Sorry it's taken so long to upload, I've been on holiday the past week.
Vice-Admiral Tsuru may seem a bit out of character in this chaper, but that's because I've never actually seen her say anything, so I'm imagining how she might act when put in this situation.
Vice-Admiral Garson is a character I made up, he doesn't actually exist.
Disclaimer - Still don't, never will
Vice-Admiral Tsuru had called a meeting. She had investigated the file on Zoro herself, getting her most trusted marines in the East Blue to go to the graveyard where he was supposed to be buried. Once there, she had them dig up the grave. In the coffin they found – nothing. It was empty.
She then had others investigate the whereabouts of the Straw Hat crew. They had been sighted on Richo Island, a small, quiet island in the Grand Line.
She was still confused, if Zoro was dead how come he was…well….alive? Her first thought was that the current Roronoa Zoro had taken a dead mans name, but when her marines asked the dead mans friends for a description, it matched Zoro's completely.
So in confusion she had called a meeting. Sitting round the solid oak table was one other Vice-Admiral, 2 Commodores and 1 Captain. She knew only two of the officers in front of her. Vice-Admiral Garson and Captain Smoker. She quite liked Smoker; he was a fair man who didn't follow the 'absolute justice' of the Marines, but preferred to do things his own way. The reason she had called him here personally was because he had met the Straw Hats (and more specifically, Zoro) before and was intent on capturing them.
"Alright Tsuru, what's this about?" Asked Garson, in a somewhat bored voice.
Tsuru frowned; she despised this man. He thought he was the best and, even though he was only 40, also thought he had more experience than her, in fact, his whole attitude in general annoyed her.
"Well, it's complicated to explain." She started. "Basically, Roronoa Zoro is dead."
This got the group's attention.
"What?!" Said Smoker. "How?!"
Tsuru sighed. The group thought she meant that Zoro had just recently been killed, rather than supposed to be dead but still alive. She was going to have to explain.
"He was killed 4 years ago, on a small island in the East Blue."
Now the group was silent.
"Ummmmmm………….Tsuru…….are you sure that wasn't just someone else called Roronoa Zoro? I'm sure he's not the only person with that name." Said Smoker in an almost sympathetic voice.
Out of the corner of her eye Tsuru noticed Garson and the Commodores trying hard not to snigger. She felt her cheeks start to burn.
"Actually Smoker, my men have been investigating it. The coffin that he is supposed to be in is empty and the description of the dead man matches Zoro exactly – even the 3 swords and black bandana. Also, the man was buried with one of his swords, that is now missing. It was a very valuable sword, a masters blade with the name 'Wadō Ichimonji'. We are currently investigating whether Zoro has this sword on him now."
Didn't Tashigi say something about one of Zoro's swords?
"Even so." Snorted Garson. "This is no proof that Zoro has come back from the dead. Just the thought of it is ridiculous!"
"Actually." Said Smoker. "I think Tashigi knows something about one of Zoro's swords, it might be relevant to this investigation."
Tsuru was surprised. She had never met Sergeant-Major Tashigi before, but it was well known among the Marines that she was Smoker's young protégé, or more unkindly, Smoker's dog. However, despite the other Marines taking a dislike in her, Tsuru had nothing but respect for the girl. After all, she knew how hard it was to get people to take you seriously if you were a woman in this male-dominated world of the Marines. If Smoker had said she may know something about Zoro, she may be worth listening to.
"Alright, bring her in." Tsuru ordered, Smoker nodded and went out to fetch his underling.
Garson burst out laughing.
"Honestly Tsuru! You're actually going to listen to that girl! Everyone knows she's nothing more than Smoker's dog! Not even worth noticing!" And he continued his laughing fit.
Tsuru could see the Commodores shifting uncomfortably in their seats. They had obviously heard about Tashigi too, but they had manners, and didn't like to hear their superior talk about a subordinate like this, especially one he knew hardly anything about. Tsuru decided to put a stop to it.
"Look here! If you can't maintain a professional attitude during this meeting I'll have you out! You will not insult a fellow officer like that whilst in my presence, do you understand?!" She yelled at him.
The Vice-Admiral looked surprised for a second, then his face resumed its usual smirk.
"I understand." He said.
Just then Smoker came back through the door, followed closely by Tashigi.
Tsuru eyed up the girl. She was of average height with blue-black hair cut in a neat bob. She was dressed respectably in blue trousers and a white shirt, with her Marine jacket over the top. Hanging off her hip was a very well made, and obviously very valuable, green and white sword. She seemed like the kind of person you wouldn't notice in the street, the kind to blend into the background.
I wonder why everyone has such a problem with her, she looks fine to me.
Tsuru thought as Tashigi gave the table of superiors a well-practiced salute.
"Here Tashigi, sit down." Said Tsuru, while offering her a chair.
"Thank-you." Answered the younger girl, and sat down.
As she was sitting down, something clicked in the back of Tsuru's mind.
I've seen this girl before.
She thought, and yet, she couldn't remember where. She certainly hadn't met her officially; she would remember that, she might have seen a picture of her maybe? But no matter how hard she tried, Tsuru couldn't remember how she recognized Tashigi's face.
"Alright." Tsuru continued. "Smoker tells us you know something about one of Zoro's swords."
This statement surprised the Sergeant-Major, who obviously wasn't expecting to be called here to discuss a pirate's swords.
"Um, yes." She answered. "What do you want to know?"
"Can you tell me what one of them is called? It's a white masters blade."
"Of course!" Replied Tashigi. "Wadō Ichimonji."
The table fell silent. All eyes were now fixed intently on Tashigi, who shrank back in her seat.
"Was that the wrong answer?" She asked quietly.
"No, not at all. Infact, it was a perfect answer."
Garson shook his head.
"I don't believe this Tsuru! Did it ever cross your mind that Zoro dug up the body of the dead man, stole his sword and took his identity?!"
"If that's the case then how come the picture we have of the dead man as a child looks exactly like……" Tsuru's voice trailed off before she could finish her sentence. Smoker frowned. The woman had just realized something; something had clicked in the back of her mind.
Tsuru slowly turned to Tashigi.
"You know Zoro, don't you?" She said.
"I met him in Lougetown, I didn't know who he was at first and-"
"-No!" Tsuru cut off. "I mean when you where a child, you where friends with him."
"What!" Cried Tashigi. "Of course not! I'd never even seen him before Lougetown!"
"Oh really! Didn't you go to the same dojo as him?" Said the Vice-Admiral cynically.
"No!" Replied Tashigi. "I didn't even go to a dojo!"
"Then how come I have a picture of the two of you together?"
"It must be someone else!"
Then Tashigi remembered what Zoro had said to her after their fight;
"I can't stand the fact that you exist! Listen! That face of yours! It's exactly like my friend who died a long time ago! And now you're even saying the exact same stuff she did! Quit imitating her, you copy-cat woman!"
"Listen." Said Tashigi. "Zoro told me he had a friend who died a long time ago, who looked exactly like me. It was probably her you saw in the photo."
Tsuru fell silent for a while, thinking this through.
"You know…." She said. "If what you said is true, then it means that the Zoro sailing with the Straw Hats HAS to be the Zoro who's dead. They HAVE to been the same person – otherwise it doesn't make sense."
Smoker nodded, Garson however, was more skeptical.
"I still don't believe it. That kind of thing just isn't possible."
"What are you on about?" Snorted a Commodore. "This is the Grand Line for God's sake!"
Then a new voice came from the back of the room.
"My, what a lovely place this is!"
Everyone swiveled round. Leaning with his back against the chamber wall was a tall man with black hair and long, black cape.
"Who the hell are you?!" Yelled Garson, whilst standing up and drawing his pistol.
"My name," Answered the man. "Is Kuzeo."
Luffy and Nami stood in shock, staring at Diasuke, who had a smug grin plastered on his face. Neither could believe what Zoro had just said;
"That man…..that man killed me!"
And yet Diasuke was making no move to deny the accusation, in fact, he looked rather proud of himself.
"Is this true?" Asked Luffy.
"Yes, every word."
Luffy's hands curled up into tight fists.
"And yet you've been acting like our friend this whole time!" He yelled.
"That is correct."
"I knew that if you found out you would no longer work with us."
Luffy shook his head.
"That's not what I meant."
Diasuke raised an eyebrow.
"Then what did you mean?"
"I meant, why did you kill Zoro."
"Because he is Kuzeo's son. At first we only kept an eye on him, to make sure he wasn't following in his fathers footsteps. So when we heard about the whole pirate hunting business, we had to kill him. He was becoming too evil."
This time it was Zoro (who had overcome the shock of seeing Diasuke), while nursing the wound on his arm where he had fallen onto the sword, who answered back.
"You know nothing about me! How dare you say I'm like Kuzeo!"
"But," Said Diasuke. "Doesn't it just prove you're evil if you made a deal with him in the afterlife?"
At that comment, Zoro began shaking with anger.
"I made that deal because I needed to fulfil a promise, a promise I haven't fulfilled yet! She was too innocent for Kuzeo to have any interest in her – so she couldn't come back! But I can, so I'll still keep my end of the deal!"
Nami gasped. Zoro had never been so open about his feelings before – or his past, why was he saying this?
"Yes, I know. Kuina, right?"
"How did you know that?"
"I told you we kept an eye on you, right from the moment you left. But there is one thing I'm interested in."
"What?" Asked Zoro wearily.
"Why did Kuzeo choose now to bring you back?"
"What makes you think I'd tell you that?"
Daisuke's face showed signs of anger at this statement, but of course, he could do nothing about it; Zoro was a lot stronger now than he was 4 years ago – if they were to fight again, he had a feeling he wouldn't be the victor.
"Zoro, Nami." Said Luffy. "We're leaving."
"WHAT!" Yelled Diasuke. "But you can't do that! You agreed to fight Kuzeo!"
"I have my nakama back, what reason would I have to fight Kuzeo? Especially if the only reason I'm dong it is to help someone who's killed, lied, backstabbed and betrayed my nakama!" Luffy yelled. Diasuke could think of no answer for this, after all, it was Luffy who was in the right here, not him.
"Please Luffy…" Came a weak voice from behind Diasuke. The group turned round. There was Michiko, who had obviously just gained consciousness, crawling up the hill. Zoro felt a pang of guilt when he saw her. The girl was badly beaten up, in fact she looked on the verge of death, and it was all his doing.
Shit! How could I do such a thing!
Alright, so he had killed before, but he had never harmed the innocent – and that's what this girl was. Innocent.
"Michiko!" Yelled Diasuke, running up to her. "Are you OK?" The girl nodded.
"Yes." She said weakly. "I'm fine."
An obvious lie.
Then she turned to Luffy.
"Please Luffy, you have to help us! I know we've done wrong, but what Kuzeo is planning to do – no, in fact what he's doing right now – will effect everyone! He wants to make the world his own, turn it into a land of everlasting darkness. Only the few he chooses will stay alive. Please Luffy, Zoro! You have to do something!"
Luffy and Zoro stood there, on the rocky stone ground, trying to take in what Michiko had just said. She had a gift, a gift that allowed her to see into the future, and if what she was saying was true – it was bad news for everyone. They couldn't just sit around and do nothing.
"Hey Zoro, fancy saving the world again?"
Zoro smiled back.
"It seems to be what we do best, captain."
Nami grinned at her two crewmates. Whenever she saw them like this, so caught up and ready for battle, something welled up inside her. Pride. She was so proud of her nakama. Whenever they defeated an enemy, whenever they pushed themselves to the absolute limit, whenever they should have, by all accounts, been dead, they continued fighting. Even though the rest of the crew was down, these two would take their places for them – they would win this fight.
Kuzeo won't know what hit him.
People have asked me not to put so many cliff hangers in, so I've tried not too. Tell me if you think it's still a cliff hanger and I'll try to correct it in the next chapter.
Read This: It's up to you lovely readers to decide! Who will be the hero - Luffy or Zoro? I can write it to go either way, so tell me in the review and whoever gets the most votes will become the hero!
Don't forget to review!