he saw him.
Jonathan shrugged as he stowed his fishing equipment in a nearby closet, "Oh come now, I was showing a new guy around, can you blame me?"
"New guy?" Drake raised an eyebrow. "They shouldn't be sending any new recruits at this time of the year…"
The rest of the room finally noticed Luffy standing at the doorway staring at them.
"Luffy! I know we don't care how you dress on our ship, but at least look presentable when we're supposed to be guests here!" Nami chided, wrapping the Vice Admiral's cloak around his shoulders before buttoning up his shirt.
Jonathan did a double take, his head swivelling around to stare at the youth whom he had taken as a new recruit.
Luffy was grinning at him, "Oh! Uncle! You're the base commander here huh?"
The older Vice Admiral pointed a finger at Luffy, "Vice Admiral Monkey D. Luffy?"
"Yep! Commander of the Straw Hat unit! Nice to meet you!" Luffy laughed, sticking out his hand.
Jonathan stared at the outstretched hand before grasping it lightly, "I had thought you were older… They weren't kidding about you being the youngest Vice Admiral."
"Shishishi! I didn't think the G8 commander was as cool as you either!"
Jonathan laughed and gave Drake a thumbs up.
Drake sighed, "Vice Admiral Luffy… Please do not encourage him…"
Nami pinched her Vice Admiral's cheek, "And since both of you were out fooling around, we already did most of the necessary parts. You just need to sign them off and match our IDs with the papers and we'll be done."
"Hold on a moment," Jonathan held up a hand. "I'll go through it with him. I think a young Vice Admiral like yourself should at least know under what conditions his ship is being mothballed. You need to take responsibility with that rank of yours especially when you're so young."
Drake rolled his eyes, "Well, sir… I could say some things about a certain older Vice Admiral leaving his office at the most inopportune times."
Jonathan laughed at his words awkwardly, "Ahahaha… Come now… It can't be that bad…"
"The Stan Malay requested entry into the base just now and you weren't here to grant them access. They had casualties on board from a storm they needed to pass through to get here," Drake informed.
A bead of sweat rolled past Jonathan's brow, "Well… I have capable subordinates like you right?"
The Lieutenant shook his head, deciding it was wiser to not argue further.
"Oh, fishing uncle! You mind if I let my crew take some time off in your base? They have been working quite hard." Luffy suggested.
"That's putting it lightly," Nami remarked while rolling her eyes.
Jonathan shrugged as he sat down at his desk, "I don't see why not, there's quite a number of my men who have been wanting to meet you guys."
"Are we fine walking around without our identifications?" Chopper asked, eyeing their ID cards that were required to complete the paperwork.
"Hmmm… That's true," Jonathan scratched his chin. "But I'm sure it won't be too serious. Even if you happen to be thrown in the dungeons, we can always get you out later, ahahaha!"
"Well you heard him guys! Don't go causing trouble now!" Luffy waved them off.
"I think you're the last person I want to hear that from," Sanji commented dryly.
"Well, since we're already here… Do you guys have a library? I want to see your sea charts," Nami asked.
Drake nodded, "I can guide you there if you want."
"In that case, allow me to accompany you," Robin suggested, closing her book to join them.
Drake nodded before leading them out of the room.
"Then I'll take a look at their kitchens," Sanji decided, moving towards the snoring swordsman.
The chef kicked at Zoro's foot, "Oi, marimo. Wake up already."
"Huh? Morning already?" Zoro yawned, pushing himself up on his feet while his face was full of doodles.
"It's already noon you shitty swordsman. And I'll get my face cleaned up if I were you," Sanji commented before leaving the room, laughing to himself.
The Marine swordsman noticed Usopp and Chopper trying their best to contain their laughter at the side. Spotting the markers they were holding in their hands, he was quick to infer what they had done to him while he was out cold.
Realising the danger they were in, the two pranksters decided to bid a hasty retreat.
"I'll be at the docks!"
"I'll follow Usopp!"
The two of them rushed out of the room before Zoro could stop them.
"When I get my hands on them…" Zoro growled, using a nearby mirror to observe the 'damage' done.
He turned to the older Vice Admiral, not too pleased with finding that his own Vice Admiral was currently doubled over in laughter at his plight.
"You guys have a training ground I can train at?" The Marine swordsman asked.
Jonathan nodded, tactfully keeping his own amusement hidden under a poker face, "There's an open field we use just outside the base. You can use that."
Zoro nodded a thanks before leaving the room to find somewhere to wash his face first.
"Now little Vice Admiral, if you're done laughing at your poor subordinate, let's get this over with. I still want to show you around the base after this since Drake's not here to hound me anymore. It's just too rare to find another person I can share my interests with around here."
Luffy grinned at his words, "You got it uncle!"
Usopp and Chopper slowed down to catch their breath, breathing a sigh of relief when they noticed that Zoro did not chase after them.
"Whew… That was a close one!" Usopp laughed, wiping the sweat from his brow.
"Zoro looked so scary…" Chopper shivered.
Usopp dusted himself, "Well, since we're here, let's go check how Merry is doing!"
"Ummm… Do you remember the way back to our docks, Usopp? I remember that there were quite a few docks around this base."
"Who do you think I am? I am the great Captain Usopp! Of course I remember!" Usopp pointed his thumb at himself proudly.
Usopp led the way, trying to remember the route he had taken last night when he returned to the rooms they were given.
The sharpshooter recalled that he had to walk past the armoury where two Marines were standing guard, having been given the directions from those two guards last night.
Turning round a corner, the duo spotted a group of five Marines cleaning a crate full of firearms outside said armoury while seated on the ground. None of them were the two guards that had given Usopp the directions last night.
Grinning to himself that he was right on track, Usopp proceeded to walk past them.
However, the Marine Captain stopped in his tracks as soon as he saw the attire on one of the Marines.
It was some time after the crew left Drum island. Usopp and Luffy were currently fishing on the railing of the ship.
"Hey Luffy… Why didn't you let me burn off Sanji's cloak back at Little Garden? I mean, we could have just gotten him a new one." Usopp asked.
Luffy grinned at him, "Usopp, the cloak is part of the Marine uniform. You have to treat it with respect!"
Usopp raised an eyebrow, "I don't ever recall you dressing in an appropriate Marine attire."
Luffy's grin got even wider, tugging at his shirt, "Shishishi! These clothes don't have Marine insignia on them! So I don't have to be so formal all the time or else it'll be just boring! But if I'm required to dress in full uniform, I won't sully the uniform itself! I was taught that it was important!"
"Why would they even teach you such a thing?"
"Well, I remember they said it's for appearance or something like that," Luffy stuck out his tongue. "But the uniform is also a representation of the Marines and those who serve in it! So we should never treat even the clothes lightly!"
Usopp recalled the 'serious' training sessions that Luffy had with Zoro and Sanji, Luffy would always fold his cloak properly before placing it somewhere safe before he starts. He had treated his cloak almost the same way as his straw hat albeit with a little less reverence as compared to the hat.
"Ah… I think I get it…" Usopp smiled, just as his line began tugging.
"Oh! You got one! Let's hope it's a big one!" Luffy yelled excitedly.
A Sea King exploded out of the water, roaring in anger as it glared at the tiny ship. Usopp noticed with trepidation that the fishing line in his hands extended all the way to said Sea King's mouth.
Luffy licked his lips as he hung his cloak and straw hat by the railing, "Alright! That's our dinner!"
The Commodore leapt into the air before punching the Seaking under its jaw, sending it airborne.
Chopper raised an eyebrow at his friend, "Usopp?"
Usopp did not respond to Chopper and instead pointed at one of the seated Marines, "You there, recruit."
The group of Marines jumped at the sudden voice, all of them did not notice the two Captains' approach with how focused they were with their cleaning.
Usopp gestured to the recruit's necktie, "You're wearing a Marine uniform. Treat it with some respect, won't you?"
The Marine looked down at his necktie, finally realising that it was untied and left dangling around his neck.
The recruit quickly apologised, hastily working to tie it.
One of the more level-headed recruits raised an eyebrow at the two strangers, "Hold on a moment… I don't think I've seen either of you in this base before. Who are you guys?"
Usopp jerked his thumb proudly at himself, "You can call me Captain Usopp!"
"I'm… I'm Captain Chopper," Chopper introduced hesitatingly.
The five recruits glanced at each other before turning back to the two Captains.
"Doesn't that make you guys part of the Straw Hat unit?" One of the recruits asked.
"Hmmm… I don't recall hearing about any new ships docking this morning…" Another muttered.
The next one scratched his chin, "All I heard was the Stan Malay or something… I don't think the Straw Hats were on board those ships."
"So doesn't that mean…" The recruit that Usopp pointed out gasped.
"You guys are fakes?" The last recruit concluded.
"What? Wait, wait, wait…" Usopp spluttered. "We arrived last night you know? We're definitely the real Straw Hats! We don't have our IDs now because it's left with your base commander!"
The five Marine recruits looked at one another again before shaking their heads at the same time.
"Nope, didn't hear anything about it."
"Yeah, pretty sure the whole base would know if the Straw Hats were here."
"And I don't remember anyone talking about them yet…"
"Could be precisely because of the Stan Malay?"
"Ah, there's also that damn inspector huh… But still, I think we should've at least heard about it by now…"
The five recruits stood up, turning towards the two Captains with weapons in hand.
"Eh? Eh? Wait… We're telling the truth you know?" Chopper protested.
One of the recruits brandished a pair of handcuffs, "Sorry, but your identities are questionable right now. I'm afraid you'll have to come with us until we confirm who you really are."
Usopp frowned, "Now I know how Luffy felt back at Water Seven…"
Chopper nodded, hesitant on hurting Marines that were just doing their job.
"Oh! I just remembered," Usopp smacked his palm with a fist, "You can bring us to the docks. Mekao saw us dock yesterday! He can vouch for us!"
"Mekao? That old man?"
"What do we do?"
"Well, I guess it doesn't hurt to ask… If they happen to be the real ones…"
The five Marines shuddered in unison.
"Alright, we'll take you to Mekao, but no funny movements!"
Usopp and Chopper nodded, allowing themselves to be restrained to avoid any unnecessary complications..
After ensuring the weapons they were cleaning were properly locked away, the group or Marines escorted their 'prisoners' towards the dock where Mekao was stationed at.
Crossing the bridge that connected the central base with the outer ring, it did not take long for them to reach the specific dock that housed the Straw Hats ship. Especially since most of the docks have been decommissioned to save on the fortress's expenditures.
The first thing they noticed upon entering the dock was the group of unfamiliar ships that was moored there.
Apart from a small inconspicuous caravel, the other ships seemed to have taken heavy damage from a storm of some sorts.
"Hey, Captain Usopp! Here to check on your ship?" An energetic voice called out.
The group turned to see Mekao strutting towards them while carrying a few wooden planks on his shoulder.
"Oh, Mr. Mekao! Umm… Do you know these two?" One of the recruits asked.
"Hmmm? Why wouldn't I? They're part of the Straw Hat unit that arrived last night, I've been putting some guys to work on their ship right there," the veteran Marine shipwright jerked his head towards Merry.
"I'm just about to give your exterior another repaint and change some of the older planks on the deck, you wanna come see?"
The five recruits felt sweat pouring past their brows.
Mekao then noticed the handcuffs on the two Captains, "Hmmm? Why the hell are you guys restrained?"
The five recruits sweated even more.
"Oh, well… There was a bit of misunderstanding," Usopp explained with an awkward smile.
Mekao stared at him incredulously, "Misunderstanding? What kind of misunderstanding would get you two like this?"
"Uhh… I think Luffy's was way worse though…" Chopper muttered to himself.
The five recruits quickly released the two Marine Captains.
"WE APOLOGIZE FOR OUR MISCONDUCT, CAPTAINS!"
Chopper became flustered at their sudden change of attitude, "Ah… That… It's alright! You were just acting in the interest of maintaining your base's security so…"
Usopp stepped up and swept his hand into the air, causing his cloak to flutter dramatically.
"We'll let this incident go... However!" The Straw Hat sniper jerked a thumb at himself, "Don't ever forget about the great Captain Usopp's face again!"
The five recruits saluted stiffly, "SIR, YESSIR!"
Mekao sweatdropped, "I never pegged you for the dramatic kind…"
"Now you may return to your duties!" Usopp commanded with a flourish.
"THANK YOU SIR!" The recruits saluted again before before making a quick escape.
"You're so cool Usopp!" Chopper complimented with sparkles in his eyes.
Mekao grinned at them, "Heh, aren't you guys generous? I know a few officers who would insist those recruits get in trouble for what they did."
"Ah, well… I guess we are all similar to our commander in that aspect," Usopp admitted.
"Hahaha! I see, I see!" Mekao laughed. "Well, you're here to inspect your ship right? We can go right now."
Usopp nodded a thanks but before the trio could move towards their ship, a group of Marines carrying a stretcher rushed past them.
"Hurry! We need more stretchers! Bring the critical ones first!" One of the Marines shouted.
Chopper frowned, "Mr. Mekao? What happened there?"
The Marine shipwright shook his head, "Ah… those ships got hit by a storm while on their way here. Most of the crew got wounded because of that."
"Are… Are they going to be alright then?"
Mekao sighed, "I wished I could say so… But if I'm not wrong, most of the doctors in the base were called away to somewhere else at the moment…"
He recalled his daughter whining to him the other day about being the only doctor on duty today.
"EHHH?! Isn't this quite a serious problem then?!" Chopper gasped.
The older man shrugged, "It's not like any of us could help anyway, do I look like a doctor to you?"
Chopper glanced at Usopp with worry.
His long nosed friend grinned and gave him a thumbs up, "Don't worry about me, Chopper! Go do what you do best!"
Chopper grinned back before rushing off towards the Marines that were busy carrying off the wounded.
Mekao raised an eyebrow, "What's he going to do?"
"Heh, heh, heh. Chopper may not look like it, but he's the best doctor you'll ever get!" Usopp beamed proudly.
The Marine sniper smiled as he watched his reindeer friend coerce one of the Marines to lead him towards the infirmary.
Within one of the infirmaries of the base, a bespectacled woman with purple hair was reading through a medical book, still blissfully unaware of her predicament.
Flipping through the medical book while muttering to herself, she came across a picture of a human anatomy causing her face to go pale before collapsing on the floor.
Regaining her consciousness a second later, the pediatrician pulled herself back up on unsteady feet.
"Ah… Ah… It's no good… I really can't take it…"
The purple haired doctor flipped the page on her book with shaky hands, breathing a sigh of relief when the dreaded picture disappeared from view.
"Ugh… Why did the other doctors have to be called away… I hope nothing serious happens today…" She sighed while slumping down on her chair.
As thought fate decided to spite her, the door was slammed open as a group of nurses barged into the room in a panic.
"Doctor Kobato! Emergency!"
The doctor jumped in shock, surprised by the nurses' sudden entrance.
"What… What is it? Someone needs eye drops?" She stammered out.
"A number of sailors from the Stan Malay are in critical condition! We need you in the infirmary immediately!"
Kobato's face paled even further than when she saw the anatomy, "T-T-Trauma patients?! I-I-I-I'll let you handle it…"
One of the nurses furrowed her brows, "We can't do that! You're the only doctor in the base right now!"
"B-b-b-but I'm a pediatrician! This is out of my specialty!"
One of the nurses went up to hold Kobato's arm, "We have no choice right now! You're the only one who can save them!"
Another nurse held the doctor's other arm, "Please, you have to help them!"
While ignoring the doctor's protests, the nurses dragged her towards the infirmary.
Shoving open the door to the infirmary with Kobato in tow, the group of nurses expected the room to be in chaos without a doctor there to direct the procedures.
Instead, a short furry tanuki wearing a Marine Captain's cloak was barking orders at everyone around, directing them like clockwork.
"Make sure to crossmatch the patients' blood types! Prepare every patient that needs surgery for the operating room! Where are my antibiotics?"
A nurse rushed up with a bottle of it in hand, "Here! Doctor Chopper!"
The reindeer doctor pointed to one of the wounded Marines, "Give this patient five milliliters of it immediately! Are there enough cardiotonics?"
"A new batch just arrived, Doctor Chopper!" One of the nurses held up a tray.
Chopper nodded while looking down on a clipboard in his hand, "Administer as prescribed to patients five, six and eight!"
Chopper noticed the new group standing at the doorway, "What are you standing there for?! There's lives that need saving! Help the others move the ones in critical condition to the operating room!"
The nurses released Kobato and rushed into the room, integrating themselves with the rest of the nurses flawlessly.
Kobato remained where she was, still shell shocked at what was happening inside the infirmary.
"Prepare the operating theatre and notify me once it is ready!"
A couple of nurses yelled an affirmative and rushed out immediately.
"Where is the other doctor? Is she not here yet?" Chopper asked while looking through his clipboard.
The reindeer's words managed to bring Kobato back to herself.
"Ah! Ah! I'm… I'm here!"
Chopper turned to look at her, a little surprised by the unexpected answer.
"Oh… Doctor Kobato right?"
Kobato nodded her head slowly, wondering how a small tanuki like Chopper could have such a huge presence within the infirmary.
Chopper handed the clipboard to her, "I'm not entirely familiar with your base, could you take over from here?"
The pediatrician took the clipboard from Chopper's hooves before glancing through it quickly. She was pleasantly surprised to see every patient's details meticulously listed down and catalogued for more effective treatment.
"Ummm… But… But… I can't… I'm not…"
Chopper frowned at her hesitation, his mind recalling back to the days he had spent under doctor Kureha's tutelage.
"A doctor's hesitation can cost the patient their life," Chopper remarked.
Kobato's eyes widened from his words, watching him direct another group of nurses to move a patient towards the operating room.
She looked back down at the clipboard again, Chopper had already listed which patient was in need of surgery and even indicated what kind of operation to perform. However, the moment Kobato pictured how the operation would proceed, her eyes had already glazed over in fear.
As soon as most of the nurses have left the room to prepare the patients for operation, Chopper returned to the doorway to see Kobato still standing there with the clipboard in hand.
"Doctor Kobato?" Chopper prodded her with a hoof.
The pediatrician finally shook herself out of her stupor, realising she had been standing still for awhile.
Chopper tilted his head at her with a silent query.
"Ummm… I… I have hemophobia… I… I can't do… The operations..." Kobato admitted sheepishly.
Chopper raised an eyebrow, wondering how she managed take care of the the Marine base with that phobia of hers.
"A doctor's duty is to save lives correct?" Chopper asked.
Kobato pursed her lips, "That… That's right… But there are some things that doctors just can't do…"
Chopper frowned when he heard her words, "The man who taught me medicine once told me a story… A story of a man that had resigned himself to die."
He recounted the story of a man with a disease that every doctor had deemed as incurable. Resigning himself to die, he had passed by a mountain side full of sakura in full bloom. The magnificent sight had somehow lifted his spirits and dispelled his thoughts of death and when he returned to consult the doctors, they were surprised to find out he was miraculously cured of the disease.
"These Marines are depending on doctors like us to save them! There is no disease that doctors cannot cure! Never say that something is impossible! You have to believe that we doctors can bring about miracles!" Chopper declared with resolute determination.
Kobato was slightly taken aback by the small doctor's declaration, she realised that he had probably either lost someone or almost lost someone dear to him before.
She sighed dejectedly, thinking back on the reason why she became a doctor in the first place. She could not stand the suffering of others and the thought of inflicting pain on others scared her as well. She had assumed that taking the path of a pediatrician would allow her to render the most aid to others in her case.
Deep down, she knew that such a way of thinking was her own naivety. She would eventually have to conquer her fears if she wanted to help everyone.
"Do you… Do you think I can see… No. Do you think I can show them the sakura blossoms too?"
Chopper nodded enthusiastically, "Definitely! I will help you!"
Right at that moment, another group of nurses came in, "Doctors, the operation room is ready!"
Chopper nodded at the nurses in acknowledgement before turning back to Kobato, waiting for her answer.
The purple haired doctor recalled the agonised faces of the Marines that were waiting for their treatment. If she did not help them, she could never call herself a doctor again.
She raised her head with a determined expression, "We'll be right there!"
Chopper's face broke into a smile before nodding at her.
The two doctors made their way towards the operating theatre, the reindeer a step behind Kobato.
Two Marines stood guard outside the operating theatre, having been placed to watch over their wounded companions. They knew that the base had only one doctor at this point of time so their eyes widened when they saw the group coming towards them.
By now, almost everyone in the base already knew about the arrival of the Straw Hats, so they were more surprised by the fact that Chopper was amongst the medical group.
"Captain Chopper!" Both Marines saluted the tiny reindeer.
Chopper nodded back in acknowledgement, since he was out of Marine uniform and in medical scrubs, it was inappropriate for him to salute back at the moment.
"We will began operation on the patients, keep up the good work," Chopper complimented before following Kobato into the room.
The two Marines waited until the door to the operating theatre was closed shut before exhaling the breath that they were holding.
The one on the left looked at his companion, "So… That was Captain Chopper huh?"
"No mistake about it… I didn't know he was a doctor either…"
"Could they all be as monstrously strong? I mean… He's like a tanuki..."
"Seeing what Captain Zoro was capable of at the training grounds… I don't want to find out."
Both Marines shivered uncontrollably.
Within the operating room, Kobato was staring at the unconscious form of a Marine soldier.
"There is a shrapnel lodged in his upper torso, we'll have to extract it out with due haste," Chopper reported with the clipboard in his hooves.
"The patient is already under anesthesia, we can begin anytime," one of the assistant nurses remarked.
Kobato gingerly picked up the scalpel, moving it towards the torso. However, her hand stopped an inch above the patient, not moving any further.
Noticing that her hands were trembling slightly, Chopper placed a comforting hoof on her wrist.
"Don't worry, I will guide you."
Kobato breathed in deeply before exhaling slowly, nodding her head to indicate she was fine.
Chopper released her wrist when her trembling stopped, allowing her to proceed with the operation.
The silver blade cut into the patient's flesh easily, prompting a trickle of blood to leak out from the wound.
Kobato's face paled upon seeing the blood, her vision growing hazy for a short moment. Just then, she recalled the story about the sakura blossoms, wondering how beautiful of a sight it must have been to cure a person of an incurable disease.
If such a thing was possible, then why was she still hesitating so much?
Hardening her heart once more, she steadied her hand and completed the incision without further incident, exposing the silvery metal that was embedded in the patient's flesh.
"Nurse, the suction," Chopper commanded.
One of the assistants immediately lifted the prepared tubing at Chopper's behest, placing it in Chopper's hooves.
"It's roughly two centimeters in, shrapnel is about three centimeters long."
Kobato nodded at Chopper's words, moving to pick up a pair of surgical scissors and tweezers.
Chopper assisted her with his own pair of tweezers, holding the metal in place as Kobato cut out the obstructing flesh around the metal.
A bead of sweat rolled past her brows as she carefully widened the incision.
The nurse beside her immediately wiped the sweat off with a towel, allowing the doctor to continue the operation unfettered.
Kobato replaced the scissors on the tray, the next step requiring her to switch back to scalpels to trim any flesh that might have stuck to the shrapnel.
Chopper was a step ahead of her and already had the prepared scalpel in hand, passing it over to her without preamble.
Kobato nodded a thanks before continuing the operation smoothly, Chopper guiding her whenever she was unsure.
After what seemed like hours, Chopper extracted the metal from the body and placed it on the tray beside him.
The purple haired doctor was about to breathe out a sigh of relief when Chopper passed her a needle and thread.
"The operation isn't over yet," He rebuked softly.
Kobato nodded solemnly, waiting for Chopper to clean the wound thoroughly before she began to suture the wound closed.
Once the wound was closed, Chopper presented a pair of scissors to cut off the excess thread, thereafter ending the operation.
"Do not relax yet, this is only the first patient," Chopper reminded.
Kobato recalled the number of patients that were in the operating room and paled slightly.
Before the female doctor could get disheartened, Chopper continued, "But it was a splendid work, you are definitely a good doctor."
Kobato smiled at the praise, "Thank you, Captain Chopper. You are a great teacher as well."
"Eh... Eh? Ummm… Praising me won't make me happy you know?! We still have work to do, ok?!" Chopper danced happily.
After that event, everyone was surprised to learn that the previously meek Kobato had transformed into an especially competent doctor, but that was a story for another time.