Disclaimer: I don't own One Piece, Oda-sensei does. I'm borrowing two of his characters, and allowing walk-ons of the others, for my own personal amusement. I'm also not getting paid for writing this, since I don't think I can find anyone stupid enough to do so.
A/N: A multi-chapter fic involving Zoro and Tashigi… with a PLOT! It's quite possibly a first in the realm of fanfiction. And this is my first real fanfiction, so take it easy on me, will you? Thanks to angelicyokai, who serves as a sounding board for all my plot bunnies and ridiculous whining. It's amazing how motivating someone yelling 'write something!' as they run out the door can be. Not that I get anything done before 2 am anyway.
One Piece: Nitojutsu – Story of Two Swords
Zoro slouched against the stone wall behind him. His current situation was not only frustrating, it was annoying. First of all, he couldn't seem to escape from this prison, which was a first for him. The fact that he had been captured rather easily, not even having a chance to slaughter a few dozen mooks, also grated on his consciousness. Needless to say, this episode was definitely not going on his résumé.
It didn't help that his hands and feet were currently contained in steel shackles, which even his hardened muscles were incapable of breaking. If he had one of his swords perhaps, but not with sheer brute strength. And there was a further cause for irritation: these people who had captured him had his swords somewhere. The very idea of such people doing as they wished with his most prized possessions was enough to make him twitch in anger.
And the best part about this was the person across the way. She was still glaring at him, just as she had been since she woke up a few hours ago. He had noticed her as soon as he was brought in, but she had been unconscious at the time so he hadn't been able to get a good look at her. Then she woke up, sat up and noticed him immediately. He noticed her too, as well as having his dark suspicions about her identity suddenly, terribly confirmed. No words had as yet been exchanged, but her rage was palpable even across the approximately fifteen foot span between them.
Sergeant Major Tashigi of the Marines was in the same straits as him, and neither one was thrilled to be sharing their imprisonment with the other.
All other things could be abided, but not this. Zoro felt an ache beginning to form behind his eyes once again just from contemplating the issue. He also felt that he might have a little bit of a hangover from whatever they'd used to knock him out while capturing him. Resolutely, he closed his eyes and tried to tune out his surroundings – most especially his company – so that he could think of a good plan for fighting his way out of here.
The biggest problem was that he wasn't sure where he was. This wasn't abnormal for him, but in this case he found himself really and truly clueless about his own whereabouts. He was on dry land, that much was certain, and he was apparently underground as well. There had been an island not far from the ship's location when they had been attacked, so it was likely that that was where he had been hauled off to. That was somewhat convenient, because it meant plenty of escape routes that didn't lead directly to taking a long, long swim.
He heard a soft shuffling sound across the way, indicating that the young female Marine was on the move. The shackles that both wore weren't tight enough to prevent such things, but they did make things like walking difficult. He hadn't felt the need to get up and about just yet. There was no way of really telling whether they were being watched, and just in case they were he'd like to keep the enemy guessing about as much as possible for as long as possible.
He opened one eye just a crack to check out what exactly Tashigi was up to. As it turned out, she was looking over the bars and lock of the cell that currently imprisoned her. It didn't look like she was coming up with any amazing weak points in the design either. He continued watching until she glanced his way, and then pretending to be zoned out was the order of the day. She returned to the back wall of her cell, sat down and continued glaring at him.
She could probably use a hobby, he decided. Something like yoga or Dragon Kung Fu, so that she could work off some of the waves of frustration that she was assaulting him with. Apparently sword fighting just wasn't cutting it for stress relief.
She spoke! Zoro twitched, losing his 'I'm not paying attention' guise instantly. Too late to go back, he opened his eyes and glowered at her. "What? You'd better not be trying to blame this on me."
"Blame you?" She blinked in confusion. "That would be stupid. You're in the same predicament as I am."
Zoro bristled. Stupid, huh? "Then what do you want?"
"Well… I don't really know." She admitted, causing Zoro to almost fall over in disbelief.
Pulling himself back upright, he pinched the bridge of his nose with one hand, trying to ward off the growing ache behind his eyes. "You don't know? You sounded like you wanted to rip my spleen out and feed it to me a moment ago!"
She crossed her arms over her chest, blushing slightly. "Well, you're an annoying person. It was reflex."
Zoro grunted inarticulately, expressing his aggravation at such a statement. He'd heard that before too, irritatingly enough. Why was it that women felt they could get away with making inexplicable actions and declarations?
"Where are we?" She spoke up again after a moment. "And where are the rest of our crews?"
"Dunno." Zoro leaned backwards, trying to find a comfortable position against the cold stone wall.
"Aren't you concerned? Don't you care about your crewmates?" Zoro shifted slightly as she continued, "I guess not. But that's what I should expect from a pirate, since you're all disloyal, violent savages anyway…"
"Stupid woman! It's not like that at all, and if you'd stop jumping to conclusions you might actually learn a thing or two." Zoro snarled back, "And I'm not concerned because I know they can handle themselves!"
"Why you…" It was fortunate that she didn't have a sword right then, or she would have had it at his throat in an instant. Hell, he wouldn't put it past her to just throw it at him and hope for impalement. Zoro found himself checking the surroundings, abruptly, for objects of throwable size. He might need to be ready to dodge.
Noticing the opening of the door wasn't difficult, especially since the 'conversation' had died off a while ago and both prisoners were currently ignoring each others' presence. The door was notable because there wasn't much else to stare at in this place, and the thing's hinges creaked like nobody's business. They probably kept it that way just for effect. Zoro gave up his pretense of unawareness and sat up a bit straighter as their captors came into view.
"Ah, here we are. Swordsmen, two. Captured today in restricted waters off the coast…" One man was reading out of a well worn booklet while another followed, trying not to look bored and failing.
"Restricted waters?" Tashigi spoke up, immediately drawing their attention. "The World Government doesn't have any record of such a thing in this area."
"It is a new regulation, handed down from the Council earlier this month. All ships that pass between Thyall Atoll and our island must announce their presence beforehand, acquire permission to pass and pay a toll." The man with the book explained with an air of forced patience.
Tashigi's brow wrinkled slightly and she cocked her head to one side as she processed this information. "Even if your Council decided something like this, it's unlikely that it has passed through the correct channels to be approved by the World Government in such as short time…"
"The World Government! Hah! As if we bow to the whims of such a corrupt and incompetent organization!" The bored man now spoke up, swaggering forward to glare down at the young Marine, temporarily ignoring Zoro. "People like you just handing dictates down from on high, and expect all of us 'citizens' to obey!"
Tashigi looked a little stunned by the kind of small brained stupidity and lack of coherent thought being thrown at her, not to mention hypocrisy, so Zoro stepped in. "So in other words, you made these 'restricted waters' up yourself, and are taking advantage of everyone who doesn't have a clue about it."
"I see, so that's what it was…" Tashigi murmured to herself while the man rounded on Zoro.
"And you, I have a wanted poster for you. Not only do you break our laws, but you are a world-renowned criminal to boot! Waltzing in here as if we wouldn't take a stand against you!"
"It wasn't my idea to come here. You brought me." Zoro stated the obvious with a 'what were you thinking?' glare.
"You were in restricted waters!" The man reiterated, as if that gave the statement some sort of validity, "We had the right to take you prisoner. You're lucky that we decided to use non-lethal means to do so."
Zoro rather doubted this was the case. If they'd tried to simply exterminate him and the rest of the crew, he didn't think they'd have managed so well. Either way, he could see that it was pointless to argue. "So, where is everyone else from my ship? You have them too, right?"
"N-naturally! All of them have been captured – from your ship as well –" He took a moment to point at Tashigi, who was watching with interest, "And are being held elsewhere. No one will come to rescue you, if that was what you were hoping."
Judging from that stutter, at least as one of his crewmates had evaded capture. Now Zoro felt even stupider, perhaps being the only one to get caught. Maybe that midday nap habit of his needed some revising.
Well, that could be dealt with later. Right now, the most important things to determine were what was going to be done with them next, and what the best chance to escape would be.
"Now, aside from violating restricted waters and being either a wanted pirate or a flunky of the corrupt World Government – "
Tashigi interrupted with an indignant, "Hey!" at this point, but was ignored. Zoro didn't bother trying to deny the obvious on his part.
The man continued, "- Both of you have been found guilty, via the direct method of witnesses to the lawbreaking, of carrying weapons within our country's borders."
"Wait, carrying weapons is against the law?" That really didn't sound like a good idea to Zoro, and Tashigi didn't look too impressed either. "How does that work? Aren't you attacked by every pirate ship that comes by or whatever?"
"This law was enacted two months ago by the Council. We have had no serious problems since then, which proves that this law is in the best interests of a peaceful and unified society." They were duly informed of this fact in all seriousness.
The prisoners exchanged a glance. "How do you figure?" Zoro couldn't quite find the reason or the proof.
And they were completely ignored. The man continued on, apparently tired of discussing how incredibly wonderful and logical his nation's government was. "Your punishment will be the standard for such a crime."
"Relocation to the Arena, where you will fight for your very lives to atone for your crimes."
"Sounds fun." Zoro drawled, "When do we leave?"
End Ch. 1
Next Time – Entering the Arena – Fight for your freedom guys! And stop fighting each other, will you?