This chapter is heavily focused on Chopper and his alternate forms. Feel free to research them in detail if you don't know them, but here's a quick rundown:
Regular Forms: brain, walking, heavy point
Rumble Forms: jumping, arm, horn, guard point
Chopper, or more precisely, the one occupying his body, had no problems figuring out who he had forgotten to bring alone. The one he served had intended for him to bring Zoro along, but he hadn't counted on the swordsman being so enveloped in the conflict between those two. He had mistakenly assumed that they were all following him through the forest.
This new body of his took some getting used to. He had never possessed a reindeer before, especially one with devil fruit powers. He had managed to figure out the transformation between walking and brain points, but he was still having trouble accessing other parts of the reflex memory in his host. For example, Tony Tony Chopper was more than capable of detecting exactly who had been following them in the forest, but scent was something that he had rarely used in any of the previous bodies.
As he rounded onto the path out of the forest, there was a distinct whistling from up above and then branches were falling fast towards him. Luffy descended from the tree tops, swords raised in a striking pose. Chopper picked up the pace, sprinting for the exit. He would have a distinct advantage in the open as he could likely move faster than any normal human. It was still a few hundred meters to the exit though and Luffy was gaining.
He cursed himself for being so helpless in this body designed for speed and quick maneuvering. Four legs was incredibly difficult to keep up with when most of his hosts had had only two, but he could have mastered it in an instant if the body would just surrender.
Inside Chopper's mind…
'You have to let me in. I don't think I can outrun him without your help.'
Chopper became aware of everything in that instant. Up until this point, he had quietly been defending against the probes in his mind, not really alert about his actions or the situation that they were in.
'Why would I help you? Give me my body back!'
'I can't do that right now… I have a mission to complete.'
'I can't tell you about it. There's no time!'
'Then I guess you better figure out how to use four legs efficiently on your own.'
'We'll both die if you don't help me!'
Chopper retreated into himself, erecting as many mental barriers as he could muster. The invader was ready to attack those barricades more aggressively when…
In the forest…
'The exit! Finally!'
As chopper sprinted the last few steps to the exit, he became aware of his own foolishness. Luffy had been herding him to this point for an ambush. There at the point of salvation, Nami stood poised with white sword in hand to deliver the finishing blow.
He didn't have time to argue with the host any longer. At this point, it was do or die with an emphasis on the latter. Chopper hesitated for a second, barely dodging a carefully aimed blow from Luffy before charging headfirst towards the other assailant. When he was almost within striking distance, the reindeer quickly shifted to brain point and dodged a precision slash from Nami, ducking under her arm in time to shift once more.
"You let him get away sister! After him!"
The two were hot on his heels, but Chopper had the advantage out here. Even though he didn't have full control over his legs, the ground was more even in the open and thus less complicated. The reindeer made a bolt for Zoro when he realized that he had no means of bringing the man with him.
Inside Chopper's mind…
'Listen to me! If you don't help me here, you and the green-haired guy will both die!"
Chopper was noticeably disturbed by that statement. He could bear with losing his own life just to show this body-snatching trickster that he was no pushover, but his nakama were another story.
'What are you talking about?'
'Those two are after me with swords and I can't use your body well enough to escape with him in tow. He's unconscious so I'll have to carry him back with me.'
'I'm not helping you kidnap another one of my friends! Forget it!'
'You don't understand what's at stake here! Please trust me.'
'It's hard to trust someone that steals your body and uses it freely.'
The invader thought about this for a moment, trying to weigh all of his bargaining chips and which would sway the reindeer to his side.
'I won't need your body after we recover him. You can have it back as soon as I complete my mission.'
'That's not good enough. I want you out now.'
'Tell me your mission and maybe I'll complete it for you. Depending on what it is.'
'I can't discuss it with outsiders.'
He could feel many emotions leaking out of Chopper's corner of the brain; obviously he was working at double speed to win this debate. There was a surprising lack of information spilling out from him though. The invader hadn't managed to even get his host's name yet, let alone any valuable kind of intel. In the course of their internal argument, Chopper had gotten careless and was grazed on his hind leg by one of Luffy's two blades. He immediately retreated outward, trying to gather as much concentration as he could. This blow would surely slow him down, but the next would end everything.
'Give me control of my body!'
'I already told you that I can't!'
'Let's make a compromise then. Give me control until we save Zoro and get safely into the forest and I'll go quietly back here until you're done.'
The invader was incredibly shocked at this arrangement. No host had ever been so resistant towards him, and he had certainly never negotiated with one. This proposed deal could mean serious shame for him if the host refused to submit afterwards, but he didn't have much choice at the moment.
'You don't even know what my mission is. It could be to kill all of your friends and many more for all you know.'
'It could be… I haven't totally discounted that… but we're both out of options right now and you're going to get us killed for sure.'
The invader couldn't help but smirk. It was true. He had no hope of completing this mission in his present condition. As quickly as he could muster the concentration, Chopper lunged back into control of his own body.
In the clearing…
If he had been any slower in reaching an agreement, they would have been struck by all three katana, but luckily Chopper was back. In a blindingly fast maneuver, the reindeer shifted to heavy point, knocking both assailants on the defensive before grabbing a rumble ball from his pack. The doctor immediately went to jumping point and made a mad dash for the unconscious Zoro.
He reached the man in a few seconds with Luffy and Nami still trying to catch up. Chopper could feel the invader trying to probe his brain for information of any kind, but he was even more protective of his body now that he knew about the invader. Chopper quickly shifted to horn point, scooping up Zoro in his antlers before sprinting back towards the forest. He turned to glance back in time to see two katana flying through the air, straight towards him.
Sanji slammed his foot into the glass mirror for the tenth time after he had been ignored. Robin and Usopp were taking target practice upon their own mirrors nearby, but they all seemed to be having the same luck.
"Shitty voice. I'm gonna chop you up and make stew when I find you."
Robin reported back that she had no luck with her mirror either. The two glanced over at Usopp who had stopped firing shots a while back. He was climbing on top of the mirror now, obviously looking for something.
"What are you doing up there?"
"Hm hm hm. You all doubt the intellect of the great Captain Usopp! Obviously there are people inside of these mirrors so I'm looking for the hatch."
Deciding to test out the sniper's theory, Sanji attacked the nearest mirror with full force. It crumbled to the ground.
"SANJI! Why did you do that? Don't you know it's seven years bad luck to break a mirror?"
"That's strange. Mirrors are supposed to shatter like glass, not crumble like rock. This must be some sort of naturally occurring phenomenon. Fascinating."
Leave it to Robin to admire the geological principles in a time like this. Either way, Usopp's theory didn't hold up to the test. The two looked towards him for the next solution.
"Hmmm…. I know! Of course, you both should have realized by now that these screens have switches on them! All we have to do is locate the proper switch."
Although they were both skeptical, Robin and Sanji began looking.
Chopper was too slow in switching to guard point. One of the blades had reached its target in the same leg he'd been scraped on earlier. They bounced a few feet closer to the forest before Chopper returned to heavy point. Pulling the sword out, Chopper prepared for the worst.
'Give me control!'
'I thought we agreed that I know my body better than you.'
'You might know your body better, but unless you have a few more surprises tucked up your sleeve, this is gonna come down to a fight. I might make a bad reindeer, but I've had dozens of human hosts. Your current form is much more human than the others.'
'I can't move that well right now…'
'I have experience with swords. I can probably defeat them.
Chopper reluctantly released control of his body to the invader. He couldn't think of anything left to do in this situation with his mobility severely decreased. The reindeer was also forced to admit that he had next to no experience with swords.
'Don't kill them. Please.'
'I couldn't if I wanted to.'
Luffy took point coming at Chopper now with only one blade. For the first time, the host shared information with his defender.
'Luffy is made of rubber! He can stretch any part of his body.'
He then shared every memory of Luffy in combat that he could recall along with the medical exams and treatments following those battles.
'So your name is Chopper and you're a doctor, huh?'
'Shit.' Chopper had given away far more than he had intended. Like a tangled web, many memories were liked together to provide an understanding as to the context of those shared visions.
All of that aside, the invader seemed to be telling the truth when he said he was skilled with a sword. Even with his leg injured, Chopper was able to deflect all of Luffy's blows. Nami circled around the back, attempting to take advantage of his blind spot, but the reindeer hybrid wasn't falling for it.
'To be honest, I expected them to be better at this. I'm not having any trouble blocking their attacks.'
'They must be up to something…'
It was then that Chopper noticed their real objective. Zoro was laying on the ground back where they had initially been struck, but they had slowly been driving him back towards the forest entrance. Nami had abandoned her attack in favor of an easier target.
Luffy had suddenly become a tornado of devastating blows, attacking more ferociously than either Chopper could have predicted. It left very few opportunities for a counter attack so they could get to Zoro. Running out of options, Chopper took control of his own body again and switched to Arm point.
'Shit, I don't have much time left on the rumble. I'll have to make this quick.'
Luffy's blade was having a minimal effect on the reindeer's now massive arms as he barreled towards Nami and the sleeping Zoro.
"Sister, look out! I can't stop him!"
At that moment, Nami raised her sword above her head, intent on striking down the sleeping swordsman. With a carefully aimed punch to the ground, Chopper quickly tackled her and fell next to Zoro. In that same maneuver, he swapped to heavy point and sprinted for the forest with Zoro in tow. The two did not bother to pursue, luckily for the Strawhats.
As the adrenaline began to fade, Chopper could feel the pain in his leg increase until it was a sharp, throbbing reminder of the wound. He probably wouldn't be able to make it at a jog, so he slowed to walking speed and continued forward, praying that the other two wouldn't resume their attack.
Hope you enjoyed!
I'm planning two more chapters, so how about a little incentive to finish it up ;)
Next Chapter - My Solution